Chuck Schuldiner Project

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Khemmis - Hunted

I can't say for certain that Khemmis are this years Pallbearer, but it certainly feels that way. But with the stunning execution of their latest offering, the one offs they are being booked for in New York and Chicago, and the release on a hip small label (20 Buck Spin) it certainly seems to me that Khemmis are on track to match the Little Rock doom titans. Of course - Khemmis are very much their own beast - as they prove time and time again on the absolutely mammoth masterpiece that is Hunted.

I think what gets me about Khemmis is the way that their sound reflects both a huge diversity but also a stunning sense of melody. They traverse all manner of soundscapes on Hunted from stunning clean vocals with potent, Sabbathian riffs to moments of punishing death doom that wouldn't seem out of place on an Asphyx record. The way that they navigate these worlds of sound is perfectly executed, nothing feels chopped up or out of place. Instead Khemmis have constructed an album that flows from start to finish and forces you to keep listening, because when the music is this good, why would you ever want to stop.

It's rare that I find a record that I have to prevent myself from listening too because it is simply that much better than everything else out there but that is how I feel about this new Khemmis release. This album is immaculately put together, the production is inviting and the sounds are phenomenal. When I listen to Hunted something inside me feels alive, as if I have unpacked a whole new side of the human condition. If this is how the band is going to burst onto the scene and the bar they are going to set, I can't imagine what their third record will sound like.

Find them on Facebook!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bong Mountain - You're Doing Great (For The Record)

Y'all already know that I love pop punk that doesn't take itself to seriously and realizes how silly the genre can be.That's why I'm desperately in love with Bong Mountain. They are a band who capture the silly and stupid magic of middle America in their potent tracks that cultivate the same sense of silliness that drew so many of us to bands like Bowling For Soup in the first place It's refreshing in a world of doom metal and blackened hellscapes to listen to a band who sound like Real Friends and Modern Baseball. A band who understand that their is a very real drama to day to day life and that we need to appreciate that.

Bong Mountain use You're Doing Great (For The Record) as a way to show us that the human condition is ever evolving and always beautiful. It gives us a glimpse into the magic of a music meant for kids in basements who never really had anyone who believed in them. It reminds us that even though a lot of people cast this type of music to the side there is some stellar songwriting here and to ignore that would be remiss. Beyond that - despite how relatively ambitious this record is I admire its sense of humor. Bong Mountain get why music isn't the be all end all, but simultaneously pour their souls into it.

I can't help but keep spinning You're Doing Great (For The Record) it's exactly the sort of pop punk that makes me such a slave to the genre. It's dorky and silly, but it KNOWS that it's dorky and silly and that's exactly what makes it such a rewarding listen. So come over and get lost in the madness of Bong Mountain. They aren't going to pressure you to do anything you don't want to do, but they will smoke you out and remind you that life isn't as insane as so many of us try and make it. After all, you're doing great.

Find them on Facebook!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Noctem - Haeresis

Noctem is the kind of band who show the incredible depth and magic of the Prosthetic roster. They are the sort of fierce uncompromising death metal that drew so many of us into the genre in the first place. Their latest statement, Haeresis is a triumph - an album that takes modern death metal tropes to their logical extreme and infuses a healthy dose of black metal too. Noctem perfectly understand the extreme metal polemic and their music is over the top, potent, and endlessly bombastic - hinting at so much more greatness to come.

I think what I love about Haeresis is that it shows us a window into what the future of extreme music could be. This is an album that is so immaculately put together and which has the potential to stand the test of time incredibly well. The way that these dudes orchestrate their compositions is stunning. It shows the same sort of arrangements that make a band like Behemoth so good. Haeresis is an all encompassing sonic experience that is going to keep attracting you and make you curious to keep pulling this record apart. While yes there are times that don't quite live up to the rest of the album as a general rule this is one of the best composed records I have heard in a good long while.

You can get lost in this record. It has endless tasty twists and turns and suggests all sorts of exciting new frontiers. It has the same sort of overarching vision that makes some of our favorite metal albums so important to the genre. While Haeresis don't quite capture my heart like that I think it's more a question of when, then wondering if they have the potential. Noctem are building towards something greater with every passing song on this record and eventually they will just up and explode.

Find them on Facebook!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Trenchgrinder, Gas Chamber and Full Of Hell/The Body at Market Hotel

Market Hotel is one of the most exciting DIY venues in Brooklyn. With a cheap bar, a great spot and some killer sound this is the sort of venue that scenes are built around. when it's packed it's hard not to fel like you are a part of something greater. It gives you  window into a better tomorrow and hints at what we could build up today. When you have three grind bands as solid as the ones who performed the other night it's hard to deny yourself of the endless magic that this sort of music has always been meant to have.

The first band I saw was Trenchgrinder, a band who not only reflect the internal magic of punk rock but who take the old school Brooklyn ethos and are able to evolve it into something greater. This is the sort of band who bring all the stage presence and performance that grind was meant to have but also have the musical chops to match it. I can't help but to worry since the band has a guitarist moving away in December but I get the impression that Trenchgrinder are going to keep building up beyond this. Crusty and vicious, this is the sort of thing that draws me back into the underground time and time again. Trenchgrinder understand the magic of underground music.

Gas Chamber utterly decimated me with their own powerful two frontman brand of hardcore. Hardcore is a genre that has often been criticized of falling into stagnation, but Gas Chamber manage to capture why we love it. They have the same vicious and face melting triumph that makes folks like me keep coming back. There's a reason Cvlt Nation called them one of the most unique hardcore bands out there, they have distilled the inherent triumph of the genre and go past a lot of the boring bullshit. They are intense and demented, suffering the same torment that has made the genres best... well... the best.

Of course the highlight of the night was the Full Of Hell and The Body collaboration. Most folks could hardly believe this was happening and I was certainly among them. They unleashed forty minutes of the most devastating music I have ever heard. They are endlessly brutal, triumphant in their unholy rites and forcing your entire world apart. They are creating some of the most intense and memorable music that you will ever hear and picking apart their endless madness is the work of a lifetime. The knowledge that they are planning on continuing this project just has me losing my shit over what could come from this.

So the night came to an end. I had seen some of the worlds most stunning hardcore, music that destroys expectations and shows us that there is so much more we can do with this art. Rather than retracting into the boredom that makes us all so tired and frustrated with this music we instead had a chance to go in and dissect what music even is. It's nights like this that makes all of the stress worth it.

Find the bands online!


Gas Chamber:

Full Of Hell:

The Body:

Interview with Raveneye

One thing is for sure, UK based rock trio Raveneye certainly got themselves a solid headstart for the release of their upcoming debut record. Bearing the mark of frontman Oli Browns’ award winning talent, the band has quickly earned itself a hefty touring resume unlike any other band having self-released their first set of songs, playing alongside Deep Purple, Slash and on world renowned festivals such as Hellfest Open Air and Download. Furthermore, the bands’ debut record ranked up second in Loudwires’ polls for “Most Anticipated release” alongside Airborne and Opeth. The band, who’ve have promised to perform “Hero” on Ghost Peppers were they to reach one of the top positions in the polls, were glad to find that I happened to have more than a few to spare for their undertaking. After having warned the Oli and Aaron about their entertaining but poor decision-making regarding Ghost Peppers, we jumped right into the main subject of the interview that is NOVA, the bands’ widely anticipated debut.

Since this is your debut release. What can audiences expect from this first album?
Oli: Well first off they’re all new songs. We didn’t regurgitate the songs from the EP. We wanted it to be an wholesome experience from start to finish, all written for the purpose of the record. We worked on 25 songs and had them all ready to record in the studio, so we picked the ones that we thought fit the whole color of the record, in order to have the whole story and order that we really wanted.

So there’s certain overarching narrative to the record? Is it a concept record.
O: In some ways. We didn’t so far with it that you can’t listen listen to it on shuffle. We didn’t want it to be that thing where you’re stuck listening to it a certain way some songs always connect with people differently. We didn’t want songs to be crossing over to the next because we didn’t want it to be a disorientating listen when you listen to each track separately. Originally we did want to do a more tied-together concept but for this record we eventually realised that we wanted it to be about each individual song, but the whole record still paints the same picture.

