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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INTRONAUT to Release The Direction of Last Things This November

Progsters INTRONAUT have revealed release details for their upcoming fifth studio album. Mixed by Devin Townsend, The Direction of Last Things will be available November 13, 2015 via Century Media Records.

The initial LP run of the album will be limited to 2,000 copies worldwide and presented in an awe-inspiring package. This double LP piece will be housed in a matte-finished gatefold with a spot UV print over highlighted art elements. Collectors will also be treated to a rarely utilized packaging element, a printed inner-gatefold tube, which not only houses the LP’s, but also a 12″x24″ poster, showcasing the full cover art in all its glory. Just when you thought it was over, LP’s will be pressed on mint green & black splatter, red & black marble, solid dark-green or standard black wax with an etching, which surrounds the music grooves, on side D. Actual color-run numbers to be announced at a future date.

“I don’t care how cliché it is to say; this is our best record yet! This is INTRONAUT at our most technical, brutal, catchy, and straight up fearless. I haven’t been this proud of an album since we recorded our first demo 10 years ago. We took a somewhat unusual approach and tracked most of it live over the course of four days, then handed it off to Devin Townsend to mix. The result is pure magic. Prepare your earholes for fornication,” states frontman Sacha Dunable.

On the heels of the new album release, INTRONAUT will hit the road on The Coma Ecliptic Tour III featuring BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, ENSLAVED and NATIVE CONSTRUCT.

“It’s been over a year since our last North American tour. What better way to dust it off than with these three amazing bands. These shows are going to be insane, and we can’t wait to play some new songs for you guys!” adds Sacha.  Tour dates can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Intronaut.


enslaved.intimesENSLAVED get straight to the point with their most straight forward and catchy album in years.  Incorporating a strong influence of their early era, In Times is the band’s most direct and blackest work since Isa and Ruun, or even Blodhemn.  Don’t worry, their trademark prog stylings, instrumental interludes, and ice cool guitars remain intact.

What also stands out about In Times is the lack of meandering song sections or weak material.  It’s all lean and optimized.  Six flawless and dynamic songs, each clocking in at a minimum of 8+ minutes, are all that is necessary to make their statement.  The great part is that ENSLAVED glide through each song with ease.

If you wanted to introduce someone to ENSLAVED, “Building With Fire” might be the first song you play for them.  It showcases their dynamic range and songwriting strengths.  The transitions and hooks are excellent.   The group chants in “One Thousand Years of Rain” conjures up nostalgia for the early sword-wielding ENSLAVED.  The title track has a great building and release of tension in epic fashion.  Album closer, “Daylight,” has sweet nods to PINK FLOYD.

It should be noted that vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s bass lines are wonderfully audible and find a great place in the mix.  Also, drummer Cato Bekkevold‘s performance here (as well as previous ENSLAVED records) should never be taken for granted.  His great sense of feel, tasty fills, and Mikkey Dee-like power help make In Times special.

Most bands are a shell of themselves by a 13th album…not ENSLAVED. (Nuclear Blast Records)


Preview a Second Track from DJEVEL’s Besatt av Maane og Natt

The good folks at Aftermath Music have posted another track from DJEVEL‘s upcoming album, Besatt av Maane og Natt.   The band featuring vocalist Erlend Hjelvik (KVELERTAK) and drummer Dirge Rep (NETTLECARRIER, ex-ENSLAVED).  By the sounds of it, Besatt av Maane og Natt seems like it’ll have that great classic mid to late 90’s Norwegian black metal feel.

Tickets for Extreme Metal Cruise, Barge to Hell, on Sale Now

The world’s first extreme metal cruise, Barge to Hell, featuring 40 bands of extreme metal’s best bands is set to depart from Miami, Florida on December 3, 2012 for Nassau, Bahamas and back on December 7, 2012.  Tickets are now on sale.  The luxury cruise will feature two performances from each band on three different stages, karaoke, and more.

So far 21 out of a total of 40 bands on board are known:


Concert Memories: ENSLAVED @ The Whisky, Los Angeles, CA (3/21/99)

Back in 1999, Norway’s finest bands were just making their first visits to the U.S. ENSLAVED were set to play LA for the first time in order to promote Blodhemn and roycifer, big johnson, and I were excited. This was back before the band evolved into their proggy style and were more or less pure BATHORY-influenced Viking black metal. Despite not having any of their early albums properly released in North America, us ravenous underground metal fans had no trouble finding their import-only releases at those painful import-only prices.

We arrived at The Whisky early and there were some local pay-to-play bands (as usual) up first. Some members of ENSLAVED and crew were outside hanging out and scoping out the turn out. I spotted guitarist Ivar Bjornson inside at the bar having a beer and chatting with someone. I went over and said hello and he was in a good mood. This was back when he was skinny and had short hair.

