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) 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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VOMIT REMNANTS Emerges From Slumber with Hyper Groove Brutality

It only took 12 years but Tokyo, Japan’s VOMIT REMNANTS are back.  Their aptly titled new album, Hyper Groove Brutality, is available now worldwide via Unique Leader.  It features guest appearances from vocalist Henrik Cranz of SOILS OF FATE, guitarist Craig Peters of DEEDS OF FLESH/DESTROYING THE DEVOID, and guitarist Paul Masvidal of CYNIC.

Check out “Hi Fi the Art of Rapture“:

Here’s another tasty track, “Wire Rope Strangle“:


CYNIC’s Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert Speak Out on Their Sexuality

cynicTechnical death metal legends Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert have spoken publicly for the first about their sexuality via interview with the LA Times.  Like JUDAS PRIEST‘s Rob Halford and GODSEED‘s Gaahl, the founding CYNIC members have publicly revealed that they are gay.

Drummer Sean Reinert summed it up best in the interview:

“Gay people are everywhere, doing every job, playing every kind of music and we always have been…It’s taken me years to finally be brave enough to say, ‘If you have a problem with that, then throw out our records. That’s your problem, not mine.'”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  Cheers to Paul and Sean for having the courage to come out.  And if you have a problem with it, then leave this website. 🙂

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)

ATHEIST – Jupiter

Cult progressive/technical death metal band, ATHEIST, have been mentioned in the same breath as CYNIC, though ATHEIST were always the more aggressive band, and light years ahead with their early albums, Piece of Time and Unquestionable Presence. The following experimental Elements album was unique in its own way, but it was a strange time for the band as it lacked the metal touch and cohesive unit as a whole. After a seven year drought, new album Jupiter squashes all notions of experimentation, and lays down the metal foundation as one of the best albums this year.

Older ATHEIST fans may be worried that the band may never recover from the style change that occurred with Elements, but the opening riffs for “Second to Sun” quickly dispel those thoughts. The solos are reminiscent of the ones found from Unquestionable Presence along with Piece of Time riffs. Kelly Shaefer‘s vocals sound the same as previous efforts, and Steve Flynn‘s drumming is top notch, with disgustingly technical fills and cymbal crashes. The bass is audible and well played by guitarist Jonathan Thompson, and he negates the fact that bass legend Tony Choy decided not to be involved with the album. “Fictitious Glide” presents some interesting song structure and complex timing, along with an aggressive feel with plenty of crunchy palm muting.

The jazz/progressive drumming really comes alive on “Fraudulent Cloth,” and takes several listens to appreciate the handiwork of Flynn‘s drumming. The catchiest chorus on the album is delivered on “Live, and Live Again,” and don’t be surprised if you start to sing along. Jupiter continues to attack as your auditory senses face overload with amazing melodies, technical riffs, and mind bending drumming on intense tracks like “Faux King Christ” and “When the Beast.” With the songs ranging in the 3-4 minute mark, the album comes at the listener hard, fast, and requires multiple listens to achieve maximum enjoyment.

Overall, the music is more aggressive than Piece of Time, which had the thunderous bass lines of Roger Patterson, but the debut was thrashier in nature. Fortunately, Jupiter is fully capable of reviving the interest of fans ATHEIST had lost during the Elements era, and also primed to gain younger fans who’s exposure to modern brutal, technical death metal goes only as far as bands like THE FACELESS. (Season of Mist)

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CYNIC to Play Focus in its Entirety on U.S. Tour with INTRONAUT, DYSRHYTHMIA

CYNIC‘s Re-Traced / Re-Focused Live tour will see progressive metal icons CYNIC perform Focus in its entirety, along with tracks from the group’s lauded second album, Traced in Air, and more. Direct support comes from progressive masters INTRONAUT and DYSRHYTHMIA.

Tour dates:
22 Jul 10 Los Angeles, CA (US) El Rey Theatre
23 Jul 10 San Francisco, CA (US) Slim’s
24 Jul 10 Portland, OR (US) Hawthorne
26 Jul 10 Vancouver, BC (CA) Commodore
28 Jul 10 Denver, CO (US) Marquis
30 Jul 10 Minneapolis, MN (US) Station 4
31 Jul 10 Chicago, IL (US) Bottom Lounge
01 Aug 10 Detroit, MI (US) Magic Stick
02 Aug 10 Toronto, ON (CA) Opera House
04 Aug 10 Montreal, QC (CA) Café Campus
05 Aug 10 Boston, MA (US) Harpers Ferry
06 Aug 10 New York, NY (US) Bowery Ballroom
07 Aug 10 Philadelphia, PA (US) Trocadero
08 Aug 10 Washington DC (US) The Rock and Roll Hotel
09 Aug 10 Carrboro, NC (US) Cat’s Cradle
10 Aug 10 Atlanta, GA (US) Masquerade
12 Aug 10 Orlando, FL (US) The Social
13 Aug 10 Ft Lauderdale, FL (US) Culture Room

