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Under Siege: Slayer, Byzantine, Gama Bomb & more!

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[Under Siege: A weekly recap of the noteworthy riffage from the wicked world of metal and hardcore.]



Slayer release new album; cancel upcoming tours and appearances

Hype around Slayer and their new release World Painted Blood hit fever pitch over the past few weeks, much of which was driven by some MySpace exclusives. The band streamed their entire album on their MySpace profile page and debuted the 20-minute “Playing With Dolls” music video on the site as well. The album sounds damn good, and though the 12 chapter nightmare-esque featurette admittedly gets a little cheesy here-and-there, its hazy, dreamlike editing is engrossing. Metal fans around the world were going wild, and all was well. However, right after their new album dropped, so did the band’s fortunes. A back injury put Tom Araya on the sidelines, forcing the band to postpone their Canadian Carnage tour with Megadeth as well as their upcoming appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show while he undergoes surgery. And though rumors started circulating that the band would be playing a U.S. tour with Megadeath, Testament, and High On Fire next year, they were quickly put to rest. Let’s hope these guys can get it together soon, ’cause if I know Slayer fans like I think I do, the band might start to see a backlash if they don’t soon leave on a tour to support the best sounding album they’ve released in years.



Byzantine announce three local reunion/farewell shows

Good news has arrived for the select few fans who felt betrayed by Byzantine’s decision to disband four days after releasing the super-stellar, super-underrated slab of post-thrash entitled Oblivion Beckons in 2008. Three reunion dates have been lined up in the band’s homestate of West Virginia, and—after their abrupt, unceremonious exit—they promise to give their local fans “something to remember them by.” And heck, even if you aren’t local, give these guys a listen and maybe you too will soon begin to ponder the possibility of a trip to WV to see the best modern thrash band that you never heard. As for the core fan base who supported Byzantine’s consistently spectacular output on Prosthetic for the last half decade, I’m sure those smart ones are booking their early March vacation to WV as I type this…



Gama Bomb release brand new album for free via Earache Records 360-deal

Gama Bomb’s new album Tales From The Grave In Space has been a pretty big talking point for bloggers and industry folk in the metal community this week. Not surprisingly, much of the conversation has centered around the band’s controversial 360-deal with Earache, overshadowing the fact that the lightning-fast, apocalyptic thrash on their completely FREE new album ain’t so bad either. Heck, I’d pay for a copy. This is some dynamic, energetic, fist-pumping modern thrash! But then again, I might not have even known about it—or cared to check it out—had I not been privy to knowledge that it was completely free courtesy of the band’s odd contract. From my point of view, this 360-deal comes with both positives and negatives; I certainly don’t support the label having their hand on the band’s wallet while they’re on tour, but this approach does allow Earache to introduce a new band to a much larger number potential fans by making it such a low risk decision. Who knows, perhaps maybe when Gama Bomb makes a big enough name for themselves, they will pushed back to the more traditional pay-to-play model. However, in the meantime, it’s just nice to see some of the respectable metal labels are now experimenting with ways to adapt to the changing industry and lackluster economy. Download Gama Bomb’s new album here, no strings attached (..ahhh, except for having to submit your email address to Earache’s mailing list. Don’t worry, it’s worth it!).



Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, Devin Townsend and Scale the Summit schedule spring tour

Dates for a spring tour featuring Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, and the Devin Townsend Project hit the web not too long ago, giving any and every fan of progressive metal a good reason to set aside a small percentage of their allowance each and every week until February. However, if reports are correct, you won’t need to set aside much—word on the street is that tickets for the New York show are only $10! Though Townsend won’t be delving into the any SYL material on this tour, at least he’s surrounded by enough unbelievable talent on this tour that any disgruntled fans just might have to venture out to see him. This seems to be the perfect tour for him to try to win some converts, so here’s to hoping he brings out all the stops.



Toxic Holocaust/Black Dahlia Murder show causes controversy with Christians in Nashville

A recent Toxic Holocaust and the Black Dahlia Murder gig sparked quite the late-’80s-style debate after residents in the ultra-conservative Southern community began to protest against the Christian-based venue that was hosting the show. In fact, the brew-ha-ha even made local news (complete with distorted facts, hopping mad parents, and carefully selected scenes of violent imagery). Lame. Seriously, what year is this? As Toxic Holocaust frontman Joel Grind pointed out, he was just thankful that Rocketown let the show continue, self-assuredly stating that “it just proves that being Christian and being closed minded doesn’t have to be synonymous with each other; everyone has a right to believe in whatever they want.” Agreed. Either way, it makes my blackened heart proud to see the genre’s young-uns are able to keep the tradition of controversy alive-and-well. Let the witch hunt continue, eh?!


—Chuck Biscuits died. And then he didn’t.

—Anticipation continues to build for Dark Funeral forthcoming full-length, Angelues Exuro pro Eternus. If you head to the band’s MySpace page, you can now listen to “Stigmata,” the second track to be released from the album.

—Deftones added a second Chi Cheng benefit show to their November schedule to overwhelming demand. Even if you can’t make the shows, you can still help Chi finance his mounting medical bill by visiting the One Love For Chi fundraising site to donate.