Unfortunately, the turn out for the show was really poor. The club closed the upstairs area and attempted to corral us all closer to the stage. The band finally took the stage and stood in ominous poses wearing Viking-themed tunics as the intro track played. As soon as the band went into their first song, things went wrong. Dirge Rep‘s drumming sounded just godawful. He was not only playing too slowly but was also sloppy as hell. I looked over at roycifer and big johnson to see if I was the only one who felt that way. I got the vibe that many people in the crowd were confused about the drumming. The sound was pretty bad as well but that’s nothing new, it’s The Whisky after all.

Despite the less than ideal conditions, ENSLAVED tried their best to deliver a great performance. However, the crowd wasn’t really getting into it, including me. The pit was largely vacant and the crowd wasn’t really expressing their enjoyment. Perhaps, it was the fact that both guitarists had super short hair while wearing Viking tunics that didn’t quite convince the crowd that they were Viking, black metal, or brutal enough. Perhaps, it was the fact that the show was in the middle of the week. Frontman Grutle Kjellson had a really nice Rickenbacker bass and perfectly hit his falsettos though.

As the night wore on, you could see the disappointment in Grutle‘s eyes and in his gentle face. This was the not LA debut that they were looking to make. Near the end of the set, he said to the crowd, “C’mon, LA! Let’s go fucking nuts!” Sadly, there was little, if no, response.

I remember hoping the show would end quickly because I was just bored and completely disengaged. I’m sure ENSLAVED felt the same way. But redemption came on their next visit to LA for the Los Angeles Metal Fest in 2000 where they not only played better with better sound but played to a much larger audience who had finally heard of the band.

Check out screen shots of a bootleg video of the show here.

GHOST Forced to Pull Out of U.S. Tour with ENSLAVED, ALCEST

Sweden’s GHOST have just announced that they are dropping out of the U.S. tour with ENSLAVED and ALCEST, which is scheduled to start later this month (see our previous post).

Here is official word from the band:


“Due to some last minute complications with our visas, we have been forced to cancel our North American tour.

“We are sorry towards the other bands on the tour, ENSLAVED and ALCEST.

“And we are most of all tremendously sorry towards all of our fans.

“This is truly beyond our control and we are making everything within our (His) powers to be able to come back to the US as soon as possible and perform for all of you.

“Our most malicious of wishes

“/A Nameless Ghoul”

ENSLAVED 20th Anniversary Tour Coming September 2011 with GHOST & ALCEST

Norwegian progressive/psychedelic black metal band ENSLAVED will be returning to North America this Fall for a headlining tour marking the band’s 20th anniversary. Support will come from Swedish sensation, GHOST, as well as France’s ALCEST.

ENSLAVED had the follow comment:

“Listen; the sun is setting, but I still see the twinkle! The support we’ve been getting from North America throughout our latest releases and tours is unparalleled, and for that we are eternally grateful. It is therefore an undivided pleasure for us to announce that when autumn sets, we will be back to tour the U.S. and Canada; this time for a full headliner tour with a full headliner set. 2011 marks the 20th anniversary for ENSLAVED, so we will be underlining both the deep past and blazing present of our musical universe to celebrate. It is also with a sense of intense pride that we can present the bands that will be travelling with us for the tour: GHOST and ALCEST. Yes, you read that right! I don’t think I need to elaborate more on that; it will be a package for the books. See you then!”

Tour dates:
09-23-11 Jaxx – Springfield, VA
09-24-11 Mr. Small’s Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA
09-25-11 Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY
09-26-11 Middle East (Downstairs) – Boston, MA
09-28-11 Imperial de Quebec – Quebec City, QC CANADA
09-29-11 Café Campus Montreal, QC CANADA
09-30-11 Opera House – Toronto, ON CANADA
10-01-11 Outland Live – Columbus, OH
10-02-11 The Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
10-03-11 Station 4 – St. Paul, MN
10-05-11 West End Cultural Centre – Winnipeg, MB CANADA
10-06-11 The Exchange – Regina, SK
10-07-11 The Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB CANADA
10-08-11 Dickens Pub – Calgary, AB
10-10-11 Rickshaw Theatre – Vancouver, B.C. CANADA
10-11-11 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
10-12-11 Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
10-13-11 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
10-14-11 The Troubadour – Hollywood, CA

APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2010

December is here, so it is time for us, the APESHIT goons, to share with you our list of metal albums that made an impression on us in 2010. Meaningful and meaningless, but sharing is caring. Bang your head and enjoy!
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