SEPULTURA – Quadra

SEPULTURA certainly needs no introduction, but to this day, Max Cavalera-fanboys still slam this lineup as a “cover band” and continue to bash every album released after Roots.  While there were indeed a few lackluster albums after Max’s split, Machine Messiah showed some real potential for the band to finally crawl out of his shadow.  Quadra, however, finally allows this band to break free and show some real grit and passion that was previously missing.

After a melodic start that is somewhat reminiscent of “Inquisition Symphony,” upon the first few notes you quickly realize that Quadra is different from the other Derrick Green-fronted albums.  Could it be?  Some brutality?  Pissed off aggression?  “Isolation” immediately punches you in the face with catchy, thrashy riffs the band was once known for.

Right away it’s apparent that drummer Eloy Casagrande is allowed to breathe artistically and fully showcase his talents.  Casagrande is not confined as the last few albums he played on, and his freedom to go apeshit (pun intended) is finally unleashed.   Igor Cavalera’s style is captured with Casagrande on “Means to an End” and he pays homage quite well.

Last Time” provides the aggressiveness that was lacking in a lot of the recent albums, but the progression is quite clear with choirs, melodic solos, and all-around excellent songwriting.   Shockingly, you’re still taken aback at how much firepower is on this album as the band takes no prisoners with the aural assault.

A lot of throwback ideas are on display, such as the tribal Roots-era influences on tracks like “Capital Enslavement.”   The revitalization of the band is apparent and the refreshing thrash goodness is continued on “Ali.” 

Guardians of Earth” starts off with a well-placed acoustic guitar intro before leading into some choirs, killer solos by Andreas Kisser, before transitioning to the equally epic next track.  “The Pentagram” is a track that absolutely could have been released in the Arise-era with Igor Cavalera-drum worship, flawless ripping and shredding and more and more riffs!  The almost jam-like session has an abundance of brutal, almost death metal inspired riffs, and Quadra reaches its apex at this point. 

The album drops off a bit towards the end, but this effort is most definitely the best material since Roots.  Jens Bogren once again shines in the producer seat, as the guitar crunch and heaviness of the drums are mixed perfectly without being buried in the mix of the constant barrage of Green’s vocals.

While the days of an all out thrash attack like Beneath the Remains are gone, the band as a whole has, dare we say progressed, and ultimately delivered a crushing album that rivals the ones at the pinnacle of their career in the early and mid-90’s.

Who needs a SEPULTURA reunion with Max when this album crushes anything SOULFLY has done in recent years?  Huge respect goes out to Andreas, Derrick, Paulo, and Eloy, as Quadra has already set the precedence for album of the year. (Nuclear Blast Records)

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2020 Show Report

Hails to all you APESHIT goons, has it been a year already?  How time flies when you’re blasting underground metal on a daily basis.  We hit up the Winter NAMM show, and here are a few things we found interesting in 2020!

Sabian’s new printed graphic cymbals made their debut, and they are quite a delight to enhance your kit’s visual appeal.  These printed cymbals are available at their custom shop, as the tops are printed with a color graphic, and the bottom is left untreated.   Another notable new Sabian product is the crisp Complex 21” and 22” ride that ensures to cut through your run-of-the-mill grind riffs.

Getting rid of body hair has been part of our routines for a long time. Guys shave their facial hair, and women shave their legs and underarms. Normally are 2 the types of treatment that you prefer to employ, but which one is the best? epilator vs waxing!

Drum god Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN) has switched over to the British Drum Co. with his custom Icarus kit.  The Icarus features a signature snare series that has an Oak shell with Black Fishtail Oak outer veneer and the Icarus logo badge on the side.  The kit can be ordered as a replica or in any size configuration, which should please drummers who are huge Nicko McBrain/IRON MAIDEN fans.

