Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Indestructible Noise Command – Black Hearse Serenade
Ferocious, 2014

Reactivated 80s thrash band INC has made up for their disappointing initial reunion releases (2010’s Bleed The Line EP and 2012’s Heaven Sent… Hellbound) with a devastating new album that takes the intensity of their music to new heights. If you’re familiar with the band’s first two albums from 1987 and 1988, Razorback and The Visitor, prepare yourself to be shocked at how different INC sounds today. Twenty-odd years have passed since those minor classics so it’s not unreasonable for the band to change their sound. INC still seemed to be finding their way into their new sound on Bleed The Line and Heaven Sent…, but their persistence has paid off as things coalesce into a focused, cohesive statement on Black Hearse Serenade. Opening track “Stirring The Flock” hits like a sledgehammer with tight, heavy riffing and double-bass drumming that leaves no doubt about the extreme leanings of the album. Vocalist Dennis Gergely has dropped his distinctive, quirky vocal style for a tough-guy approach more akin to what you’d expect on a metalcore album. “Sainted Sinners” settles down the speed, but not intensity, of the album into a mid-tempo thrashfest for most of the songs. INC treads into Pantera-like territory on “Cyanide & Whiskey”, but there’s a more distinctive style to be found on the gems “The Lies We Devour” and the title track. The album ends brilliantly with “No Turning Back”, which treads new ground for the band with keyboards and choir chants, and “Love Like Napalm”, an acoustic ballad that dramatically builds up into a powerful solo to make what could be the band’s best song. The difference between INC’s first two albums and the reunion efforts is still jarring, and I miss the band’s unique qualities that made them so endearing back in the 80s. Black Hearse Serenade, however, brings INC fully into a new era with an album that’s relevant in present times and cements their rejuvenated sound.

Indestructible Noise Command performs tonight, Tuesday, November 18 at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis as direct support to Tantric with Emperors & Elephants.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tonight - WHITE EMPRESS in Minneapolis!!

Yes, I know it's been a while. Personal and professional obligations have kept me from doing any writing here, but this blog isn't about me so I'll get to the important stuff (metal).

Get down to The Cabooze in Minneapolis tonight, Thursday, October 30, to witness the first-ever live performance of White Empress, the new band put together by former Cradle Of Filth guitarist Paul Allender which features an exceptional band including former Luna Mortis vocalist Mary Zimmer. Also on the bill are Cwn Annwn, Plague Of Stars (featuring powerhouse vocalist Melissa Ferlaak, ex-Visions Of Atlantis, Echoterra, Aesma Daeva), From Light Rose The Angels, and Splitdriven. White Empress recently released their excellent debut album, Rise Of The Empress, through Peaceville.

The Appleton and Milwaukee dates listed on the poster above were cancelled due to drummer Zac Morris not being available due to a last-minute emergency. The free shows in Madison on Friday and Saturday nights are going ahead as planned. Drummer Jon Siren flew in from Los Angeles on short notice to make these shows possible! Jon's drum credits include work with a wide variety of acts, including Early Man, Hate Dept., and Information Society.

I've have a lengthy, long-overdue interview with Paul that is nearly ready to publish - look for it soon! If you can't make it to any of these White Empress shows, I'll have a review of tonight's Minneapolis show posted in due course.

Cult thrashers INDESTRUCTIBLE NOISE COMMAND Announce U.S. Tour Supporting TANTRIC, Minneapolis Show November 18

Connecticut thrash band Indestructible Noise Command, reactivated 20 years following the release of two minor classics in the late 80s (Razorback and The Visitor), have announced an unlikely tour pairing with Tantric that hits most areas of the U.S. in November. Fortunately, the tour stops in Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry on Tuesday, November 18. The full itinerary is below, and check out the blistering lyric video for “Stirring The Flock” from their newly released fourth album Black Hearse Serenade.

