Behemoth ticket give away

Behemoth at Fillmore Silver Spring

Poland’s masters of the dark arts, Behemoth, return to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Friday, November 2nd, with a killer line up that includes At The Gates and Wolves In The Throne Room. We’re so excited about this show here at DCHM that we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me which of the three bands playing you’re most excited to see. On Wednesday, October 17th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will get two free tickets the show! Be sure to enter using an email address 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, I hate spam too. 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 Live Nation for $29.50 here.

Behemoth just released a new album, I Loved You at Your Darkest, on Nuclear Blast Records this month. Now, after a successful summer performing as one of the support acts for Slayer’s farewell tour in North America, they’re returning to the US for a proper headlining tour. At The Gates is one of the most important bands from the famous Swedish Gothenburg death metal scene. They will probably always be most remembered for their masterpiece album Slaughter of the Soul but they also put out a new album this year, To Drink from the Night Itself. The opening band is probably the most influential US black metal band, Wolves In The Throne Room. They’re from Washington state and are one of the bands that helped make atmospheric black metal popular with a wider audience. Now go check out the videos below by these bands and leave a comment telling me which one you’re most excited to see at the Fillmore Silver Spring on November 2nd!

Behemoth – Wolves ov Siberia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7yxjTcM7Bs

At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhru7gT0cIE

Wolves In The Throne Room – Born From The Serpent’s Eye
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnLTFeiXiiA

Paradise Lost ticket give away

Paradise Lost at Baltimore Soundstage

The legendary Paradise Lost is coming to Baltimore Soundstage on Tuesday, October 2nd, along with Sólstafir and The Atlas Moth. Their dark style of doom metal is perfect for this season where the weather starts to turn so we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this show to a lucky one of you DCHM readers. To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite metal band to listen to in the Autumn months. Then on Friday, September 28th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will get two free tickets the show! Be sure to enter using an email address 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, I hate spam too. 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 Ticket Master for $27.50 here.

Paradise Lost formed in Halifax, England, in the late 80’s and is one of the Peaceville Three, along with Anathema and My Dying Bride, who all formed a much darker take to doom metal in the early 90s while all signed to Peaceville Records. In fact it was Paradise Lost’s sophomore album, Gothic, that the genre of gothic metal gets its name from. They’ve influenced countless bands yet somehow Paradise Lost, who still features all their original members aside from the drummer, manage to put out solid material. This isn’t an old band that just plays their old classics, they still put out solid material, including their 2017 album Medusa, which was #1 on Decibel Magazine’s top 40 albums of 2017. In addition to the rare chance to see Paradise Lost in the US the tour has some excellent support acts. Sólstafir from Iceland blends post rock with viking metal, adds a pinch of country western and a heavy dose of melancholy. The opening band is The Atlas Moth, a post metal band from Chicago that has been getting better and better with every album. Now check out these videos of the bands below and leave a comment letting me know what your favorite metal band to listen to in the Autumn is.

Paradise Lost – Blood And Chaos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Jh36OMXFE

Sólstafir – Silfur-Refur
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX0UaXd4Yis

The Atlas Moth – Holes In The Desert
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6BfNkHBr5I

Review of Damnatio Memoriae by Grethor

Band: Grethor
Album: Damnatio Memoriae
Release Date: 26 January 2018
Record Label: Edgewood Arsenal Records
Buy on CD ($10) or vinyl ($19) or digital ($10) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Damnatio Memoriae by Grethor

We’re a bit behind on getting some of our local album reviews posted here on DCHM but we’re working to get back up to speed. This one is about an album released by Grethor back in January, but it’s still worth noting in case you missed it. Vivek wrote this detailed piece about it and as always you can stream a few songs at the end of this post to give it a listen.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Star Trek. When I found out there is a local blackened death metal band named Grethor, the klingon word for hell, it grabbed my interest. Albeit, its spelled differently than the actual name, Gre’thor. In late January, Grethor released their debut full-length album, Damnatio Memoriae. Grethor are composed of four members. Marcus Lawrence handles the vocals and wrote all of the lyrics. Brian Frost is on the guitar and Tony Petrocelly handles both guitar and bass duties as well. The lineup for this album is completed with Anthony Rouse on drums. On Damnatio Memoriae, Grethor showcase a variety of complex and simple death metal riffs with varied drum patterns and a strong blend of black metal mixed in as well. Lyrically this album is also varied, there are social issues discussed as well as plain fantasy stories thrown in.

Throughout the album the listener is treated to a variety of riffs that have strong influences from Obscura-era Gorguts and Altars of Madness-era Morbid Angel. Some examples of this include the tracks “The Last Manifesto,” “Enantiodromia,” and “From this Rot so Shall We Be Remade.” There is also an interesting black metal influence throughout the album. Think Deathspell Omega, very avant-garde and using weird elements. Some examples would be in several sections of songs, such as, “The Imminent Unknown” and “Requiem for a Strawman.” While this can go very wrong, Grethor keep all of these factors cohesive. They make sure none of these elements outweigh each other. One track where this is highlighted very well would be the third track, “The Last Manifesto.” In this track, it begins with a complex and blasting intro riff. The song transitions into the main riff, which is a simple, mid-paced, and slightly melodic black metal riff. This is a nice contrast between the more death metal riffs that are present throughout most of the album. Rouse speeds the drums up by using a skank-beat and then everything else gets faster, before transitioning into a more death metal oriented riff. This is a nice transition into the first guitar solo. The solo in this song is simple and effective, it fits the purpose of this part of the song and does not try to do more. The solo isn’t too long or too complicated. The song has a quick breakdown, which transitions to the main riff again, but this time, the main riff is played even faster. The main riff develops more of a melody which, to my surprise, enhances the song and gives it a stronger punch for the listener. Eventually, another solo begins and this time it’s accompanied with complex blasting. This solo is complex and shows off that Luc Lemay influence. It’s a great solo too, it’s complex without being overbearing and is not too fast. The listener can absorb all of the notes from the solo and experience it as opposed to just hearing it. It’s a great way to close a great song. Lyrically, this song is also a rallying cry against many of the common injustices and hypocritical rhetoric that is relevant in society.