What kind of subject matter do you deal with on this record?
Aaron: Well we kind of cover everything: death, love, hate… the basic emotions
O: The peaks of them though. All of the things that move us in life basically.
Aaron: … breaking people’s ideas of you, breaking the barriers of what people think of you, breaking your own boundaries…

The title of this first record, NOVA, obviously refers to its original latin meaning but also evokes a cosmic vibe that I feel is reflected in the music. Was an atmosphere that you were working with during the writing process or did the title and labelling come afterwards?
A: I think it was kind of serendipitous. We decided on the word but then when we looked at it a little closer we realised that it did all relate so intrinsically to everything.
O: We had no idea that it was latin for “New” at first, like you said.
Aaron: Then you’ve also got Nova as an explosion.
O: We originally thought of calling the record Supernova but it would’ve put too much focus on one song. Plus I don’t really like the long album names, some of them really work but for our first record we wanted something short.
A: And like you said the term reflected the size of the sound that we wanted to go for. We wanted to go for something that was massive. The room that we recorded in was huge, we had mics up in every corner and we used every channel on the desk to make sure that it sounded massive for a three piece. So that was the spatial concept that we were going for as well yeah.

Oli, This debut record as Raveneye comes after the release of a few solo blues records of your own. Do you see Raveneye as a “next step” or rather a complementary project in your career?
O: It definitely is a next step. When we went into this, I was with a label and management agency and I just didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to start again, I wanted a band to start things from scratch: no agency, no management, doing it ourselves. We still are pretty DIY; we drive everywhere ourselves, we tour manage ourselves, we’ll sleep in the van… That was something that we wanted when we started this out, this would be our next step to build our own lives, with people that really believe in our choices rather than just going “Oh ok, you’re the artist, we’ll have you do this”. We’re involved in every part of this business as well as in the music. We wanted to be independent and work with people that respect our work.

Has this changed some of the dynamic when it came to writing or your way of operating as an artist as a whole?
O: Totally, and this was the intention as well. I enjoy being a solo artist but there’s a certain disconnect that you get with your musicians. I mean there is a connection, but they’re still hired people, whereas in a band there is a relationship and a lifestyle that we live. We live and breathe Raveneye. It’s not just doing the gig and learning the songs, this is our lifestyle now. The best way to describe it is when we’re writing our songs, we’ll all work on building the tracks to where they need to be, at the finishing point we envisioned. It’s not for ego or saying “my part is better!”, we all want to work on delivering the best song.

When you first started playing together, was there a specific idea as to the sound you were going for? How did the sound of Raveneye come to shape itself?
A: We were lucky that at the start of Raveneye we had some tunes that Oli had already written, he wrote the EP. So we had these songs as a template to come from and got the vibe straight away; the riffing, the killer guitar solos… so we kind of developed what Oli had set in place to write the new material on the road and tour this stuff. 

In the two years since your inception you’ve already stacked up an impressive resume: shows at Hellfest, Download, opening slots for Deep Purple, Slash with Myles Kennedy… How did this all come about, given that you’re only just releasing your first record?
O: (laugh) Well the Slash thing was pretty incredible because he had gotten a hold of our single Breaking out. Someone had sent it to him and so they got in touch with us and offered us some european shows. He books his bands, which is really cool, he’s really involved in it, he really cared.  We work hard on moving our stuff on and off stage and being the easiest band supporting. We try to be like ghosts, you can barely notice us, which I think is what helped us get the US tour with Slash as well, because we’re so low maintenance !(laughs) They were really lucky experiences. At that point we started developing a team that believed in us as well, a good management that put the word for us and keeps an eye on these things. Deep Purple was a really lucking thing; their supporting band were not able to play two of the shows and we found the spot. It’s been an incredible ride. The EP was just for the UK, we just were trying to get noticed. We sent out hundreds of emails, made so many phonecalls, contacted everyone and pretty much no one replied (laughs). We didn't care though, we knew what we wanted to do and we went to achieve it. We’re really proud that it allowed us to make this record.

What are the plans beyond the release of this record?
A: Well we’ve got a busy year coming up. We’ve got a tour through Germany and France supporting Zodiac. We then go back to the UK and do another headline tour for a month. Then we’ve got a couple of weeks in Spain. We’ll head to america in January, back to Europe in February/March in time for the festival season around April through June. We’ve got the next year planned ahead for some heavy touring. We’re super excited and we’re so glad that we’ve got the album coming out now so that we can get back on the road and get playing again. We miss playing
O: We miss the music! (laughs).

