Mstr

About Mstr

Greetings, fellow metal fam! I go by Mstr, a weirdo anomaly born and raised in the hills of eastern Kentucky. A walking contradiction, I am everything you’d expect and nothing you'd imagine. Music is LIFE, and I've always had a soft spot for metal and it's various sub-genres. I'm always listening, sometimes writing, about all the things that make life worth living as well as what makes it a dumpster fire. Horns up!

State of the Art: Pennsylvania – BLACK URN

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*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured State* 

This month’s State is Pennsylvania!

 For those that have missed it for one reason or another, Monday marks the day that the staff here at Metal Nexus aims to shine a light on a previously unknown/undiscovered band from a certain state. Currently on Pennsylvania, I, your beloved Mstr, have got one hell of a find for YOU, our precious readers.  Hold on to your horses, my friends, because the boys in Black Urn are raring to have you drawn and quartered in the public square.  Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, Black Urn are artists painting on a complementary canvas to counter that idealistic nickname (even though the nickname is just the literal Greek translation, and not a reference to the abundance of eros in Philly).  There’s a number of (insert sub genre category) metal to have emerged from the Keystone State, although sadly, in my eyes, the best of what it has to offer is often getting overlooked. 

Cover Art for 2017’s split album with Moros

Along with Black Crown Initiate and the as-of-the-first-of-this-month disbanded Brontide (if you’re reading this, I beg y’all to reconsider), Black Urn are mastering manipulating the depths of darkness into songs that feel as heavy on the listener as a death shroud made of concrete, albeit in different ways. Black Urn dives through the swampy thick throes of sludge and doom, and rather than having a flat, straight genre approach, they pepper in influences from a variety of metal styles that manages to lift them above your run of the mill, just doing it for the bills feel of those that stay safely within the confines of the genre. Founded rather recently in 2014, this quintet sounds like they’ve known and played together for years.  There’s a nicely creative yet cohesive touch to their songs, often spotlighting thrash, grind, and black metal in a way that is owed to the band’s je ne sais quoi.

Vox: John Jones Photo Credit: SoundShooter

 

Black Urn’s Alex Ouderdonk slappin’ da bass at the Doomed and Stoned Festival. Photo Credit: SoundShooter

When vocalist John Jones gets busy ripping his vocal cords to tatters, one can FEEL it, much like the ever present and nicely fuzzed out bass provided by Alex Ouderdon k. With the backbeat fleshed out by drummer Tim Lewis and sometimes dueling guitar work by Jordan Pierce and Ryan Manley (who also provides some backing vocal duty), I am genuinely surprised that these guys remain independent and unsigned. Since forming, they’ve released recorded material every year, and after getting a chance to listen to their entire discography, I absolutely must formulate a plan to go see these guys live, and SO SHOULD YOU.  Their next show is June 11th at the Barbary in Philadelphia.  If you’re even a casual fan of sludgeoned doom, I’m willing to wager a buck or five that it’s worth the trip.  They have a split with Portland’s Shrine of the Serpent that is scheduled for release this summer (cd, cassette, and vinyl) to sate you thirsty bastards until the release of their 2nd full length sometime later this year.

Photo Credit: SoundShooter

Photo by SoundShooter

Curious yet? Still haven’t checked out their Bandcamp?  Here.  Because I love you, I’ll make this easy.  Just click here to experience the track that I’m obsessing over, or maybe even here for “Empty Handed Lord”, another personal favorite, one that demonstrates their skill in burying thrash in amongst sorrowful layers of sludgeoned doom, with a passage that would get even the most stubborn circle pit going.  Even better? Grab your headphones (not your earbuds or that crappy set of desktop speakers, either) and listen to every.thing.they.have. (check out the media player below) and in the process,  getcherself a new, favorite sludge band to follow obsessively.  We’ll be keeping up with Black Urn as their career develops, and we’ll keep you up to date as well as we receive the news!  Give ’em a follow on the book of Face here and on Instagram as well to help spread the word!

BLACK URN – “Spindle of Spines” (Live from Doomed and Stoned Fest)

SLAYER/LAMB OF GOD/BEHEMOTH NA Tour, PLUS A Chance For FREE TIX! [Tour News, Contest Announcement]

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ARE YOU KIDDIN’ ME?!?

