Welcome to this week’s edition of Napalm Flesh! We have an interview with French hardcore crew Birds In Row, who recently released a compilation on Vitriol Records and will be releasing a new album via Deathwish later this year. We keep the hardcore theme going with reviews of recent releases from Integrity, Loma Prieta and Unholy Majesty. And, as always, we have a rundown of this week’s metal happenings.
Event Listings (Compiled by Bryer Wharton)
Holy metal hand grenade up your ass! This week is insane when it comes to metal assaulting Salt Lake City. There is no lack of shows—the problem is that you have to choose who you want to see.
On Friday, Feb. 10, SLUG and Napalm Flesh present Localized at the Urban Lounge with Visigoth, Huldra and Nevertanerza. Read about the bands online or pick up a copy of this month’s magazine. We’ll also be slingin’ Napalm Flesh koozies and slipmats at the merch table, so stop by and say hi. $5 gets you in and music starts around 10.
Another choice for Friday night, The Mentors are coming to defile SLC in every obscene way they can with local support from Riksha, A Balance of Power and Incidious at the South Shore. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the door.
Also Friday, Children of Bodom return to Salt Lake City with touring support from Eluveitie, Revocation and Threat Signal—for the kiddies this is the only all ages option on Friday. The show is at The Complex in The Grand. Tickets are $20 advance, $23 day of, and music starts around 6:30 p.m.
On the heels of their canceled tour with Dark Funeral, Abigail Williams decided to hit the road. The band will be playing at the South Shore (21+) on Saturday, Feb. 11 with local support from Dead Vessel, Visions of Decay, Arsenic Addiction and Hypernova Holocaust. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
Saturday at Burt’s, Arizona thrashers Vektor come to town with local support from Dethblo, Castleaxe and Gravetown. $7 gets you in.
Make your way through the week until Wed. Feb. 15 when legendary American thrash metal comes to blow you away in the form of the mighty Testament, playing for the first time in Salt Lake City in—hell, let’s just say a really long time at The Depot Tickets are $22, this is a (21+) show.
Interview with Birds in Row vocalist/guitarist Bart Bart Hirigoyen
I'm not one to mess with the Eagle, but I'm prone to get bummed on US hardcore kids who take it all for granted. In this guilded era of Tumblr, Mediafire and straight edge pro wrestlers, it's easy to get all sniffy when some inept assclown opens a webstore and sends you the wrong size hoodie or when you have to drive fifteen minutes (the horror!) to see a decent band. Chatting with Bart (vocalist/guitarist of Birds in Row, a twisty hardcore juggernaut from Laval France) gave me a good perspective on how good most of us have it across the pond. Moreso, it stood as a testament to the phenomenal music coming in from all around the world in the most unlikely places. Growing up in crappy cities, singing in English instead of French and a few plugs. Read up. Hardcore lives.
SLUG: What's with the name? It Reminds me of a Leonard Cohen song I heard about birds on a wire.
Bart: When we started the band, everything went super fast. We wanted a name that meant something to us, that could be an image of what we say in our lyrics and music. Birds are just the typical image of freedom. They can go anywhere they want. They can fly away. But we also keep the image of birds flying together, as a group. It's just the perfect representation of society: people that could be free and independent, but needing to be part of a group with rules and duties.
SLUG: I hear lots of people comparing you to Modern Life is War. Does that get old? I'm sick of it and I'm not even in the band!
Bart: Actually, we take it as a compliment as we do love that band. It's been very inspiring for us as we kinda recognize this "small-grey-city-need-to-run-away" syndrome. We live in a shithole with not a lot of options for kids, and when we started BIR the main goal was to tour a lot so we wouldn't see that city that much anymore, and could live out what we wanted to.
SLUG: How was your exposure to hardcore music? Do a lot of American bands make it over to France?
Bart: We are way more influenced by the US scene than the French one (except for a few bands like Amanda Woodward). American bands dont play that much in France for some reason (like, not a lot of people at the shows or tolls being totally expensive, I guess) but hardcore got more and more popular here and fashion did its job.
SLUG: Any French bands that people should know about, but don't?
Bart: You should definitely check out 12XU, Amanda Woodward ( RIP), Aghast, As We Draw, Aussitot Mort, Baton Rouge, Black Spirals, Comity, Drawers, I Pilot Daemon, Montreal on Fire, No Guts No Glory, Plebeian Grandstand, Sélénites, Sugartown Cabaret...these bands deserve some attention.
SLUG: I'm from Louisville, and I hear a lot of similarities to the Louisville bands that I grew up with (Black Cross, Breather Resist, etc.) Are you a fan of those bands or is that coincidental?
Bart: We never took Black Cross or Breather Resist as influences, as we barely know them I think (laughs). I guess the only band from Louisville that could have some influence on us would be Coliseum.
SLUG: Well, it seems like you guys have some hardcore influences, but could also exist outside of the hardcore scene. Do you tend to play more hardcore shows or mixed-bill type things?
Bart: There is no hardcore scene in France, and even less in our city. So basically we never evolved in hardcore as a culture with references or clichés, ... So we kinda played hardcore the way we felt it was like and the way we could do it (laughs). We are three different persons with a lot in common...and musically, the bands we liked were Converge, Modern Life is War, Dangers, Envy, Cult of Luna, Breach...not only hardcore bands. I guess we never based our songs on the need for them to be hardcore songs listenable to hardcore kids for dancing in the pit. We just play the music we wanna play. Fortunately, it gives us the chance to evolve in lots of different scenes. On our European tours we played with crust, post hardcore, metal, post rock, indie, and punk rock bands and it's been awesome so far. We dont wanna be assigned to one scene. It tends to be very self centered and oppressive.