PESTILENCE – Resurrection Macabre

Following the footsteps of their progressive/technical death metal peers from the 90’s, namely CYNIC and ATHEIST, Dutch legends PESTILENCE have “resurrected” and offered us a great blast from the past. The legacy of PESTILENCE ended on a sour note as the members were less interested in death metal and released the much detested Spheres album. Although ahead of its time, Spheres was a far cry from classics such as Consuming Impulse and Testimony of the Ancients, which turned off many, if not all the fans they had at the time.

Fortunately, PESTILENCE has returned! Resurrection Macabre starts off exactly where Testimony of the Ancients left off, as “Devouring Frenzy” attacks with a vengeance! While mainman Patrick Mameli‘s vocals pale in comparison to former PESTILENCE and current HAIL OF BULLETS frontman Martin Van Drunen, Mameli‘s vocals do the job, and the drumming and music make up for it. Drummer extraordinaire Peter Wildoer has been extremely busy in the last year, appearing on the new DARKANE, OLD MAN’S CHILD albums, and now lending his talents on Resurrection Macabre. His ability to blast and add intricate details enhance the PESTILENCE experience, which makes the album refreshing, instead of simply being Testimony of the Ancients Part II. “Horror Detox” has all the qualities that old PESTILENCE fans have been yearning for all these years, and with “Hate Suicide“, the band brings out the entire artillery, as pummeling blasts, double bass, and catchy riffs are all in check.

The classic PESTILENCE guitar riffs can be found on the track “Synthetic Grotesque” as Consuming Impulse flashes back into the listener’s head. Resurrection Macabre gets a bit dull towards the middle of the album, as there is much ground to cover in this 54 minute slab of pure death metal. The title track starts off similar to MORBID ANGEL‘s “Day of Darkness” and ends up as one of the slower tracks on the album. The intensity picks back up on “Hangman” with some superb drumming showcased by Wildoer. “In Sickness and Death” is a mid-paced track which contrasts to what comes next: re-recordings of three classics from Malleus Maleficarum, Consuming Impulse, and Testimony of the Ancients, respectively. Ironically, most of the songs on Resurrection Macabre are in the 3-4 minute range and the longest tracks are the re-recordings. The re-recorded versions are pretty much in tact in their original form, but it’s always nice to hear re-recorded versions with clean production of the classic songs.

Unfortunately, bass wizard Tony Choy‘s parts are not as prominent in the mix as his previous recordings with CYNIC or ATHEIST, but that has no ill effect on the album, as PESTILENCE fans can once again rejoice with this solid effort. If PESTILENCE calls it quits again, at least Resurrection Macabre will be a fitting end, instead of tarnishing their importance in death metal history, as they did with Spheres. (Mascot Records)

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MESHUGGAH w/ CYNIC and THE FACELESS @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY (2/19/09)

Both fans and scalpers alike converged in front of Irving Plaza scrambling for last minute tickets to MESHUGGAH‘s sold out return to New York back on February 19th, 2009. Braving harsh winds, frigid climate, and recession, devoted metal fans prevailed packing the main floor to the gills well before before opening act, THE FACELESS.

As one of the 200 bands featured on last year’s Summer Slaughter tour, THE FACELESS unfortunately lived up to their name and didn’t particularly stand out amongst the competition. With the daunting task of opening up for two influential, highly acclaimed acts, THE FACELESS held their composure, but did little to impress. The band offered a surplus of arpeggios, sweeps, blast beats, and technical tomfoolery, but provided little in the way of memorable riffs or a powerful live experience. The apathetic crowd was unmoved, and the band looked just as bored playing the material as the audience was to hear it.

Up next was CYNIC, who I hadn’t seen in some 15 years since their tour with CANNIBAL CORPSE and SINISTER.  The band launched in to a subdued, introspective performance, perfectly recreating the experience of their new album Traced in Air. CYNIC effortlessly transitioned between newer tracks, such as “The Space for This,” and classics from Focus such as “Veil of Maya“, “How Could I” and “A Celestial Voyage“. The crowd wasn’t particularly fired up as much as they were captivated, and offered a rousing applause upon set’s end.
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