I mean, just look at at that lineup! Our friends over at WOLVERINE KILLS gave us a heads up here at the Nexus about the upcoming tour between larger than life legends Slayer, the MIGHTY Behemoth, and the ferocious Virginia based Lamb of God (themselves now ubiquitous on the ever expanding metal tabula rasa) Continue reading

A Little Q and A To Metal Up Your Day [Interview With ACID DEATH!]

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Acid Death, Live in Germany. (Photo credit unknown)

 

About a month ago, I wrote a little piece for Metal Nexus in regards to the unearthing of the long lost debut album of Grecian prog/tech metal innovators, Acid Death.  (Click here to check it out if you’re so inclined.)  Not long after the publication of that article, I was in contact with Savvas Bettinis (vox and bassist for AD) about a possible interview with the band and after consideration, we decided on a more Q & A style due to differences in scheduling and time zones.  What follows is the results of that exchange, Continue reading

Take A Chance On This Chalice of Suffering Contest!

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Hailing from twin-city-to-St.Paul Minneapolis, Chalice of Doom have thus far shared one solo album of exemplary funeral doom with the world so far, with plans for their sophomoric release sometime SOON.  While we anxiously await for that album to drop (and if you haven’t already, check what my duderus Fist had to say about their debut here), these pallbearers of funeral doom purveyors are giving away some sweet swag to TWO lucky winners via their Facebook page!  Continue reading

Prog Metal Maestros UNTIL RAIN Unveil ‘Because Something Might Happen’ [Video Premiere]

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Hailing from Thessoloniki, Greece, Until Rain is the prog metal band that you’ve probably haven’t heard but definitely should if progressive music catches your ear in any shape or form.  The sextant, whom have been together in various incarnations for thirteen years now, have honed their sound steadily over time, taking bits and pieces of whatever musical styling catches their ear,  and mashing it with the long form/steady build up pacing of prog to formulate their own master blend.  Until Rain’s third full length album, “Inure“, is set to drop in the US on May 12th and to give a little taste of what promises to be their darkest album yet, we’ve got our hands on the band’s visual accompaniment for the lead single ‘Because Something Might Happen.’  Thematically, the video fits the album and the song well.  Dealing with a female protagonist that’s reliving the nightmares of being abused throughout her life, the nine minute epic track covers the broad range of emotional devastation and mental fallout that can haunt a survivor, and how just getting out is just the beginning of a much longer story.  It’s a tough story to tell adequately within the time frame, but visually, the video pulls it off quite well as the images fit the band’s narrative and song like a glove.  Until the launch of the full album, Until Rain has promised to be releasing new videos and teaser streams along the way.  If you like what you see and hear below, give ’em a follow on Facebook here or check ’em out on Bandcamp here to stay updated for upcoming teasers and announcements!

 

DANZIG’s NEW “Black Laden Crown” releases May 2017!

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2017 is going to be one hell of a year for punk and metal icon Glenn Danzig.  Last year saw something happen that caught longtime fans of the legendary Misfits by surprise when Danzig re-united with Jerry Only and Doyle on stage for the first time since 1983.  Just on the heels of the tour announcements for the ‘Blackest of the Black’ festival for which the band that carries his namesake will headline with support from over 20 other artists for two days in May (26th and 27th), DANZIG is announcing the planned release for their latest full length about the middle of the same month.  Continue reading

REVIEW: Malkavian’s Second Full Length “Annihilating the Shades” [Lyric Video]

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I had a flashback, some deja vu of sorts, when I first saw the name Malkavian come across my screen.  A little synapse in the back of my head lit up, screaming about how familiar that name was.  After some ponderance, my brain finally hit upon the source while listening to the band’s latest release: the Malkavian were a race of vampires in the popular role playing game Vampire: The Masquerade, most notably known for being insane.  Whether or not this is the true source of their name, French thrash metal spiked with technical groove maestros Malkavian certainly play to the chaotic nature that is a key feature of the species.  Originally formed in 2008, Malkavian released their first EP in early 2009.  After hitting the road to make a name for themselves in France’s metal scene, the band worked through 2010, making some tweaks to what would be their finalized lineup around 2011, and eventually got the chance to open for well known deathcore act Suicide Silence come 2012. Their first full length,  “The Worshipping Mass“,  saw its biggest distribution in 2014 under current label Finistrian Dead End.  Ever since, Malkavian has kept busy by working the dual grind of festival and tv appearances, and are ready to drop their 2nd full length on March 31st. 

