Death Thrash… dead?

Death Thrash is a strange genre. It mixes Death Metal and Thrash Metal (duh), two very popular genres, but somehow nobody gives a crap about it. Sure, The Haunted were successful enough, but which other Death Thrash band can you name?

A genre that mixes two successful genres should have produced some amazing bands, right? I mean, it even sounds good on paper. Mixing Thrash with Death Metal just makes too much sense. Except The Haunted, no band of that style really got off the ground, but it produced some rough diamonds.

The band that I’ve always associated with Death Thrash, even more so than The Haunted, is Hatesphere. Not necessarily because I rate them higher (even though I do), but because they were the first band that introduced me to the style. I’ve seen them open for Chimaira and Dark Tranquillity in 2005, and they easily blew both of the following bands away. Why? Jacob Bredahl.

Jacob “Dr. J” Bredahl (pictured above) used to front Hatesphere from 2001 until 2007. He’s probably the most charismatic frontman I’ve ever witnessed live, and he sings with an intensity unmatched. He just seems to put everything into his vocals. Everytime, on every song.

I’ve been following Bredahl’s work since then. Be it with Hatesphere, Allhelluja or, most recently, The Kandidate (formerly called The Downward Candidate).

The Kandidate has just released the follow-up to their debut album, Until We Are Outnumbered, earlier this year, called Facing the Imminent Prospect of Death on Napalm Records. While The Kandidate doesn’t have the same effect on me than Hatesphere has had, it’s a band that I’d like to see more successful. But there obviously isn’t a big market for Death Thrash, or is there?

Back to Hatesphere. After Bredahl, and everyone else in the band, was fired by guitarist Peter “Pepe” Lyse Hansen, the band welcomed a completely different line-up. This line-up produced the flop To The Nines in 2009. At that time, I’ve lost interest in the band completely.

After dropping even more bandmembers, they’ve finally found a worthy replacement for Jacob Bredahl in Esben “Esse” Elnegaard Kjaer Hansen. Worthy because he sounds just like Bredahl, which he proved on The Great Bludgeoning (released in 2011 on Napalm Records).

I’ve actually just found out about The Great Bludgeoning a couple of weeks ago, which proves to me that there isn’t just no market for Death Thrash, there’s also barely any coverage of the scene. The album does come close to earlier material, and picks the band up from the ground after the boring To The Nines.

So with The Kandidate and Hatesphere, there are at least two great Death Thrash bands out there, that need more attention. Even as someone who really likes three bands of the scene (including The Haunted), I can’t even name a fourth one. I could name a few that could come close to being labelled Death Thrash (Tenet, Necroid, Untimely Demise, Maze of Torment, etc.), but they all seem to lean more to one of the two genres, rather than combining both.

Does that mean that Death Thrash is dead? Or does it just mean that I’m not informed enough? Was Death Thrash ever really alive to begin with? Or were there just a few bands who gave their best playing the best of both worlds?

I could name a factor for the commercial failure of the genre, with Metalcore’s rise, a genre that comes close to Death Thrash but without the more extreme parts. Further dissecting the if’s and when’s would take too long though. I’ll just leave you with the latest music video by The Kandidate, and a song from Hatesphere’s new album after the jump. Enjoy what’s left.

Image credit: Lykke Nielsen


Is Randy Blythe guilty?

The question everyone’s been asking since June is this: Is Randy Blythe really guilty? Well, let’s look at the facts:

Fact 1: I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.
Fact 2: You weren’t there, so you don’t know either.
Fact 3: You’re not a lawyer, so shut the fuck up.

I feel really sorry for both Randy and the fan who got killed, because this is unfortunate and no one wanted this to happen. But why are people everywhere throwing verdicts around? How do they know?

Here’s something very basic you need to understand about killing someone: If you start shoving your friend as a joke, and then at one point you push him harder, he falls down, hits his head and dies, you’re fucked. Sure, it’s not as bad as purposely killing a man, but it’s still involuntary manslaughter, and you’re still going to jail.

