Mobile Deathcamp @ Sadie Rene’s


999268_10151448336905868_290508159_nMobile Deathcamp @ Sadie Rene’s

One Hit Kill, The Party, Wixor, Mobile Deathcamp

June 23rd, 2013

Sadie Rene’s – North Canton, OH

I was surprised to see Mobile Deathcamp and One Hit Kill scheduled to play at Sadie Rene’s. I’ve seen both bands play killer sets at The Carriage House in Louisville, but Sadie Rene’s is a much smaller dive bar specializing in cover and awful original bands (before throwing curses at me realize that I’ve played in a few of those awful bands; most of my worst performance were on that stage). But what the hell, for $10 a ticket it was sure to be an awesome show. So I found a ride and traveled up to Canton.

One Hit Kill is an awesome progressive metal act from Alliance who manage to play without a hint of the pretension of bands like IMG_20130623_202128_760Rush or Dream Theater. I was surprised to see that they’ve scaled back to a four piece from the juggernaut I remember seeing a few years ago, but that hasn’t changed their sound or performance. They’re still among the tightest, most talented bands in the area. While the quartet I saw didn’t quite reach the pinnacle I heard on their album The Epidemic Nightmare, they do play with enough vehemence and technicality to still be considered epic and blow away all other contenders for the genre. I also overheard some talk of a video shoot at the Factory of Terror soon.

When The Party took the stage I though I was seeing a bulkier version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I wondered if any of them had ever tried steroids until I heard the music blowing through their amps. Then I realized: They just need those muscles to be able to play material that heavy. A scrawny guy like me can IMG_20130623_211029_488only hope to do a few Nirvana covers and can’t quite reach the As I Lay Dying sound. While much of their music was the mindless, riff based bodybuilder-core I expected, it was nice that they played without a sense of pretension and humor. Many similar bands try to be profound and intellectual but The Party celebrate the fact that their songs are all about drinking, fucking and fighting. The only bad thing about them was they forgot the cake.

I wasn’t expecting much from Wixor. I think I’m one of the few people in the area that wasn’t a huge fan of the recent Mind Pulp reunion, but this new band manages to take influences from the catalog of metal and carve a niche for themselves. I heard elements IMG_20130623_221500_578of Metallica and turn of the century Nu-Metal coupled with the dual vocalist attack. They played a set I found impossible not to enjoy. After they did a metal version of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” I was hooked. I’ve always thought that would make a great metal song and they proved it. I also have to give them props on their take of “Immigrant Song.” the best was that instead of taking the easy way out and doing death metal growls they actually sang the song. Sure, they fell a little short of Robert Plant’s original, but who wouldn’t?

IMG_20130623_232444_174  Mobile Deathcamp took to the stage like a tank and played their face-melting hate the way only they can. Yet again I heard a departure from the typical metal seriousness and some good jokes from singer/guitarist Todd Evans. Of course, they’re still some of the scariest, burliest metal motherfuckers I’ve ever seen. They have a presence and volume that is not to be trifled with, but respected and studied. My biggest complaint about their set was that it was too short and I’d have loved to hear a few more out of them. But I’m guessing that with the speed they play they may have made it though more songs than the opening acts in half the time.

As we left I was a bit surprised to see the building still standing after all the brutal thrash it contained, but then again most of the crowd scattered once Mobile Deathcamp took to the stage. I’ve only ever seen a room clear out that fast when I was playing. It’s a shame to see half-assed, pretend-metal groups that don’t deserve to be on a stage packing venues and then to see a band like this that’s on par with Slayer, Lamb of God and any other thrash metal band today playing for only about a dozen people. I know my tastes in music aren’t necessarily representative of the general population, but I think it’s a travesty that I’ve played to bigger audiences than Mobile Deathcamp saw at Sadie’s.

I think that’s truly the reason Why There Is No Music Scene in this area. If we can’t come out in droves to support a national act that’s making their way into our sleepy community what chance do the rest of us have?

 

If you liked this post you may also enjoy: Mobile Deathcamp “Black Swamp Rising”

The Greatest Power Duo


I think today it’s time that someone pay homage to the greatest songwriting partnership to ever grace the lands of rock music. No, I’m not talking about Jagger/Richards, Page/Plant, Tyler/Perry, Axl/Slash or Hetfield/Ulrich. I’m not even talking about Lennon/McCartney. And I’m certainly not talking about Simon & Garfunkel, Sonny & Cher, Seals & Croft, Hall & Oates, Rodrigo y Gabriel or The Captain & Tennille.

