Category: Heavy Metal

Founded by Marcos Garcia and featuring Chico Mann (guitar, vocals), a former member of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas; Geoff Mann (drums); Rich Panta (percussion); JP Maramba (bass); and Kris Casto (organ), the Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man was created specifically as a way to bridge the funky polyrhythms and grooves of Afrobeat with the power chord, riff-based muscle of heavy rock — and the result is novel and modern take on both heavy rock and Afrobeat. As the band’s Garcia explained in press notes  “These repetitive guitar figures that happen in Afrobeat music are pretty close to heavy rock guitar riffs.  It’s based on the clave. It’s the musical algorithm that the rhythms revolve around. That’s what gives it integrity and is part of this musical conversation going on. I knew I wanted it to be psychedelic and heavy, and I wanted to be expanding on a musical tradition than pretending to be creating something new.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the early part of this year, you may recall that I wrote about “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled album, slated for an April 7, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records and to my ears, that single managed to sound as though Black Sabbath had covered “I.T.T. (International Thief Thief) Parts 1 and 2“-era Fela Kuti as towering layers of guitars played through buzzing effects pedals, twinkling and distorted synths,  propulsive polyrhythm and a deep, driving groove are paired with soulful yet ethereal vocals floating over an overall sound that’s funky yet psychedelic, and strangely dance floor and mosh pit friendly.

The self-titled album’s second and latest single “When I Come To” continues along a similar, psychedelic vein as layers of buzzing guitars are paired with propulsive polyrhythms and a driving, forceful groove, shouted vocals and towering organ chords making it a seamless synthesis of hard psych/hard rock/heavy metal with Afrobeat — while sounding as though it could have been released in roughly 1975; but with a modern touch.

New Audio: Sub Pop Records and Soundgarden Release Second Single Off Remixed and Expanded Re-Issue of Their Debut Album

Currently comprised of founding members Chris Cornell (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Kim Thayil (lead guitar), along with Matt Cameron (drums), who joined in 1986 and Ben Shepherd (bass), who joined in 1990, the Seattle, WA-based grunge/alt-rock quartet Soundgarden can trace its origins back to the formation and eventual breakup of an early 80s Seattle-based band The Shemps, which featured Cornell on drums and vocals, along with original bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Strangely enough, over the years what seems to have been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had started their recording career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the renowned alt rock/indie label released the band’s first two EPs 1987’s Screaming Life and 1988’s Fopp, two efforts, which the label re-issued a couple of years ago through both vinyl and digital formats, marking the first time in about 25 years that the EPs were pressed onto vinyl — and the first time they were released digitally. Interestingly enough, Sub Pop Records helped distributed Soundgarden’s 1988 full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

And although they had some creative differences with the album’s producer Drew Canulette and the band’s overall dissatisfaction with the final mixes, their full-length effort was a commercial success as it garnered both a 1990 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance and attention from larger labels — including A&M Records, who quickly signed the band. At the time, the band had intended to spend some time remixing the album for subsequent pressings of the album; but those plans wound up falling by the wayside, as the band went on to write and record their sophomore effort, and major-label debut, Louder Than Love.

Last year, the members of the band acquired the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they enlisted the assistance of renowned producer, engineer, long-time friend and frequent, old-time collaborator Jack Endino, who has famously worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up what the band felt were persistent loose ends — while fixing the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the band found six early version of album singles that eventually wound up on Ultramega OK and reportedly those early versions, which would eventually become staples of their live sets at the time, capture the band’s sound and songwriting in a much rawer, less polished form — and much closer to the sound on the Screaming Life EP.

Almost 30 years after Ultramega OK’s original release, Sub Pop Records will be releasing the remixed and expanded re-issue of the album, as a long-awaited “correction.” Naturally, for die-hard fans and completists, the re-mixed material will capture the band’s sound as they fully intended it, while the re-discovered early material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and overall sound. Now, as you may remember, I wrote about the re-issue’s first single “Beyond The Wheel” and the re-mixed version possessed a crisper, cleaner sound, which helped to display Kim Thayill’s incredible guitar work and the interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like thundering drumming and Cornell’s Robert Plant-like wailing. The re-mixed and expanded Ultramega OK’s second single “Flower” much like its preceding single displays a cleaner, crisper sound, which gives the song the muscular insistence that the band became known for while interestingly enough, the song has moments that nod at Badmotorfinger and Superunknown.

Over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts on Permanent Records‘ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaborative proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid: The First TripBrown Acid: The Second Trip and Brown Acid: The Third Trip. Each edition of the compilation has been based on RidingEasy Records founder Daniel Hall and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi extensive and painstaking research and curation — with Both Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down the songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recorded together in 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the process.  And as Barresi explained in press notes, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” And by having the artists participate it can give the songs and the artists a real second chance at success, if not some kind of attention for their work.

Following the critical and commercial success of the first three volumes, Riding Easy Records and Permanent Records will be releasing the fourth volume of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip fittingly on April 20, 2017. Much like the previous three volumes, the fourth edition is based on Barresi’s and Hall’s exhaustive, painstaking research and curation, and as both men discovered, the well of privately released hard rock, heavy psych and proto-metal 45s is incredibly deep; in fact, they’ve barely scratched the surface. Most of the singles they stumbled on for the fourth volume of Brown Acid were either barely released or never properly distributed with two of the album’s 10 tracks being previously unreleased — until now.

Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip‘s first single is Kanaan’s “Leave It,” a towering and explosive, barnburner that features some incredible guitar pyrotechnics paired with swaggering vocals fed through a bit of reverb and delay, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. and while the song possesses a free-flowing, booze and psychedelics fueled improvisational feel, the song manages a tight, motorik-like groove that holds the song together.

There are bands, whose sound and aesthetic make such a forceful and immediate impression that you can instantly recall the first time you had come across them; in fact the first time I had ever heard Soundgarden, I was watching MTV‘s Headbanger’s Ball.  And what I can still remember more than 25 years later was how the show’s host at the time, Rikki Rachtman told viewers that they needed to be on the lookout for Soundgarden — mainly because of Chris Cornell, who Rachtman had described as being a little guy with an enormous voice. They promptly followed that with the music video for “Outshined” off Badmotorfinger — and I can remember being blown away.

Strangely, as the years have passed what’s been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had initially started their career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the now long-renowned grunge label had released the Seattle-based band’s first two EP’s Screaming Life and Fopp, which Sub Pop re-issued a few years ago, marking the first time that both of those early efforts would be availably digitally, as well as through vinyl. But interestingly enough, the renowned Seattle-based label also help distribute  Soundgarden’s full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

On March 10, 2017, Sub Pop Records will be releasing a remixed and expanded reissue of Soundgarden’s full-lengtht debut, as a long-planned “correction” of their debut. Ultramega OK was originally recorded and released through SST Records in 1988 — and while the members of the band enjoyed working with the album’s original producer, Drew Canulette, they were dissatisfied with the album’s final mix. And as the story goes, the band had intended to remix the album for subsequent pressings; however, the band quickly had major label success and were signed to A&M Records and the band went into the studio to work on their major-label debut effort, Louder Than Love. And as a result, the Ultramega OK remix had fallen off to the wayside.

Last year, the members of the band finally acquitted the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they all decided to set some time aside to work on the remix. Naturally, the band enlisted the assistance of renowned producer and engineer Jack Endino, a long-time friend and former collaborator, who has worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up some persistent loose ends and fixes the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the members of the band also found six early versions of songs that eventually wound up on the full-length album, which they initially recorded in 1987 with Jack Endino and Chris Hanszek at Reciprocal Recording — and mixed by Endino last year. Reportedly, those early versions of songs, which were later staples of the band’s live sets, capture the band in a much rawer form — and much closer to the Screaming Life EP. Naturally for die-hard fans and completists, the rediscovered material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and sound. The forthcoming re-issue’s first single is a crisper, tighter and much more forceful version of “Beyond The Wheel” which better displays Kim Thayill’s guitar work and its interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like drumming and Cornell’s vocals. And compared to the original, the re-mixed alternate version almost sounds like a completely different song.

New Audio: Dallas, TX’s Power Trip Returns with More Blistering, Hook-Laden Metal

Now, if you had stumbled on to this site towards the end of last year, you may recall that I wrote about Dallas, TX-based metal quintet Power Trip. Comprised of Riley Gale, Blake Ibanez, Chris Ulsh, Nick Stewart and Chris Whetzel, the Dallas-based quintet have developed a reputation for a sound that draws heavily from 80s metal, complete with similiar guitar pyrotechnics and thundering drumming. “Firing Squad,” off the quintet’s forthcoming album Nightmare Logic was a mosh pit worthy song that’s reminiscent of Slayer, Metallica and Iron Maiden; but with a modern production sheen. The album’s latest single “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” continues on a similar vein as blistering cascades of power chords, propulsive and thundering drumming and howled lyrics while possessing a subtly modern production sheen –with what sounds like a bit of twinkling piano, just under the surface; but perhaps more important, both singles off the band’s forthcoming album reveal an emphasis on crafting incredibly tight and anthemic hooks while expressing a contemporary sense of complete hopelessness in everything. After all, things do seem increasingly bleak.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P. The quartet has long operated off the belief that heavy metal didn’t come from the forest or beam down from outer space; but rather, that it crawled up out of the sewer and writhed to life in in the grit and grime of the streets and their unique take on heavy metal and doom metal “street doom” is deeply indebted to that approach. And in addition to that, the quartet have developed a reputation for relentless touring when they signed to renowned Los Angeles-based label RidingEasy Records, who will be releasing the band’s highly-anticipated full-length debut In The Wind on December 9, 2016.

Now you may recall that “Black Leather” had the Portland-based quartet pairing scuzzy, power chords with thunderous drumming and a driving motorik-like groove in an expansive and spacious dirge that allowed room for some additional, blistering guitar pyrotechnics in a song that seemed to draw equally from Black SabbathLed Zeppelin and Hawkwind — in the sense that structurally speaking, the song in its first half or so is power chord heavy dirge and in its last half turns into a psych rock-leaning stoner rock with a swaggering self-assuredness while evoking sulfurous smoke billowing from the depths of hell. In The Wind‘s latest single “Tremble” is a stoner rock/psych rock doom-filled ass-kicker reminiscent of the aforementioned Black Sabbath and of Badmotorfinger and Superunknown-era Soundgarden as the song consists of dense layers of punishing power chords, some ridiculous guitar pyrotechnics, a motorik-like groove and murky lyrics   that evoke the fear and dread that many of us have been feeling for the past 24 hours.