Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In This Moment: Closing The Chapter On The Star Crossed Wasteland Tour

In This Moment is a band that doesn’t just sit back and relax after releasing an album. They have that old school mentality of proving yourselves life. Each release sees the band hit the road and tour endlessly. The have played everywhere from the Garden in New York City to quite a few “dumps” as they pursue their dream.

The band has played festivals such as Ozzfest and Mayhem that you would easily associate them with. In 2009, the band decided to try a different approach to touring and signed on board for the Vans Warped Tour. A brave mood on their part considering that they stood out like a snowflake in the summertime compared to the majority of the bands there. It was a smart move and gave them major exposure to a lot of people who may not have listened to them before or even those who had no clue as to who they were.

Well, the summer of 2011 saw the band take that same approach as they geared up for the first All-Stars Tour. One look at the roster and many were thinking the inclusion of In This Moment was a typo. Their style of music is a far cry from the “breakdown, breakdown, scream, scream, breakdown” style of many of those on the bill. Yet, it was another similar opportunity to expose their music to a new audience. We caught up with Chris Howorth and Travis Johnson on their stop in Charlotte, NC to talk to them about the tour and what’s ahead for In This Moment.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: The tour has been going on for a few weeks now. I guess you’re about 2/3 of the way through it. What are your thoughts so far?

In This Moment: This tour seems to have been going on for a long time. It’s 36, 37 days; it’s like a mini Warped Tour. There are a lot bands, a lot of activity, a lot of disorganization and stuff. It’s definitely been hectic for us, but it’s also the ending of the tour cycle too, so we want to give it the best we can. Richmond (Virginia) was a great show, probably one of the better shows. The East coast has been ruling over the West coast on this tour. Well, we haven’t actually hit the West coast but the mid west and Texas and places like that are usually good for In This Moment. With this tour, it’s a different lineup of bands and we really don’t fit in that much with them. We’re really the odd ball on the whole tour, but we noticed that on the East coast that doesn’t matter at all. We’re being very well received by all the people there.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: What about Detroit the other day? Doesn’t seem like there was a lot of love in the house for you guys at that show. Do you want to talk about that?

In This Moment: No, it’s cool. We can talk about it. Like I said before, we’re definitely the odd ball band on this tour and it’s a “scene” type of tour where by “scene” I mean these kids are really young and they like what their friends like. If you’re not the bands that they like with the breakdowns, then they don’t want to support the show. They don’t want to give you applause or anything. They just want to stand there and be mean until the band that they want to hear comes on. Detroit was one particular show where Maria got particularly fed up with it and told the whole place to “F” off. It does get annoying and we do apologize to our fans because we have our fans that come out to all of the shows. Some of these places it seems like our fans are dwarfed by the scene kids. Now, she’s giving a speech every night now about supporting the whole tour. We come from the hard rock, heavy metal world and those people come out and support the entire show and even if the band isn’t their favorite band, they won’t be rude to them.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: You guys get roughly 30 minutes to play, which averages out to about 5 songs. How hard is it to narrow it down to just 5?

In This Moment: It can really be a pain in the butt sometimes because everyone has what they think will be the best for this particular type of audience. Throughout the history of the band, what I think and what Maria thinks has been two clashing things. We also play a few shows and see if we need to make any modifications to the list also, but we’ve pretty much had the same set list on this entire tour.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: What can you tell me about the new CD that you’re working on?

In This Moment: We’re just writing and doing little demos here and there. We got into the studio in January. We’re just preparing as much stuff as we can now before we go in. Kevin Churko is locked in again and we’re just looking at sticking to the same formula that we have been using, but we still want to grow so that it’s not the same record again. We’re shooting for a summer release in conjunction with the Mayhem Festival. We’re putting it out there pretty strongly because we really want to do that again.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: I saw online that Soundwave is cancelled. I guess that frees you guys up. What’s on your agenda?

In This Moment: Yeah, I was really bummed that it got cancelled. All of our Australia and Japanese plans are out the window now. All it really means for us is that we are really going to focus on the new record and make sure it has the best songs possible. The only other thing we have lined u is the Shiprock cruise in November.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: So Chris, are you going through gaming withdrawal on this tour?

In This Moment: I usually get some gaming time while we’re out on the road. The last three tours that we did I had my X-box with me and we had a different crew on those tours too. They were some of my gaming buddies and some of them aren’t here anymore. I could have brought my X-box with me this time, but I just chose not to. I love it though; I’m just going to wait until I get home. We can’t get online on the bus and I like to do the on line gaming more than the regular kinds, so I’m not going through withdrawals too bad.

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: Is there anything else that you want to throw out there for the fans?

In This Moment: We’re just looking forward to going back into the studio in January and start recording. We will probably be doing some touring in the spring before it comes out and then hooking up on a big, juicy tour like Mayhem hopefully. We loved doing it last year and we had a great experience. It’s definitely our audience!

