Metal as a community—made up of bands and their fans— is a tight-knit population, but that does not mean this happy family is without its schisms. With the somewhat recent rise of deathcore into the mainstream, many death metal and grindcore acts have drawn a line in the sand to separate themselves from this sub genre of metal. The same can be said for metalcore, which at one point in the early 2000s had a major surge within mainstream music and was ostracized by many metal sub genres. You see, if someone isn’t raised in the metal scene, then they may not be able to tell the minor differences between these sub genres. Add to this the large number of bands spilling over and changing sides between sub genres, and you’ve got a recipe for a giant mess.
Grindcore, metalcore, deathcore—they all came from very distinct roots: death metal and hardcore (scenes ultimately born from punk). Death metal is known for its heavy and constant nature, taken to an extreme level. Lots of bands fit this bill and have had the “death metal” label slapped onto them, but the essence of death metal lies in bands like Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Suffocation and Decapitated. Change anything the classic death metal formula and you’ve probably found yourself wandering into sub genre land—bands like Necrophagist are known as “technical death metal” but to the inexperienced listener are really not much different. For a good example of death metal, you can check out this video for Cannibal Corpse’s “Death Walking Terror”:
Early in the death metal days, grindcore was born—taking the heaviness of death metal bands of the time along with the avant-garde nature of post-rock, the frenetic rhythms and breakdowns of hardcore punk and an extra splash of craziness to create a totally new sub genre of music. The more famous grindcore acts include Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer, Brutal Truth and Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Check out this music video for Brutal Truth’s “Sugar Daddy” to hear a good example of grindcore:
The late 1990s witnessed the next offshoot: metalcore. Though its beginngs lie in early 90s bands like Converge and Zao, its current style was brought about by bands such as Unearth, God Forbid and Shadows Fall. Taking a lot of influence from trash, the metalcore tag may be a bit misleading, as the only real element taken from hardcore is the style of breakdown used. Most of the stylistic choices lie in heavy thrash, and the vocals often feature big melodic lines evident in heavy metal bands like Armored Saint. The most famous example of more modern metalcore is All That Remains‘ “This Calling”:
Soon after metalcore’s rise, deathcore began to brew. Take out the melodic vocals, make the sound a bit heavier and use more extreme breakdowns and you’ve transformed regular metalcore into deathcore. Bands such as The Acacia Strain, Caliban, The Red Chord, Animosity and Job For a Cowboy are known as some of the first true deathcore bands. To get a taste of an archetypal deathcore song, check out The Acacia Strain’s “Angry Mob Justice”:
Nowadays, though, bands are breaking these boundaries. Act such as The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Cephalic Carnage, Job For a Cowboy and Brain Drill have completely shattered the mold for these genres. This has been a much needed change for the metal scene since many separate sub-genres began drawing lines in the sand because, really, many of these bands aren’t that different at their core—they’re all just looking to have a good time by making extreme music people want to move to.
Self-described “rocky mountain hydro grind” veterans Cephalic Carnage are fresh off a spot on this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, about to release their sixth studio album, Misled By Certainty and head overseas for another European tour. It doesn’t sound like they’ve got time to catch their breath really, but we still managed to talk with guitarist Steve Goldberg to see how things were going between tours and to ask about the new album:
MtD: First off, how was Summer Slaughter this year?
CC: Pretty awesome man, the shows have been really good. The downsides are the long days and long drives. You don’t get much personal time, but the shows have been awesome.
MtD: Your stage antics are a lot different than the other bands on the Summer Slaughter, do you think the crowds receive them well?
MtD: So, how are the crowds receiving the new songs from Misled By Certainty?
CC: It’s going over good too. Not really getting the same pits as we did with the old stuff, but everyone’s really pumped about it and absorbing it and we’ve been getting really positive reactions—you know, loud cheers and everything.
MtD: Can you give us a little insight to Misled By Certainty, and how you got the name for it?
CC: Oh, the title can pretty much relate to anything. Like, an example would be that we put about $2,000 into our van and were certain things would be good and we were set— but sure enough we blew a transmission first week into it. So it’s just kinda scenarios like that, never count your chickens before they hatch.
MtD: So, how about the first single, “Abraxas of Filth,” what exactly is an Abraxas?
CC: [Talking to someone else in the band] “What does Abraxas mean?”
It’s like an ancient God, and apparently he hasn’t bathed in a while, so he’s pretty filthy.
CC: There’s this place called Silver Surfer out in Colorado who kinda sponsored us as a band, and we just wanted to have some kinda cool promotion for a grand prize and they were kind enough to donate to the cause. Whomever wins that should be pretty happy because those things rule.
MtD: So, it’s no secret that you guys are pro-marijuana; do you ever catch any grief about it on tour?
CC: Nah, no issues. Maybe some like, podunk country cop you know, but we never really get any flack about it. People these days tend to be pretty pro-pot.