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DEFILED – Infinite Regress

Japan’s unique death metal veterans, DEFILED, have delivered a whopper of an album! Don’t believe me?  Check out the video below.  As always, the constant is guitarist Yusuke Sumita, and his chaotic riffs are on full display with an excellent complimentary lineup to forge his passion for underground death metal.

After the intro, Infinite Regress opens up with the dizzying track, “Divide and Conquer” and unloads a healthy mix of grind, blasts, and discordant riffs.  DEFILED is chock full of technical parts, but not the usual guitar noodling “sweep after sweep” garbage that has infiltrated the “technical metal” subgenre these days.

The production is hearty and crisp, without sacrificing any distortion crunch or having the drums getting buried in the mix.  However, don’t think this album is just a blast fest, as “Tragedy” starts with a mid-paced slew of riffs before showing their trademark off-time riffs and maniacal vocal lines.

Some great bass lines are thrown in “Aftermath,” and DEFILED’s catchiest material to date is offered here on tracks such as “Systematic Decomposition,”  “Masses in Chaos,” and “Slaverobot.”

DEFILED is a band that takes multiple listens before appreciating the whirlwind riffs and savagery of it all, and this album is no different.  So many riffs are unleashed everywhere but somehow it all comes together nicely with different tempo changes and great drum patterns.  The band should be extremely proud of this effort, and fans of classic riffage influenced by NAPALM DEATHTERRORIZERCRYPTOPSY (just to name a few) should enjoy this album immensely.  Last but not least, the sick work of Wes Benscoter graces the cover and solidifies this album as a great pick up in 2020. (Season of Mist)

Sean Reinhert – RIP 1971-2020

The debate over which DEATH album is the best will have various results, depending on who you ask.  Some swear by the sheer brutality and simplicity of Scream Bloody Gore, or the ultra-catchy riffs from Leprosy.  Some guitar enthusiasts enjoy Spiritual Healing the most because of James Murphy’s wizardry, but my personal favorite will always be Human, simply because of the flawless performance by Sean Reinert.  The album opens with the obvious focus on Reinert’s talent as the double bass crescendos into some toms and then…brutality.  The rest of the album never lets up, and while Chuck Schuldiner’s riffs and leads are in top form, to me, it’s Reinert’s execution that makes this album one of the ultimate death metal albums of all time.

The technicality of well-placed cymbal hits, rides, complex drum patterns are so succinct and perfect, that it honestly takes tens of listens before you can fully comprehend and appreciate the greatness that Reinert infused on every album he’s played on.  Not only did he implement such a brutal touch on the album, but his jazzy influence was well-documented as well, especially on the track “Cosmic Sea.”  Admittedly, I was not a fan of CYNIC when Focus was first released, but after I heard Human, I decided to revisit the album and once again, realized the sheer genius that Reinert facilitated.

On a personal level, I only met him for a few minutes on two separate occasions, but he was a genuine and extremely kind person.  He was appreciative that I had almost everything he had played on and was very humble about it all.

Our condolences go out to his husband, family, and his friends.  The music and metal scene has lost one of the greatest game changers in drumming history.

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2019 Show Report

Greetings and salutations from sunny California!  Once again, another amazing National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention has come and gone!  There were a few surprises along the way, they also had the Free Music Lesson, and as always, we had a great time checking out all the gear!

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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2018 Show Report

Greetings from the 2018 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Convention AKA the NAMM Show, where things have been changed up a bit from years past. For starters, all the booths were in different locations, including some booths that were outside the normal convention center area. While there was still an insane amount of people, it felt a bit less crowded due to the new format and wider areas between booths. Let’s not delay any further and get to some of the products we particularly enjoyed!

Sonor displayed the beast of a kit, the SQ2 “The Book of Souls,” made specifically for Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN). Witnessing it up close and personal was truly astonishing. Crafted in Germany, the shells were made to Nicko’s specific specifications, complete with Eddie inlays. Beautiful stuff.

Paiste had a 90” giant gong on display. Yes, a 90” gong. Not sure how practical that would be, but that’s a whole lot of gong going on.

