So Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist recently appeared on MTV’s Made to wear odd tiny hats and dispense life advice as a quote-unquote “Queen of Scream.” Her disciple is a lil pious church mouse named Julia, a sixteen year-old so terribly cyberbullied that by her own admission the only places she feels safe are “church, home, and the drama room” and who believes the solution to these problems lies in becoming a “Metal Screamer,” thus punching her ticket to the untouchable in-crowd, which, among other things I suppose, goes to show how long ago I graduated from high school.
To this end Professor White-Gluz demonstrates flamboyant, cringe-worthy headbanging technique, offers pointers from the metal-screaming-is-just-whispering-real-real-loud school of bellowing, explains vegan straight-edge to Julia’s bemused Midwestern parents, and employs a Socratic method that results in nuggets such as this palm-to-forehead gobsmacker:
“If I walk up to you and say, ‘God doesn’t exist,’ what would your response be?”
“Yes, he does.”
“Exactly. So if somebody walks up to you and says ‘Julia sucks,’ what would your response be?”
“No, she doesn’t.”
Sure, If God doesn’t exist, you probably actually do suck is the kind of advice that makes you wonder if perhaps MTV shouldn’t have instead looked to Betsey Bitch as a potential coach, but there are at least five reasons metalheads should check out the episode:
1. Julia skips attending a metal show with Alissa and Iwrestledabearonce to build a series of elaborate gingerbread houses with a gaggle of old women. If you don’t understand how this helped Julia maintain her fledgling metal cred, it’s okay. Get back to me after you watch The Agonist’s absurdist capes n’ hand fans video for “Thank You Pain” and the bear wrestlers’ conceptual film based on the track “Tastes Like Kevin Bacon”. (Real talk: If these fuckers actually once bested a bear, that bear must have had leukemia.)
2. Julia’s mother breaks up Alissa’s first pink bedroom “scream session” — sample yelps: No more! Look who’s laughing now! — with her own Benton-style growl of Time to go to bed! suggesting the older woman’s previous ostentatious concerns over the potential for Julia to slip into “devil worship” via metal were actually part of a elaborate cover to hide a Rosemary’s Baby-esque conspiracy. Run, Julia, before your parents embed the spawn of Satan in your womb!
3. Tie. Julia’s hot pink Auditions for Metal Band flyers vs the tuff grrl drummer’s ceaseless mocking of Julia for being unwilling to call her band Two Balls Shy. Julia ultimately goes with the fey-as-fuck This Too Shall Pass, but on the upside I don’t think any female drummer has showed this much promise since the era of Samantha Maloney and the Doughnuts.
4. A metalhead “friend” sneers that Julia will “probably scream angry she was about how the latest episode of Gossip Girl didn’t go the way she wanted it to go.” Right on, bro! Taylor Momsen is a sellout! This quip makes the list mostly because later in the program it is amusing to imagine the lines Julia screams — i.e. “You never know when your lungs will fill with broken glass”; “Stop feeding off them, they are poisonous and divine” — are actually snippets of Chuck Bass fan fiction.
5. Johnny Plague, singer of Wings of Plague and a man possessing such metal prowess he is able to summon pits both at strip clubs and in cartoons, feels Julia’s pain backstage (“I was bullied. I have also written songs about being bullied”), then onstage betrays no sense of irony as he dedicates a song to “all the bullies” entitled…”Decimate the Weak.” Yeah, Plague, I bet all the bullies in the house took that as a diss, not a call to arms…
The phone just kept ringing out and going to Tony Foresta’s voicemail. We tried a few times, on each occasion considering leaving a “horny message” at the beep, as requested by the Municipal Waste frontman. It feels now like an opportunity missed. Ach, no matter, it was all cool. Foresta wasn’t dogging the call, obviously, he was busy preparing for a Superbowl half-time show with YouTube cranked up
“I’ve been learning Disturbed and Limp Bizkit lyrics; I’m about two songs in,” he says. “We’re playing in this joke band for half-time show during the Superbowl. We dress up as rappers and it looks really stupid. We do it once every couple of years, it’s like a big joke, and play for ten minutes. Whenever they get a shitty half-time artist, like Madonna, we do our thing… Anyway….” Yeah, anyway, this was beginning to sound like it had a bit of mileage in it, but we were working to a brief: we wanted the details on his new hardcore crossover project, Iron Reagan.
