Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hotblack will take you back


If you think the past 20 years of rock_ fuck it, music in general_ have been a big suck, then Hotblack is the band for you.

Formed in 2004, the quartet sticks to a restricted diet of old-school punk and hardcore, melodic metal, and groove that never slows to stoner speeds. Guitarist Todd Cuff says the whole idea of hotel-room smashing, whiskey guzzling, cash bathing hedonism is the inspiration behind Hotblack, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything quite so indulgent in the music itself.

Instead, Cuff, singer and guitarist Airworlf, bassist Dan Egan, and drummer Josh Puza knock out two-minute tunes full of snot and piss, and they don’t care what you think about their Camaro-stealing ways.

Even though these guys are coming from different backgrounds_ Egan, for instance, was in Western Mass death-metal stalwarts Exhumed_ they find common ground that’s both familiar and their own. You start to think the band is heading off into a Motorhead direction and it suddenly swerves into something more punk. When things get Ramones-y, count on metal to come barreling in. None of it is jarring (at least in a bad way). Actually, it swings.

“I could toss up a black metal tune and Airwolf would make it swing. That’s just the way he is,” Cuff says.
Dan Egan on bass and Airwolf on guitar (Return to the Pit photo)

Hotblack, whose flat-out slash 'n' burn set at this year's Rock and Shock fest in Worcester reportedly put a kink in  Jerry Only's devil lock,  has a pair of shows coming up. The first is Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Elevens, 140 Pleasant St., Northampton. That bill also has Palace in Thunderland (featuring ex-Black Pyramid members), and Planetoid. Then on Dec. 15, Hotblack teams with Humanoid at No Problemo, 813 Purchase St., New Bedford.

And maybe in time for Christmas the band will haul out remaining copies of “Rock n Roll Will Destroy Your Life,” the CD released in 2008, disappeared for a few years, and returned in limited quantities in the fall.

“Maybe we’ll just release it every October like a seasonal beer,” says Cuff. Any new stuff is likely going to simply go up online since in the guitarist’s estimation there is no music business to speak of.

And he doesn’t know which is worse: no more gold-plated tour jets or a world where bands flog their gigs on Facebook.

“I hate to whore on Facebook. It’s the least rock ’n’ roll thing imaginable,” Cuff says “Can you imagine Jimmy Page using Facebook to announce a gig? Ozzy would have never used Facebook. He’d just announce a gig five minutes before it happened and that’s fine.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This'll do, Fog Wizard

Fog Wizard’s new “Anything Metal Will Do” may be just five-songs long, but that’s enough time for this band to run a course from murder to monsters to some more murder and a few points in between. It all raw and rough, but pretty unchained as singer Captain Motherfucker navigates punk, doom, and death elements crammed into E.P.

“Lobo” gets things going on an impressively gruesome note as the band rips through a tale of abuse met with ax-wielding vengeance. Evil McDeathington pops the cork with a bit of bass bashing before drummer Gott der Kettensagen keeps a steady death-march beat over which Darth Drewcifer666 deploys a variety of guitar squeals and screeches. Capt. Motherfucker narrates the story of our psycho Lobo (last spotted in New Hampshire), and sets up a lunatic pace that the rest of the band works around for the remainder of the project.

“Metal Warriors” is more or less ode to Motorhead, with the thrash ’n’ punk approach carried over to “Fear the Kraken,” a bit of monster metal that would sound at home in a Dethklok set.

But before anyone thinks Fog Wizard is just shitting around, the band cranks out the brutal punked-up “Meat is Murder,” a song that says "screw" to preaching and just gets down to the nitty gritty of the shit and blood of slaughterhouse livin’.

 “Gone” closes out the disc with a blast of doom, though in this case der Kettensagen gets all schizophrenic on the kit while the bass and guitar lock down the groove.

Fog Wizard’s CD-release show for “Anything Metal Will Do” happens Monday, Nov. 26, at the Middle East in Cambridge. Sunken Ships, Earthstomper, Descend Upon The Sane, and Black Trip are also on the bill. The show is 18+ and doors open at 7 p.m.

This marks the inaugural show of Metal Monday, a monthly showcase of local and regional metal bands that LT Live is booking into the Middle East. Seren and Boarcorpse will be on the Dec. 10 Metal Monday bill.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Get in the "Gutter" with Hivesmasher

Hivesmasher’s “Gutter Choir” is the sound of crazy pushed to the point where songs could fall apart with the slightest nudge from an extra drum beat, scream, or guitar note.

“That’s a line we live on,” says Hivesmasher drummer Tim Brault. “Some songs teeter on the edge of losing it. Early Slayer is like that. It’s like they were trying to cram so much into a song so fast that it sounds like it’s about to break.”