While not exactly metal related, some of you may remember the old Roland TR-808 or TR-909 drum machines, and now they have been officially reintroduced as virtual plug-ins. Note that you’ll have to use the Roland cloud, however, this is extremely cool and a great throwback for those nostalgic drum sounds.
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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2017 Show Report

Engl Marty Friedman ampThe 2017 edition of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Convention has concluded, and it was mostly filled with updates/improvements on past products, but there were a few items of interest to the metal community!  Let’s gear up (pun intended) and see what 2017 had to offer!

First and foremost for heavy metal fans, Paiste introduced its limited edition Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN) “Treasures” set – impressive looking cymbals with the artwork of the sun god, Tonatiuh, and of course with the Paiste logos in the classic IRON MAIDEN font.  When the company says this set is limited edition, it truly is limited, as there were only 83 sets produced worldwide!  For all you OCD freaks out there, Paiste also announced the Color Sound 900 series, with a variety of new colors to match the color of your kit.  I saw purple, blue, black, and red on display, and the color scheme was a delight for the eyes.

Honorable mentions included the Soultone booth, where they showed a picture of the late Nick Menza (OHM, ex-MEGADETH), which was a very touching and cool thing for them to do.  Yamaha drums celebrated their 50th anniversary, and were displaying a few of those solid kits on display.

NAMM is always top-heavy on guitars, and the APESHIT crowd loves to hear about new guitars on hand.
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CANNIBAL CORPSE, OBITUARY, CRYPTOPSY, ABYSMAL DAWN @ The Mayan Theater, Los Angeles (3/8/16)

Cryptopsy live 01The Mayan Theater in Los Angeles certainly looks like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, but on this night, pure death metal was held at this venue.

ABYSMAL DAWN returned home to butter up the crowd with their technical brand of death metal.  Emphasizing a few tracks off their latest album, Obsolescence, Charles Elliott and company delivered an enthusiastic set that kicked off this wonderful show.

Cryptopsy live 02A buzz was in the air as fans were awaiting CRYPTOPSY’s return to Los Angeles, and the Canadian death metal quartet did not disappoint.  Despite their short set, the band blasted  through some brutal classics, notably fan favorites such as “Slit Your Guts” and “Phobophile.”  Vocalist Matt McGachy pleased old Lord Worm-era fans with his guttural delivery, and bassist Olivier Pinard showcased his fantastic skill on bass.  Of course, the highlight of the band is to watch Flo Mounier’s precise delivery on destroying the drum kit with his intricate fills and sheer bad ass mastery of the kit.  Wish they played longer – maybe next time.

Obituary liveThose who are familiar with the swamp groove masters, OBITUARY, know that the band always delivers live.  They punished the crowd with old classics, which only sound heavier in the live setting.  Guitarist Trevor Peres’ one-of-a-kind distortion is always great to hear, and the band was firing on all cylinders.  Glad to see these classic bands are still on top of their game.  “Chopped in Half/Dying” and “Slowly We Rot” brought the crowd into a frenzied, bloodied mess…leading the way to the headliners…

Cannibal Corpse liveThe crowd was getting anxious for CANNIBAL CORPSE, and while some songs sounded a bit slower than normal, they ripped through their gems from all eras of the band, from “Born in a Casket,” “Covered With Sores,” the love ballad “I Cum Blood,” to “Unleashing the Bloodthirsty,” and tracks like “Kill or Become” from the latest album, A Skeletal Domain.

CANNIBAL, while a bit older and slower, still deliver the goods, and the boys are still going strong.  Kudos to Rob Barrett for wearing MONSTROSITY’s Imperial Doom shirt, which was Corpsegrinder’s first band (for the uninitiated).

This was definitely one of the more killer packages with four great bands, so be sure to check this tour out if you haven’t already!