Featuring fellow Waste dude, Phil “LandPhil” Hall on guitar, drummer Ryan Parrish and bassist Paul Burnette (both ex-Darkest Hour), Iron Reagan is a sort of throw-and-go, ferocious one-take crossover band, no beer jokes and pissed at life’s injustices etc. They just played their first show the other week, and are trying to commit as much material to tape as possible before the touring cycle for new Waste LP The Fatal Feast consumes all of messrs. Foresta and Hall’s spare time.
Demo 2012 by Iron Reagan
When/how did you start Iron Reagan?
Everybody in our band doesn’t take time off; we just start other bands. Me and Ryan Parrish, the drummer, grew up together and we’ve talked about doing a band together for like 20 years. It’s like finally. He’s just quit Darkest Hour and I’ve had a lot of time off, it was like, “Let’s do a fuckin’ band!” And me and Phil wanted to do more, well a faster sort of band. But Paul, we didn’t realize—we were like trying to get a bass player and then thought why no get Paul. We all love him; we’ve all played with him and toured with him.
Did you know what you wanted to sound like before you started the band?
I wanted to see Ryan play that type of music on drums. He’s a really good drummer and he hits really hard, so I’ve always wanted to do a metal/punk band with him. It had to be really fast metal songs with a punk vibe to them. I guess when we went in there we had a sound that we wanted—it worked out good. Some of it is really fast.
Yeah, but it sounds a bit more punk than metal—it’s more Negative Approach than Slayer.
I love Negative Approach. Yeah, this definitely leans more to the punk side than Municipal Waste. Municipal Waste has a lot more of a metal influence because that was what we were listening to whereas this has got the hardcore element. The songs that are on the demo lean a little bit more to the metal side but it’s still real fast [hardcore]. I don’t think any song lasts longer than two minutes.
You’ve been recording a full-length at the moment: how many tracks do you have?
We thought it was going to be 25 but we cut one. Yeah, we have no idea what we are going to do with it now. Like, we have so many freakin’ songs we just booked studio time and recorded it. We’re recording it in some dude’s garage; he has put out some punk bands’ demos around here and it sounds really cool and raw. We didn’t wanna put like too much time into it because a lot of times some of the abrasiveness and rawness and the spontaneity of it gets lost when you start over-thinking songs. We just wrote songs as fast as we could, busted out some songs and went to record them. It was pretty cool—it sounds good, too.
Who is producing it?
His name’s Bob. He plays in a band called Dry Spell, here in Richmond—they’re a pretty awesome hardcore band.
How did your first show go?
It was awesome. We opened for Weekend Nachos, Full of Hell… It was definitely more of a hardcore show and we were more metal. It was a lot of fun and the response was huge. I couldn’t believe how many people turned out; it was almost sold out. It was on a Sunday afternoon at like 5 o’clock and it was packed to the walls.
There’s something nice, not civilized but nice about going to a matinee show.
Yeah it’s cool, younger kids are able to go to them who ordinarily wouldn’t be allowed in a bar show. Richmond has this weird law where the all-ages shows have to be over by 11 o’clock at night, and the 18 and up shows have to start at like 10 or 11, so you either have to do an all-ages show that has to be over super-early, and all-ages shows are generally not very well-attended in Richmond—Richmond’s a late town—so most of the time people just do 18 and up shows so more people will come. It’s a college town. It’s a bummer that they have laws like that. I remember when I first started going to shows in Richmond I was just able to go to an all-ages show and leave at one o’clock or something and it was fine. About 10 years ago they changed the lucks—it sucks.
That’s the challenge about the 18+ shows, growing the bad moustache and getting fake I.D. to get in.
Haha, yeah, the peach fuzz moustache!
And the live show is all important too. If the kids miss out on the live experience, they miss out on a huge part of what metal/hardcore’s all about.
That’s what we’ve tried to do with Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour; we’re like touring machines. We’re used to just getting out there and playing. Municipal Waste is getting real busy in the coming months so Iron Reagan are like trying to play as many shows all round that stuff. We’ve got three shows coming up; we’re doing as show with Casualties and Toxic Holocaust, and then we’re playing with Deicide a couple of weeks later.
That should be fun.
We’re going to stick out like a sore thumb.
How’s Phil getting on with guitar?
Well it’s different what with him playing bass in his other bands but that was part of why he wanted to do Iron Reagan too; he wanted to play guitar in a band because he’d never done that except for when he was a kid. We just want to do something that’s like Cro-Mags influenced, and he was like “Yeah, I wanna do that and play guitar!”
The common denominator in all your projects is that they seem like a lot of fun.
That’s why I play music.
But, in saying that, would you say Iron Reagan is a bit angrier, more serious lyrically than Municipal Waste?
