Calabrese – The Shredder in Boise, ID USA (Sept 21, 2013) Gig Review

cala1Calabrese live show at The Shredder in Boise, ID USA (Sept 21, 2013)

As it says in my bio, I used to run an independent record label.  My goal with the label was to release horror-themed music mostly in the punk rock and metal genres.
Of course, on the independent level, you don’t have the money to release everything for every band you want to push.  To strengthen my catalog, I did distro for various bands and it didn’t matter where they were from.  One of those bands was Calabrese.

 
Calabrese are a horror rock band from Arizona consisting of three brothers – Bobby, Jimmy and Davey Calabrese.  When I came across them, they had just released their first full length album, 13 Halloweens.  The thing that stuck about about this band was that they weren’t a Misfits clone.  They had their own sound and they were good.  Everything was packaged well.  Great artwork, great sounding recording, great music, great merch… and somehow, given all of this, they let their sense of humor show through.  They’re not uptight assholes.  If you follow their twitter feed, ‘like’ their Facebook page, watch their music videos, you see they’re just having fun.  It’s pretty refreshing when you find a great band who isn’t a joke but doesn’t take themselves too seriously, either.

 
I started booking punk rock shows at a local club which gave my label a place to showcase itself and it’s catalog.  I booked a lot of out of town bands.  However, while I tried to get Calabrese in for a show, it never worked out.
They continued to release three more albums.  Each one sounding like Calabrese but always notching themselves up a bit.  I sold my label and eventually stepped away from music altogether.

 
cala3  After a couple years. I had various small conversations with the band through social media.  I kept telling them to come to Boise.  To be honest, I doubt they remember me doing the distro and haven’t put it together that I was that guy.  We didn’t know each other, we just had a small distro deal for a short time.  Finally, after about 9 years, they are releasing their fifth album, Born With a Scorpion’s Touch, and hitting Boise, Idaho on their tour.

 
I was running a little late to the show and, to be honest, I was kind of hoping to miss the first two bands.  Yes, I’m that guy.  I’ve seen and booked so many mediocre bands over the years that on the rare occasion I decide to go see a band, I don’t want to sit through other bands anymore.  With that said, the first band was still playing when I got there.  I’m not going to bore you with the details, the first two weren’t my thing.

 
Up next was Demoni.  These guys have been around for several years now and tour quite a bit.  When they took the stage, the whole mood for the night took a huge step in the right direction.  Singer/guitar player, Andy Agenbroad, was a little less (or maybe a lot less) than sober.  Somehow, after playing two hour-long sets earlier in the day, Demoni was still on top of their game.

 
They play a horror-themed blend of psychobilly and surf rock.  These guys have been around the block and it’s obvious.  Their guitar and bass tones were great and their drummer, Cody Chapple, had a great sounding drum kit.  It’s good to hear an opening band with good sounding gear.  On top of all of this, they play well.

 
cala5As is the case with most psychobilly bands, Demoni have an upright bass.  What sets them apart from so many of the other bands with these basses, though, is Ethan Davis learned how to play it really well.  He wasn’t jumping on top of it and throwing it around like a jackass.  He played it and he played the hell out of it!  I highly suggest you check these guys out (they’re on Facebook and twitter @demonipsycho).

 
Up next was finally Calabrese.  They took the stage like rock and roll legends.  Drummer, Davey, grabbed the mic and hyped up the crowd for a second before jumping behind the kit with the band exploding into Blood in My Eyes.  My only complaint at this point was Jimmy’s vocals sounded a little off key.  The music was tight though.
House of Mysterious Secrets was next and, again, they were killing it.  Jimmy asked for a little more vocals in the monitor and never had another problem from my standpoint.  Vocals were right on the rest of the night.

 
After She Hasn’t Been Herself in Years, the fourth song in their set, they took off the leather jackets.  Oh, did I mention they wore leather jackets for the first four songs?!  It was awesome.  They must be used to that Arizona heat because they didn’t have the least bit of an issue with how hot that had to have been.
Jimmy gabbed a comb and slicked back his hair, a-la Mike Ness.  They thanked everyone for being there and kicked into Saturday Night of the Living Dead.  This is one of my favorites of theirs.  It’s so rocking and so catchy and they were really in the groove from here on out.