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NAILS, TOXIC HOLOCAUST AND GATECREEPER KICK OFF TOUR 03/16/17! [Tour Announcement][Video]

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Hardcore punk, thrash-punk, and death metal fans alike are in for a treat! Tomorrow, 03/16/2017, starts the beginning of this extreme music trifecta hitting the road together for this 18 date, 17 city tour that’s sure to be a monster.  Nails is a hardcore punk band from Oxnard, CA currently signed with Nuclear Blast.  Currently with 3 full lengths and a couple of EPs under their belt, band members Todd Jones (ex Terror), John Gianelli, and Taylor Young meld elements of grindcore, powerviolence and death metal to create their own exclusive taste of hardcore. They will be supported by the intense but fun thrash punkers Toxic HolocaustTH has won recognition from metal publications across the board who all agree that they are among one of the most important and entertaining thrash bands in the modern era.  Originally founded as the solo effort of frontman Joel Grind, Toxic Holocaust now claims Nick Bellmore on the skins with Charlie Bellmore stepping in the role of touring guitar support since 2015. Last but certainly not least are their Relapse Records label mates Gatecreeper who saw the release of their first full length album last fall.  The quartet of Chase Mason, Eric Wagner, Seth Mears, and Matthew Arrebello have a primarily death metal sound that’s interwoven with a peppering of thrash and punk elements, but one that maintains death metal as it’s core.  The three bands combine on the same bill to form the Voltron of the hardcore/punk/thrash/black metal scenes, a juggernaut of a tour that’s sure to please old fans and invite curious new ones.  Don’t make excuses; make plans instead to catch this as it’s definitely gonna be a highlight of the touring circuit this year!  Dates and locations are posted below:

3/16/2017 Orpheum – Tampa, FL
3/17/2017 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
3/18/2017 Motorco Music Hall – Durham, NC
3/19/2017 Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
3/20/2017 Broadberry – Richmond, VA
3/21/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
3/22/2017 Music Hall Of Williamsburg – New York City, NY
3/23/2017 Middle East (Downstairs) – Boston, MA
3/24/2017 Foufounes Electriques – Montréal, QC
3/25/2017 Lee’s Palace – Toronto, ON
3/26/2017 Magic Stick – Detroit, MI
3/27/2017 Park Street – Columbus, OH
3/28/2017 Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
3/29/2017 Neumos – Seattle, WA
3/30/2017 Analog Theater –  Portland, OR
3/31/2017 New Parish – Oakland, CA
4/01 & 02/2017 The Hi Hat – Los Angeles, CA

Follow Gatecreeper on Facebook here, Nails on Facebook here, and Toxic Holocaust here.

Nails:

Toxic Holocaust:

Gatecreeper:

Manchester’s COLD FELL Offer Up Full Length Debut [Album Review] [Album Stream]

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Manchester, England, a city that exploded around the turn of the Industrial Revolution, has served as a backdrop and inspiration of metal musicians of all ranges.  No small wonder, either, given the social issues created once the trappings of the industrial exploitation machinations were set into play. Workers were often forced into inhumane working conditions and eventually, periods of civil unrest between the working poor and the bourgeois erupted, leaving behind inauspiciousness in it’s wake. From these circumstances, and similar in cities such as Birmingham, the bubblings of metal sprung forth to unleash upon the world an especially dreadful perspective.  The natives Cold Fell (so named for a mountain in the North Pennines, a spine, if you will, that weaves throughout northwestern English countryside) have finally gotten the opportunity to add their own voice to the offerings, four years after the release of their first EP. Comprised of Laurence Taylor (of Caina) on vox, Karl Sveinsson and Giovanni Infantino on lead and rhythm guitar, Callum Cox pounding on the drums, and Oliver Edward Turner on bass, Cold Fell evidently put the gap time after their initial EP to good use as 2017 has been gifted with one smoking full length debut. 

