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Q&A: Dave Mustaine On Rust In Peace, Books & Life After Cancer

Decibelians are all too familiar with Megadeth‘s Rust in Peace effort. In all of metaldom, it’s one of the top records of our time, our scene, and our culture. From “Hanger 18” and “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” to “Five Magics” and “Rust in Peace… Polaris,” Megadeth’s mantle piece is near and dear. Many years ago, Decibel sought to tell the story of Rust in Peace in our May 2012, issue No. 91 (later expanded in The Decibel Hall of Fame Anthology Volume II), and we did just that by interviewing Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson (who hadn’t rejoined Mustaine yet), a reluctant Marty Friedman, and an effusive Nick Menza (RIP). The story was riveting, informative, and altogether kick-ass (yes, I was responsible for the entire deal).

Now, Dave Mustaine, music journalist Joel Selvin, and a team of other heavyweights get their turn at the mega-ton warhead that is Rust in Peace via a new book, Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece. Across 200-plus pages, the story, the making of, the personnel responsible for it, and the sheer perseverance that it took to complete is unfolds. Who’d a thunk a thrasher-piece like Rust in Peace would’ve gone through so many iterations, had so many things conspiring against it, only to emerge fucking resplendent and punishing in its entirety? Who would’ve imagined that such a strikingly metallic record would go on to sell gold (1991) and platinum (1994)? Nobody would’ve thought we’d be here today, pouring over the details of Rust in Peace through Hatchett Books’ Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece.

Yet, here we are and it couldn’t be any better.

Why Rust in Peace and not, say, Peace Sells or Countdown? What was compelling about Rust for you to write about it for the new book?
Dave Mustaine: I don’t know. It just kind of came out that way. It was the 30th Anniversary. Almost as if as a time machine had lined up. Rust in Peace was by no means an easy child to birth. It was one of the harder records to bring to life. I’m glad we did it this way. With the success of it, I’m hoping we can get a lot more new fans to share the story of about my nutty little thing I got here.

Rust in Peace is one of the bright, shining pieces in Megadeth’s catalog. I was there when it was released. I was into it immediately. I’m surprised, after reading through all this, that you had enough wherewithal to complete the record.
Dave Mustaine: There were tremendous expectations. It was almost insurmountable. If you look at the record that was before that had any relevance, which was Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?, we experience a huge lineup shift over at Capitol Records. They started shuffling around presidents. In the 17 years that we were there, they had seven presidents. Now, think about that. If you do the math that’s little over two years for each guy. On top of the fact, these guys don’t want to inherit somebody’s red-headed step-child. They want to break their own Nirvana. Whenever these guys take over, it’s more like, “Who can I sign?” They’re not about giving much-needed oxygen to the bands that have been carrying the label for decades.

Always about the new, shiny car.
Dave Mustaine: [Laughs] The new, shiny object.

You co-wrote with Joel Selvin. When the book was all said and done, did you read back on things and think, “How did we survive? How did we persevere?”
Dave Mustaine: Sometimes I’ve not been too forward-thinking about the things I’ve shared about my life. I can only hope by doing that I’ve helped people. In fact, I know I’ve helped some people in certain circumstances. I was in Kentucky and this kid, who had cancer in his throat, came up to me and said something. Next thing I know I was holding his throat and praying for him. I don’t know where that came from ‘cause that’s not who I am. The next time we went back there, I called him up to see if he was OK, his mother said, “Well, no, he’s not doing very good. We didn’t tell him that you were here. We actually told him you weren’t coming to town. That you had canceled. We didn’t want him to go out. He’s too weak right now. They say he’s only got a few more days.” The reality of that hit me pretty hard. I thought, “Motherfucker!” I really took it personally. I get close to people. Doesn’t matter what the reasoning is that starts the conversation. That was great about the whole Rust in Peace period. We really made fast and furious friendships with the Clash of the Titans stuff that we did. Not only in the United States with Anthrax and Alice in Chains, but when we did it in Europe, when we did it with Testament and Suicidal Tendencies, that was fabulous as well. I wish I could go back in time and re-live all those days. Now, looking back, it all went by in a blur.


