Accept at The King Of Clubs, Columbus, October 29, 2022

Accept made a Midwest stop at The King Of Clubs in Columbus on their Too Mean To Die Tour last weekend.

Accept

German heavy metal legends Accept wrapped up the US leg of their Too Mean To Die Tour last weekend in Columbus, Ohio at The King Of Clubs. I can’t say enough about Accept, but then I probably don’t have to say anything – metal fans know them well. They were one of the first bands I listened to back in the day after the formative trinity I always talk about (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and Blue Oyster Cult). Their big hit then was “Balls To The Wall,” and they are still remembered for it. Ironically, as fun as that tune is, it doesn’t really represent their music very well in general. Accept has laid down unforgettable heavy metal for more than four decades across sixteen albums, including their latest one that the tour is named for. There is no dispute about their place in metal history.

Day of the Sun
Day of the Sun

The show started with two local bands, Day of the Sun and Corrosive Vengeance. Day of the Sun has a classic approach to hard rock in their performance, focusing on vocal delivery and cooking rhythm. Corrosive Vengeance is a little more out there, riding the rails of groove metal and tossing in disruptive calamity now and again. Both sets were excellent, and I am going to have to keep an eye out for these bands while I am exiled here in the middle of the country because now I know they put on a good show.

Corrosive Vengeance
Corrosive Vengeance

Narcotic Wasteland was on the full US tour leg with Accept. The band started out over a decade ago in the coastal south, and they have put out a couple of albums, most recently Delirium Tremens (2017). Their music is a sharp brand of death metal that cranks and heaves. They have put out two new singles this year, and they played them both at the show. That must mean there is a new album in the works.

Narcotic Wasteland
Narcotic Wasteland

The main event was Accept, a band I have been trying to catch live for years. It is funny that even though I see at least 300 bands live every year there are still a handful that I am trying to catch for the first time. Most of these bands are from Europe and they do not tour all the time in the US, so that does add up in the end. Accept has been at the top of my to-do list for a while now because I have listened to them all of my life and I have really like their last few records. Starting with Blood Of The Nations in 2010 and on to Blind Rage (2014), The Rise Of Chaos (2017), and, most recently, Too Mean To Die, these albums have all been fantastic. The live show, I reasoned, would blow the roof off the place. I was right.

Accept
Accept

They started with “Zombie Apocalypse” and rolled through the hits, including chart toppers like “Metal Heart” and, of course, “Balls To The Wall.” They also played several songs from the latest record – that makes sense – and the tour favorite “Pandemic.” I had built up in my head what the show might be like, and it turned out to be even better than I expected. You don’t get a lot of good surprises in your life, but this was definitely one for me.

Accept
Accept

The 2022 tour is done for us North Americans. Accept is on tour again for many dates in Europe starting in January, and a few shows have already announced for Spring 2023 in South America. See them whenever they make their way back to our shores, and, meanwhile, check out their albums, videos, and merch at the links below.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Accept, https://www.acceptworldwide.com/

Narcotic Wasteland, https://narcoticwasteland.com/home

Corrosive Vengeance, https://corrosivevengence.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-of-society

Day Of The Sun, https://dayofthesunrocks.com/

The King Of Clubs, https://www.tkoc.live/

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/about/71028.accept.html

Photo Galleries.

Accept, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/photo-gallery-accept-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

Narcotic Wasteland, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/photo-gallery-narcotic-wasteland-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

Corrosive Vengeance, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/corrosive-vengeance-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

Day Of The Sun, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/11/10/photo-gallery-day-of-the-sun-at-the-king-of-clubs-columbus-october-29-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Accept at The King Of Clubs, Columbus, October 29, 2022

Cabal, Magno Interitus (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Danish deathcore band Cabal release their darkly charmed album Magno Interitus.

Springing up not long ago in Copenhagen, Denmark, Cabal is a relatively new band. Their two previous long-players, Mark Of Rot (2018) and Drag Me Down (2020), had all the signs anyone would need to see that Cabal was a rising force and that it had the potential to erupt. The new album, it turns out, is as deadly as spewing lava.

The show starts with an excellent sentiment, “If I Hang, Let Me Swing.” It is noisy, and loud, and sounds a little like what might happen if Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin were smashed together in an industrial hardcore press. There is a lot of shouting and screaming. Clanging abounds, and spacy warbles enter and exit. It’s a situation. “Insidious” leans at first toward the black metal domain before crooking a groove. The title track, next, is a sinister whisper, a dark insinuation, that turns brutal fast and lifts your hide away. The pace is down shifted a bit even as the sentiment harshens and penetrates. This album is a raking.

