Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2013 Interview from Orion Music and More with Tony Asta from Battlecross

Post #370

Here is another audio file I recently rediscovered, and never shared before on this blog. Granted, the transcript of this interview was posted back in 2013 and you can still read that post here. However, I do want to provide the audio form of the interview, and will hope to include audio files promptly after any future interviews I may conduct. Thank you for your patience!

My interview with Tony Asta- lead guitarist from Battlecross:

2013 Interview from Orion Music and More: Cauldron's Ian Chains and Myles Deck

Post #369

After several years I uncovered the audio files from 2 interviews I did at Metallica's Orion Music and More in Detroit 2013. I realize this is an opportunity to put these discussions online where they belong. I apologize for not including the audio back in my initial reviews of that music festival. The conversations were transcribed in those old posts, but there is much to be enjoyed by hearing the audio itself. Hopefully this is an oversight I will not make again in the future!

My interview with Ian Chains and Myles Deck from Cauldron:

2018 Independent Band of the Year-Final Results

Post #368

Although the responses to the recent Independent Band of the Year readers poll are always viewable at the google form link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdmAeWL6kccVt-pRC8yYUXk_FW-nA0KZg_l8b4Z8TBaMt7_Vg/viewanalytics

I did also want to post a graph of the final responses within this blog itself. I apologize for the delay.
Here are the final poll results:

Thank you again to all the bands for participating, all of the readers of this blog and fans of each individual band, past winners for you nominations, and anyone else who may have voted for any band in this contest. Congratulations to Genotype for their well-deserved victory.


Happy Headbanging!!! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Genotype-Genotype III (2017)

Post #367

Genotype recently won our Independent Band of the Year reader's poll in late 2018. You can visit their main website by clicking their link in the sidebar. Today I'll be reviewing their latest independent recording, their 3rd full-length album: Genotype III.

Genotype are a melodic, hardcore metal band who incorporate some electronic elements into their sound. It gives their music a futuristic, post-apocalyptic ambiance. They've been promoting their music at various local venues between Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI since 2012.

Genotype III holds true to their established elements and shines as cohesive, consistent hardcore metal listening experience, with a top-notch production quality. It showcases the vocal range of Kadie Kirby as well as, if not better than, their previous release, Design Intent, reviewed here. Her aggressive screams are on par with those of Alexis Brown from Straight Line Stitch, but at times she also shows off her melodic side, giving Genotype's music even more dynamic qualities. Here are some thoughts on each track of Genotype III.

Antiquity-The album-opener wastes no time getting into the fast riffs, aggressive vocals and technical prowess this band has to offer. The moderately fast verses are broken up by double-time choruses, and melodic breakdowns alike!

Defiance-Another winner, this track switches the formula around slightly, opening with a melodic verse that gives way to hardcore choruses. Lead guitar solo is reminiscent of the late Oli Herbert from All That Remains. Well done!

Cyberfi-This track is a bit slower on the tempo, but maintains the band's heavy edge. Segments of the song are driven by the rhythm section as guitars cut in and out.

Silence-Perhaps my favorite track, and certainly the one I've heard most frequently- this song has a music video they filmed to promote it. It was also one of their featured tracks in the recent Independent Band competition. Very tight production, very heavy song, and as always, tremendous skill on display with every instrument and the vocal performance! Check it out for yourself:

Light Worker-Here is the true boundary-pusher for this album, but in the lighter direction. This one is entirely melodic in tone, slow and soft in delivery, but still a very enjoyable number. A track like this to break away from the band's typical formula may be taking a risk, but it's well worth it, and makes the album as a whole a better product.

The Dream- This song slowly fades in with some electronic elements, but then they hit you with the heavy, hardcore vocals again. A melodic chorus and elegant lead guitars layered on top the hook-laden riffs deliver us back around to another hardcore verse. A song that meanders through their repertoire in a good way!

Synastry- Another winner that opens with clean vocals over  heavy, pounding riffs, broken up by ambient melodic breaks, then a transition to powerful hardcore vocals, blast beats and killer riffs. Smooth transitions and a mood that flirts equally with uplifting and dark tones.

Darkstar (Afterglow, featuring Michelle Esposito)- Starts off with slower, heavy riffs with middle-range vocals. Nothing over the top tempo-wise but the guest vocals on this one bring a new dimension to the music. For the most part this song stays true to the melodic side of vocals, while the instruments ebb and flow between clean and heavy.

Lo_Drift-A steady heavy riff is perpetual in this song, while the vocal style switches things up between the screams and the melody.

Temple of Saturn- One of the darker, more aggressive songs on this album. This one will give metalheads a fulfilling headbanging experience.

Praeteritus- In a similar way to their previous Design Intent album, Genotype close the album with a more experimental, electronic-focused number. Segments of spoken phrases by Kadie send a take home message to the listener- live without regrets.

Don't forget to check out Genotype's Spotify page!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Breaking Down the Numbers-2018 Independent Band Poll

Post #366

While initially I was not pleased to have to use a different format to conduct my most recent poll for Independent Band of the Year, I did discover that the Google Form approach allowed me to customize the poll a little further. For those of you who voted, you probably noticed that I added an extra question this year, asking you to check the songs you previewed prior to casting your vote. That is, after all, the goal of this contest: to get more people to actually hear the music from these unsigned bands that deserve to be heard. I was very curious to see how many respondents actually were listening to the songs.

The point of the poll, as always, was to determine the most popular band, so the 'Favorite Band' question was required for the poll. The 'Songs Previewed' question was optional. Still, the majority opted to respond- less than 10% did not respond to the 'Songs Previewed' question. The results were interesting, following a slightly skewed Gaussian curve:

There were 125 total responses to this year's Independent Band of the Year poll. Nearly half of those responding (44%) previewed only tracks by the band they voted for. This was expected to a certain degree- I did encourage all contestants to share the contest among their fans and campaign for votes in any way they saw fit. I was encouraged to see that so many respondents took the time to listen to at least one other band, and a fair amount of respondents (almost 22%, more than 1 in 5) listened to at least 1 track from every contestant, if not every single recommended track. (each band except Mediums had 2 tracks featured in the contest.)

Here is a graph depicting how many plays each song received:
(Note: The bands Genotype and Guardsman requested one of their tracks to be changed after the contest was already underway. Hence you see 3 tracks for those bands, but they only had 2 tracks recommended at any given time.)

Clearly the top 2 vote-getting bands, Genotype and Ditchwater, received slightly more song-plays. However, I was quite pleased to see that every band received a good balance of song-plays. 

I look forward to trying this approach again next year. Whether it will again be through Google Forms or some other format I can't say for sure.

Thank you to all who voted for any band in this year's contest. Watch this blog for a review of Genotype's album Genotype III coming very soon!

Happy Headbanging!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Congratulations, Genotype! 2018 Independent Band of the Year!

Post # 365
After a month of voting, sharing, sampling music, and self-promoting from the 7 contestants in this year's contest, ROCKford's metalcore phenoms GENOTYPE have won the Independent Band of the Year poll for 2018-19! Beginning in January they will enjoy a sidebar link to their main website, a full-length review of their latest album Genotype III, and promotions of each of their events throughout 2019 here at www.happyheadbanger.com!

Keep following this site, the Happyheadbanger Facebook page, and of course, Genotype for more to come in 2019!

Lastly I want to thank ALL the bands that were a part of this year's contest not just for agreeing to participate, but also for endeavoring to create, record, perform and promote original rock and metal music in this day and age. I thank you and I'm sure each of your individual followings do as well. Thanks again to:

Living Terror

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2018 Independent Band of the Year Readers' Poll

Post #364

It is again time for my annual contest for HappyHeadbanger's Independent Band of the Year. 7 talented, unsigned rock and metal bands. Here with samples of their music for you to stream, view, download, jam, and bang your head to! Check out each one, click on the link at the bottom to visit the Google Form to cast your vote! Then share this article with your metal-head friends. Keep checking back to see which band will end up with the most votes and become my featured artist for the 2019 calendar year!

Here are brief descriptions of each band. Click the images to visit each band's facebook page or website. Click on song titles to hear the music through either Youtube, Bandcamp or Spotify. Happy Headbanging!

Genotype (Rockford, IL Metalcore/Technical Hardcore)

Genotype are a metal band from Rockford, IL that fuse hardcore and melodic vocal elements with a technical metalcore guitar tone and some electronic elements. The result is music that is in one moment brutally heavy, the next a catchy melody, and then a dark ambiance. You won't want to miss this band's music!

Check Out:

Ditchwater (Chicago, IL Alt-Metal)

Ditchwater are a Chicago alternative rock/metal band that have been around since 1993! After some personnel changes, a creative core was established in 2002. After a 2016 full-length album, new music is again on the horizon for this band! For a heavy, post-grunge, alt rock experience give this band your attention!

Check out:
Broken Me
Heal Me

Guardsman (Chicago, IL Progressive Power Metal)
Guardsman are a Chicago-based power metal band with some progressive metal influence as well. Their vocalist reminds me of a deeper-voiced James Hetfield. That, combined with their prodigious guitar soloing, prompts me to describe them as a mash-up of Metallica and Iron Maiden. If you love both thrash metal and the NWOBHM, then this is the band for you!

Check Out:
Dark Days Ahead
One of the Missing

Silverside (Chicago, IL Alternative Rock)
Silverside are a Chicago hard rock band with catchy hooks and melodic vocals with just the right amount of grit. Some of their songs remind me of the Foo Fighters. If you're an alternative rock fan, check out this band!

Check Out:
Help is on the Way

Mediums (Chicago, IL Indie/Blues Rock)

Mediums are a blues-rock/indie-rock band from Chicago's north side. One of their first ever live-performances was actually at HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016! They're in the process of recording their first album, so a live youtube video is currently the only place to hear their music online. More coming from them soon!

Check Out:
Only in Moonlight

Shadowstrike (New York, NY Epic Power Metal)

Shadowstrike are a progressive power metal band out of New York. Their furiously fast guitar solos and uplifting fantasy and video game themed music makes it easy to compare them to the mighty DragonForce. If you like your metal fast, with soaring melodies, then this is the band for you!

Check Out:
Gales of Winter
Wind in the Sky

Living Terror (Plano, IL Speed/Thrash/Blackened Thrash)
Living Terror are a Speed Metal, or Blackened Thrash Metal band from Plano, IL. They've been playing gigs around Chicagoland for the last couple years and have a full-length album available. If you're a fan of Children of Bodom or Venom then maybe you'd do well to give these guys a listen!

Check Out:
Chemical Holocaust

To vote YOU MUST VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINK, then enter your email address and cast your vote! 2018 Independent Band of the Year Readers Poll

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Remembering Vinnie Paul Abbott (1964-2018)

Post #363

Vinnie Paul Abbott, the legendary drummer from Hellyeah, and formerly of Pantera, Damageplan, and Rebel Meets Rebel, passed away in June of 2018. I'm at a loss for words to describe how this loss affects the metal music community. Certainly he was an influential drummer. Any metal fan can tell from the bands alone how significant the music he helped create is, and has been, for heavy metal for decades. Perhaps it would be best for me to just add my perspective as best I can.
I became a metal fan because of the guitars-I won't lie. I was first drawn to the flashy guitar solos of the pop-metal hair bands, then the high-tempo, heavy riffs of thrash metal. My fandom steadily grew more intense: from the hair-metal bands of the 80's, to thrash, metal core, and melodic death metal. I still appreciate the entire spectrum of metal music as evenly as I can. Drums were not what I noticed first about the music, but they are always there, keeping time. But more than just being the backbone of the rhythm section, I feel the best drummers can showcase their skill behind the kit so much so that songs can be instantly recognized by a drum beat, a fill, or even the tone of the percussion. Vinnie's drumming skills were of that variety. Hell, many of Pantera's most famous riffs are ones where the drums and guitar are almost inseparable in the recording. If you're new to Pantera, or any of Vinnie Paul's recordings, just check out the opening riff from Mouth For War and you'll hear what I mean.

