OPETH – Heritage

Progressive not only describes OPETH‘s music, it also describes the slow shedding of their death metal stylings. Heritage is OPETH‘s fruit that falls furthest from the extreme metal tree, save for the “soft” Deliverance album which was an explicit experiment released in near parallel to the “heavy” Damnation album. Let it be known that Heritage is a straight up OPETH-style 70’s progressive album (just look at the album cover).

Death metal growls are nowhere to be found–Åkerfeldt utilizes his passable yet characteristic clean singing for all vocals. Though his clean singing continues to improve. The octave shift when he sings “God is dead” on “The Devil’s Orchard” is impactful and outstanding considering that his usual vocal patterns are low in variety.

Guitars too see a distancing from the heavy gain. Distortion is significantly scaled back. The result, however, is still a producing a nice 70’s psychedelic rock warmth. Acoustic guitars play an obligatory role as well. The prominent presence of hammond organs greatly adds to the vintage flavor.

Heritage starts out very subdued and largely remains that way except for fourth song, “Slither,” which is the album’s sole uptempo song. Throughout Heritage, it’s clear that the band is exploring new territory and feeling things out. There are plenty of quiet passages with acoustic guitars, pianos, and even flutes and bongos, intermingled with busier sections with slithering electric guitars/bass and tasty drumming that can be heard throughout. Jazz influences and nods to Åkerfeldt‘s prog heroes can be heard as well. Songs like “Famine” traverse at a very slow and somber pace. “The Lines in My Hand” feature African/Latin-influenced percussion accompanied by classical guitars. The second half of “Folklore” comes out of left field with its ominous choir synthesizers and lead guitar.

Heritage is richly textured and expansive in construction while maintaining solid fluidity, unlike its predecessor Watershed, which was dark, diverse, and (arguably their strongest since Still Life). Fidelity is never over-cooked, perhaps under-cooked, but the results are grand. (Roadrunner Records)

CONVERGE: A Conversation with CONVERGE

In 2009, Boston’s CONVERGE unleashed, Axe to Fall, an album equalling, if not topping, their acclaimed Jane Doe album, managing to titillate those with even the highest of expectations. Staying true to their style, the band bare their souls in a most caustic mix of hardcore and metal that resonates with sheer heart and honesty.

CONVERGE recently whipped through North America on an unusually larger (sponsored) tour with DETHKLOK, MASTODON, and HIGH ON FIRE. This was a unique opportunity for the band to showcase their powerful and unceremoniously raw live performance to a younger and more diverse audience.

APESHIT caught up with vocalist Jake Bannon and guitarist Kurt Ballou during their Los Angeles stop to chat about the tour, the new album, and what makes CONVERGE, CONVERGE.
Continue reading

SAMAEL: Above and Beyond

Switzerland is not a country that exports many metal bands, but the few that it does, stand out as influential and innovative. SAMAEL is one of those bands. Their history stretches back to the beginnings of extreme metal; they were there at the onset of the second wave of black metal and produced landmark albums like Blood Ritual and Ceremony of Opposites.

The band’s rapid evolution, however, outpaced that of their fans and peers. Incorporating industrial and electronic influences, SAMAEL shed their organic origins in favor of something more mechanical. But the band’s artistic vision never wavered and they continued to grow their creative direction in the face of label struggles and confusion amongst fans. SAMAEL‘s latest album, Above, finally brings back elements of the band’s early days–speed and loud guitars–resulting in a meaty black metal album that still incorporates their industrial and orchestral side.

APESHIT spoke with drummer/keyboardist and chief songwriter, Xy, about Above and SAMAEL‘s past, present, and future. Continue reading

GALLHAMMER: Hammer of the Girls

All-girl groups in metal are rare and are typically limited to mall-friendly crap like KITTIE or DRAIN STH. One all-girl group, however, has arisen from an unsuspecting place with an unsuspecting sound. Tokyo’s GALLHAMMER combine the raw sounds of HELLHAMMER proto black metal, AMEBIX crust punk, and subtle new wave/alternative influences. Most importantly, the band have taken these influences and created a unique expression of darkness that is both exciting and fresh. APESHIT got in touch with vocalist/bassist Vivian Slaughter to find out more about this young band and the ominous meaning behind their use of the color white.