If you are in the proper frame of mind, this music will affect you. Watch out for “Blod af Mit” because it has a strong industrial stance and a plying energy. Listening to “Like Vultures” is a lot like taking a beating. “Plague Bringer” might be the clearest statement of musical intent on the record, and, in any case, it is the final word so it carries weight. This is not a casual album. It is not something you can take lightly. If you have darkness inside you that needs getting out, this music might be your catalyst. Recommended.

Magno Interitus hits the street on Friday, October 21st through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Cabal website, https://cabalcult.com/

Bandcamp, https://cabalcph.bandcamp.com/album/magno-interitus

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/cabalcph

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cabal-magno-interitus.html

© Wayne Edwards

Cabal, Magno Interitus (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Behemoth, Opvs Contra Natvram (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The twelfth album from Behemoth is a milestone in the band’s historic career: Opvs Contra Natvram.

For more than thirty years, Polish black metal band Behemoth has been one the leading bands in heavy music. They are known for black metal, but their music is more of a combination of black and death metal, and traditional metal as well, in combination with dramatic and complex arrangements. Often imitated but never equaled, Behemoth does truly stand apart from its contemporaries. The band is Nergal, Inferno, and Orion.

It took me a long time to finally catch up with Behemoth live. I saw them on Slayer’s final tour a few years back, and I remember thinking at the time that they were the best act on the card. I have been looking forward to this new album for a while.

Talking about the album, Nergal has this to say … “The album title means going against the current. It’s the negative of the values and morals and ethics that I stand against. I’ve seriously been wrestling with destructive tendencies in pop culture – cancel culture, social media, and tools which I feel are very dangerous weapons in the hands of people who are not competent to judge others. That’s something which I find very destructive and disturbing and extremely limiting coming from an artists’ perspective. This is my middle finger to that.” That’s a fairly positive message for such a villainized band, huh.

“Post-God Nirvana” is the first of ten tracks on the album, and it functions as an effective introduction to the experience. Loaded with effects and production, the vocals dig deep in your psyche and the growing guitar punches land harder and harder as the song progresses. “Malaria Vulgata” is a more contained song. In its brief two-minute run, the well-defined boundaries are filled to breaking. “The Deathless Sun” is more of a campaign by comparison. The guitar breaks are the sound of a charging weapon, and Nergal’s vocals are commands. The meshed death and black metal is a towering monument that cannot be ignored once it comes into your life, and that ideal is epitomized in this song.

The music continues the story and depth of expression in variety and in encouraged reinforcement throughout the entire set. “Neo-Spartacus” uses dissonance melodically, if you can imagine that. “Once Upon A Pale Horse” is among the most dramatic songs, and its theatrical nature is extremely engaging. The closer, “Versus Christus,” begins melodically, with growing urgency. The music is quite dramatic, and in a way gathers and restates the thesis of the entire work in a new package. Excellent. I recommend this album for Behemoth fans and newcomers alike.

Opvs Contra Natvram is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Behemoth. website, https://www.behemoth.pl/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/behemoth

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

© Wayne Edwards

Behemoth, Opvs Contra Natvram (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Venom, Inc., There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The sophomore full-length album from Venom, Inc. is an unwavering menace: There’s Only Black.

Venom is the iconic band that brought us Welcome To Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982), essentially creating Black Metal from punk and speed metal. Since then, black metal itself has evolved in a particular direction while Venom had other ideas. At War With Satan (1984) was on brand but it was clear that things were changing, and then Possessed (1985) was a noticeable, clear shift. The seas calmed a bit with Prime Evil (1987), but chaos was coming. The band paused, considered reforming, then split in twain.

Venom, Inc. emerged from the schism of the original band. Their debut album was Avé (2017), and I found it enthralling. That one will be hard to follow, but if any band can do it, Venom, Inc. is the one. The musicians are Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, Jeffrey “Mantas” Dunn, and Jeramie “War Machine” Kling.

You can hear the music coming from far away on the first track, “How Many Can Die.” It is a stylized punk attack with a hardcore head and intermittent hooks. The song works, and still this is a chancy approach for an opener – you have to really depend on the fans being in to what you are putting down. And I was. “Infinitum” is a stone cold killer with a battering mission. The lead guitar break will really wind you up. “Come To Me” is a chopper. I love the straight-forward, no nonsense musical construction. An excellent metal song where the vocals take the forefront while the riff and rhythm provide an indelible platform and the dark lead guitar work intoxicates.

