This week, we have an interview with Chris Reifert of Autopsy, as well as the usual rundown of upcoming live shows (including the Megadeth/Slayer/Anthrax concert) and plenty of blog exclusive CD reviews.
Melodramus will host a CD release party for their new album Two: Glass Apple (reviewed in SLUG’s Oct. issue) in Park City, Friday, Oct. 16 at the Prospector Theater at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $6, at the door $9.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months and you’re a metal fan, you know good and well that Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax will be invading the Maverik Center on Tuesday, October 19th for what is now dubbed the Jagermeister Music tour (previously it was called the American Carnage tour but that leg of the mighty thrash metal trio’s tour also featured Bay Area thrash legends Testament). Don’t expect any shortage of some of thrash metal’s greatest and best-known songs. If you’ve seen any of the artists before you know what’s in store. None of them go crazy with their stage shows—it’s definitely more of a let-the-tunes-do-the-annihilating type of live event. In addition to their hit songs, Megadeth will play their 1990 album Rust in Peace in it’s entirety and Slayer, will play the mighty Seasons in the Abyss record (also from 1990) as well as fan favorites. Anthrax has welcomed longtime vocalist Joey Belladonna, who was the voice of Anthrax throughout the 80s, back into the band. Expect classic Anthrax tunes, with more than likely nothing coming from the band’s era with Armored Saint vocalist John Bush. Tickets range from a mere $10 to roughly $40—just be sure to know if you’re going to be getting in the thick of the mosh or have an actual seat. Next week’s blog will include a full review of the show.
If you still need a thrash fix after the Megadeth/Slayer or just feel like a smaller venue to thrash it up, on Wednesday Oct. 20 national thrash acts Early Man and Bonded by Blood with locals Truce and Muckraker play Club Vegas. Tickets are $12 and music gets underway at 9 p.m.
If you’re a death metal fan then Autopsy really needs no introduction, but the sake of your information, the band formed in 1987, releasing their classic debut Severed Survival in 1989 and released the just-as-classic 1991 follow-up album Mental Funeral—both are literally must-own death metal albums for genre lovers or fans of extremely rotten musical excursions. Not only is the band known for being one of the first to integrate doom into their foul death metal style, but they also created a distinctive brand of American death metal stemming from the West coast in the early 90s that is far different than the big stuff that was coming out of the scene in Florida. Unfortunately for Autopsy much of their praise and success came after they broke up in 1995. Drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert played drums on Death’s legendary debut album Scream Bloody Gore prior to joining/forming Autopsy and after Autopsy broke up continued to make his stand with other former Autopsy members in Abscess as well as stints in a few other bands. In the summer of 2009 Autopsy reformed and released their Horrific Obsession single and have now unleashed The Tomb Within Ep—a distinct slab of classic, no-frills down-and-dirty, rotten to the core death metal. For you’re reading pleasure I had the opportunity to talk to Reifert about all things Autopsy and more, enjoy.
SLUG: Did the band have a certain sound they wanted to capture with the new EP or was it more of just what the band felt like doing at the time?
Reifert: It was a matter of sounding like Autopsy to put it simply. We didn't want to change or modernize our sound and we didn't want to imitate old material either. Just keeping it heavy, brutal and soul crushing.
SLUG: How has the response so far been to the Tomb Within EP? (I know I’m on a mission to snag a physical copy of it.)
Reifert: Very good. We definitely felt confident about it but you never know what other people will think. So far the reactions have been extremely positive. No complaints here!
SLUG: It seems like more bands are releasing EPs as they were in the past. Autopsy has released its fair share of EPs—how important do you think it is for bands to release EPs in addition to full-length albums?
Reifert: For us it's just a matter of what the appropriate thing to do is at the time. This time around, an EP was perfect since we had too much stuff to fit on just an album. We've been writing songs like crazy and as long as they get out there, that's the most important thing.
SLUG: Autopsy cover art has always been a big deal as being a part of the package of Autopsy—you definitely have some of the more infamous and recognizable death metal album covers, who designed the new EP’s art and how does it fit in with other Autopsy art?
Reifert: It was done by Matt Cavotta. It's a good oldfashioned painting and I think he did a hell of a job on it. It's perfect for what we needed.
