National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2014 Show Report

The month of January brings excitement to the City of Anaheim every year, and the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2014 show is no exception!  Let’s cut to the chase this year!  A few highlights of the gazillions of musical instruments and gadgets are found below…enjoy!
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DEICIDE, BROKEN HOPE, DISGORGE, NECRONOMICON @ The Whisky, Hollywood, CA (10/20/13)

The No Salvation Tour had made its way to Los Angeles, and by the looks of things outside the world famous Whisky A Go-Go, it would be a packed house inside.  There were tons of fans lined up outside the venue, but since the show was sold out, they had no choice but to stand outside and hang out all night!

The opening act for this brutal tour package was NECRONOMICON, but alas, they did not play, as their RV broke down and sadly, did not get to the venue in time to perform.  The crowd grew restless, and wanted some brutality…

After a few miscues with their intro, San Diego’s DISGORGE proved why they are still one of the most extreme and violent acts out there.  The band plowed directly into “Atonement” with new vocalist Angel Ochoa up to par with legendary ex-DISGORGE vocalist Matti Way.  The crowd started up the pit, and the band fed off the swirling hair and circle pit nicely, delivering the most ferocious, extreme, and ultra low guttural death metal possible.  They went through their “hits” such as “Womb Full of Scabs,” “She Lay Gutted,” and “Cranial Impalement” just to name a few.  The crowd gave them an excellent response, and this tour should definitely take the band to the next level in terms of gaining more fan base and support.

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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2013 Show Report

NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2013 has now concluded, and many new and innovative products were featured on the massive lot at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Many of these products pertain to musicians in the Metal scene, and some of the products are just plain cool.

The turnout was crazy as usual – some were there to do business, while others were there to be seen.  Metal remains one of the best represented genres of music, as members of SLAYER, ANTHRAX, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL, NILE, MONSTROSITY, MEGADETH, and more were checking out the latest and greatest gear as well. Without further ado, let’s get started with what APESHIT thought were the best products NAMM had to offer for our metal fans out there.
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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2012 Show Report

Every year, NAMM bestows upon us shiny new toys for musicmakers of all genres to make new (and old) sounds with. NAMM 2012 was no less a musical heaven for the products, gadgets, and innovations that help make metal happen. We took a spin through the showroom floor at Anaheim Convention Center to check out some new equipment that our metal cohorts use and abuse. Full report after the jump.
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TERRORIZER – Hordes of Zombies

World Downfall is by far one of the most devastating and influential grind albums in existence, so it’s a damn shame that Darker Days Ahead was an atrocious flop. Unlike Darker Days’ ugly guitar tone, uninspired songwriting, and lack of enthusiasm, Hordes of Zombies returns to form with a slightly different, but still masterful approach.

It’s impossible to fill the shoes of the late Jesse Pintado, but new guitarist Katina Culture does a great job on the album. The riffing style is much thrashier, opposed to Pintado’s all out grind/groove oriented riffs, but the thrashy riffs fit TERRORIZER nicely, especially having Pete “Commando” Sandoval return behind the kit, with his trademark blasting in tact. The biggest difference on Hordes of Zombies is that the catchy, short surges of groove that was so prevalent in World Downfall is not as noticeable, but the overall feeling of the album is still definitely “TERRORIZER.”

The title track begins the album proper with a midpaced groove and familiar vocal pattern style seen before. Anthony Rezhawk emulates original singer, Oscar Garcia, to perfection with short bursts of lyrics throughout the songs. Tracks like “Subterfuge” and “Evolving Era” have nice blast beats with a spectacle of thrashy, headbanging riffs intermingling throughout.

Ignorance and Apathy” has a KRISIUN-like feel to the beginning, while tracks like “Radiation Syndrome” and “Flesh to Dust” continue the brutality. All tracks within Hordes of Zombies flow nicely, and “Generation Chaos” even has a short melodic passage in between all the blasts and fury. “Forward to Annihilation” never lets up, and the high octane closer, “A Dying Breed” finishes this energetic, fresh sounding album.