You were doing business as it was mandated. Album, tour. Album, tour.
Dave Mustaine: We lived life at two speeds: stop and full-on. There wasn’t a lot of time for us to stop and get stickers for the Winnebago.

When did the book originally kick off?
Dave Mustaine: Joel will be able to tell you when we really got started. It was probably around the time that I was doing the Experience Hendrix stuff, which was also around the time that I got diagnosed. So, probably a year or two ago. It didn’t fly to completion let me put it that way. We were taking our time, and I was having a lot of hardship with the radiation and chemotherapy. My memory wasn’t that great. Remember, I wasn’t sitting around waiting for Joel or other people to call me. I was trying not to die.

You announced last March that you were cancer free. It’s great to have you in good health.
Dave Mustaine: Thank you! It’s good to be in good health.

The producer/mix rebound from Mike Clink to Max Norman was also commendable. What was that like going through the change?
Dave Mustaine: Well, it was Micajah [Ryan] who did most of it. Mike was more of a risk for us. He didn’t know metal. So, it was really just a change from Clink to Micajah. Remember, I was also a producer. I was always there. I never came and went.

The story put forth in Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece is more about perseverance than anything. To me, at least.
Dave Mustaine: There’s one thing about Rust in Peace that’s different from any other Megadeth record. I can tell you that record had more put on the front side of it than any other we’ve had. We had a demo version of it at SBK Studios in Hollywood. Then, we did another demo version at EMI Studios. Then, we did a third demo over at Capitol. Well, not Capitol, but at Rumbo (Recorders Studio), which was owned by Captain & Tennille. In fact, I heard that Captain (Daryl Frank Dragon) had recently passed. My heart goes out to his family.

What are your expectations for the book?
Dave Mustaine: It would be inhuman to not have any expectations. Whether they’re real or if they can be met is a different story. Not everything I do can be turned into gold. If it happens, then great! I think, for me, it’s easier for me to do my best with everything I do, and be happy with the way things turned out. I was very happy with the way the memoirs (Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir) turned out. Who would’ve thought that I’d be a best seller? That was cool. This book has a lot of other writers in that gives it a lot of different flavors in it. When you have a lot of writers telling the same story it goes back to the paradigm of the gospels where it’s many people telling the same or similar story. There’s a Japanese word for writing a book the way we did. I know Joel mentioned it to me. Regardless, the book is really cool.

** Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece is out now on Hachette Books. Go to Hachette’s site for order links (HERE).

** Decibel’s own Hall of Fame feature on Megadeth’s venerated Rust in Peace effort can be read HERE (intro only), and if that’s not enough Mustaine, Ellefson, Menza, and Friedman for you, the issue with the full, 6000-word piece can be ordered HERE.

The post Q&A: Dave Mustaine On Rust In Peace, Books & Life After Cancer appeared first on Decibel Magazine.

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Album Review: Benediction – ‘Scriptures’

The rubicon transcended

The last time I seriously considered Benediction must’ve been on their The Grotesque / Ashen Epitaph EP. That was 1994. Now, I know all 27 people who bought and will defiantly defend The Dreams You Dread (and the three albums after it) are already lining up on Facebook to call me derogatory British words they fully don’t understand, but that’s life, and Benediction, for better or worse, have been writing middling, paint-not-peeling music for too long.

Scriptures finds not only the return of frontman Dave Ingram after 21 years away, but founding members/guitarists Peter Rew and Darren Brookes very spirited, as if they’re 19 again. This is still the hardscrabble, workaday (West) Midlands-style of death metal that put Benediction and many famous others on the map—make no mistake. There are no flutes, keytars or light-up electronic hardware to be found on Scriptures. That’s right—this is straight-up, arms-folded, circle-pit death metal from the factory.

