Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Fight Goes On: Our Exclusive Interview with Ed and Bound for Glory

MAMB: Up front, I should state that BFG has been my favorite all-time band for the past 18 years.  There have, of course, been phases—such as my In Flames phase, or my Between the Buried and Me phase—but it all always comes back to Bound for Glory.  Thanks for sitting down to answer questions for our readers!  What has the band been up to thus far in 2016?

We have been hard at work on our new recordings. Due to work schedules and such, it has been slower than we had imagined it to be, but with the extra time comes more ideas. We are getting close to the finish line.

MAMB: Rumor has it the band has nearly two dozen songs in various stages of post-production for a forthcoming album, EP, and split release.  When can fans expect the new full-length album? 

Bound-For-Glory-Feed-The-Machine2We have recorded a ton of material so far. I would say we are about 80% of the way there. I am not too certain about its release date; I am hoping late summer, maybe early fall. A lot is riding on being able to get into the studio.  You can expect a little bit of everything.  You will hear a lot of influences from other albums, as well as some new directions. One thing for certain, it will not be boring or all sounding the same. Buckle up: it will be a wild “train ride”!!

MAMB: Furthermore, when are you planning to release the EP?

I think the label wants to release it all simultaneously. Its going to be like a combo of strikes.

MAMB: For fans who may not be yet aware, you maintain a BFG Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/bigedbfg.  Will you announce the release of the aforementioned albums through Facebook and other online channels?

That is not me at all. That is a fan page made by a gentleman in Europe. I am very honored that someone would do that. I could never do something like this. I am just a humble individual that likes to make music.  I am sure he, as well as Joel and the label and other outlets, will make announcement through FB and other channels.

MAMB: Do you have any other social media or online accounts fans should be following?  If so, what Twitter, YouTube, etc., accounts should fans be following?

No, not really. There are things here and there I guess. But I am just not a fan of social media. I am more old world. I will leave advertising and etc. to the label and people out there that are knowledged and like to do social media. I am more focused on making music than being a social butterfly.

MAMB: Similarly, will you provide ordering instructions for both digital and physical copies via social media?  Or do you have instructions you’d like to include below?

:I am sure it will be provided. Just keep your eyes and ears open.

MAMB: In the digital age, many fans prefer to download new releases from their favorite bands.  Do you have any plans to make the new material available through outlets such as iTunes, Amazon Music, BandCamp, BigCartel, etc.?  What about material from your vast catalog from 1989 to this year’s new releases?

That is not really my department. I think the the “censors” would try to not let some of our material get out. It seems freedom of speech exists for some and for others it does not. I always thought music was just music?

MAMB: You’ve mentioned to me that the 20 songs recorded this year are very different from previous material.  In what way, musically, do the new songs differ from past releases?  Your past two releases (Feed the Machine and Death and Defiance) have featured a straightforward, aggressive, and, at times, melodic metal sound.  Will fans get more of the same, or something decidedly different?

It will be a rollercoaster of aggression, classical, melodic and some straight old sounding material. You can never really pin point the direction the material goes in. I think that is mainly because the material comes from the heart and does not set any boundaries in the writing process. One thing I can tell you for certain is that there is some incredible hooks and material present. When you compose a song and it just sticks in your head, you know you have done your job well.

MAMB: Will the different releases (full-length, EP, and split) feature different sounds, or was the sound captured during this extended studio session fairly consistent across all 20 tracks?

This is going to be the kicker: we are going to convene and try to hammer out what goes where. It will be interesting to see what everyone’s thoughts are going to be. All of the tracks were recorded at the same time, so nothing will be different in that department. The rough is sounding awesome so far.

MAMB: Fans know that Joel has handled vocal duties more or less since BFG’s inception in 1989.  Who is handling the additional guitar, bass, and drumming duties for the new material?

We have Drew on the second guitar, Wayne on bass, and Tony on drums. We have a couple of guest musicians that will be joining in on a few leads too. And of course we have some classical instruments that will be added by the Conductor.  What is really great about the new recordings is that there are songs written musically by Wayne and Drew which bring in their sound to the mix.

MAMB: Fans of the band also know that Joel’s vocal talents have improved dramatically, particularly with 1999’s Last Act of Defiance through your latest release.  What do you attribute his diversified abilities to most?