Music Is My Drug Of Choice: That would be great to see you guys on there again. We will definitely put the word out there and keep our fingers crossed that it works out!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earth Crisis Proving They Still Have A Great Deal Of Thrashing To Do

Earth Crisis have been around and creating music on the hardcore scene for many years now. There are a lot of members of bands on the scene now who were still wearing training pants when these guys started creating music. Earth Crisis have been very influential to a lot of new bands, even while not obtaining the broad commercial success and acceptance of a band such as Hatebreed.

The guys emerged in the early 90s and their 1995 debut album Destroy the Machines put them on the map. They gained some mainstream attention for their vegan, straight edge life style along and views, with theses beliefs being spread through their music. The band were creating a buzz and gaining a loyal following with such killer releases as the epic Slither before disappearing in 2001. The guys reunited in 2007 and released their comeback album To the Death in 2009. The sound had evolved quite a bit from the early days in the 90s, but it was still Earth Crisis.

This brings us to their new album Neutralize the Threat and the current state of Earth Crisis. The song writing on this release takes a bit of a different approach for the band. The theme seems to be less of the vegan, straightedge vain and more about vigilantism with such pop culture figures as Bernard Goetz and Black Panther Flores Forbes being referenced. The album kicks off with “Raise”, although short in length at well under two minutes, its chugging bass line hooks you immediately.

Karl Buechner brings his “A game” to the table on this album. This guy is relentless on each and every track with his brutal, guttural growls. Speaking of brutality, even though it is here in abundance, the band seems to have maybe toned it down just a slight bit as heard on their 2009’s To the Death. This not necessarily a bad thing as it does help to keep the songs sounding fresh. The title track and “Total War” are excellent examples of this.

Erick Edwards and Scott Crouse definitely show no signs of rust after all this time. The riffs that they provide are in no short supply as they chug along from track to track, yet not sounding repetitious. Don’t you just hate when some of your favorite guitar slingers start to do that after playing for so many years? It’s not like the fans won’t notice that the riff on track two sounds just like the riff on track four.

The standout tracks on this album far outweigh the ones that fall short of knocking it out of the park. “Askari” may be the strongest track on here. The brutality and intensity is there along with the songwriting. The riffs are jarring and fresh. This track may get stuck on repeat until intensity splits your skull, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There are so many bands around today who owe a lot of what they are doing to bands like Earth Crisis. A band should give credit where credit is due and in way too many instances it doesn’t happen. We learn from our past and we are influenced in many ways by our past. This band has deserved such props for some time now and hopefully Neutralize the Threat will help them get that respect. If it’s aggressive, skull crashing, intense hardcore that you want, I think you will be pleased by this new album. I am sure there will be some “old school” Earth Crisis fans that will yearn for the “good old days”, but bands learn and grow and mature with the times. Check it out and let the skull crushing begin!

Arch Enemy Unleashes Chaos On It's Fans

There are many one word labels that come to mind when discussing Swedish death metal veterans Arch Enemy: aggression, brutality, extreme. One word that pops into my mind would be “consistency”. The band has released nine studio albums beginning with their debt in 1996 Black Earth, and has consistently delivered to their fans impressive bodies of work. They have evolved and grown as a band, yet remaining true to a sound that converted many listeners into fans.

Their newest studio album Khaos Legions definitely ranks up there with the best work that they have created to date. The album kicks off with a short instrumental, the first of three, but really gets things charged up with the second track and first video “Yesterday is dead and gone”. An adrenaline charged assault of aggression on which the Amott duo shines. These guys pack a one, two punch of shredding wizardry that commands the listener to bow in their epicness.

Fans of Arch Enemy are expectant of the delivery of aggression from the band and this album is no exception to that rule. That element of the band shines through on songs such as “Vengeance is Mine” and “Cult of Chaos”. They remain true to the trademark sound of Arch Enemy, yet they manage to raise the bar with the technical riffs and hooks on both of these. A band has to continue to grow in order to thrive in this tumultuous industry and Arch Enemy proves that on this album.

There are two standout tracks in my opinion on this release. I absolutely love “Cruelty without Beauty” in all of its glory. Sharlee is a beast on this track and brings his drumming to a new level. The Amott’s are shred worthy gods on this one. These guys are not afraid to flat out wail away on the guitar. I also love the addition of the synthesizers on this track as they raise the bar and add a rich layer to this song. They are very effective, yet without becoming overkill. “Through the Eyes of a Raven” is similar in ways to “Cruelty” as it is an adventuresome song with many layers to it. The aggression is still there in full force and the hooks definitely pull you in and refuse to let go. The shredding is even bigger than the hooks on this one. A complex song that is full throttle from beginning until the acoustic conclusion, which definitely catches you off guard.

There has been a lot said as far as the vocals of Angela Gossow. I have read on fan boards that she is a “one-trick pony” and that the band relies on her too much to get attention. I am sure that most female fronted bands have gone through this, especially in the “metal” genre. I think her screams can be as fierce as any man in this genre, if not more. Is the complaint a fair one in this genre? I don’t think I have heard of a male singer who is told he needs to “scream it down a little” and show some versatility.

Overall, this new album was well worth the four wait. The band sounds tighter than ever and the song writing is top notch. The three instrumental tracks on here really don’t do much for me, but maybe other fans will like how they tie the songs together. Angela proves on her that she is not just “eye candy” and that she is a strong front woman and deserves some credit. I think her growls are gut wrenching and brutal.