Marcus Lawrence, uses plenty of descriptive language to get his message across. It’s simple descriptive language too, which makes his point easier to understand. One example would be in the song: “Embracing Oblivion,” the lyrics “Besieged by a pointless devotion. To one’s own ethnicity. When there is nothing special about you. You must feign authenticity. You value nothing beyond. Your empty desire for validation.” showcase this. In that, they provide a criticism of nationalism and show how such an ideology is flawed. As I mentioned earlier, the lyrical content of the album discusses social issues and other topics. Throughout the album, whenever a political or social topic is discussed, the lyrical delivery of said topics is an interesting blend. It is straightforward, for the most part. It is very descriptive and understandable, while being cerebral as well. It gets me to see another person’s perspective on things. Lawrence also keeps the language in the lyrics broad enough, so that you understand his perspective and it doesn’t become preachy. Both the music and vocals feed off of each other and give the tracks have a strong punch to them. Lawrence’s vocals are a more traditional black metal snarl and shriek. However, there are times when the Lawrence’s vocals become too snarl-like. In that, his vocals are so snarl-like that they sound like an elderly cat screaming at their owner. One example where this happens would be in the song “Tongue of Argent.” These snarls appear at the 1 minute and 17 second mark. When these particular snarl-like vocals appear, they sound so saturated to the point where it is nauseating. Whenever they appear, the overbearing snarls can bring down the section of the song that they are in. They bring down the whole momentum of the song and as a result, it weakens the song as a whole. However, this only happens about two or three times throughout the album, I mentioned one of those times, the other times where this happens are in the tracks, “The Last Manifesto” and “Weaponized Madness.”

Damnatio Memoriae is the most complex local release I have heard in a very long time. It is technical, avant-garde, simplistic, and has hints of melody at times. Despite all of these complications present, Grethor manage to juggle them in a proficient manner. Grethor manages to balance each of these elements giving them the right amount of attention. There is a strong blend of cohesion between the black metal and the death metal elements on this album. Grethor manage to combine these parts along with some direct and thoughtful lyrics, which makes for a very complete and fulfilled album. There are a lot of great moments on this album and I can see Damnatio Memoriae, opening many, many doors for Grethor. It’s a great debut album from a focused band.

The Last Manifesto:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvZttM5gHn0

Lamb of God ticket give away

Lamb of God at Fillmore Silver Spring

This coming Monday, July 30th, Richmond based Lamb of God will be headlining the Fillmore Silver Spring! This show has an all star line up of metal bands including Anthrax, Testament and Napalm Death. We’re so damn excited about this show that we’re giving away a free pair of tickets to this concert to one lucky reader! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me which of the four bands playing you are most excited to see! Then on Wednesday, July 25th at 12pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will get two free tickets the show! Be sure to enter using an email address 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, I hate spam too. 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 Live Nation for $45 here.

Lamb of God is coming hot off their tour as direct support on Slayer’s farewell tour. Anthrax, one of the big four of thrash metal, will be direct support for this show with Bay Area thrashers Testament performing as well. The opening band is none other than the still reigning kings of grindcore, Napalm Death. Top to bottom that’s a pretty stacked line up! Now check out these videos by the bands performing and leave a comment telling me which band you are most excited to see at this show!

Lamb of God – 512
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dulxbKkj9Wg

Anthrax – Only
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWSPItDCOkI

Testament – The Pale King
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkHT86Ei7DY

Napalm Death – Standardization
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNlWLtZMvko

Interview with Matt Pike of Sleep and High on Fire

On Thursday, July 5th, I got the opportunity to interview famed guitarist Matt Pike of the bands Sleep and High on Fire. In this 28 minute interview we cover topics such as Sleep’s upcoming shows at the 9:30 Club, the stories behind various Sleep songs, details about the next High on Fire album and other songs that were supposed to be on the Dopesmoker album. You can download the entire interview as an mp3 for free here, stream it by clicking the orange play button below or read the full transcription under that. As always my words are in bold.

This is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and today I’ve got Matt Pike of the bands Sleep and High on Fire on the phone with me. Sleep has 2 upcoming shows at the 9:30 Club right now. The first is going to be on Sunday, July 22nd and the second is the following night, Monday, July 23rd. The Sunday night show is already sold out however tickets are still available (here) for the Monday night show that was added recently. To start things off Matt, can you tell me what will be different about the set Monday night?