Joel likes many different styles of music. He has not boxed himself in with what he listens to. And he is very critical of what he does, so he puts a lot of effort in to his singing. It is all of these different styles of music we listen to that makes our style. Joels’ vocal improvement over the years has been incredible. I think we all have become “true” musicians in the sense, rather than guys that make angry noise.

MAMB: From 2002 (a split release) to 2011 (Feed the Machine), BFG was in a state of semi-retirement.  What most motivated the decision to release the new album in 2011? 

There comes a time when responsibilities outweigh things. We all had a lot of things going on in our life; we did not have the time and more important things were focused on. Also, the motivation was not there. If you are not motivated or don’t have the time, why go out and make something that does not have heart and soul as it should?  I think the longing to play our material again, being we had more time and the fact that we found new guys that fit in perfect with us motivated the band again. We first got talked into playing a friend’s birthday party, and it honestly felt so good to play the old tracks again and to see the response, it was motivating to make the train roll again.Bound-For-Glory-300x296

MAMB: Longtime fans know you’re passionate about your hockey.  Who are you pulling for in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs?

Hands down, I am pulling for the Penguins in this one. My teams did not make it past the first round.

MAMB: Who are your go-to teams, be they still in contention this year or not?

During the times after we lost the North Stars, my go-to teams were the Red Wings and the Devils. And still to this day I love both teams, along with my hometown team, the Wild.

MAMB: You’re also known for following combat sports.  We’re mutual admirers of the Klitschko brothers; what other boxers and MMA fighters are you following these days?

I don’t follow boxing as close as I used to. But there are some really good boxers out there. One being Sergey Kovalev.  This guy is a killer. Ruthless and powerful. He has that invincible aura to him. There are quite a few good MMA fighters out there. I have been enjoying watching the MMA fights. I really like the new UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. And my favorite will always be Cro Cop. Followed by Fedor. There are some guys that always bring the fights too, that make MMA exciting, guys like Cowboy Cerrone, Matt Brown, Robbie Lawler, these are the guys that don’t seem to play safe, they go out there to put on a show. I appreciate fighters like that.

MAMB: Who do you like in the Fury-Klitschko rematch?

It depends on what version of Klitschko shows up. If the hugging every 30 seconds Wlad shows up he will lose. If the old Wlad shows up, the one that was clinical and let his hands go, he will win. Kudos to Fury for getting in his head and winning that first fight. I like Fury too by the way.

MAMB: Our website statistics reveal that articles regarding your music are among our most popular posts on a regular basis.  What is it like to have such a longtime, loyal fanbase?

It’s motivation. Without the fan base, there would be no BFG. They are our bloodline.

MAMB: Additionally, our statistics show articles about BFG are viewed just as much overseas (particularly Germany and Scandinavia) as they are in America.  What do you attribute this international appeal to most?

The music industry in America has pretty much ruined everything in my opinion. The crap they permeate the air with has been like a “drug” upon the public. The public gets pounded and pounded from the radio to commercials to movies to the clubs with nothing but garbage and worthless crap which I can’t even call music. There is not talent to it. Just mindless profanity laced drivel. When you go to a club and you see people singing and “dancing” (if that’s what you want to call it) to songs with lyrics such as a guy rapping about sweat dripping off of his testicles it is only a testimony as to how stupid and retarded things have become!!! In some parts of Europe there still seems to be that like for traditional music. Metal and rock are 100 times more popular in Europe than in the US.

MAMB: What parting thoughts would you like to share with your fans?  What can we all expect from BFG moving forward?

Always looking forward, never looking back!!! That is how the train rolls!!

Tagged ,

Ride On, Renegade: Our Exclusive Interview with Joel from Bound for Glory

[Author’s note: Joel has served as frontman for Bound for Glory since 1989 and has appeared on every one of the band’s releases.  He was kind enough to spend a few moments answering questions for MetalAteMyBaby.com readers and BFG fans around the world.]

MAMB: As many of our readers know, you’ve been the vocalist for Bound for Glory since virtually the very beginning. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for MetalAteMyBaby.com!

MAMB: Although I am a big fan of so-called “death metal” vocals, I should mention in the interests of full disclosure that you’re my favorite vocalist of all time. When you were younger, were there any vocalists you looked up to or tried to emulate? After more than 25 years in BFG, are there any current vocalists that serve as an inspiration to you?