—Burst may be officially breaking up after their final tour date this year, but thankfully they’ve left us with some fine parting gifts. For those of us who were not fortunate enough to see the band on their recent U.S. tour with the almighty Gojira, at least there’s video (and you can even download it and take it with you!).

—Visa issues have sidelined yet another excellent metal tour. Looks like the initial dates of Hypocrisy’s North American tour have been canceled.

Snakes For The Divine is expected to be the title for the forthcoming High on Fire album. During their September recordings sessions, Matt Pike and friends apparently whittled four hours of blistering sludge down to a single album, and so far the results of their experience are scheduled to be published in February 2010.

—Meshuggah set a February 9th release date for their live DVD.

—Blackened sludge metal of all sorts has been rearing its head in the underground this year, and personally I’m loving it. Two of the best so-called blackened sludge bands I’ve come across recently, Coffinworm and Wolvhammer, are both offering their new albums online for FREE DOWNLOAD.

—Late night TV has been showing some love to metal recently. Mastodon recently played “Divinations” on Jimmy Fallon, and Slipknot played their ballad “Snuff” on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. Thanks to Metal Injection for the uploading the proof.

—Arsis have revealed artwork for their upcoming release Starve for the Devil. The album is due out in February, and if even James’ massive weight loss didn’t derail him at all, the jaw-dropping technical death-thrash he and Arsis laid down We Are the Nightmare will be hard to top. At least, if the stellar cover design is any indication, this one should come very close… Expect to hear music online very soon.

—3 Inches of Blood posted a track-by-track description of one of the years most well-produced, battle-ready albums, Here Waits They Doom.

—They’ve deserved a solid label for a long time now, and after releasing over half a decade’s worth of impassioned psychedelic doom-folk with nary a misstep, Colorado’s Across Tundras have just signed with Robotic Empire, the label that put Torche’s foot in the door and released albums from countless other amazing bands, as well. For anyone who needs an introduction, they’ve posted their new self-released album Herds of the Fathomless Valleys
online for FREE DOWNLOAD.

—Whether your thing is thrash, hardcore, black metal, groove metal, or just simple classic heavy metal, you have reason to pay attention to the release calendars. Legendary artists of all kinds are hitting the studio and are promising to make 2010 a year to remember. Motorhead, Sick of It All, Overkill, Immolation, and Soulfly are all either recording now or in the process of booking studio time!

Ihsahn, Mudvayne, Coalesce, Revocation, Gaza all have slick-sounding streams of their supremely awesome new tracks (yes, even Mudvayne’s sounding better than I can ever remember these days). While also superb in their own right, Swallow the Sun, Abysmal Dawn, Austrian Death Machine, Urgehal were regulated to posting their new cuts at the MySpace. Support all!

—New music videos have hit the web from post-metal veterans Isis (“20 Minutes / 40 Years”), nu-groove-death metallers Devildriver (“Fate Stepped In”), metalcore mainstays Unearth (“Graves of Opportunity”), and slick Linkin Park-meets-melodeth upstarts Threat Signal (“Severed”).

—Shock-rocker Rob Zombie signed with the Roadrunner Records’ Loud & Proud imprint to release his forthcoming Hellbilly Deluxe 2, the tech-core scenesters in Norma Jean signed with Razor & Time Records, bud-burning Canadian stoner rockers Barn Burner signed with Metal Blade Records, and Translation Loss Records put their support behind prog-rockers East of the Wall (ex-Postman Syndrome).

—Pirate metallers Swashbuckle set sail on their “Splash and Thrash” tour this week in support of their Nuclear Blast debut Back to the Noose. They’ll be supporting the likes of Vader and Decrepit Birth at St. Paul’s Station 4 in November 15th.

—Rasta-rockers Skindred announced that they’ll be playing at the other metal club in the area on their upcoming U.S. tour this December.

—Like Swedish power metal? Niether do I; but we all know that Sword Lord does. Looks like he’s lined up a Hammerfall gig in March at Station 4.

—”As if I didn’t already want Neko to have my babies…”


    Wanted to add that a short live clip of a new Deftones song came out this week – there are few bands that have stayed with me as I’ve gone from a kid to a kid in an adult’s body… Deftones are one of ‘em.

    Though I’d heard of him while living up in Canada, I hadn’t really listened to Townsend until late 2005… though I haven’t kept up, I still have warm feelings for the guy’s camp. I sent an email just saying that I was thankful I’d gotten into his music, and his wife sent me back a great letter. Really good memory.

    Awesome post Ryan – I wish I was as passionate as you are.

  • Hey Chris, thanks man. this column is just an attempt to try to collect the very top of the barrel for everyone’s viewing pleasure here. there’s definitely way more that I come across and love that I just don’t have the time to write about. i’m glad you always appreciate what i pull together here…

    i’m with you on deftones. the first time i saw them live was at the meager age of 13 and the last time was on their last tour through minneapolis in 2007. i’m not sure if i missed a single show in the between time. Actually, i’m planning on churning out a write up about White Pony for the Best of the Decade series.. i’ll have to check that new song out (unfortunately i’m at work right now, and no speakers on the computer).

  • i tink joel grind its great singer and tom to and gama are great thrash

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