We’re playing Holy Mountain which, that’s always a great thing. We do it every great while someone will ask this but we can do it. I just gotta rent and acoustic [guitar]. Yeah, the difference is it’s shorter but we’re playing a pretty arcane album. It’s old music that we know very well cause we played it over a million times but yeah, I love playing that album and Al [Cisneros, bass/vocals of Sleep] and Jay [Jason Roeder, drummer of Sleep] do too. It’s kind of easy for us actually. Haha. So we’re good at it. If you know Holy Mountain you know that it’s before we got too weird.

Will you be playing any songs from The Sciences or anything else during that set on Monday night?

I’m not sure. The set’s probably about 50 minutes. The shortest Sleep usually plays is like an hour and that’s at a festival and then this is not a festival it’s our show so we’ll probably add something else but I don’t want to ruin the surprise if it’s something weird. It’s gonna be a full set is what I’m saying, hahaha.

Matt Pike

Matt Pike photo by Jason Roeder

Ok, cool. Alright now back in April on 4/20 actually, Sleep released their first album in 15 or 20 years, depending on when you count Dopesmoker as actually having been released. The album is titled The Sciences and it really lived up to expectations to both fans and critics. On it we finally have studio versions of songs like “Sonic Titan” and “Antarcticans Thawed” and those are songs that you’ve played live for some time since you reformed in 2009. Were there other songs that were older on this album or was the rest of it written more recently?

Well what we did, it’s a reprise of music that Al and I had but we had to restructure and work with Jason. Obviously Jason’s a different drummer than Chris [Hakius, Sleep’s drummer in the 90’s] so the only drums we ever had on the songs that we were playing were Chris Hakius’s versions and we had to retime it, figure out BPMs, figure out time signatures. We basically recreated something that we did twenty years ago. That’s only for some of the songs. Some of them are brand new and original and some of them we took skeletons of what we had and redid them. Made them brand new for us just because I think we’re a little more experienced than we were when we were just kids which you lose some of the magic from when you were a kid but at the same time you actually understand things like timing and what you’re doing music theory wise. So it was a big chore for us to go through but we had been playing some of those songs live for a long time and I think it helped us kind of rewrite them just having that in our muscle memory or whatnot. I don’t know how to explain it but if you’ve been playing a song for a long time you’re all “ok let’s get serious. We’re going to record this. Maybe we should think about all the little things in it.” If that explains anything. I’m sorry. I’m just waking up having coffee.

Haha no, no, it does. So what’s an example of one of the songs on The Sciences that’s actually a new song that was written for this album?

Oh I wrote “The Sciences” for this album. That’s my version of a Vietnam vet meltdown, heh heh heh, and I was thinking of like Jimi Hendrix, haha, and I didn’t want make it a lead at all. I just wanted to make it a rhythm solo which it’s just so fucking weird, hahaha.

I actually like it a lot. That’s one song I put on to people, I’m like, you can listen to this and I’m like, if you like stoner metal you will like this and if you do not you will not like this, haha.

Yeah, no, yeah, haha. It definitely critiques towards a certain type of person, hahaha.

Well in 2014 Sleep released the song “The Clarity” through the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim summer singles series and this was the fist new Sleep song, at least to be studio recorded and released to the public, after the 2009 reformation of the band. How did this song come about? Was it one of the old songs that you had from the 90’s or something and kind of redid like some of these other songs or was this a new thing you did specifically for the Adult Swim release?

Well since we had the opportunity to write a new song, “The Clarity” was us putting together new music and seeing if we could do it without killing each other. All of us are in other bands that write. We hadn’t put together charts and things of that nature and truly tried to arrange something, and then Al just sent us the intro to the song which is just like “wah wah, wah wah, wah wah.” It’s like a horrible keyboard. Well that’s how Al wrote the riff and sent it to me and Jason. Me and Jason were looking at each other and just laughing like, what the fuck?

Haha.

What the fuck are we gonna do with this? But if you know anything about Al, if he sends you something like that there’s method to it, so me and Jay are staring at each other like trying to figure out how to make a riff out of this thing but we knew that Al had already fucking thought the whole thing through. He’s a chess player so if he does something like that it’s thought through it’s just the presentation was that horrible keyboard part at the beginning that we rock out to and hahaha, there’s a derogatory thing to that. It’s like, this is how it was presented and then we made a song around it you know and then when the song kicks in you understand. It’s kind of like how “Dopesmoker” was too. It’s like, what the fuck is this guitar intro and then when everything comes in it makes sense. So that was Al just getting stuff started with a riff that was recorded like, horrifying, hahaha, and then we decided to keep it cause that was the beginning of it and then we all just added onto it. Since Al had it planned out he left space for me to write a riff and left space for Jason to do things with and yeah, that was the first thing we really wrote together since we had gotten back together. It’s a special song. I love playing that thing. It’s fun. It was one of those things where we were forced to write together and it’s the first time we did it and it was successful cause we did it in like a weekend which is unheard of for the three of us. We’re all so picky and anal and weird, and me included. I’m not talking shit. I’m saying, it’s kind of amazing how that band puts its stuff together and what we do. It was the first time we had written something just off the cuff from scratch. It’s like we’re making a pie from scratch and it worked really fast and yeah, I’m in love with that song. It’s really cool. There’s never a dull moment when you’re playing with those guys and you’re Matt Pike I guess but I hope they would say the same about me, heh heh heh.

