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

At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself

Wolves In The Throne Room – Born From The Serpent’s Eye

In Flames ticket give away

In Flames at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Regardless of how you feel about the election results this week I think we can all agree it’s been a long and stressful election and we all could stand to blow off some steam. On Monday, November 14th, we’ll get the chance to do just that when the Swedish melo death masters In Flames perform at the Fillmore Silver Spring! We’re going to be giving away a pair of tickets to this very show to one of you lucky DCHM readers, whether you have an “I Voted” sticker or not! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite metal band from Sweden is. It can be a Gothenburg band like In Flames or anyone else from Ghost to Entombed to Amon Amarth. At 5pm EST this Friday, November 11th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. 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 Live Nation for $29.50 here.

In Flames is probably the most famous of the melodic death metal bands that rose out of the Gothenburg, Sweden, area in the 90s. They’re have a new album out this Friday, titled Battles, and this show will be a great chance to hear some of those brand new songs live! Also on the Forged In Fire Tour is Hellyeah! from Dallas, Texas. Formed by Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul and former Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray, the band has made a name for themselves in their own right. The opener of the show is a new band from Pennsylvania called From Ashes To New. Their debut album came out in February this year and charted at #53 on Billboard. Now check out these videos by the bands playing as you leave a comment below telling me what your favorite metal band from Sweden is!

In Flames – The End

Hellyeah! – I Don’t Care Anymore

From Ashes To New – Through It All

Amon Amarth ticket give away

Amon Amarth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Amon Amarth is bringing their warship to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Thursday, April 21st of 2016! Since we want to get as many of you viking metal fans out to this one as possible we’ll be giving away a free pair of tickets to this very show! To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite Swedish metal band is. At 5pm EST on Friday, April 15th, 2016, the contest will end I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to win the tickets. 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 Live Nation for just $27.50 here.

Amon Amarth are a Swedish band know for their brutal yet catchy death metal songs about viking history and lore. They always put on a highly entertaining show and with their latest album, Jomsviking, just released last month we’ll be getting to hear some new songs too! Also on board are fellow Swedes Entombed A.D. who are basically the remnants of Entombed but had to add the A.D. since there’s a legal dispute over the name. Regardless they’re still going to bring that death n’ roll they’re so famous for. The opener is Exmortus, a melodic death/thrash band from California that’s up and coming right now. Be sure to check out these videos of all three bands below and then leave a comment telling me who your favorite band from Sweden is!

Amon Amarth – At Dawn’s First Light

Entombed A.D. – The Winner Has Lost

Exmortus – Metal Is King

Review of Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Saturday, March 5th, the Fillmore in Silver Spring hosted a sold out show headlined by the masters of demonic thrash, Slayer. This bill was pretty stacked as the two support bands, Bay Area thrashers Testament and UK based melodic death band Carcass, have both headlined the Fillmore in the past. The line to get in wrapped around the building early and the place was already pretty packed before the first band took the stage.

Carcass started things off with a short set, they only played for 40 minutes, but managed to get through 10 songs in that time. The band didn’t talk much between songs and really made the most of their time. Their set consisted of songs from Heartwork (2), Necroticism (3) and their latest album, Surgical Steel (4) plus “Genital Grinder” from Reek Of Putrefaction. Their set was short but sweet and the band kept it tight, you really weren’t going to see a better set from these guys in just 40 minutes and I wondered how Testament would look by comparison going on after such a great set by Carcass.

Testament followed with a set that wasn’t quite as energetic as the one Carcass played but the audience still went nuts for it. Vocalist Chuck Billy was doing his best air guitar throughout the set while Alex Skolnick showed off his impressive actual guitar skills. Testament’s set consisted of just eight songs with a focus on their best hits from the 80s and 90s. They are always entertaining live and Testament can still shred but I still think of the three bands that played they were the least compelling. Testament’s set was also 40 minutes and when they finished a big curtain went up in front of the stage while Slayer set up.

Finally the curtain fell and Slayer launched into “Repentless,” the first of five songs they would perform off their newest album of the same name. I know the current Slayer line up has its doubters but I’m not one of them after having seen both the original line up and the current one several times now. The band is still very tight and intense live and this night was no exception. Paul Bostaph really punches it behind the kit and Gary Holt is always very animated on stage; you can tell he’s having a blast up there. He brought out that crazy looking guitar that is painted using several pints of his own blood too (see photo below). When Slayer played the Fillmore Silver Spring last, in November 2013, their set list was a sort of “best hits” while Saturday’s show certainly had more of Slayer’s material from the past decade in there. That said, they played for an hour and 45 minutes so there was plenty of time to get many of those classic older Slayer tunes. The final four songs they played are pretty hard for any metal band to match, “South Of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” “Black Magic” and “Angel Of Death.” Some people were hoping for an encore after that but seriously, what more could you ask for? Slayer might be older and have a different line up now but they really haven’t lost a step or any of that demonic intensity they’re known for and this show just proved it, once again.

