Archive for April, 2007

trivium-crusadeIn 2005, Trivium released Ascendancy, an album combining crushing thrash riffs, elements of metal and metalcore, and what has become a common harsh/clean vocal attack. Though they have much more in common with traditional or thrash metal, Trivium often was lumped into the metalcore genre. The Crusade is the furthest thing from metalcore, combining classic riffs with a modern sensibility. (more…)

Dew-Scented: "Retaining the Scars"

Dew-Scented: “Retaining the Scars”

With its new album Incinerate (review), Germany’s Dew-Scented has done what they’ve been doing since the early 1990s, releasing another pummeling record firmly sitting between the subgenres of thrash and death metal. Lead vocalist Leif Jensen dubs the style “extreme thrash,” and who could argue? The album is one metal-thrashing-mad song after another, set off by the first single/video, the vengeful “That’s Why I Despise You.” If that wasn’t enough, Incinerate also features guest performances by guitarist Jeff Waters of Annihilator and vocalist Mille Petrozza of Kreator. Jensen gave’s Jeff Maki a call to chat about the new album, the band’s longevity and … umm …Tori Amos? (more…)

AE-black-earthIt seems like ages ago that Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy would have been fronted by Johan Liiva (if I was a fan of the band back then). Of course, Angela Gassow is now the deadliest female vocalist in extreme metal and has helped catapult Arch Enemy to stardom. As lead guitarist Michael Amott explained to me in an interview in 2006, the band was searching for a persona or an identity in the vocal department. Though Liiva’s vocals were strong, they were somewhat ordinary, causing fans’ focal points to be the amazing guitar playing of Michael and his brother, Christopher Amott. Listen to the re-release of Black Earth, and you’ll hear an excellent melodic death metal album, but you can also see Amott’s point. (more…)

Review by Greg Maki
Since Trivium frontman Matt Heafy recommended Sanctity to Roadrunner Records in 2005, the Asheville, N.C., quartet has shared stages with Megadeth, Lamb of God and Arch Enemy on the 2006 edition of Gigantour (handpicked by Dave Mustaine), and toured with the likes of DragonForce, Children of Bodom and Black Label Society. No pressure, then, for Sanctity’s debut, Road to Bloodshed, huh? These boys are up to the challenge, as the disc is a wonderful example of modern thrash metal. (more…)

DT-fictionDark Tranquillity, one of the forefathers of the “Gothenburg sound,” never ceases to amaze me and other fans of extreme metal, even almost 15 years after their release of their debut album, Skydancer. Their new release, Fiction, is their most impressive effort in years. The melancholy feel and extended use of keyboards marks a return to earlier albums such as The Gallery or The Mind’s Eye, and every aspect of Dark Tranquillity’s sound climbs to an all-time high on Fiction. (more…)

Dimmu-sorteNo matter what you think of Norwegian black metal titans Dimmu Borgir, this much is true: they do not leave any ideas in the tank. Dimmu’s brand of theatrical black metal throws not just the kitchen sink at the listener, but the kitchen, the parlor and probably the garage. Blast beats, interlocking vocals between Shagrath and Vortex, Gregorian chants and spooky keyboards are just part of the operatic sweep of Dimmu’s sound. This isn’t just heavy metal, it’s Rosemary’s Baby set to music. (more…)


Photos by Greg Maki (more…)

Lacuna Coil

Lacuna Coil

More than a year after the release of its latest album, Karmacode, Italys Lacuna Coil continues its assault on U.S. audiences, winning over new fans with each tour. It will soon go from a support slot on the Jägermeister Music Tour with Stone Sour and Shadows Fall to headlining “The Hottest Chick in Metal Tour,” also featuring Within Temptation, The Gathering, In This Moment and Stolen Babies. When the Jäger tour recently stopped at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Pa., Greg Maki of Live Metal caught up with guitarist Cristiano Migliore on the band’s bus. The day included an acoustic performance at Russo Music in Trenton, N.J. (which guitarist Marco “Maus” Biazzi missed, forcing Chris to rearrange the songs on short notice), a signing session at Relapse Records in Philadelphia and the show that night.