“Irwell” is both the name that christens their Argento Records release and a river valley nestled in (you guessed it) northwestern England.  Coming in with eight tracks, “Irwell” is a solid monster of a proper debut which bares it’s teeth from the opening, snapping fierce jaws within instrumental passages so you, the listener, do not escape it’s mighty grasp.  The band members here have an excellent chemistry which is evident in the ways in which each track has been composed.  There’s not a superfluous time change, solo or angry vocal howl throughout the album that I could find; these guys were on a mission of craft and on “Irwell” they absolutely bring the pain.  Peppered throughout each of the songs, one can easily see the influence that classic black metal and contemporary bands of the same genre have had on the members, and rather than setting out to exploit those genres or relying on a more avant garde/experimental approach, CF pay homage to those before and current in black metal by efficiently utilizing the core sounds, topped with their own personal flavor. Take, for instance, ‘Folly (Health & the Glory)’  which opens with a nicely fat bass thrum underlying the assault unleashed by the typical frontrunners of guitar and drums.  Densely atmospheric in the right places, the track pummels along, punctuated with howling guitar shrieks that eerily mimic a female’s screams in places, while ‘Bone Ceiling’ bites and snarls in its own right, featuring a nice addition of fist pump worthy chants that will surely be as appreciated during a live performance as it is on record. My overall album pick, though (and it’s surely a close call to make), is narrowly the doom and gloom served up by ‘The Whip (Armed to the Teeth): furious skin work where appropriate with some nicely bitter slower tempo drops, some skillful lead guitar that helps pull the beat back from the mire and cohesive and spot on instrumental passages.  The album closer, ‘Dream of Seppuku’, is a wholly appropriate one that fits like a glove.  Seppuku refers to the Japanese act of suicide by disembowelment, and this track moves in thematically appropriate ways until it fades into a more somber tone sprinkled with some piano keys.  While not necessarily a game changer (and not that it had such ambitions in the first place), “Irwell” delivers a solid album sure to catch the attentions of the black metal scene, and gives just enough to keep us wanting more.

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Unearthing An ACID DEATH Album, A Quarter Century’s Past [Teaser Video And Stream]

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The classical Roman poet Virgil wrote in ‘Aeneid’, one of his most well known epics, to “be wary of Greeks bearing gifts”.  Of course, Virgil was referring to the historically significant delivery of the subterfuge Trojan horse by the Greeks in order to gain access inside the fortified walls of the Trojan stronghold in the midst of a ten year siege. Ol’ Virgil, though, never could have, in all his poetic grace, imagined the Greeks handing the metal world the offerings of Hellenic Acid Death.  Floga Records announced on March 10th that they were releasing the long buried first album from the legendary death/thrash/prog/tech metal collective known to the world as Acid Death. This album is finally seeing the light of day after a quarter of a century (25 years!) of staying in the shadows of someone’s long forgotten stash.  The band originally formed in 1989, and “Balance Of Power” was recorded in 1992 by the fledgling group who would go on to release several albums: “Pieces Of Mankind” (1997), “Random’s Manifest” (2000), “Eidolon” (2012), and most recently “Hall Of Mirrors” (2015).  The gorgeous grounds of Greece spawned this apocalyptic philosophical quartet, apropos, considering the rich history of the country. Comprised of Savvas Betinis (ex-Brainfade and ex-Kinetic) on vox and bass, Kostas Alexakis (ex-Braindfade and ex-Kinetic) keeping the beats busting on drums, John Anagnoston (ex-Released Anger and ex-The Crucifier) on rhythm guitar and last but certainly not least is axe slinger Dennis Kostopoulus (ex-Infidel) on the lead.  Despite some breaks over the years, the band returns to its’ core roots more often than not and have firmly cemented themselves as one of the major innovators and mainstays of the Greek metal scene.  Acid Death have shared the stage with such titans as KREATOR, THE HAUNTED, IMPALED NAZARENE, CHILDREN OF BODOM, ROTTING CHRIST, MAYHEM, PESTILENCE, and SEPTIC FLESH over the years, alongside some epic and raved about performances on the festival circuit.    Continue reading