 
They took it straight into Resurrection, another Calabrese classic.  The thing with these guys is that every chorus in every song is catchy.  You just can’t help but be into it.
They did play a few songs off of the new, as yet unreleased album, Born With a Scorpion’s Touch.  No one knew most of these songs, but they’re true to Calabrese form and are sure to be loved by all their fans.  The video for the song Born with a Scorpion’s Touch has been out for awhile now so that was the one new song that everybody knew and went extra crazy for.

 
cala2More classics were played flawlessly.  Midnight Spookshow, Shrunken Head Kids, Coffin of Ruins… all awesome.  I started wondering how they hit those higher notes they were singing with such ferocity.  Seriously, it was incredible how on-key they were.
They introduced each other for the crowd but Jimmy stole Bobby’s thunder when he knocked over the mic stand during his introduction and almost fell over.  I have no idea how it happened but it was pretty funny.  They, then, headed into another high point for me with The Dead Don’t Rise (check out the music video for this one!).

 
They got a little spiritual at one point and wanted to dedicate a song off the new album to “the big guy upstairs”.  No, not that guy… they were talking about Elvis Presley!  The song that followed was a “ballad”, for lack of a better term, called Evil Inside.  It wasn’t a sappy ballad, it was a rocking Calabrese ballad.  Bobby and Jimmy sang vocals together over Bobby’s distorted guitar.  Drums came in and hit hard.  Finally, Jimmy’s bass came in to finish the “ballad”.  I can’t urge enough that this isn’t really a ballad.  Just sort of a ballad-Calabrese-style because it was still completely rocking.  It’s going to be a high point on the new album, I can already tell.

 
After setting the place ablaze again with Vampires Don’t Exist, the band left the stage.  The lights died down as some interlude music played.  Then, less than two minutes later, Calabrese rushed the stage again and went full force on another four songs to close out the show with Violet Hellfire, Ghostwolves (another personal favorite), Backseat of My Hearse and Voices of the Dead.These guys killed it at this show. The Shredder was a great venue for Calabrese, as well.  Pinball, arcade games, a skate ramp and beer all in one location… it felt right up Calabrese’s alley.

 
cala4 Next time they head to your city, make sure to catch them.  They played everything phenomenally.  I didn’t hear a missed note.  Every riff, solo, bass line and drum hit was right on.  That’s really saying something for a band who doesn’t just stand there, as well.  They rocked hard all night long and it was obvious they had fun being up there.  Hands down, they are THE BEST horror rock band since Danzig-era Misfits.
9 and a half out of 10

Chris Cavoretto

Torture Garden – The Great Depression (Album Review)

tort1Torture Garden – “The Great Depression”

 

When I heard this was an avant garde doom album, I was intrigued.  When I found out the name of the band was Torture Garden, I thought, “great, this is going to be horrible.”  I seem to remember a not-so Savage Garden who shit all over the pop charts in the late 90′s/early 2000′s.

I must admit, my first listen was as a background piece while other things were going on.  My initial reaction was poor, but I heard some moments of promise.  I thought I’d give it another listen.

What I found is that this is a record you need to listen to.  It’s not background music.  It has a point and, had I not listened again, I would have never realized this. The opening track is very reminiscent of 1984 and “Big Brother”.  The whole attitude is very punk rock/anarchistic and tells us we should be questioning anything big media and money are behind.  This band has something to say and they say it.  It’s sometimes jumbled underneath layers of clean and distorted instruments, but they say it.

After the long opening, the second track, Pervert, slips in, almost undetected under the ambience of everything going on. My initial thought was I didn’t care for the whiny sounding vocals opening and closing the song.  We hit a big turn at about the 4:00 mark with unrelenting distorted vocals.  It’s not doom but it feels like we’re headed in the right direction.  Then, at about the 6:30 mark, we hit the doom riff.  This riff is great and would make 1970′s Black Sabbath envious.

Upon further listening, I realized how the vocals fit with the song as a whole.  You see, this track is against the raping of children.  You get the sense that the vocals set the whole mood from the victim’s perspective.  First, you have sadness and confusion, then you hit the anger and ultimate vicious release.  After that, when you come to the acceptance, you break down one more time and let everything hit you.  That’s what this track feels like to me.

In the fourth track, we meet the voice of “big business”.  It’s a story we all know well, but it’s told in a powerful way.  The ambience swells underneath as the track progresses and it slowly turns into the next track. This is where the album really picks up.  Mister Mammon brings forth an assault of distorted screaming and brilliantly layered acoustic and distorted guitars.  As the bass rumbles along, the drums really bring this song home.  Imaginative playing is an understatement.  Some seriously great drumming here.

tort2As this song ends, it seems to take forever, but when we finally reach Circuses Without Bread, the slow, brooding doom is in full force.  Great doom track here with megaphone-esque vocals. Hideous in Their Glory keeps the doom going but in the middle of this sludgefest, the little amount of vocals here are grating.  Grating in a bad way.  It’s reminiscent of a high school band’s first attempt at death metal vocals.  Luckily, the band carries us along this journey very well, keeping it slow, heavy and full of great doom riffs and the vocals in this song are very sparse.

