TICKETS AN DER ABENDKASSE
CANNIBAL CORPSE + DEVILDRIVER + THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER + HOUR OF PENANCE
Returning with the ceaselessly hostile Torture, Cannibal Corpse prove that when it comes to combining unrestrained maliciousness, involving song writing and technical precision they still have no equal, once again fortifying their position at the forefront of death metal. The twelfth full-length of their inspiring twenty-four year career, the Floridian quintet have never sounded so vital, the album building upon the wealth of powerful, dark, and memorable songs comprising 2006's Kill and 2009's Evisceration Plague and pointedly upping the ante at every turn. While this marks the latest progression in the band's sound, Torture also witnesses a return to what drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz accurately terms "the frenzied attack of Butchered At Birth (1991) or Tomb Of The Mutilated (1992)", infusing the band's advanced musicianship with the raw savagery that haunted their earlier releases, and in the process conceiving the definitive Cannibal Corpse record.
From the moment the aptly titled "Demented Aggression" explodes to life in a storm of blistering riffs and turbulent drums it is unequivocally apparent that the band are at their ruthless best, and everything that follows backs this up vehemently. From the monstrous chugging of "Sarcophagic Frenzy" to the deeply sinister "Followed Home Then Killed" or the loping evil of "Scourge of Iron", every track hits with sledgehammer force, and each one boasts its own hideous character, the band refusing to repeat themselves at any point. "While we make everything as heavy as possible there's a very strong emphasis placed on song writing in this band, trying to make every song individual, and I think you should be able to hit play at any point on a record and be able to tell one song from another almost instantly," states bassist Alex Webster. "We want all the songs to be brutal death metal, but we also want them to be instantly identifiable from one another, and that's something that is definitely true of the songs on Torture."
Webster also believes that stability in the band's ranks greatly contributes to the record's strength, Torture being the third consecutive album featuring the current lineup of himself and co-founding member Mazurkiewicz, alongside guitarists Rob Barrett and Patrick O'Brien, and vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. "The band is at its strongest right now, and I think we're at our very peak as far as playing ability and song writing maturity. As a result of that this is the album where we've been able to finally best get across what we wanted to do as players and as song writers." Equally, this is their third release to be helmed by producer Erik Rutan (of Hate Eternal fame), and while Kill and Evisceration Plague were recorded entirely at Rutan's MANA studio in St. Petersburg, Florida, this time out the sessions were split between MANA and Sonic Ranch, in Tornillo, Texas. Having tracked 1999's Colin Richardson-produced Bloodthirst, as well as 2002's Gore Obsessed and 2004's The Wretched Spawn (both produced by Neil Kernon) at Sonic Ranch, the band were keen to once again experience the isolation of working essentially in the middle of nowhere, this time with Rutan calling the shots.
"The studio is about forty miles outside of El Paso, and we made a point of not having a rental car so we were stuck there, that way all we could think about was the record," Webster states. "When we record in Florida usually the only guy in the studio with Erik is the one recording that day, and having us all together rather than scattered really helped us focus and totally immerse ourselves in the music, and I think that it's a far better record for it." This approach has resulted in a record that not only delivers a devastating punch but also eschews merely replicating the sound of their previous collaborations, and Mazurkiewicz asserts that their relationship with the producer is a tremendously beneficial one. "He's a death metal guitar player and a death metal singer, which makes him 'one of us'. On top of that he's a great guy, a workaholic, and a great motivator because he's not only an extremely talented peer but he's always nitpicking and doing what he's got to do to make everything better. He pushes us to make the best possible record and does what needs to be done to give it a distinctive sound of its own."
Though the band continue to dwell on dark and disturbing lyrical areas, they long ago transcended the early notoriety bestowed upon them (based solely upon their artwork and lyrics) through proving themselves one of the best – and hardest working – live bands in modern heavy music. As such, while they certainly stand defiant as part of the old guard in death metal, through their devotion to touring and consistently releasing bigger and better records they have retained both their relevance and bite while many of the bands that hacked their way out of the scene twenty years ago have fallen by the wayside. Equally, as the genre's profile has begun to once again grow in recent years the band do not concern themselves with thoughts of being dethroned by younger generations of bands following in their wake.
"We get inspired by seeing these other bands doing killer music, but we definitely don't feel threatened by it," Webster states. With a great many contemporary death metal bands perhaps overly concerned with being recognized as the 'fastest' or 'most technical', the art of the song itself seems often overlooked, and that is a trap Cannibal Corpse have never fallen into. "I am very into ultra-fast music that shows off chops, but I think that it's important to develop ability as a musician not to show off that ability but rather to use it to write killer songs. Writing a genuinely memorable, killer song is very challenging, but the best albums are the ones with the best songs, period."
In 2012, Cannibal Corpse have ensured that the twelve songs comprising Torture are the very best and therefore cohere to make the best possible album, though they are not content to rest upon their laurels and they are as hungry as ever to unleash their distinctive breed of aural horror upon heaving mosh pits. "I haven't been this excited about a release in a long time," enthuses Mazurkiewicz. "We worked so hard at it and we hope that the fans feel the same way we do. Being out there and getting to play these songs live will once again prove to people we're not going anywhere. We're not going through the motions, we're really trying to be the best band we can be, and we're just getting better."