Oh yeah, the lyrics are way more serious, and I would say a little bit smarter than the stuff I write for Municipal Waste. Iron Reagan is probably a lot more pissed off than any other band I’ve done.
Is it a political band?
A little bit, there’s a little bit of that going on in some of the songs, and more than any other band I’ve done before. There is a lot of social issues too, like a lot of hardcore bands.
Are you aware you are under a bit of pressure in that no band with the word “Iron” in their title sucks?
That’s true! Iron Maiden, Iron Lung…. Iron Monkey—that’s a great one. We’ve had the name Iron Reagan for years. Like we’ve wanted to do a band called that for ages—it’s worked out great.
With Municipal Waste, you’ve been a bit more serious of late, certainly on Massive Aggressive it was more serious: is that a conscious thing or is the tone all accidental?
Umm, maybe it’s just getting older or a question of how many songs you can write about drinking beer. Though I still do it, man, every day, I still wanna write about something different. It just calls for whatever you’re feeling when you hear a song. If the song sounds fun to you then write something fun but if it sounds darker then go there—I dunno, that’s how I feel when I think about what I want to write about.
What’s the plan for Iron Reagan—do you have any idea who might put it out?
We’ll find someone to put it out, that’s for sure. But, it’s more like, we just want to have fun with it. We’re definitely going to play out with it. Whenever the Waste isn’t touring we’ll be out there playing shows. In the long run it’s looking like a side-project but we’ll end up playing more shows in a few weeks than other hardcore bands play in a year. That’s the way we do things; we just try to play shows. In the long run, well…. We ain’t going anywhere during the deadtime except for playing shows. People are going to see a lot more Iron Reagan shit in the next couple of years. We’ve already got a cassette of the demo and Tankcrimes is gonna put that out. We wanna do a 7” and maybe an LP but all these songs sound good together so maybe we’ll just out out a 20-odd song LP… I dunno, we just wanna put out a bunch of different shit.
Teaming up with Warbringer and label home Century Media Records, we’ve been able to score — for you, of course — a pretty swell prize pack for doing almost the same amount of work as flipping over a couch cushion.
See, the Californian thrash outfit are currently on tour, in support of new album Worlds Torn Asunder, with Iced Earth and Symphony X. And we think you need more from Warbringer. You know, more than viewing their destructo-thrash metal on YouTube and arguing in the comments section which era of thrash was the best. We actually want you to own a little piece of Warbringer.
Of course, we can’t give you a lock or two from John Kevill or John Laux’s always-flailing hair or a militarized paint chip from Warbringer’s war-van, but we can promise something just as cool. Here it goes.
1. One (1) World Torn Asunder CD
2. One (1) autographed World Torn Asunder poster
3. One (1) Warbringer t-shirt
4. One (1) USB flashdrive lanyard (with all three Warbringer albums in digital format)
What do you have to do? Almost nothing.
Tell us which Warbringer full-length kicks your rosy red ass by emailing to: email@example.com .
** Warbringer’s new album, Worlds Torn Asunder, is out now on Century Media Records. It’s available HERE, unless you’d rather play the odds at winning this sweet little contest. Odds are 1/1,000-ish.
Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. You people can’t bitch that I picked the wrong album from this week’s artist, because they only HAD one album. SUCK IT. Anyway, here’s our look at the messed up death metal classic that is Demilich’s Nespithe (Pavement).
So, here’s the thing you’re going to notice about this music: it is seriously, seriously demented. Like, it’s a mystery to me that the elements of this band came from somebody’s mind and then several other people agreed that it was a thing that they should do. They are Finnish people, and it is cold and dark and boring there, but still. You’re probably wondering what makes this weirder than the average weirdness that we cover. It’s not weird in the sense of the stuff that Scott Seward writes about, but as far as death metal goes, these fearsome Finns push things to the breaking point.
A lot (but not all) of the insanity comes from Antti Boman’s throat. These are maybe the most indecipherable, guttural vocals you can find outside of putting a pit bull in front of the microphone. It literally sounds like the dude is belching the entire time. And not in the “this is an easy analogy” way. It’s pretty much just belching. The rest of the insanity comes from the rest of the band – this is super-technical, heavy death metal, filled with stops and starts and sudden changes that recall Atheist and Autopsy at their twistiest. What I’m trying to say is, Nespithe ain’t easy listening.
