In the Spotlight with Dripback…and producer Russ Russell

Last year saw hardcore Londoners Dripback scramble into the limelight after an impressive set at BOA and to prove they’re still worthy, they’ve returned to an even bigger crowd. In one of the most drunken chats of the festival, Lily Randall spoke to drummer Hellhog and guitarist Gino4, who were hanging with their producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir and Evile).

You guys played earlier and are one of the rarities where BOA allowed you to play the year before as well. How did this year compare?

Hellhog: It was a bit busier in the tent this year and a lot louder. I think Russ turned it up to eleven this year.

Russ: The crowd was amazing. Right to the back everyone was fist pumping

Hellhog: We played some new stuff that we’ve been working on for the new album. Literally, we’ve taken a break from it to play the shows and Russ has pushed it out of us.

How’s it been working with Russ?

Hellhog: He’s so harsh!

Russ: It’s gone really well because they don’t know what they’re doing and I don’t know what I’m doing either! So somewhere in the middle it all works out.

Hellhog: Nah, it’s been great, it’s always an honour to work with Russ and it’s been a fucking pleasure as well. He knows how to get the best out of us and he’s dragged it out of us kicking and screaming.

Gino4: And he makes the killer hot sauce, which I’m sure every band he’s worked with has raved about. We did a bottle and a half in a week. It’s so strong it will make you impotent.

So what you played of the new tracks earlier sounded awesome. How does the new stuff differ to your last record?

Hellhog: The thing with the new record is that literally, there are so many new things going on.

Russ: It’s going to surprise everybody!

Hellhog: There’s a taste of ‘Inhaling the Ashes’ in there but we’ve evolved and there’s hardcore, there’s death metal, there’s all kinds of tastiness in there and it’s taken on a whole new flavour.

Russ: There’s a lot of bullshit and a lot of haters on the Internet talking absolute fucking bollocks and when they hear this album, they have just got to shut the fuck up because it negates everything they said.

Hellhog: Last year was busy but this year it was rammed. I was astounded, honoured and humbled by the crowd that turned up today.

When you were writing this album were you ever thinking of it as a “Fuck you” to the haters?

Hellhog: No not really. We just do our thing, we play what we play

Gino4: If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

Russ: If you don’t like it, go and sharpen your swords!

So apart from playing, what else do you love about Bloodstock?

Gino4: Standing around in shorts and a vest, drinking, smoking weed, doing lines of whatever the fuck’s going about and having a laugh.

Russ: And getting to talk to lovely ladies.

Cheeky!

Interview by Lily Randall. Published on Soundshock.com

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Dying Fetus/Job For A Cowboy/Revocation/Cerebral Bore @ Sub89, Reading

19/9/2012

Ah, there’s nothing better than a midweek moshpit, especially when it’s fuelled all night by four brutal bands from each realm of death metal. This tour should come with a warning as the Reading metal scene prepare for battle against their own sanity.

Cerebral Bore may be the opening act, but with an ever growing following, the venue is already half full and pumping to go. Som’s incredible exhale vocals have caused a massive stir in the brutal death underground and she’s as on form as ever, her confidence growing from every show as she commands the crowd to lose their minds. With a well-received full length to work with in the short set, the blastbeats certainly get the crowd warmed up and slightly battered already.

Revocation are on next and disappointingly the crowd evaporates, which is a real shame as the Americans are on top form tonight. Their death metal with a more thrashy edge is clearly not “br00tal” enough for the crowd and is an unfortunate choice of line up. Nonetheless the Revocation boys have a blast shredding through last year’s ‘Choas of Forms’ and show off the most technicality of the night with some instrumentals that still keep the loyal fans engrossed. Reading massive, you fail.

Job For A Cowboy have come a long way since their debut in 2007. After battling through the MySpace days, taunts of being “too core” and then the usual rockstar proceedings, the Arizonians continue to keep their bite when it comes to a live show. Whether you like or loathe them, there is no denying JFAC are rudely brutal and one of the most endearing bands visually onstage, as they run around as they chug through newer material. This year’s ‘Demonocracy’ has received rave reviews with many claiming the band have truly matured and it’s fair to say this is noticeable live as well.

For those of us who are still upright enough, both from boozing and bruising, Dying Fetus finally take to the stage. With the pit hardly stopping, even between songs, the brutal death metal legends plough through tracks from their lengthy discography, playing older tracks they may not have previously touched. This year’s violent offering, ‘Reign Supreme’, sounds just as nasty on stage as it does through your iPod, with the majority of the crowd already knowledgeable of the record and are equally as violent on the floor. An encore of the inevitable ‘Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog’ is lapped up before everyone clambers around the floor trying to find their faces that have melted off.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

Devin Towsend Project – ‘Epicloud’ [7]

Devin Towsend Project – ‘Epicloud’ [7]

Devin Townsend has become a buzzword in the metal scene and despite constant changes in his sound, style and influences; we have still clung to his wisdom like the crazy uncle we love. Last year’s double whammy of ‘Deconstruction’ and ‘Ghost’ showed music in schizophrenic form yet both were worthy of a lifelong relationship. ‘Epicloud’ has had a build up like no other and admittedly it is both epic and loud, however it feels as though Devin has found himself stuck in a cloud of pop for perhaps a bit too long.