November 5 – Colorado Springs, CO, Sunshine Studios Live
November 7 – Las Vegas, NV, The Divebar
November 8 – West Hollywood, CA, Whisky A Go-Go
November 10 – Phoenix, AZ, Joe’s Grotto
November 12 – Grand Junction, CO, Mesa Theater Lounge
November 13 – Denver, CO, Roxy Theatre
November 14 – Waterloo, IA, Spicoli’s Grill/Reverb Rock Garden
November 15 – Cherry Valley, IL, Take 20
November 16 – Ringle, WI, Q&Z Expo Center
November 18 – Minneapolis, MN, 7th Street Entry
November 19 – Madison, WI, The Annex at the Red Zone
November 20 – Lafayette, IN, Hideaway Bar & Grill
November 21 – Westland, MI, The Token Lounge
November 22 – Battle Creek, MI, The Music Factory
November 23 – Akron, OH, Ripper’s Rock House

Saturday, July 26, 2014

WHITE EMPRESS To Make Live Debut in Minneapolis in Late October

Former Cradle Of Filth guitar Paul Allender has revealed exclusively to Twin Cities Metal that his new band, White Empress, will perform their first-ever concert here in Minneapolis in late October as part of a four-date Midwest mini-tour. I'm holding back the date and venue until everything is confirmed, so check back for complete details. The to-be-announced dates are intended to be small "warm-up" shows lacking full stage production (props, and the like) in preparation for more extensive touring plans that are currently in the works. White Empress canceled previous plans for their live debut on July 12 in Madison, Wisconsin.

I conducted a lengthy in-person interview with Paul last night, and we discussed details of his recent departure from Cradle Of Filth, and had an extensive conversation about the genesis and plans of White Empress. Look for publication of the full interview during the next week. I dare say that this is the most extensive interview Paul has given about both White Empress and his reasons for leaving Cradle Of Filth!

There has been a ton of activity and news regarding White Empress in the last couple of weeks, so here's a quick rundown.

Photo courtesy of the White Empress Facebook page.

There's been a change on guitars, and the complete lineup of the band is now:
Vocals: Mary Zimmer (ex-Luna Mortis)
Guitar: Paul Allender (ex-Cradle Of Filth)
Guitar: Jeremy Kohnmann (The Awakening)
Bass: Chela Harper (ex-Coal Chamber)
Keyboards: Will Graney (Damnation Angels)
Drums: Zac Morris (ex-Silent Civilian, Ugly Kid Joe)

White Empress has signed with Peaceville Records, and the debut album Rise Of The Empress will be released September 29. The official video for the first track released from the album, "Darkness Encroaching", is now available for streaming exclusively in the U.S. at Bloodly Disgusting, and at Metal Hammer for the UK and Germany. I'm not embedding the video to respect the exclusively of the video on these sites through the weekend, but here's a couple screenshots (taken from the White Empress Facebook page). Go to one of these site to watch the video!!

The band has launched a fund-raising campaign at PledgeMusic where you can buy tons of things from a digital download of the album to a signed guitar from Paul Allender. In almost no time, the band has raised 121% of their goal! Here's a video of Paul explaining the PledgeMusic campaign:

Lastly, you can still download the four-song White Empress EP for free from the band's website, or purchase higher-quality files from Amazon or iTunes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Concert Review: AGALLOCH and OBSIDIAN TONGUE in Minneapolis

Agalloch, Obsidian Tongue
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN

Click on the picture to see additional photos of Obsidian Tongue (11).

Upon arrival at the Triple Rock for this greatly anticipated show, Obsidian Tongue was wrapping up their first song and the club was packed near capacity. Obsidian Tongue is a two-piece black metal band from Massachusetts, and their guitar and drums combination packs a surprisingly strong punch. Being that their songs hover around ten minutes each, they were only able to play four songs, two from each of their albums. Their set was good, but the constant barrage of primitive, chainsaw guitar riffs and howling, screeching vocals made for difficult listening.

Click on any of the pictures to see more photos of Agalloch (32).

This was Agalloch’s first show in the area, and the place seemed abuzz with anticipation as the band took the stage to the strains of the introduction, “(Serpens Caput)”, and began the set with “The Astral Dialogue” and “Vales Beyond Dimension”. Agalloch is American black metal at its finest, and the band stayed focused on their playing while on stage and maintained little interaction with the crowd, even between songs. Half of the ten-song, nearly 100-minute set was drawn from the latest album, The Serpent & The Sphere, with the remainder a representative selection from each of the previous four albums. Slower, moodier songs such as “Limbs” and “The Melancholy Spirit” offered no respite from the intensity of the show, and the audience treated the band as welcoming heroes. The whole affair was exhausting for everyone in the room, and the band looked drained by the time the show ended with “Into The Painted Grey” from 2010’s Marrow Of The Spirit. Everyone wanted more, and the band obliged with an amazing 16-minute version of “Plateau Of The Ages” for the encore.