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2016 Show Report

namm shirtThis year at NAMM 2016, (an industry-only global music product trade show) everything seemed to be scaled down a bit, but the show still had plenty of new items on hand that were related to the Metal genre and community.  Let’s dive into some of the exciting products that were on display!

On the drumming front, Tama had the new Iron Cobra (HP900PN) and Speed Cobra (HP910LWN) pedals with new features such as a new Super Stabilizer Design and Para-Clamp II Pro, which in essence, the lighter weight allows you to increase velocity with minimal work to pound on those bass drums.

yamaha drumsAs always, Yamaha had a myriad of new drums on display, but as technology moves forward, digital drums have become the norm, and one of those products like the DTX-760, delivers an exceptional sounding drum kit that can be fully utilized for recording or music production.

Paiste introduced the Big Beat cymbals which sounded quite crisp and you have to experience these cymbals first hand.  Pictures won’t do them justice, so check them out if you get a chance.

Sonor once again welcomes Nicko McBrain from IRON MAIDEN back to the fold and his kit looks awesome.  The toms and bass drums all come in a beautiful black finish, which really accentuates the aesthetically pleasing look of the kit.  Can’t wait to see this kit in action at upcoming MAIDEN shows!

Guitars have always been a huge part of the show, and there have been some awesome axes announced in 2016!

kirk hammett esp guitarESP guitars showcased their amazing custom shaped guitars (most of which aren’t for sale, unfortunately), and some new signature models.  METALLICA’s Kirk Hammett had his Nosferatu (LTD KH-Nosferatu) axe on display and James Hetfield’s Vulture was also a sight to see.  Other notable signature LTD models were introduced from Mille Petrozza (KREATOR) and Max Cavalera (SOULFLY).  However, the most impressive and unique item unveiled was the brand new Gary Holt (SLAYER/EXODUS) guitar with the body painted from his own blood!  The “wow” factor for this piece was simply incredible.

jeff loomis schechter guitarSchecter guitars brought out a few new Jeff Loomis (ARCH ENEMY) signature models including the JL-7 and CYGNUS JLX-1.  The huge unveiling however, was for the brand new signature Zakk Wylde models, including the Viking V FR and Odin models.  Taking the design from his older Gibson models, the new Wylde models look more updated and sleeker on the Schecter versions.

Ibanez introduced  Nina Strauss (ALICE COOPER) signature models such as the S5521QDPB, which may impress some of the badass female guitar players in the world, and new Paul Stanley (KISS) and Steve Vai models were updated as well.

Not completely new news, but recently Praxis Musical Instruments took over the B.C. Rich line and the brand was set for a complete reboot for the 2016 year.  Hopefully the quality does not suffer and the B.C. Rich continues to make sweet looking axes for Metal players worldwide (Kerry King, Lord Ahriman, etc.)

Coinciding with MEGADETH’s new album Dystopia, both Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson had announcements of their new signature models.  Mustaine introduced his Dean “Zero Dystopia” model, complete with cover art of the new album, and Ellefson introduced a few of his new Jackson CBX IV and V models.  Great looking guitars and basses on the Mega-front!

The goons here at APESHIT will continue to provide annual NAMM product updates related to the Metal world, and once again thank the great people at NAMM for letting us cover the show!

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2015 Show Report

NAMM amped up (pun intended) everything in 2015 – from the delicious lunch trucks outside to the amazing performances at the end of each day by GEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC and other artists.  Oh yeah, did we mention that there are also the amazing new products on display?  As always, there’s too much to talk about so let’s highlight a few items that caught our eye.

For the drummers, a few great items were released.  Tama announced the Tama Star hardware consisting of snare stand, tom mount and straight and boom cymbal stands.  The Star line has been a hit with drummers of all genres already, and the new hardware will compliment their kit nicely.  Another great item is Tama’s SLP or Sound Lab Project snare line, which will offer optimum configurations for every type of drumming style, including extreme metal.  Add this with the new line of colors, such as the walnut kit, Tama has once again proved why their brand is so coveted by professional drummers.

