State Of The Art: Virginia – WINDHAND

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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 Virginia!

Flashback to Fall 2015: I’m beginning to expand my musical horizons as a listener, discovering the real power behind Bandcamp… I stumble upon this album called, Grief’s Infernal Flower, a, then, bestseller on the website by a quintet from Richmond, Virginia dubbed Windhand. I saw Windhand’s third album sported some beautiful cover artwork, but it was the sound that I found within Grief’s Infernal Flower that made me admire this band the most. Featuring bludgeoning, thick guitar tones and soaring, ethereal vocals – Windhand has comprised some of the best elements of stoner and doom since their inception in 2008, to produce something so gracefully heavy.

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State Of The Art: Virginia – Freedom Hawk

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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 Virginia!

Week number three covering Virginia in our State of the Art series brings us to the barrier dunes of Virginia Beach, where, in 2005, time traveling rockers from 1970 emerged from the warp portal to create this week’s band, Freedom Hawk.

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Chicago Open Air Spotlight: DED

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*Every Thursday from now until Chicago Open Air gets here we will be releasing an article about a band playing the festival to get you familiar with them.*

This week’s artist is DED!

We have a nu metal/hardcore revival on our hands! DED will be performing at Chicago Open Air on Sunday, July 16th along with legendary acts like Ozzy Osbourne and Slayer. The band formed in Phoenix, AZ two years ago with the goal of putting listeners on edge. In the last few months they have taken the music scene by storm with their two recently released songs. Their live performances and EP led to a quick amount of success including shows with Beartooth, Atreyu, Every Time I Die, and more. This summer they will be hitting the road with Korn on several different tours, playing alongside acts like Stone Sour, Skillet, and Animals as Leaders. Continue reading

State of the Art: Virginia – Valkyrie

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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 Virginia!

After starting our State of the Art: Virginia series off with a bang last week, I would like to introduce or reintroduce a band that has been turning Traditional Doom fans on their heads since 2002. Started by vocalist/guitarist Jake Adams, bassist Eric Seaman and drummer Luke Shafer in Rockbridge County, VA, Valkyrie quickly released a five song EP in 2003 which included the track “Wintry Plains” that was later used in their most recent release, some twelve years in the future. By 2004, Jake’s brother Peter (also of Baroness) was added to the band, sharing guitar and vocal responsibilities. A second demo was recorded at a local radio station shortly before Shafer split with the band and was replaced with Mike Hoke on drums. Sunlight Shines followed along with a 7” split with VOG. By the end of 2004, the young band lost Seaman and Hoke and were replaced by Nick Crabill on bass and Nic McIntrurff on drums. Once being picked up by Twin Earth Records, their debut, self-titled, full length album was released with the assistance and engineering talents of Chris Kozlowski (Pentagram, Trouble, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Melvins, Blue Cheer). Changing the lineup once again, bass player Will BarryRec and drummer Gary Isom (Spirit Caravan, Pentagram) were recruited into the band, allowing Valkyrie to play many festivals including the final Emissions from the Monolith Fest in Austin, TX and the Stoner Hands of Doom festival in Phoenix, AZ. Isom left the band in 2007 and was replaced by Warren Hawkins. The next year, Man of Two Visions was released on their own label, Noble Origin. Valkyrie’s debut and Visions were later re-released on 12” vinyl in 2007 and 2008, the year that Pete joined Relapse Records recording artist Baroness which called him away for full time touring. In 2010, Meteorcity Records (The Obsessed, Nebula, Atonic Bitchwax) re-released the first two albums on CD. Joining Valkyrie on bass while still playing with Earthling, Alan Fary released a new split with both bands in 2013. 2014 proved to be a huge year for Valkyrie and its members. With production from Sanford Parker (Nachmystium, Pelican, Voivod), Shadows was released shortly before Pete was asked to play with Glen Danzig’s Samhain where he toured their reunion shows throughout the United States (information from Valkyrie’s online resources).

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Chicago Open Air Spotlight: AVATAR

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*Every Thursday from now until Chicago Open Air gets here we will be releasing an article about a band playing the festival to get you familiar with them.*

This week’s artist is Avatar!

Swedish metal band Avatar will be making their debut at Chicago Open Air to “steal the show” on July 15th. Forming in 2001, the band went through several lineup changes before releasing their first full length album, ‘Thoughts of No Tomorrow’ in 2006. ‘Schlact’ followed that in 2007 and then their self titled album was released in 2010. This was the start of the band’s rise to fame having been signed by Sony Music and releasing their biggest song yet “Queen of Blades”. The song received recognition from Blizzard Entertainment as it was about a character from the game Starcraft. Throughout these years they hit the road with many experienced bands like In Flames, Obituary, Helloween, and Dark Tranquility. Continue reading

State of the Art: Virginia – Iris Divine

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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 Virginia!

Here we go! Onto the great state of Virginia for our March State of the Art series. The tenth state of the union, nicknamed “Old Dominion” by King Charles II of England at the time of the Restoration, Virginia boasts Jamestown, founded in 1607 and claiming one of the oldest cities in the United States, the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents and a prominent place the country’s overall history. Surrounded by Maryland, Washington D.C., the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky, Virginia covers some 42,774.2 square miles, 65% of which is forestland and has a current population around 8.5 million. In addition, the state contains the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cumberland Mountains, Allegheny Plateau and Chesapeake Bay. While known for the production of coal and tobacco over time, computer chips have recently surpassed both combined as the top grossing exports. Virginia also has one of the top ten school systems in the States but sits near the bottom of public spending on the arts. Thankfully it has done no apparent harm because the state has spawned acts like Gwar, Iron Reagan, Lamb of God, Arsis, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste, Alabama Thunderpussy, Pentagram and many, many other top notch Metal bands. Oh, right, we can now add Iris Divine to this illustrious list of bands.

