Back to school: that week where all your summer dreams die in a blaze of glory, set upon by textbook bills, low-talking professors and the search for the holy grail (of parking lots). But there is no rest for the wicked, even on a week like this. It takes hard work to knock over life’s hurdles and achieve rock god superstardom—or whatever you’re getting your degree in. And this week, we’ve got a sit-down with someone who knows all about hard work: guitarist Corey Beaulieu of Trivium, who’s been touring the world blowing up venues since his late teen years. He talks about their new, highly anticipated album In Waves, how the band is doing with new drummer Nick Augusto, and what it was like to come into his adult years as a successful metal artist. We also have some web exclusive reviews of the newest efforts from 40 Watt Stare, Excommunicated, iwrestledabearonce and an extended review of the split from Converge and Dropdead.
On Saturday August 27, Raunch Records will be hosting locals Dwellers and Laughter as well as Drought from San Antonio. The show starts at 7:00 and is free, but donations for the touring band are highly encouraged. Check out Dwellers rad instrumental EP they released a few months ago on their bandcamp page.
PUNCH How Nothing Lasts by deathwishinc
Also on Saturday, the female-fronted hardcore crew Punch will be in town with Loma Prieta and locals The Thousand and Reviver. The show starts at 7:00 at The Underground (do some Facebook detective work to find the address) and costs $5.
Looking ahead to September, on Friday, September 2nd, Viking pillagers Amon Amarth will be playing at The Complex; this is an all-ages show, tickets are $20 before, $22 the day of, and doors are at 7. Tickets for that show are also available at The Heavy Metal Shop for only a $1 service charge, so go show that proud SLC institution some love.
Wednesday, September 7th, the Depot will be hosting southern sludge demigods Down (one of many projects of Pantera’s Phil Anselmo), touring with In Solitude and Pony Killer. Doors are at 7pm, tickets are $25 in advance, $28 the day of the show. You don’t want to miss a chance to see these legends!
Also at The Complex in the next few weeks are quite a group of amazing metal acts: local power metal outfit Disforia on September 16th, Kamelot on the 17th, and Immolation on the 20th. October 24 will see the return of the legendary Opeth! We’ve got a heavy couple of months coming up, starspawns.
INTERVIEW WITH COREY BEAULIEU OF TRIVIUM
SLUG: How was your experience on the Mayhem tour?
Beaulieu: It’s great, this was our second time on it, and it’s been a lot of fun, really good tour. This was a great tour for us to have with our new record coming out, so it’s been good to get the awareness out. The second half of the tour we’ve been on the main stage, so it’s been going really well for us. We’re enjoying having that opportunity for us.
SLUG: You’ve played some new tracks from In Waves on this tour, how are they being received?
Beaulieu: [For] the people that are familiar with us, it goes over fantastic. “In Waves” has been out for a while, so people have had a chance to absorb it and get to know the song, and now that the record’s out we’ve been playing couple new songs. The songs that we’re playing in this environment really translate well; even people that don’t know us are rocking out to it. And our fans who’ve got the record have been singing all the words, so the songs have been catching on and people have been responding to them really well, and we’ve had a lot of fun playing them.
SLUG: Tell me about your new album In Waves. You’ve stated that you’re taking a similar approach as you did writing Ascendency in technical aspects, but what is In Waves going to be expressing for you guys creatively?
Beaulieu: We just went into it needing to make a record that solidified our sound, and make a statement. We didn’t just want to put out another Trivium record; we wanted to make an impact and set the bar high for us moving forward. We put a lot of work into it, we wanted to make a record that was unique. The songs are really cohesive together. They have the energy that never lets up. We wanted to make a really heavy, energetic record, and we spent a lot of time working on it. Like you mentioned, the technical things we approached similar to Ascendency was we did a lot of jamming as a band and writing stuff on the spot and trying new things out. The last couple records, we didn’t have much time on our schedule to take time and just jam for long periods and let the songs develop. This one we spent at least 8 months just jamming the songs, reworking, demoing them, we had a lot of time to fine tune and experiment and find out what the songs needed to be the best they can be. It was a lot of fun, we were able to get the live feel into the songs from just playing them so much that when we recorded the record, we were so familiar with them that we just played our asses off. It really helped the record have that energy that past albums were lacking. We kind of went the simpler route; we wanted to write catchy songs that were simple. The guitar playing compared to the last record is really toned down on the technical side of things. With things being simpler, it’s a lot easier to play live. You can get more into performing and interacting with the crowd and rocking out instead of standing there putting all your energy into playing riffs and stuff. It makes the live performance a lot more energetic.
