Saturday, October 23, 2010

Triptykon: Ten Minutes with Tom G. Warrior

As I left the Death Star on the evening of October 16th, something told me to grab my copy of ‘Only Death is Real’ the beautiful and staggering in absolute quality hardcover book illustrating the early years of both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost.   If you haven’t seen this book and call yourself a fan of the dark arts, it is a must own, must read piece of Heavy Metal history.

When I left the venue during 1349’s set, I planned on perhaps trying to wait near the bus for some signs of life as I really wanted my copy signed.  The thing is such a unique and incredibly well put together book that the only thing that could ever “enhance” it further was to have it signed.  This is rare because I've never been an autograph person.  Sure I have several and will probably acquire several more, but it's never been my intention when meeting musicians. 

So as I walked out I ran into the man himself.  Tom Warrior was out and about, talking to his people, taking photos and profusely thanking all those within earshot for their support and coming down to catch the debut Chicago performance of Triptykon.  As I waited for my shot with the silver Sharpie, the crowd thinned, it was at this time I made a “now or never” decision to ask Tom for an impromptu interview right there and then. 

Here’s how it went:

None But My Own: You’re in a unique position to be viewed as a “new” artist, especially here in America.  How do you approach this, being  perceived as “new?”

Tom G Warrior: Well, I’m not afraid to work, you know?  If I was, I never would have left Celtic Frost.  I knew exactly what I was doing; I knew I’d have to start from scratch again.  I’m not dead yet so I’m here and we will work as hard as we can for however long it takes.

NBMO: Is it vindicating to have 'Eparistera Daimones' out, be here in the US Touring and having all this excitement about Triptykon?


NBMO:  You’re decision to leave CF was a huge decision, yet at the end of the day, this day in particular it must mean a lot to be in this position, to know you followed your heart and here you are.

I had to follow my instinct.  That and I know the idiot that broke up Celtic Frost is back in Switzerland, he’s not touring the World, so indeed it is vindication. 

NBMO: Starting with the ‘Monotheist’ release, you started licensing your music to different companies here and abroad.  The initial Triptykon releases are following the same suit, you basically taking control.

I control everything we do! That’s the only way to approach the business these days, you have to be in full control of what it is you do.  This is the only way to do things because I don’t trust anyone I choose to do it myself.  Very simple, really.

NBMO: This business regimen.  Does the past eat at you concerning all the things Celtic Frost went through?

It can. I wish this was the way the business was handled back in the 80’s but I will say this.  There’s no way I could have taken control of everything back then.  I was too inexperienced in both the business as well as life, too young and immature for that. 

NBMO: As dark and intense as tonight’s performance was I think, and tell me if I’m wrong, but I think I actually saw you smile.  Now what that say’s to me is how much you’re enjoying not only being on stage, but being on stage with this band.  That was translated from the stage to the crowd and back. How important is the vibe to you?

It is everything…otherwise I would have never left Celtic Frost.  Today for instance I was on stage with good friends, I saw old friends in the crowd and all I can say is it was a pleasure. 

NBMO: When I think back about the improbable climb Celtic Frost faced in the early to mid 2000’s only to be cut down in its second prime, it’s hard to comprehend.   I mean to come back after the initial hiatus with ‘Monotheist’ was something I never thought I’d see.

That’s because we worked very carefully around that release.  We didn’t just do it for a check, you know?  We had a record company very interested in us coming back, but that didn’t matter, we wanted to do it and do it right.  We took our time and it didn’t matter how long it took to record, it HAD to be the right album and I believe that’s why we succeeded.   I’ve looked at Triptykon in the exact same way.

NBMO: Triptykon has done some festivals and other European touring, you’re close to finishing your first US run.  Where do you go from here?

I just want to create music, that’s all that matters to me.  I know that’s such a cliché thing to say, but in my case all I can say is it’s very, very true.  But exactly where Triptykon can go from here, I have no idea.  We’re going to be focused on making albums of total quality and that’s about as much as I can say for now.

NBMO: Final words for this evening to the fans of Chicago?

Thank you for having me back, it’s not something I take for granted.  When I left Celtic Frost I didn’t know if I’d ever be granted the chance for another US tour, but now I’m here and it’s amazing.  This is a dream for many musicians and I look at it with much respect. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Triptykon, Yakuza and 1349: Bottom Lounge, Chicago 10.16.10

In my nomadic opinion, this was one of the more eclectic and diverse bills I’ve seen in many a moon. I suppose the second you add Chicago’s Yakuza to a bill or an entire tour the line up instantly takes on a new and hard to categorize form.