“Gutter Choir” is the latest from the Mass grindcore troupe comprised of singer Aaron Heinold, guitarists Tyler Kingsland and Julius Hayden, keyboard player Dan Bolton, bass player Ali Ghorashi, and Brault. Black Market Activities released the tunes on vinyl LP and downloads, which  are available on Bandcamp and usual outlets. is also carrying the vinyl.

After a few lineup changes, Hivesmasher drops the hammer in a big way with this album that veers from minute-and-a-half blow outs to longer beat downs, like the five-minute “Damage (P)inc.” The songs titles alone are entertaining _ “Vomitouch,” “Can of Awesometism,” “The Shit Waltz.”

But this ain’t novelty metal. Heinold brings the hell down on every song, with a mix of punk economy and disciplined spazzed-out thrash guitar riffs backing his vocal assaults. There's not much concern for orthodoxy, as you find singer Jake Burns from death-prog outfit Pathogenic joining in on the particularly scabby “Used Food.”

Pathogenic and Hivesmasher aren’t exactly tapping the same veins, but this collaboration works, basically because both bands put musicality ahead of genre.

“We won’t like a band just because it’s a grindcore band or dislike a band just because it is not a grindcore band,” says Brault.

And besides, the dudes in Hivesmasher and Pathogenic are buds going way back. Other guests on the record include Guy Kozowyk from The Red Chord, Nate Johnson from Fit for an Autopsy, and Eric Taranto from Dysentery.

Even though Hivesmasher crams a shitload of ideas into “Gutter Choir” (spacey keyboards- check. bile-spewing cover of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”- check), this record is oozing its goods rather than serving them up all hermetically sealed.

“I have pretty strong opinions about producing a metal album,” says Brault who co-produced this disc. “A lot of metal records_ and heavy music in general_ is missing the energy that people are supposed to like about it.”

Hivesmasher went for a “record it live” approach, and got in shape by playing a lot of shows before heading into the studio. It paid off, and now comes time to get back out on stage.

Hivesmasher is performing Wednesday, Nov. 21, at The Palladium in Worcester, MA, with headliners Gaza plus Code Orange Kids, Full of Hell, Great American Ghost, The Navidson Record, and Monoliths. The show starts at 6:30 p.m.

Hivesmasher then has its eye on a Dec. 20 show at Great Scott in Allston, MA, followed by a January tour into Canada.

“What better time to head to Canada than middle of winter, right?,” Brault posits.

Ah, but your music already gave you away as anything but conventional. Looking forward to a Black Wednesday before Thanksgiving

Monday, November 12, 2012

Megadeth relaunches "Countdown"

Even though Megadeth has been touring steadily since the release of “Thirteen” last November, it was easy to see why band founder and leader Dave Mustaine didn’t want to pass up a chance to make the rounds one more time with a full airing of “Countdown to Extinction” to commemorate that album’s 20th anniversary. Not only is “Countdown” Megadeth’s most commercially successful album to date, but also_ and more importantly_ it is as resonant today as when it came out.

Mustaine caught shit during the election season for comments made about the validity of Rick Santorum and the historical accuracy of 9/11 accounts. Sunday, Nov. 11, during Megadeth’s show at The Palladium in Worcester, Mustaine wasn’t going to be muzzled, blasting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not yet testifying before Congress about the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya.

Being an agitator is nothing new for Mustaine, “Countdown to Extinction” being a prime case in point. He’s an equal-opportunity ranter, who points out dire desperate deeds and other bullshit wherever he finds them. You still hear that loudly on “Countdown,” especially on the title track, “Symphony of Destruction” and “Foreclosure of a Dream."

Beyond its relevance, “Countdown to Extinction” is simply a solid album from start to finish. The well-known songs come early, but that closing shot of “Captive Honour” and “Ashes in Your Mouth” is as powerful as anything you'll find in the Megadeth catalog.
Broderick, Drover, Mustaine, Ellefson...Megadeth 2012

The current lineup of Megadeth with guitarist Chris Broderick, drummer Shawn Drover, and founding members Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson did the “Countdown” songs proud. Broderick_ who has been in the band for four years_ teams well with Mustaine in trading licks and building towering thrash harmonies. A lot goes on in the “Countdown” songs, from political and social commentary to odes about skydiving and cyborgs. The music is as rangy as the themes. Megadeth 2012 nailed it in proper celebratory style, meaning they played the songs like they still enjoyed them, not like they were fulfilling a tour-poster promise.

Before Megadeth got to “Countdown,” it offered up a mix of old and new material, starting with “Trust.” The intricacy of the production blew away the band’s Gigantour show from January. Mind searing vids and lights accompanied most numbers, which helped those occasional rough patches when Mumblin’ Mustaine’s vocals just sunk into the sound mix.

Longtime favorite “Hangar 18” showed up early, followed by “She-Wolf,’ a song that Megadeth keeps firm in the set list and actually holds its own as a fierce live number. The smoky “A Tout le Monde” gave way to two solid new songs, “Public Enemy #1” (whose monkey video offers the best chimp action-film footage since Lance Link) and “Whose Life (is it Anyway?)” before “Countdown” kicked off.