SLUG: In Waves is an amazing album, I just ate it up when I got it. I would say this effort carries a far deeper darkness than your earlier works. Anything in particular contributing to that emotional thread in the music?
Beaulieu: We were just writing for a while, normally how we do just writing riffs and showing each other. This record has a lot more collaboration between the band since we got in a room and jammed together. We had some shitty moments at certain points, not off-tour writing, but inner band stuff switching members. The more fun we’re having, the darker it gets. We write music that we want to hear and that’s the kind of metal we like to hear. If we’re having a really fun time and in a good mood, the creativity is higher, and it comes out more inspired. I think it just kind of came out that way. Also we wrote the album in one tuning and then we tuned down an extra half-step; the slightly lower tuning made the sound a little bit darker and gave it a more unique vibe compared to other stuff. That helped, made it kind of the sound we were going for. We wanted everything to be cohesive together so I think everything fitting together really helps.
SLUG: Love the video for In Waves. Do we get to see more of this awesome to-be-continued set up?
Beaulieu: We’re trying to work on it right now, and convince the label to go with our idea. We’re trying to make it happen! Hopefully the next month or two another part of the story will be revealed.
SLUG: Hooking up with Nick on drums sounds like it was a match made in heaven, and that he picked up your sound and chemistry very fast. How was it writing a full-length album with him, and what has he contributed to your overall sound?
Beaulieu: With Nick it was really fun. We lucked out- before we started writing, we had a couple months of touring so we got play a lot together and get used to his drumming style. He does a lot of stuff differently; he likes to improve and change things up. So we got used to playing with someone, which was important, but he toured with us as a drum tech for like a month and a half so we got to hang out just on a personal level, and he really fit in with everyone well. His drumming skills are fantastic, but also his personality fit in with everyone really well. He and Paolo [Gregoletto, bassist] grew up together, they’ve known each other for years. When he came in, didn’t miss a beat. Working on the record really opened up for us creatively because he’s a really talented drummer, and on the song writing end of it, there were no limitations on where we could take a song. He can do everything from super-fast crazy stuff to simple rock beats. We tried to take everything we were writing and push the boundaries of what we’ve done with our sound. We can throw a million ideas at him and he was able to process it and try things right off the bat. He’s able to adjust to our ideas really fast and be able to take them on board and play them right there. It made the song writing process go really fast, and we got a lot done in a short amount of time. It was a really good working environment I think, just the chemistry writing the record with him really shows in the sound. It just sounds like a re-energized band compared to the last two records. To us it felt like were writing our first album again.
SLUG: You guys, it’s fair to say, are veterans of the scene now, and you started this road pretty young comparatively speaking. What’s changed for you most since Ember to Inferno? How has it been kind of “growing up” as such heavy hitters?
Beaulieu: It was pretty crazy. Back then we were all really young, a lot of shit was going on with how well the record was doing. Didn’t really think about it too much, but now we can look back and just go, “Wow that was pretty nuts.” It’s been a lot of fun to be able to get this far into our career and still be at a young age. It’s really cool to have 5 records and still be in our mid-twenties. I think we’ve learned a lot and now we’ve gotten to experience all the crazy stuff early on and now we’re a lot more focused, we’ve got more of a focused goal as a band with what we need to do. We have our own vision; we keep everything in our circle, kind of like a list of goals on what we need to do. We don’t need to rely on outside people to help us anymore. Learned a lot about how things work; we’re more in tune with how the industry works and what we need to do as a band. It’s not so chaotic in our world anymore.
SLUG: With the success you’ve reached do you feel like you have freedom over your music?