SLUG: Aside from Eric Cutler, everyone else in the band was a part of Abscess, which released their last album, Dawn of Inhumanity, earlier this year. Going into recording and writing new Autopsy material was there any difficulty in not trying to sound too much like Abscess?
Reifert: No difficulties at all. Autopsy has a very distinct vibe and sound and we kept that firmly in mind when writing for Autopsy. It is its own beast for sure.
SLUG: I’m proud to say I own all the Abscess full-lengths, aside from the new album which I just have a digital promo version. What’s one of your best memories of your time in Abscess?
Reifert: Thanks for supporting Abscess. Hell yeah! Abscess was active for 16 years so there are so many crazy times to think about. I guess the fact that for the first couple of years of the band we got banned from every club we played in is something to remember. Haha!
SLUG: On the same note, what’s a good or bad memory that comes to mind about the past time of Autopsy?
Reifert: Hell, I really am a bad storyteller. I can only say it was mostly good times even with a few frustrations, just anything else in life. We quit the band at the right time which may have prevented things from being shitty and not fun. We knew when to stop and remained friends through all of it. Now here we are going at it again!
SLUG: So from what I’ve heard there is a full-length Autopsy album in the works, is there anything you can say about it so far, like a general theme behind it, certain style etc?
Reifert: 100 percent Autopsy is what we will deliver. No major changes, just brutal, crushing, morbid, heavy, death metal!
SLUG: The metal community can turn its back on artists in an instance if they don’t come up with the material that’s almost “expected” of them, a part of metal I’ve always frowned upon. I welcome change, if it’s good it’s good—I have no quarrels with you’re much lashed out at Shitfun album. Do you and the band feel any sort of pressure or expectations with the reunion of the band?
Reifert: The toughest expectations we had to meet were our own I would say. We have to be our toughest critics. I do think we have a solid grasp on what Autopsy should sound like so we weren't too worried about it. As far as Shitfun goes, it seems in recent times it's been getting some recognition and when I listen to it, I think it is a strong Autopsy album and sounds heavy as hell. Of course it's absolutely disgusting, offensive and ugly but that's what we felt like at the time so there you have it.
SLUG: What about death metal appeals to you the most?
Reifert: Everything. The heaviness, the horrific themes, the inhuman vocals, all of it. There's something very liberating about it and ironically makes me feel quite alive when I hear a good death metal band. Especially when care has been taken to come up with the best actual songwriting as possible. That is really important to me.
SLUG: Autopsy also is notorious for the band’s lyrics. With so many bands trying to be on the side of being extremely offensive in the death metal world, how important is it to Autopsy to have lyrics that go above a lot of the usual death metal silliness?
Reifert: It's a fine line between being brutal and silly indeed. I like to write lyrics that are extreme but focus mostly on a feeling rather than just gore for the sake of gore. Nothing against gore of course because there's plenty of that in our lyrics, but I do like to keep it sick without trying to make someone laugh at the same time. Although, depending on your sense of humor, maybe you can be amused at this stuff. Hhmmm....
SLUG: Something I’ve always appreciated about Autopsy is the fact that you are death metal but people can hear what you are screaming when you do it. Was there a reason the band did/does this or is it just how Autopsy naturally felt to vocalize?
Reifert: I never thought about that too much, it's just what comes out when I do vocals. Sometimes you can hear them pretty clearly but sometimes you probably couldn't make them out to save your life without a lyric sheet. Haha! It just depends on the song, the phrasing and how much alcohol has been consumed before vocals, which is usually a lot. Heh....
SLUG: Has there been any new death metal that’s sparked the interest of Autopsy?
Reifert: There's always something interesting going on in the death metal world. Any band that plays from the heart and puts work and thought into their songs is cool with me, as long as it sounds good.