I am having a hard time finding anything to complain about on this record. The title track is a stunningly superbly sinister metal song. “Don’t Feed Me Your Lies” begins on a contemplative foot and then turns into a ravager. “Rampant” is a race straight toward a sharp cliff. Every song has a unique appeal, and they all come together to create a solid set you will want to listen to over and again. Recommended.

There’s Only Black is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Links below.

Links.

Venom, Inc. website, https://www.venom-inc.co.uk/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/VenomIncOfficial/

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

© Wayne Edwards

Venom, Inc., There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Megadeth, The Sick, The Dying … And The Dead! (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The 16th album from Megadeth continues the storied tradition of a legendary thrash band.

We don’t need to go over the history of Megadeth do we, or its place in metal history? All right. I have been listening to the band’s records since the very first one. There have been ups and downs in the sense that there are big differences in the albums, one to the next. That sort of situation will give fans the opportunity to pick favorites. I like the harder-edged ones, the faster ones, the most, but I can listen to any of them and feel good about it. Megadeth helped define thrash, and that will always be true. The band is Dave Mustaine (guitar, vocals), James LoMenzo (bass), Kiko Loureiro (guitar), and Dirk Verbeuren (drums). The bass tracks for the album were re-recorded by Steve Di Giorgio (Testament) after David Ellefson was excommunicated.

The albums opens on the title track. There is a long lead-in before any guitars can be heard. They step in carefully, then drop the anvil and head down a mid-tempo lane. Dave Mustaine sounds great, and the playing is impeccable, if a little subdued. We do get a couple of blistering lead breaks in the second track, “Life In Hell,” and they are most welcome. Ice-T steps in on “Night Stalkers” and gives it a boost. This is the best track so far, for me, anyway. I like the primary riff and the breaks, and, of course, Ice-T’s pairing with Mustaine’s voice.

Other big tracks for me are “Sacrifice,” which has a delightfully menacing tone and wonderfully whirling guitars, and “Mission To Mars.” That second one makes me think of John Carpenter in title and construction. Once it gets going, nothing will keep it from pushing through. The horror movie feel is fantastic. “We’ll Be Back” is a killer, too. Overall, this is a decent album and very much what I expected. Recommended.

The Sick, The Dying … And The Dead! Is out now through Nuclear Blast Records and is available everywhere. Pick your poison.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Megadeth website, https://megadeth.com/the-sick-the-dying-and-the-dead/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Megadeth/

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/megadeth-the-sick-the-dying-and-the-dead-cd-1002422

Megadeth, The Sick, The Dying … And The Dead! (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Fallujah, Empyrean (Nuclear Blast 2022)

San Francisco prog metal heavyweights Fallujah are back with their fifth album, Empyrean.

Fallujah hit the ground running in 2009 by releasing a demo and their first EP, Leper Colony. There was another demo the following year and then the band’s first long-player, The Harvest Wombs, planted the flag firmly in 2011. Their early work has been regularly described as metalcore, and over the years they have moved compositionally toward progressive metal and technical death metal. The band is Scott Carstairs (guitar), Andrew Baird (drums), Kyle Schaefer (vocals), and Evan Brewer (bass).

Discussing the album, Scott Carstairs says, “Empyrean isn’t a concept album, but there are some recurring themes throughout. The first three songs (‘The Bitter Taste of Clarity,’ ‘Radiant Ascension’ and ‘Embrace Oblivion’) all deal with a process of metaphorical rebirth—overcoming personal hardships, finding the right outlook to keep moving forward, and learning to embrace change in a way that makes you stronger for it in the long run. ‘Duality of Intent’ describes the internal conflict between the two sides of your brain, simultaneously craving immediate gratification versus long-term fulfillment and the paradoxical balance that results. ‘Artifacts’ is about the universal human desire to create something that will live on beyond oneself. ‘Mindless Omnipotent Master’ takes a cynical look outward, personifying mankind’s globally-linked networks of societal and technological systems as a giant mechanical beast which has grown beyond our control and now moves of its own accord.”

