Black Label Society ticket give away

Black Label Society at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society, along with Phil Anselmo and Down, are coming to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday, May 4th, and since this show looks so damn good we’re giving away a free pair of tickets to it! To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me which band at this show you’re the most excited to see! Also appearing with BLS and Down is Devil You Know and the Butcher Babies. At 5pm EST this Friday, April 25th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from right now for $43 (after fees) from Live Nation here.

Zakk Wylde is best known for being Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist for many years but his personal band, Black Label Society has made a name for itself by following their motto: strength, determination, merciless, forever. Their acclaim is no surprise when you’ve got a guitar player as talented as Zakk is! But let’s not forget Down, the New Orleans band that Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo currently rages in. Their southern style of stoner/doom/sludge is a perfect pairing with BLS. Also appearing on the tour is Devil You Know, the Los Angeles based band featuring Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage on vocals. The opening support for this stop on the Revolver Golden Gods tour comes from the Butcher Babies. Be sure to check out these killer new tunes by all the bands playing the show and tell me what your favorite band on the bill is in the comments!

Black Label Society – My Dying Time

Down – We Knew Him Well

Devil You Know – Seven Years Alone

Butcher Babies – Smell A Massacre

Interview with Bill Ward of Black Sabbath

On Tuesday, April 8th I was given the opportunity to interview one of the founding fathers of heavy metal, Bill Ward, the original drummer for Black Sabbath. He played with the band through the Ozzy years and on the first album with Dio as well as on Born Again then came back into the fold in the late 90s when the band reformed for their reunion tours. In November of 2011 the four original members of Black Sabbath reunited again and announced they’d be creating their first album together since the late 70s. However issues arose and Bill Ward ended up not being a part of the new album. He hasn’t slowed down at all though and one of the things he’s done is work on a new visual art project called Absence Of Corners. We’re really lucky because they’ve decided that the public viewing of this collection will be in Annapolis, Maryland, and on May 9th and 10th Bill Ward will be on hand to speak about the pieces himself! Even better, if you purchase (here) one of the very limited prints you’ll be invited to a special reception on May 10th where you can meet Bill Ward yourself, have him sign your piece, get your photo with him and even ask him any questions you think I might have left out of this interview (more details here). This isn’t a traveling art display, this is the only exhibit so don’t miss it!

This interview is 32 minutes long and we covered a wide range of topics from the art exhibition to his time with Black Sabbath, his time after and even what new metal bands he’s into (spoiler: there’s a lot of them). I suggest reading along while listening to the stream of the interview as I’ve packed this post with photos and links related to what we’re talking about. You can also download an mp3 of the audio here. I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did! My words are in bold below and you can click the orange play button to start the stream.

Bill Ward

This is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and today I’ve got a very special guest with me, Bill Ward, the original drummer of Black Sabbath. Mr. Ward will be in Annapolis, Maryland on Friday, May 9th and Saturday, May 10th at the Annapolis Collection Gallery showcasing his new Rhythm On Canvas visual artwork series known as Absence Of Corners. The viewing is open to the public for free and limited prints will be available for purchase by fans. Anyone who does purchase a piece will be invited to an exclusive VIP reception with Bill Ward where he’ll be available to sign your piece and answer a few questions and just talk to fans as well. So to start off Bill, why don’t you tell me about how this Absence Of Corners project came to be.

Thank you. It started back in the spring, I think it was the spring of 2013, and we were approached by [the] two main guys in Scene Four, that would be Cory [Danziger] and Ravi [Dosaj]. They’re the technicians and the producers and they had already established this new way of producing art in terms of drummers just playing their drums completely in the dark and having lighted sticks or lighted brushes and just playing whatever they wanted to play, for the most part, and taking all kinds of pictures. And the all kinds of pictures really was all kinds of pictures but at times I think we probably had between two and three photographers right in and out of the kit. There were so many different lights that were going on. And that’s how all this started. We were just approached, we liked the idea, Liese Rugo was heading it, and Liese said let’s think about this and go ahead and do it. It might be a nice change for you right now so I thought OK. So that’s how we went ahead you know, it’s quite simple. That’s how it started.

Did you use your own drum kit for this?

Oh yes sir, yes I did. Yeah in fact I used the master kit. When I say a master kit that would be a kit that I would normally use with Black Sabbath. It was set up in its drum rehearsal mode and we went in and I just slammed. I slammed for probably an hour and 45 minutes. We just jammed, jammed, jammed everything out, yeah.

Wow. Now so they took a lot of photos here. Did you have any input as far as to which ones they used of which angles they used or anything like that?

No, not at all. I stayed out of all that. I followed direction. I let them tell me what they wanted. As far as the playing I went wherever I wanted but as far as any kind of cameras or anything to do with their end of it, I stayed well out of all that [and] let them do their thing. I only started to collaborate at the point when I began to view the pictures. And when I viewed them you know it’s like… it took me a while to digest everything but the collaboration began when they said, “Well Bill can you suggest some titles,” and I love writing. I love coming up with words and things like this so I said OK. That’s when I started to realize what each picture meant to me personally and it’s when I came up with the titles and then we just started to gain some depth as to where it was all going so it was a nice collaboration. That was very enjoyable actually.