Beaulieu: With our track record, we’ve shown what we do as a band is a successful platform, so we don’t get told, “Oh you have to write this kind of song”; we just do what we do and it works. People will jump in and give their ideas sometimes. Our management works really closely with us, and we value his opinion. People in our circle give us tips and advice as outsiders, but there’s few people whose opinion we take seriously. We never want too many cooks in the kitchen—that’s how it gets fucked up.
SLUG: Dave McClain of Machine Head mentioned Trivium as a band to keep an eye on, a rising star in the scene if you will. So who does Trivium see as a band with a fast-rising star?
Beaulieu: There’s a band we’ve brought out a few times in Europe, they’ve never played in the US but they have a new record in Sept and will be on our European winter tour called Rise to Remain from the UK. They’re a fantastic band, great players. Hopefully they’ll play in the US. They have Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden’s kid in the band, and he can wail. They’re straight-up metal. They’re the only band I’ve heard that has no scene stuff, just straight metal with shredding guitars if you’re into that stuff, like our sound. They’re influenced by us, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God. Definitely a band to watch out for, hopefully they’ll be hitting out here soon, they’re fantastic live as well.
SLUG: How do you feel about the current state of metal?
Beaulieu: It’s pretty good. I don’t know what’s coming up or new bands or anything, but everyone who’s been around a while is putting out killer records, so the quality is still there. There’s a lot of crap too that’s saturating the market, but it’s still going strong. A lot more of the hard-edge bands are getting onto the radio, getting people into their bands, acting like gateway bands to introduce people into the harder side. So I think there’s a lot of people slowly starting to go from radio rock, learning about metal stuff and realizing it’s not a scary thing; it’s not just a bunch of noise, it’s good music. Some of the best music is the hard rock/heavy metal stuff because the bands playing it are the ones writing it. There’s a lot more heart and soul into the music, unlike a pop singer that has someone else write it. It seems cheesy, fabricated, cookie-cutter music. I think that’s why people like hard rock/metal stuff: it’s people singing what they feel about in a more realistic way. We have a new song on the radio, so hopefully a lot of people will hear it and check out the record and get sucked into the heavier side of music.
Converge = Jane Doe era Converge + Botch + Cursed
Dropdead = Crossed Out + Despise You + Inepsy
Relentlessness is Converge’s bread and butter. Having become masters of that desperate hardcore sound, the kind that peels paint, boils blood and shreds larynxes (don’t you dare call it “mathcore”), and having taken it to the unwashed masses on countless tours around the country and world, they’ve risen from grass-roots level Boston diehards toting cassette demos, to mainstream accolades and certifiably “legendary” status in most circles. It’s not simply Converge’s veritable stable of renaissance figures, (independent label owners, studio wizards and graphic artists) that lends them such credibility, nor is it their longevity or the hushed reverence fans hold for records like Jane Doe and Petitioning the Empty Sky. It’s not even the fact that Converge, though a hardcore band at heart, has carved out a niche somewhere on the blurred sonic periphery, winning over core kids, metalheads, indie snobs and every musical miscreants in between…it’s the fact that since their inception Converge has always been a vital and experimental experimental musical force, propelling the landscape to change with them, and ushering in a new guard of extreme music.
And so, with all that acclaim and crossover appeal, a split with Rhode Island’s Dropdead, a hyper-political punk-crust battalion with a zealous niche and only a handful of splits and 7”s to their name, might seem a bit bizarre. That is…until you remember that both bands, regardless of style, have been assaulting ear-drums for the last twenty (!) years.
The split itself contains only one track from each band, totaling less than four minutes of recorded music, but it’s a bonafide rager through and through. Converge’s cut “Runaways” is raucous and acerbic (like you expected anything else?) but notably lean in comparison to the more chaotic previous offering Axe to Fall. It’s certainly not an unwelcome change (burn the forest to make room for new growth I say) and bears many classic Converge calling cards (Like Kurt Ballou’s sinewy finger-tapping and Jacob Bannon’s vitriolic squawk) while angling for something more streamlined and focused.