This was Live Metal’s second time interviewing Chris, one of the friendliest people we have had the pleasure of meeting. A big thank you goes to Chris and Gus, Lacuna Coil’s tour manager, for making time for us on a busy day. (more…)

nightrage_new-diseaseReview by Jeff Maki
About one minute into this album I started to realize that this isn’t the Nightrage I remember. The melodic death band previously released two albums on Century Media Records: 2003’s Sweet Vengeance and Descent Into Chaos in 2005. The title of the new album alludes to the band’s rebirth with a new vocalist, Jimmie Strimmel, and record label, Lifeforce Records. Strimmel has big shoes to fill, replacing the mighty Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) who provided vocals for the band’s first two albums. They are still melodic death at heart, but the sound of A New Disease Is Born seems to be Americanized to some extent. (more…)

Review by Greg Maki
It’s an amazing thing, sobriety. For most of his career (which now spans nearly two decades), Trent Reznor has been infamous for the five-year gaps between albums of original Nine Inch Nails studio material. But sometime before the release of 2005’s With Teeth, he embraced a healthier lifestyle, kicking his addictions and hitting the weight room. I don’t know whether we have that to thank for the quick turnaround on his follow-up, Year Zero, or if world events inspired Reznor so strongly that he simply couldn’t delay getting his message out. Likely, it’s a combination of those factors. Whatever is driving him, let’s hope it continues. Year Zero is yet another magnificent musical journey with one of the great artists of our time as our guide.

No one has mined the field of self-loathing for better results than Reznor achieved on classics Pretty Hate Machine (1989) and The Downward Spiral (1994), but at 41 years old and sober, his focus finally has shifted from within to without. He’s realized there is world outside his own head, and he’s not at all pleased by what he sees. Year Zero takes us to the year 2022. The war on terror that Reznor assailed on With Teeth’s “The Hand That Feeds” has escalated to the point where the U.S. government has become a virtual religious dictatorship that uses drugs in the water supply and a “Bureau of Morality” to control the populace. The story gradually unfolds over the album’s 16 tracks, and so confident is Reznor in his dystopian vision that he rarely raises his voice. His patented tortured screams are all but absent. Instead, he is more of a singer than ever before, his vocals seemingly the only human element of the recording.

Musically, Reznor abandons the live feel of With Teeth and immerses himself in electronics, creating harsh, cold soundscapes to mirror the inhumanity of his future world. While With Teeth was stripped down, practically a punk album by NIN standards, Year Zero returns to the dense, textured construction more familiar to Reznor. That being said, the walls of noise and distortion that filled The Downward Spiral are mostly missing here. At the same time, Year Zero manages to sound like Nine Inch Nails and unlike anything Reznor has done before. I’m purposely avoiding going into detail concerning the sound and content of individual songs because this is an album that deserves to be heard in its entirety. That may be asking a lot when for a disc that runs nearly 65 minutes, but it’s worth the time. For the record, “Survivalism,” “The Good Soldier,” “Capital G” and “Meet Your Master” are among the standout tracks.

Fans of the harder-edged Broken-era Nine Inch Nails may be put off by the abundance of blips, beeps and sampled drums. But “heavy” doesn’t always mean louder guitars and angrier screams. Driven by a powerful artistic vision, Reznor has placed his personal demons on the backburner to craft a rare work of true importance.

(Nothing/Interscope, 2007)

Rating: 9/10

sfu-commandmentSince we’ve had the answer to that often wondered question “What is it like to be Ozzy’s kid?” I do believe we now need a reality show that follows Six Feet Under frontman Chris Barnes around. Barnes, of course, is the former vocalist for extreme metal legends Cannibal Corpse and has been leading his second band, Six Feet Under, which started as a side project, for 12 prolific years. (more…)

Review by Greg Maki

Dec. 8, 2004 will forever live on in the hearts and minds of so many people. It has been called the 9/11 of metal, but that description only begins to tell the story. While the news of the on-stage murder of legendary Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott dominated the headlines, the names Jeffrey “Mayhem” Thompson, Erin Halk and Nathan Bray were forgotten by most—if they were even known at all. Like Dimebag, these three men lost their lives at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, in a senseless act of violence. They were laid to rest with little fanfare, and VH1’s Pantera Behind the Music episode never identified them by name.

Author Chris A. has corrected a great wrong with his book A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa. Through extensive research and the cooperation of the families of Thompson (Damageplan’s security chief), Halk (an Alrosa Villa roadie) and Bray (a diehard metal fan), he paints a vivid portrait of each man, showing the reader how they lived and the heroism in how they died. (more…)