When I was real young, I really enjoyed all the classic rock stuff. I would sing to whatever I knew the words for. I tried my best to sound like every singer as much as I could. As I got into high school, I started listening to more metal and found it very challenging to sing. The one that sticks out most that I enjoyed screaming my head off to was Carnivore’s Retaliation. I loved knowing my neighbors could hear me screaming this psychotic shit at full volume. It was a nice barrier to keep them away.  Metallica was another huge influence for me. Now I’ve come full circle back to classic rock again. It stand the test of time because it’s real music from the soul. Real talent. There really isn’t just one person or band that inspires me. It’s more collective. I just like good music.

MAMB: Rumor has it that the band has recorded 20 songs to be released as a full-length album, EP, and split album. What can fans expect from the material you’ve recorded? Will the band’s sound on the new material resemble “Feed the Machine” or “Death and Defiance,” or do you have something new and different in store for fans?

As you know, we have steadily changed our sound from each album to the next from at least the fourth album up. It’s just been a natural progression for us with age and changing of members, and just wanting to expand our horizons. It’s so boring playing the same old sound.  I would have quit years ago if I was just screaming the same old way. I think this time though we’re stepping back a bit to the old days and giving everyone a little taste of the past. You could easily place the sound of each of our last five albums to many songs on this current project. I’m very excited to hear the reactions.

MAMB: As a fan of yours since 1996, I find it remarkable how much more accomplished your vocal talents have become over the past nearly 20 years. What do you attribute to this dramatic change–and improvement–to your vocal abilities?

Practice, practice, practice. Honestly, the biggest thing has been singing karaoke by myself in my music room. Once I discovered karaoke on iTunes I couldn’t spend my money fast enough. I really push my limits with things I know will be difficult to broaden my range. But I still smoke and drink hard to make sure I maintain that old growly sound though.

MAMB: Of the 20 new songs recorded this year, how many of them did you contribute to musically? And did you handle all lyric-writing responsibilites?

I do not play anything other than the skin flute so I leave the music up to the rest of the guys. In the entire 27 years, I have only written about 10 songs. This time around is 0. HaHa. My biggest accomplishment was four for Feed the Machine. Ed has always written everything. He’s an animal. It’s a natural talent for him that I just can’t compete with. I do spend a lot of time fine tuning the lyrics to fit the music and add a few ideas here and there. I am a great producer. I have a talent for putting the final touches to a song that really can make it “pop.”

MAMB: BFG has released 11 albums (including two splits) since 1989. Do you have a particular album you considerate your favorite? What about favorite songs?

It’s too hard to name one. They are all special to me in their own way. I would say I love everything from Behold on up. Favorite songs would be “Russian Winter,” “Fatherland,” “Commando,” “Behold,” “The Beast,” “Sea Wolf,” and “The Last Waltz.” You haven’t heard that one yet.

MAMB: What’s your favorite part about playing live in concert?

The fans are the biggest reason I play live. It’s a lot of work and preparation for us to do one show across the ocean but when I see the appreciation and respect we receive it’s all worth it. The energy at a BFG show is like no other.  Also, the friends we’ve made with our hosts has been amazing. It’s cool to know I can go pretty much anywhere in Europe and find a fan or friend.

MAMB: What words do you have for your fans, and what can we expect from BFG moving forward?

First, I would like to say thank you to everyone that enjoys, supports, and respects us for what we do. It’s a lot of hard work to keep the Hate Train rolling for 27 years and we could never do it without your inspiration. As far as the future I would expect we have a few good years left in us yet. We’re all getting grey but we’re far from old. Only wiser. Also thank you Jason for your support and kind words.

Tagged ,

First Fragment’s “Dasein” — A Long-Awaited Album That Does Not Disappoint

 

First Fragment: Dasein (2016)

firstfragment

Listen now courtesy of BrutalFullAlbumsHD!