Continue reading

STOLEN BABIES: And the Circus Leaves Town

Los Angeles’ STOLEN BABIES are as twisted and imaginative as they come, both musically and visually. But the eclectic band’s natural talent shines in their ability to incorporate such creativity into crafting great songs. Each and every song is like a ride through a twisted carnival madhouse wonderland. STOLEN BABIES are not a band to be categorized, but their influences from the spectrum of rock are very apparent. Drummer Gil Sharone, who’s lent his talents to various musical entities including DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and PUSCIFIER, provided some insight into the band that somehow manages to make an accordion part of a kick ass band.

Continue reading

TURBONEGRO: Rocking Hard On

Norway’s least classiest band, TURBONEGRO, are now three albums strong since their much ballyhooed reunion in 2003. Their latest, Retox, certainly isn’t a return to their filthy deathpunk past, but it’s timeless much like their feel-good-but-feel-naughty rock ‘n roll they’ve perfected of late. Having recently taken their raunchy rock ‘n roll rollercoaster on the road, we pulled bassist, Happy Tom, aside for a quickie and a lightening round of questions to uncover the mystery of the German Shepherd, the homo shtick, and the magic of Retox.

Continue reading

VOIVOD: We Carry On

On August 26, 2005, the metal world lost one of its legends in guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour. Vowing to carry out one of his last requests to have the band’s final works heard, the surviving members of VOIVOD got to work in the studio and finished the powerful new album, Katorz. APESHIT met up with Denis “Snake” Belanger, Michel “Away” Langevin, and Jason “Jasonic” Newsted hours before their record release party in Hollywood to learn more about Piggy‘s amazing talents as one of the greatest talents in metal history.

Continue reading

1349: Carrying the Torch

While all the big, influential Norwegian black metal bands have graduated to a different echelon, a small sect of bands have continued to thrive in their “abscence” by sticking to the code of true black metal. 1349 may not be as familiar as DARKTHRONE and GORGOROTH, but they have made a name for themselves recently with three impressive albums in as many years. Their keen ability to channel that same vicious Satanic savagery as said bands is 1349‘s gleaming essence. APESHIT spoke with guitarist Archaon on the band’s emergence and role in carrying the “real” black metal torch into the new millenium.

Continue reading

TENHI: In the Woods

Deep in the heart in the land of a thousand lakes lies the country’s best kept secret. Founded in 1996, TENHI have masterfully carved out a niche with their unique style of neo progressive folk music. Drawing parallels between nature and the human soul, the band create compelling, introspective soundscapes that speak directly to the soul. APESHIT spoke with TENHI mainman Tyko Saarikko about their mystical world and their amazing new album, Maa�et.

Continue reading

CRYPTOPSY: Back to the Worm

CRYPTOPSY was on the verge of breaking big when their lead screamer, Lord Worm, quit in 1997. But that didn’t stop the Canadian death metal beast. With vocalist Mike DiSalvo in tow, CRYPTOPSY continued to push the envelope and found themselves atop a very stagnant death metal scene, selling far more units than the average pretender. However, 2004 found CRYPTOPSY fumbling with singer woes when the band’s third singer, Martin Lacroix was unable to fully bear the demands to front CRYPTOPSY. To the surprise and delight of many, the band reunited with the morbidly charismatic Lord Worm to produce the deliciously devastating monolith, Once Was Not. APESHIT chased down speedy drummer, Flo Mounier, to beat down issues regarding the band’s reunion with Lord Worm, the new album, and details on his soon-to-be released instructional drum DVD set.
Continue reading