I saw you made some videos that describe the naming process of these pieces and I found the one for “Soundshock” particularly interesting. Can you describe to me what sound shock is exactly and is it something you deal with on a daily basis?

My idea of sound shock is pretty tricky stuff because it’s something that, through all the years and years and years of playing on stage, and playing very loud, I think that there are some prices to pay. One is in the way that I perceive the sound of right now, the sound of your voice, Chris. The sound of the room around me, the sound of the fan that we have on right now. And I can hear, I guess, well enough but sound shock becomes more apparent if I went into a super market or a grocery store or into a restaurant where there’s multiple voices and multiple sounds. Train station, airport, anything like that and I have a very difficult time listening to things that are right next to me. If someone’s talking to me I can barely hear them but I can actually hear things that are going on two aisles over so my hearing has become unique I guess. Not unique to me. I think other people have this phenomena also. It’s very strange. When I first started getting this it was a bit scary you know. I was just wondering what was going on. It’s been going on now for a number of years. It’s something that I’ve definitely gotten used to. It can also be called mixer’s ears. Just recently I’ve spent an awful lot of time in the studios finishing up a piece of work I’ve been trying to get done there for quite some time and only the other day I was in the studio and I can only listen for about three hours now and I went, you know what? My ears have completely gone. And I was hearing things that weren’t there and you know that happens to a lot of musicians when there at the final stages mixing and things like that. But what happens with mixer’s ears is when we break, take five, sit outside or whatever, the sound of being outside is a little bit different than what it was three hours before going into the studio. So I have that too. There’s imbalance and incorrect perceiving of sound. I think that’s the best way I can describe it. I did see a documentary a few months back now. It was about a soldier that had been in Iraq and they were focused on this soldier and what he went through when he walked into supermarkets having been around bombs and explosions and I was intrigued by what he was sharing because I thought oh my god. I said I feel the same way. I feel just like this guy, the things that he was going through. I went to see a couple of doctors to talk about it, neurologists. So we’re still researching it ya know, we’re still going through it and I’m sure there’s other musicians, I’m sure I’m not unique in this at all, other musicians that are either on their way and got a better understanding of it. It’s not like something that I’m desiring to fix. It’s something about learning exactly like, oh this is what I live with now and I have an explanation for why things can sometimes sound really strange. Especially in a restaurant. I can hear the other people talking three tables over [louder] than I can my own wife whose in front of me. She doesn’t think of– my wife doesn’t mind ya know? She’s used to me being kind of crazy you know so, hahaha, so it can be taken as quite rude I think. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Annapolis when I start talking with everyone.

“Soundshock”

Are you interested in doing more visual art projects in the future?

I think I would have to really take a look and see what it might be. There are some other things that I would like to get to and it’s trying to have the time to get to it. So I did have something else on the back burner but it would not be working the same way that I did with Ravi and Cory in terms of playing drums to create art. But however it depends. I like to keep an open mind. One never knows. It could be something that’s completely different so if it appeals and I can feel the nature of it and it has some substance and it can be meaningful to other people then you know I’d look at it, yeah. I think I’d say yes to that, to that question. Yeah.

Are there any specific pieces about Black Sabbath or your time with the band or your time after?

I think that there are actually and I didn’t realize that until after. It was during the time I mentioned earlier, Chris. There was a period that happened where we started to collaborate, you know myself and Liese and Ravi and Cory, in terms of going into each piece and what it meant. That’s when I– it started to hit me. It really came quite strong actually. There were some things that were primarily related to the turbulent emotional stuff that I was going through after the contractual agreement [with Black Sabbath] couldn’t be sorted out. You know it just couldn’t be sorted out. And I just felt so horrible about everything about that not being able to be sorted out as I believe they did but I’m not going to quote them or anything else. I read something from Tony [Iommi, Black Sabbath guitar player] that he was not particularly happy either so, well neither was I. But that turbulence and that emotional upheaval, I think some part of it may have reflected through my playing. There’s that one piece, I’ll just use the most poignant piece if you like, it’s called “Grief.” And somebody had put the picture, a huge picture of “Grief,” and it was leaning against some cases, we were in the warehouse, I was up at the warehouse just signing off a bunch of paintings and what have you. And I hadn’t seen “Grief” prior to going to the warehouse, and I turned around, it’s almost like I felt something in my back and I turned around and I looked down and I saw this– I made out a face immediately. I was about maybe fifteen feet from the painting, Chris. I just peered into it and I went, “Oh my god.” And I said, “What’s this?” And they were smiling and they said, “That’s one of your paintings, Bill.” You know and I said, “Oh my god you’ve got to be kidding.” And I came up with the title immediately. It’s so sad. It was so, so, so, so, so sad. And that’s exactly how I felt about it you know. Even as we speak I’m still recovering from all of this you know. And “Grief” would have been my number one choice in attaching something to the emotional well being, or the unemotional well being, of that period. 2012, 2013, very, very, very tough years. Would you like me to give you a couple more examples?

“Grief”

Sure, yeah.

“Grief,” it’s really quite morbid looking. Kind of right up my street, haha. It’s very gray. It’s gray looking and I think to really feel “Grief” you have to stand about ten feet away from the picture. And you see it and it’s just this tormented soul. It’s just really… not OK at all. Of course, technically, Ravi and Cory showed me in the picture where my arms were and what I was doing at that particular point from a drumming point of view, not what I was actually playing in terms of notes. But because I couldn’t see, I couldn’t make it out. You know was I playing with brushes, what was going on there you know?

