APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2015

motorheadWhen looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.

Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene.  Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts.  You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.

Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years.
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Stream FEAR FACTORY’s New Album, Genexus; Watch New Video for “Dielectric”

FEAR FACTORY‘s new album, Genexus, is now available for streaming.  Check it out below:

Genexus was produced by vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares, and co-produced by long-time collaborator Rhys Fulber. The album was mixed by famed British producer and engineer, Andy Sneap (ARCH ENEMYTESTAMENTEXODUSMACHINE HEAD). Artwork was once again handled by artist Anthony Clarkson. Drums on Genexus were performed by Mike Heller (MALIGNANCY).

Additionally, the band’s new video for the song, “Dielectric,” has also been posted:

Concert Memories: BLACK SABBATH, OZZY OSBOURNE, PANTERA, TYPE O NEGATIVE, MARILYN MANSON @ Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion, June 29, 1997, San Bernardino, California

Ozzfest 1997Back when I was a senior in high school, a friend called me up and was yelling at the top of his lungs about an “Ozzfest.”  When he told me about the dream line up, I was beyond excited.  Who on this earth wouldn’t have wanted to see OZZY, DANZIG, SLAYER, SEPULTURA, and FEAR FACTORY in 1996?  Unfortunately, my friend didn’t care enough to actually go with me to the show and I was the only person in my school that cared enough to go.  Thus, I missed the show.

So 1997 rolls around and I’m a freshman in college and working as a school teacher during the summer.  Most importantly, I had my own damn car.  When the announcement for the second Ozzfest came out, I was beyond excited.  To be able to see the reunited original line up of BLACK SABBATH meant everything to me.  SABBATH were my favorite band at the time (and still are).  Those first six albums changed my life.  Not even Technical Ecstacy or Never Say Die hurt my feelings as much as Load but that probably has more to do with the fact that I was born in ’78 and not ’68.  I still have those first SABBATH albums on cassette tape.

Unlike 1996, I wasn’t going to be deterred by the fact that I did not know a single soul who wanted to go.  Armed with a Thomas Guide map, I set out in my car on the furthest drive of my 19 year old life.  After the over two hour drive, I arrived at the venue, which is out in the middle of shitsville (AKA San Bernardino County, California).  Lots of dirt, rocks, scorching heat, and rednecks.  As I pulled up to entrance of the venue, there were the obligatory Christian groups protesting the show with a focus on Ozzy.  They were holding up signs about damnation and devil worship…completely harmless stuff.

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FEAR FACTORY – The Industrialist

“Fan service” might be the best way to describe The Industrialist.  It’s not often that a record is released and there isn’t much of anything to complain about.  With The Industrialist, FEAR FACTORY deliver everything fans love about FEAR FACTORY.  The machine gun riffing/drumming, the futuristic atmospheres, the mix of distorted and clean vocals, and the attacking aggression are all beautifully executed.

In comparison to its predecessor Mechanize, The Industrialist is a bit more singular in its attacking focus.  Perhaps there is a tad less variety in the riffing and song variety departments.  Don’t expect too much in the way of change or progression as FEAR FACTORY basically do what they do best here.  Thankfully, that doesn’t significantly subtract from the value of the record.

Fans may be disappointed to know that vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist/bassist Dino Cazares have opted to use a drum machine for the record.  Drum god Gene Hoglan is as busy as usual with his many other bands.  However, FEAR FACTORY‘s style, by default, is perfectly suited for a drum machine.  Thus, everything sounds the way it should.

Simply put, The Industrialist is solid.  The songs are catchy and full of energy and aggression.  Good shit.  (Candlelight Records)

FEAR FACTORY Announce Cancellation of Shockwave Festival Tour

Due to reasons well beyond the band’s control, FEAR FACTORY will not be taking part in this Summer’s Shockwave Festival Tour, slated to commence July 6, 2012 in Seattle.  The announcement follows the Shockwave’s announcement that due to VOIVOD‘s recent cancellation and poor advance ticket sales, the tour has been cancelled.

Commented the band in a collective statement: “We are truly disappointed not to be part of the Shockwave tour. We send our sincerest apologies to all our North American fans planning to come out this Summer, but we will be back. Please look for FEAR FACTORY headlining dates in August.”

Concert Memories: MEGADETH, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, KORN, FEAR FACTORY @ Santa Monica Civic, Santa Monica, CA (08/12/95)

After witnessing my first MEGADETH show earlier in the year on February 27, 1995 with openers CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, I was ready for more MEGADETH. The first leg of their Youthanasia tour featured a great setlist where staples from Rust in Peace like “Holy Wars…” and “Hangar 18” were performed absolutely flawlessly. It was a warm Saturday night in the middle of another beautiful Los Angeles summer and I was pumped up.

In hindsight, 1995 was probably one of the last years that metal in the mainstream was huge in the U.S. before Load and nu metal hit. However, the zealous crowd of metalheads didn’t know or care of this impending doom. As soon as my mom pulled into the parking lot to drop my younger brother and I off, you could see a sea of long hairs (back when long hair was the norm for metalheads). My younger brother got too intimidated by the look of the various misfits and miscreants in the parking lot and quickly told me that he couldn’t do it. So I jumped out of the car and quickly sold my brother’s ticket and went inside the Santa Monica Civic.

I worked my way near the front of stage left to watch tour openers, FEAR FACTORY. It was safe to say that the majority of the audience had never heard of the band nor knew that their recently released album at the time, Demanufacture, would later be recognized as a landmark album. After a couple songs, the crowd began getting into it. It was the first time that I heard such machine gun riffing used in such an aggressive and attacking fashion. At one point during their set, guitarist Dino Cazares gave a shout out to all the fat Mexicans in the audience. That gave everyone a good laugh. After the show, I made it a point to track down FEAR FACTORY‘s albums and subsequently, became a huge fan.

