Operation Domination – live at The Studio At Webster Hall August 31st, 2016

Funny isn’t it?  Just one night after I published a scathing piece on why I basically would like to see New York City burn to the ground…I’m back in New York City.  But at least it was for something awesome; I was there to see Angel Vivaldi and Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G on their Operation Domination Tour at The Studio At Webster Hall.  Angel is on the heels of re-releasing his 2010, EP The Speed Of Dark, with it’s tracks being completely re-recorded with his current band, and Gus recently released his latest solo album, I Am The Fire, a more straight forward album compared to what he does with Firewind.  Also, I guess he needs to keep himself busy until Ozzy comes calling to do his next excuse of an album.  Hey, just maybe Ozzy will actually let Gus write material for it this time.  That’s a maybe.  If you follow me on facebook then you already know how I feel about Ozzy’s plans to record after Black Sabbath’s last show.  But if you don’t…I’d rather Ozzy just call it a day, he hasn’t made anything meaningful in decades and the ONLY reason I even bought Black Rain in 2007 was because Zakk Wylde wrote eight of the album’s ten tracks.  So Ozzy…if you ever see this…you were great when I saw you with Sabbath at the Garden.  Do yourself a big favor and just go on a high note like Tony Iommi is doing.

Webster Hall is right around the corner from the 111 year old art store that’s being forced to close so the Marriot can make it into a hotel aimed at millennials.  So yeah I did go check it out before I went inside.  Someone was talking to the owner, who clearly looked distressed.  Then again his family ran the place for three generations.

There are two rooms in Webster Hall: The Marlin Room, which is the main room for popular acts, stupid raves and 80’s prom bullshit and, once upon a time, WWF Shotgun Saturday Night.  Let’s see who remembers that one!  And then there’s The Studio, which is essentially a small bar with a good size stage.  Gus and Angel were to play The Studio…I guess the guys running Webster Hall decided that some shitty rave was more important that a fucking YouTube sensation and Ozzy’s guitarist, right?

Angel went on stage and just blew everybody the fuck away.IMG_20160831_203439988

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Showoff!

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Alex fuckin’ Bent!

I actually met Alex when he was opening up for Crowbar with Battlecross last year at Saint Vitus In Brooklyn.  Really cool kid…incredible drummer.  On this tour he’s actually doing double duty, playing with both Angel and Gus.  Here’s a picture I took of us outside Saint Vitus last year.

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I wanted to talk to him and praise the hell out of him but before the show ended I found myself bailing out early because my knees were in excruciating pain – having flat feet is a real bitch.

Angel’s Setlist

An Angel’s Poem On A Grave

An Erisian Autumn

._ _ _ _

A Mercurian Summer

. . . . _

Acid Reign

Guitar Solo

Sea Of Heartbreak

Crystal Planet (Joe Satriani Cover)

A Martian Winter

Gus G?  Loud as fuck!  So loud that a few songs into his set I had no choice but to go to the back, where my girlfriend was…because she already knew better.  Oh yeah, the guy’s an incredible player, real easy to see why he got the gig with Ozzy.  His whole band – which included Alex and Jake, Angel’s bassist, sounded fan-fucking-tastic.  But I had one complaint:

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Dude…you don’t have to play “Crazy Train” just because you’re in Ozzy’s band bro.  Hell, most people there for you were actually Firewind fans.

In fact the band did play two Firewind songs d I have to say I was kind of impressed.  I hate Power Metal with a passion but Gus’s playing was so muscular – very similar to Zakk – that it gave the songs some BALLS.

As I said before…I left after the “Crazy Train” cover because my knee were in pain.  But I know for a fact that I missed Angel join Gus on stage for what was probably a really sick jam out.

Gus’s Setlist

Burn

Brand New Revolution

Vengeance (instrumental)

Eyes Wide Open

Come Hell Or High Water

World On Fire (Firewind)

The Quest

Terrified

Redemption

I Am The Fire

Crazy Train (Ozzy)

Fire And The Fury (Firewind)

G.O.T

 

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Giving The Devil His Good Name Back – The Metal Mike Show, September 9th 2004

In my very first post here I briefly mentioned that I used to DJ for my college radio station.  Hell, that show, without question is the precursor to this blog because it gradually became my first platform to just talk shit AND not get in trouble for it.  But that’s a story for another time because how I got this fucking show so easily requires a bit of a back story anyway.  Oh, by the way, I won’t be mentioning which station it is because I don’t feel like giving anyone any undeserved attention.