Yeah.

It scares me to be honest with you. It really scares me. It really bothered me, bothered me a lot. But at the same time it brought a semblance of relief because I thought, you know what? I’m in a lot of pain man. And all of this stuff that we’re talking about, Absence Of Corners, became more of a therapy session for me. A long therapy session which is still continuing. And it turned into that. I didn’t expect that. Nobody planned that. But that’s what it became then you know. And I’ve discussed Absence Of Corners with people from all over the world and they give me their– how it touched them you know. What it means to them and we sit down and we rap for two or three hours you know talking about emotions and what have you so it’s been very fulfilling. Very, very fulfilling spiritually.

That’s good.

Yeah, it’s great. One of the things also that’s connected with the turbulence that I felt, emotional turbulence [is] this one that I have it’s called “We Focus. We Persevere.” And that one as well I can see myself. I think I was actually playing jazz because it looks like I’m using the brushes in the picture. That one was particularly nice. It was about drummers and that comes back from the way that I was brought up as a drummer not only as a child but into my teenage years and then of course into my later teenage years when I was 18 of course I’d been playing with Tony for two years. When I was 18 and we were already in some pretty good bands you know and Black Sabbath was just around the corner. I didn’t know that but it’s just the influences. I look at the picture and I can actually see my study. I can actually see that I’m focused and I’m really enjoying playing. And that came from a lot of discipline and a lot of listening to blues and jazz which were all incredibly influential inside Black Sabbath. In fact I think more people now are recognizing just how much blues and jazz was inside Black Sabbath and how we utilized that. How we would have our grooves if you like and how that structured itself inside everything that became metal. But that’s a particular favorite of mine, that one, Chris. We overcome. We persevere. No matter what. We come through. We have to ascend our difficulties and we have to come through and that’s part of the action of my life. It’s a very strong, living statement for other drummers primarily and of course for other people or interested parties that might be interested in them. If they can receive something from those things in terms of heightened senses then more power to them. It’s beautiful you know. I didn’t invent it. It’s just something that is part of my life as well and part of a lot of people’s lives and I’ve seen this happen with a lot of other drummers who are friends of mine, some of the people who have passed away, that I dearly love. So yeah, that’s a little bit about that one.

“We Focus. We Persevere.”

OK now in November you did an interview with Rock Cellar Magazine and in that interview [read it here] you said that you hadn’t listened to any of the new Black Sabbath album, 13, except for maybe about 40 seconds of [the promotional track] “God Is Dead?” Have you listened to that album since then?

No and I probably won’t.

You don’t think you ever will?

I, I– Maybe if I reach a point of serenity where I’m able to give it a listen but no there’s nothing of value in there for me to listen to. I love the guys. I really hope that they receive blessings and wonderful things in their life. [I'm] communicating with Terry ["Geezer" Butler, Black Sabbath bass player], I’m communicating with Tony, privately. We always send our very, very best wishes to each other and our love to each other. But no I’m not interested in the album. It was something that I wanted to play on. I was completely able to play on it. There’s no question in my heart at all. [This refers to comments Ozzy Osbourne made (here) about Bill Ward not being on the new Black Sabbath album because he was out of shape.] So you know it’s still something that I don’t care, I don’t care to listen to it. Even if it was the most brilliant album in the world I don’t care to listen to it.

That leads me to the question, do you ever see yourself as a part of Black Sabbath again?

Well a lot of things have happened to me. Starting in September, 2013, I had a horrible illness which I’m still recovering from and it created some other things that I am still recovering from. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t come to [my previously scheduled appearance in] Annapolis you know. So aside from me now having to do a lot of work to gain my health and my strength back, you know and I’d be the first to admit it if I can’t cut it physically as a drummer then my answer would be no. I would not be prepared to play with Sabbath you know. I would never, ever, ever elude to being able to play with Sabbath if my health wasn’t absolutely smack on. And my health right now is not bad but it’s not good enough to certainly play in any band never mind Black Sabbath. I have to get a lot stronger than where I am. I lost a lot of weight. I’ve got to gain all my muscle back. I lost all my muscle. And I’m doing some stick practice but if I was in a good position where I felt strong enough I can overcome the hits that I took, the verbal hits, I can overcome all that stuff. I can overcome you know just the shut down and the way that I felt and everything else. I can overcome all of those things. All of the things that were like at the time just like– what the hell? I can certainly recover from all that stuff actually. I can do it pretty good. You know in fact I’ve recovered from most of it as I’m speaking to you this morning. I’ll always have an open mind to playing with Black Sabbath. I love the band. I miss them terribly. And so my answer would be leaning towards if something could be worked out. Something that I could live with and I’m talking politically now, contractually. And not the kind of things that I’ve done in the past. I’m talking about the very core of what I talked about in my big statement of February 2012 [read it here]. If we can come to some terms and we’re all OK with each other and the most important thing for me is being able to know that I can play drums the way that I want to be otherwise I wouldn’t even enter into any kind of conversation with them if I knew that I wasn’t back on the mark. Then I would be moving forward. I think that a lot of fans have suffered horribly through these undertakings of the last couple years and I fully, fully blame the inconsiderateness of just a few people who created, and I won’t talk about who, but a few people who created such a huge wasteland of real, real pain when everyone was just so excited to see the original band with an original record. And I’d already stated my boundaries quite early in all this. It didn’t come overnight. It wasn’t a shock. You know it wasn’t something that suddenly happened. We’d been negotiating for over 15 months. Things like that so. But I have to be careful in overstating because there’s still a political agenda attached to this. So I’ve definitely got an open mind. I miss playing with Terry, Geezer, just horribly. I absolutely miss him to death. And I miss playing with Tony just… every day. I mean every single day I– it just blows me away man. And obviously I miss Oz [Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath vocalist]. I’ve had to– with Ozzy I– I’ve lost a friend as far as I’m concerned. A man that I dearly loved, and I still dearly love but I’ve had to really now readjust just how much I’m going to trust and love him. He fired back on some pretty mean stuff in the press so. And I’ve gone OK. Like with any of us when we get hurt we’re going to pull back our love and our considerations for another human being when they kick out at you and you know. So that’s been a big loss.