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Chicago Open Air Spotlight/Album Review: BLACK MAP – ‘In Droves’

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*Every Thursday from now until Chicago Open Air gets here we will be releasing an article about a band playing the festival to get you familiar with them.*

Our first artist is Black Map!

Black Map will be taking the Chicago Open Air stage on July 15th this year at Toyota Park and we couldn’t be more excited. This will be the first Danny Wimmer Presents festival that Black Map will be a part of . We are kicking off the artist spotlight in a special way as we also include an album review of their new release: ‘In Droves’. The alt metal trio unleashed their first songs in 2014. First, their 4-song EP titled ‘Driver’ was released in February and all 4 songs were included later on that year on their first full length album ‘…And We Explode’.  They put off a heavy 90s rock vibe with huge, blasting riffs and raw emotion all packed into one punch. Last year the band made a large breakthrough with the premiere of a new song “Run Rabbit Run”.  This song took the airwaves by storm and told us to get ready for 2017 because Black Map is quickly on their way to the top. ‘In Droves’ will drop across the US on March 10th via eOne Music. The album was produced by Aaron Hellam at Hellman Sound. You can pre-order ‘In Droves’ here on the band’s website. Continue reading

State Of The Art: New York – Trigger Pig

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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 New York!

So, with this week’s SOTAs, New York is in the bag. This state ended up being one of the easiest to choose killer Metal bands from and no one on our staff had any difficulties finding a plethora of deserving bands to spotlight. Hell, the difficulty for me was only covering four. This scene is nothing short of spectacular and should leave no Metal fan in the cold, looking for local talent to get behind. Overwhelming really. Well, this week, I did not even have to look because my friend David LaMay already had a band ripe for the picking sitting in his band list. Knowing his impeccable taste in music, Trigger Pig was an automatic hit with me as well! Simply blown away… Just, damn…

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Milestones In Music: King Diamond ‘Abigail’ 30th Anniversary

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King Diamond – vocals, producer

Andy LaRocque – guitar

Michael Denner – guitar, assistant producer

Timi Hansen – bass guitar

Mikkey Dee (Micael Kiriakos Delaoglou) – drums, assistant producer

Roberto Falcao (Roberto Johansson) – engineer, keyboards

What an honor and a privilege to cover the thirty year anniversary of one of the most beloved, important and influential Metal albums of all time: Abigail by the almighty King Diamond! AThirty years. Man, how time does fly. I can remember listening to Mercyful Fate as a kid, loving King’s first solo album, Fatal Portrait and the first time I heard Abigail shortly before graduating from high school back in 1987. Like many others from that time, my jaw dropped into my lap and has still not fully recovered to this day. It never comes close to getting old and is the album that scared the shit out of my girlfriend (now my wife of almost thirty years), shying her permanently away from the darker side of Metal this thing gave rise to. Hell, I was jamming it shortly before I learned that I would have this rare indulgence to cover a timeless Classic! It just always manages to snake its way into just about every playlist I listen to and/or create. Like many from my era, Abigail remains one my most loved albums of all time.

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State Of The Art: New York’s DRY KILL LOGIC

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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 New York!

If you were listening to metal in the late 90’s and early 2000’s there is a good chance you are familiar with the band DRY KILL LOGIC. The band formed in Westchester, NY in 1995 under the name HINGE. It was in 1997 that the band would release their first EP titled ‘Cause Moshing Is Good Fun’ via Psychodrama Records – the band’s own label. The second EP ‘Elemental Evil’ (1999) is when the band truly started garnering attention. The impact of that EP led them to opening for some well-known bands including Coal Chamber, Incubus, Anthrax and System of a Down. In 2000, (still performing under the name HINGE) they signed a record deal with Roadrunner Records but soon after signing with the label, they were forced to change their name due to a recording studio owning the copyright to the same name. They briefly changed their name from HINGE to HINGE A.D., but ultimately settled upon DRY KILL LOGIC after the studio threatened legal action if they used the word “Hinge” anywhere in their name. It was around this same time that ‘The Darker Side Of Nonsense’ was released. The album was released both under the name HINGE, as well as DRY KILL LOGIC. From then on Dry Kill Logic singer Cliff Rigano, guitarist Scott Thompson, bassist Dave Kowatch, and drummer Phil Arcuri were known as DRY KILL LOGIC. The band boasted a huge amount of groove in their music and were sometimes placed in two genre categories; Nu metal and New Wave Of American Heavy Metal. Both genres are very fitting but the band is a multidimensional band that really exceeded the limitations of any genre. ‘The Darker Side of Nonsense’ went on to become one of the heaviest and most revered albums of the year. On October 5, 2004, the band released their second major album ‘The Dead And Dreaming’, via Psychodrama Music Group. This album included one of the bands’ all-time greatest hits, “Paper Tiger” which showcased the bands ability to be incredibly heavy while still having those melodic anchoring moments that made their music special. In June of 2006, the band produced, designed and directed their first DVD/EP combo, ‘The Magellan Complex’. By this time the band had wrangled in a huge fan base and the DVD had a tremendous amount of behind the scenes footage, interviews and exclusive content filmed while the band was on tour. It also included the music video for “Paper Tiger”. The band was often compared to Pantera throughout the years and especially during their rise to popularity. DRY KILL LOGIC always remained humble and in regards to the comparison stated “I am just delighted people are liking the record and I have heard and read some great comparisons with great bands. It is humbling to be in the same breath as Pantera” during an interview with MetalRage.com. Continue reading