It’s as simple as it is effective. Ingram towers over songs like “Iterations of I,” “The Crooked Man,” “We Are Legion” and early single “Rabid Carnality.” And Rew and Brookes are riffing (and soloing!) like they’re the British equivalent of heyday Rick Hunolt and Gary Holt. Indeed, there’s a fresh stab of kinetic energy in Benediction’s eighth full-length. That’s the kind of deal the two guitarists imbued on my fave EP, or maybe they’re feeling the challenge of newcomer/drum whiz Giovanni Dürst, whose previous experience in White Wizzard, Omicida and Monument is providing much-needed thrash-power metal oomph.

Expect not to be floored by innovation or intrepid, progressive ventures into former vocalist Dave Hunt’s scary backyard. What you should be ready for is unadulterated, thrashing death metal the English way.

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Goth Gorgon’s Top 5 Life Events After Mörk Gryning Disbanded

By Goth Gorgon (Mörk Gryning)

I had been a metal freak for a big part of my life. It started nice and sweet with Europe, but soon went down/uphill when my brother bought New Jersey by Bon Jovi. Soon followed Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Anthrax, Metallica, Kreator, Slayer, Nuclear Assault, Megadeth, Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Entombed, Dismember, Bathory, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Tormentor… All in two-three years, so at 12, I was already hooked on black and death metal. There was not really anywhere to go after that, so I started regressing in a sense; going back to thrash and then through the different styles from the ’80s. I went rummaging through second-hand stores, hunting vinyl. I wasn’t a fanatical vinyl fan to be honest — true, it was much cooler than a CD, but often the scratches could intervene with the experience. It was more for practical reasons. There simply were more LPs of old metal bands than CDs, and they were often cheaper. After the ’80s came the ’70s, with bands like Magnum, Uriah Heep, early Judas/Scorpions, Riot and so forth, down to Sabbath, Purple, and Zeppelin. Through those bands, I started coming across psychedelic and bluesy stuff, which took me a while to get into but once I did, it opened new doors to me. And this got me connected with more modern bands in the same vibe such as Tool — or Kyuss — and this made me wanna do other things than play metal.

So, here are the Top 5 Things I Did After Mörk Gryning disbanded in 2004…



5. Berlin
I had had enough of Stockholm; it was too boring, too square. I needed to get out, so I went to Berlin. To pay the bills, I started DJ-ing again, but I wanted to get back to playing, so I joined this noise/garage band called Lolita Terrorist Sound, run by a guy who was actually a great drummer, but here he was a singer, which, to be honest, maybe wasn’t his strongest side, but he had a great charisma on stage and was a big talker, so he got in contact with all these famous people. We could rehearse for free in this incredible rehearsal room with every amp and effect pedal you could possibly want. Apparently, it would normally be rented out for 200€/h to huge bands on tour. To enter the room you first had to pass through this ritual hall where they would perform satanic rites. There was an altar with a pentagram and a cat(!) on it and satanic priest robes and shit. It all looked straight from some ’70s horror movie. We did two shows opening up for Anna von Hausswolff (she was incredible) and on one show in Berlin, where the guitar player of Swans — Christoph Hahn — joined us. Unfortunately, the guy was a better talker than a doer, so not much more happened after that. But who knows for the future, I think he’s still working on it. I wish him the best of luck.



4. Spiritualism
I was into this a lot when I was younger, but lost interest as alcohol and women came into my life. When I was living in Berlin, I heard of an American shaman who did drum journeys, so I went to participate. This takes you to a trance-like state where you can float off into different worlds. This was another reason I wanted to go back to the jungle on my second trip to South America, to see shamans. I had already done ayahuasca one time during my first trip, but this time I wanted to go deeper. The first two times it didn’t have much effect (apart from shitting and puking my lungs out), but the third time it blew me away. Ayahuasca is a healing agent that makes you work on yourself, whatever issues you have and this might not be easy all the time. One moment you’re in a beautiful place where you feel all safe and good, and the next you’re in demon land. But as long as you don’t freak out and stay with it, not trying to flee from it, you’ll feel much better afterwards. For me, this opened doors to my subconscious or spiritual world, and it has helped me since. During the time I wrote the songs for our new album, I consulted it a lot through drum journeys and meditation.



