Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interview with Søren Crawack of Impalers

I had sent these interview questions to Impalers lead vocalist and guitarist Søren Crawack as I gave his band's new demo multiple listens. I could try to offer up a long introduction on the genesis of my queries and how I wanted to work some serious soul searching with a mastermind who is moving up ranks in the NWOTM...but that would all be crap.

Truth is, I listened to the tunes on A Necessary Evil and thought they kicked ass, so I shot off a few questions. Thankfully, Søren's answers are as involved as his music, putting on display his adoration of Sodom, playing gigs, and E string meyhem.

NWOTM: What originally attracted you to thrash metal?

Søren: Back when I was just starting to get into metal, I kept looking for more and more extreme stuff. Some of the first heavy metal I really listened to was Pretty Maids and Yngwie Malmsteen. But when it came to finding new and more extreme stuff, nothing could really fit my taste. Metallica was my first real taste of thrash, and Master of Puppets from the Seattle '89 video made me want to play metal. My real infatuation with thrash however began with Sodom. I was on my way to Wacken in 2007 and the bus that I was riding in kept playing the same compilation CD over and over again. What really caught my attention from that CD was the track Axis of Evil by Sodom, I really dug that a lot so I decided to check them out at the festival. That's when I knew that when I would eventually start a band, THAT kind of thrash is what I wanted to play.

In your opinion, what can make or break a thrash metal riff and how do you apply that to your own songwriting?

Good question! I think it varies a lot. It depends on my mood, sometimes I just want E string mayhem, like the more extreme kinds of thrash and other times I'm more into intricate stuff or even technical riffs. But most of the time I think what makes or breaks the riff is what goes on around it. What the bass is doing, or the drums. Drums can really affect a riff. If the drums are played in a fast style, the riff just seems faster obviously. But if the drums go down in to more of a what I like to call "headbanger" rhythm, that's got a whole different feel to it. However, when you listen to A Necessary Evil it's pretty clear that we have a thing for E string mayhem stuff, haha. We just like the aggression that comes out of the riffs that way.

Who are some of your personal guitar and vocal influences?

In terms of guitar I would say, as a rhythm guitar player, something like Gary Holt, James Hetfield, Mille Petrozza and Eric Peterson. They are insanely good with downstroke rhythm chops, which I'm a huge fan of. I'm not so much the alternate picking style player. Vocal vise I'm clearly more into the guttural German stuff. I like all kinds of vocals, but that kind is what feels best to me. So that would be people like Tom Angelripper or Mille Petrozza, and even Jon Nödveigt of Dissection as well.

Your new demo A Necessary Evil sounds great. How long did the recording process take?

Thank you very much! The recording process took waaay too long. It was supposed to just be a project we'd do in a week in October, but we ended up having to push the most of the recording back for many months. The lead guitarist we had back then didn't really care to record his solos, so we had to wait for him. Eventually we got a guy named Jonas Quist to do the lead guitars about a month and a half ago.

Many bands dislike the recording process. How do you feel about recording?

Well there's no doubt I would much rather be playing live than recording, but I don't really dislike it. Sometimes it can get a bit annoying when the producer tells you to record the part again after a hundred attempts, haha. But mostly we just hang out, drink some beers and joke around.

The solos in your songs take them to such epic levels. When writing songs, how do you approach the solo sections?

As I said we had a guy do the solos for this demo, except the first one in Nuclear Nights. I'm not a solo guitar guy at all, I like playing rhythm. But I do have a couple. My approach is trying to figure out some kind of hook that then leads into something that will keep you interested, which could be a cool melody, some tapping or shredding. Stuff like that. But it's not really what I want to do, so I try and stay somewhat out of the whole lead role.

Are there any plans to tour in support of A Necessary Evil?

There's not really a tour planned out, but we do have a couple of dates as well as some festival stuff. But not of that is tied directly into the release of A Necessary Evil. It's mostly meant as a promotional tool coming up to the recordings of our debut album late 2011, as well as a way to show people how we've progressed since the Army of Darkness demo, which is now over two years old.

Has Impalers played shows outside of your home country?

Not yet. There just haven't been the right opportunities. But we'll probably do a little Scandinavian stint later in the year.