Below are my shots of the bands that night, you can click on any one of them to see it full sized or click here to see the entire set (including photos of the set lists).

Carcass:

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament:

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer:

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Review of Tales From The Thousand Lakes by Amorphis

Band: Amorphis
Album: Tales From The Thousand Lakes
Release Date: 1 September 1994
Record Label: Relapse Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XIII: 9:50 Sunday at Edison Lot B

Cover of Tales From The Thousand Lakes by Amorphis

Amorphis is the headliner for the final day of this year’s Maryland Deathfest. While we usually try to review albums by bands playing MDF that people might not know yet, this is an exception because Amorphis will actually be playing this entire album as their set at MDF. Tales from the Thousand Lakes is based on the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala, and it just so happens DCHM writer Tal is a Finn with a knack for historical context. You (hopefully) already know the great songs on this classic metal album, but here Tal does an excellent job explaining the back story and how it relates to the music as well. You can read more of Tal’s writing on his blog In My Winter Castle. So continue to get ready for Maryland Deathfest XIII with us (this year’s MDF Survival Guide should be up Monday!) and don’t forget to check out the tunes at the end of the post as well!

During their set headlining the Edison Lot on Sunday, May 24, Amorphis will be playing the entirety of their influential album Tales from the Thousand Lakes. This exclusive appearance will also be their first U.S. performance since a one-off show with Nightwish in 2012; they haven’t actually toured the U.S. since 2008. Having missed them at Tuska Fest in Helsinki, Finland in 2011, I’m glad for another chance to see them live.

Released in 1994, Tales from the Thousand Lakes was Amorphis’s second full-length album and was a game changer for death metal, bringing more melodic and doomy elements into the genre. I owe a hitherto unacknowledged debt of gratitude to Amorphis and this album, seeing as my favorite genre is melodic death/doom. Yet my exposure to Amorphis has been fairly sporadic. When the mood strikes me for something sad, beautiful and heavy that will lift me up by dragging me down, I usually reach for Insomnium or Swallow The Sun, or perhaps Doom:VS or Katatonia’s Brave Murder Day if I really want to bring on the moping. Amorphis never really occurred to me as that sort of band. The Amorphis I’d heard was that of “Silent Waters” or “House of Sleep” – melodic and beautiful to be sure, and heavy, but more in a rock than a death metal way, and sad to a point, but not quite as mournful or gloomy as the lovely misery that I craved.

Tales from the Thousand Lakes doesn’t really plumb the depths of doom, either – after all, it’s based on Finland’s “national epic,” the Kalevala, so it has more of a magical and mystical vibe than a funeral one. Magic and mysticism with heavy, distorted guitars and death growls, that is – but that’s pretty suitable, seeing as Finland is not only the land of the midnight sun, but also of black winter days. The Kalevala is not the happiest of epics, either. The central hero, Väinämöinen, doesn’t get the girl, nor the magical item that he seeks, and basically leaves the world in disgust at the end of the story. However, he does leave his people with his greatest legacy, the kantele — a type of zither whose delicate, melancholy notes are the perfect accompaniment for extolling one’s sorrows in song, as Finnish folk songs are wont to do.

As one of the first metal albums devoted to the Kalevala, Tales from the Thousand Lakes was also among the founding albums of the folk metal genre. The Kalevala is a collection of folk songs gathered by the doctor and scholar Elias Lönnrot from the Karelia region, and the best-known version was published in 1849. His work (and others’ around the same period) not only preserved a vast body of folklore that was quickly being lost as newer entertainments gained ground, but was also intended to fuel Finnish nationalism, laying the groundwork for Finland’s struggle for independence from Russia. The epic tells of the creation of the world from a duck egg; the birth of the shaman Väinämöinen, who creates trees and other forms of life; his struggle with various adversaries, most notably Louhi, a witch who rules the northerly land of Pohjola; his constantly thwarted quests for a wife (“Drowned Maid” tells of Aino, sister of Väinämöinen’s enemy Joukahainen, who drowns herself rather than marry Väinämöinen); and of course, his creation of the kantele. Some other notables are the smith Ilmarinen, who forges the mysterious magical Sampo; the mischievous Lemminkäinen, who gets in so much trouble that he has to be brought back from the dead at least once (“Into Hiding” is about Lemminkäinen’s escape from Louhi’s clutches); and the miserable Kullervo, who is separated from his family and eventually commits suicide after realizing he seduced his long-lost sister.