3. Traveling
I’ve always found it hard to settle down somewhere. I wasn’t very happy living in Stockholm; it bored me. During Mörk Gryning’s 15-year hiatus, I traveled a lot, and to South America twice. I’ve always loved the woods and had a big passion for nature in general. Now, sightseeing in cities is about the most boring thing I can imagine. Instead, what gets me going is meeting interesting people and great nature scenery. In South America, you have plenty of both. Like the mountains. Although we do have majestic mountains in Sweden, it’s not quite the same as those of the Andes. These canyons and waterfalls, or volcanoes covered in snow, or ascending into the clouds, just leave you speechless. But even so, what called me the most was the jungle. Just as the mountains are not quite the same in Europe, so are the forests. When you enter the jungle, your senses get razor sharp, ’cause you know you’ll need them. One time, I was walking in the jungle in the middle of the night with this indigenous guy I’d known for a while. As we’re walking around he tells me that there is just one animal we really need to fear, and that’s shushúpe (bushmaster, a pit viper). He can get very aggressive if you shine your flashlight on him. “If this happens,” my friend tells me, “we must cut down a small tree or a branch to kill him because he’s too fast to kill with machetes. He can jump up to two meters and bites multiple times. And if he bites your arm, for example, we got 30 seconds to cut it off.” I tried to reason with him that maybe we could just carve up the wound and suck out the poison (a guy I met in India who was bitten three times by cobras had told me that’s what he used to do), but he said it was not possible, the arm’s gotta go. Luckily, we did not see any shushúpes that night. However, the next morning we came by a village, where a family that my guide knew lived, so we paused to say hello. With a monkey roasting on the grill, they greeted us warmly and gave us bowls of chicha de yuca (mashed manioc they mix with their spit to make it ferment quickly. It sort of tastes like alcoholic yogurt). After a while, the father takes us down to the river to show us something. He walks away and comes back with a headless shushúpe that had attacked him the night before. It was about two and half meters and almost as thick as a thigh. Eight years later, when I returned to Peru, I visited my guide in his village outside of Iquitos. It was very nice to see him again, and I stayed for about a week. When I got back to Iquitos, I was told that a woman had just been killed by a shushúpe in the village I had just came from. Apparently, it had happened right after I left on the boat. Moral of the story, better keep your senses sharp in the Amazon.



2. Klubb Gås
Klubb Gås (‘gås’ means ‘goose’ in Swedish; also slang for a ‘joint’) was a music club that me and a friend started up in Stockholm in 2008. We were sick of the glam and sleaze scene, and wanted a place with (what we considered) proper rock. We had no idea if there were more than a handful of people into this in Stockholm but we talked a bar into letting us try it out one time and printed loads of posters for it (Facebook was still not a big thing). Luckily, we almost filled the place, so we got a deal to do Thursdays. At first, we focused on stoner and ’70s rock, but as we got to meet new people that came to the place, we were introduced to loads of bands and styles we’d never listened to before so the spectrum broadened. After a while we found another place where we could arrange gigs and soon a third place where the weekends were available and so for a while we ran four nights per week. It was too much for just the two of us to handle so we recruited some of our young regulars to sit at the door or DJ for us. Soon, we could do live bands at the weekend place, so we skipped the others and kept going there for two years with two-three bands every Friday and Saturday. In the end, they closed down and we kept arranging things at four-five other locations for about a year until it was time to give it up. There are, of course, a thousand stories I could tell from those days, but I guess it goes without saying that we had a pretty good time.