So true to those words Yakuza was the first band I saw. I heard from several people that Hellbastard was added to the bill and they played before Yakuza, can’t confirm this other than hearing about it when I arrived. So Yakuza took the stage with a mellower than expected number. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen the band live so I have no comparison to how they’ve opened shows over the past 18 months or so, but tonight’s opening was definitely not what I expected. 

Mellow as it may have started it wasn’t too long before the build-up, uh, built up some momentum and a few more minutes of anticipation were uncorked and away they went. So as I mentioned it’s been some time since I’ve seen Yakuza tear it up and because of my absence I did not know if they had gotten this good or if being on tour and playing every night got them this devastating. Maybe a little of both?

Of Seismic Consequence
Regardless of how they got there, Yakuza, IMO are “there.” Over the years they’ve thrown a monkey wrench into the cog known as Heavy Metal and thrown it for a loop. What I witnessed on Saturday evening was a band really starting to utilize its full potential. By blending their styles in an almost hyperactive or spastic scenario, Yakuza are creating a wall of sound that while “abstract,” is still pummeling and every bit “extreme” as anything out today. New material from their latest album, ‘Of Seismic Consequence’ sounded as aggressively complex live as it does on record. Impressive.

Surprisingly, this tour is a co-headline and because of that Triptykon and 1349 switched in the closing spot each night. With that said, that’s where the “co” anything starts and stops. 

Triptykon is as you all know is the new band of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost main man Tom G Warrior. Now I will admit that when all the drama went down concerning the demise of Celtic Frost, I didn’t know what to believe. How could that band, who by all accounts were dead and gone before the release of 2006’s ‘Monotheist,’ who clawed their way back from the dead just “give up?” As the years have passed we learned quite a bit about the dealings of Celtic Frost and how the band was destroyed from the inside out.

“Rising from the ashes” is such a cliché expression and even more so when it pertains to Heavy Metal, but that’s just what Tom G Warrior has done with Triptykon. In fact, it’s probably not the most inconclusive thing to say that if CF were around in 2010 they’d sound a fuck of a lot like Triptykon. That being said, the anticipation for the arrival of Triptykon was pretty high tonight. From the second they stepped on stage as their intro “Crucifixus” from the soon to be released ‘Shatter’ EP played, Tom G Warrior and crew were given a warm welcome (back) to Chicago. Opening with the CF classic “Procreation (of the Wicked)” only solidified the embrace from the crowd and for the next hour or so the stage belonged to them.

“Goetia” from their debut, ‘Eparistera Daimones’ was the first indication at just how powerful and crushing Triptykon is live. Of course ‘Procreation…’ was heavy as all, but anyone familiar with the last chapter of CF knew how this song was presented in the context of a live show. “Goetia” was like the first new thing we’re hearing and what can I say? It was futuristic, it was just a mind fuck of heavy proportions and it was just the start! “Circle of the Tyrants” was next and let me say right now, there’s something hard to explain about hearing a song live that you basically never thought you’d hear again. This was one of them.

“Abyss Within My Soul” was played back to back with “The Usurper” and again, just crushingly heavy. The band, from a first impression seems to perfectly combine the same zest for playing both Triptykon, their own material as they do Celtic Frost’s. Their respect of the old makes the new material, even if it were the initial exposure, much more convincing. A ‘Monotheist’ era song, “Synagoga Satanae“ followed “The Usurper” for a truly dynamic one-two punch. Hearing this 10 minute mini-epic for the first time in a long time reminds you how crucial CF were to the Metal world and how perhaps that void is now filled in a bit.  

They closed with an extended version of “The Prolonging“off the debut and that was it.  A triumphant return and hopefully it acts as an invitation to return again and again.  

Sorry to say just about any band following the slaughter of Triptykon was going to have their work cut out for them.  1349 was that band tonight.  A fine band in their own right, 1349 has been one of the more consistent acts of the current crop of Norwegian blasphemers.   Featuring Satyricon’s Frost on drums the band comes with its own built in selling points before a note is even played.  1349 ironically were support to Celtic Frost on the last US tour CF would do in 2006 and the two camps have come to conquer again.

1349 right off the bat sounded very thin.  It could be their sound, it could be that’s what I heard in comparison to the sonic bulldozer Tom Warrior and Co. drove through the venue about a half hour ago.  Either way it left a lot to be desired.  I stayed for a few songs, didn’t hear too much to convince me to stay longer, very talented band and totally hard working, this being their second tour of the US in support of the 'Demonoir' album  but live there was little to really keep my attention for more than 20-25 minutes.    