Amorphis directly excerpts parts of the Kalevala, from the 1989 translation by Keith Bosley, as lyrics for most of the songs on Tales from the Thousand Lakes. For instance, “Black Winter Day” is the Maiden of the North telling of her sorrow as she must leave Pohjola to wed the smith Ilmarinen. The bride’s sorrow is a common theme in Finnish folk music, as she is separated from her family and will see them again only rarely, and must leave behind carefree childhood for the burdens of adulthood. It makes for a great doomy song. “This is how the lucky feel / How the blessed think / Like daybreak in spring / The sun on a spring morning,” the maiden begins. And yet, she cannot feel happy.

But how do I feel
In my gloomy depths?
A black winter day
No, darker than that
Gloomier than an autumn night

For someone who doesn’t know the origins of the lyrics, it seems like a song about depression – I should feel happy, yet I can’t. As a feeling that many metalheads can relate to, this may be part of the appeal of this song, which is probably the most popular one from the album, and certainly my personal favorite. Another part of the song’s appeal is surely the confluence of melody and heaviness, doom and death metal, in this song. A melody that is at once mournful and bright swirls around the listener, underpinning the whole song, and contrasting with the low growled vocals and drearily plodding guitars and drums, like the maiden dragging her feet as she walks to Ilmarinen’s sled, unable to feel happy on what should be a joyous occasion.

The album pioneered the use of such melodic and doomy elements in death metal, laying the groundwork for a whole new subgenre of metal. Tales from the Thousand Lakes was one of the first death metal albums to use a keyboard or synthesizer so extensively, and it’s very effective in creating a magical and haunting atmosphere. The album starts off with a keyboard intro that sets the doomy and melancholy mood, and then adds some synthesized voices, tinkling sounds and bells that give a sense of mystery and grandeur. While keyboards are featured in all of the songs, they come to prominence in a few places. In the middle of “Drowned Maid,” they add orchestral feel and drama. And in the second half of “Magic and Mayhem,” there’s a chiptune-like segment that seems out of place at first, it’s so antithetical to death metal and at odds with the alternating doomy or buzzsaw riffs that preceded it, but when it’s played over the death metal riffs and harsh vocals for a few seconds at the end of the song, it works well, adding an extra bit of frenzy.

Many of the songs feature shifts in tempo and mood. This is most apparent in the song “Forgotten Sunrise,” which goes from a melancholy doomy intro, to a more energetic and melodic sound, then a low and churning death metal sound once the vocals begin, followed by a psychedelic synth segment in the middle, and then continuing to alternate upbeat melodic parts and low churning parts till the end. Considering that they were doing something brand new at the time, mixing melody, doom and other influences into death metal, it’s not surprising that they jump from one sound to another. There’s a sort of swirling, mystical sound to the doomier guitars and the keyboards that ties the whole album together. The song “The Castaway,” which tells of Väinämöinen floating on the sea after being defeated by Joukahainen, is dominated by this sound. The rising and falling lead guitar and keyboard evoke the surging of waters of the sea, as well as the circling of the eagle who comes to rescue him. Although later bands combining death and doom plunged heavily in the direction of melancholy, Amorphis’s foray in this direction remains unique in its exploration of mystery and magic.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Tales from the Thousand Lakes, which is no doubt why Amorphis is playing the entire album at MDF – they embarked on a short tour doing the same last December. On the band’s website, Esa Holopainen (lead guitar) remarks, “The years have flown by, and it feels great to notice that the tooth of time has not diminished the value of the album, nor the popularity of its songs when performed live. ‘Black Winter Day,’ ‘The Castaway,’ ‘Into Hiding’ and ‘In The Beginning’ are still part of almost every Amorphis gig. Although we have played these songs hundreds of times, it is still as exciting as ever to see the joy in people’s faces and the sheer emotion evoked by, for example, the piano intro of ‘Black Winter Day.’”

Clearly, just as the epic it’s based on stands out in my country’s history, so Tales from the Thousand Lakes holds a special place not just in the history of metal, but also the hearts of the band and their fans. Don’t miss these ten songs, brought together as an epic in the book of heavy metal, at this year’s MDF.

Black Winter Day:

Drowned Maid:

The Castaway (live):

Live photos of Arch Enemy and Kreator

Thursday of last week, October 23rd, I headed up to the Baltimore SoundStage in, you guessed it, Baltimore, Maryland to catch Arch Enemy and Kreator. Starkill and Huntress also opened the show, but I couldn’t get up there in time to see them. In fact, German thrashers Kreator were already two songs into their set when I walked in. I did get a few shots during their third song though. Their set wasn’t bad, pretty typical for Kreator really. A mix of older classics with more popular modern songs thrown in. They had a ton of fog up there and their light show was very bright as usual. I ended up buying a Kreator bottle opener but the merch girl didn’t give me any change back so I ended up paying $10 for something that should have cost $3. After arguing with her about it for a few minutes (and failing to get my change back) the negative experience took me out of their show. They didn’t play their song “Flag Of Hate” either, which was a bummer, but otherwise the set was good overall.