1. Port of Saints
Me and Aeon (keyboardist in Gryning, guitarist here) started the band immediately after Mörk Gryning split in 2004. We were into bands like Kyuss, Masters of Reality, Clutch, Soundgarden, Stooges, Sleep, Dozer, Big Business, etc., and wanted something psychedelic, dark and heavy, but with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it. Stoner rock, basically. The band had numerous line-up changes and struggles over the years but in the end we managed to record one album called No Sleep Forever. An album I’m still very proud over today but by the time it was out, I was weary of managing a band with all the troubles it comes with. Also, in those days, sleaze and glam rock was a huge trend in Stockholm, and that didn’t help us much. Stoner rock had had its days in the late ’90s, so we didn’t time it very well. Facebook

** Mörk Gryning’s new album, Hinsides Vrede, is out October 23rd on Season of Mist. Pre-orders for CD, LP, and t-shirt are available via the label’s US store (HERE).

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Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber) Offers Empathy & Unity In Uncertain Times

By Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber),

My name is Cammie Gilbert and I am the lead singer of progressive metal band Oceans of Slumber. Hailing from Houston, Texas, we’ve been grinding our gears for around the last 10 years. Our newest self-titled album is out now on Century Media, but, as expected, other more important societal themes have been on my mind.

I scroll through Facebook and squint at the comments. These comments lead me to other comments, and then profiles pages and then disturbing content. I look at these threads and wonder what it would be like to be on the other side. I only know what I have seen, what I have learned, and what I have experienced with such topics.

I look at unadulterated racism and I feel lost and troubled and sad. Hatred. I don’t know that I fully understand what it means to hate something. Empathy is my curse. I’d like to think that how these people appear online is not how they would conduct themselves in real life, with flesh and blood, but I cannot be certain. There is so much fear in the air. So much baiting and confrontation. The reasons have all blurred, but they classically come back to race. What a common and easy denominator. We look different so we must act differently. I know we are the same, but time has told us all otherwise and we believe it.

People take up arms literally and figuratively and we fight. For what? Over what? Seeking what outcome? Fear driving these decisions to do harm. This is not a world I want to live in. But here we all are. The metal community is predominantly white and male. I myself have black hair, brown eyes, and tan skin. I am also a woman. I may have an existence quite different and far from your own, but I know that we have things in common. Something very particular in fact. The nostalgia that binds us to a familiar artist, the foundation of emotions that are wrapped up in the extreme threads of our auditory escapes, the electricity that moves through each instrument and into our ears. We are united in metal.

If that was the first thing people knew about me I’d be OK with that. All the other inferences and stereotypes I’d like to do without. My hope is to lead with what binds us, find our common ground and build from there. I am a black woman in America, and I love electric guitar, heavy drums, and guttural vocals and I am a metalhead just like you.

** To read more about Gilbert, her position on race and fronting Oceans of Slumber, by all means read the excellent J. Bennett Q&A in Decibel #192 (October 2020). Back issues of Decibel can be found HERE.

** Oceans of Slumber’s new self-titled album is out now on Century Media. Fans of CDs, click HERE. Vinyl aficionados click HERE. Both editions come with a digital download upon purchase.

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Black Metal Mavens Gaerea List the Top 5 Horrifying Places In Portugal

By Gaerea (Bandcamp),

Portugal isn’t just one of the favorite tourism destinations in ancient Europe. It’s true, we do have some of the finest beaches, a fantastic gastronomy which morphs itself in every small village, and a welcoming weather for every cold soul traveling from the northern countries above us. Still, we hold some of most obscure gothic architecture, a musical culture which will bring you all to tears when absorbing it (Fado), and we learned the fancy ways of disliking every artist who lets their soul dictate their words in the most honest and truthful way. In the end, we are as proud of having Jose Saramago in our Portuguese ranks as we are of having him resting in his grave so he won’t continue to shake the ancient pillars of our society. Today, we bring you a handful of sinister, bleak and horrifying places which inspire us as Portuguese artists. Welcome to the Romantic and cathartic vision of our homeland, Portugal.

BONE CHAPEL, EVORA

5. BONE CHAPEL, EVORA
“Nós ossos que aqui estamos por vós esperamos” translates to “We the bones that are here are waiting for you.” More than Five thousand skulls represent the core structure of the Bone Chapel in Evora, the city which holds the designation of Hell on Earth for the extremely harsh and warm temperatures it reaches by this time of the year. If you can imagine being unearthed right after your death and have your skull transcend into the decoration of a Church pillar, we welcome you to behold and witness a House for the Holy.

TEATRO LETHES, FARO

4. TEATRO LETHES, FARO
Let us stand in the center of this beautiful theatre in the South of Portugal and wait. Let us wander these majestic halls while we enjoy the unsettling sound of creaking wood and hollow footsteps of what is said to be the uncanny ghost of a girl who hanged herself during a Ballet performance in front of a packed audience. The elder claims that she still wanders these halls, she still dances on that stage and that she is still halfway into her performance. Maybe she is expecting you to witness her next spectacle.

SANATORIUM, VALONGO

3. SANATORIUM, VALONGO
Located in the Serra de Santa Justa and probably the closest mysterious location to our rehearsal place, Valongo’s Sanatorium was active between 1958 and 1975 and welcomed numerous tuberculosis patients, many of whom died in that horrifying way. More than 350 people were admitted at the same time despite the initial capacity of just 50 beds. After its closure, it was looted, vandalized and severely damaged by fires. Today it is abandoned and one of the most popular places among ghost hunt expeditions, drug trafficking and satanic rituals. No one can wander those endless dark hallways without hearing the endless, painful shouts of those who suffered a grotesque death.

RADIUM WATER SPA, SORTELHA

2. RADIUM WATER SPA, SORTELHA
As with any good story, there is a myth at the Radium Water Spa. It says that a Spanish Count came to this area with his daughter, who suffered a serious illness. The Waters healed her, and the Count built a spa hotel all around it. But let us step back a little. About 30km from Covilha, Uranium Mines have been explored since 1910. It was from this element that radio was extracted, a highly radioactive substance that in the early 1920’s was believed to have miraculous powers. Long before the Chernobyl disaster and the word radioactivity causing chills all around the globe, this substance was incredibly popular. Almost everything was made with radio: cosmetics, tonics, bath salts, even chocolates. It was believed to cure a large variety of physical and mental problems, from cancer to sexual impotence. Just a few years after its official opening, Aguas de Radium was considered one of the most radioactive in the world. By this time bottled water was already commercialized. For those consuming the Radium products, Death was certain.

BOCA DO INFERNO, CASCAIS

1. BOCA DO INFERNO, CASCAIS
In English: “Mouth of Hell” is a cliff formation located in Cascais. It owes its name to the choppy ocean waves crashing against the cliff face, seeping into the cave system, and gushing angrily from the opening above. Boca do Inferno is better known as the place where Aleister Crowley faked his death in 1930 with the help of our beloved poet Fernando Pessoa. He was able to appear suicidal. Pessoa handed the newspapers a letter of Crowley’s suicide, explaining the Thelemic symbols and explaining the distorted Portuguese police and media. Think of it as perhaps the first ever example of “fake news!” Crowley reappeared three weeks later at the opening of an exhibition of his work in a Berlin gallery, implying that the whole thing was more of an advertising gimmick than anything else. The note also shows that it was intended to irritate his lover and magic partner.

** Gaerea’s stunning new album, Limbo, is out now on Season of Mist. Order HERE from the U.S. store. And point your Euro browser HERE, if international.

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Album Premiere: Hexecutor – ‘Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge…’

The last time we bowed to the ripping thrash of France’s Hexecutor, we barely lived to tell the tale (HERE). Now, two years later, the Rennes-based quartet — comprised of conspicuously named fellows like S. Chainsaw-Maeströr (bass), Jey Deflagratör (vocals, guitar), Joey Demönömaniac (guitars, vocals), and Putrid Vön Rötten (drums) — are back for the fucking attack with new album, Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge…. Philosophical as it may sound, there’s nothing ponderous about the Rennes-based quartet’s second album. From the start of “Buried Alive With Her White Silk Dress” to the ending notes of “Kroez Er Vossen,” Hexecutor’s thrashing blood lust knows no bounds.