So, I decided to give my station a shot in April, 2004, thinking I wanted to be a DJ.  I liked the idea of being able to play music and not be seen.  To this day it’s amazing how UGLY some of the top DJ’s in the country really are.  But since they sound great who the fuck cares?  I went through two meetings, one with the personnel director and the second with the station’s chief engineer…part super genius…part angry, bitter, and an all around asshole.  If Gregory House was a real person he’d be this guy! What made me laugh inside was in despite only being in his mid-30’s, the combination of his skullet and his awful 70’s looking moustache made this fucker look like an ex-member of the Doobie Brothers.

If I’m not mistaken I took the test a good week later and passed with just two wrong answers.  I originally chose to join the Music Department because that meant I could review records for play as well as maybe even dictate what got played at all, the first CD I ever reviewed being Black Label Society’s low key masterpiece, Hangover Music, Vol.6, which I was also able to burn and leave at the station while I took the original copy home.   But long story short the director at the time let no one do anything with her, frustrating me, so I joined the Engineering Department.  I had wanted to join Production but, at the time, it was mandated that you couldn’t do shit in production unless you knew how to run the board properly.

Some time goes by, the middle of summer arrives, and I was approached by the newly appointed engineering director about being his assistant.  Why?  Neither he or anyone else wanted the only other person around to be involved because that’s how lowly they all thought of him.  We’re talking a really nice guy too.  And there you have it, proof that even college radio isn’t clean of slimy politics!  So, from then on until I left for good in early 2007 I was the Assistant Engineering Director of my station.  But of course there was something else I wanted, and part of the process I didn’t even have to go through.

While I had applied for a show to start in the fall semester, I didn’t have to make an audition tape, and all because I was an engineer.  In other words, I already knew how to operate the board.  Before I was told that was even getting my first show I was approached by another DJ from the Production Department about covering him because he wasn’t able to get out of work.  It was easy enough, his show had a specific format which he wrote down for me – all I had to do was follow the bullet points.  So there I was, fresh from sitting in with the two BEST DJs in the whole station at that time – both actually being alumni volunteers at that point – and DJing my first show.

It was a little nerve wracking, I was already engineering and cohosting someone else’s public service show on Mondays for a month at this point, but this was the first time I was on my own.  After reading off the most important bullet point of this guy’s show he surprised me by calling me up.  I didn’t think he was listening but here was telling me I rock and even complimenting my voice.  And after I finished up, that angry chief engineer – who can still go suck a dick and die – even told me he liked my voice.

Thursday, September 9th, 2004.  This day would see the launch of the Metal Mike Show at 4pm.  My then guitarist, Chad, jokingly suggested I call myself Metal Mike.  A manager of mine at work suggested Iron Mike, but some at the station just didn’t like it.  For a few weeks prior to this I had hand drawn ads and plastered them all over the walls of every single building on campus, as well as on the walls of music stores where I lived and even in places in Manhattan, especially the now defunct Manny’s Music on w 47th St.  The guy whose show I covered for read the script for my station promo and immediately asked if he could read it on mic.  It was hysterical hearing him read “It’s time to give the devil his good name back…Hell never sounded so good!”, with as much bass as he could get out of his voice.

With two hours to go I began writing down my playlist for the next three hours, trying to find a balance between the music I wanted to play and the music I’d be required to play.  There were two other metal DJ’s who happily pigeonholed themselves to two extremes, one to Black Metal so underground the bands themselves don’t even know if their demo tape is even circulating, and another guy that loved to cater to his drunk following in England, playing nothing but Swedish Melodic Metal and Power Metal.  Power Metal…GAY.  I wanted to be the balance between those two guys, being a fan of almost all types of Metal…expect Power Metal or anything related to it.  I’d like to think I did a good job with that over the next two plus years.