Well you guys also recorded and released another song with Adult Swim recently that’s called “Leagues Beneath.” It really sounds like it really fit in with the rest of The Sciences and in fact when I usually play The Sciences digitally on my computer I actually edited the ID tags to make it like a bonus track basically, to the album. Was this recorded at the same time or was this another one that you guys kind of wrote together just for the Adult Swim release?

No it was just for the Adult Swim. It turned out really cool. That one is the craziest. I’m glad I learned it in the 1990’s. Me and Al had that song, which, of course Al, he wrote most of the intro to that whole thing and I remember [saying] you know, “Ok Al, we gotta turn it into a song where you sing now.” You know?

Hahaha.

The whole intro you’re just picturing this barge on huge hurricane seas with stuff going over the side. Then it’s all, “Ok, where do we go from there?” At the time we were really influenced by [Black] Sabbath. We’re always really influenced by Sabbath, but it’s just all kick drum. You hit every odd note in between the kick drum to make the riff and then when the riff comes in it makes sense so it’s another Al… I don’t know. That guy’s pretty amazing, man. And it’s not like I don’t contribute it’s just he thinks differently than most people you ever met. It’s pretty crazy, hahaha. But yeah that song turned out amazing too. It’s one of those things where, when we get together and write all this magic shit happens cause everybody’s so fucking pissed off at the world that you get all these weird things. And that one though we did have the whole intro and we had the main body of the riff and then other than that we had a couple other parts and then my job in Sleep is to kind of add weird details but then have Jay time ideas I have because if I don’t have timing I’ll just wank so that band tries to teach me how to be patient, heh heh heh. So I’m learning how to be patient and wait for my part to come up. It’s hard to explain unless you’re in the room. It’s weird but we had that song for fucking I swear to god twenty years. That should have been on Dopesmoker and it just never happened like that and the same thing with “Antarcticans Thawed.” It should have been on Dopesmoker. Those two songs were written about the same time but then we just changed the tuning and Al wanted to use a five string so I had to figure out the theory behind– I am not going to buy a seven string guitar cause I think that’s fucking lame. I figured out a drop tuning that would keep up with him in B, which means I actually have to tune every other string up a half step and then drop my tuning. It was weird but it’s cool experimenting like that cause we get used to something too long and then we try something different [and] sometimes it works out.

So another thing I wanted to ask about was the whole issue with Dopesmoker like you were saying, which was originally released in ’98 as Jerusalem and had been kind of chopped up into different parts by the label and I know the band wasn’t really pleased with that version.

No. I took action cause Al was missing in action. He took like eight years off of music altogether. Chris went into the mountains and wasn’t doing anything. I got together with Al and Chris for the first time in like eight years and I was like, “hey dudes, we have a chance to get this back and release Jerusalem as Dopesmoker how we intended it with different masters and a different version” cause Al had one that had desert lyrics and Al had one that had space lyrics and so we went with the desert theme on the second release but the first one was chopped up because at that point in time there was not downloads, there wasn’t streaming, there was barely internet and they needed a radio version and that’s what they were trying to sell it as. “You just aren’t seeing the future here” and so we had to go into hiding before people discovered that it was a piece of work.

It reminds me a lot of what Rush said happened [to them] around the recording of their 2112 album.

Yeah well they were looking to drop us too and they did. They shelved it and I was like, “what a waste of a good piece of music” so I was pushing to get it out but then one dude wanted to bootleg and I’m like, “that’s on you, man. If you get sued or something like that, that’s on you, that’s not on us” but he tried to pay us or whatever and that got shut down. And then we finally got back together, got a lawyer [and] got the rights to that record back and then we could release it with Southern Lord properly. So that was all done legally, you know? Before that, that record label went bankrupt so no one knew anything about anything.

One thing you said though, it got released properly but then you said earlier that “Leagues Beneath” and “Antarcticans Thawed” should have been on that album too. Were there other recordings of these?

We tried but I just think all of us were smoking too much weed and it was hard enough to get the one 72 minute version of Jerusalem done, you know what I mean? It was hard enough to get that song done. It was the first time I think a band tried to do something that long that wasn’t improv. We had it written and it took us four years to write and having that much information in your head and then trying to do other songs, that wasn’t even doable. That’s too much to ask anybody to fucking memorize. After that whole album happened we were all kind of burnt on being around each other or anything. Me and Al weren’t but I think Al and Chris, that separated them for a minute and then they got back together and they started playing music together again. That’s where Om came from and then [I] think Chris just decided that he would rather hide in the woods and not be on tour, which I don’t blame him. [It] takes a special kind of person to be on tour and deal with all that kind of stuff and so I think the evolution of Sleep has happened properly the way that it should have. It just takes time. It’s a very patient band and it waits for its members to be ready to do things and it’s a special band. It’s definitely different. We got our own thing going on.

After the break up around then you went off and did the High on Fire thing, Al and Chris did the Om thing and it’s always kind of made me wonder what led you guys to come back around 2009?

Well cause we got offered one show that was in England. Or it was actually two nights and it was with Jesus Lizard and I just think that the band grew while we were taking a hiatus and when we saw the reaction to us walking out on stage after that long of [a] period of time, none of us had played together in that long and we played some pretty good shows. The two sets we did were amazing and then I think all of us realized that when we were kids we had a lot of magic but then we’re getting older and there’s something to all this. People love it. We have a cult following and it was like, oh wow, man, we can do something with this and all of us enjoy playing with each other but Chris didn’t want to be on tour and Jason, we grew up, me and Al, just kind of worshiped Neurosis [Jason’s other band] and the Melvins and like all the shows we’d go to in Berkeley. That was Gilman’s Street and that’s where we grew up as kids just tripping out on all these crazy bands like Nomeansno and Nausea and Glycine Max and Neurosis and the Melvins and all the good shit that was going on there so Jason knew us since we were little kids like that and Jason just knows all our music because, shit, quite frankly Sleep wouldn’t have ever done anything without Neurosis taking us out and believing in us so they’re like family to us cause we’ve known them our them our whole lives.