In The Absence Of Light
Abigail Williams = Cradle of Filth + Watain + Catamenia
I know full and well there is a large Abigail Williams fan base not just in the U.S., but also around the world due to their tendency to tour like madmen. However, I have to say that Abigail Williams do not represent the best of the U.S. black metal scene. The band has had some pretty massive personnel changes, even breaking up and reforming by way of the only original member being the vocalist. Throughout their rather short years as a band they have also undergone the stylistic change from metalcore type stuff to their current realm of symphonic black metal. In the Absence of Light is a pretty forgettable album that you keep waiting to pick up to something fast and more ferocious just because you know they can do it. There is an extreme need for some sort of feeling or emotional response rather than the forced, depressed sounding bland filler tracks. This new offering is enough for fans of previous work to question the worth of this record but then again the slower tempo and more spacious melancholy songwriting may perk interests of fans. I’ve heard much worse but this album made me far from anything resembling a fan. –Bryer Wharton
Angra = Edguy + Symphony X + Stratovarius
Holy hell, listening to Angra’s seventh full-length album Aqua just made my brain explode from the technical guitar glories of it all and songwriting prowess. Angra has always been the envy of many prog/power metal bands, and this new offering just stole the cake and took off on jetpacks never to be seen again. I’m really eating my words here because back in 2006 I gave the band’s Aurora Consurgens album a fairly bad review. I don’t recall what my state of mind was at that time, but Aqua just stuck my foot in my fat cynical mouth. As far as prog/power metal goes nothing this year even comes close to touching how good this album is in every little nit-picky aspect. If you’re not being absolutely blown away by the speedy guitar shredding that makes some of the genre’s better guitar players look like clowns, you’re being serenaded by the album’s mellower moments of that intricate and lavishly brilliant acoustic guitar or sheer ballad power or the albums spacey underwater psychedelic feelings. All of it is backed by the falsetto power of Edu Falaschi. Anyone listening to this album within a whatever mile radius makes Dragonforce and all the other wannabe technically profound power/prog metal acts go cry in the corner. –Bryer Wharton
Under The Hammer Of Destruction
Bastard Priest = Bolt Thrower + Entombed + Grave + Carcass
Classic Swedish death metal is alive and well, all lying in wait for the willing on this debut full-length from the duo of musicians that make up Bastard Priest. Under the Hammer of Destruction is as rotten as death metal comes: fast, dirty and massively enjoyable. There are some undertones of grind to the bands brand of classic Swedish death and a healthy mix of Bolt Thrower and Carcass wallowing in the trademark down tuned rough and tumble guitar style of Swedish death metal with wild guitar soloing. It’s a praise worthy feat because the band manages to stay rooted in the present and not sound like an overly rehashed version of so many artists that have come before but they have the classic late 80s early 90s Swedish death metal appeal factor with a current touch to their sound. This is raw uncompromising trend ignoring glorious death metal, definitely a new underground classic. –Bryer Wharton
Heal No Evil
Complete Failure = Napalm Death + Brutal Truth + Kill the Client + Extreme Noise Terror
This originally self-released 2009 album is delivered to the masses this year via Relapse Records. Heal No Evil delivers a blazing mix of punk fueled crusty grind with a ferociously fast thrashy metallic crunch. An awesome rhythm section featuring drummer Mike Rosswog, who played for Today is the Day and Circle of Dead Children. Dissonant to pounding to pulverizing sounds, the stuff that glorious grind splits, 7” and compilations made of or as just a healthy punishing mass dosage of grindcore to bleed your ears. The shredding chaos is not just chaos for the sake of chaos; the album has a distinctive flow with dissonant slower grinding portions. Heal No Evil even has the adept ability that plenty of grind bands lack and that’s the knack for writing memorable songs. This is a must hear for fans of political themed punk/hardcore/crusty/metallic grind in the realm of all the bands in the above equation. –Bryer Wharton
King of Asgard
King of Asgard = Amon Amarth + Unleashed + Thulcandra
Everything about this release screams at me yelling, “you should like me!” but as you can tell by the release date I’ve been hastily sitting on reviewing it for quite some time. King of Asgard are a Swedish band that fairly obviously play melodic death metal Viking themed death metal. The scale and scope of the record is quite mighty there are some great songs lurking on the album but there are also plenty of filler tracks as well. It all has that lovely feeling of, “I’ve heard all this before,” the only reason for really listening to this debut record from the band is basically an alternate version of the widely popular Swedish act Amon Amarth be it a bit rawer much like the current albums from another fellow Swedish band Unleashed. Then again, that’s just my lousy opinion, really this isn’t a bad album by any means, its well-produced, some strong songwriting, it’s initially gratifying but in the end lacks that important fact of deriving an emotional response. –Bryer Wharton