The non-“Countdown” sequence aptly set the stage, as the band sounded tight but not overly prepped or too stiff to let the solos and jams feel a little spontaneous.

After “Countdown,” Megadeth sealed the concert as a great one with explosive versions of “Peace Sells,” which brought out mascot Vic Rattlehead to stalk the stage for a bit, and “Holy Wars…Punishment Due,” final reminders that the old fights are still dominating today’s news. Keep talking, Mustaine.

Kyng opened with a grungy bit of three-piece hard rock. The band offered a decent stew of stoner, thrash and doom.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kali Ma's voiceless howl

Why should jazz guys and jam bands get all the instrumental glory? Kali Ma is fixing that. The Connecticut quartet is pure metal, and recently captured its prog-meets-thrash ferocity on a self-titled CD/DVD package.

Whether your framework for instrumental metal is Meshuggah’s too-brief “Obsidian” or Metallica’s classic “Call of Ktulu,” Kali Ma pushes at those boundaries with songs that are brutal and vivid.

Without needing to make room for a singer, guitarists Roy Moore and Todd Whitlock are untamed, turning their progressive leads and riff structures a little grimy and dirty. One of the best things about Kali Ma’s instro approach is that the band doesn’t treat its metal as precious.

Bassist Jay Madore and drummer Shawn Cavanaugh keep things dynamic as the guitarists bear down. The rhythm section navigates a course that keeps the music is a state of tension between heavily down-tuned chug and purely melodic thrash.

Aside from “Death March,” the tunes performed live for the CD and DVD are simply numbered compositions_ not jams, but precisely arranged tunes that coalesce around sonic themes. “XIV” is mournful; “XVIIII” veers into a spacey interlude; and “XVIII” is pure ode to thrash.

“Death March” is featured all over the new package, becoming something of the band’s signature anthem. It opens the series of live tracks recorded at the Daniel Street Club. It is also part of the studio recordings making up the second part of the CD. And the band worked with Edwin Escobar to create a long-form video for the song that unspools on the DVD like a vintage slasher flick – again no words, just music and visuals.

The concert footage on the DVD is likewise well shot and brings the viewer right on stage to get a glimpse of these guys at work, not to mention their effect on a metal audience. Definitely not the norm for a metal show, but why be normal?

The Kali Ma CD/DVD package is available online through the band’s Facebook page and you can catch Kali Ma live on these upcoming dates:

Nov. 16 at Bleachers in Bristol, CT; Nov. 21 at Dewey's Pub in Seymour, CT (This is a benefit show to help raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims); Nov. 24 at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, CT; Dec. 1 at The Cave RVP Studios in West Haven, CT; and Dec.14 with Diecast at Dewey's Pub in Seymour, CT.

Monday, November 5, 2012

And a cartoon will kick your ass

What is more metal than a zombified King Tut monster that melts humans with a flame that shoots from his cock? Only maybe the zombie chick who melts Tut with the double-barrel flames she shoots from her boobs.

And that's how the "Metalocalypse: Dethklok" show started Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Palladium in Worcester, MA.

Dethklok is headbanging humor at its best because creator (and Berklee grad) Brendon Small is part of the tribe. He can brutally satirize metal fans and metal music the same way you can brutalize your brother; anybody outside the family making the joke is an asshole.

Guitar ace (and Zappa band alum) Mike Keneally, bassist Bryan Beller, and drummer Gene Hoglan join guitarist and singer Small to give the animated Dethklok its live sound, but even with those guys on stage there's no looking away from the accompanying animated vids, each a mini-epic (yes, there is such a thing) that devolves into people (or sea cretures) getting dismembered and/or torched.

It was all good fun through Dethklok's greatest hits ("Dethsupport," "Murmaider," "Thunderhorse" etc.) capped off by Small going "Sybil" and addressing the crowd in the voices of Dethklok's  Nathan Explosion, Pickles, and Skwigsgaar Skwigelf, discussing how Dethklok was going to kick our women and fuck our dogs.

They got close enough.
 Machine Head, All That Remains, and Black Dahlia Murder are the flesh and blood support on this tour.

Machine Head is at the top of its game and its extended workout on a version of "Halo" dedicated to Suicide Silence singer Mitch Lucker, who died Nov. 1 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash, was the peak musical moment of the whole night.

Machine Head also relayed the news that Disney has once again banned the group from performing at its properties, earning Mickey a dedication of "Aesthetics of Hate."

All That Remains aired a couple of new songs from "A War You Cannot Win," which is out Tuesday, Nov. 6, though singer Phil Labonte had a hit-or-miss vocal delivery throughout the set.

Black Dahlia Murder is still the death band with a smirk.