MtD: Now that you’re done with Summer Slaughter, you’re off to Europe to headline a tour—what are you most excited about being back in Europe for?
CC: Oh man, just the good times over there. Europe’s the best place to tour. Get back over there with our buddies Psycroptic and just looking forward to hanging out, playing some shows, and having fun.
MtD: You’re also on that tour in Europe with Ion Dissonance—is it your first full tour with them?
CC: Nah, the first summer slaughter tour four years ago actually. There’s also this band called Our Penance, and I’ve heard their songs on the Internet actually, and they’re pretty ridiculously brutal so I’m excited to check them out. The other band’s Discarnate, whom I haven’t heard yet.
Misled By Certainty drops on August 31th on Relapse Records— and you’d be a fool not to buy it (get it here). The tracks posted to the band’s MySpace page promise more of the same great Cephalic Carnage from Xenosapien and Anomalies—so, we’re all in for a treat. If you happen to be located in Europe, you’d also do well by your ears to check out their tour with Psycroptic, Ion Dissonance and more.
Worcester, Massachusetts, July 31st, 4:00 p.m. The weather outside The Palladium was perfect as I stood in line amongst dozens of other metalheads in anticipation of seven straight hours of metal assaulting my ears. Originally, the bands playing were thought to be only the Summer Slaughter lineup (or, as Cephalic Carnage put it, the Summer’s Laughter tour), but there was a bonus! For the same ticket, show-goers got to wander upstairs to see the bands on the Over the Limit tour, which is headlined by As Blood Runs Black and Oceano.
As I entered the establishment, the first band on the downstairs (main) stage, Vital Remains, was starting. A thoroughly unimpressive set — the band was pretty lifeless on stage, and the sound was absolutely atrocious. Thankfully, this would not be a recurring theme for the night. Very shortly after Vital Remains closed their set, the shredmasters Animals As Leaders took the stage and put on a performance that absolutely had the best sound of the night, bar none. It was so well mixed that there was no need for plugs (granted, the band has only three members).
Afer checking out the first two bands on the main stage, I wandered upstairs and caught the last of Blind Witness‘s performance — one that the crowd seemed really into. The next band on the upstairs stage was Thick as Blood. Promptly after Blind Witness’s set finished, the crowd shuffled out and left a mostly empty space for Thick as Blood. There were about four kids in the room that seemed to really enjoy them; everyone else around had a passing interest at best.
Immediately following Thick as Blood on the upstairs stage was The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. The crowd flooded back into the room, and you could sense a strong sense of anticipation in the air for Danza’s set. The set unfortunately started off with Josh Travis experiencing some minor technical difficulties; not to worry, though, Jessie Freeland’s ferocious, roaring vocals more than carried the first song. Once the tech was all sorted out, Danza picked it up again and the entire crowd went ballistic. There was more crowd surfing and moshing during this one short set than during all of the previous bands combined. Throughout all of Danza’s performance, the upstairs was a pure madhouse, even when the band wasn’t playing.
Next up was Cephalic Carnage on the downstairs stage – a hilarious band with pretty terrible sound but a really tight performance. Between songs, they discussed smoking weed, chronic masturbation, drinking booze, watching Star Trek, and other such occupationss. They even opened with the beginning of Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time” and a chunk of the Super Mario Brothers theme. A bit of a hokey performance; Veil of Maya would flip that around mighty quickly, storming the stage with an extra tight and crisp set, one that had extremely good sound.
Hard to imagine that the performances could get any better, but The Red Chord were next up and delivered another incredibly tight set to their hometown crowd. Following The Red Chord was All Shall Perish, featuring two new members (on drums and lead guitar). Although an extremely lively set, it was also somewhat hit-or-miss. The new guitarist failed in comparison to Chris Storey, and Eddie Hermida was a bit rough on the vocals during the first song or two, but by the end, they had the machine firing on all cylinders and they finished with a bang.
The next-to-last band of the night was The Faceless, who were unquestionably the best-sounding act of the night. While it’s awfully tough to put a lot of movement and emotion into playing such technical guitar parts, The Faceless always find a way to have great stage presence. It could all stem from Derek “Demon Carcass” Rydquist’s vocals and confidence.
To cap off the night was the legendary Decapitated, who are playing their first US tour since the tragic loss of their former drummer, Vitek, truly one of the world’s greatest metal drummers. Thankfully, Decapitated’s new drummer has enough chops to handle the job. In addition to a new drummer, Decapitated also have a new bassist and vocalist — they are really a different band but still unbelievable live. Every song the band played was fast, tight, loud, and awesome. Two short songs into the set, Decapitated saw a guest vocalist share the stage with Rafał Piotrowski — Jason Keyser of Skinless fame. There’s not much more that needs to be said about Decapitated’s set other than it was the most brutal, heavy, and energetic performance of the entire night — a truly perfect headlining act.