In the last couple years in the world of metal there have been several high profile drummers that have either been kicked out of their bands or just kind of you know similar situations to you I think where there’s contract issues and things where I think the drummers feel like they’re not getting at least a respectable compensation for what they’re doing. I’m talking about like big bands here like Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Mike Portnoy leaving Dream Theater, and I’m sure there’s others as well. But do you think drummers right now, in the world of modern metal, do you think they’re just being under valued?

Yeah there’s something going on. Just for the record I know Mike and Dave Lombardo is a very good friend of mine. Me and Dave have had many Indian food– much Indian food and we’ve discussed these things in the last two years, that’s for sure. Yeah, I think what’s going on is we find the key players and the other players have less value and its become some kind of new modern thing, modern thinking. It’s like the other guys don’t count as much or they can be replaced. Let’s just focus on who we think are the stars in the band and you’ll see it all the time. It’s been going on for a long, long time. A lot of other bands have adopted this similar idea. It’s been around for a while. I think it comes out of a managerial idea, for the most part. Not a very good managerial idea at all. But it’s just something that’s going on and I’ve had private discussions with a lot of people about this and I think it’s not only necessarily aimed at drummers I think it’s aimed at other people as well. And it’s not just because the guys are being [night] owls or whatever you know. It’s nothing to do with that. Back in the day that was like it’s about him, it’s about him and let’s blame him and that and that and that you know. And it’s not about me. I absolutely refuse to take any responsibility of blame that’s been thrown at me. I will be accountable to the fans and I will be responsible to the fans because they are extremely important to me. I think what we’re seeing is something that’s been going on for a while that’s starting to take seed and we’re now seeing the results of defocusing other people and we’re seeing that more focus goes on the primary players and that’s been going on since, well I’ll probably get into trouble with this, since all of the teams. [Mick] Jagger and [Keith] Richards and all the way through. And I’m not saying for one second that the [Rolling] Stones‘ set up is like that OK. I’m not saying that. It’s a very interesting subject and as more is being revealed I can probably be a little more revealing but it’s so bloody political that I have to watch what I’m saying. Because otherwise– I know that there are some people that would probably love to sue my ass and I would think they would get a great deal of pleasure from that.

Well I’m not trying to get you in any trouble here either so…

No, no I know. I know. No, I’m enjoying the interview but I just have to be careful you know. And a lot of the times I wear a lot of my stuff on my sleeve. I’m so bloody transparent and I hate having to play hopscotch but I feel like I’ve been as honest as I can be with you right now.

“Solidarity”

You are also the host of a radio show called Rock 50. You play a lot of metal, both older and current and I was really surprised that you are a fan of a band that was a favorite of mine growing up. You are a big fan of Cryptopsy it turns out.

Oh definitely, yeah.

Phenomenal drummer Flo [Mounier] in that band. Are there any other bands that people might not really expect the drummer from Black Sabbath to be into? Any other modern metal bands like that?

Oh God I go right across the board. When I play my radio show I only play bands that I sincerely really like, really, really like. That I’m a fan of. These are some of my long standing bands. The first one has got to be Slipknot you know. I got a couple of guys in Slipknot that are real good friends of mine.

They’re another band that’s recently had drummer issues as well with Joey Jordison leaving.