That’s pretty cool.

Yeah, yeah.

Sleep reunion shows poster

Sleep 2009 reunion shows poster art by Malleus

You were talking about that show in London which I think was the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival.

Yeah it wasn’t in London though. It was out on the Southwest coast and it was at the place, Butlin’s. And Butlin’s was a place for English working class families to go while dad gambles, mom gambles, and the kids run around and there’s like an amusement park for pasty, white English people that don’t have anywhere else to go. It’s cold and wet and it’s weird, heh heh heh. I think that’s where werewolves came from, I don’t know.

Well I know that show is pretty much the only one, or the shows there that you played, were the only ones with Chris back on drums since the reunion, right? After that Jason I think took over everything.

Yeah well cause Chris didn’t want to really do it. He was real hesitant and although he had been touring with Al but I think Chris just isn’t cut out to tour. He’s a great drummer. He doesn’t like the limelight. He doesn’t want to be famous. It takes a certain type of person. Like Al and I for myself, we really care about what we do. We want to leave a legacy a little bit. It’s not like we’re narcissists or something like that we just want to leave a legacy because we care about our playing and we spend a lot of time getting good at what we do and Jay has just known us since we were little kids so he totally understands why Sleep does what it does and ever did what it did. It’s about amplifiers and tone and loud and fucking with people because we got that from Neurosis and the Melvins. Fucking with people through music is like a great thing. Whether it’s derogatory, funny or very serious, we cover all those aspects. I mean I can improv all day with those dudes but then when it comes down to serious arrangements, we don’t want it to be what people expect. We want it to fuck with people’s heads a little bit. Like why? Why did they do that that way? Fuck, why do I like that? You know, question why they like what they’re listening to. That approach works for us.

So do you think you’ll ever play again with Chris? Even like a one off or a festival somewhere?

With respect for Jason, if Chris wanted to do a weird set with us or something, I wouldn’t be opposed. I love Chris Hakius but I love Jay too and Jason’s like our main dude so with respect if Jason said, “yeah, you should do a show with Chris” I’d be like, “dude I’m not opposed to playing with anyone.” It’s like the old jazz blues bands. Everybody moonlighted in between each other’s bands so I’m not opposed to anything. I just enjoy playing. I try to leave politics and head trips out of what we do.

High on Fire

Alright so shifting gears a little I would like to talk to you about your other band a little bit and one thing I’d like to know is, how did you form High on Fire? Like how did you find the other members and kind of pull that all together after Sleep was kind of on hiatus there?

Well I got out of Sleep and I had a bunch of fucking songs that I wrote that I was going to show them to Al or whatever if he ever got out of being depressed about music, which he ended up doing. I knew it would happen. So the first song I wrote I was actually just trying to start a band with anybody so I got a friend of mine, Karl [Larson], who was more of a Soundgarden-y guitar player, and later on I figured out I don’t work with other guitar players well usually, unless they’re my bass player, so yeah, I started a band and I met Karl and he had some stuff to contribute but I had all these riffs that were kind of Sleep-ish riffs and then I met Des Kensel who’s an East Coast hardcore drummer. And then when I started trying to play some of the Sleep riffs to the hardcore drummer it like clicked. We were like married and then Des didn’t like another guitar player either. Even though I love Karl who started that band with me, we moved on and we had a friend of mine, George Rice, come down to start singing. I thought he sucked at singing but he’s a great guitar player/bass player, so he just started playing bass and I started singing. I was a shitty singer for like ten years and then I started figuring it out. Started going my way a little bit more but it’s cause I met this total little super drummer, but he was very different than what I was used to. But I always liked thrash metal. I love my like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, that sort of thing so it works. So basically High on Fire is a metal band but it’s a weird metal band. It’s just strange what we do. But I just finished doing an album which is coming out in September.

Yeah I wanted to ask you about that. Do you have any other details? You said it’s going to be out in September. Do you know the album title yet?

Yeah it’s called Electric Messiah.

Cool.

Yeah and it’s the best album we’ve ever done, by far. It’s ridiculous. And I’m really proud of that. So to do Sleep The Sciences and that album, between 2017 [and] 2018 that’s two albums that I’m really fucking proud of in one year. I’ve been working hard. I haven’t had any time to myself til recently. This is my month off and then pretty much I’m on tour all the way up til next year. And then I’m sure I’ll be making plans for next year in the next week here or something. It is by far the best High on Fire record ever which is hard to believe but it’s fucking bad ass, heh heh heh.

That’s cool man. I can’t wait to hear it. How many tracks?

I think there’s ten tracks, eleven tracks. It depends cause there’s a bunch of songs, like I wrote a Sumerian anunnaki rock opera that actually is two songs but they’re separate tracks. And then there’s a lot of slash songs. There’s a lot of songs that– you know [how] Opeth will have like one song but it makes like three songs if you really think about it?