Say Hexecutor from an ancient Gallic mud pit: “We went beyond any musical boundaries we felt we set ourselves in the past, and further into mixing our different influences. With this double concept album (this album and the next one), we intend to explore some topics we cherish deeply.”

And with that, be ready for Hexecutor’s brutal (yet varied) French assault on Beyond any Human Conception of Knowledge…. It might just be a Top 10 album for some Decibel staff, if the wind and moon have their karmic way this year. Will it be on yours? Stream to find out fellow heshers!


** Hexecutor’s new album, Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge…, is out September 25th on Germany-based indie Dying Victims Productions. Order CD, LP, and other Hexecutor accessories by clicking HERE.

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Full EP Stream: War Cloud – “Chain Gang”

There’s a spectrum of stoner rock bands, ranging from those who are rehashing their favorite Matt Pike riffs to heavy rockers born in the wrong generation. Oakland, California’s War Cloud live in the same neighborhood as rockers like Mothership and Monster Magnet—hard-rocking groups that deal in loose, groovy jams and gravelly vocals, plus a dash of psychedelia, casually pumping out big hooks and exhilarating solos.

On their new two-song EP, Chain Gang, War Cloud infuse their upbeat stoner rock with a heavy metal edge, something that makes them stand out over their mellow peers. Guitarists Alex Wein and Nick Burks are the stars of the show, knowing when to take center stage and when to let the other members of the band take the lead.

For the title track’s B-side, “Satisfied then Crucified,” War Cloud recruit Janiece Gonzalez, singer of Bay Area rockers Wild Eyes, to contribute vocals. It’s a welcome voice and one that keeps the EP from getting too monotonous—and it’s never bad to end with roaring, anthemic vocals, which is exactly what she provides.

Hear the Chain Gang EP for yourself below. It’s out this Friday, September 25, on Ripple Music.

The post Full EP Stream: War Cloud – “Chain Gang” appeared first on Decibel Magazine.

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Album Premiere: Transcendence LA ‘Towards Obscurities Beyond’

California-based thrashing blackened death metallers Transcendence — officially Transcendence LA — have been at their stunning debut, Towards Obscurities Beyond, for quite a while now. Formed in 2013 by Miguel Perez (guitars) and Tom Patmore (vocals), Transcendence have, over the past seven years, buttressed their lineup by including Michael Alvarez (guitars), Richard Guerrero (drums), and Chris Gonzalez (bass). Together, they’ve honed in on a sound that recalls the more nightmarish sides of Swedes Necrophobic and Dissection, while stamping their own fingerprint on otherwise Nordic-inspired blackened death metal.

Indeed, Towards Obscurities Beyond, with its fitting Adam Burke cover art, spears into the side of normality. Tracks like opener “Infernal Resurrection,” “As the Maggots Feast,” “Ravens of the Burial,” and closer “In Silent Procession” show Transcendence’s maturity, focus (on evilly good note combos), and musicianship. This isn’t your normal middling blackened death. Rather, Transcendence have come off their debut inspired, informed, and primed to kill.

Say Transcendence LA to Decibel: “After much anticipation and delays the blasphemies of our work on this release are about to be bestowed upon you in it’s utmost hellish glory. Paying homage to the great Scandinavian creators of this dark art, we invite you to travel with us through the darkest depths of the abyss to reap the rewards that will soon come. Furthermore, we would like to extend our gratitude to Blood Harvest Records for helping us make this a reality and invite anyone interested in booking us for shows/tours to email us at transcendenceofficial@yahoo.com.”

Decibel and Transcendence are hereby excited to stream Towards Obscurities Beyond in its entirety. Let the hell-hot winds of fiery California blow…

Towards Obscurities Beyond by TRANSCENDENCE

** Transcendence LA’s new album, Towards Obscurities Beyond, is out September 25th on cult Swedish indie Blood Harvest. Available from Blood Harvest on CD, LP, or cassette, pre-orders are live (HERE) and willing!