So you don’t have to be a cold-blooded murderer to be responsible for someone’s death, you just have to be really unlucky. So in Randy’s case, I have no idea what happened and if he’s responsible in any way, but some of his fans are just not being realistic about it.

My honest opinion, and this is coming from someone who is not a Lamb of God fan, Randy never intended to hurt anyone. I don’t know the guy, and again, I wasn’t there, but I am sure he just wanted to keep playing and finish his set. Unfortunately, security didn’t kick the kid out the first time he did that crap, so now look what happened.

Here’s what Phil Anselmo had to say on the matter:

I mean, you get on the stage at a metal show, you, nine times out of ten, are pretty much gonna jump off the front of the stage. He hits his head on the ground… I’m no lawyer, I’m no cop, but there’s this thing called ‘free will,’ and when you do something like that, that, to me, is accidental death.

I disagree with Phil, because security should not allow you to get on stage, period. As long as it’s so easy to hurt yourself or hurt anyone else while jumping into the crowd, as cool as it is, don’t do it. If you allow this type of behavior, then eventually bad luck might make an appearance.

It’s all fun and games until someone dies. I’m sorry it happened to Randy, but it could have happened to Pantera back in the early 90s, and it can happen to anyone who lets fans get on their stage and get crazy. The intensity of metal music is what we all love about it, and to share that intensity with the band and the other fans in the pit is great.

But as a musician you should simply be more careful, and ask your security to keep the fans on the floor. It’s also a good idea if you don’t get involved personally, and let security do their job. Just a thought though, again, I wasn’t there. And neither were most people commenting on this matter.

Image credit: Wikipedia
Phil quote credit: Blabbermouth


The lost art of not understanding shit

Seemingly everyone on the internet speaks, understands or at least knows a bit of English. I don’t have any stats to back this up, but I think it’s safe to say that the rise of the internet has helped a lot of people learning said language. I know it has helped me a lot.

I’m not a native English speaker myself, and besides the internet there is something else that has helped me improve my English. Music. “What the hell are these guys singing about?” was a question I’ve asked myself quite often when I was younger. So I grabbed a dictionary and started translating lyrics by bands I’ve loved. Pretty disappointing in some cases (note that I’ve grown up in the middle of the Nu Metal boom).

Improving my English, and understanding lyrics, made me lose something else though. The naivety of judging songs by their sound, rather than their lyrical content. Judging singers by their ability to sing, rather than their ability to write coherent sentences.

Obviously I’m judging singers by their singing qualities, or lack thereof, but it’s hard to take someone serious if he writes like Fred Durst, even if he sounded like Bruce Dickinson. Singing and writing belongs together, just like playing guitar and writing your own riffs. If you’re only doing half of these things yourself, I consider you less of a musician.

But back to my youth. When I was a teenager and I’ve loved a song, I naturally sang along to it. Even if I didn’t know what was actually being sung. I went with the sounds of words, rather than the actual words. This is difficult to understand for our English speaking readers, because you’re used to having music that is performed in English. English speaking music has been dominating the music world for decades. But think of it like this: if you really like a certain Rammstein song, you go to catch Rammstein live and they play that very song, you want to sing along to it. Even if you don’t understand German. So you just go with what you think is being sung and sing it. It doesn’t have to be right, it just has to sound right.

Losing that non-knowledge can be a downside, if you’re listening to badass music with dumbass lyrics. In trying to regain that naivety, I’ve started to listen to a bunch of bands with non-English lyrics, for example Asesino – who feature lyrics in Spanish. I know that Cristo Satánico (Asesino’s 2nd album) has some kind of badass storyline, and I know that ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ is about some guy fucking his girlfriend’s mother, but I don’t care.

I don’t care because I love Cristo Satánico for its music. I love it because Maldito X (Tony Campos – pictured above) has a killer voice for Deathgrind, something I’ve never expected when he was still the bassist for Static-X. I don’t give a crap what he’s singing about because it might disappoint me and make me appreciate the album less.