What gear do you use when playing live?

I play a white Gibson Explorer from '97. My amp is a G200R HD Hiwatt transistor amp, with a BOSS GT-6 effects board in between the guitar and the amplifier. I use only a single kind of pick which is a black Dunlop with a thickness of 1 mm. If I'm playing with any other picks I feel kinda handicapped in a way, haha.

How do you physically or mentally prepare for an Impalers gig?

Right before the gig I usually just walk around in my own little world with my guitar for half an hour. I just walk around playing all kinds of stuff, mostly downstroked stuff. I also tend to kind of envision the gig, maybe thinking about something to say between songs. I also like to get in a certain mood, because our music is certainly aggressive and I think our attitudes should represent that.

Have you played with any notable metal bands? If so, how was that experience?

Well for one we've played with one of the best thrash bands ever, Artillery twice. Those gigs were definitely landmarks for me, and it was just awesome. Great guys as well. We've played a couple gigs with other bigger bands, some from labels like Metal Blade and such, but nothing really interesting thrash wise.

Who would you like to open for?

Metallica. Still one of my favorite bands. Sodom and Kreator would definitely also be a major thing for me.

Final words?

We hope you all like and buy the new demo, and that you spread our word as much as possible! We're trying to get out on the road as much as possible, so hopefully we'll see you out there! And thank you for the awesome interview!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Impalers - A Necessary Evil

Although I have heard of the band Impalers, I had not heard a note of their music until recently.

Such an oversight was my mistake, and since I am always on the lookout for killer new thrash bands (of course), I should have at least clicked on Impalers' MySpace page. Right?

I get lazy, okay?

So, as I burned through a recently obtained promo copy of Impalers new demo release titled A Necessary Evil, I let out an audible "Hell, yeah!"

Galloping riffs, tight drums and well-orchestrated solos are abundant, highlighted by a clear and professional recording. Not that a professional sounding recording is the be-all end-all (because even a turd can be served on a silver platter), but these guys can THRASH, and when it sound this good, then it's all the better.

Although Impalers well-oiled teutonic-inspired thrash seems to keep the foot firmly on the pedal, with only the occasional mid-tempo riff to allow you to exhale, the listener is offered enough dynamics to keep the music fresh.

One aspect that keeps Impalers music a step above the rest is the use of the guitar solos. During the solo section, most bands use the standard main riff under a barrage of speed pick wankery. While that is all fine and dandy in some cases, it's good to hear a solo integrated into the music to blend with the peaks and valleys of a song's dynamics - not unlike what Megadeth or even Cellador does.

The four songs on A Necessary Evil go by fast and furious, offering a taste of brutality that makes it easy to click the replay button.

Check them out here. Buy their demo here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thrash is backward compatible

As my wife was running some errands a few days ago, she was digging through her glove box to find a CD.

She was in the mood for some Puppets-era Metallica, but knowing that the disc was not in the car, she was hoping to find something heavy to satisfy her appetite for thrash.

Let me say that her appetite for thrash is a rare hunger pang. She is not well versed in thrash (although better than your average Joe), and truthfully is not a fan of the all-out nonstop speed thrash. The *pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa* of the persistent snare drives her nuts.

Don't get me wrong, she has a heart for heavy music (her faves include Testament, Obituary, Pro-Pain, Megadeth, and even Napalm Death, which may contradict what I said in the previous paragraph, but Napalm has a knack for dynamics and hell-heavy breakdowns), but for the really fast stuff, her intake has to be in small doses.

So as she rummaged around through the glove box, she came across my burned copy of Vio-lence's Eternal Nightmare. Even as a fan of Machine Head, she had no idea who Vio-lence was, but popped the CD in anyway (probably fully expecting not to like it).

She admitted to not liking the first song, mainly due to the vocals, as do a lot of people who experience Killian's vocals for the first time. She listened to part of the second song (Serial Killer), and hit the skip.

Then began the song Phobophobia. Her thumb departed the skip button as the opening riffs caught her ear. When the vocals eventually kicked in, she still kept her digits far away from the skip button, allowing the song to continue uninterrupted.