Ten minutes to go.  I walked in to the On-Air room where another DJ was getting ready to wrap things up, this was on of the two people I sat in with.  Now this woman had an incredible radio voice.  She’ll be oh so shy talking to you but when she’s on air she gets so sensual to the point that you’d think it was a different person.  Looking on the instant messenger on the computer screen I already had to messages.  One was from my dad, who had tuned in on his office computer to hear me, the other being some jackass in the station busting my balls “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ACTUALLY GAVE YOU A SHOW!”  I think I know who it was.   She left, I played a few PSA’s to get settled in, my show’s promo, followed by my favorite station ID track…and off we go!

I had Ozzy open up my show with “Miracle Man” off his classic 1988 album, No Rest For The Wicked.  This was Zakk Wylde’s recording debut with him and I was such a Zakk fanboy at the time.  Also, that opening riff is just huge!  Nerves hitting me so hard, I couldn’t help but practically scream right into the mic once the song ended.  I knew I needed to calm down but I was so nervous I just couldn’t stop myself!  After screaming out the station’s phone number for requests I immediately but on Death’s “Bite The Pain”, a request for one of those two metal DJ’s I mentioned before.  I tried to do everything I could to calm myself down.  It took awhile but as time went on I got a bit more comfortable…until someone came to check on me.

It was 6pm, two hours down, one to go.  Someone asked me how I was doing and as soon as I said ok it went downhill.  I put on Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots”, only for it to start skipping.  So I quickly put “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on the second CD player…and THAT started skipping.  So I pulled out Metallica’s …And Justice For All CD, put on “To Live Is To Die”…and THAT began skipping.  FUCK!  I had no choice but I go back on air and try to save myself.  Luckily for me, the rest of the show went off without a hitch before the next DJ came to relieve me.  All in all I had fun; I clearly had a lot of work to do as far as calming my nerves so I don’t scream into the mic, but this was the beginning of a time that would consume the next two years of my life.

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Helix Nebula – The Last Lights Of A Dying Universe

For my second Underground Review I was approached by Prog Death band Helix Nebula of Riva Vaciamadrid, Spain about checking out there first full-length album, The Last Lights Of A Dying Universe.  They released a digital five track EP, The Beginning Of Time, back in 2013 and they recently played a show with Feel No Pain, whose four track demo I reviewed not too long ago.

I seriously think I’m going to edit my original post on looking for underground bands to mention that I really don’t want to be bothered if a band has an intro track.  Bands, it’s old, it’s been done a million times and all you’re doing is wasting valuable time that I can never get back.  Oh, and if your engineer or producer did it fire his dumb ass right away.  Time is money.  Just stop it!!!

Now to the music!  Upon hearing “God Is God?” I instantly think modern day Dream Theater, with the delay drenched alternate picking line.  And by the way no I’m not a fan of Dream Theater.  The band kicks in…Death Metal growling?  Ok, no problem, I am a Death Meal fan anyway.  Now it’s starting to sound like a cross between the band I mentioned and Opeth.  This song seems to go back a forth between the luscious clean parts that would make the knuckleheads in DT real proud, and Opeth during the heaviest moments on their landmark album, Blackwater Park.  Mike Vera is really good at doing a low rumble into a demonic scream.  I really don’t like how the song ends though, a little to anticlimactic, too soft, even with the quieter ending.

As the album progresses that sound remains very consistent, something lots of Progressive-bands have a major problem doing.  I think the only issue I’m starting to have now is that there are times where I feel that the growling isn’t necessary.  Sure, I did say I like it, but it just doesn’t fit everywhere, especially with the catchiness of some of the chorus’s I’m hearing.  I’m really liking some of the guitar solos, especially on “Night Angel”, where I think different vocal approaches could’ve definitely been used.  I definitely can envision screaming in the choruses to offset the growls during the versus, otherwise it just sounds stale.  One of the things I used to love about a band like Into Eternity is not only could Stu Block growl, he could scream even higher than fucking  Halford AND sing beautifully.