Yeah, yep.

It’s kind of a bunch of shit like that because we’ve had this conscious stream of riffs and we put it together. I like when I do High on Fire records to have a lot of interludes and weird shit going on so you never lose focus but it’s constantly changing. It’s a lot like, Death Is This Communion is like that. There’s tracks that don’t have names but, they’re there. It’s just one stream of High on Fire consciousness and it’s fucking good, that’s all. I’m really stoked on that record.

So I suppose you’ll be touring to support that at some point, probably in the fall or something?

I think we’re going to be on tour with Municipal Waste. Cause we’ve been kind of beating a dead horse, dead in the water for a while so we’re doing a co-headline [tour]. Municipal Waste dudes are our good friends so we figured we’ll just punch the country together, swap spots and no one gets tired and all that stuff and yeah, it should be good. I want to get High on Fire rolling again so it’s full throttle. We took a lot of time to write this record, really make it good.

I’ve always kind of wondered, which band do you like performing with more, Sleep or High on Fire?

They’re apples and oranges. It’s so different and so the same. It’s weird but the common link between High on Fire and Sleep is obviously my guitar playing. I like having my own voice and being able to sing my lyrics. High on Fire is my baby like that. But Sleep definitely, I am a third of that thing’s heart and I get to express myself in different ways that I don’t get to in High on Fire. It’s very visceral. It’s super tight and visceral and very detailed but it has its own soul and I can do different things. Sleep’s like a weird science experiment because I learn about tones. You know if I used my rig from Sleep for High on Fire you wouldn’t even be able to tell what we were playing. It’s too fast, heh heh heh. Sleep’s one of those bands you’re supposed to play loud because you hit one note every fucking five minutes, you know.

Hahaha.

It’s a tone experiment and High on Fire I have to be very, very– both of them I have to be very careful about the controlability of my rig. But I like singing too so that’s the other part of it that I love High on Fire for is I like singing. It’s like a part of my playing. It’s fun to see what I can pull off and between Jeff [Matz, current High on Fire bass player] and Des, they’re constantly pushing me to be able to sing and play more shit than James Hetfield would when Metallica came out. It’s hard, heh heh heh. And it being hard is a good thing for me cause I like challenges and I usually like rising to the occasion.

Matt Pike for president

Alright well, this is Washington, D.C. and so I really want to make sure I ask you about all these Matt Pike for President stickers that I’ve seen around [get them here]. Do you think you might actually run for president in 2020?

I’ll run for president, I don’t give a shit, if you guys really want. You know I think I’d be more popular than Trump instantly.

Hahaha.

I’d be a great diplomat. I am so unorganized and I have ADD so bad I think I’d either be a awesome president by luck or a horrible president that has a lot of resistance, you know?

Heh heh.

Hahaha. No I’d be a great diplomat. I think I could bring world peace but I think I’d fuck up our infrastructure. I have no idea how that would go but I hear it at every show and it was like a gimmick and the fantasy of being president in some sort of alternate universe, I’d like to see that on film just to see what [would] really happen. Hahaha. It’s a funny notion. That was a great idea. Shit, I don’t even get money from that or anything. I didn’t do that. It’s just some kid made something funny up and it just started going ape shit. And they did it for Frank Zappa and Ozzy Osbourne in the 80’s so I felt kind of flattered I guess.

Well I think we all know that Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath are major influences on you but I’d like to know some of the other bands and musicians that are also influences on you.

Well, kind of everything. You know second to Tony Iommi I always loved David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. I always loved John McLaughlin you know in Mahavishnu Orchestra and just everything that guy’s done. He’s just [an] amazing guitar player. And I’m influenced by a lot of early punk. I grew up in the 80’s and I was exposed to the Dead Kennedys and the Exploited and Black Flag, all the classic punk shit when I was a really little kid cause I had a babysitter that, she’d just do bong hits and show me punk rock music. And when Mötley Crüe came out, MTV came out and I always liked ZZ Top. I always liked, you know all the classic stuff. I love W.A.S.P. I love a bunch of cheesy ass shit and I like so much stuff in my playing. I went to school for– I never went to like Juilliard or something. I went to a community college cause I felt that I needed to learn music theory and my art a lot better. I actually went to college for jazz for a couple years so I learned jazz improv and I always played blues, I always played classical so, I could play guitar very well before I even knew what I was doing. You know what I mean? I just have an ear for it. And then, as I went through that, it just kind of made me better and better so my influences come from all over the map. I love fucking Angus Young and Malcolm Young [of AC/DC]. I love K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton [of Judas Priest]. I love Slayer. I love all the things that I got to grow up on and I was spoiled with.

Well D.C. is known for its harDCore scene as well and we also are known for a lot of the doom bands that came out of here. Are there bands from the D.C. area that you would say are influences to you at all?

Oh dude yeah. Fucking Alfred Morris III [of Iron Man], rest in peace. Bless his heart. Me and Al loved the shit out of that guy. He was the greatest fucking guitar player. It’s a shame that his death had to come. Sleep had Iron Man play a couple different shows when we were in your area with us because we were big fans of that. Wino is from out of that thing. I really love the Spirit Caravan thing. You know I kind of knew Wino before that with the Obsessed but then the Spirit Caravan, he was doing that and High on Fire was raging about that time so I got to know that dude around then. There’s a lot that comes out of there and it is definitely doom. Yeah Washington D.C. has definitely got a doom thing to it.