She liked the song, which is a positive victory. Start small. One song. That's good.

I, myself, recently found that once you let a little bit of Vio-lence's music creep into your brain, the rest will eventually storm in, invade your privacy, make itself at home and eat your food. Then all you'll want to do is listen to Eternal Nightmare. It's a cosmic rule that E.N. can turn ordinary humans into thrash-frenzied maniacs. Look it up.

Anyway, when my wife later told me that she really liked "this one song" from Vio-lence, I was happy. I figured that out of all the thrash in which she might give a chance, Vio-lence would be at the bottom of the list next to Rigor Mortis and Guillotine.

When I told her who they are (classic-area thrash with members of Machine Head) and how it was weird that I never really listened to them until recently, she looked puzzled.

"Oh, they are that old?" she asked. "I thought I was listening to one of those new thrash bands that you are into."

HA! Did you all get that? She thought Vio-lence was a NEW thrash band.

Now, I am not making fun of her untrained ear toward thrash, nor am I poking fun at her mistaking a classic thrash band as a recent upstart stalk in the vast crop of the NWOTM.

No, I am praising her mistake! Why?

Because, as the bane of purists and to the delight of fans, when it is said that bands such as Violator, Bonded by Blood, and Municipal Waste sound like they could have come out of 1987 instead of 2011, they are right!

The music of newer thrash bands can be mistaken to be from an earlier era because a lot of it is undiluted thrash in its purest form. They want to play THRASH, criticisms of unoriginality be damned.

This is great news for new fans! Just as a vast number of NWOTM music could have been written and released 25 years ago, albums such as 4 of a Kind, Extreme Aggression, Kill 'Em All, and Game Over could be released today without the concerns of sounding dated.

In other words, new fans of thrash should have no problem skipping from era to era, experiencing everything thrash has to offer. It's backward compatible.

To a lot of us, thrash is forward-compatible, too, despite what the purists will say.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Help a Lich King out

Since my last post, I've been all Lich Kingy. I mean, it's hard not to like this band, not that I wouldn't want to. Not like the band. I wouldn't want to not like the band. Um...?


Since my blog is steered toward the topic of King Liches, I may as well act as an echo chamber and remind everyone that the band is raising funds for a new van.

Until the end of April, if we scratch Lich King's back with some dough, they will scratch ours with cheap music downloads and other cool trinkets, including stickers, signed CDs, buttons, shirts, etc.

The harder you scratch, the more scratch you get, you dig? A donation as little as $5 gets you a download code for a Lich King album. Five bucks!

However, instead of me going on and on, check out the informative video narrated by the King himself.

So if you want to help get Lich King on the road this summer, go here and fork over a generous donation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lich King RULES!

Why I have not yet dedicated a post to the mighty Lich King is an idiot move on me.

Lichmaster Tom Martin may write about monsters, violence, and silliness, but the music itself is far from flippant. Mosh-worthy rhythms are aplenty, and even the angriest grand poobah of the pissed-off thrash brigade can't help but give a horns up, even in the face of a few lyrics that plant the tongue firmly in cheek.

Tom's consistent bragging about Lich King (examples: "I'd rather listen!" "The best damn thrash band ever, ever." "What's not news at all is that we rule.") shows a light-hearted and fun approach to some serious thrash metal.

Check the riffs in A Storm of Swords from their World Gone Dead album. Grinding. Stomping. Killer!

Check out Lich King here and here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I like Lars Ulrich

I like Lars Ulrich.

As a person? Hell, I don't know, but as a musician and co-founder of Metallica? Yes, I like the guy.

So, no, I will not jump on the "Lars Sucks" bandwagon. Again, does he suck as a person? I don't know. As a musician? Of course not.

As a first line of defense against those within the metal fan community who seem to genuinely hate Lars, it's easy to site the first four (or five, if you enjoyed the Black Album) Metallica records.

"You hate Lars (and/or Metallica)? All I have to say is the first four albums mow over everything that has ever existed in the existence of existing," said the slobbering fanboy.

No, the only time I like to use the "First Four Albums" defense when debating about Metallica is when people slag on Ulrich's drumming skills.