Clearly, very specific ideas are at work in the writing of this album. The great thing about this kind of depth is that it’ll work for everybody because you can embrace it and attempt to inculcate it, or you can just listen to the songs and not think so much about it. It is up to you. The music is complex. It is loud and aggressive. Perhaps the best example is the opening track, “The Bitter Taste Of Clarity,” which is absolutely savage in the music and the narrative theme. There are shifts to lighter moments, but they are pretty rigorous, too. The lead guitar work is incredible. “Soulbreaker” is another track I’d like to emphasize. The music is brutal, and its execution is unswervingly precise. Languid moments in the background and along the way serve to highlight the deeper, more punishing passages.

This album is excellent from front to back – it is my new favorite from Fallujah. Recommended.

Empyrean is out on Friday, September 9th through Nuclear Blast Records. Touch the links below to check it out and pick it up.

Band photo by Stephanie Cabral.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fallujah.bandcamp.com/album/empyrean-2

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/fallujahofficial

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/fallujah-empyrean.html

© Wayne Edwards

Fallujah, Empyrean (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Machine Head, Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The tenth studio album from Oakland metal legends Machine Head is a masterpiece: Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn.

Robb Flynn brought Machine Head together in Oakland in 1991. In the early days, groove and nu-metal were the styles usually associated with the band, but after a decade or so the music leaned more clearly toward thrash. With nine previous long-players, and a mighty fistful of EPs, splits, and live albums, Machine Head has made an indelible mark on heavy music. For Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn, Flynn is joined by Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka (guitar), Jared MacEachern (bass), and Matt Alston (drums).

It all begins on a quiet, sincere note with “Slaughter The Martyr.” At first. The opening bars are melancholy, and the music builds slowly. A second voice joins and you can feel the cliff coming. Three minutes in you walk right over it and the rushing air around you is the ripping guitar and grinding vocals. The heavy groove element blends perfectly with the speeding riff, and the melodic moments that come and go are like a bird soaring between beating its wings. This song is a ten-minute slab of unmeasurable metal, a certifiable masterpiece, and it is only the first track. It is very unusual for a band to put a song like this up front, and so it is clear that Machine Head is taking no prisoners on Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn.

Many of the songs on the album have been released as singles leading up to the official album release, so we have already heard “Choke On The Ashes Of Your Hate” and “Become The Firestorm,” for example. I hadn’t heard “Kill Thy Enemies” until now, and that one was an eye-opener, as was “Bloodshot.” Each of these songs has its own kind of screech that rakes you in entirely different ways. I felt that way all along, that each song has its own dominating presence and, while the set fits together seamlessly, each primary song stands on its own, too.

The album ends on “Arrows In Words From The Sky.” I had heard this one before, and I was delighted to listen again. Calling back the structure of the epic opening, the final track lulls at first and then decimates, but in a completely different way. The sinister nature of the middle of the song and the entrancing guitar solo it leads to is breathtaking. I expected a lot from the new Machine Head album going in, and I came away with more than I could have imagined. Highly recommended.

Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn is out now through Nuclear Blast Records in many varieties and forms.

Band photo by Travis Shinn and Paul Harries.

Links.

Machine Head website, https://www.machinehead1.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MachineHead

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/about/3168273.machine-head.html

© Wayne Edwards

Machine Head, Øf Kingdøm And Crøwn (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Soilwork, Övergivenheten (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Soilwork make it an even dozen with their new album Övergivenheten.

Soilwork came together in the mid-nineties in Sweden. Initially, their music would probably have been categorized as melodic death metal. Later it evolved toward a groove metal, although the melody never went away. Over the decades, the band has released eleven other full-length studio albums plus a plethora of singles, EPs, and splits, making them one of the most prolific metal outfits in the business. The new record carries their banner further down the path, and delivers mana to Soilwork’s waiting fans. The band is Björn “Speed” Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Sven Karlsson (keys), Sylvain Coudret (guitar), Bastian Thusgaard (drums), and Rasmus Ehrnborn (bass).

The Google translator will tell you that Övergivenheten is “the abandonment” in English. It also offers “desolation” and “desertion” as possibilities for Övergivenhet. Even if something is lost in the translation, we certainly get the general idea.

There are fourteen tracks on the new album, including a couple of transition pieces. The title song breaks the ice with acoustic emanations, voices, and a banjo. Layers and multiple elements soon join and intertwine as the music builds until, a minute and a half in, the song really takes off. The first principal vocals are gruff and insistent while the surrounding music is less dire, and a melodic voice merges in soon enough. It is the perfect way to position the set.