Since we’re discussing legendary drummers, Paiste has launched the signature Dave Lombardo 22” Rude Power Ride cymbal, aptly called The Reign.  Inspired by the original cymbal which Lombardo used on Reign in Blood, this heavy ride features not only a piercing, metallic ping, but stays clear in extreme conditions – note to extreme metal drummers, as this ride would surely cut through the downtuned guitars on featured album recordings.

Speaking of ride cymbals, Sabian introduced the Big and Ugly cymbals which produce a dry and organic sound, which cuts through more than the typical run-of-the mill cymbals, especially since we’re living in a 100% digital recording world now.  Check out the following models from this line: King, Nova, PandoraPhoenix, Apollo, and Monarch Rides.

One of the coolest drum kits that we have seen must have been from Schlagwerk – a German percussion company.  At first glance, these Cajon drums looked like cardboard boxes, but they packed quite a punch and looked crazy and awesome (see our pics for more detail).  Innovative and awesome!

Most of our readers are interested in the new guitars, so let’s talk about the some of the new guitar products!

Since THE HAUNTED’s last album Exit Wounds was my favorite album of 2014, I had to check out guitarist Ola Englund’s signature Washburn line, and the Swedish flag model was my favorite one.  A beauty to see in person, and I’m sure it plays just as beautifully.

ESP recently acquired a new endorser, none other than EXODUS/SLAYER axeman Gary Holt!  Holt was previously with Schecter, but has ditched them for ESP, and they belted out a new signature axe for him.  The new GARY HOLT EC is a pretty sweet axe I must say, with crisp and clean highs to produce amazing solos, and nice action for that thrash attack.  The blood red finish and red pickups are definitely a nice touch to the signature model, and retails for a cool $9,118.40.  There are more affordable models as well, the GH-600 and GH-200, so check them all out!

Shredder Gus G. (OZZY OZBOURNE/FIREWIND) also debuted a few new signature models, most notably the ESP Gus G.  As always, ESP had some amazing and gorgeous custom models for display.  Most were not for sale, but the few that were went up to a dizzying $70,000.

Jackson introduced a few Dinky models in various finishes, and one new model that stood out was the signature Scott Ian (ANTHRAX) Thraxagram Soloist model, full with pentagram and U.S. flag.  Of course a few new colors for Jackson Randy Rhodes V’s and David Ellefson (MEGADETH) models were available as well.  Phil Demmel’s (MACHINE HEAD) signature guitars had some cool black/gray and black/red combo finishes on the body, and they looked pretty damn sweet.

Since announcing the famous Dave Mustaine line a few years ago, Dean had a few new models on display, such as the In Deth We Trust, United Abominations, and Rust in Peace axes.  I loved the original Dimebag Dean design, but unfortunately, it seems like Dean has been milking any and all new Dimebag designs to death – new color schemes and the many Razorback designs just seems in bad taste just to generate some extra interest in what was already a great designed guitar.  Anyway, at least Dean was gracious enough to have Dime’s original Dean from Hell on display.

Last but not least, Ibanez of course, had sick new models to show off to the world.  New Steve Vai Jem models were beautiful, and guitar virtuoso counterpart Joe Satriani also was rockin’ his new line as well.  KISS fanatics definitely appreciate the brand new Paul Stanley models, like the PS120, with chrome hardware, black finish, and sweet inlays.  There was even a RG Iron Label 8 string Prototype on display too…craziness!

One last honorable mention was the limited edition MÖTLEY CRÜE “Final Tour” Marshall fridge.  With authentic Marshall parts, genuine MÖTLEY CRÜE logos, this thing would be a conversation starter for sure, and there’s even a limited run of hand signed versions of the fridge as well.  Killer!

The convention keeps getting better every year and we are extremely grateful to the NAMM folks for the opportunity to cover these sick products!  Stay heavy!