Vinnie's drumming may not have been the first drumming style that made me pay attention to the instrument, but in retrospect I find his drumming style to be quite recognizable, and essential to so many of the songs in his recording history. It is with these thoughts in mind that I selected the following playlist (limited to under 80 minutes to fit on a CD ;-). Not only did I try to use the tracks where I felt the drumming was Vinnie's best, but you'll notice I also span nearly his entire discography- starting with a track from Metal Magic, the rare debut album for Pantera, back in 1983, right up to Unden!able, the latest release from Hellyeah. Track these numbers down and give them a listen, and raise a Black Tooth Grin in memory of Vinnie Paul Abbott!

My personal Tribute Playlist for the Legendary Vinnie Paul:
-Widowmaker (Pantera)
-Be Unden!Able (Hellyeah)
-Mouth For War (Pantera)
-War In Me (Hellyeah)
-Save Me (Damageplan)
-Heart Worn Highway (Rebel Meets Rebel)
-Cowboy Way (Hellyeah)
-Primal Concrete Sledge (Pantera)
-Cat Scratch Fever (Pantera)
-The Badge (Pantera)
-Power Metal (Pantera)
-Hellyeah (Hellyeah)
-Use My Third Arm (Pantera)
-Drag the Waters (Pantera)
-Moth (Hellyeah)
-I Can't Hide (Pantera)
-Immortally Insane (Pantera)
-Hellbound (Pantera)
-All Over Tonight (Pantera)
-Love Falls (Hellyeah)

Rest in Peace Big Vin.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Act of Destruction Podcast on TheMetalExperience - Tuesday, September 4th

Post #362

Haven't heard of TheMetalExperience.com? Then you could be missing out on some great podcasts. This site is a Chicagoland-based online podcast site dedicated to heavy metal music, unsigned local metal bands, both those local and from around the world. They've already interviewed numerous local bands from Chicago and its suburbs, but also from across the US and the world.

Coming up next week on Tuesday September 4th, The Metal Experience's featured guest will be none other than HappyHeadbanger's own 2017-18 Independent Band of the Year: Act of Destruction! The Band have shared the location and date on their facebook page and encourage their fans to drop in and hang with them before and after the interview.

The podcast will be taped at 119 N York St in Elmhurst, IL. Curious to learn more about Act of Destruction, the band members, their influences, their personalities? Then you should follow The Metal Experience and listen to this podcast.

So mark your calendar and get to hang with the band on September 4th, or follow www.TheMetalExperience.com to listen to the interview available after September 5th!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Act of Destruction with The Gory Details on June 29th

Post #361

On Friday, June 29th, 2018 HappyHeadbanger's Independent Band of the Year, Act of Destruction, return to performing live at Cheers Live Music Venue in Midlothian, IL! Alos on the bill that evening is The Gory Details.

Don't Miss this chance to catch Act of Destruction in action. And always remember to #GetDestroyed with some brutal thrash metal!!! Doors open at 8:00pm.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Foredoomed-Ordeal (2017)

Post #360

Foredoomed are a melodic death metal band from Joensuu, Finland. They have a very diverse style of death metal that incorporates elements of power metal, progressive rock, ambient rock, and symphonic metal to name just a couple. The best known band I can think to compare them to may be Amon Amarth, but they offer so much more.