From here, the album loses my interest.  There are flashes of greatness within the music but the vocals get under my skin.  A lot of droning, crying type vocals with the occasional high school death metal style I mentioned earlier. At this point in the album, I’m wondering why it’s so long.  When we hit track 10, Defying the Laws of Hell, it feels like we might get the band’s second wind.  Unfortunately, the track doesn’t really go anywhere and being this far into the album, it could’ve used a good kick start.  Maybe if it had transitioned into a powerhouse track next, it would’ve really pulled me back into it.  This isn’t what happened.  Instead, we get what would be some great music if I could get passed those clean vocals I can’t get passed.

When the final track hits, Mists of Time, is a pretty good track with the layers of acoustic and distorted guitars that I really like from this band.  A few more takes to get the acoustic playing in time a little better would have made it better for me.  However, this kind of keeps that raw edge, so maybe it’s better without doing so. Unfortunately, the clean singing on this album is way too over-dramatic for me to take and the album is just way too long.  Each time I listen, I’m done about half way through.  A five or six song would have been great.  I think the album has a place though.

I would think this band has legions of fans because they do what they do well.  For me it’s sort of like an anarchist My Dying Bride record with a dash of Pink Floyd and a whole lot of ambience and mood-setting.  If it weren’t for the length, I’d probably listen to this album a lot.  It has flashes of brilliance everywhere.  I highly suggest you don’t discount this album based on my negative comments but take the time to listen for yourselves based on my positive comments.  It hits hard and not everyone will share my views.

Verdict 6/10

Chris Cavoretto

 

You can check out Torture Garden at their bandcamp page HERE

Rezinwolf – Corruption Kingdom (2013) CD Review

rezinccREZINWOLF – CORRUPTION KINGDOM

 

I hadn’t heard of Rezinwolf until a few days ago when I was asked to review this album. The challenge that all new bands face is actually being heard above the noise of countless others all trying to be heard at the same time as you. It’s even more difficult for British bands to make a name for themselves right now, as despite metals heritage being firmly rooted here, it’s now dominated by American acts. But rest assured, on the strength of ‘Corruption Kingdom’ it won’t be long before Rezinwolf’s is the voice that is heard above the others. Hailing from Harwich in Essex, the four piece have crafted a noise that is both exhilarating and impassioned, and will put a big smile on most metal fans faces. It certainly put one on mine.

It becomes immediately apparent on the first proper track ‘Rage Against Us’ that the band are not messing around. It’s a tight, fast and brutal number which echo’s the best of Slayer, and mixes it up with the ‘Gothenburg’ dynamics favoured by bands such as In Flames and Children of Bodom. With its vocal refrain of ‘never surrender’ it is a mission statement of a song, immediate and unafraid.

rezinwolfBut it isn’t until the next track ‘Hail To Armageddon’ we find out who Rezinwolf really are. An utterly ruthless track that never pauses for breath, drags the listener in then refuses to let go. Combining a classical metal approach with the vicious, cutting guitar work of modern thrash, it’s a beast of a song that had my head thrashing back and forth with glee. ‘Beyond The Rapture’ and ‘Onset of Plagues’ are both fist throwing, soaring epics that could rouse even the laziest of listeners to action. The dynamic approach is, at times, sublime; mixing the speed and precision of thrash with slower, heavier riffing to create a razor sharp, yet organic sound. The whole thing flows together with a synchronicity that few bands possess. Whether it’s the ferocious, impassioned vocals; the venomous and technically brilliant guitar work, or the artillery tight rhythm section, everything comes together in a maelstrom of noise and excitement.

The band wear their influences unashamedly on their sleeves at times (Arm The Rebels recalls ‘Rust In Peace’ era Megadeth maybe a little too much) but for the most part they transcend them and forge their own identity. If this is just the beginning of things for Rezinwolf then I can only imagine with excitement of what may come next. Their intentions are clear: stand up, take notice, and they will be heard!

8/10

Sam Haynes – Welcome To The Horror Show CD (2013)

wtthsTrack Listing:

1. All Hallows

2. Ghost House

3. Shadows

4. Scarecrows

5. Zombie

6. Doll House

7. Ghost Train

8. Midnight

9. Seance

10. 31-13

11. The Dark

12. Halloween Night

13. Midnight at the Funhouse

14. Endless Nightmare

15. Ghost House (Fettdog remix)

16. Scarecrows (Cheekyboy Dub)

17. Witching Hour

18. Spirit Box

Welcome to the Horror Show by Sam Haynes

Sam Haynes has created an 18 track CD that is remarkable. He has made a electronic landscape that recreates the wonderful horror soundtracks for the 1970′s & 80′s.