It’s a shame that MORBID ANGEL chose to record their new album without Pete Sandoval, but perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, as Hordes of Zombies certainly lays Illud Divinum Insanus to waste. That being said, the only grind bands you need to pay attention to these days are LOCK UP and TERRORIZER. (Season of Mist)

ABSU – Abzu

The term “U.S. black metal” is often mocked in many circles, but one exception to the rule is ABSU. The self-titled album was just the tip of the iceberg for their unique blend of thrash/black metal style, and Abzu will certainly be hailed as one of the top albums of 2011.

Upon pressing play, the immediate high falsetto scream is belted out, and “Earth Ripper” has thrashy elements, choppy black metal riffing, and drum perfection all meshed into one. The disharmonic black metal riffs found in “Circles of the Oath” really accentuate how far and mature the band has come along since their earlier death metal inspired albums. The riffs remind the listener of newer MAYHEM colliding with the acoustic interlude brilliance of DISSECTION. With the acoustic passage segueing into “Abraxas Connexus” and “Skryring in the Spirit Vision,” the continuous thrash spirit is alive and well with these occult masters, highlighted by the drum fills and quick hands of the underrated drum beast known as Proscriptor.

Compared to their previous albums, songs on Abzu are generally shorter, but the closing 14 minute track, “A Song for Ea,” is a spectacle in itself. From a mid paced beginning, changing into a whirlwind of thrash metal haven, the first half of the track forms an aggressive aura. The riffs then slow down, but stay interesting, adding excellent solos to enhance the atmosphere, finally ending with acoustic guitars. Once you think the album is set to a close, an epic and brutal end is brought forth.

Abzu takes many listens to comprehend and fully appreciate all that is offered, as new notes, cymbal crashes are all discovered upon each new listen. Newbie and mainstream black metal listeners won’t “get” ABSU, but for the extreme metal veteran, Abzu is a must buy. (Candlelight Records)

IMMOLATION – Providence

Fresh off the release of last year’s Majesty and Decay album, IMMOLATION has once again conquered and solidified their part as being one of the most consistent and prolific death metal bands ever with Providence.

IMMOLATION wastes no time with any intros, and within seconds of “What They Bring,” you already sense that the EP will be brutal, blasphemous, and destructive to the ears. Ross Dolan’s vocals are still deep and brutal, but over the years, his enunciation style has become clearer without sacrificing brutality. Drummer Steve Shalaty has definitely topped IMMOLATION’s previous drummers with his technique and intricacy. And who can forget Robert Vigna’s twisted songwriting with his demonic riffs, perfectly placed pinch harmonics, and strange song structures? “Illumination” starts off with violas in the background, only to be unleashed with a fury of blasts and harmonics that make Christians cower in fear.

The title track slows the pace, but the brutality never diminishes.  Something that haunted IMMOLATION in the past was poor production like on the Failures For Gods album, but much like Majesty’s production, Providence sounds clear, flawless, with plenty of low end. “Swallow the Fear” is one of the best songs IMMOLATION has written in the last few years, encasing their entire repertoire of killer riffs, drumming, and catchy vocal lines.

IMMOLATION is a band that is still going strong with fresh ideas and high quality songs, which is very promising, especially for a band that has been around for over two decades. This EP was released as a free download, so be sure to check them out live at a city near you and buy their merchandise so they can survive and keep writing excellent music, while putting these trendy “flavor of the month” bands to shame! (Scion A/V)

CYNIC – Carbon-Based Anatomy

Like hardcore OPETH fans, CYNIC fanatics will vouch for anything the band releases. Carbon-Based Anatomy is nice material to quench the thirst of said fans, but this release is not quite up to par with their full length releases.

