A not-bad first single from their new album
Anyway, here's the video; the song's called "Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned)," because Cradle of Filth, like so many metal bands, still think blasphemy and religious hypocrisy are interesting subjects worth beating into the ground. At this point it's like whipping the dirt where the dead horse once lay, but whatever. Like I said, by CoF standards it's pretty good stuff.
Halford, Flesh Consumed, Enslaved and much more
Here's the long list:
Abigail Williams, Absence of Light (Candlelight)
The Atlas Moth, The One Amongst the Weed Fields EP (Candlelight)
Black Anvil, Triumvirate (Relapse)
Clutch, Robot Hive/Exodus Re-Release (Weathermaker)
Encoffination, Ritual Ascension Beyond Flesh (Selfmadegod)
Enslaved, Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)
Flesh Consumed, Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering (Unique Leader)
Grand Magus, Grand Magus Re-Release (Metal Blade)
Grand Magus, Monument Re-Release (Metal Blade)
Halford, Made of Metal (Metal God)
James LaBrie, Static Impulse (InsideOut)
Limbonic Art, Phantasmagoria (Candlelight)
Mushroomhead, Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children (Megaforce)
October Tide, A Thin Shell (Candlelight)
OSI, Office of Strategic Influence Re-Release (Metal Blade)
Powerglove, Saturday Morning Apocalypse (E1)
Pro-Pain, Absolute Power (Regain)
Slipknot, (sic)nesses DVD (Roadrunner)
Sweet Cobra, Mercy (Blackmarket Activities)
UFO, Best of a Decade (SPV)
Unearthly Trance, V (Relapse)
Until the Light Takes Us DVD (Factory 25)
Yuppicide, Anthology '88-'98 (Dead City)
Rob Zombie, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 Special Edition (Loud And Proud)
Judas Priest frontman talks solo album, tour, menswear
Halford's fourth studio album with his solo band, Halford IV: Made of Metal, comes out tomorrow. It's more eclectic than the first two (Resurrection and Crucible), but just as heavy in different ways. "The Mower" features some of his harshest vocal shrieks since Priest's Painkiller—I had to check the CD booklet to see whether it was him singing, and not a special guest appearance by Udo Dirkschneider or someone. "Till the Day I Die" is a crushing bluesy number reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, and "Hell Razor" sounds like Stained Class-era Priest.
Halford the band played this summer's half-dozen Ozzfest dates, combining their own songs with tracks by Priest and Halford's 1990s band Fight, and they'll be opening for Ozzy again when Double-O launches his U.S. tour in November and December.
Anyway, here's the interview.
There’s a lot of stylistic breadth on this record—you’ve got the autotuned vocals on “Made of Metal,” the bluesy Led Zeppelin-ish stuff on “Till the Day I Die,” and “Hell Razor” sounds like Judas Priest circa 1978. Is this the most eclectic Halford album?
Yeah, I daresay it could be. It was a pretty simple record to make musically, and the reason I’m saying that is the ten or eleven songs that came out of my own head were very, very immediate. Once I knew the Halford band was gonna be available to go out and do some shows, I was inspired to think, well, wouldn’t it be great if we could play some new music as well? And that really was a catalyst for me to start thinking about making the CD. So those songs that came from the Halford brain box, they took about two weeks to sketch them all out, which is pretty fast going. And that’s generally how I like to work anyway, when it comes to writing solo work. I didn’t really think too much about how it should be sounding, the completion of it. It was just like, oh, that’s this style of song, and now wouldn’t it be nice to balance it out with a different approach, another tempo, with a different kind of attitude. So you do another one, another one, you build them up and eventually you’ve got enough material to consider as a full release. And so it comes from a pretty straightforward place, really, and yeah, in terms of what I’m about as a musician, I’ve always been very eclectic with my style and my taste, but having said that, I think that the bulk of this is classic metal, the standard type of thing that I’ve lived most of my life in.
Tell me a little about the song “Made of Metal.” What kind of input did you have into the video?