Dropdead’s “Path of Glory” is more standard. Hyper fast quasi-violence with equal nods to Capitalist Casualties, scandi-crust and a little (just a little) rocka-rolla swagger. Nothing shockingly new, but caustic nonetheless.
Paint it over with Kurt Ballou’s signature God City studio touch (love those drums on the Dropdead track!), and a potent mastering job by John Golden and it’s a cogent (albeit short) monument to a long history, and a hopeful indicator of more to come. –Dylan Chadwick
40 Watt Sun
The Inside Room
Metal Blade/Cyclone Empire
40 Watt Sun = Warning + While Heaven Wept + Jesu + Pagan Altar
On the surface 40 Watt Sun sound like another “epic” doom metal band, but this London based trio offer a bit more than the average “epic.” Where many of the bands lying in said genre tend to make songs that soar or aren’t completely gloom filled—the only light part of The Inside Room is the vocals from guitarist/singer Patrick Walker (of Warning). 40 Watt Sun don’t offer many leads or guitar solos—from the get-go, the band is about laying the atmosphere thick. The lack of traditional guitar solos gives The Inside Room some connection with the post-metal world—there are definitely parts that bring forth fellow UK musician J.K. Broadrick’s band Jesu. If you come into listening to 40 Watt Sun in some sort of happy mood, this will gray-out your emotions and leave you wondering where the sun went. There’s a lot to discover in the layered songwriting approach that the band takes—the bass and guitar seem to take independent but meaningful paths. The Inside Room has definite roots in classic epic doom metal but pushes the style into more approachable realms for many other genre fans. Hell, I could see shoegaze types spinning this just as much as doom lovers. –Bryer Wharton
Excommunicated = Morbid Angel + Acheron (USA) + Catholicon
There are those records that take you totally by surprise. You go in expecting mediocrity but BLAM! Something worth praising and returning to comes out. Baton Rouge’s Excommunicated deliver with their debut Skeleton Key. The surprise not only comes from the sheer quality of the release but the fact of seeing a plethora of not so savory reviews. I’m not quite sure what was up the reviewers asses was when they were listening to this record but that’s besides the point. Call it a hybrid if you want, the album is too tagged into being black/death metal when at it’s core it’s full on death with influences from black, to grind, classic and dark metal. There’s a few bands that try to culminate many styles on one record Excommunicated do it extremely well – the variance in each song make listening far from a chore, if I wanted to listen to a record of the same tracks I’d pick just about any Cannibal Corpse record from the last decade. Skeleton Key is a versitaile buffet of sounds and atmospheres, said atmospheres are greatly helped along by plenty of audio samples that nicely set the tone for each song. The production blends a fine line between super studio produced to lower quality, the guitars/bass has great grit when needed and clarity when needed just the same. If you’re overly anal about your “death metal” then go ahead and do research before buying, really all the research you need is “Cry to Heaven.” Here’s to looking forward to more tunes full of exposing the atrocities of the Catholic Church and switching gears from a blatant death metal pummeling to wild guitar soloing all of which keeping listeners constantly on their toes. –Bryer Wharton
Ruining It For Everyone
Iwrestledabearonce =The Human Abstract + Protest the Hero
The hilarious wrapping of this Louisiana-based quintet, with its ridiculously awesome song titles and grammar-nazi-nightmare band name belays the sonic truth of the album: it’s fucking excellent, creative music. Many elements are brought in by the band to be arranged on a foundation of metal, from jazz, electronica, grindcore and even disco, and it’s done so with sharp precision and crisp transition. Vocalist Krysta Cameron has incredible range; her thick screams, operatic clean vocals, and everything in between are brutally emotional. Drummer Mike Montgomery makes me feel like I’m listening to Vitek-era Decapitated when he busts out the galloping on tracks like “Karate Nipples.” “It is ‘Bro’ Isn’t It?” shows how well the band pops in random electronic and piano elements like a surprise ninja attack on your ears. And the guitarists are extremely adept at building atmosphere with their instruments, like in the sweeping, melancholy “This Head Music Makes My Eyes Rain.” Every inch was unpredictable, and no song leaves the listener unsatisfied. – Megan Kennedy