Words from the heavier end of modern music…
Slipknot 2014

New column! We figured it was about time, what with all the other music we were putting on these here web pages, to lean towards the heavier end of what we like. So, we asked Hugh Platt, deputy editor of the tremendous Thrash Hits site, to lay down some knowledge on all things heavier than a real-life E. Honda vs T. Hawk face-off. Consider us suitably slapped.

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The biggest hype and the shortest mystery this month in metal surrounded the identities of the two new members of Slipknot (pictured, above). Since the death of Paul Gray in 2010 from a drugs overdose, the role of bassist has been performed by the band’s former guitarist Donnie Steele, whom the band had stand behind a curtain when playing live. Founding drummer Joey Jordison found himself isolated and then ejected from the band in 2013, after a protracted war of words in the press with band frontman Corey Taylor regarding the future of the act post-Gray.

With new album ‘.5: The Grey Chapter’ due for release on October 20th, and the band’s subsequent unveiling of their new masks (it truly is a gimmick that keeps on giving – how many other bands can turn a wardrobe change into a media event?), the news that Steele was no longer part of the touring line-up and that two new live members were joining the band got fans a-frothing. At least until the video for ‘The Devil In I’ revealed a distinctive hand tattoo on the bassist, revealing none other than Alessandro Venturella, guitar tech for the likes of Mastodon, as well as a member of Cry For Silence and Radio 1 Rock Show host Daniel .P Carter’s current band Krokodil. And nobody had a bad word to say, because Alessandro is a stand-up guy.

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Slipknot – ‘The Devil In I’

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Slightly less well received was the news that Jordison’s replacement was former Against Me! drummer Jay Weinberg. A series of tweets by his former bands’ frontwoman Laura Jane Grace paints her former drummer in a somewhat less than flattering light – perhaps hiding his face behind a mask. Here’s just one of those micro-blog missives…

 

 

Also announcing new members in September was Sweden-based death metal übergroup Bloodbath. With on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt having packed the job in way back in 2012 to concentrate on his decidedly-less-growly and purposefully-more-prog day job leading Opeth, his replacement has finally been confirmed as none other than Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes. ‘Unite In Pain’, the first track to be released from the forthcoming ‘Grand Morbid Funeral’, showcases a gruffer side to Holmes than anything Paradise Lost have allowed him to show in the last two decades – listen to it here. Åkerfeldt might hate doing death growls these days, but Holmes clearly has been jonesing to do them for quite some time.

At The Gates dropped the title track from ‘At War With Reality’, the first new recording from the band in 19 years, and their first release since first reforming for a handful of live dates seven years ago. Their influence on melodic death metal and pretty much all of American metalcore was cemented by their previous full-length, 1995’s ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’, and anyone with even a passing interest in metal should have their fingers crossed that At The Gates will be joining Carcass and Autopsy in that rarefied list of death metal bands who are able to add to their legacy over a decade after the world thought it closed.

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At The Gates, ‘At War With Reality’

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Electric Wizard are still in the midst of building their impressive legacy, having muscled themselves back into view with ‘Time To Die’, which has split fan opinions as to whether it’s represents Jus Oborn and company mastering the B-movie rituals that characterise their Dorset doom, or if it’s yet another album that shows that band have reached a creative plateau.

British doom, thankfully, isn’t without a solid crop of young, hungry upstarts able to take up the slack provided by the genre’s elder statesmen this month; Black Moth’s ‘Condemned To Hope’ was a powerful amalgamation of doom traditions, grunge tones, Cramps-worship and homebrew psychedelic experimentation, while Hang The Bastard’s ‘Sex In The Seventh Circle’ served up riff after riff loaded up with evil sounding angry crust.

They might be less heavy by some magnitude, but the debut release from Yorkshire’s Marmozets is equally deserving of some spot-lit attention. The Bingley-born five-piece went through some serious growing pains since bursting into public consciousness back in 2011, but it’s all paying off with the release their debut full-length ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’. Touching in on everything from Rolo Tomassi-ish math-rock to more polished Paramore-like alt-rock along the way, and with the muscle of Roadrunner Records behind them, what Marmozets have is that rarest of rare things – a young band with a genuinely killer album and both fans and critics falling over themselves to sing the praises of.

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Marmozets, ‘Captivate You’

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It’s not all been sweetness and light of late, though. King 810 – a shit marketer’s dream and truly the miserable crop that the millennial decade of nu-metal sowed -  finally came to the UK this month after their British debut at Download Festival this summer was cancelled due to two members being arrested at Detroit airport for an outstanding warrant. Any reflective mystique that thuggery might provide the band is instantly washed away by their goofy crime scene stage sets and the presence of gaggles of weapon-wielding heavies they comically had manning the front doors of the venues they played. Jog on, losers.

It’s not just the new kids making themselves look stupid either. Mastodon released a painfully unfunny video to ‘The Motherload’ (watch it here, if you must) that tried to mine the thinnest of comedy veins, juxtaposing an avalanche of twerking arses with their riff-heavy throaty growling. We’re not entirely sure what the point they’re making is. Is it that the audience is supposed to think twerking is naturally funny? That it looks silly when soundtracked by Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders taking turns to roar over Bill Kelliher’s guitar lines? Mastodon’s drummer Brann Dailor doesn’t seem to know what the point of it is either, and he’s one of the people who decided to make it.

It’s all a bit sad that one of the more forward-thinking heavy bands from the last decade has fumbled the ball so spectacularly, to which drummer Dailor practically parroted Spinal Tap’s “what’s wrong with being sexy?” excuse. We thought you were better than this, lads.

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Words: Hugh Platt (Thrash Hits / Twitter)

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