Ordeal is their debut album, and after listening to it all the way through, I am blown away by the quality of production and mixing that is evident on these tracks. Their intro track 'Origin' is a beautiful, symphonic metal track with melodic female vocals provided by a guest musician, Mia Rouvinen. Then they hit you with 'Ghost Recurrence', a more aggressive thrasher, and it changes the game as vocalist/guitarist Atte Kymalainen proceeds to show you what he can do. Death metal growls dominate for much of this song, but elegant melodic vocals come into play for the last minute or so of the song. By now the listener knows what the band is capable of, and the rest of the album explores each element further.

 I first tried to listen to Foredoomed as a death metal band that has incorporated melodic elements and styles of power metal and symphonic metal into their sound. The more I thought about it, however, that seemed like a lot of things to incorporate into a death metal pallet of sounds. Then I stepped back, reconsidered, and found that a better description is perhaps a progressive power metal band with a heavy infusion of death metal style vocals. I found this to be a more comfortable context to appreciate their musical diversity, so that is how I shall refer to them.

While the vocal are indeed mostly death metal growls and screams, with deep guttural tones and ear splitting shrieks, they do incorporate a significant amount of melodic, and operatic vocals too. The musical formula that drives the band's sound it truly melodic in focus. Don't get me wrong, they are still brutally heavy and have moments of pure death metal ferocity, but there are lead guitars overlaying melodic phrases every time you turn around. There is also a near-constant presence of keyboards and/or synthesizers that serve to fill the sound, even in moments when they may be so overpowered by the grinding riffs you hardly notice them.

Foredoomed are a truly talented melodic death metal band. They incorporate such a balanced and abundant amount of melodic, progressive, and ambient elements that I do argue they are more a power metal band that incorporates death metal elements than vice-versa. Ordeal as an album, is a masterpiece of this infusion of metal formulas. I can't get enough of it! If you are a fan of Amon Amarth or even more traditional European power metal bands like Sonata Arctica then you will find much to like with Foredoomed!

Recommended tracks from Ordeal:
-Ghost Recurrence
-Search for Tomorrow (My personal favorite! Love the lead guitar melody and theme that recurs throughout this song.)
-Shade of the Darker Sun

Follow Foredoomed on:
Official Website
Check out their lyric video for Dualism!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil

Post #359
[Poll Winner: Favorite Motley Crue Album from the 80's]

Motley Crue released their first album in 1981, but it was their second album, Shout At The Devil in 1983, that solidified their status among the developing Los Angeles "Glam Metal" scene, as well as establishing their trademark sound.

This album has stood the test of time with die-hard Crue fans for its level of grit, power, and consistency from track to track. Shout at the Devil yielded 4 singles and 2 music videos, which served to make the band a regular presence on both hard rock radio stations and MTV in the early 1980's. It wouldn't be until seven years later with 1990's Dr. Feelgood that the Crue had another album with more than 3 singles.

After Shout at the Devil, Motley Crue gradually pushed for a more marketable sound, and steadily included more and more ballads on each successive album. This made them accessible to a wider fan-base. This was all well and good for a 'hair metal' band seeking global success, and almost every band from this era did the same. But for new fans seeking to discover the darkest, grittiest, heaviest, and also one of the best albums Motley Crue ever recorded, you need look no further than Shout at the Devil.

Singles released from Shout at the Devil:
-Shout at the Devil
-Helter Skelter
-Looks that Kill
-Too Young to Fall In Love

HappyHeadbanger's Recommended Tracks:
-Knock 'Em Dead Kid

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Proudest Angel- Fan Contest for Upcoming House of Blues Show.

Post #358

Proudest Angel are headling the House of Blues, Chicago on March 29th. They want you to know about it and share it! From now through this Saturday, March 17th anybody that uses #proudestangel on social media will be entered into a drawing for 2 tickets to the show, 2 shirts and downloads of both their albums.



So jump onto your facebooks, instagrams, and twitters and spread the word for #proudestangel and their House of Blues show on March 29th!!!