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.