Paula Shultz’s guest vocals on “Dawn Of War” are absolutely breathtaking.  After that this becomes the fastest song on the album so far.  I’d honestly like for the band to do more of this in the future.  Nice guitar harmonies, reminds me of “Flash Of The Blade”, one of my favorite Iron Maiden tracks.  Although, like “God Is God?” it could’ve had a more badass ending.  I feel like it needed to have it.

An interlude?  Really guys?  Is this necessary??  No it’s not!  Another time killer that’s old and annoying.  I really think the last time I found interludes at least amusing was back in the mid-90’s, when I heard the intermission track on Tool’s classic AEnima (they’re totally dead to me after this album) and the intermission on The Offspring’s album Ixnay On The Hombre (yeah it’s punk but it’s album before they sold out COMPLETELY…and I was only thirteen at the time).  Point is, you bands need to knock it off with these fucking interludes – stop it!!!!

After a another minute was wasted “Son Of Antares” comes in with a great solid headbang tempo.  Around the three minute mark it cools off temporarily before the guitar solo.  I really think this was not necessary.  And this is usually my biggest problem with prog metal.  You all want to mix in all of these elements together in a single song and the problem is it doesn’t always make sense.

“Black Flames Of Chaos” had me throw up the horns right away.  Good job guys!  This is the most metal track on the entire album from start to finish.  But more important than that, it’s the most consistent from start to finish.

Uh oh, I think that clean guitar is a tad out of tune on the closing title track; not the best way to start out the beginning of the end.  On top of that, the segue into the heavier section feels very sloppy.  As someone who started out as drummer it was really hard to keep track of the beat there.  Thankfully, it shapes up more after that.  You’ll definitely be able to hear some really consistent thematic changes throughout this ten minute epic, all of which intertwine perfectly.  I would’ve loved the solos near the end to have a bit more attitude to them, not necessarily more notes, just more feel to them.  And once again the ending leaves way too much to be desired.

All in all this is a decent debut album from Helix Nebula.  I mentioned this in my review of Feel No Pain’s demo, but whether you’re making a debut album or demo, you really want to find a way to make it stand out and grab the listener by the fucking throat right at the start of track one – not track two after a pointless intro – track ONE.  They are all fantastic musicians but I totally recommend they focus much more on at least streamlining their songs.

Favorite Tracks: Night Angel, Dawn Of War, Black Flames Of Chaos

You can check out Helix Nebula on their bandcamp site by clicking here:

https://helixnebula.bandcamp.com/

 

“What’s Our Fuckin’ Name?!?!” Anaka Live At Black Bear Bar 7/16/16

Since I’ve moved to New Jersey nearly a year ago I truly don’t have many reasons to go back to New York City…for anything.  Dead serious.  So when I got an invite from Anaka frontman Jimmy Pallis to see them this past Saturday in Brooklyn, I couldn’t say no.  It’d been close to two years since I last saw them at Gramercy Theater so I was a little overdue.  Brief history for those of you who don’t know them:  The band was started by Jimmy and his guitarist brother Peter in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 2000.  Since then Anaka has realeased five albums between then and last year, when they released The Unwavering, they’ve had their videos played on MTV (particularly “Rust And Jade” in 2004) and they even wrote a new theme song for The Ultimate Warrior when he made his brief return to wrestling in 2008.

But more important than any of that shit, they’re extremely loyal to their fans and you can tell that they love what they do.  If Jimmy and Peter were both willing to drive to my neck of the woods a year ago just to sell little ol’ me a ticket that should tell you something.  Jimmy also has  a great memory, when he texted me he told me he remembered I was out of state now and offered to mail me my ticket.  I forgot I even told him I was gone!  Now that I think about it…maybe I told him when he was at my house last time.

Anyway, I’ve also wanted to check out the Black Bear Bar for a while now, just too bad that it had to be in the heart of hipsterland, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It’s times like this that I wish Williamsburg went back to being a hellhole – it’d probably be a hell of a lot more affordable than it is now.  There’s literally real estate there that pricier than even Manhattan nowadays!  So here’s how I’m going to do this: there were five bands on the bill and I don’t want to bore the shit out of you with one to two paragraphs on each band so I’m categorizing everybody in the groups, The Great, The Good and The Shitty.  Let’s start from the bottom since that’s how the show seemed to progress anyway!