Track Listing:

“Le Serment de Tsion”
“Dasein”
“L’Entite”
“Emergence”
“Mordetre Et Denassaince”
“Prelude En Sol Diese Mineur”
“Archetype”
“Gula”
“Voracite (Apothe”ose Partie 1)”
“Psychan (Apotheose Partie 2)”
“Evhron”

Band Members:
Vincent Savary: Bass
David AB : Lead Vocals
Phil Tougas : Lead Guitar & Vocals
Gabriel Brault-Pilon: Guitar
Samuel Santiago: Drums
Troy Fullerton: Session Drums (2014-2015) (Performed all drums on Dasein)
Facebook  ||  IndieMerch  ||  BandCamp

The highly-anticipated full-length release from First Fragment has at last been released by Unique Leader records.  True to form, Dasein does not disappoint; in fact, the album is a ferocious display of superb songwriting, and utterly insane musical prowess.  With a dramatically improved sound in comparison to the band’s first full-length album and debut EP, First Fragment utilizes a virtually perfect production environment to deliver savage, mind-bending, and technically impressive death metal album.

MetalAteMyBabyy Album Rating:

Vocals: First Fragment frontman David has a powerful mid-level growl that generally complements the music playing behind him.  Some variation–such as the inclusion of highs and guttural lows–would further both the music and the singer’s command of the types of shrieks and rumbling lows present in other technical death metal releases  (7/10)

Lyrics: Though in French, First Fragment’s lyrics illustrate a level of dedication to meaningful and revealing storytelling that position the album as a singular and thought-provoking story  (7/10)

Lead guitar: Intentional or not, Phil’s lead guitar is the star of this album.  Driving, pulsating riffs and remarkably melodic solos demonstrate Phil’s ability to weave brutality with gut-wrenching melodic passages–an element missing in so many technical death metal albums  (10/10)

Rhythm guitar: Often overlooked on monster releases such as Dasein, the rhythm guitar is an integral component of any masterfully composed album.  Gabriel handles rhythm guitar duties flawlessly, providing the bone-crushing backbone of each First Fragment song and harmonizing with Phil’s beautiful leads  (9/10)

Bass: Simply put, the bass guitar brutality of Dasein is precisely how this instrument should be showcased by every technical death metal band.  Vincent deserves significant recognition for both his command of the bass guitar and his ability to utilize the bass perfectly to underscore the chaos that is First Fragment’s third album  (10/10)

Drums: No technical death metal album is capable of achieving the sheer brilliance of an album such as Dasein without a ferociously aggressive drummer.  To be sure, Troy–the band’s session drummer–not only meets the inherent requirements of technical death metal drumming, he obliterates them.  Never overdoing it, Troy serves as conductor of sorts for First Fragment, and his selective use of double bass, his knack for expertly composed fills, and his overall synergy with the band is a pleasure to behold  (9/10)

Technicality: Any commentary would be superfluous  (10/10)

Originality: The one element absent from many otherwise enjoyable technical death metal releases is originality.  The technical prowess is there, to be sure, but little variation exists from track to track.  First Fragment’s latest release obliterates this stereotype, with melodic guitar harmonies leading into extended bass solos, Spanish-inspired guitar segments beautifully slowing the otherwise frenetic pace of the album, and a plethora of other musically diverse elements that set Dasein apart from other technical death metal releases (10/10)

Diversity: See the Originality commentary above (10/10)

Cohesiveness: So many technical death metal albums feature individual tracks that wow the listener–but, unfortunately, the albums as a whole lack a solid, consistent narrative that is present in each and every album track.  Each track on Dasein is brilliant, but, more impressively, each track folds effortlessly into a larger narrative that makes First Fragment’s 2016 release a cohesive, consistent, and ultimately brilliant album (10/10)

Summary:

Dasein is already in the running for the most impressive release of 2016.  Unique Leader Records also deserves credit for making the release of such albums possible.  In a nutshell: buy this album, support the band, and prepare to be blown away by one of the finest technical death metal releases in recent memory.

Total Rating: 92/100

Tagged ,

Concert Report: August Burns Red – Murray, Utah 02/10/2015 (The Frozen Flame Tour)

[Author’s note: The first movie I ever saw in the theater was Top Gun–and I did so at the Murray Theater (which, at the time, was a dollar movie theater) in 1986.  Over the years, the Murray Theater was renovated to accommodate a variety of events, including plays, private parties, and, of course, concerts.  When I learned that August Burns Red–who, in early 2015, I was listening to as much as many band–would be coming to Murray (the town in which I grew up), I knew I couldn’t miss it.  And despite the fact that I’m authoring this concert report a full 18 months following the show, I still remember the excitement of the crowd, the energy of the musicians on stage, and the superb playlist rendered by August Burns Red.]