Friday, October 15, 2010

Electric Wizard: Black Masses - November 2010

It's coming...

Pre-Order CD

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Meet Thy Doom! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

High On Fire, Kylesa and Torche: Metro, Chicago 10-10- 2010

So all my mental bullshit about missing some of the Sleep gig was soon put to rest by the return of Matt Pike and High On Fire to Chicago. This was their second time through in support of the ‘Snakes for the Divine’ album and it found them in the middle of a tour dubbed the “Sanctioned Annihilation Tour” also featuring Torche and Kylesa

I’ve seen Kylesa several times before and they remain one of the best when it comes to just getting down to business. Not a lot of chit-chat between songs and little to no time wasted during their set. If you’re unfamiliar with them, the Savannah, Georgia based quintet (augmented by two drummers) specialize in the heavy with a percussive edge that (not so gently) tiptoes through the land of atmosphere and gravity defining space jams. 

Utilizing dual vocals between guitarists Philip Cope and Laura Pleasants these carry the set along and adds to the musical landscape instead of overpowering it. A nice twist to the usual growl-a-thon vocals so prominent in the scene today. In addition to some classic Kylesa material the band premiered a few songs from their forthcoming album, ‘Spiral ShadowKylesa continue to evolve at their own pace which is good enough for me.

Torche were definitely a band I “needed” to see. I needed to know if the hype was to be believed. I picked up their ‘Meanderthal’ album after it was picked as Decibel Magazine’s top “extreme” album of 2008 and I bought it blindly. Didn’t bother to seek out their myspace or whatever, the top “extreme” album needs to be heard, right?

Well what I got was pretty surprising. Their blend of pop-sludge is more akin to Foo Fighters than Fugazi and it took a long, long time to get past the first few songs of said album. I wanted to see them live to see how the slicker than usual material translates on stage, in front of people. What I got was the same thing as the record gave me. It moved me. On record it moves me to change the disc and live they moved me out of the room. Can’t win em all, but hey, someone likes them. 

High On Fire simply conquered. The second coming of Celtic Frost meets Motorhead power trio brutality is a lethal locomotive of a band live. Always have been, seemingly always will be and that’s just that. There’s something unique about watching a trio jam, isn’t there? It’s an efficient and highly concentrated force of nature when three people connect and collectively push the music out to the forefront where it belongs. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen with bands featuring more members, but the trio is just, better! 

Snakes for the Divine

So, like I mentioned previously, this was High On Fire’s second time through Chicago behind the ‘Snakes for the Divine’ album and because of this the new material performed was just out of this world. Opening with “Frost Hammer” it didn’t take long to notice how great the band sounded right out of the gate. Super tight, super heavy, crystal clear and crushing. “Turk,” “Baghdad,” and “Rumors of War,” all each deadlier than the other were then blasted forth.

(Road Cases powered by the devil!)

‘Snakes for the Divine’ was represented with “Bastard Samurai,” “Fire, Flood & Plague” as well as the title track. Now these same three were played back in April when HOF sold out Lincoln Hall and while they kicked ass then, now? Forget about it. The ferociousness in which they were delivered made them sound like totally different songs. 

“Bastard Samurai” in particular was fucking EPIC!

A “deep cut” if you will, “Silver Back” from the ‘Blessed Black Wings’ was also pulled out of their hat, very cool and very welcome addition to the set. Now seeing this show was part of the 2010 Riot Fest the set length was slightly abbreviated but the band still had time for a last song which was another ‘Blessed Black Wings’ era track, “Devilution.” 

With that the house lights go up, the show is over.

If you don’t know who HOF is or you’re stuck in the mentality that they’re a doom band or a “stoner rock” band or play simplistic rhythms and basic 2 or 3 riff songs, not only are you missing out but you’re also dead fucking wrong. Cheers to Des, Matt and Jeff for five killer albums, a decade of jaw dropping shows, over the top musicianship and last but not least always looking out for their people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Killer Contest - Win the 2010 Nuclear Blast Catalog!

Wanted to pass this along to the faithful. 

Enter HERE

(Contest ends November 15th
Duplicate entries will be disqualified)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Rocktober Three For All. Sleep, Alice and Adler

Not in the mood to wax poetically on any certain subject right now, but there’s been a few things on the back burner I’d like to at least get out of my head.  So here’s a combo-post of a few of the sights and sounds and thoughts of the past few weeks. 