You'll see it time and time again on forums and blog posts about how Lars is a terrible drummer. I remember reading a blog comment that basically said, Death Magnetic would have been a good record if Metallica would have found a different drummer.


Now, it's one thing if someone simply does not like Metallica's music, but to say that Lars Sucks as a drummer is just…silly.

So when I read or hear people dogging on Ulrich's drumming skills, I do usually site the first four albums, particularly Master of Puppets. Why? Think about it. When Master first came out back in '86, I don't remember hearing a lot of whining and bitching about how the supposed
piss poor drumming ruined the album.

Nowadays people view Master of Puppets as a classic thrash album, and I doubt Lars' "awful" drumming comes to mind when listening to Disposable Heroes, Damage, Inc., or the title track.

I've read the argument that Lars has become increasingly worse as a drummer since the 90s. Now, I understand that many thrash fans felt burned by 90s Metallica (me included), but that goes back to simply not enjoying the music. It has no bearing on the musician's actual skills as a player.

However, if someone actually believes that Lars use to be good but has somehow become decrepit as a drummer and musician, particularly when writing and playing on Metallica records, I would welcome someone to pull out a copy of Death Magnetic and point out the flaws in drumming technique that distracts from the songs. Not only that, but what could have been done to make it better?

As for my previous question, I am not a drummer, so I wouldn't know. I have a feeling that most people complaining about Lars Ulrich's skills are not drummers themselves.

So if Lars is not a walking failure as a drummer, then why all the Lars hate?

I believe the answer lies between Lars being a very rich and successful rock star and the stain left from taking Napster to court. I'm not saying the hate stems from all-out jealousy, but it IS easier to pick on the proverbial big guy.

I also believe that too many people make comparisons with other drummers.

"Lars?? HA! If you wanna hear a REAL thrash drummer, check out Lombardo, Menza, Hoglan, and that dude from Warbringer!"

Personally, I would also add that dude from Guillotine, but this is all beside the point. Yes, they are all incredible drummers, but because those guys are good takes zero away from what Lars does in his own band.

So is Ulrich the best or worst drummer in metal? I don't know and I don't care. All I know is that he played on some classic records that sound just as good today as when they first hit the shelves.

If you really want to know what a crappy drummer sounds like, get me behind a kit. Maybe if I am as bad as some people believe Lars to be, I still have my shot at playing in a successful metal band.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dr. Livingdead's new cover art!

I had no idea until about 30 minutes ago that Dr. Livingdead has a new album coming out soon. When? I dunno. Last I heard they were working on new material, but it looks like they secured a deal with High Roller Records.

Check out the killer album cover.

Now check out one of their latest tunes.

Man, I'm glad to see these guys back! I'll request again: Come to the States!!

Bonded By Blood round 3

So here I wrote about a rumor regarding Bonded By Blood guitarist Alex Lee leaving the band. Then I wrote a post with the news that Alex was not leaving, as well as offering all of you my heartfelt apology for taking part in rumor-talk.

However, the rumor mill kept a-turning, especially over at Thrash Unlimited, about Alex's departure. I wrote Dan from New World Horror to find out if all this mess was true. As you may or may not know, N.W.H. is playing with BBB on April 17th, so I figure it would be easy for Dan to get the info.

He wrote me back the same day, confirming the worst (and getting the info sooner than expected). THEN I read about it over at BW&BK.

So, I take back my stupid apology.

As everyone probably knows by now, Alex as well as bassist Jerry Garcia are both leaving BBB. I won't echo the band's statement, but you can read about it here.

I'm interested in the future of BBB and how they are going to rise from this. According to their statement, it appears that they really want to forge ahead, so I wish them success when they find permanent members.

Also, a hearty good luck to Alex and Jerry.

As for me - I'm gonna go eat a bowl of cereal.


Kasatura ROCKS!

I've been away for a while. Sorry.

However, my inspiration has been given a kick in the pants after coming across the Ankara, Turkey band Kasatura.

If their 2011 promo song Helmet 451 is of any indication, I would have to say THIS is where Sepultura should have gone after the Chaos AD album.

With the hooks Kasatura writes, these guys could be huge.

Check it out.

Look them up here and here.
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