I don’t know if you consider them extreme metal or melodic death metal, but the band are bringing their sound to the stage in the states for a series of dates. I encourage you to check out their new album Khaos Legions and try to catch their live show and see how this band can truly melt your faces live.

The Air I Breathe Come Out Swinging On Debut

The music industry has always been a breeding ground for below par bands to jump on the coat tails of a popular genre and bleed it for all its creative worth until everyone is sick of hearing it. It happened in the 70s with disco. It happened in the 80s with hair bands. Now, the metal core scene needs to be aware of how history is prone to repeating itself. Yet, once in a while, a glimmer seems to shine through the sea of mediocrity.

A group of guys from New Jersey calling themselves The Air I Breathe have recently unleashed their debut album Great Faith in Fools onto the metal core scene. They have definitely created some waves in this somewhat stagnant pool of imitators. While not necessarily recreating the genre, TAIB show signs of uniqueness and creativity that are needed to keep the metal core scene thriving and fresh.

The opening track “The Inevitable” is a short track whose intro is an odd subway conjuring sound. The only line in this song pretty much sets the tone for the album, ‘When the world turns its back on you, turn your back on the f’n world”. That leads into “Take This to Heart” which begins with Tony Dougard’s guttural growls and the one-two guitar punch of Jesse Butler and Cam Baptisa. This song grabs you by the jugular and refuses to let go.

There are plenty of the quote unquote “traditional” elements of metal core throughout the album. The riffs are heavy and there are plenty of breakdowns to be found so as not to disappoint the enthusiasts. Yet, Cam’s blistering finger work is refreshing to the ear and a style that will surely elevate him to a higher level of guitar hero worthiness.

There are quite a few standout tracks on here. “The Life I Promised” and “Here’s To Letting Go” are two great examples of how this band is much stronger than what you usually get from a group’s debut effort. The guitar work is insanely solid and Tony does a great job mixing in clean vocals on the chorus to compliment the aggressiveness of his growls. “XIII” is a song that proves size doesn’t matter. It clocks in at less than three minutes, but it proves to be a song small in quantity, yet heavy in quality. If this doesn’t get you head banging, then there is not much hope for you and maybe you need to get back to your Top 40 fluffy songs.

Great Faith in Fools is a very strong album by TAIB and is much stronger than the label “debut” usually implies. Is there room for improvement? I would have to make note of the song writing and hope for a little meatier content next time. I’m not asking to reinvent the wheel, but give me something with a little more substance.
The Air I Breathe is a band to get excited about. A young band that puts out a debut this strong is one to keep an eye on. I do highly recommend it and I hope people who may grown bored with the metal core genre will give it an honest listen. It may just kick start your hunger for this flavor that you’ve grown tired of.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Iwrestledabearonce Continue To Defy The Word Genre

Iwrestledabearonce, also known to their fans as IWABO, is one of those bands that come along every so often that you listen to and scratch your head in disbelief. You question yourself, “Did I just hear what I thought I heard?” The five members of this Louisiana based band have taken the word genre and ripped it into shreds, while laughing hysterically the entire time. With an EP and one full length CD, they have managed to make people completely fall to their knees and worship them. Yet, they have made others rank them right up there with a visit to the dentist and visiting the DMV as things that they hate the most.

Their newest release is entitled Ruining It for Everybody and it seems as if the band that people either love or hate are not straying too far from their formula of intention. The band seems to be a bit more focused on this effort as compared to their full length debut entitled It’s All Happening. That album saw the band involve everything including the kitchen sink to create a cluster genre arrangement that almost defied description.

Ruining It for Everybody is definitely a progression for the band in some ways. I don’t really want to say that the band has “matured” on this release because their trademark sense of humor shows up in full force on here. Titles such as “You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voice” and “Karate Nipples” are an indicator that their sense of humor is still intact.

There are several surprises on the album. First and foremost would be the performance of lead singer Krysta Cameron. Her screams and growls that fans have come to know and love are still there, but her clean vocals will truly amaze you. Her singing voice is such a contrast to the aggressive nature of her normal vocal delivery. It is somewhat relaxing and goes to show that this girls chops, not karate but vocal, have really come a long way.

On “Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly”, the band has branched out and included a gospel type choir on the song and believe it or not, it really works on this song. For a complete 180, “Karate Nipples” has a disco/techno breakdown in it too! “This Head Music Makes My Eyes Rain” is probably the one track that will baffle the true IWABO fans. It is quite somber and could be categorized by some as a ballad. I don’t think this will settle well with most fans even though it really showcases Krystal’s singing voice.

I do believe that IWABO has stepped their game up somewhat on this new album. Everything that fans have come to love about them is still left intact, but some aspects are only in moderation. There are still plenty of breakdowns, growls, random noises and humorous interjections. There are a few songs on here that are very short in length and do feel a little bit like filler material. Overall, I think the fans will love this new album. With its new found focus, some of the previous “haters” may actually switch sides and become fans of this unique band.