SLEEP: September 9, Logan Square Auditorium
Wow, did I screw the pooch on this one!  It being a weeknight and time is tight I called the venue to try to get an idea of what time SLEEP would be performing that night.  Guy said 10PM sharp!  So with that knowledge, I took my sweet ass time in getting into the city. 

We arrived at around 9:30-ish and lo and behold, we’re a half hour late.   What the fuck, right?  So with that, I never got to really enjoy the show.  It was heavy, it was louder than shit and it was admittedly really fucking awesome, but the showing up late shit never left my mind.  As good as it was to see the rest of the gig; it was fucking lame to have missed the beginning. 

Ah, fuck it, that’s what You Tube is for. 

ALICE IN CHAINS: September 16, Charter One Pavilion
Any background info on what Alice In Chains, their records and their live shows mean to me can be found here and here.  If you read or have read those, chances are you’ll say I had a different view on the most recent Alice visit to Chicago. 

I’m not sure if it was due to this being the kick off of the tour, first night bugs or it being an outdoor venue but whatever the case may be, but I have to say this was the least enjoyable Alice show I think I’ve ever seen.   Maybe that’s due to the absolute perfection that was brought forth back in March at the Aragon, so maybe it’s a “feel sorry for the fanatic” type of thing.  People that missed that show might have loved tonight’s performance?  Regardless, I was probably in the minority that left the show underwhelmed. 

I understand that bands on their time off the road, the last thing they want to do is sit down and learn “new” songs from their catalog.  I can see how that might not be their first choice of things to do while on “vacation.”  However, when a band is trying hard to establish itself as something other than a nostalgic act, I think it’d be an important task to tackle at some point.  Alice In Chains has done some of that with the release of the incredible ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ a little more than a year ago and picking up where the left off many years ago as a staple and dominant force in rock radio. 

So with that knowledge, I think they desperately need to change up the set list to really seal the deal on where they’re at, where they’re going and eventually where they’ll end up.  Like I mentioned ‘Black Gives Way…’ is incredible and I think they could easily feature way more new songs and replace some of the “staples” which would have corrected any technical issues that plagued the Chicago kick off of the ‘Black Diamond Skye’ tour. 

If you’re a regular reader here you know how I feel about Rock/Metal Media, from books to movies to this and that, I love this stuff and it’s because of my love for these things that I feel at home blogging instead of doing actual magazine work.

I was pretty anxious to read Steven’s book.  I was a big GnR fan back in 87/88 and I was looking forward to being a fly on the wall during the formation of one of the biggest (and at the time) best Rock and Roll bands of all time.  I knew there’d be a hefty amount of excess, after all the title pretty much guarantees it.

The book starts well enough.  You do get the adolescent years, the family ground rules and the dynamics between Steven and his Mother.  From there it blossoms into the pre-teen bonding with Slash, which is some rather remarkable stuff in and of itself.   You get an idea of the hunger that Adler possessed the drive that planted the dream of rock stardom deep in his heart and lo and behold it’s, as we all know what ended up happening. 

The formation of Guns N’ Roses, to me is some of the best stuff in the book.  His insights to what made the band as well as individual members click and how all these misfit pieces came together was something out of a Hollywood fairy tale.   Steven takes the reader to the writing, recording, touring and like I said earlier you get to be the fly on the wall as the band goes from ultra shitty rags to countless riches seemingly overnight.  From the years 1985-1989/90 the dream was in full-motherfucking-effect as it pertains to Adler and he thought that ride would never end.

But during those years, especially 87/90, the World was Adler’s candy store.  Well, if that candy store sold weed, cocaine, crack, heroin, and pussy, you’d have a good idea how Steven rolled when he was on top.  Trouble is, as quick as that rocket ship of fame took off, for Adler it seemed to land even quicker not to mention a fuck of a lot harder. 

If you’ve paid any attention to anything Rock and Roll related over the past 20 years you know what happened to Steven Adler.  This book succeeds on a weird level, this I’ll let you know right away.  It’s not really a well written book, the drug use is absolutely fucking ridiculous, I mean this is the first Rock book I think I’ve ever read that (if it were possible) would have scared me straight.  Some of the stories are just so out there you wonder when some of it was written. 

The thing that saves ‘My Appetite’ is the fact that Adler is currently clean of hard drugs and his rehabilitation has allowed him to move forward in his life and look at certain situations and find himself at fault.  Sure he does a lot of talking about members, and ex-members of GNR, but when it comes to admitting his role in a LOT of the turmoil surrounding his time in the band, he can now see both sides of the coin.  Is this a “must read?”  No, not at all but it does hold some merit in a historical sense.  I’ll give it that.