[Do] you like Clutch at all?

Oh yeah dude. I’ve been on tour with them. They took High on Fire out for a bunch. They have one of the coolest crowds ever. Those are some of the better tours that High on Fire had cause they were really cool to us. And that drummer, fucking J.P. is fucking retarded. It’s so good, hahaha. And I like anything with [Clutch vocalist Neil] Fallon.

Are there any new bands or albums that you’ve been listening to lately?

Well I’ve been so wrapped up in trying to get the masters done for Sleep and High on Fire [that] all I’ve listened to is my own band for a while and then, haha, I have a girlfriend who’s substantially younger than me so I get all my new bands through her. She’s an artist and she’ll just sit here– she’s also a musician but she’ll sit here and draw and then put on weird shit and occasionally I’ll walk through. I’ll be all, “what the fuck is this?” she’s all “you mean you never heard Portal?” Portal’s fucking awesome, hahahahahaha, but it’s so fucking dramatic and extreme I love the shit. I really like Lana Del Rey cause she’s creepy. I don’t know. I listen to all sorts of shit that comes my way. It just depends. I don’t listen to metal all day but when I do like metal I go deep. I get into like obscure metal quarterly because I have a millennial girlfriend that knows about it, you know.

Hahaha.

Hahaha.

Sleep at the 9:30 Club

Alright well, that’s about the end of my questions here. I thank you a lot for taking the time out to do this interview with me. I’m pretty excited about the show you’re going to be playing here with Sleep– the two shows on July 22nd and 23rd. Those should both be pretty cool and it’s cool you’re playing different sets each night so people can go to both and see something different each night.

Thank you for trying to sell tickets for us man. I appreciate it. And yeah, I’ll see you at the show huh? Come up and say hi. I’m pretty approachable.

Yeah, sure man.

You have a great day and thank you for the interview. I appreciate it.

Yeah no problem man. Thank you.

Alright man, have a good one.

Alright, bye.

Review of Slayer at Jiffy Lube Live

On Sunday, June 10th of 2018 the Slayer farewell tour came to Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. The tour was supported by some other great bands as well. Testament started things off, then Poland’s blackened death metal band Behemoth played (it was the band’s main man, Nergal’s, birthday) followed by Anthrax and then Lamb of God was direct support. I’m not going to get into all of their sets mostly because this post is about Slayer and secondly, I got there during Anthrax’s set. However you can see a few clips at the end of this post from Behemoth’s set that they posted on social media. Anyways, this is a concert review so of course the big question is, how was the show?

First off, like all Slayer performances, the show was a lot of fun. Slayer did a sort of career retrospective set list, which is a bit different than a “best hits” style set list in that it contained songs off 11 of their 13 albums. Only Diabolus in Musica and the mostly punk covers album Undisputed Attitude weren’t represented in the set list (see the full set list here). They left a few classics off, most notably “Spirit in Black,” “Die by the Sword,” and the medley of “Altar of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves” that has been a staple of their live set for decades. However they did play “Blood Red” which hasn’t been in their touring set list in many years.

It seemed like almost every metal head from our area was at the show to see Slayer one last time. I ran into some of the dudes from Darkest Hour, Ant Scot was crowd surfing in his wheelchair throughout the day and Randy Blythe even brought out local politician/metal head Danica Roem on stage for a moment during Lamb of God’s set. It seemed everywhere I turned I ran into another regular from the local scene, and I still didn’t see half the people I know were there from seeing their posts on social media after the show.

Most of the bands played in the daylight but it was dark by the time Slayer took the stage after 9pm. They had some great pyro effects including open flames that lit up metal Slayer logos on stage, and giant fireballs that would shoot up behind them in time with the music. While the current line up is only half of the original members, Tom Araya and Kerry King, I had seen this same Slayer line up with Paul Bostaph on drums and Gary Holt of Exodus filling Jeff Hanneman’s shoes twice before. Once in November 2013 (read our review of that show here) and again in March 2016 (read our review of that show here), both times at the Fillmore Silver Spring. What blew me away at those shows was how tight the band still was despite the line up changes. Slayer is probably best known for having written some of the most classic songs of the entire heavy metal genre but they are also known as a band that is incredibly well rehearsed and tight live. They rip through blisteringly fast songs totally in sync with each other and they make it seem easy because they have practiced them so many times. It was impressive that they could keep that up with two new members, something many bands that have that kind of well rehearsed chemistry fail to do after major line up changes. However that tight chemistry wasn’t quite there this Sunday night in June. Gary Holt had some technical issues and had to swap his guitar out a few times, including during the beginning of “Hell Awaits” which left what might be Slayer’s best intro riff sounding off. Most glaring however was Tom Araya fudging or possibly completely forgetting the lyrics to some of the songs. I might give this a pass if they were songs off the later albums but, for example, in “South of Heaven” he repeated a verse that doesn’t repeat and in “Angel of Death” he completely missed an entire verse of lyrics. This didn’t ruin the show by a long shot, it certainly didn’t make me suddenly stop loving those classic songs but it was the first time I’d ever seen Slayer so out of sync live. I’ve seen them live many times before. At the 9:30 Club, the long gone Nation/Capital Ballroom, the Baltimore Arena and the previously mentioned Fillmore Silver Spring. I’ve seen them before at Jiffy Lube Live on Mayhem Fest and even back when it was still called Nissan Pavilion I’ve seen Slayer play there as part of several Ozzfests. This Slayer performance was the first time I had seen a tiny crack in the foundation starting to grow.