Next up was some little known new band called KORN. They were the most un-metal looking band possible – baggy jeans, adidas track pants, white t-shirts, dreadlocks, and bouncy stage movements. When they started playing, a lot of people didn’t know what to do, including me. Do I dance? Do I bounce up and down? Do I just headbang? With their charisma and chunky heavy grooves, KORN quickly won over everyone who was quickly moshing like crazy. And when vocalist Jonathan Davis busted out the bagpipes for their final song, the crowd went apeshit (pun not intended).

Arizona speed metal vets, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, went on next but had the unenviable task of following KORN. KORN had made such an impression on the audience that FLOTSAM didn’t get as much love as they had hoped. They performed well though and the only song I remember was “Smoked Out.”

The wait for MEGADETH to come onstage seemed like an eternity. In anticipation, the crowd pushed forward as much as possible to get closer to the stage. This resulted in everyone in the front of the crowd to get smashed like sardines. Finally, when the band took the stage with “Skin ‘O My Teeth,” the insanity started. Tons of testosterone was unleashed via pushing, moshing, headbanging, punching, elbows flying, and random crowd surfers floating around…you know, the usual shit.

Just staying very aware of your surroundings was the key to survival. Also, as a tip for all you rookies: It always helps to stand behind a big, tall guy because he will likely be able to deflect all the people that try to run into him. As a result, you’ll be able to shield yourself from the chaos. Another technique that works well is to surround yourself with heavy girls. Their natural cushion works wonders in the middle of a frenzy. Also, guys are less inclined to smash into them. Thus, leaving you with more energy to just enjoy the music.

I don’t recall the setlist too well but I just remember it being very well balanced between Youthanasia, Countdown, and Rust in Peace. Of course, they played the obligatory staples like “Peace Sells” and “Anarchy in the USA.” Bassist Dave Ellefson played a bass solo, which is not common among today’s younger metal bands.

One thing that I will never forget was just how crazy the crowd was in the front. I was right near the barrier in front of the stage and it was just mayhem. Sure, I got to watch Marty Friedman up close all night but what a physical price I paid for that. Random boots and shoes from crowd surfers would constantly smack me in the head. At one point, the people behind me were pushing forward so hard that I thought I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen. I even contemplated asking the security guards to pull me out because I was gonna lose it. Man, good thing my little brother didn’t come with me to this show. Haha.

At the end of the show, the band members each threw out guitar picks. Unfortunately, I got Nick Menza‘s. Haha. Once the house lights came on, people were all high fiving each other and showing some of the camaraderie that made going to big metal shows fun back then. I was soaked in sweat from head to toe, most of which was not mine. I quickly bought a “Reckoning Day” concert shirt and searched for my uncle outside, who was my ride home. He had been in this country for a while up until that day but had never seen a metal crowd. As soon as we got in his car, he turned to me and said, “Crazy shit!”

FEAR FACTORY Setting Out for More U.S. Dates via Fear Campaign Tour

FEAR FACTORY will return to the stage in a few days as part of their ongoing Fear Campaign Tour. The short string of U.S. dates will kick off in Tempe, Arizona on December 29 and conclude nine days later in San Diego, California on January 8.

Tour dates:
12/29/2010 The Club House – Tempe, AZ
12/30/2010 Club 101 – El Paso, TX
12/31/2010 The Rail Club – Fort Worth, TX
01/01/2011 The Marquee Theater – Tulsa, OK
01/02/2011 Club Khaos – Amarillo, TX
01/04/2011 Gators – Farmington, NM
01/05/2011 Sunshine Theatre – Albuquerque, NM
01/06/2011 DV8 – Tucson, AZ
01/07/2011 Whisky A Go Go – West Hollywood, CA
01/08/2011 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA

Pulverised Signs Thrash Supergroup MEMORAIN

Pulverised Records is proud to announce the addition of MEMORAIN to their growing roster of brutality. The thrash metal supergroup, founded by guitarist Ilias Papadakis, formed in 1999 and currently features: Gene Hoglan (FEAR FACTORY), Steve Digiorgio (SADUS), Ralph Santolla (OBITUARY) and Chris Valagao (ZIMMERS HOLE). Guest musicians on previous offerings have included Nick Menza (ex-MEGADETH) and James Murphy.

The band recently completed work on the fourth full-length, Evolution. Further details and artwork to be revealed soon.

Commented Papadakis of the signing: “I’m really happy with the way things are going! Pulverised Records is the new home of MEMORAIN and I’m sure that with their experience they will do an amazing job with our new album! On Evolution, we have succeeded to combine oldschool thrash metal, with a modern touch. Fast and aggressive, but at the same time, melodic with powerful. I’m sure that Evolution will satisfy the appetite of the diehard fans of thrash metal! I can’t wait to perform this material live!”

http://www.myspace.com/memorain

SYBREED’s Pulse of Awakening Drops July 13th

Switzerland’s finest recent export, SYBREED return to industrial metal majesty with The Pulse Of Awakening, which was produced by FEAR FACTORY producer Rhys Fulber and engineered by guitarist Drop. Baptizing their modern wall of sound as “Death Wave,” SYBREED unleash a new and fresh mix of extreme metal, industrial and icy melodies. Also, the artwork was created by Seth Anton Siro (VADER, PARADISE LOST, SEPTIC FLESH). The Pulse Of Awakening is set for a July 13th North American release.

New songs can be streamed here: www.myspace.com/sybreed