 

I’m talking about Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy

Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy

 

I’m not sure why more credit isn’t given to this astonishing duo who gave us such gems as “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer” and “Candle in the Wind.” It could be because only one of them was a performer. Taupin wrote the words, handed them to Elton and then his job was done. It could be that they didn’t live the stereotypical rock and roll lifestyles with  excesses of groupies, drugs and televisions thrown out of windows.

 

Or it could be that Elton John sits down to pee.

 

Either way, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this songwriting team that shines with the brightest and continues to put out music to this day (though not nearly as good as the stuff they did when they were young and hungry in the early seventies).

 

I’d like to share with you my favorite song. Not just in the canon of John/Taupin, but my favorite song EVER! Hope you enjoy…

 

Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 5


Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 5newspaper book review

“THE REVIEW”

“This is bullshit,” Adam Gillis says.

He’s refering to a review of Ockym’s Razyr’s most recent release, Anything That Can Go Wrong, found in a blog called “Notes from the Pit.” The guys decided to send a copy of their 2011 album to the blogger in the hopes of some good press. What they got was obviously not what they were hoping for.

“This asshole doesn’t even know what he’s talking about,” Josh Randall pipes in. “He says, ‘I don’t really consider myself a fan of pretend-math metal.’ Why is he even writing about us if he doesn’t like the music we play?”

“We sent him the CD to review,” Matt Vance says.

“Shut up you stupid bitch,” Gillis snaps. Vance has been staying out of the debate for the past hour. Practice was supposed to be under way by now, but when Josh Randall brought his laptop out to the garage for everyone to read the review it became painfully obvious that not much was going to get done. Only Vance and guitarist Hal Levatine seem interested in playing music; the rest of the band is standing around the laptop fuming.

“Who is this guy again, Hal?” Paul Ode asks.

“He’s a guy I was in high school with. He plays bass in that band Sevyn Times Driven.”

“That’s it!” Gillis says. “He’s just pissed off because we didn’t invite them out to play at our last show.”

“Or it could be that he’s jealous because that band sucks and he’s jealous of us,” Ode says.

negative-reviews“Or maybe he just doesn’t like our music,” Vance suggests. The rest of the band (and Nora Tomason, Gillis’ omnipresent girlfriend) turn and glare at him with bewilderment. The thought that someone could not be in awe of Ockym’s Razyr has never occurred to them. Even with the sparse crowds at their shows and a poor review of their album, they are certain that they are the best band New Philadelphia, and perhaps Northeast Ohio, has ever known.

“That’s the stupidest fucking thing you’ve ever said,” Gillis tells him. Vance and Levatine go back to jamming on the main riff of “N.I.B.”

“Did the guy say anything good about you guys,” Tomason asks.

“Only if you consider calling us ‘bland, middle-of-the-road and prepackaged’ positive.” Ode says.

“Well that’s good isn’t it? You’re always saying you want to play ‘radio-friendly hard rock.’ That stuff is all bland and prepackaged. At least we sound how you want us to sound.”

“Matt, I hate to tell you this but you’re starting to sound really fucking stupid. Why don’t you just shut your fucking dick sucker and get the hell out of here before I kick your ass again,” Ode tells him. Vance takes off his bass and walks outside frowning.

“Ha! Look here. He uses a semicolon where he should have used a comma; semicolons are used to connect two complete sentences without a coordinating conjuction between them, but he used one right there.” Randall points to the typo on the screen.

“What a fucking dumbass,” Gillis says.

The bitching and moaning goes on for another hour. The guys all say they don’t care about what some asshole hack with a half-assed blog says about them, but the fact that they can’t seem to focus on anything else says otherwise. Vance leaves earlier than usual. He’s had enough off the abuse for the night and goes home frustrated and more sober than he’d prefer.

Everyone heads off shortly after Randall puts the laptop away. It’s obvious that their hearts really aren’t into playing music tonight. Tomorow they’ll have to set about the task of convincing themselves that they’re a great band and everyone loves them, but the proof that they’re not universally revered is still out there in a long sequence of zeros and ones.

When I ask Levatine, who has been quiet most of the night, what he thinks of all this; his reply is “I just want to jam.”

Gillis, Ode and Randall are setting out on a facebook offensive to discredit the blogger and hopefully intimidate him into taking the post down. If all else fails they’ll just invite Sevyn Times Driven to play at their next show and kick his ass afterward.

I’m just glad they haven’t discovered wordpress.com yet.

If you liked this post you will probably also enjoy: Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 4

In This Moment “Blood”


In-This-Moment-BloodIt’s not often that an album comes along, completely floors me and has me wanting to listen to it over and over. This is what makes Blood from In This Moment so special. After about two listens on Spotify I swung over to Amazon and bought the damn thing. Since then it’s been in constant rotation on my MP3 player.