The Shitty

So the first band on was The Crimson Syndicate.  The were loud, which did get me interested at first.  The singer could growl like a motherfucker.  The problems?  First off, what is it with bands that have two singers both practically doing the same fucking thing??  It’s one thing to have two singers with completely different roles, like 3 Inches Of Blood did until 2008.  Fuck, what’s the point at all?  I used to like Scar Symmetry a lot and even played them on my radio show frequently.  But when they decided to replace their departing lead singer with two guys I couldn’t help but place my head in my hands.  Next, they turned out to be Deathcore.  Enough said.  Worse?  They’re from Staten Island, home to guidos, guinea trash and lots of herion.  There’s not a lot of great music in Staten Island – but there are lots of drugs!

The Last Alliance from Queens was next.  I won’t be so brutal with them, at least they were tight and on point.  But I have no patience for the power/progressive metal shit.  Their guitarist did play some badass stuff at times and the singer has a hell of a set of pipes;  I will not deny him his due credit.  But the lyrical themes were so power metal that at times you could just taste the cheesiness.  Another no no for me?  Keyboards.

The Good

End All was the first band whose singer had a command over the audience.  He had a lot of energy and his voice fit the music perfectly.  The band’s music are a little more radio friendly than I’d normally go for but it still was heavy and it didn’t sound phony either.  The rhythm section were great.  The one thing holding them back from greatness?  The guitarist.  No, he didn’t suck at all – but his sound sure did.  This guy has a Dean Razorback going through a Peavey and I’d love to understand how he can get such a weak sound out of that!  It’s a shame because he could’ve easily cut through the band during his solos when the time came and, not that he was inaudible, but he just couldn’t cut through the mix.  If you’re THE guitarist in a one guitar band there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to be heard.  He was great but he should either work on the sound he’s getting out of that Peavey head or get an overdrive pedal to use just for solos, like an Ibanez Tubescreamer or a Boss Super Overdrive (I actually own both of these and love them!).

The Great

Proxima Control impressed me very much.  It’s hard to describe their sound.  It’s really heavy yet really melodic.  At first I really didn’t understand the point of one guitar playing a standard six string and another playing a seven string until they played this one riff were the seven string player was cleverly using the low seven – tuned down to G – to make whatever his co-guitarist was playing sound even beefier.  Just like that it all made sense because they weren’t doing that in every single song.  That’s what you call a great ear for dynamics, knowing the right place and the right time for everything.  It always makes all the difference.

The bassist probably impressed me more than anyone else in the band.  Not only could he keep up with those fast tempos with his fingers, sometimes hitting multiple notes at once, he can even tap out the licks and cleanly go back to plucking without skipping a beat.

Anaka were the headliners here.  No sooner do they get on stage did Jimmy yell out to the crowd “Brooklyn, New York!  What’s our fuckin’ name?!?!” to the roar of the crowd.  I was expect a full on moshpit like the one that got me pinned against the bar at Killarney’s, where I first saw Anaka back in 2012.  My left quad hurt for two weeks after that night!  At the end of this you’ll get a link to a playlist featuring a clip of their set as well as Proxima Control’s and End All’s sets.

The band were firing on all cylinders here.  Jimmy looked real hyper up there.  I don’t know if I gave him some of my C4 pre-workout and I just don’t remember or he was just amped up but he was wild up there.  And the screaming was probably the most intense I’ve ever heard it.  It’s not easy to keep up with after sixteen years so he had my respect there.  What really caught my eye more than anything was Peter’s guitar.  I was standing on his side of the stage and saw he had this gorgeous ESP guitar that resembled a cream Gibson Flying V, similar to Scott Ian’s new Jackson Signature V, but with EMG pickups instead of Duncans.

I had to know what the deal was.  So I went up to him and he let me know that he’s officially signed to ESP’s roster and he bought that guitar directly from them.  He even let me cop a feel, that neck feels nice.  Too bad he’s lefty because I really wanted to try it.  He also revealed to me that he’s now also endorsed by KHDK Electronics, you know, the pedal company co-founded/co-owned by Kirk Hammett.  He had the Ghoul Screamer on his pedalboard as a booster for his Dual Rectifier.  I have to admit, it had to be the thickest Pete’s tone has ever been.