As a live band, Agalloch more than delivers on the promise of their recorded output, and everyone at the show seemed to feel like they had witnessed something special. Adding to the unique atmosphere of this show was the one-time availability at the bar of Serpensblod, a smoked red ale inspired by Agalloch, and brewed especially for this show by Hammerheart Brewing (yes, it’s named in honor of the Bathory album!). I snagged one pint before the tap went dry and I was blown away by the smooth intense aroma and flavors. Hammerheart has a Nordic-inspired lodge-type taproom just north of the Cities in Lino Lakes, and if Serpensblod and the Hokan’s Brown Ale I also imbibed that night are any indication, the short jaunt to the brewery would be well worth it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

TRIXTER Guitarist Admits to WSJ: "My Career Has Kind of Gone Backwards"

I've been slow in getting a whole bunch of posts up recently, so let's get back up to speed with something light-hearted. Over at the Wall Street Journal (I think there's an editor or several writers there that are metalheads), Neil Shah features Trixter guitarist Steve Brown in today's quirky A-Hed column, "These Days, Rock Cover Bands Can't Seem to Get It On". Although Steve is featured prominently (even getting the Journal's coveted dot-art rendition), the article is more generally about how brutally tough times are for cover band musicians. Partly to blame, according to the article, is "a glut of middle-aged musicians who just can't quit the scene". Steve's current gigs are summed up this way:

"Despite a brush with fame, Mr. Brown doesn't shy away from even the most cringe-worthy of gigs. One day he'll perform for thousands at a festival with his rock band, Trixter, whose videos briefly topped MTV's charts in the 1990s. The next night he'll be in a yellow, zebra-print vest belting out Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)' at a party in the Hamptons, or singing 'Hotel California' as customers examine Buicks at a car dealership in New Jersey.

'Not every show can be Madison Square Garden,' he says.

If you said Steve Brown would be wearing Spandex pants, playing a hot-pink and green guitar and doing Michael Jackson and Madonna songs three years ago, I would have said, "No friggin' way,"' the New Jersey native says. 'My career has kind of gone backwards.'"

The full article is here, behind the Journal's paywall.

Monday, June 30, 2014

In Concert This Week - June 30, 2014

Tonight, Monday, June 30 Greek symphonic black metal gods Septicflesh top a bill of extremity with Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse, Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate, and Canada’s Necronomicon at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. The show starts at 7:30, it’s 18+, and tickets will be available at the door for $20.

Chicago’s female-fronted metal band Hessler plays Pov’s 65 in Spring Lake Park on Wednesday, July 2. Metal Witch will be supporting, and no additional ticket or show information is available at this time.

Former Ramones drummer Richie Ramone brings his band to Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry on Thursday, July 3 with support from The Modern Era and Cerveza Muscular. Tickets are $10 in advance through etix or $12 at the door, and it’s an 18+ show that starts at 9:30.

Also on Thursday, Soul Asylum headlines A Taste of Minnesota, recently moved to the Carver County Fairgrounds. Tina & The B-Sides, Tim Mahoney, and Owl are also on the bill and the bands start at 2:20; Soul Asylum goes on at 8:30. Admission for the all ages event is free until 3:00, thereafter it’s $10 (which includes $5 in food/beverage tickets, kids 12 and under are still free).

Minneapolis punk band Dillinger Four has two shows on Friday, July 4 and Saturday, July 5 at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Also playing Friday night are Masked Intruder, The Brokedowns, Canadian Rifle, Direct Hit!, The Priceduifkes, and Lutheran Heat, and on the bill Saturday are Night Birds, Neighborhood Brats, Vulgaari, War/Plague, Zero, and Architects Death Spiral. Advance tickets are still available for $15 each through Ticketfly, and these are 18+ shows with doors at 7:00.

Back to A Taste of Minnesota, Halestorm, Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer, Gypsy, and Crow play on Saturday, July 5. Blues-back Crow’s 1969 single “Evil Woman” was a Top 20 hit in the U.S., and none other than Black Sabbath released their own version of the song as their first single in 1970 preceding its inclusion on the debut Black Sabbath album.

Also on Saturday, July 5, locals Wither The Tide and Windowvine are having a double-CD release party at the Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis with Arrows At Dawn. This is an 18+ show that starts at 7:30, and tickets are available in advance for $8 through Ticketfly or at the door for $12.

To end the week, the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul has a night of local death with Invidiosis, Plagued Insanity, King Goro, and No Skin on Sunday, July 6. This is a free show, 21+, and it starts at 9:00.