The end result of several demos, their sole full-length record was released in 1993 to very little attention (and re-released a decade later to pretty much the same reception). Consider the other notable DM records that came out that year – Morbid Angel’s Covenant, Atheist’s Elements, Death’s Individual Thought Patterns, Entombed’s Wolverine Blues. The prevailing trend was not in the direction of the sheer ugliness that Demilich purveyed. Even if you could understand what Boman was saying (or tell the songs apart), it seemed unlikely that you could sing along to “The Planet That Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh That It Desired…)” or “The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son of Fourteen Four-Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed).” Not to mention that, as you can probably tell, the band had a really, really weird sense of humor.
Still, these guys wound up being pretty influential. Hell, they inspired a straight up imitator, Biolich, which is quite the honor. They broke up right after this record, but they reunite occasionally to do “final” shows, so catch them if you can (or just download their complete discography, which they’ve been kind enough to provide for free at their website). Just try to avoid eating a large meal beforehand – that belching can really make you sick.
Download it for free (legally) here!
Buy it for really a lot of money here!
Currently tearing across the States with fellow thrash vets Anthrax and Death Angel, Testament will be releasing their tenth album in spring. Entitled The Dark Roots of Earth, Testament frontman Chuck Billy has intimated that it’ll go atomic in the pit much in the same fashion as 2008′s The Formation of Damnation did. Hmm… Good news for the consensus that argued that the Oakland quintet had never sounded better. Yeah it’s a long time coming and all those thrashers who got their necks bent of of shape with Formation… will be pissed off at the wait, but they can at least console themselves that Testament are operating a strict business-as-usual policy when it comes to the music
Despite losing drummer Paul Bostaph (initially to injury, but as Chuck explains Bostaph has left the band permanently), they’ve got a more than worthy replacement, especially for fans of the band’s Demonic era… Albeit on a wait-and-see temporary basis.
Testament are playing it close to their chest at the moment but we got Chuck to give us a few ideas on what to expect from the new record.
How’s the tour going?
Really good, it’s this second leg of the Anthrax/Death Angel tour and we’ve picked up right where we left off, just got back into it. The shows are going really well. It’s been a really good package—it’s co-billing but Anthrax closes the show.
And Gene Hoglan is drumming with you at the moment, right?
Yeah, he’s drumming for us and Anthrax. Charlie’s mom is ill, and he needs to be home near his mom right now.
Is there any resolution to the drummer situation with Testament; have you got an idea of who will be there permanently?
Well Paul [Bostaph] has recovered but he is not coming back to the group. He has decided to start a new band, I guess. So, we had Gene do the record, and Gene’s gonna do the touring for the record.
Do you think Gene would come back full-time? It’d be a popular one for the fans.
Well we’d love it if he decided to but we haven’t really got that far yet. We just have to get through this tour and see where we’re at. Gene kills it.
The Formation of Damnation came out ages ago, it went really well—why so long in following it up?
Well things just kept popping up. We had that Megadeth/Exodus tour pop up, then we had the Slayer/Megadeth tour… All these tours kept on popping up while we were trying to get the record written and recorded so, yeah, it took a little while but after we finished the Anthrax tour in—what was it?—October we just buckled down and got it done.
What do you put the success of Formation down to? It’s like Testament had a genuine renaissance and the band never seemed to be more stable?
The way we’re feeling about it, we as a band got an opportunity to finish something that we all started together, in a sense. I mean, not like we’re finished now, but we were back together and it feels good to play some of the old songs that we haven’t played in a long time, ‘cos some band members [in the past] didn’t want to do them or whatever, but having the original guys we can play anything from our catalog and it feels pretty good to do it. It’s like a second chance, just… Well, to finish something.
A band with a legacy (no pun intended), is always going to have that pressure creatively.
Yeah, I think so. In the writing process we don’t really think about it, we know what we want and need to do, but the songs just seem to come out. We’ve been writing and playing together for long enough that the songs just come together pretty quick.
What is the writing process like? Is Eric handling most of the music or is it a group effort?
Sometimes, it’s both—the majority of it Eric came up with because he’s been our main songwriter, and then Alex will come in and make some suggestions as far as arrangements go, and it seems to work out really well that way because Alex has good suggestions.
Alex has said that his other projects have given him fresh ideas when it comes to doing things with Testament, and to have him involved in the writing process must be a great asset.
He’s such a great player. He’s such a great addition to the sound of Testament; he is part of the sound and it’s very important to have him here in the mix [creatively].
How far along is The Dark Roots of Earth?
Well we just finished all of the recording the day before we left before this tour. We turned everything in and they’ve started mixing it now. Right now it’s just the beginning of the mix process.
Andy Sneap is producing it; did you go to England to track it?