Check out Anaka’s website from their music, facebook and upcoming shows, including North Music Venue in Long Island on July 29th.

http://anaka.net

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My next blog should be a review of Helix Nebula so stay tuned.

 

New Videos And More News

So I’ve been pretty busy with recording songs and videos in the last week or so.  I’ve really been inspired in the music department, having uploaded two new songs in the last few days.  Here’s the one I just uploaded today:

Upon listening to it with the drums I mapped out as well as the distorted bass I put there, I find it to be a cross between early Bathory, speedwise, and a more modern Grindcore song around the breakdown section.  I just know my Ibanez Destroyer’s been taking a beating lately with all the things I’m doing.  Speaking of guitars I’ll most likely start recording covers sometime next week.

On the powerlifting front I just began the second cycle of my new 5/3/1 conditioning template.  Only now I’m training four times a week instead of three since I’m currently off from work for the summer – giving me plenty of time to get out all the extra anger my jackass students gave me this year!  I’m serious when I say they need to bring back corporal punishment because today’s kids are way too fucking grown for their own good.  Fuck the kids.  Anyway, here’s my latest Deadlift video.  The whole workout can be found in the description box of the video:

I figured out a great way to use my phone to film myself Deadlift and Overhead Pressing without using anyone’s help.  I just need to find a way to do it for Benching and Squatting.  Also, I’m not too far away from Diamond Gym in Maplewood, NJ, and I’d like to also make my way over there next week to get a workout in.  That place is just so fucking hardcore that I HAVE to go there.

More News

A quick reminder that I’ll be at Anaka’s show at the Black Bear Bar in Brooklyn this Saturday.  I’ll be making a video or two, as well as writing about it here so keep your eyes posted.  Also, I was approached by Helix Nebula, a band from just outside of Madrid, Spain, about reviewing their new album and I agreed to do it so I should be doing that in the next week as well.  Helix Nebula recently played a show with Feel No Pain, another band from Madrid, who’s demo I just reviewed; so I’m assumed that’s how they found me.

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Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us

After probably over 100 listens in the past week since I got this in the mail I still can’t find the words to describe how I feel about Nails’ Nuclear Blast debut, You Will Never Be One Of Us.  Why?  Because all I want to do is jump someone from behind and literally BEAT THAT PERSON TO A BLOODY DEATH AND SET THE FUCKING CORPSE ON FIRE!!!!  This record is the combination of the band’s last two albums, resulting in an album that brings out literally EVERY single negative emotion I can think of.  This has got to be the ugliest, most vile, disgusting, violent, hate-filled album I’ve ever heard in my entire life – and I loved every single second of it!

It kicks right off with the title track, which starts off exactly like in the music video, with members of Neurosis, Youth Code and Baroness saying “You Will Never Be One Of Us”, before the bands kicks in…in one big explosion of rage.  Unless you haven’t seen the video for the title track since it came out back in April, you’ve already heard vocalist/guitarist Todd Jones’ brand new hate filled approach to vocals.  It’s not the high pitched scream of Abandon All Life, and it’s not the yelling of Unsilent Death either.  It’s the type of angry, slobbering, vile (I think I’m going to use that word a few more times here) noise you make when you’re fighting some asshole.

You FEEL Todd’s hate at the scene that he gave his life to when he barks “Fuck your trends/fuck your friends/fuck your groupies”.  That song and the album as a whole are about those who give their all to the lifestyle and those who are only in it for the money and the fame that doesn’t really come with this kind of music.  It’s all about being REAL and that’s what makes this album what it is.

