Napalm Flesh: Glorious Horror

Posted September 30, 2010 in

In case you hadn’t heard, the masters of horror-themed theatrical metal, the mighty Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie, are coming to the USANA Amphitheater on Oct. 4. This week’s blog gives a glimpse into the sure spectacle of what the show featuring the gruesome twosome may (or should) entail, as well a rundown of the slew of shows going down this week and the usual cavalcade of blog exclusive CD reviews.

One thing can be said for certain about the upcoming early fall, warmly brisk Monday night: three artists will be conjuring up demons, ghouls, ghosties and all those treats for all age ranges of adults, teens and the kiddies. The combined musical experience of Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper and opening act the Murderdolls are sure to deliver a tongue-in- cheek horror drenched evening that’s going to reel in multiple generations of fans. The experience and showmanship of the artists hitting the stage should be enough to cause any heavy metal fan to at least come witness the spectacle of it all. The Halloween Hootenanny tour follows the second touring route of Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, admitted friends and fans of each other’s work. Cooper’s musical influence on Zombie’s sound, especially as of late, is undeniable. The two toured together under the moniker of the Gruesome Twosome for a short set of dates, which enjoyed sold out venues. The current tour gets underway in LA on Sept. 30, makes a stop in Utah on Oct. 4 and like before is a relatively short run lasting until Oct. 20. This may be the last chance to see these two artists perform together, so for fans of either of artist this tour is nothing short of monumental.

The Murderdolls are the relatively new guys in comparison to Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, and I’m sure they’ll be giving one hundred percent every show just because of the honor of having the opening slot. The band is a sort of side-project/super group featuring Wednesday 13, an accomplished solo artist, and Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, who will also be handling the drum duties for Rob Zombie’s live band throughout the tour. The band got their feet wet in 2002 with their debut album Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls and did some touring in support of said album, but just this year the band got around to releasing their follow-up, Women and Children Last, which has been described by the band as their first “real” record. However you put it, the new record is quite superior in songwriting, direction and cohesive sound compared to the debut. I suggest checking out the tune “Nowhere” from the new record to get a good idea of the sound of the Murderdolls (also read my review of the new record in this blog) I’d best describe what the Murderdolls as horror glam/punk metal. In whatever respect they’re quite an appropriate opener for the rocking and fun show that the night will entail.

What is there really left to be said about Alice Cooper? The man is a legend of rock and metal, as well as an overall enigmatic and unique person. He has also just been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—a long deserved feat. He’s been creating music for roughly four decades and age really hasn’t slowed him down. I had the pleasure of seeing him headline a concert at Saltair, it was just plain awesome to see some songs that reek of full on rock legend status. I mean, how many bands have covered “School’s Out”? It’s not my favorite Alice song but it’s just damned legendary. He puts on a stage show that initially led the way to all the costumed “shock” rock performers that exist now. There isn’t a song during his set that doesn’t have a particular thematic element behind it and there are strings of songs played together that tie into one another. Alice Cooper admitted he has an addictive personality and struggled with booze early on in life and wound up ditching the sauce for golf, which lead to a successful biographical book “Golf Monster,” and he’s actually quite heralded for his talent as a golfer. He owns restaurants, hosts a radio show and has been in numerous films. You may not be the biggest fan of Rob Zombie, but Alice Cooper is the stuff heavy metal legends are made out of—you really have no excuse to not see the man.

I can and will be as equally gushing about Rob Zombie. He’s no new face to the metal and music industry, as Rob’s first musical entity, White Zombie, actually began in 1985. After lurking in obscurity for years, major mainstream success came in 1992 with White Zombie’s major label debut La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 which was followed by the equally successful Astro Creep: 2000 in 1995. I remember purchasing Astro Creep as a teen and sneaking into my brother’s room, which had the noisiest and most blast-worthy sound set-up of the house, where I spun the album again and again thinking it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard.

While White Zombie has long been put to bed since Rob Zombie went solo in 1998 and has since released hugely successful albums, starting off with Hellbilly Deluxe.  Zombie has struck a fair balance between appeasing his fans and doing exactly what he wants to do, never catering to what initially gave him success. This is pretty notable in because of the huge stylistic changes that Zombie’s follow-up to Hellbilly Deluxe, The Sinister Urge entailed. While vastly different than Hellbilly and his White Zombie days, The Sinister Urge pushed some serious hit songs. I honestly hold a large amount of respect for Zombie. While some of his music as a solo artist didn’t stick with me as much as White Zombie did, his strong artistic sense is admirable, Every musical venture he’s created as a solo artist is strongly rooted in Zombie’s current state of mind. He has willingly adapted which honestly has kept him quite fresh from album to album continuously incorporated different styles of rock, metal, country and a whole slew of other subtle musical nuances. The styles may be different but he’s consistently kept his love of old classic horror and sci-fi films inspiring his music and keeping the themes creepy but also with a fun aesthetic. Expect Rob Zombie to play a good mix of every album especially his latest Hellbilly Deluxe: 2 and possibly some classic White Zombie material

If his music wasn’t enough Rob Zombie decided to enter the film-making industry in 1999 with his first full-feature length film House of a Thousand Corpses, which actually took him four years to make and he had to deal with distribution problems. While Zombie has admitted that the film is flawed, his follow-up, The Devil’s Rejects, has already entered cult status and enjoyed quite a bit of critical acclaim as well as fan worship. He then took on the tough task of rebooting John Carpenter’s classic Halloween franchise, which met criticism and praise. In my opinion he took a classic, cult story and re-invented it into something a bit more relevant to the modern world all equaling poignant and debatable results. As long as you get people on both sides of the fence talking about your work, in my eyes that’s a success. He recently just announced his next feature full-length titled The Lords of Salem, yet another filmed penned and directed by the musician/filmmaker.

I’ve had a multitude of opportunities to witness Zombie’s stage show, but have never been able to attend any of his performances. One such event was a White Zombie show, which I was actually not allowed to see because my parents didn’t want me going to a concert at Saltair as a teen. Zombie returned multiple times touring as a solo artist, butsomething always seemed to conspire against me to not witness his stage show. I know from notoriety that his live act is a spectacle and he pulls no stops on the theatrics. I could easily go and research what his live act is like, but for my sake I want to leave it a surprise and if you’ve seen him already you know what to expect and if you haven’t seen him, I’m leaving you in my mind-set to expect the unexpected.

Friday night, an excellent showcase of local talent with Eagle Twin and SubRosa with Portland’s Atriach will be playing at Burts Tiki Lounge, $7, 21+, 9 p.m. Word on the ole Facebook says “a limited number of silkscreened posters made for the show will be sold, artwork done by Abe Nobody.”

Friday night plays host to a plethora of different metallic styles with Arsenic Addiction, Dead Vessel, Such Vengeance and Black Damp Diary at Club Vegas, 445 South, 400 West, SLC, 21+ $5 in advance, $7 at the door, tunes underway at 9 p.m.

Some more local talent on tap Saturday night with local death metal blasters of metaphysical proportions The Obliterate Plague and funeral doom destructors of melody Gravecode Nebula with and Doomed to Extinction will be playing at Salt Lake Recording Services, 721 South, 400 W., SLC for a rare all-ages event for these artists. $7, music underway at 9 p.m.

If you happen to be in the area of Santaquin, join your hosts the Urbanite Vixens for a night of local metal from Penalty of Treason, Ravings of a Madman and Ruined by a Greater Art at the Orchard, again in Santaquin, 68 East, 100 S. $5, All ages, music a 9 p.m.

Monday night, if metalcore/deathcore and everything that encompasses that realm is your game then there's a massive show going down featuring Antagonist, Wretched, The Breathing Process, Diskreet, and locals Dethrone the Sovereign and Picture it in Ruins, dubbed the Shredding Pumpkins Tour also going down at the Salt Shaker, 135 East 600 S., SLC. 7 p.m., tickets are $10. Check further into the CD reviews of this blog for reviews of the new Antagonist and Diskreet albums.

Women And Children Last
Roadrunner Records
Street: 08.31
Murderdolls = Alice Cooper + Motley Crue + Wednesday 13 + Rob Zombie
The Murderdolls have returned with quite a vengeance to prove that they’re not a novelty act. Women And Children Last is a highly potent and just good old, balls-out, fun record. Fueled lyrically by horror themes, vocalist Wendsday 13 sounds like a grizzled, angrier version of Alice Cooper. His delivery and strong enunciation leads way to almost instantaneous singing along, making the already musically catchy tunes even more catchy. The varied styles amongst the 14 tracks on record propel you through the monotony of failed artists and CDs you wish you hadn’t bought. There’s glam metal meets punk meets industrial strengthened metal. Honestly this feels like a bit of a heavier-ended modern glam metal album, some may spout that it’s nu-metal but I wholeheartedly disagree. The Murderdolls definitely paid close attention to writing individually strong songs to culminate in an album that you’ll want to revisit. If you enjoy any of the bands in the good old band equation (I know you’ve got to like at least one) this is an effort well worth your attention. –Bryer Wharton

World in Decline
Prosthetic Records
Street: 08.17
Antagonist = Darkest Hour + Heaven Shall Burn + Himsa + Shadows Fall
I have to claim a large bit of ignorance: I don’t know a thing about Antagonist, their history, evolution of sound or anything for that matter. I will however say that World in Decline is a prime and pristine example of what modern metalcore should sound like. I do know that World in Decline is the band’s third full-length offering, and it offers up some direct, angry music that has a wide variety of styles. The production is top notch yet some of the guitars retain the raw feeling that’s lacking quite a bit in modern metalcore. The melodic thrash riffing a la Shadows Fall adds a nice touch to album, breaking up what could have easily been a festival of generic hardcore type breakdowns. As I said before I claim ignorance because in all honesty this type of metalcore isn’t my thing, but even with my genre bias this is actually solid and potent but the vocals and lyrics offer absolutely nothing that makes me want to think twice about what the band is doing, it lacks sincere emotion or anything that feels like it’s challenging me when I listen to it. If this type of music is your bag, then as I always say more power to you because you’re getting something I’m absolutely not. –Bryer Wharton