Next up was Arch Enemy. This was the Swedish death metal band’s first US tour with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz fronting the band, and not only that, the Baltimore show was the first date of the tour. I wasn’t sure what to expect, the band’s previous vocalist, Angela Gossow, left some pretty big shoes to fill. Arch Enemy was around before Angela joined in 2000, but they really rose to prominence once she joined the band. She was one of the first women to front any kind of death metal band, and she wasn’t just up there as eye candy either, she was really good at it. She could growl and had great stage presence and it earned the band many fans over the years. I didn’t love Alissa’s performance on the new Arch Enemy record, War Eternal, her voice seemed very flat and digitally tinkered with in the studio. However this night she really was incredible live. She had excellent stage presence and great energy, fans reacted immediately to her charisma, and her voice held up really well throughout the entire set. While she is certainly the main focus while the band is on stage she still made sure to step back and let guitarists Michael Amott (of Carcass fame) and Nick Cordle (a Virginia native) draw the audience’s attention from time to time. You could tell she had studied old Arch Enemy live footage as she used many of the same moves that Angela did, but Alissa had plenty of her own too. It was really fun photographing her not only because of her model-like looks but because she was always doing something on stage and I never felt like I was getting the same shot twice. The one thing I really didn’t enjoy much was when she instructed the audience to start pogo hopping in place, something you usually see at a pop punk show, not a metal show. I have to admit I was impressed overall though, and I think Arch Enemy fans are going to love seeing Alissa front the band for some time.

Below are some of my photos from the show. You can see these photos much larger, and many I didn’t even use here including both bands’ set lists, on Flickr by going here.

Kreator:

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy:

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Review of Existence Asunder by Terracide

Band: Terracide
Album: Existence Asunder
Release Date: 6 June 2014
Buy digital or CD for $10 on Bandcamp: Here

Cover of Existence Asunder by Terracide

Here’s another album review by Tal and you can of course read more of her writings on her personal blog In My Winter Castle. I’ll keep this short and let you get right into it.

It’s not too easy to find an epic melodic metal band that’s local to the DC area, so the debut full-length Existence Asunder from Washington, DC’s Terracide is a welcome addition. It’s an extravaganza of melodic guitar, alternating between aggressive melodeath riffs and high-flying power metal epicness, with a few proggy melodies thrown in for good measure. The album also brings more death metal thunder than their EP, Primordium, would have led one to expect. As for vocals, Terracide mainman Daniel Tidwell’s voice ranges from a low growl, to a harsh shriek, to harsh singing, to high clean vocals. To further muddy the waters, the album even forays into metalcore territory, with a touch of angst in some of the clean choruses and even a few breakdowns – but I can forgive them since it doesn’t sound out of place or detract from the melodic punch of the album. Who doesn’t mix half a dozen different genres these days anyway?

My favorite track is probably “Your Heaven’s Falling.” It’s actually one of the less melodic songs on the album, but it’s definitely the most headbangable. It starts off fast and thundering, gets really groovy for the chorus, and then revs up to circle-pit pace again in the second verse. Some other standout heavy tracks are “Halo Delusion,” with its epic melodic chorus anchored by rumbling growls, and “Stars Align” with its speedy melodic lead over very headbangable bass thunder. The more aggressive songs on the album put me very much in mind of Slaughter of the Soul era At The Gates, with their furious pace, the epic feel of their raging, melodic riffs, and the driving heaviness of their slower parts.

Other songs go more straightforwardly in an epic direction, notably “When Roses Bleed” and “Installation 04 (September 2552).” These songs include harsh vocals, but besides that they have more of a galloping NWOBHM or power metal sound even in their more forceful parts. The high, clean choruses, such as in “Installation 04,” certainly have a power metal flair, as do a few of the more flamboyant solos, such as two minutes into “Feed the Flame.” Another nice touch is the melancholy yet beautiful piano intro to “When Roses Bleed,” composed and played by guest musician Yoko Mada. It lasts for one third of the song and is so lovely that it brings tears to my eyes; it contrasts strongly with the charging energy when the speedy metal part of the song gets started.

The epic, power metally parts of the album tend to be songs from the band’s EP, such as “Installation 04,” and parts of “Mirrorborn” and “Forge of Empty Souls.” The songs that are new on this album have a much stronger death metal feel, with a Gothenburg sound in particular. I wonder what precipitated this change, though I for one can appreciate both styles. I sure wouldn’t mind if they continued to mix these sounds, as long as they keep dazzling us with melodic guitars, whether epic or thundering. I’m looking forward to hearing what this band will do next, and I’m excited to see how their sound and career will develop.

Your Heaven’s Falling:

When Roses Bleed:

Mirrorborn: