Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Cory von Bohlen of Halo of Flies/Protestant

Since 2006 (or 2007, depending on how you look at it), Cory von Bohlen has been delivering heavy records to the masses with his punk/hardcore/metal-focused label, Halo of Flies. Going back even farther reveals his own band, Protestant, which has been in continuous operation since 2004. It's safe to say Cory has a lot on his plate at all times.

Cory appreciates the DIY aspect of music immensely. Both Protestant and Halo of Flies are the products of years of hard work, dedication, and experimentation, showing a passion few others can hope to match. He's had his fair share of hiccups along the way, of course, but he views those as an opportunity to learn and improve his approach to making and releasing new music.

Since discovering Protestant a few months back, I've admired Cory and what he does, and I couldn't think of better reason to ask him for an interview. He graciously obliged, so let's see what he has to say.

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You've had your band, Protestant, since 2004 and your label, Halo of Flies, since 2006. Was Halo of Flies initially nothing more than a place to release your own music? 

Cory: Not exactly. I was planning to help with a Rhino Charge (R.I.P.) LP, whom Protestant was on tour with when these label ideas were being tossed about. But, yeah, it was a good excuse to start--I'll give you that.

Note: the first release didn't come out until February 2007...

You've certainly come a long way since 2006--Halo of Flies has a massive distro, and it seems like new releases are coming out every day. How do you manage to stay so popular? 

Cory: Well, thanks! I've been pretty lucky. The distro is there due to constant trading with other labels I've grown to know over the years. Funny, though: so many labels I used to trade with are gone or have moved on to "greener pastures," only to be replaced by others (for the most part).

As for releases, I'm at my limit pretty much all the time and have come to the point where I'm now booked eight to twelve months ahead. Let's hope nothing amazing falls into my lap that I can't say no to. I'm averaging roughly a release per month, which is manageable if it all times out as it should. But it never does and, recently, I had four releases drop in like 16 days. Still recovering.

I'm not terribly popular, I don't think. I stay in fairly consistent contact with dozens of people, and I think maintain a pretty personable "hands-on" approach. Re: I make friends where/when I can when it comes to people (labels, bands, etc.) I come into contact with via the label. Others seem to speak well of me, and I do have lots help in the press/hype department from BlackBirchPR. That was something I did as an experiment, and it has turned out wonderfully. Aside from that, it's just me trying to stay on top of a million things pretty much all the time, frantically replying to emails--et al--while trying to maintain a somewhat normal life.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Great Music Comes from Unexpected Places

At the moment, I'm reviewing Anneke van Giersbergen's (formerly of The Gathering) newest record, Drive, for another website. It might not be metal, but it's phenomenal. I just thought I'd leave a note here for others to pick up on.

-TMA

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013: The Year Black Sabbath Re-Emerged

Since June, Black Sabbath's comeback has presented opportunities unknown for the past eighteen years, pushing their music to the top and made their name, as revered as it is, relevant again. Aside from Heaven & Hell's The Devil You Know--comprised of Dio, Appice, Iommi, and Butler--13 is the only recent release to come with a tour and mega merchandise priced at $40 a shirt, indicating that Sabbath is on an upward climb. But is 13 deserving of the success and limelight?

Indeed, 13 captures much of the "spirit" fans were hoping for with Ozzy's return, but with the spotlight comes a record lacking consistency and quality. Separating Osbourne's vocals from the mix reveals obvious computer aid, which, for a man with years of drug and alcohol abuse under his belt, is expected. On the other hand, the music, despite having moments that harken back to the golden age, tends to grow dull and plastic sounding thanks to a poor production job. Ultimately, the situation paints the album as a rather lazy addition to the Black Sabbath discography and as one hastened by the premise of easy money.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vinyl Feature: Northless' World Keeps Sinking

Ah, yes, Northless' World Keeps Sinking, the recipient of countless glowing reviews and, in due time, the recipient of even more. Yet we still haven't seen a report covering the double vinyl pressing, which fans to tend splurge on as an alternative to the digital download. How well does it stack up?

Fortunately, like every other Halo of Flies release I've handled, it's worth every penny. The robust gatefold jacket--surely pricier to produce--holds two clear records, limited to 200 pieces worldwide. That's already enough of a reason to pick up a copy of World Keeps Sinking on vinyl for many buyers.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Sludgelord Hosts Auction to Benefit LaCraze Family


While I've been feeling a bit under the weather for the past few days big, generous things have still been happening in the metal world. Nearly a month ago, Joe LaCraze (of Eyehategod) passed away, leaving a legacy behind--and The Sludgelord has stepped up to help the LaCraze family by auctioning off merchandise to raise money.

Everyone can take part, no matter how little the offering. If you have an item that you'd like to donate to the auction, shoot The Sludgelord an email at thedoomentor@gmail.com. Every bit helps, and rest assured that you'll be contributing to a wonderful cause.

Head over to The Sludgelord for more information.

-TMA

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Mark of Gogmagogical Records


I've loved Gogmagogical Records from the start. Mark, the label's founder, is an incredibly generous guy, giving bands a safe haven for their music, and the fruits of his labor are always incredibly well crafted and carried out. After featuring each of his vinyl releases, from Fister, Cold Blue Mountain, and Kingsblood, I finally caught Mark for a revealing chat about his development as a music lover and Gogmagogical Records itself.

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Let’s start from the beginning, Mark. You like punk, especially the Misfits. Did your love of music start there? 

Mark: Not particularly, though love of metal definitely stemmed from there. My parents were very much of the stereotypical strict Midwestern “anti-KISS” variety when I was young and impressionable, so anything even remotely “dangerous” was impossible for me to acquire until I hit high school. Until then, I was very much in love with music but, admittedly, what I owned or listened to was what was popular on the radio. Once I was in high school - and especially once I had a job and a car – my exposure to other sounds and rapid acquisition of all that forbidden fruit had me veering toward punk and metal. Those were the days when record store clerks were the gatekeepers to all of the knowledge we now take for granted. Now we’d just branch along in Wikipedia and find a band’s entire discography or go somewhere like Last.FM for similar sounds, but then it really was an effort and a journey. That journey overall and the joy of what felt like real discovery was and still is what addicts me to music. Early punk that got me down this path was kind of the tongue-in-cheek variety: Circle Jerks, Meatmen, The Dictators, even the Dead Milkmen. It was likely the “initial-named” crossovers - D.R.I., S.O.D. and M.O.D. - that helped bridge the gap. 

All three variants of Kingsblood's release.
Exactly when did metal hit your radar? I assume a big name—Danzig’s connection to the Misfits—pushed you toward heavier music. 

Mark: I'll admit hair metal was a big factor. Some of the earliest impressions I recall are Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister, and I still love those guys to this day. My high school days were filled with Slaughter, Warrant, and Winger as this stuff was all over the radio. I still have a soft spot for the BulletBoys. Say what you will about the genre, but that stuff got onto the radio and did serve as a gateway. And, of course, we all find Zeppelin and Sabbath and the like somewhere during those years.

Like I just said, a lot of the punk encountered in high school was leading there but …And Justice for All is one of the earliest “real” metal records I remember encountering when it was released and, thanks to TBS’ Night Tracks, the video for “One” hooked me in.

I didn’t find Danzig until I was at a mall record store, and Danzig III was out on a new release rack. I remember vividly that a guy and his girlfriend were browsing, he picked it up and she said “absolutely not!” and he put it back and walked away all dejected. That denial combined with the Giger cover made it an instant blind purchase for me and it blew my mind. That was what we called a “telegram record” back then. You’d buy it, hear it, and immediately drive to a buddy’s house to hand-deliver and play it again together. And then to the next and so on. Something that is so good it has to be urgently delivered to another person. The first guy I played it for called me later and hooked me up with tickets for my first Danzig show and the rest is history.

Even when I was waist-deep into Danzig, I had no idea he was in the Misfits. Going back to the record store days, I would literally browse everything, A to Z, and remember seeing Misfits records and noting the font styles on the logos were similar compared to Danzig’s. I liked the aesthetic and bought Walk Among Us blind as well. When I popped it open and saw Glenn Danzig on vocals, it was another telegram scenario.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rorcal - Világvége (2013)

With new music under their belts, Swiss metallers Rorcal push ahead with their third full-length, Világvége, bringing a plethora of furious riffs and an aesthetic gleaned from black metal along for the ride. From the moment the second track, a slogging four-minute affair unlike anything else on the album, explodes from silence, the record's bellicose nature becomes all the more apparent and tussles with listeners ensnared in its massive wall of sound. Those standing tall will be rewarded handsomely, however, with an immensely satisfying release that, not only breaks free of boundaries, but revitalizes heavy music as we know it.