DevilDriver tear their way through heavy metal again with Beast, the band's fifth album for Roadrunner Records, which is an exorcism of animalistic, primal hooks, thunderous percussion and propulsive thrashing. While many bands in the modern era are already withering away by their second album and have shriveled up and died by their third, DevilDriver have proven to mutate, growing stronger, deadlier and more immortal with each successive release. Beast is living, firebreathing proof of that unassailable fact.
DevilDriver—Dez Fafara (Vocals), John Boecklin (Drums), Jeff Kendrick (Guitar), Mike Spreitzer (Guitar), Jon Miller (Bass)—have awakened something dark, deadly and dangerous. They've brought Beast to life for record number five. With Beast, DevilDriver ventured into new territory: the grooves are catchier than ever, but there's an intricacy and taut technicality to them, representative of an angrier musical monster. Beast comes a mere two years after the band's incredibly successful Pray for Villains, which debuted at number 35 on the Billboard Top 200. Villains even surpassing first-week sales of their critically acclaimed 2007 outing, The Last Kind Words and 2005's The Fury of Our Maker's Hand. It's been a constant uptick for the Southern California quintet since they first blasted a hole through the zeitgeist in 2003 with their pivotal self-titled debut.
DevilDriver continue breaking the mold and busting heads in the studio and on stage. Who can forget their now legendary appearance at Download 2007, which arguably generated the biggest circle pit in history? Or any other live show they've played for that matter? Or any of the explosive anthems they've released to radio or video? Nevertheless, everything that has come before merely served as a prelude to the birth of Beast.
"It's another level," Fafara says of his band's latest offering, insisting that the band isn’t tethered to any style, genre or self-imposed limitations. "We didn't simply re-issue a sound we found that worked, which most bands will do especially on their fifth, sixth or seventh record. They'll lay on their laurels and stick to what they've done. We're not looking at what anyone around us is doing. Since we're not paying attention to any of that, we were able to find unique music within ourselves. We tried to break some boundaries and stretch the genre open. We keep redefining ourselves."
Most bands don't sound this fierce and fiery on record number one and most don’t have the stamina to retain this burst of sound and fury by a fifth full-length. However, DevilDriver aren’t “most bands”; they burst at the seams with a violent energy that teeters between the hyper-charged assault of "Hardened" and the punked-out fire of "Bring the Fight (To the Floor.)"
Fafara goes on to say that "Everyone came full circle on this album. They're all playing their asses off. This is something where I put myself to the test. We've taken a complete left turn by really trying to install groove and cadence. You hear weird, odd tempos, and we're taking little slices of the map out and putting in groove. For me, there's a lot of punk rock influence too. It's a crazy dichotomy of music."
The musical prowess of the band members is becoming more evident beyond the metal world, as Spreitzer, Kendrick and Miller will all release signature ESP guitars sometime next year. Miller is also only the third bassist in the history of the company to have his own signature bass, which is a testament to his fortification of DevilDriver’s rhythmic backbone. Boecklin has also been prominently featured in all drum magazines, namely Modern Drummer and DRUM!, as his kit work continues to turn heads.
DevilDriver conjure genuine chaos and make it beautifully brutal with the dichotomy that Fafara spoke of. For Fafara, the title sums up the band's mindset. "The record title Beast doesn't just explain the music. It really has to do with us and what we've become. The touring machine that we are is Beast. As friends, we're Beast. That describes us perfectly. The last 24 months has really shown us who we are as individuals and as a band. After everything we've gone through as people and as a band, it's totally appropriate."
That touring machine will commence in the immediate wake of the album's February 22, 2011 release. Be prepared to hear "Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)" being screamed back to DevilDriver at festivals worldwide by fans. On songs like "Shitlist" and "You Make Me Sick (Sacred Secrets,)" Fafara and Co. go right for the jugular musically and lyrically.
"It's a sincere, pissed-off street record," reveals the singer. "It's got straight-to-your-heart lyrics. I jumped outside of myself on Pray for Villains and wrote stories. On this one, I came back to who I was. It was an intense time, and this captures that intensity. It's the guy who walks through shit the best that eventually starts hovering over the top and he wins. Some people will lock themselves in a dark room and wallow because the world is crumbling. I do the opposite. I start sharpening my teeth and my nails. I start looking with an electric fucking glance and moving through life. That's what this album is about—the daily fight that is life."
Producer Mark Lewis [All That Remains, Trivium] encouraged the band to continue to fighting harder. After an intense series of writing sessions in early 2010, DevilDriver recorded with Lewis at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. Fafara and Lewis finished vocals together in San Diego at the home studio of Tim Lambesis [As I Lay Dying]. Dez continues, "Working with Mark Lewis was a great help this time because he envisioned where we were all going with us. He wanted us to step out of the box, and together we did."
Stepping out of the box lead to "Dead to Rights," which spills blood with every note, building an infectious refrain within the framework of pummeling polyrhythmic madness. "Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)" is an anthemic war cry that drops from shrieking verses into double bass terror, while "Blur" spits punk grit into extreme metal posturing. This is one Beast that cannot and will not be contained.
In the end, Beast is as alive as anything DevilDriver has done up to this point because of the devotion of the members.
Fafara concludes, "These five souls make this band what it is. It lies in the salt and pepper from everyone. What's most important is our fans get delivered the kind of music, stage show and energy that they're expecting from us. Because of all the time and personal sacrifice, we are a Beast. The pleasure is that we're all together as friends still. Nothing can stop DevilDriver."
This Beast is alive and won't ever die. You have been warned…
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER
HOUR OF PENANCE
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