SLUG: What can you tell us about the upcoming record on Deathwish? Is it recorded?
Bart: We recorded it on the first week of January at La Senelle studio with Amaury Sauvé and Sylvain Biguet, in our hometown of Laval, France. They are close friends of ours, amazing musicians, and they may have at least ten ears more than us. It makes them a killer duo. They are mixing it right now. The album should be mastered by Alan Douches.
SLUG: Did Jake Bannon approach you about doing a record?
Bart: We were contacted by Jake. He and Tre [McCarthy, Deathwish co-founder] both heard of us in different ways, as far as I know. We are pretty lucky and excited. This is way more than what we could expect as a French band, touring in squats.
SLUG: So about the tour to accompany the new release...
Bart: We will definitely not stop touring! Our first US tour is this spring with Loma Prieta. Then the next European one needs to be confirmed. We have some cool shows coming up with Graf Orlock in July.
SLUG: What sort of non-musical influences do you tend to take in when you write songs? Any particular themes you like to explore? REVHQ describes your album as having "weight" that few other bands have... any weighty experiences that particularly inspire you?
Bart: The lyrics are based on our lives and most of all on the disillusions you face while growing up. This is the basis of our album: feeling old and jaded when you're 25. We talk about struggling against a system that puts you down all the time, keeping your head under the water. It's about refusing to abandon your hopes and wills only because you need to make money to "survive" (meaning, having a car, a tv, a flat, a wife, a dog, a kid... tons of good reasons to let an asshole use the hierarchy on you to boost his self-esteem without you complaining). It's just about being what you really wanna be, without caring about what's reasonnable and whats not. Of course, the society will always have a hand on you, but the less you let it drown you, the closer you get to the individual you are.
SLUG: Your songs are sung in English. Why is this?
Bart: There are a couple of good reasons. We mostly listen to English-singing bands, so it's our culture. Singing in French is hard as there is a kind of pride around the language and you need to be a real poet to make it right. I'd rather sing in stumbling English than in a casual French. The main reason is that we want to tour everywhere we can, and English is the global language. If I want people to understand a bit of what we are about, I need to do it in English.
SLUG: What kind of past bands are you ex-members of that might give some people a good sonic reference point as to your sound?
Bart: No glorious bands! (laughs). T and D used to play in a band called Hard Of Hearing (experimental metal a la Meshuggah and Textures...). I've been in a punk rock band for eight years and T joined us in the last two years, making it more hardcore. It was called Sling69 (yeah, I know...). We now play in a few other bands: Hourvari, a six piece post hardcore band we do with our bros in As We Draw, and T plays in Calvaire, chaotic hardcore a la Converge and Every Time I Die. The singer is our dear friend Matthias from Throatruiner Records and it also features Kentin from As We Draw and Grinch from Puzzle, a cool band from our hometown.
Blog Exclusive Reviews
Kingdom of Heaven 7”
Integrity (KOH) = Early, Den of Iniquity era Integrity
It can be hard to keep up with all of the Integrity re-issues, 7”, limited editions and albums that have been cranked out the past 5 years or so. So, what is Kingdom of Heaven offering? Billed as a 20th anniversary release, Kingdom of Heaven is a good listen as an anthropological artifact, but will be consumed primarily by collectors and the already converted. What you’ll find on Kingdom of Heaven are 3 tracks recorded back in 1992 with the late David Nicholi Araca on drums and a glimpse into where Integrity came from, showing their early penchant for dark atmosphere, metallic heaviness and stabs at mixing things up. Those into the band probably already have this pre-ordered, or an earlier recording of these tracks. Still, this is definitely worth a listen, Kingdom of Heaven still feels relevant 2 decades later, but it falls short of the “must have” mark. –Peter Fryer
Loma Prieta = Ampere + Comadre + Pianos Become the Teeth
Sharing members with Bay Area powerviolence favorites Punch (among others), Loma Prieta offer a batch of emotional, intense hardcore songs on their Deathwish debut. This is the kind of desperate anger and aggression being peddled by a bunch of bands you probably hate on principle alone, but this shit totally rules—let’s just compare them to the likes of Pg. 99 and Orchid so you don’t feel too embarrassed to talk about them on the B9 board. The vocals are top-notch, not so much yelled or screamed so much as expelled from the throat of Brian Kanagaki. The slightly muddy and fuzzy production also fits this style of music as well, particularly on the “Trilogy” that inhabits the middle of the album, which culminates with a full-on fuzzed-out spaz fest. “Untitled” is another standout, and the slowed down “Diamond Teeth” is an appropriate end for the bummer feel of this brief album (only 24 minutes). Check this one out for sure. –Ricky Vigil
Unholy Majesty 7”
Unholy Majesty = Rot in Hell + Living Hell + Integrity
The 7” is the perfect format for the dark, holy terror inspired hardcore Unholy Majesty play. Unless there is a focus on variance, an entire album of holy terror can become trying, so these 3 tracks really have a chance to sink in. The reason genre-elders Integrity can be listened to for extended plays is because of their musical variance and focus on songwriting. Unholy Majesty’s debut 7” is saved from mediocrity by a few well-placed, tasty leads laid over the top, tempo shifts, and melodic lines. This UK group shows promise in that they may not be relegated to the multitudes of acts content to simply ape the mid-90’s dark holy terror sound. Hopefully, as they continue, they’ll see the benefits of combining homage with forward thinking song writing. All in all, Unholy Majesty have provided a solid debut—particularly if you’re into this sort of hardcore. A389 records + a dark hardcore band, you know the deal. –Peter Fryer