Világvége is admittedly not too far removed from what the world has heard before; but its amalgam of riffs is aggressive enough that overall product feels fresher than material put forth by other bands hybridizing metallic music. Consequently, the way in which Rorcal mix and match their influences creates an experience one must brace for, as if to survive a treacherous journey ahead.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Concert Review: Iron Maiden + Megadeth @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, St. Louis/Maryland Heights, Missouri - September 8, 2013

On this leg of the Maiden England tour, Iron Maiden skipped Chicago on their trek around the United States and touched base in St. Louis. The choice was puzzling to say the least, but I happily made the four-hour drive from central Indiana to see my favorite band because they're worth every bit of money put toward gas and more.

Because it was my sixth time seeing Iron Maiden, I knew what to expect in a live setting. Their shows are always a bombastic affair--fire spurts, devil figures, and behemoth-sized Eddies lumbering around the stage--but the music and passionate performance is typically what pulls me in, doesn't let go, and keeps me immersed for nearly two hours. The crowd has a lot to do with that, of course, and the way Bruce and Steve, in particular, interact with the audience shows a genuine interest in the fans.

Maiden's green light show was a personal highlight.
Like Maiden's stop in Indianapolis last year, they had an excellent support almost every fan acknowledged as an ideal match: Megadeth. Standing outside the venue two hours before doors opened seemed to prove that, too, with a stronger representation for Megadeth than expected, with everything from Rust in Peace t-shirts to flags coloring the crowd. Even so, the majority was still there to see Iron Maiden. After all, there's a reason Britain's favorite metal band is headlining the current tour--their live show is fantastic and generally unparalleled in the metal world. 

The merch booths were positively bustling and, similar to when I saw Black Sabbath in August, proudly displaying t-shirts at $40 each. Never in a million years do I wear memorabilia purchased at concerts, so my closet is teeming with black t-shirts that I keep pristine and new looking. I promised myself I wouldn't buy one, either, but I ultimately succumbed, picking a 2013 Maiden England shirt displaying the "Aces High" and "Tailgunner" Eddies ready for a dogfight. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Vinyl Feature: Amber's Lovesaken

With yet another Halo of Flies release hitting my turntable, I concede to being obsessed with the label's roster and each artist that comes across my radar. Germany's Amber are the perpetrators this time around, and their second release, Lovesaken, looks absolutely gorgeous spinning at 33rpm, glimmering with every rotation and emitting wonderful noise only possible from a mixture of sludge and post-rock.

Like my previous feature on Cold Blue Mountain's debutLovesaken takes similar styling cues, blending clear and blue coloring. The combination is as excellent as it sounds and feels like a quality piece to the touch, just hefty enough to fit in among the rest of the popular 180-gram vinyl. Make no mistake, however; this is no overly thick piece of wax, but instead a properly proportioned release from a tremendous band and a tremendous label. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Kosti Aho and Panu Rauhala of Liquorworks

As a two-man project from Finland, Liquorworks is relatively unknown to the average metal listener. Working tirelessly to release a record every few years, Kosti and Panu's only stipulation is that they truly enjoy what they're doing, loving music for the sake of creating art each time they pick up an instrument. The Metal Advisor talks to Liquorworks to better understand their long-term goals as a band and, in the process, discovers a gem of musical project.

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How did Liquorworks form, and what is the story behind the project's name?

Liquorworks was formed in 2009 by Kosti Aho. It was the result of the passion for making original material and to express thoughts using a guitar.

Liquorworks is a way to forget everything else and just make music by ear and intiution. The music business can be serious and, of course, we like to get the songs as good as possible, but you also must remember to have fun with the songs. In this project, the music is the most important, not the money. 

Kosti: I needed a name for my project, and I liked the taste of liquor. That's about it. We are not alcoholics... yet.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

WARMfest Musing: Mina & the Wondrous Flying Machine

Indianapolis' lack of metal concerts is depressing, so, naturally, I tend to take what I can get regardless of the genre. With WARMfest in full force until Monday night and with a free three-day pass in hand, I drove to Broad Ripple Park with excessively low expectations because Indianapolis isn't exactly known for a thriving music scene, aside from a handful of phenomenal local bands.

Once I stepped into the Sam Ash-sponsored tent, discretely tucked away in the park's farthest corner, I took that back. One of the best acts of the day, Mina & the Wondrous Flying Machine, completely swept me off my feet with beautiful vocals, which stand as a testament to the raw talent hiding within the city. And while I certainly liked the jazz-inspired music, the vocals--oh, the vocals--are what lured me in because I'm admittedly a sucker for a good female voice.