We did it at our place in Oakland and at Trident Studios and Andy came out and did all the recordings with us—as much as he could—and then we finished off some vocals and guitars at Trident studios. I think over the years Andy really knows the sound of this band, and kinda knows what we want. We’ve mixed stuff with Andy, so I think he knows without has having to be there physically with him what we are looking for. And I just haven’t heard anybody in metal come out with any better mixes! Honesty!
Are you playing any new song on this tour?
No, we’re not. The Internet kinda spoiled that; we’d rather wait until it’s heard and judged as the real deal and not y’know somebody’s cellphone!
Shame, no iPhone and YouTube clips!
Yeah! I’ve seen it happen to other bands and you’ll get someone saying, “Oh, that doesn’t sound so good” but someone’s just listening to a telephone recording of a live performance.
It’s difficult to keep anything a surprise these days.
It would be good to start playing the stuff but we’ll just wait ‘til it’s out. Plus, if you don’t know a song, people don’t know how to react to it, and until they have the record and they’re familiar with the songs that’s for us to perform it. Performing music in front of people who don’t know it—it almost works against you, like, “How come they don’t get it? How come they’re not banging?” Well they’re just absorbing it, and it takes time, and it makes it weird for the band as well as the fans.
What can you tell us about some of the songs on the album?
Well, there’s a song called “Native Blood”, which is basically a song about my Native heritage. It’s almost like a protest song, that the Native Americans have a voice that needs to be heard—that’s the chorus of the song. There’s another called “True American Hate”, which was kinds inspired by when we sent all our troops overseas there, and we were just seeing in the news when all that was going on a lot of young kids, under 10 years old, out there with their families burning American flags. And that was a pretty shocking thing to see, to see that generation, a kid that young being taught to hate that much. It makes you think what’s going to happen, 10 to 15 years from now when the majority of these kids have just been raised to hate? It struck me as a little odd. There’s a song called “Cold Embrace”, which we kinda hoped we’d be able to pitch the song into one of the Twilight series movies; it’s a song about a girl becoming a vampire and never being able to see the sun again. “The Dark Roots of Earth” is kind of a play on the band we have together, just like a metaphor, like Testament is a tree and all of us in this group are really embedded in the planet, in the earth, the environment and our surroundings. It was kind of a play on that.”Rise Up for War” is more of a war song, like your preparing yourself for war, going into battle. There is a lot of cool stuff there.
Testament have had environmental themes before—is this going to be a political album in some respects?
No, I don’t think so. We’ve never been a political band, we just like to write things that are real, that we have to deal with and everybody has to deal with, things that are part of everybody’s life so that people can relate to it. I think everybody has to relate to what’s going on in our world as far as the environment goes.
“Native Blood” must be a very personal song for you. What message are you sending out with “Native Blood”, what sort of issues need addressing for the Native American community?
It is much different now compared to 10, 15 years ago, like on our reservation it was a pretty bad place 15 years ago. There was no help from the government, the schools were run down, no transportation, the housing was bad, broken down cars piled everywhere…. It was bad until we put a casino on our reservation and the money generated put people in work, brought back the schools, the culture, the language and the transportation to get the kids to school. But it’s just a bit of a sad thing that once you start helping yourself, the next thing you know the government’s got their hand out wanting their share for something you’ve done yourself and helping your own. It’s a sad thing; you ask for help and you don’t get it, as soon as there’s money involved the hands are out wanting a part of it. To me it was just about having a voice, for the Native Americans to have a voice that could be heard.
Is that one of the challenges facing Native American communities—raising awareness of their culture, language, and re-establishing that identity and community.
Definitely, the culture, the language, the history… I mean, if our reservation didn’t have a casino we might have lost all our language and culture, education would have been very bad if we didn’t get the help.
It’s very important, then, to spread the message to the younger generation of Native Americans, and keep them in touch with their culture.
Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about. Over the last year I’ve got some cool recognition for being Native American. I was put into the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC , on a display called “Up Where We Belong”, which was for Native Americans in pop culture and I was representing the heavy metal sector, and a couple of weeks ago I was the first Native American inducted into the Hard Rock Casino and Hotely in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That was a pretty big thing. It’s kinda cool to get there. There are so many reservations. I did an interview on a tribal radio station which broadcast all the way into Alaska, the US, Canada…. I think I hit a million people that day; there are a lot of Natives out there getting the word across about metal and what we stand for. I did the very first Native American Music Awards in 1990 or something like that and at the time there were no heavy metal bands in the categories; there were just Native artists, but a lot of these Natives were multi-platinum acts but they sold their records just touring and selling across the reservations. There’s a big Native American audience to support their people.
Click here for all the forthcoming tour dates.