I’ve known about In This Moment since catching their live show at Ozzfest 2007. Back then they were a very typical female fronted metal outfit. “Beautiful Tragedy” featured the crunchy guitars and airy/screechy vocal style of bands like Kittie and Evanescence. In short, there was nothing in the band to make me pay attention to them beyond their 20 minute set.

Fast forward to 2013. I’m checking out Otep’s latest on Spotify and I see In This Moment in the related artists category. I enjoyed Hydra, but not enough to stop me from checking out what I missed at Rock on the Range a few weeks ago. It was love at the second track.

While most female fronted metal bands have the same gimmicky sounding vocals, Maria Brink has developed a style that relies neither on light, high-pitched, clean singing nor guttural pseudo-masculine growls. Instead she half sings/half shouts like a white trash woman in a trailer park argument. You almost expect the lyric “It is to your baby, Cletus” to come out among all the self deprecating lyrics found on the album. While the lyrics are a bit cheesy and stereotypical (especially “Blood” with it’s “I hate you for all the good things you’ve done for me and love you for all the bad”) There’s no sense that she’s singing anywhere but from the heart. She’s not trying to appeal to the frat-boy partiers that made Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” a hit, but really is interested in being a whore.

Of course, even though I’m extremely impressed by the vocal performance, no singer would be anywhere without a band and In This

I can't resist throwing a few pics in here. They're just so damn interesting looking.

I can’t resist throwing a few pics in here. They’re just so damn interesting looking.

Moment is as tight a band as any. What I’m digging most is the electronic pulses in the background and way the songs play almost as if a DJ is remixing them. It puts me in mind of Korn’s The Path of Totality that featured every song as a remix. The tracks are even put together in quite an interesting way: the heaviest, “Blood,” starts the album and then (for the most part) they descend and become lighter until by “11:11” we hear a slow ballad with Karen Carpenter vocals. The second half of the album is still heavy, but in a slower, more melodic way than the thrash and double bass first half.

But what I think makes the album so great is what is sure to turn hardcore metal fans hate it. The band mixes a heavy dose of electronic pop music in with the drop tuned, distorted riffs and pounding drums. I find it to be a breath of fresh air to hear a bit of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga on a heavy rock record, but I’m sure the danceability and anthemic lyrics are going to turn off most of the die hard fans of similar artist like Halestorm, Otep and Lacuna Coil.

My biggest complaint about this album is that in two years every other band is going to try to replicate this sound and it’s going to be just as blase as the NWOAHM movement.

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy: How To Destroy Angels “Welcome Oblivion”

Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 4


Anything That Can Go Wrong

When your boyfriend is in a band you're never pretending to look bored.

When your boyfriend is in a band you’re never pretending to look bored.

Part 4- The Girlfriends

 

They say that behind every great man there is a woman: a Martha Washington, a Betty Ford, A Mrs. Bates or a Freud’s Mother. As it turns out, there is also a woman behind the several mediocre men who make up the band Ockym’s Razyr.

 

Singer Adam Gillis has been in a relationship for the past year and a half with a lovely girl named Nora Tomason. She is nearly always present at practices and shows and spends most of her time hanging on Adam’s arm. However, there is another girl in his life. Melissa Williams is a girl he was with for several years and engaged to. While he constantly professes his love for Nora, the mere mention of Melissa sends him into a sulking fury that makes it clear that even with all the songs he’s written about her, there are still some unresolved issues.

 

Guitarist Paul Ode is engaged to a nice girl named Tracie Reyna who works in the office at the factory where he works. She makes it to some of the shows but more often sits them out.

 

Hal Levatine lives in a trailer with his longtime girlfriend Denise Bucklin. The pair have two young children and form what most would think it the most normal relationship of any of the band members. A look at the constant text messages and the jealous way Denise follows him around to make sure he’s not talking to any other girls proves otherwise.

 

Josh Randall is the male counterpart to Denise. He also suffers from insane bouts of jealous suspicion and will occasionally step out from behind his drum kit between songs if he can’t see fiance Vanessa Hill in the front row. Of course, unlike Denise who has no reason to suspect any infidelity on Hal’s part, Vanessa has cheated on Josh many, many times.

 

Bassist Matt Vance is the only member of the band who is single. He claims that he does well in the sex department and usually beds at least one girl a month. Adam Gillis says he hasn’t been laid in nearly two years. I tend to side with Gillis because in the past several months I’ve been with the band I’ve seen Vance blow at least three opportunities at casual sex and pass out only to wake up soaked in his own piss. It’s probably for the best that he doesn’t do better with the ladies or tales of his bed wetting would be much more well known.