I’m happy with my naivety. I do appreciate good lyrics, but sometimes I just don’t want to listen to the words but rather the music as a whole. And that’s easier when you don’t speak the language.

And with that being said, click the more button for some ear candy. Enjoy your naivety.


Down don’t have time for a full album, and we don’t have the patience

I’m 26. What that means is that I’m still relatively young, but I’m not really young anymore. People who are my age can relate, and people who are older can probably remember. It’s a weird period of life, because you’re definitely not old, but you’re still way older than teenagers.

I talked to a girl the other day, and found out she was born in ’92. I couldn’t believe how mature she looked considering 1992, to me, feels like 10 years ago. But it’s not 10 years ago, is it? So am I turning into an old man? The same old man who doesn’t understand the new generation, and remembers how good it was in his day? The same old man I used to laugh at as a kid? Probably.

Here’s why: When I was a kid, CDs were relatively new to me, but my favorite band releasing an album meant I’d have to go to the store and find it. The search itself was part of the fun — Browsing through the letters, desperately finding the artwork I saw on TV, that was a quest, man. Then I’d get the album but I couldn’t listen to it until I got home. I mean, sure, I had a portable CD player (that was so high tech in those days), but I didn’t want to risk damaging the CD (it was a Sony Walkman, but for some reason I didn’t trust it with new discs) so I just waited until I got home.

So I get home and play the first song while I’m reading the booklet. Man, those were the days, right? I even touched on this subject in my interview with Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson.

But those days are over. Because today, people want things NOW. Not tomorrow, not when they get to the store, right now. This very instant. Doesn’t matter if they’re on their tablet taking a shit, or at work streaming porn on their smartphones. They want it all, and they want it right now. And without going into an obvious Queen pun, I have to mention that they expect it to be free, also. The world has changed, and even though I was down with technology since I was young, I still feel like a dinosaur.

How does this relate to Down and Mr. Anselmo? Read on to find out, although let’s not pretend like this bullshit rant is going anywhere.


Ex Deo: Of Romans and Canadians

What do Ancient Rome and Canada have in common? Ex Deo. Ex Deo is the brainchild of Maurizio Iacono, otherwise known as the frontman of Kataklysm from Canada.

In 2008, Iacono had decided to start the side project, which he would use to honor his Italian heritage. A year later, Ex Deo had released their debut album, Romulus, which had also featured the entire band of Kataklysm  – with Jean-François Dagenais playing lead guitar, Stéphane Barbe switching from bass to rhythm guitar and Max Duhamel playing the drums –  including occasional Kataklysm live bassist François Mongrain, and former Blackguard keyboarder Jonathan Lefrancois-Leduc.

Following the release of Romulus, Ex Deo started mainly touring Europe, including a tour with Paganfest, which had also featured Korpiklaani, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, Unleashed, Alestorm and Blackguard. I’ve personally seen them on that very tour myself, and can savely say that it’s well worth catching them live.

After that touring circle, the band members went back to Kataklysm, to record and release their 10th studio album Heaven’s Venom in 2010. 2 years later, Kataklysm started touring Germany in support of their new DVD, The Iron Will: 20 Years Determined. That’s where I’ve caught them live just 6 weeks ago.

After the gig, I’ve got to share drinks and chat with Maurizio Iacono, Jean-François Dagenais and Stéphane Barbe. I don’t remember how I’ve gotten home later that night, but I do remember that Iacono had told me about Ex Deo’s upcoming 2nd album, and the already released music video for ‘I, Caligvla.’ Curious (and still a bit drunk), I’ve decided to stumble to my computer and check out said song (video posted above). And I was blown away.

‘I, Caligvla’ takes everything Ex Deo had done on their debut album and kicks it up a notch. More melodic, more brutal, more symphonic, more epic. On August 29th, the band released the follow-up to Romulus, Caligvla via Napalm Records. The opener isn’t the only epic monster of a song on the album, but it’s by far my favorite. But check out the album yourself and let me know which is your favorite. There surely are enough great choices to pick from.

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