The music is created for Halloween and Sam also has a Facebook page dedicated to all things Halloween, and Welcome To The Horror Show is the perfect accompaniment for all things spooky.

Right now the pleasantries are out of the way can I just say this is a fantastic release that has been undersold by Sam himself. There is huge talent here and this is a beautiful electro horror release that stands alone as a full soundtrack and not just simply a CD to be played at Halloween parties.

From truly atmospheric soundscapes to fear inducing thumping beats Welcome To The Horror Show is a must for any horror film fan and soundtrack enthusiast . But don’t read about me waffling on about it , get your arse over to his website and check it out for yourself.

A unexpected masterpiece and I can’t wait for more of Sam’s work, check it out and buy it now!!

8 out of 10

Sam’s main site is www.hauntmusic.co.uk people can hear his work there. He also currently has a 20% off code for bandcamp , code is halloween.

Here is a link for you to download a full copy from bandcamp – http://samhaynes1.bandcamp.com/album/welcome-to-the-horror-show-music-for-halloween-2013

And his Facebook page – www.facebook.com/2013HALLOWEEN

Watain – Opus Diaboli (2012) DVD Review

watain-dvd-572x402

Swedish Black metal outfit Watain have released a live concert DVD entitled Opus Diaboli (2012) to coincide with the bands 13th year; for those unfamiliar with Watain Opus Diaboli is an excellent introduction to the band, their ideology and a brutally crushing live set which showcases a band who on stage sound as good as their recording, the growl laden vocals of black metal front man Erik Danielsson captivates the crowd, the guitars trash and sound cold, raw and furious harking back to bands like Bathory and Mayhem, feeling more modern than the latter but just as uninviting to an outsider to the genre.

The DVD intersects between vivid imagery and a live performance which makes this more like a feature film than a standalone live performance, gothic ambient sounds overlay some strikingly beautiful shots and an extensive interview with Erik himself accompanies the live set.

Even if you are not a fan of black metal or its ideals this documentary is essential as an insight into a genre which garners controversy and a distinct lack of understanding outside the metal community, Satan and occultism are at the heart of this genre’s rich history and the music oft gets overshadowed by outside acts and statements from many of the genres figureheads; Watain included.

watain logo

During the interview Erik divulges details of the bands inception and its storied history, Danielsson speaks like a marketing machine which is encompassed by Watain and watching him dissect his own ideology is fascinating, linguistics and iconography are discussed. Although his bands lyrics are juvenile and beliefs are extreme and to alienating his presence enlightens and captivates viewers.

The editing is also superb bridging the live set with the documentary serves well and as Erik Mentions Death the viewer is rushed into a ripping performance of track Reaping Death.

The aforementioned track is one of the highlights of the “live” portion of this disc and the solo within is epic coupled with the atmospheric set pieces and smoke filled stage creates the perfect ambience for this music.

It is astounding to see Lawless Death with its fantastic guitar driven intro and a subtly paced drum beat gathering momentum as the track progresses and its sound would be more suited to Carcass or Morbid Angel and their influence shine here, Stellarvore and waters of Ain are also standout highlights and are perfect songs for newcomers to discover the sound of Watain.

Non black metal fans could easily find merit in this DVD set and happily skip the live performances and have an informed, if not biased view into the world of Watain which is on its own a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

 

 

To get the full Watain “experience turn the lights off light some candles and let the band envelop the room and watch and listen as Erik guides you into the meaning of Watain, Nordic mythology and Theistic Satanism.

This boxset comes with the DVD documentary/Live set from Stockholm and 13 tracks delivered across 2 Cds, this is an excellent package and a valuable relic into the world of Watain and black metal on a whole.

9/10

 

 

 

 

Tracklisting:

01 – Intro
02 – Malfeitor
03 – Devil’s Blood
04 – Reaping Death
05 – Lawless Darkness
06 – Stellarvore
07 – On Horns Impaled
08 – Waters Of Ain
09 – Outro

Werewolves In Siberia – The Rising

wistherising

The Rising is a full length album released by Werewolves in Siberia , released on 12th March 2013 this is an electro synch soundtrack for the mind. The music is hugely reminiscent of 1970’s/80’s Slasher films whilst carrying the Euro dread of a late 60’s Giallo.
The Rising feels like a concept album with 7 tracks of varying length (from 1.48 – 5.25 minutes) and the tracks are neatly bookended by Track 1 – Introduction To A Nightmare and Track 7 – Return To The Nightmare , that gives the whole opus a start , middle and end that totally completes the album.
The joy of The Rising and what Werewolves do so well is you can relax , close your eyes and almost build the horror film mentally while the music plays, just imagine the horror, thriller or zombie epic unfurling alongside the waves of synthesiser that roll over.
Each track is different and brings with it fabulous textures of sound and all I can say is just track Werewolves in Siberia down and get everything you can . You will not be disappointed .