February 10, 2015 set list:

“White Walls”
“Beauty in Tragedy”
“Thirty and Seven”
“Spirit Breaker”
“The Eleventh Hour”
“Up Against the Ropes”
“Marianas Trench”
“Provision”
“Back Burner”
“Fault Line”
“Meridian”
“The Seventh Trumpet”
“Composure”
(Drum solo)
“Carpe Diem”
“Empire”

abr4

During this particular time in my life, I looked to August Burns Red for motivational guidance and inspiration as I faced a number of seemingly overwhelming challenges.  (In fact, I listened exclusively to ABR every day in the gym.)  The band’s motivational messages and testimony of the power of positive thinking resonated heavily with me–and, of course, I absolutely loved their music, too.

A friend of mine was kind enough to purchase tickets for both of us; furthermore, the concert represented the first time I’d been in my hometown theater in more than 20 years.  Predictably–and thankfully–the renovated theater made for an exceptionally intimate venue, creating an absolutely electric atmosphere within the facility.  The crowd took full advantage of the close quarters and remained at fever pitch throughout the 15-song set.

In fact, approximately three-quarters of the way through the show, the band informed us that we’d by far been the loudest, most enthusiastic crowd August Burns Red had encountered on their present tour.  While there is no question the band’s fans were fired up simply to see their heroes take the stage, a massive amount of credit for the energy in that theater belongs to the band itself.

In particular, vocalist Matthew Greiner’s stage presence was flawless, and the jubilant crowd reacted to his every word and movement with feverish screams and roars of applause.  The dual guitarists and bass player were equally energetic, seldom holding still and alternating between leaps off of front-stage amplifiers and slinging their guitars around their necks and back again in time to flawlessly nail the next note of the song being played.

In a refreshing change of pace, the band refrained from profanity and was otherwise extremely respectful.  Needless to say, I’ve been to my share of shows–think GWAR, Cannibal Corpse, et al–where profanity was more often utilized than the standard words of the King’s English.  To be sure, there’s a time and place for vulgarity, profanity, and even ruthless insults, but enjoying August Burns Red’s set without what is now seemingly ubiquitous profanity was a delightfully refreshing change of pace.  (The lack of vulgarity also helped put my date at ease–it was only her second metal concert in 46 years.)

Over the years, I’ve seen Slayer perform live nine times.  I’ve also seen In Flames four times, Trivium three times, and a number of other acts more than once.  After the superb performance delivered by August Burns Red during the cold Utah February night, I will undoubtedly do whatever it takes to see ABR rule the stage again.

— Jason

Tagged

“Citadels”: Mandroid Echostar’s Magnum Opus

[Author’s note: I’ve caught a lot of grief from close-minded extreme metal fans due to my love for Avenged Sevenfold’s Sounding the Seventh TrumpetWaking the FallenCity of Evil, and Nightmare albums.  These close-minded fans seem hell-bent on ignoring the obvious musical talent and diversity inherent in the aforementioned Avenged albums due simply to the vocal style employed by frontman Matt Sanders.  I risk the same reaction by showcasing Mandroid Echostar, but I don’t mind.  Both bands are simply too talented and too melodic to dismiss.]

There’s no doubt bands such as Mandroid Echostar aren’t for every extreme metal fan.  The vocals can, quite simply, be extraordinarily alienating–indeed, the band deserves an immense amount of credit for releasing instrumental-only versions of each of their releases to make their musical brilliance more accessible to more traditional extreme metal fans.  And yet, I’ve got a confession to make: I think Mandroid Echostar’s vocals are an integral, indispensable part of the band, and my review below addresses the version of the song “Citadels” that incorporates lead singer Michael Ciccia’s extraordinarily unique vocals.

The song “Citadels” is the final track from the band’s EP of the same name.  A remarkably diverse release, Mandroid Echostar employes three guitarists, allowing the six-string slayers to incorporate a number of melodic passages while maintaining the depth and heaviness that only a third guitar can provide.  The bassist and drummer add further depth and complexity to each song comprising the 30 minutes of the Citadels EP.