As promised, the album is full of poppy moments in a similar style to ‘Addicted’ however this time round it feels like there is a spark missing from the Canadian band. The slightly aggressive edge that you could once find on the likes of ‘Universe in a Ball’ has been replaced with more female vocals than ever before and despite half the album being addictive, the rest is hard to embrace. ‘Lucky Animals’ is so catchy it becomes irritating, like some kind of radio jingle, and although ‘Grace’, ‘Save Our Now’ and ‘More!’ are slightly more riff heavy, it just isn’t enough to compete with the beast that was ‘Deconstruction’. ‘Divine’ is definitely this album’s ‘Ih-Ah’ making you feel like you can sort out your differences with Devy, as he serenades you and reminisces about your relationship with him as he blasts through the newer, slicker ‘Kingdom’. All the tracks are sure to be a hit live but for those of us with a long lasting love for DTP, this album starts to find cracks in the genius’ logic and many may doubt their future with him.

Reviewed by Lily Randall (who for the record, still loves Devin)

‘Epicloud’ is out 24th September on  Hevy Devy Records

You’ll like this if… Devin Townsend can never ever do wrong, even if he brought out a rap album. Or, if you like your music epic and loud.

Iron Fist magazine launching next week!

As many of you may already know I am now freelancing for a brand new magazine called Iron Fist. Founded by ex-Terrorizer editor Louise Brown, the magazine is offering an old school style magazine full of underground extreme metal and old classics. The first ever issue will launch on Weds the 26th September and will be available in WHSmiths! It can also be ordered online and ordered internationally. I am so excited to be part of this new project and it would be great if you guys check it out.

Grave/Vile/Sonne Adam @ Camden Underworld, London

18/9/2012

As an autumn of aural destruction dawns upon us in the UK, with so many bands heading our way, what better way to start it off than with some old school Swedish death metal. Grave are regular visitors to the UK, however for support act Sonne Adam this is only their second time over from their native Israel. After an explosive year for the death/doom act last year (what with being signed by Century Media for their debut album and all) the crowd have attended in mass as the band ooze through seriously heavy tracks off of ‘Transformation’. The sound is as hauntingly hypnotic as the fans head bang in a synchronised slow motion and after blasting through some tracks off the three old EPs, it’s understandable why Sonne Adam are re-releasing the tracks on formats other than vinyl.

The death metal is brought up to the present with Vile’s modern touch speeding up the riffs and adding technical terror.  Vocalist Mike Poggoine owns the stage as he looks as terrifying as the music and despite an early start the next day for many; a small pit begins to swell.

A lot of the Londoners tonight may be suffering from slight deja-vu, as Swedes Grave step onto exactly the same stage, as exactly the same band, as they did almost a year ago. Despite this, the old school legends prove they can still outdo themselves as this year’s onslaught is much livelier than its predecessor.  Front man Ola seems in a more comfortable zone as the rest of the band march around the small stage and new ammunition in the form of recent album ‘Endless Procession of Souls’ increases the grit. The new album proves that the band still kill the old way, as tracks like ‘Passion of the Weak’ receive as good a reaction as classics from the ‘Hating Life’ album and then some. The band leave the stage without playing favourite ‘Into The Grave’, making for a very obvious encore, however due to an unfortunate delayed start, Grave are still on stage as many start to leave as not to get stranded in Camden town. Nonetheless, whether you leave half way through or stay until the band has left the venue, you will not be disappointed by the invincible live show that is Grave’s.

Reviewed by Lily Randall 

Check out Soundshock.com, where this has been published

Demonic Resurrection feature

It’s taken several attempts but Indian death metallers Demonic Resurrection have finally landed on our shores and what better debut appearance to have than at Bloodstock Festival. After the success of 2010’s ‘The Return to Darkness’ and a Metal Hammer gong under their belts, Lily Randall spoke to frontman Sahil ‘Demonstealer’ Makhija about Mumbai, metal and meat.

It may have taken over ten years for Demonic Resurrection to get to where they are but it seemed as though everything happened so suddenly. After their release of their third full-length ‘The Return to Darkness’, the band were a part of the prestigious Candlelight records and able to finally tour outside of India. After successful sets at Brutal Assault and Inferno Festival in 2010, Sahil was later informed his death metal five piece had won Best Global Act at the Golden Gods awards, something Demonic Resurrection were not expecting.

“We were actually called by a friend of ours who said ‘come and meet us here’. He’s actually one of the most influential promoters in India, he does a lot of conventions and stuff like that and he had been working with Metal Hammer for something”, Sahil recalls. “He said ‘look guys you’re going to win this award, you can’t tell anyone, go book your flights to England you’re going in ten days’. So the British council was very helpful, they helped us get our Visas and we were just like you’ve gotta be shitting me, this is not real! It was crazy seeing people like Machine Head and Vinnie Paul and Abbath! You dream of this.”