Yeah. It’s hard for me to say anything about that but Slipknot’s one of my favorite bands. An example Sunday night, I’d just gone Sunday night I was watching– Vinny Appice used to be in the band… Kill Devil Hill. Anyway the reason why I went to see them play was because there is a couple of guys in the band that I know and love. Especially I went this time because it just so happened that Johnny Kelly, who is a friend of mine he played drums with Type O Negative, Johnny has replaced Vinny. When Johnny told me that I was like, “Oh my god.” And they were playing only a mile from where I’m speaking. The band came down. I went to see Johnny and Rex [Brown] was playing bass from Pantera and they’re fucking outstanding man. Outstanding bass player. Johnny did a great job. The other guy, Dewey [Bragg] the singer, I’ve known Dewey for years man, years and years and years. And they absolutely kicked ass man. They were great. We were in this little club. Nice club, at least they’re doing a shout out for metal. It’s called the Gas Lamp down off Pacific Coast Highway here in Longbeach. There’s another band that was supporting them called Seeds Of War and I really liked Seeds Of War as well. I like anything Mastodon. I’m a huge Mastodon fan. Slayer all the way down the line man. All the way down the line. Megadeth and Skeletonwitch. We met them when they were first new and I’ve always supported them. Always played their records on our radio show. Their production is getting better and better and better. Their songs are tight man [their] playing has become better. They’re really good you know. So I’m right in the mix. I’m right in the middle of it all and I feel completely at home. I sit there with my metal brothers and my metal sisters and drink my tea and I just like to be by myself. I like to sit nice and quiet and watch the bands and everyone’s nice enough to come up and say hello. I just look at them all and it’s just a wonderful part of my life. It’s a very sacred part of my life. I love metal.

DC has quite a few metal bands from this area and I was kind of curious are there any from the DC area or Maryland that you’re a fan of?

Oh I’m sure if you name me the bands I can tell you instantly.

Some of our bigger ones are Clutch, Pig Destroyer, Darkest Hour, Deceased

OK can you stop? Haha. We play Deceased, Darkest Hour, Clutch and what was the first?

Pig Destroyer.

Pig Destroyer. I think that they elude me, I’m not sure about Pig Destroyer. All the other bands have been regularly played on Rock 50 for years.

Pentagram and The Obsessed, they’re both from here too.

OK, yeah. I know Pentagram.

The Obsessed was Wino’s old band before he started [with] Saint Vitus.

Oh yeah Wino OK yeah.

But he’s from DC originally and his band out here was called The Obsessed.

OK, yeah. I don’t think I’ve heard The Obsessed but I’ve heard of Wino before.

Yeah well, they’re not as big as Saint Vitus but to DC people you know we love ‘em.

Yeah of course. You’ve got your home grown metal man. It’s like that’s where it’s at you know for sure. It’s got to keep rolling. The doors are open and the sky’s the limit. And I’m just glad to be a part of the journey. I’m glad I’m on the bus and just riding with everybody. It’s a real honor. It’s a real privilege. I was sitting at the side of the stage. I’m like ten feet away from Dewey when he was singing the other night. You know sitting on the side of the stage and some of the audience were looking saying, “Who’s that gray bearded old man sitting there?” I don’t give a fuck you know. I’m on stage rocking out man.

That’s the way to do it.

Yeah, I’m a fan. That’s just where I’m at you know.

So how often do you go to see live shows these days?

Well, since I got sick not that often because if I go into population, in other words I’m not coming in back stage, if I’m in population I have to take a bunch of security guys with me. And it’s not because I’m scared in case somebody’s going to beat me up. I’m scared in case somebody’s going to run up and give me a big hug and it’s so painful right now cause they cut my stomach open three or four times so it’s still pretty sore even though it’s been– January the 7th was the last operation, January 7th, 2014. So I’m afraid that, haha, somebody’s going to give me a big hug. They’ve already done it OK. They’ve gone oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Whenever we go out anywhere when I know I’m going to be in public we have to have a little security shield say, “Don’t touch him. Don’t hug him so hard,” you know. Haha. It’s pretty crazy man but it’s what it is right now and I laugh about it. I like getting hugs from people. I love people. To answer your question I like to get out a little bit to be honest with you. Obviously if we’re touring with Black Sabbath then I’d see all the bands. Any band that was playing I’d watch them all the time or I’d go out afterwards, maybe see a little jazz in a club.

You also have another solo project in the works, Accountable Beasts I think I heard the name thrown around.

Accountable Beasts and right now it’s 9:15 here in Pacific time and in about an hour and a half I’ll be on a mixing board. We had to stop the final, final, final mix of “Accountable Beasts” the song on Sunday because my ears went. We were talking earlier about sound shock. My ears went and I went, “Oh my God I just don’t know if it’s there or not.” So this morning we’re going in with fresh ears and we’re just signing off on just a couple of little things. It’s like OK we got that, it’s there, oh that does exist you know. You weren’t dreaming it it’s still there. And once we’ve got that that’s another song done. I’ve got two more songs that are ready for final mix. They’ve already been mixed but they have now to do a final, finite mix, which is making sure the balances are OK. Does it feel good? Have we got everything there? Are we happy? Can we live with it? We gotta kind of go through that kind of measuring stick and that’s it and that album goes to mastering.

When do you think we’ll expect to see that, either download or physical form that we could actually buy?

I think we might be able to make an announcement because Liese Rugo, she’s my publicist and she watches very carefully about the things that I might say, haha, and say “Don’t say it’s coming out in six months. Wait until we know it’s coming out in six months,” but I think that we’ll probably be making some kind of an announcement pretty soon. On our timetable right now, this morning, we’re hoping to be finished with the two songs but I know I’ve been whistling that tune for a while but I can’t see anything in front of me that could can stop me. And I thought “Don’t say that either,” you know because I was doing this back in September and I got a perforated diverticulitis so I better not say anything at all. Haha. So I’m just going to keep it nice and quiet and say we’re on our way to really, really coming to the end of this album and more will be revealed and we’re going to let everybody know when we’re in a better position to get more information out. I think that’s the most polite way of putting it right now.