 

Not to say that Vance is truly single. He and Gillis have an odd “bro-mance.” While most bands like to say that they fight like brothers, Vance and Gillis fight like a married couple in a Lifetime movie. Occasionally anything that Vance say’s will send Gillis into a fury where he calls him a “stupid bitch” and storms out of the room leaving Vance with a quivering lip. It’s the oddest case of heterosexual codependency I’ve ever witnessed.

 

Nobody is dating Merch Girl Sindy Oldham, though she would gladly date one or all members of the band. She is their biggest fan (aside from the girlfriends and the band themselves) and does her work making candles and homemade patches free of charge. Sindy would be a very beautiful girl if she would wash more. As it is, she appears to have a bit of a drug problem and certainly has a very bad case of halitosis. I’m not sure if her drug of choice is pot that makes her lazy or crack that makes her just not care about her appearance.

 

I guess Sally Cox could be classified as a groupie. I’m not sure who she’s sleeping with, but she’s sleeping with someone.

 

The biggest chore that the girlfriends are expected to perform is to lock arms in front of the stage, head bang and dance while their men are busy playing rock star. This not only makes it appear as if people actually enjoy Ockym’s Razyr and they have an audience, it also make it more difficult for beers, coins and sharp objects to be thrown at them.

 

Of course, we’re not talking about great men in the world of politics, arts or science. We’re talking about great men in the world of rock music where the women behind some of the greatest men have been Courtney Love, Art Garfunkel and Yoko Ono.

 

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy: Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 3 or Anything That Can Go Wrong – Part 2

If any local bands would like to do a show with Ockym’s Razyr please comment below!

 

Alice in Chains “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”


imagesWhile I lament the passing of Layne Staley as much as the next person, I can’t help but be happy that there’s finally another great Alice in Chains album. Sure, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is not an album that would have been made with Staley, but it’s still a great album. I don’t subscribe to the notion that it isn’t really Alice in Chains anymore. Many great bands have switched singers, Van Halen and AC/DC to name a few. I think the departure of John Frusciante or the death of Cliff Burton shows that any member of a group leaving is potential for drastic change. But Alice is not pulling a Lynyrd Skynyrd and trying to pretend their iconic front man is still with them. They’ve revamped and are still pumping out great tunes, but as Alice version 2.0.

That being said, I didn’t care much for the much-loved 2009 effort Black Gives Way To Blue. I won’t call it a bad album, but my problem with it is that it sounds a bit too stereotypically Alice. Songs like “Check My Brain” and “Lesson Learned” are exactly what I expected from the new band and while there were a few standout tracks (“A Looking In View” “When The Sun Rose Again” “Black Gives Way To Blue”) most of the album, to me, felt like it was made more because Columbia records knew an Alice in Chains album would sell than because they wanted to make a great record.

Fast forward four years and the new line up has had time to gel and settle in to being a band. Devil suffers from some of the same drawbacks as Black, but it also looks forward. I can hear elements of Facelift, Dirt and Alice in Chains all over the album but at the same time I hear a new band that’s finally come into its own. While Alice were the prototypical grunge band 20 years ago they’re now sounding a bit more like sludge rock. Most of the songs are still written by Jerry Cantrell but what sets Devil apart from Degradation Trips or Boggy Depot is the rich harmonies between Cantrell and William DuVall. They’re like a darker, heavier Simon & Garfunkel.

I’m loving the two singles “Hollow” and “Stone” for how they showcase where the band is at now. “Low Ceiling” and “Breath on a Window” have great vocal hooks and melodies to die for. “Phantom Limb” starts out with the best riff on the album and just keeps going. A few of the songs even feature some of the great lead work of Jerry Cantrell. While nothing on the album is as great as the solos for “Them Bones” or “Man In The Box,” there’s some of the best stuff we’ve heard from him for quite a while. Far and away my favorite is the title track. Alice have never shied away from exploring the personal demons of addiction and death but now they take a look at the demon of organized religion.

I don’t think I’d call the album perfect. I’m glad Bassist Mike Inez and Drummer Sean Kinney received more songwriting credit, but I would have liked to have heard more from DuVall. I understand that they’ve revamped Alice so he takes a backseat to Cantrell with vocal duties, but he’s an awesome singer and it would be great to hear him flex his muscle a bit more. And of course, it sucks that most of the songs sound very, very similar, but at least they all sound really fucking good.

It’s also really cool that nobody told them that making music videos is old-fashioned.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy: Garbage @ House of Blues or Rock on the Range 2013