Half of the instrumental “songs” on this EP have some experimentation and provide a full experience to the listener, but let’s get to the facts: there are only 3 new songs here. The vocals are clean and well done, Sean Malone returns to reprise his role as the bass extraordinaire, but something is missing. The CYNIC staples of Paul Masvidal’s “robot” vocoder vocals, mixed with death metal growls are nowhere to be found, and as a result, the disc sounds too light and fluffy.

The title track shows that Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert have a more free flowing approach to CYNIC’s newer material. An intricate, but structured progressive jam session is the result. Along with his airy vocals which provide the CYNIC touch, Masvidal has improved his already excellent guitar work, and spruces up the title track with his best solo since DEATH’s Human album. Reinert’s masterful drum patterns and skill makes the band who they are.

Box Up My Bones” continues the free flowing fashion with tasteful, controlled, progressive drumming, but the lack of great riffs and seemingly “soft” and flowery parts drag the song a bit, and weighs the mood down. “Elves Beam Out” features all the progressive CYNIC elements, but this small glimpse of songs already shows that Traced in Air was a far better output.

This release is a teaser which leaves their fans clamoring for more, but the power and fresh ideas from Focus are long gone. It seems as if CYNIC are content with this direction, but don’t be surprised if the new full length has minimal expansion, and sounds more like Carbon-Based Anatomy version 1.5. (Season of Mist)

ARCH ENEMY, DEVILDRIVER, SKELETONWITCH, CHTHONIC @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles (9/27/11)

The North American Khaos 2011 Tour had a metal genre for everybody – black, thrash, nu, and melodic metal were all represented nicely.

CHTHONIC has gained quite an increase of popularity in the U.S. since their first go around at Ozzfest in 2007, and that notion was proven by the rabid crowd that showed up early giving full support to the “Orient metal” from the Far East.  The band performed tracks mostly from the new album, Takasago Army, and new tracks like “Takao” and “Southern Cross” went over tremendously well in the live setting. Vocalist Freddy Lim owned the crowd with his enthusiastic charisma and wowed onlookers whenever he pulled out the er-hu to accentuate why CHTHONIC stands out as a unique band.
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CHTHONIC – Takasago Army

CHTHONIC have been working hard promoting their brand of “Orient metal” to the masses by touring the U.S. with SATYRICON, performing at select European festivals, and appearing in countless metal publications. Seediq Bale showed the band’s maturity in songwriting, and Mirror of Retribution broke the band into greater heights by showing that they can hang with the big boys. Takasago Army continues in the same vein, and the band delivers their best album to date.

Vocalist Freddy Lim has tightened up his vocals with more variation, using his deeper vocals on a more constant level, but his Dani Filth-like vocals still remain an integral part of his delivery. The production is excellent, and all the instruments blend in crisper and clearer than on the previous album. “Takao” and “Broken Jade” are the most listener friendly songs on Takasago Army, and not surprisingly, they are the best tracks on this disc, utilizing their entire repertoire with catchy vocal patterns, melodic hooks, and tasteful riffs.  CHTHONIC’s unique element in the world of extreme metal, the er-hu, is still a prominent instrument, and provides a distinct Asian flavor, as heard on “Legend of the Seediq” and “Oceanquake.”

The riff master behind CHTHONIC, Jesse Liu, has improved his songwriting skills with each subsequent release, and his solos on “Southern Cross” and “Mahakala” make the album so soothing to the metal ears. Although this release is slightly less catchy than Mirror of Retribution, the band forges forward with a good product comparable to their Scandinavian folk metal counterparts.

CHTHONIC have found their niche within the extreme metal world by combining Swedish/Finnish riffs, CRADLE OF FILTH’s style, a splash of IRON MAIDEN, and Taiwanese based mythology/concepts all thrown in together. The band doesn’t offer new ideas or riffs that CRADLE hasn’t done already, but the album should appease their faithful fans worldwide, and the songs should go over very well in the live setting. (Spinefarm Records)