The post Album Premiere: Transcendence LA ‘Towards Obscurities Beyond’ appeared first on Decibel Magazine.

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Track Premiere: Celestial Season “For Twisted Loveless”

Dutch doom legends-turned-stoner rock riff-makers Celestial Season have reformed (back in 2011, actually), and are on the eve of releasing the official follow-up to 1995 gem Solar Lovers via Burning World Records. Indeed, new album, The Secret Teachings, finds the Nijmegen-based septet reuniting with members from the “doom era,” meaning debut album Forever Scarlet Passion and Solar Lovers, without guitarist Robert Ruiters and violinist Maaike Aarts. But what Celestial Season fans get is an updated lineup–Olly Smits moves over from bass to guitar and Elianne Anemaat joins on cello–but with Stefan Ruiters (vocals), Jason Köhnen (drums), Lucas van Slegtenhorst (bass), and Pim van Zanen (guitars) leading the front end.

Decibel‘s fascination with Solar Lovers goes back to 1995 (check out Jeff Treppel’s Lazarus Pit piece HERE), so we were not only surprised that Burning World and Vic Records were doing reissues/remasters of the “doom era” catalog, but that the reformed Dutch masters had completed and were ready to promote a brand-new, spiritual successor titled The Secret Teachings. When approached if we’d like to work with Celestial Season to premiere a track off their new album, we were elated.

Says Jason Köhnen: “25 years after the release of our classic Solar Lovers album we are incredibly proud to present you a track of our forthcoming new album The Secret Teachings appearing on Burning World Records. We chose for ‘For Twisted Loveless’ as we find its the most representative track off the album, giving you a taste of the variety we have to offer on our new album. We hope you enjoy the music as much as we enjoyed writing the album.”

With our hearts on nostalgia and our eyes on the future, Decibel and Celestial Season hereby present “For Twisted Loveless.”

** Celestial Season’s new album, The Secret Teachings, is out October 23rd. US/Canada fans can direct their pre-orders HERE. EU fans can direct their pre-orders HERE.

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“Live” Review: Behemoth’s ‘In Absentia Dei’

When most bands do a quarantine livestream, they usually perform from their practice space or an empty club or something. Not Behemoth. For their contribution to the at-home concert experience, In Absentia Dei, Poland’s biggest black metal act rented out an ancient church, unleashed a fleet of drones, and fired off enough pyrotechnics to make Rammstein jealous. It really did put the viewer in the middle of the space and gave them eight of the best views in the house to choose from — with no tall assholes like me to block the view!

Starting with opening cinematic of skull-faced wraiths on horseback waving black flags (if we need to wear mandatory face coverings, the brain case of your enemy is a pretty damn metal way to go), the show delivered everything a Behemoth fan could possibly want: fire, costume changes, Nergal’s inimitable showmanship, quasi-fascistic imagery, and a setlist heavy on fan favorites. All of it combined with the impressive lighting rigs and drone swoops to create a decidedly sinister atmosphere. Even though you know it’s four dudes wearing makeup and stomping around some ruins, it tapped into something primal, something deep within the human reptile brain that recognized the presentation as a ritual devoted to the evil in mankind.

photo: Grzegorz Gołębiowski

The isolated space also allowed them to bring in some guest performers — most of them skilled manipulators of fire. At one point, there’s a drummer playing drums that were on fire with drumsticks that were also on fire. It only would’ve been cooler if the drummer himself were also on fire. The up-close-and-personal nature of the filming also allowed them to capture small moments you don’t normally get to see. You can even see the suspension artist they hired take deep, controlled breaths as her assistants pierced her flesh with metal hooks and then hoisted her in the air in a Jesus Christ pose.

“Pretty damn metal” is really the best way to describe the whole experience. Anyone who saw the band live in the Before Times can attest to the awesome nature of their shows. The livestream event took their already-impressive performance and cranked it to 11. Admittedly, Behemoth had the budget to do something this ambitious. Still, In Absentia Dei really is a game-changer for concert livestreams.

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