Well I’m coming to the end of my questions here. One thing I wanted to know though is what is your favorite Black Sabbath album?

The first one. I like the naiveté. I like the camaraderie then. It was a band. It was a real band. It was everything that I thought a real band– or while I was learning what a real band ought to be. Camaraderie, it was the four musketeers. It was everything. And hard, tight. Just playing a lot of gigs. It was a live band and then they went and put us in a studio for 24 hours, 36 hours, whatever it was. And they managed to get us on a piece of tape, Tom Allom and Rodger Bain, they just got us on a piece of tape and it was just absolutely incredible so it’s because of that. It’s because of the naiveté and the spontaneity and it’s all that and I listen to it very, very fondly.

Black Sabbath cover art

It’s been a real honor for me to get a chance to talk to you today. I’m a big fan of metal and all its genres but the thing that got me into it all was when I first got a copy of We Sold Our Souls For Rock And Roll and nothing was the same for me in my life since then. The chance to speak to you today has been a real honor and something I won’t ever forget.

Thanks, Chris. Thank you I really appreciate that. I’ve really enjoyed myself. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you when I get into Annapolis.

Yeah I can’t wait. I’ll be very excited there and I’m excited to see your work as well. It should be a fun day and this winter seems to be finally ending so hopefully it will be very nice around here too.

Very good.

Alright well thanks so much for your time this has been an awesome interview.

You’re very welcome.

Well take it easy, have a good afternoon.

And you.

Review of Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Sunday the 13th of April 2014 marked the final night of the 2014 Decibel Magazine Tour and it was at the Fillmore Silver Spring. The headliner was Carcass, making their first DC appearance since reuniting in 2008, though they have played Baltimore twice since then. Each stop on the tour had a local opener and for this show it was Coke Bust, a straight edge hardcore band. I got there in time to see them but there was a problem with my photo pass at the box office and I didn’t get the pass in hand until Coke Bust had finished their set. A shame since I’ve seen them before but never on such a big stage. The second band to play was Noisem, a band of very young guys from Baltimore. I don’t think any of them are even old enough to drink yet. Noisem wasn’t another local opener though, they were on the entire tour, and as such they’ve certainly been getting a lot of exposure outside the area as well. They play a rather catchy style of death/thrash that’s a throwback to the 90s. Their vocalist Tyler Carnes was pretty high energy on stage, at least when he wasn’t fighting with the mic chord that was wrapped around the stage monitors. He jumped down into the photo pit area several times during his set, you may have seen me trying to avoid running into him while photographing him down there, and he ran up to people and would scream lyrics at them. This must have been pretty cool to people close up but for anyone not right in front, well, they probably had no idea what he was doing. Their set was good though and the band looked good on the Fillmore’s nice, big stage. A cover of Terrorizer‘s “Fear Of Napalm” with guest bass by Alejandro Corredor of Nausea was fun and gave Noisem’s regular bass player the opportunity to stage dive.

The next band to play was technical death metal band Gorguts. The Canadian band only has one member from its pre-reunion days, guitarist/vocalist Luc Lemay, but the band was always really his to begin with. For some reason he was off to the left of the stage most of the time, an odd place for a lead vocalist even if he was also playing guitar. Two members of the techy instrumental band Dysrhythmia, a personal favorite band of mine, are in Gorguts so I’m definitely a fan of the current line up. They were absolutely crushing on Sunday at the Fillmore. They are probably the most brutal band to ever play there and while Gorguts only played five songs, each one was performed expertly. They closed out their set with their classic song “Obscura” which was punishing. This is the band I was most excited to see at this show and they did not disappoint! Luc Lemay was manning the band’s merch table most of the night and was very friendly with fans, shaking hands and taking photos with them. If you missed their incredible set don’t worry, they’re playing the final day of Maryland Deathfest this year, Sunday, May 25th, and they’re playing on one of the big outdoor stages so tickets won’t sell out.

The next band to play was The Black Dahlia Murder, a melodic death metal band from Michigan that, I’ll admit, I’ve never really been a fan of. I’ve seen them several times over the years since they tend to play with bands I like but I’m not really familiar with their music. A lot of people seemed to really dig their performance but I just wasn’t one of them so this part of the show was, for me, used to talk to various people I knew that were there. This isn’t to say that their set was particularly bad, though I could have done without the “big titties” comment from vocalist Trevor Strnad, it just wasn’t my kind of music and it wouldn’t really be fair of me to judge their overall performance.