Tracks that follow the opener, such as the vitriol drenched “Friend To All” and “Life Is A Death Sentence” (and he’s not wrong there!) continue the musical beatdown.  If you never knew who Nails were until this record came out last week you should know now that you will never be allowed to catch your breath when listening to any of their shit. One of my favorite tracks on here is “Savage Intolerance”, which also happens to be the second song the band made a video for.  It sounds like Grindcore for most of the song…all 1:46 of it…until the mid-section kicks in.   During that section you hear Taylor Young’s doublebass along with a very metallic, dissonant guitar harmony line that makes me feel like everything I know is crashing down all around me and there is no time at all to save myself.

The final track, “They Come Crawling Back”, is the longest track on here, clocking in a just over eight minutes.  Much like in “Savage Intolerance”, the band seem to branch out of the Grindcore/D-Beat sound more and more, because this song is a lot sludgier than anything they ever did.  It reminds me of “Suum Clique”, the closing track to Abandon All Life, with the deliberately slower tempo.  Come to think about it, the slightly faster chorus reminds me of a much rawer Crowbar, only Todd Jones is barking violently into the mic instead of Kirk Windstein’s sandpaper wails.

It’s hard to believe Nails could top Abandon All Life but they did.   At just over 21 minutes it’s all substances and no bullshit, just like their previous two records.  But the biggest difference with You Will Never Be One Of Us is that, thanks to producer/Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, Nails is in a position most bands like them will never know and that’s the ability to appeal to not just one crowd.  There are elements of Metal, Grindcore and, true to Todd’s past in Terror, Hardcore.  It’s only June but I’m already calling this the Album Of The fucking Year!

 

 

Feel No Pain – First God Of The Earth

So, when I was recently contacted by Feel No Pain from Madrid, Spain about reviewing their new four track demo, First God Of The Earth, they described it as Metallica-meets-Sepultura.  But, after repeated listens, I’m afraid that’s not really the case because some of Sepultura’s classic shit borderlines on Death Metal and most of the material here is far too melodic.  Metallica-meets-Iron Maiden?  Much more like it – and there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way.

The instrumental “Mass For The Ancient One” opens up the demo.  I have to admit now that I was never really a fan of instrumentals being used to open up anything, especially a demo where you’re trying to introduce yourselves to the world.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a minute or so wasted that you cold use to let people hear the songs.  Having said that, the track itself does sound very ominous in a classical way.  I can almost envision that beast on the cover slowly arising from the waters, ready to raise hell.

The demo’s title track comes right in with nothing but double bass.  Guitarists David and Hector come right behind with very Maiden sounding harmonies.  I really like the sound of Cesar’s snare drum here!  I hope he can maintain this sound if the band every does a professional recording.  I’m almost positive the lyrics have something to do with that beast on the cover.  Maybe I was right about the intro resembling it coming out to raise hell?  It makes me think that if I were in this band, what I would have done was connect “Mass For The Ancient One” to this song as one track.  No time would be wasted then!

“Cry Of The Undead” begins as nice old-school thrasher with tightly muted fast picking that would make even Hetfield proud.  It breaks down in time for David to start singing about a zombie, stuck between wanting to die and wanting to find someone just like him, until he finds that he’s not alone at all.  You’ll definitely hear the Maiden influence as the song ends in a very “To Tame A Land” fashion, just not as epic.

“Sky Burial”, probably the best track here, comes charging right in at the gate!  This is actually a great way to close the demo up.  It’s a good mix of Maiden’s melodicism and Iced Earth’s tight arrangements.  If I were any of the members of this band I’d want to stick to this for a bit – and I haven’t been a fan of Iced Earth in years.

Feel No Pain sounds like a hungry band.  No doubt about it.  If there’s anything I’d change it’s the vocals for sure.  There’s nothing wrong with singing but I feel like these lyrics need to be sung with more attitude.  Much more.  In this modern metal world I think it’s important that if you’re going to play traditional style you should at least give it a modern edge in order to reach out to more people.  That’s why I liked Testament’s 2008 comeback, The Formation Of Damnation.  It had all the elements of those early Alex Skolnick/Lou Clemente-era albums, but the difference was that Paul Bostaph’s doublebass licks locked in with Eric Peterson’s rhythm guitars gave the songs an edge Lou could never give them.

Here’s the video to “First God Of The Earth” their bandcamp, and facebook pages:

http://feelnopainmetal.bandcamp.com/releases