“Nous Sommes La Guerre” breaks off a snappy riff up front to generate the initial mood, but the song itself is complex. Certainly, this is what we expect from Soilwork, and they offer it up on every song with their signature style whether the thrust is fast or slow, dark or light. There is no track that is simply one thing. “Electric Again” starts out as a ravager, loud and harsh enough to peel off the top layers of anything it encounters, but it also has calmer moments. “This Godless Universe” walks in quietly and bares its teeth later on. Some songs have a catchy riff, like “Death, I Hear You Calling,” while others, like “Golgata,” are front loaded with more challenging, technical presentations. Throughout it all, there is no mistaking this music for anything other than Soilwork – they have come through again with an album that raises an already high bar. Recommended.

Övergivenheten is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Links below.

Links.

Soilwork website, https://www.soilwork.org/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soilwork

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/soilwork

© Wayne Edwards

Soilwork, Övergivenheten (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The Halo Effect, Days Of The Lost (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The Halo Effect brings back the glory days of melodic death metal on Days Of The Lost.

Veteran musicians from bands such as In Flames and Dark Tranquility came together last year to form a new band, The Halo Effect. The idea behind the new band was for the members to “go back to the roots and explore what the groundbreaking metal sounded like then[, a]nd add the experience and skills of what the members could bring to the table now.” The style of music they are referencing is often called “The Gothenburg Sound,” and, under a broader umbrella, melodic death metal, or melodeath. The musicians are Peter Iwers (bass), Daniel Svensson (drums), Jesper Strömblad (guitar), Niclas Engelin (guitar), and Mikael Stanne (vocals).

Over ten contemplative tracks, The Halo Effect have definitely achieved their goal. The album growls to life with “Shadowminds,” where gruff vocals live together with teedling juxtapositions and rough-and-ready guitar riffs. This is indeed a very particular kind of music. The compositions combine without irony light, bouncy lines with others that are clearly intended to be sinister. You can hear this even more clearly on the title track. It is like a medieval battle at a renaissance fair.

The execution of the ideas is flawless, and there is notable variety across the tracks while the principle is maintained. “The Needless End,” for example, is generally harder-edged while a song like “Gateways” plays toward an overall softer range. In every case, the songs are crisp and sharp, and the production level is quite high. This set is destined to be embraced by its intended audience, and it is so well done it might start a resurgence of the form. Recommended.

Days Of The Lost is out now through Nuclear Blast Records in many instantiations. Connect through the links below.

Links.

The Halo Effect website, https://www.thehaloeffect.band/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thehaloeffectse

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/the-halo-effect

© Wayne Edwards

The Halo Effect, Days Of The Lost (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Soulfly, Totem (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Soulfly returns with their twelfth album, Totem, and it is another earthshaker.

The beginning of Soulfly dates back to the mid-nineties. After leaving Sepultura, singer and guitarist Max Cavalera started the band, initially playing a kind of nu-metal that integrated influences from diverse sources. As the years passed, the compositions continued to weave in fascinating elements from world music while turning toward thrash and groove metal, and death metal as well. The new record, Totem, makes an even twelve full-length albums from Soulfly, and it is as creative and innovative as any in their canon. Zyon Cavalera (drums) and Mike Leon (bass) join Max Cavalera to create some of the biggest sounds you will hear this year.

The ten-track set opens with “Superstition.” You can sense the rampage coming from a mile off as the sound builds to an explosive level. Max Cavalera’s familiar voice immediately centers you and draws your attention to the mangling configuration. You are trapped by the whirling guitars, and there you stay until the end. “Scouring The Vile” loads next, and there is a seamless continuation into another situation of adrenaline-soaked menace and groove. Fast and chopping, this one breaks you open from the inside out. “Filth Upon Filth” is a tantalizing riot of surges paired with an arc of extra-sensorial guitar sincere enough to vibrate your molars.

These first three songs were released as singles before the full album dropped, and they set the stage perfectly for the rest of the music. There is a lot going on here. Witness “Rot In Pain” as a short ragged punch and compare it to, say, the title track where the groove has a bigger place and the song has a longer and deeper path, generally. Or “Ancestors,” which is itself dramatic and fascinating, with the epic closer, “Spirit Animal” – a song with some similar elements that are developed into a sustained assault and explored in fascinating variety. The perfectly matched segments, if you heard them separately, would seem to be from different songs but here in tandem coalesce into an unforgettable journey. This album is another triumph for Max Cavalera and Soulfly. Highly recommended.

Totem is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Order Totem here, https://www.soulfly.com/totem

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SoulflyOfficial

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/soulfly

© Wayne Edwards

Soulfly, Totem (Nuclear Blast 2022)