I recently caught up with Chris and he gave me this short intro into the history, present and future of the project –

Werewolves in Siberia is an electronic/horror-synth project that started sort of by accident. Chris Cavoretto is the man behind the project. After years of playing mostly metal and hardcore as well as running a small independent label, a break was needed.
After a few year absence from music, it was time for a new project. Upon starting a guitar and vocal solo project, the dabbling in recording began. With the dabbling in recording came the dabbling in synths.
This is where Werewolves in Siberia started. In two weeks time, “The Rising” EP was recorded.
Since then, a project covering John Carpenter’s Halloween Theme and The Misfits’ Halloween was done (with a cover of London Dungeon as a bonus) has been released as well as a four song split with fellow horror-synth lover Serengeti Yeti.
Remix mastermind, Ghastworks remixed two songs off of “The Rising” which was released for free download under the title “Double Feature (The Ghastworks Remixes)”.
Werewolves in Siberia takes the love of horror movies and especially the soundtracks to the fun 70’s and 80’s zombie and slasher films and has built an updated, yet very throwback sound. Every song has been written with a vision of a horror scene that could go along with it. What’s next? Maybe soundtracks…

Chris Cavoretto

My thanks to Chris for taking time out to chat and for the info.

I really recommend checking out Werewolves , this is a unique and audibly stunning project that is really welcome in the horror genre and I for one look forward with much anticipation to their future releases.

And here are a few links to their sites .

Www.werewolvesinsiberia.com

www.facebook.com/WerewolvesInSiberia

wis1

Testament – Manchester HMV Ritz 29/11/2012 – Review

 

Testament

Manchester HMV Ritz 29th Nov 2012

I first heard Testament back in 1987 with their legendary 1st album The Legacy which is still a favourite of mine . They were prolific over the next few years releasing some great stuff and they have been still active over the years but really returned to form with the release of the 2012 LP – Dark Roots of Earth , that is a stomping heavy metal machine .
I first saw Testament on 14th Nov 1987 supporting Anthrax at the Manchester Apollo and what a gig that was !!
So a mere 25 years later I was made up to see them back again in my local city .
I had seen them earlier this year at the Bloodstock festival but they seemed lost and lifeless on the big stage playing during the day in the August sun , and I hoped they would be better in a much smaller intimate venue .
And on to the venue The Ritz Manchester . This is now an exclusive concert venue after many many (Commandant Lassard) years of being a nightclub . It did host a few gigs back in the late 80’s , in fact I remember seeing Nuclear Assault and Dark Angel there back in 1989 but since then it did host the infamous Monday student nights and was very well known for the *grab a granny* nights on a Friday .
But after the change of use can I just say what a great venue this is , the height of the stage means that a great view can be had from almost anywhere you stand , but at over £4 for a beer the place aint cheap , but you don’t need many beers to feel the effect of Britains last remaining spring loaded dance floor (bouncy bouncy) .
Anyway enough ramblings and on to the gig , also I didn’t bother with the support as I was only there for Testament and the pub was much cheaper AND better beer .

Testament took to the stage at bang on 9.30pm and immediately kicked into Rise Up which is a real fist pumper (oh matron) , and from then you could see they were having a blast . The crowd (and it was really busy) were singing along and really getting into it .
They played some good old stuff and even did Alone in the Dark which is the first time I have heard this in aeons .
So a full 90 minute set that include most of their classics with a few new songs and it was great to see the band having such a good time and also such a good turn out .
You see many of the older bands just turn up , play and then leave but Testament all seemed to really enjoy being there and that transferred to the crowd who responded to their energy .
So a great gig by a great band who may not look like they did back in 1987 BUT they still deliver a gig like it was .

A thrashtastic 8/10

Set List

Rise Up
The New Order
The Preacher
Native Blood
True American Hate
More Than Meets the Eye
Dark Roots of Earth
Into the Pit
Practice What You Preach
Over the Wall
Alone in the Dark
Disciples of the Watch
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
3 Days in Darkness
The Formation of Damnation