The next band to play was the headliner, Carcass. They played Maryland Deathfest last May as one of the headliners, but that was before they released their new album, last year’s Surgical Steel. Sunday night’s set list (see it here) was fairly similar to the one they played at Maryland Deathfest, except a few older songs had been removed to make room for several new songs. While Surgical Steel seems to have been well received by most fans, I didn’t like it at all so the loss of older songs in the set list for newer ones was a bummer for me. Overall the audience didn’t seem to mind and I suppose if you’re really into the new material this was your first chance to hear it live. The new song “Captive Bolt Pistol” certainly got a bigger mosh pit than “Exhume To Consume” did, and only hearing three songs from Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious was a bummer to me, but overall I got what I expected, mostly songs from Heartwork and Surgical Steel. I thought Carcass’ performance was much better here than at Maryland Deathfest where they seemed a bit rusty. Part of this might be due to the band having played so many more shows recently. Bill Steer and Mike Amott replacement not Bill Steer Ben Ash traded solos seamlessly and the band just seemed tighter overall this time. Jeff Walker sure talked a lot between songs and speaking with people after the show there seemed to be two sets of thought on this: some people loved it and found it very entertaining while others found it rambling and annoying. Sometimes he had some interesting or funny things to say about the band’s origins or the Chicken Man, but sometimes he said things that had me wondering why he was still talking. Like when he made a comment about how being vegetarian or vegan is a choice like being gay is (what?) and how the last time the band was in DC his only memory was of how confused he was by an overweight, black, lesbian Neo-Nazi at the 9:30 Club (again, what?). It didn’t take away from the show too much I guess but I certainly don’t remember him talking that much the last couple times I’ve seen them live. Anyways, even if this Carcass show wasn’t my ideal show, they did play material from every era of the band to at least have something in there for every Carcass fan. Plus a show like this brings out a lot of people and it’s always awesome running into so many familiar faces. Be sure to check out my photos and videos from the show below and feel free to leave a comment telling me about your experience at the biggest metal tour to come through our area this April.

Noisem:

Tyler Carnes of Noisem

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Noisem at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Gorguts:

Luc Lemay of Gorguts

Luc Lemay of Gorguts

Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts

Colin Marston of Gorguts

Gorguts at the Fillmore Silver Spring

The Black Dahlia Murder:

Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

The Black Dahlia Murder at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Max Lavelle of The Black Dahlia Murder

Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

Carcass:

Jeff Walker of Carcass

Jeff Walker of Carcass

Bill Steer of Carcass

Jeff Walker of Carcass

Ben Ash of Carcass

Bill Steer of Carcass

Nile ticket give away

Nile at the Baltimore SoundStage

If you like your death metal tinged with ancient Egyptian history then you don’t want to miss Nile when they play the Baltimore SoundStage on Tuesday, April 15th. And since April 15th is the day everyone’s taxes are due we thought we’d cut you a break by giving a pair of tickets to this show to one of you DCHM fans! To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me which song from Nile’s entire discography (see it here) you want them to play the most! At 5pm EST this Friday, April 11th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets right now for $16.50 from Ticket Fly here.

Now before you think this is just another Nile tour you should know that the band has stated (here) that they will be playing an extended set and will be performing several of their songs for the first time ever in front of a live audience! So tell me, what Nile song do you want to hear them play live at this sure to be epic show? And let’s not forget that while Nile isn’t touring with anyone there will be killer sets by three local bands: Metanium, March To Victory and Exemptus. Check out these classic Nile tunes and leave a comment telling me which Nile song you’d like to hear them play at this show!

Nile – Enduring The Eternal Molestation Of Flame

Nile – Lashed To The Slave Stick

Nile – Black Seeds Of Vengeance

Carcass ticket give away

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass is a band that started as vegetarian grindcore and evolved over the years into one of the pioneers of melodic death metal. They broke up in 1995 only to return recently with last year’s release of Surgical Steel and now, on Sunday, April 13th they’ll be playing songs spanning the entire history of the band at the Fillmore Silver Spring as they headline the 2014 line up of the Decibel Magazine Tour. We here at DCHM are pretty damn excited about this tour and so we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to this show to one of you lucky readers. To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite Carcass album is. If you need help you can find their discography listed here. If you’re not a huge Carcass fan but more into one of the other bands on the tour, then tell me what you favorite album by one of them is instead. At 5pm EST this Friday, April 4th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from right now for $26.50 from Live Nation here.

Not only are death metal legends Carcass playing this show but a ton of other great bands as well. The Black Dahlia Murder is from Michigan and the melodic death metal band’s 2013 release Everdark might be their best album yet. Canadian techdeath masters Gorguts have also reunited and they’ll be destroying eardrums at this show as well. Gorguts may be the most brutal band to ever grace the stage at the Fillmore Silver Spring! Baltimore’s death/thrash upstarts Noisem are really starting to take off and they’ll be on the entire tour, not just our date, and for good reason: their high energy live show slays audiences! And for this date of the tour only straight edge hardcore band Coke Bust will be opening the show. Now that’s what I call a killer line up! Be sure to check out these killer tunes by all the bands playing the show and tell me what your favorite Carcass album is in the comments!

Carcass – Captive Bolt Pistol

The Black Dahlia Murder – Goat Of Departure

Gorguts – Forgotten Arrows

Noisem – Split From The Inside Out

Coke Bust – Lines In The Sand

Metal Show Of The Week: Obliteration

Who? Obliteration
When? Thursday, March 20th
Where? Metro Gallery (map) in Baltimore
How much? $14 cash at the door or $14.50 from Mission Tix

This week’s pick for Metal Show Of The Week goes to a gig up in Baltimore but if you’re down in DC or NoVA it’s definitely worth driving up for, even on a week night, and I’ll explain why. The headliner is a death metal band from Norway called Obliteration. They’re playing a string of shows while they’re in the US for SXSW and the Metro Gallery in Baltimore is going to be their only stop in our area. The chance to catch these guys live in the US is pretty rare, you might never get to see them on this side of the ocean ever again. And while Obliteration is from Norway they’re straight up death metal, not black metal, and not the breakdown laden slam-core style of death metal that has become so popular of late. No, Obliteration has an old school sound that isn’t far off from early recordings by bands like Darkthrone and Sepultura. Their raw, aggressive sound is surprisingly clean on their third album, Black Death Horizon, which was released by Relapse Records late last year. You can stream the entire album on Bandcamp here or just scroll down to the end of this post to check out the second track, “Goat Skull Crown.”