After having to pull out of 2011’s Sonisphere due to Visa issues, the DR are finally here at Bloodstock and playing the SOPHIE tent later on in the day. Demonstealer explains how happy they are to be here and that he “cannot contain his excitement”, as later on they will play to a rammed tent and showcasing their death metal with symphonic tinges. “You’ll see five blokes from India, nothing too fancy, but you’re going to see us play our heart out,” beams Sahil.

It’s not often you hear about bands from the East managing to break out to the masses but this in no way means the scene in India is non-existent. With the likes of Metallica, Machine Head, Opeth and Lamb of God touring over there lately, the metal community is growing. Religion and culture doesn’t seem to cause a collision either and Demonstealer believes it’s because the community is small enough to not get noticed. “I think in India, the metal scene is small compared to the other shit that goes on in our country so nobody really cares, so actually it doesn’t get much shit. It’s only when something could become a multimillion dollar industry that the government and officials would really start to care.” He explains that festivals can cause problems as well, “I mean, we’ve had a few problems but that’s mostly because everything is still very focused on the cities in India. We don’t have a concept of camping and things like that so festivals are still held in the main cities. We have sound curfews because of it but hey, so does London, so I guess we just have to move it outside.”

Makhija explains that although there aren’t that many bands in India compared to elsewhere in the world, the competition is still strong due to a lack of venues and so forth. Also due to the class barriers, the working class have no access to English-spoken music and therefore are loyal to tradition. “I think the bands that are at the top of the Indian scene will realise they need to branch out of India because we’ve maxed out here. There are only so many times you can play the same venue or festival. Once that starts happening I think bands will invest in travelling and then you’re more likely to get noticed and then obviously somebody will pick up on that and everything will become more structured.” Three bands Sahil has told us to keep an eye out for are heavy thrash metallers Kryptos, Mumbai’s metalcore Bhayanak Maut and groovesters Zygnema.

Despite being one of the only bands to break out of India, Demonic resurrection are humble and still feel pressure to do their country proud. Sahil explains how there is a lot of pressure for the band to prove themselves, “Of course you want people to see us and think, if that’s what Indian metal scene is like, then I’m looking forward to it.”

After changing their sound from a more symphonic influenced metal the band continue to slaughter with the blackened death we’re likely to see today. A new record is on the horizon and we hope this calls for a return to the UK. Sahil is sure of it; “As soon as we go back we start the re- production on the new record and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be done with it. And then plan to release it early next year. We’re hoping to come back to the UK in 2013 and that it will be the year for Demonic Resurrection”.

After playing a fanastic set at Bloodstock and another smaller show in Camden the day after, Demonstealer’s passion for music goes further than on the stage, as he takes it into the kitchen as well. You may have heard of Epic Meal Time and the Vegan Black Metal Chef but you’re missing out if you haven’t checked out Headbanger’s Kitchen. “Well I started out with a production company, the same guy who produced the DR video. I had some free time and I started a food blog on FB and people seemed to like it, so I thought maybe I should do a video of this. At the time Epic Meal Time had just got big and I loved it, so I asked this guy if he’d help me do something similar.” The guitarist is also a passionate chef and takes homemade burger orders from his home in Mumbai, however he managed to find a way to merge his brutal contacts into the mixing bowl.

“Nervecell came to India, so I took advantage and filmed a show. After that it took a while but we got it out in 2011 and then started doing it regularly. We made it a proper show with an interview and a band tasting the food. Then the production company told us we weren’t making any money from YouTube so I thought fuck that I’ll do it myself. I taught myself how to film, bought some lights and did one with a local band called Albatross and more recently Lamb of God. It’s not as frequent as before but I’ve been busy with DR but I’ll keep doing it. It’s my love for food and heavy metal.”

After checking out Headbanger’s Kitchen and watching an awesome set by the Indian guys, we at Soundshock are starving and off to get a pork baguette, deep down wishing it was in fact a bacon bomb.

Feature by Lily Randall. Published on Soundshock.com

In Honour of Icon E – ‘A Tribute to Emperor’

If you’re an Emperor fan, you’re in for a treat this year, with the former frontman’s latest release, Samoth’s new band The Wretched End’s new one and now a compilation of covers of the iconic Norwegians. Although Emperor were profoundly black metal in their sound, they managed to influence a plethora of different artists and many have gathered onto this gig to pay tribute to the now split up band.

Candlelight offer lesser known bands a chance to shine such as Polish act Saltus and Slovakian’s Karpathia adding their twist on classics. Dimmu Borgir cover ‘Enthrone Darkness Triumphant’, which suits their keyboard-fuelled symphonies perfectly, while death metal bands like Demonical give old favourites a deathly twist. Bands likely to idolise Ihsahn and co do the honours, with Taake and Horna leading the way in the modern black metal scene and although, like the rest of the album, they don’t change the classics too much, they don’t insult them either. A sure buy for Emperor lovers, however nothing too different from most compilations.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

To be Published in Devolution Magazine’s Sept issue