While the entire EP is worth repeated listens, it is the record’s final track–also known as “Citadels”–that stands out as a hauntingly beautiful, subtly aggressive, and definitively memorable musical experience.  Beginning at approximately the 23-minute mark of the Citadels EP, the eponymous song brings an already impressive album to a chill-inducing conclusion.  At the conclusion of this review, a link is provided to the EP on YouTube that is timestamped to begin play just as the song “Citadels” begins.

VocalsAs suggested previously in this review, Michael’s vocals run the risk of alienating more traditional extreme metal fans.  Indeed, I will admit that I often subscribe to Unique Leader Records’ “no clean vocals” mantra, but, every so often, an exceptionally talented vocalist opens my eyes to the possibilities of progressive metal that utilizes a vocalist singing in tune to further accentuate the emotional brilliance of a given song.  In particular, Michael’s vocals over the last 90 seconds of the song are absolutely stellar, helping bring the song to a close in a way nothing short of legendary.  (8/10)

Guitar: Axe-mastery is where Mandroid Echostar truly excels.  With three guitarists contributing to every song, the possibilities–be they simply adding depth and heaviness or fusing in something more avant garde–are virtually endless.  YouTube features a number of play-through videos starring the three guitarists in Mandroid Echostar, and it is both instructional and entertaining to see how the trio works together to create richly complex riffs, harmonized solos, and an overall cohesiveness few other bands can boast.  (10/10)

Bass: With three six-string virtuosos flawlessly steering each song, Adam Richards’ bass guitar mastery is of critical importance to Mandroid Echostar’s sound–and, to be sure, he is more than up to the challenge.  While his bass tone is not particularly elevated in the mix of the EP, the experienced extreme metal fan will immediately note the clean, driving, and otherwise crucial nature of Adam’s bass playing.  Simply put, Mandroid Echostar would not be able to pull off the complex compositions found on the Citadels EP without Adam’s bass-playing prowess.  (8/10)

Drums: To be fair, the drum backbone of each Mandroid Echostar song is subdued to an extent, but I have no doubt this is by design.  Overpowering blast beats or incessant double-bass thunder simply would overpower the remainder of the band’s songs, particularly considering many of these tracks include acoustic guitar interludes and a softer approach to vocals.  (8/10)

As a Unit: This is where Mandroid Echostar truly excels.  No instrument–no strings, no drums, no voices–overpower the band’s music.  It is very clear the band has worked exceptionally hard to craft a delicate, balanced, and still heavy brand of progressive metal.  (10/10)

Subtotal: (44/50)

Technicality“Technicality” likely isn’t the first word that comes to mind among extreme metal enthusiasts upon hearing Mandroid Citadel.  The guitar leads, while utterly beautiful, lack the degree of difficulty found in, say, the music of Between the Buried and Me or The Black Dahlia Murder.  The drums and bass are delivered flawlessly–but, again, without the degree of difficulty many metal fans yearn for.  That said, the band manages to seamlessly blend these elements, creating a sort of complexity that comes with synchronizing a series of moving parts.  (8/10)

Originality: While the tone of Michael’s vocals might cursorily remind inexperienced listeners of more mainstream rock frontmen, there is, in reality, very little similar between the two.  Indeed, each song composition as a whole carries the mantle for a refreshing form of originality–one that is unafraid of what other metal fans may think of it.  To me, that’s worth quite a bit.  (9/10)

BrutalityThis is, after all, an extreme metal site, and brutality is a key component of virtually all of the music the MAMB staff enjoys.  Mandroid Citadel lacks such brutality, but there is no question that is a conscientious choice on the part of the band.  (6/10)

ThematicThe thematic aspect of “Citadels” drew me even closer to the song and deserves particular recognition.  Indeed, anyone with a failed romance will quickly find much in common with the lyrics of this masterful song.  (9/10)

Memorability: Only time will tell whether “Citadels” survives the test of time in terms of remaining memorable within the metal community.  Personally speaking, I haven’t been able to get the track out of my head for months, and I doubt I’ll ever forget what it was like to listen to the song, especially the final 90 seconds.  (8/10)

Subtotal: (40/50)

Total: 84/100

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mandroidechostar/?fref=ts

 

 

Tagged