There’s more than just a rare chance to see a killer Norwegian death metal band in their prime at this show though. Also playing will be Northless, a heavy sludge band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that has a dark, foreboding sound not far off from bands like Rwake and Czar. They aren’t on tour with Obliteration, we’re just lucky that they’re both playing Baltimore the same night and their shows were combined. And let’s not forget the killer locals on this show including DC’s Ilsa, a crusty death/doom band that is heavy as fuck and always leaves the audience floored by the end of their sets. Baltimore’s own Cemetery Piss brings their blackened thrash to the stage as well and the opening band will be Putrisect, a death metal band from Baltimore. This is one hell of an all ages bill for under $15 at a venue with good sound and a solid beer selection too. Still not convinced? Then jam out to the following tunes by the bands playing and get ready to head out to the Metro Gallery this Thursday!

Obliteration – Goat Skull Crown:

Northless – Communion:

Ilsa – Frostthrower:

Cemetery Piss – Such The Vulture’s Love

Review of Tales Of Ruin by Cavern

Band: Cavern
Album: Tales Of Ruin
Release Date: 4 March 2014
Record Label: Grimoire Records
Buy digital ($3) or cassette ($5) from Bandcamp: Here

Cover of Tales Of Ruin by Cavern

We’re back with another review of a release by a band on Grimoire Records, this time it’s the new EP by the Maryland three piece Cavern. Their sound is hard to categorize so I suggest giving them a listen by streaming the song at the end of the post or listing to the entire EP here while you read this review. And be sure to check out more of Tal’s writing on her blog here.

One of the cool things about reviewing albums is that I end up listening to things I would probably not seek out on my own – such as Cavern’s EP Tales Of Ruin. I’m usually more in the mood for atmosphere and melody or heavy, headbangable riffage, and didn’t expect to find either on an album with strong stoner vibes. While the album is dominated by a sludgy stoner sound, it’s not just that; there’s a lot going on that’s not covered by that label. (The same is also true of Cavern’s self-titled debut, released in April 2013.)

Tales Of Ruin starts out with a leisurely rhythm and melody, but the pace picks up about a minute into the first song, and the guitars charge into energetic riffs. Sometimes the band even races into hammering black metal-like segments or plays rocking classic metal riffs, though even these segments are thick with doom sound. Whether fast or moderate, their guitar riffs are pretty infectious – this is music you won’t be able to help bobbing your head along to. There are a few parts where the band slows down or gets downright spacey, but most of the album holds my attention with energetic and catchy guitar work.

In the first song, “The Pathway | The Void,” Cavern mixes it up constantly. Though they’ll repeat the same riff for several measures, the tempo and riffs change often. I love the moments where they launch into classic heavy metal riffs for a few seconds. The second song, “Colours,” is groovy, but the guitar riffs are rather repetitive. There are some intense moments, though, when the drums thunder or the guitars gallop into headbangable riffs. There’s a truly plodding part near the end of the song, but it’s relieved by a lovely sorrowful melodic lead. The third song, “Stretcher,” takes a while to build up with a churning intro, but once it gets going it has a nice momentum, helped along by the forceful, deep vocals. I enjoyed the bridge near the end, thick and heavy, atmospheric in a way different from the cold, dark sound of say, atmospheric black metal. After that, there’s over a minute of spacey distortion at the end of the song, which is a cool effect at first, but goes a little too long.

The vocals seem rather distant at the start of the album, nearly buried among the instruments. They come closer to the fore later, but are still a bit low in the mix. In the first two songs, the vocals are mostly an angry shout – not angry in a punk way, but more despairing. In the third song, the vocals are a gravelly baritone, which I find more fitting with the thick, heavy sound of the band’s music.

The last song is a cover of “Grounds For Divorce” by Seattle stoner/sludge band Big Business (who shares two members with The Melvins). This cover song is the most energetic song on the EP, with zooming guitars (that literally sound like a vacuum cleaner at times) and lively vocals. I can’t help headbanging to its insistent pace. Cavern’s take is a little thicker and sludgier than the original, with lower and gravellier vocals. The rest of the album sounds good, but this song sounds great – it’s the catchiest and most intense song on the album.

Despite not being a fan of stoner metal in general, I found myself enjoying this album, especially the guitars. The guitars were more energetic than I expected, even a bit catchy. I felt like the shouted vocals didn’t do much for the songs, though; especially when they were quite low in the mix, they just sounded like background noise. The gravelly vocals contributed more to the heavy sludgy feeling. With more vocals like that along with the catchy guitars, this EP might actually have converted me to their distinctive sound. The guitars at least should satisfy those who are already fans of sludgy stoner music.

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