Slayer played for about 90 minutes with none of that lame pre-rehearsed encore nonsense. They just got up there and ripped for an hour and a half straight while everyone went nuts. Gary Holt was sporting a “Kill The Kardashians” shirt and brought out his guitar that is painted in his own blood a few times (backstory on that here). However the most memorable part of the show might be what happened after it just ended. After the end of the set Tom Araya wandered around on stage just soaking in all the fans still screaming wildly for the band despite the set being over. He eventually found a mic and thanked the fans for all the memories. I’m not sure if he did that at every stop on the tour or just ours, but it was quite a touching moment, not something Slayer shows are generally known for. Still coming down from the adrenaline rush of a live Slayer performance, it was a sobering reminder that this was the last time we’ll be seeing Slayer in our area.

I am sad to see Slayer go, but this performance showed us why they are retiring. It seems like Tom Araya’s heart just isn’t in it any more, something that has been hinted at in interviews in other metal publications. I’d rather see them go on their own terms than just become a sloppy caricature of the incredible band they are. I did thoroughly enjoy the show though, despite its flaws. I’ve long held that no metal head can sit still while songs like “Raining Blood” or “Angel of Death” are playing and this show was certainly no exception. Bang your head, throw the horns, jump into the mosh pit, you just gotta go crazy for Slayer! But it is the end of an era, the first band of the Big Four of thrash metal to retire. I love this area’s metal community and it is always bittersweet to see one of the legends bring everyone out to headbang to their tunes for one last time.

Below you can see the photos I shot of Slayer from the photo pit (click them to see them larger) and below those are some images and videos of Behemoth that were posted to their social media, including the audience singing “Happy Birthday” to Nergal.

Slayer at Jiffy Lube Live 6/10/18

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya of Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya and Kerry King of Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

Ant Scot crowd surfing

Bonus photo I shot of Ant Scot crowd surfing into security

View this post on Instagram

Bristow, Virginia. We are in the middle of the set. The show is fuckin' intense… I see a guy on the wheelchair crowd surfing! There's a moshpit from the very start of the show and ppl r totally INTO it. Obviously we feed on that energy and return it with twice as much strength! Ryan, our tour manager suggests that he goes Instagram live for the new song "Wolves ov Siberia". I agree, why not, right? He follows me into the stage and I'm announcing the song yet I see him standing behind my back regardless. Weird. As I approach the mic music dies and there's a robotic announcment coming from the speakers all over the place: "Ladies and gentlemen this is not time for "Wolves ov Siberia". Not yet. Today is the day to celebrate your fuckin' birthday, Nergal"! And then Gary Holt, Randy Blythe, Kerry King and the boss of all bosses, Mike enter the stage with a bottle of Jagger serving shots! Holy fuck! It took me few seconds to realize what's goin on… From the speeakers I can hear "Stoooo lat" from the legendary movie "Rejs"… Randy encoured ppl to sing "Happy birthday" and shortly after 10.000 ppl are chanting along the theme. What can I say? I was blown away and hyper-surprised and it was worth waiting 41 years for THIS haha !!! Would love to send regards and massive thank you to my band mates and Wolfpack crew for making this all happen! BEST wishes EVER!!! Love u ALLfuckers!!!! @drandallblythe @behemothofficial @garyholt_official @orion669 @brovarius.victorius @slayerbandofficial @slaywhore @paulbostaphofficial @shark_________________________

A post shared by Adam Nergal Darski (@nergal69) on

https://www.facebook.com/behemoth/videos/10155814109932872/
The same video as above, but this version is longer and includes the “Happy Birthday” song.

View this post on Instagram

Thank you sooo much for last nite Bristow!!!!

A post shared by Behemoth (@behemothofficial) on

Sleep ticket give away

Sleep at 9:30 Club

Stoner metal gods Sleep have sold out the 9:30 Club yet again for their performance there on July 22nd, however a second Sleep performance has been added for the following night, Monday, July 23rd! For the Monday night show Sleep will be performing a different set, namely the album Sleep’s Holy Mountain in its entirety! We’re so excited about this second Sleep show being added that we’re going to give away a pair of tickets to it to one of you lucky DCHM readers. To enter just leave a comment on this post telling me what your all time favorite stoner metal album is. Then this Friday, June 8th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will get two free tickets the show! Be sure to enter using an email address 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, I hate spam too. If I haven’t heard back from the winner within 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 Ticket Fly for $35 here (they go on sale 6/7/18 at 10am EST).

On 4/20 this year Sleep released The Sciences, their first full length album of new material in 20 years! They also recently released a new 16 minute song titled “Leagues Beneath” on Adult Swim’s singles series. Of course Sleep will be playing their classic album Sleep’s Holy Mountain for the newly added second show on 7/23. The support band is Dylan Carlson, the solo project of the main man behind the innovative drone band Earth. Now check out these tunes by Sleep and Dylan Carlson and leave a comment telling me what your favorite stoner metal album of all time is.

Sleep – Leagues Beneath
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5nGJv8EsmA

Sleep’s Holy Mountain full album
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4cxaVEqZsE

Dylan Carlson – Conquistador full album
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Er0veIJe2k