Engage the Mechanicality
Candlelight/Siege of Amida
Street: 10.26
Diskreet = Suicide Silence + Beneath the Massacre + Dying Fetus (half-assed)
I just pushed the “lousy” button and this started playing. Why the hell do I even have a “lousy” button? The first full-length from Topeka, Kansas’ Diskreet’s delivers roughly the same damn song roughly ten times, the intro track doesn’t count as a track. The gigantic mess that is my garage is more entertaining than this at least there are sharp and blunt objects oh and power tools in there. The main brutal death metal styled riffing that’s at the core of Engage the Mechanicality is just the same rife blender chug-chug, churn-churn with a drummer that mine as well just been programmed to hit the double bass constantly and nothing else. What the hell is Mechanicality? There is no form of Mechanical that goes with technicality. I can make up words too. Here’s one just for this album: borbage! There are moments of so called tech-death guitar playing in the mix of this album but again each song sounds like the one before and it just feels like the band is playing solos and tech-death styled jibbirsh that has absolutely no point or meaning. The brutal “vokills” inspire only yawning. This is music for people that like repeated sounds because complex melodies, versatile guitar riffs and built upon songwriting makes their head hurt. –Bryer Wharton

The Absence
Enemy Unbound
Metal Blade
Street: 09.14
The Absence = At the Gates + Dark Tranquillity (old) + In Flames (old)
It’s kind of sad state of affairs that there isn’t much by way of what I would consider true melodic death metal coming from it’s main country of origin, Sweden. Tampa, Florida based The Absence have steadily built up a fairly deserved following for creating music full on befitting the melodic death metal tag. Yeah it may feel like a giant At The Gates worship album at times but it goes a bit beyond that it’s the European style distinctly Americanized by way of good portions of some songs that have an almost southern rocking edge to their guitar leads and soloing. Despite some overly rehashed and redundant vocal sounds ala Tomas Lindberg and drumming that’s more suited to set the tempo than do anything else special, the guitar work on Enemy Unbound shines. Transport me back to the early 90s and tell me this is the next up and coming Swedish melodic death metal band and I’d believe you. The guitar work is the obvious star of this record treading with speedy main riffing coupled with tight yet raw leads and soloing – the soloing is some of the best in melodic death metal I’ve heard in quite some time. The Absence third album, Enemy Unbound is a great way to go if you’re looking for something that fits the genre standard of true melodic death metal, yes there’s a bit more to be desired from the album but what it lacks in emotional stirring it makes up for in skill and songwriting. –Bryer Wharton

Defeated Sanity
Chapters of Repugnance
Street: 05.04
Defeated Sanity = Devourment + Pathology + Mortician + Gorgasm
It’s E-chord down tuned revelry, bestial guttural hellish vocal punishment, a plethora of various drum blasting, crazed bass picking and slapping, yes it’s brutal death metal folks. If you never liked this type of brutal death metal with a technical edge Defeated Sanity’s third full-length offering and their Willowtip Records debut isn’t going to change your mind, but if you live for the overpowering, groove gurgling, diamond encrusted steamroller devastating guitar riffs that gnaw away at your bones Chapters of Repugnance will not disappoint. The album is riddled with a bass heavy bottom end sound, think Mortician bottom end riff and guitar blasting but without the silly programmed and overproduced sound and much more sinister sustained riffing. Instances of lead guitar technicality pop up in the songs just to mess with you and take the sonic equivalent of your ear straight to the blades of a blender and give off some maddening chaotic sensibilities. Defeated Sanity don’t re-write the book on brutal death with this new offering, they didn’t intend too, they just came up with a damn fine album to kill your eardrums and leave you lusting for more. –Bryer Wharton

The Showdown
Blood in the Gears
Solid State
Street: 08.24
The Showdown = Pantera + Demon Hunter + Lamb of God + Black Label Society
It must be stated because it is a large part of the music that The Showdown play is the fact that they are a Christian metal band. And to be clear my beliefs don’t mean squat for the purposes of reviewing the bands latest album, in fact I hold respect for them that they stick to their faith and incorporate it into their art it’s easily something you can notice in the tunes churned cranked and blasted from Blood in the Gears. Blood in the Gears is a well-balanced effort of with lots groove and heavier almost death metal portions I swear I heard a few blast beats. The growled singing compared to the clean juxtapose themselves a bit to far apart and unfortunately it sounds a bit forced rather than faithful emotionally potent which is what I’m sure the band was shooting for. This is a good album for fans of modern groove oriented metal with a bit of a heavier edge that offers and alternative to the usual evil, anti-religious or broads, booze and biker themes that other bands of this style typically portray. –Bryer Wharton