You’ve kept pretty busy since the start of the band though!
O: That’s true
A: And it’s always sort of cold-turkey. This is probably the longest time that we haven’t actually toured. We finished the record on June 1st and got back and we haven’t really played a tour since then. We’ve done shows here and there but we live for touring. When we realised that yesterday we thought “That’s why we’re going crazy!”.
O: “We haven’t played for 3 months!” (laughs)

So you’ve come to crave for this routine after a while.
A: Absolutely, yeah.
O: Totally. We do a lot of work on our computer and we look after so much of everything that the bit that keeps us motivated is the touring and playing the music. The admin is so important to us but we can do that on the road as well. The more on the road we are, the happier we’ll be. We’re happy to be away for as long as we can.
A: There’s also something kind of sickening in that I love the whole routine of touring. You know you’ve got to get up, get on the road, drive a couple of hours, find coffee (laughs)…

It’s not the healthiest routine, might I add!
(Oli and Aaron bust out laughing)
O: Totally! You’re totally right! We try though! We stopped having McDonalds now.
A: We try and eat as healthy as we can, make sure we’re fit and healthy before we even get on the road. But yeah, we really love touring. 

Certain artists need a certain time and space for the writing process. How about you guys? Were you able to write parts of the album on the road or solely in between tours?
O: It was kind of a combination of both. At the start of the year we were hitting a bit of a dry period and at that point we didn’t really have enough songs either. We had a few songs that worked and a few songs that could work, but that wasn’t good enough so we got a hold of ourselves and wrote 20 songs and kept on pushing ourselves. But then afterwards we went to… Las Vegas? 
A: Yeah! We had our list of tunes, the album was ready and we had the short list of what we thought we were going to have. We flew to America and had a couple of days to adjust, and in those few days Oli would tune his guitar and play a riff and we’d be like “hey, that’s something! Let’s work on that!”. We had this day off in Vegas which we spent locked in a hotel room, writing this song. We finished the song on our day off in Vegas when we could’ve been gambling… (laughs)
O: … going to strip clubs… (laughs)
A: I think in an ideal world I would like to have some time off to write. I kind of like the idea of getting in a headspace. When we started writing, things were moving kind of slowly but then we ended up building a momentum and by the end of it, our first single “Hero” happened in a day. It was the last song we wrote and it just came out. Having the time is really nice but it’s not always a reality so … We’re happy to write on the road as well.

… or in Hotel Rooms in Las Vegas.
A: Yeah ! (laughs)
O: Instead of enjoying ourselves! 
A: It was cool actually because we got hooked up by Slash’s guitar player Frank of the Conspirators, his old man works in Vegas and was able to get us a really nice room. Normally we’re on a budget deal where we sleep in really dingy, crappy motels.
O: We’ll sleep in the crack houses. (laughs)
A: Pretty much! But this was the one time in the whole tour that we actually had an amazing room, in this wicked hotel; 50th floor, looking out on Vegas. It was amazing… and we locked ourselves in a room and wrote a song. 

At least it was a nice room.
O: AND at least the song made the album.
A: AND it made the album yes! (laughs)
O: If it didn’t make the album, this would be a different story!

“Bloody hell, I missed Vegas for THIS?!!”
A: “Shit!”
O: It was “Walls” actually, the single that we’ve just released this week.

To touch upon my friend and colleague Matts’ trademark question. I’d like you to finish this sentence for me: “I’ve never told this to anyone before, and I probably shouldn’t… but…”
O: Oh my god… My first concert was a Wheatus concert. (Laughs)
A: Well… Oli and I always end up sharing the same bed together on tour. (Laughs).

 Was the Wheatus concert around the time they had “Teenage Dirtbag” out?
O: Yeah! And I even wore the freshman’s hat and I was at the back going “Oh my gooood!”
A: Oh god…

Could you name one of your favorite albums, movies and books?
O: For albums I’ll go for Superunknown by Soundgarden. My favorite books are the Game of Thrones series, I’m obsessed with them. I know it’s not the most exciting answer though. For movies I’ll go with Saving Private Ryan, that intro is just devastating. 
A: Ok so my picks will be Grave Western Valkyrie by Rival Sons. My favorite book is Shogun by James Clavell. I recently read it again on an audiobook. It’s the size of the bible, it’s a massive book. It’s incredible. It’s about Japan, the Samurai and stuff like that.
I do love movies… I might go with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s just so epic.

Any closing words? 
A: Be sure to check us out on our social media. You can find us there, it’s us at all times speaking to you. Get in touch!
O: We actually tweeted yesterday that we’d be in Paris and we had lunch with some fans today!

Interview by Robin ONO

A huge thank you goes out to the band and to the staff at Him Media for making this article possible!

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