My manager John made the suggestion of giving it that kind of theme, and we found a small company based in the UK through the Internet that were really excited about teaming together and making that piece happen. The phrase “supersonic silver flying machine,” I don’t know, that just popped into my head. Like most musicians, you don’t have control over those things, they just happen and you have to either write them down or put them on the iPhone—I carry my phone attached to my hip and there’s a recorder built in, so I can quickly catch the spark. But the Autotune thing happened because I read something about a rap release, Jay-Z had a thing called “Death of Autotune”—I hear lots of different styles of music all the time. I’m a metalhead first and foremost, but to my way of thinking, it’s not sensible to put blinkers on, so I thought, what does this mean? I wondered what it could do, and when I heard it I thought, that’s a cool sound, a funky effect. I wonder how you could put that type of atmosphere into a metal song. So I pitched that to Roy Z, my producer, and he said “Yeah, I’ve got one of those boxes, I’ll bring it into the studio.” And that’s how it sounds when you sing into that Autotune/vocoder thing. I changed the lyrics, actually, when we discussed the theme of race cars and how you can kind of associate speed and the atmosphere of a NASCAR event with heavy metal, it made absolute sense. So that’s how the song was created.
Are you a big NASCAR fan?
I watch NASCAR, I watch ultimate fighting, I watch a lot of stuff when I get the time. I watch a lot of it again on my iPhone. [Laughs] I sound like an Apple spokesperson, but that’s the easy way to do a lot of things today, is to watch things on a device. But yeah, I think all that stuff, it’s in my world. That’s what I live in when I’m walking out on stage. There’s a correlation between those events and metal.
The song “Twenty-Five Years” seems to have a more personal lyric than some of the other songs on the album. What’s that one about?
It’s about me being clean and sober for twenty-five years next year, on January 6, 2011. I’m just talking about the fact that for those of us that are living that life, twenty-five years means absolutely nothing, because we live a life that’s very much based on day to day. It doesn’t matter that twenty-five years have gone, the past is the past, it has absolutely no substance. But I just felt that because these are the opportunities I’ve got with my solo endeavors, that I wanted to express some feelings about that, because twenty-five years later I’ve still got the devil on my back, which is booze and drugs. ’Cause when you’re an addict, there’s some things you can’t shake off, so you’re in battle twenty-four hours a day. Which is probably why I have to keep busy all the time, because idle hands do the devil’s work. [Laughs] Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, you know?
You also released Live in Anaheim recently, which was a recording of a small show, but with Priest, you’re used to projecting to the back wall of an arena. How do you bring down the dramatics of the performance to a small room?
As a musician, again, it comes with age and wisdom and being able to adapt. I can do my work in front of five people, or fifty people, or fifty thousand people. It’s just a body count, is the only thing that’s different. I do understand what you’re saying in terms of the theatrical side of it; my larger than life adventures are always with Priest, because Priest is a huge metal band and the Halford band is not. So I’m able to just go and enjoy these different experiences. I mean, the Halford band did a show in San Francisco a few weeks ago that was smaller than the Anaheim venue, about 1500 people or something like that, and then a week later we were in front of 30,000 people at the Montreal MTL Fest. And I can do that because that’s the life I’ve lived. I’ve been doing this for almost forty years. But what I found fantastic was the way that the guys in the band were able to accommodate that exchange. They’re all professionals, and they’re all able to carry it. Some people freeze at the prospect of walking out in front of a ton of people. Some people feel more secure and content in a more intimate setting. You’ve got to be able to live in both worlds as a metal musician.
You’ve been living in Arizona for quite a few years now—are you a US citizen at this point, or do you have to leave the country every decade or so and go back and live in England for a while?
I have what’s called an O1 visa, which is issued to people like myself in the arts, and other people in certain types of businesses, and you’re either able to get them as a one-year visa or, if you can show that you need to work for a longer stretch of time like I generally have to do, I think the maximum you can have is a three-year permit, so you have to renew then. I have to go back to the American embassy in London in Grosvenor Square and renew every three years. I am working on my American citizenship. I’m in the fast lane, fortunately. It takes a long time, and I can’t wait for the day. It’s something that means a lot to me.
Will the set list on your tour with Ozzy continue to be a mix of Halford songs, Judas Priest songs and Fight songs?
Yeah, it’ll be different to the one we’ve been doing recently, though, ’cause we’ve got the new record coming out, so we’ll be including some of the new tracks along with the ones we’ve been airing. I was emailing the guys today about what tracks I want to try and bang out.
You rather famously subbed for Ozzy at a Black Sabbath reunion show—is there any chance you two will be onstage together during this coming tour? Have you talked about that with Ozzy?
No, that’s not gonna happen, I don’t think there’s any need to discuss it. We saw each other for a few minutes every day when we were on Ozzfest and presumably will on this U.S. tour. He’s in fucking great shape. He looks good, he sounds good, he’s putting on killer shows, which is wonderful to see him back where he belongs.
I think his new band has really revitalized him—new guitarist, new drummer…
Yes, definitely. That’s a very important component. There’s a similarity there between Ozzy’s band and the guys that work with me. They push us, you know? They’re very strong, physical players.
How’s your clothing line doing?
It’s going great, thank you very much. It’s kind of fumbling along. We do decent business in today’s crazy world. Because it’s Internet-based, it’s easier than retail, although I desperately need retail, I would love to get a retail connection. But yeah, I use every opportunity to find a way of bringing that to people’s attention, ’cause some people still don’t know I have the apparel line. It’s doing what we hoped it would do, and I don’t know where we’ll be three to five years from now, considering the state of the economy and the recession, which allegedly, according to the economists, is over, which obviously doesn’t help anybody that’s in foreclosure or has a mortgage that’s three times the value of the house they’re living in. But we’re a small business and we’re doing okay.
Are you the kind of guy that sits in marketing meetings and stuff like that?
No, I’m as close to it as I need to be. But that kind of thing bores me. I don’t mean to be flippant about that, cause it’s important, so I’ll let the important people deal with it.
First U.S. show in 10 years
Rammstein's last studio album, 2009's Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, actually did pretty well in the U.S., landing at #13 on the Billboard Top 200, but they've never been able to play the same size venues in the U.S. as in Europe. Over there, they pack arenas, but here, they're a club act, and when you consider the awesome amounts of pyro they use, it becomes a) unprofitable and b) dangerous to tour America. So their American fanbase has been kept waiting a long time. I wonder how many will actually make the trek to NYC to see them. I know I will.
Here's some live footage from their 2006 DVD Volkerball, filmed in France:
New album, new singer, same old sound
I talked about this the other week, in my review of the band's new record Blood of the Nations—I just can't quite get past the sound of the new vocalist, Mark Tornillo, formerly of New York metal band T.T. Quick. It seems that lots of other Accept fans can, though; the new record's been well received in the metal press. And I wish the band the best of luck with it, and with the U.S. tour that kicks off today. (Dates at the end of this post.) They're making a serious effort to reach out to their fans, promising to stay post-show for meet-and-greet/signing sessions, and doing a couple of in-store appearances along the way (in New Jersey and Ohio), too.
Anyway, here's my interview with founding guitarist Wolf Hoffmann.
How are you?
Doing great. Talking and talking and talking. I usually don’t talk this much, but this is what I do these days.
You guys were the first concert I ever saw—in Madison Square Garden, opening for Dio.
Oh my gosh. I remember that show, actually. The only time we ever played the Garden, unfortunately. I wish we could have come back with somebody, but those days are gone, of metal acts playing Madison Square Garden, I think.
Pretty much, yeah. The only one left that can do it is Iron Maiden.
Wow. Good for them.
So, the new record. People expect a certain vocal style from Accept—how much did Mark have to change in order to fit into the mold created by Udo?
Not at all. I mean, when we met him he just opened his mouth and started singing, and that’s the way he sings. And we were blown away by how much it reminds you of Udo, but at the same time how much of his own character he brings to it, too. He doesn’t sound like he’s imitating or whatever; that’s the way he sounds, and we felt it was a perfect fit.
He’s not some 19-year-old, either, which is good; he’s been around a while.
Absolutely. He’s an experienced singer, like you said. He’s done it all, which helps. I don’t think a 22-year-old kid would be possible for us. Even theoretically, if he was a kid but sounded like Mark or something, I don’t think we would have considered it, honestly, because that’s just not who we are, and it needs to all fit.
Are you still in touch with Udo, are you guys friends? Have you heard what, if anything, he thinks about the new record?
Basically now we have no relationship whatsoever. Invariably we run into each other sometimes, but we’re not enemies, don’t dislike each other, we just have separate lives, I’d say.
So you didn’t send him a copy of the record or anything like that?
Ask for his blessing?
No, no, but just filling him in, like, “Here’s what we’re doing.”
He knows, he knows exactly what’s going on. It’s all good, we just have basically separate lives, and I wish him all the best. I think he should continue to do his own stuff, ’cause that’s what he chooses to do. Because we asked him initially if he wanted to be part of this, ’cause obviously he was the main singer for Accept for all these years, even though he’s been out of the band a lot of times when people didn’t even realize that, so obviously we wanted him back. And he turned us down, so at this point we’re moving forward and doing our thing and we wish him all the best with his.
The last time you split with him it only lasted one album—why did that happen, and what brought him back for Objection Overruled and the 1990s albums?
He left the band to do his own solo career and we wanted to at the same time move Accept in a slightly different direction with a guy called David Reece, for this record Eat the Heat. That in retrospect didn’t work—there’s a million reasons why that didn’t work, but the fact is it didn’t work between David Reece and the rest of the band, [so] we just tried it again with Udo and did three more records with him in the '90s and the longer hiatus started in 96.
On your 1990s albums, the band was a four-piece, with you as the only guitarist. Were you happy with that, or do you prefer to have a second guitar behind you?
I like both, for different reasons. The reason we did it then was because we were tired of working in the second guitar player. We always recorded and worked and composed everything as a three-piece band, just drums, bass and guitar. Udo was never there, because we always delivered a finished product [to him], so it was literally just the three of us in the studio, and we always felt we had this incredible chemistry, and there’s usually that point where you have to work in the other guitar player basically for show purposes. It had been a two-guitar band all those years, but in reality it was just the three of us being the core band in the studio recording everything. And listening back to some of our demos, we thought, Shit, it sounds so much more energetic, let’s just go out like that, why go through all the hassle? And that’s what we did for a number of years. I enjoyed it very much. It was great. At the same time, if you’re totally honest about it and you want to represent the ’80s and all this stuff, you really need the second guitar player. Not just visually; it’s always nice to have a riff going all the way through when you do lead breaks and things. It is more the true Accept sound, if we’re honest about it. And nowadays we look at these things more like, what do the fans really want? We’re not really doing these shows for us, we’re really doing it to please the fans, you know? And we know the majority of people will probably say we’re a two-guitar band.
Were any of the shows on the 2005 reunion tour recorded? Will anything be done with those tapes?
Yeah, we did. Maybe one day. We haven’t agreed on anything yet, but there was talk about it at some point, it just never went anywhere.
Some of the songs on this album really fit with your classic sound, but others are very different—how much are you concerned with preserving links to the past, and how much with moving forward?
We weren’t really trying to move anywhere with this album. We were just trying to give the fans pretty much a typical old school Accept metal record like it could have been written in the ’80s. We just wanted to have a continuation of the good old days with a modern sound. Most people who’ve heard the record would probably agree that it’s exactly what they want to hear from us, and we still love to give it to them. So we didn’t really try to reinvent the wheel or anything, we just wanted to do like we’d always done back then and come up with fresh ideas. More of it, basically.
I’m interested by the song “Kill the Pain”—Scorpions, for example, had a lot of mainstream success with ballads in their career, but you guys never really went that route in the ’80s. Why is that?
We did have a lot of ballads, really, if you think about it. There was one on each record, but they were mostly sung by Peter [Baltes], the bass player. A lot of people don’t know that, but they were. Even in the ’90s, we did some ballads. And in this case, we did one because we wanted to showcase Mark’s vocal ability a little more. We weren’t going to do a ballad, but then we heard him do a few pieces on other songs where all of a sudden he came up with this beautiful softer voice that we really were intrigued by. Especially on the song “The Abyss,” there’s a middle section where he almost sounds like a different singer. And we thought, Wow, this is incredible for him to be able to have this high-pitched screaming sort of voice, and at the same time to be able to deliver this really articulate lower voice, that’s amazing. So we needed to have more of that, and that’s when we did “Kill the Pain.”
You’ve talked in the past about the influence of classical music on your own playing, and you’ve quoted from classical pieces on Accept albums. Which composers do you listen to the most?
Oh, probably Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart more and more lately. I like Georges Bizet a lot. That’s pretty much the main guys. Georges Bizet is one of my favorites. Carmen and this kind of stuff. Of course I like Ravel’s Bolero, and Dvořák is pretty awesome, too. There’s a lot of stuff I have here that I like.
Accept U.S. tour dates:
Sep 23 - The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 24 - Rams Head, Baltimore, MD
Sep 25 - Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ
Sep 26 - Vintage Vinyl, Fords, New Jersey [IN-STORE SIGNING]
Sep 27 - B.B. King Blues Club, New York, NY
Sep 29 - The Showcase, Foxboro, MA
Oct 1 - The Silo At Riveredge, Reading, PA
Oct 2 - Emerald Theatre, Mt. Clemens, MI
Oct 6 - Scatz, Middleton, WI
Oct 8 - The Exchange, Parma Heights, OH [IN-STORE SIGNING]
Oct 8 - The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
Oct 9 - The Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, IL
Oct 11 - Backstage Live, Blanco, TX
Oct 12 - House of Blues, Dallas, TX
Oct 13 - House of Blues, Houston, TX
Oct 19 - The Key Club, West Hollywood, CA
Art-metal, Chicago-style, with special guests
Yakuza will be touring the US with Triptykon and 1349 next month; here are the dates. They're the first band on, so get there early!
Oct 6 - The Gramercy Theatre, New York City, NY
Oct 7 - The Middle East, Cambridge, MA
Oct 8 - Otto Bar, Baltimore, Maryland
Oct 9 - Polaris, Philadelphia, PA
Oct 10 - Les Foufounes, Montreal, QC
Oct 11 - The Opera House, Toronto, ON
Oct 13 - The Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights, OH
Oct 14 - Mr. Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 15 - The Majestic Theater, Detroit, MI
Oct 16 - Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL
Oct 17 - Station Four, St. Paul, MN
Oct 19 - The Marquis Theatre, Denver, CO
Oct 21 - El Corazon, Seattle, WA
Oct 22 - Hawthorn Theatre, Portland, OR
Oct 23 - Slim's, San Francisco, CA
Oct 24 - El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Oct 25 - The Rock, Tucson, AZ
Oct 27 - The Marque, Tulsa, OK
Oct 28 - Ridgelea Theatre, Fort Worth, TX
Oct 29 - Emo's, Austin, TX
Oct 30 - The Warsaw, Houston, TX
It's not about actually learning anything - it's for charity
According to their PR department, the Agassi Foundation runs a public charter school, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, through which it "strives to provide underserved youth in Las Vegas with a quality K-12 education to prepare for excellence in college and beyond. Through state and national advocacy, the Foundation also works to increase investment and accountability in public schools."
Here are the terms of the deal:
"Lars will begin your unbelievable day with a tour of Metallica headquarters, which includes Metallica’s recording studio, rehearsal space and home of their fan club, website and merchandise department. Once inside the studio, you will have the privilege of receiving a one hour private drumming lesson from one of the greatest drummers of all time. After Lars shows you a thing or two, you and your guest will join him for a private lunch. Almost too extraordinary to believe!
"American Airlines will provide first-class airfare for you and one guest to complete this rare experience. You will also enjoy a two-night stay at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, a luxury hotel offering legendary service and stupendous views of the city’s iconic sights.
To remember this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will be sent home with all kinds of hot Metallica gear to make your friends jealous. Now that’s a rock star package!
"This package has been generously donated by Lars Ulrich and Metallica. Flights and hotel were donated by Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco and American Airlines. This package will be held at a mutually agreeable time in Marin, Calif. One Bay View King room at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco will be provided for two nights and certain date restrictions apply. First-class airfare for two people with flights originating in the continental United States will also be provided. Transfers and meals are not included in the package other than what is specified in the package details. Package expires on December 31, 2011. This package is nontransferable and nonrefundable."
Is Lars Ulrich someone whose drumming you admire? Do you think he's got something to teach you? Are you a rich asshole who's got enough money to donate to some celebrity's private school in Las Vegas? Place your bid today!
Evolution is a gradual process
Frankly, Willowtip's been expanding beyond their core competency a little lately, and I'm worried. I come to them for wildly widdly tech-death bands like Gorod, Arsis, Necrophagist, Neuraxis, Illogicist, Spawn of Possession and Alarum; I also come to them for brutal grindcore like Kill the Client, Defeatist, Maruta, Magrudergrind and Phobia. I don't come to them for Grief reissues. But I digress. The point here is, Unique Leader has a new release that's worth your attention. Flesh Consumed's Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering comes out in a week, on 9/28.
(Above: Flesh Consumed playing "Fermented Slaughter" and "Inhuman Butchery" live in 2009)
Flesh Consumed have undergone a slight evolution between their last full-length album, 2008's Mutilate Eviscerate Decapitate, and now. That one had track titles like "Schizophrenic Slaughter Frenzy," "Lynched With Entrails," "Harvesting Humans," "Sadistic Incineration"...you get the idea. I don't know what it sounded like, but I can guess, and you probably can too. But they followed that up with 2009's New Order of Intelligence EP, which paired two old songs—one from M.E.D. and one from their Inhuman Butchery EP—with four new ones, and those tracks had titles like "Conflux of Man and Machine," "The Apocalypse" and "Frontlines." It also marked their departure from Sevared Records for the comparatively big leagues of Unique Leader.
The songs on Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering seem to be bridging the gap between the two sides of Flesh Consumed. You get "Devoid of Skin" alongside "Imprisoned Between Dimensions"; "Chamber of Torture" followed by "Immortality Through Infinite Consciousness." You get interludes—two-minute instrumentals that pair gently psychedelic guitar with static and bursts of soft electronic crunching. Musically, the band is definitely death metal. The vocals are a gurgling roar, totally indecipherable; the guitars are tuned way down and riffing savagely, except when they're cutting loose with squiggly solos or little oases of jazz chording; and the drums are a constant presence, not so much setting time as chopping it into little bits. They're skilled players, executing hairpin turns and rhythmic switchbacks with no struggle (obviously, death metal is a highly precise music dependent on studio technology, but I get the feeling these guys could pull this music off live).
The last track on the disc, "Staring into the Abyss (Outro)," runs 11:25, and it's the clearest sign, to me, of what Flesh Consumed are trying to do. It's all drones and bursts of static, like the two interludes that broke up the album, but laid over that backing are snippets of dialogue from newscasts or documentaries about serial killers, people who feel they've been possessed, killers themselves, and more. The band doesn't seem to be wallowing in shock value, though; there are relatively few gory details. Instead, we seem to be hearing killers explaining why they kill, as the music behind them goes not for haunted-house ambience but rather the kind of sound you might want to hear as you sit outside on a dark night, staring up at the stars. To me, it's not so much about man's inhumanity to man as it is man's insignificance. We can kill each other all we want; the universe doesn't care and never will.
It's both good and interesting to watch a band evolve. Flesh Consumed started out wanting to be Cannibal Corpse; now they seem to want to be Decrepit Birth, but they haven't quite let go of their old, blood-soaked ways. I'm very interested to hear their next album, as I have the feeling they'll be heading even farther out. But Ecliptic Dimensions of Suffering is a very good record, and you should get yourself one.