(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by a new project named Alluvial.)
In the interest of full disclosure, Keith Merrow means a lot of things to me; he’s inspirational in what he’s done as a DIY musician, his music is great, and he’s been a great friend and giver of meaningful advice to me in the times during his busy life when we’ve gotten to have a substantial conversation. Since I started writing, I’ve reviewed everything he’s put out or been a part of.
As someone who had some very dark times in the last couple of years, I was surprised in an oddly pleasant sort of way when I asked Keith for the promo of his new project Alluvial and he told me a bit about the inspiration for it. He and metallic wandering wunderkind Wes Hauch (Black Crown Initiate, Glass Casket, ex-The Faceless) had essentially written this album as a way of venting depressive and dark times they’d been through recently as well. The Deep Longing For Annihilation is a powerful, entrancing, and disgustingly bitter record, reflecting the emotions that went into this thing.
Last July I wrote about a crowd-funding campaign that had been launched by Conquering Dystopia — the band created by guitarists Jeff Loomis of Seattle and Keith Merrow of Portland, which also includes bassist Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) and drummer Alex Rüdinger (The Faceless, Ordinance). That campaign was wildly successful. I splurged on it myself, with a donation that offered a very enticing perk — a meal in Seattle with Loomis and Merrow. And yesterday that happened.
We met at the Hard Rock Cafe at 3:00, and what followed was an extremely enjoyable 2 1/2-hour conversation that ended only when the two needed to hit the road for the drive to Portland, where Jeff is helping Keith and his wife move into a new house (I think we can all agree that there are few truer measures of friendship than one dude helping another one move).
It wasn’t intended to be an interview, but I can’t resist sharing some impressions of the people and some news about both Conquering Dystopia and the future plans of both men. First, the news…
The Conquering Dystopia album is nearly ready for release — perhaps a matter of two or three more weeks. But the guys want to be definite before announcing an official date, and they’re not quite to that point. They are both clearly delighted with the way it turned out and excited for people to hear it. Jeff described it as a “guitar roller coaster, with hills and valleys, cinematic soundscapes, and some experimentation”, and he said it’s very heavy.
Yes, my friends, yet another crowdfunding campaign has been launched by yet another band (Conquering Dystopia) who need help financing a recording. To be precise, they would like to raise $15,000, with most of the money going to professional audio mixing and mastering and the rest to be used for travel expenses and creating merch. And in less than a day they’ve already raised $12,301 as I write this.
When you see who’s in this band and the perks they’re offering for donations, you’ll understand why the money is already rolling in at such a fast pace. Here’s the line-up:
Jeff Loomis (guitars)
Keith Merrow (Demisery) (guitars)
Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) (bass)
Alex Rüdinger (The Faceless, Ordinance) (drums)
That’s an awful lot of metal goodness in one band. All the way back in January, Keith Merrow put up a Facebook status in which he said that he and Loomis had decided to collaborate on an album, but not many details have surfaced since then, until yesterday. Last month we featured a video jam by those two (plus Ola Englund), still not really knowing what was cooking. Now we know.
Oh, they make it look so easy.
Jeff Loomis and Keith Merrow (Demisery) were trying out their new signature amp packs for Jamup Pro. And they decided, why not throw together a new jam? And they spontaneously wrote and recorded an instrumental track in a couple of hours. And then they decided, what the hell, let’s invite Ola Englund (Feared) to come bust out a solo for this thing. And voila! They produced de-li-ciousness.
And they videotaped it, too, so that all of us can bask in all the delicious riff wizardry.
Watch these three guitar dynamos tear it up right after the jump. You’ll be glad you did.
I’m thinking about having the words “Kartikeya Pimp” tattooed on my forehead. I’d have to convince my wife that Kartikeya is the name of a Russian metal band instead of a middle school cheerleader with a budding crack habit, but other than that it should be clear sailing, don’t you think?
I’m just trying to be honest, because we do write about this band a lot at NCS, and for good reason. They put the BAD in badass and the ASS in ass-kicking. Their latest release is the Durga Puja EP, which emerged last fall. It included two rewritten songs from the band’s debut album, two outstanding covers, and one new original song — the EP’s title track.
Yesterday, TheMadIsraeli tipped me to the fact that the band’s main man Arsafes had uploaded a video of himself performing a guitar playthrough of “Durga Puja”. It’s a reminder of how great that song is, and it’s just fun to watch Arsafes extract such beastly rhythms in the flesh.
The video is after the jump. It will tide us over until June 22, when Kartikeya has promised delivery of their next single (“Vayu”), which we presume (though we’re not sure) will appear on their next album, Samudra, and which will include guest appearances by NCS favorite Keith Merrow and Serbian vocalist Aleksandra Radosavljevic.
While I’m on the subject of Kartikeya, I want to mention that the band has now made all of their releases available for streaming and download on Bandcamp, which you can find via this link.
And while I’m on the subject of Arsafes, I also want to provide an update about one of his other bands — Above the Earth, which last week released their first single, “Trapeze”.
(Here’s TheMadIsraeli’s review of the latest collection of music from that creative dynamo, Keith Merrow.)
I think we need to establish one thing before we start here: Keith Merrow is the fucking shit.
Not only is the man an exceptional example of a DIY tour de force, an excellent composer, and a terrific guy, he writes some of the most intelligent metal to be found right now. It’s been a minute since we’ve heard anything new from him, and fortunately, new shit is here in the form of his latest EP, Retrospecial.
You all might remember my review of the debut album of his death metal project Demisery. Well, it appears that a good deal of Demisery’s old school death metal leanings have rubbed off on Merrow here. You will still find a ton of the trademark groove and the particular technicality his music has been known for, but it’s distinctly less melodic and groovy this time around. Song structures are also quite a bit more progressive than before.
The EP is a mixed bag of goodies with five new songs, two re-recordings of older songs from his catalog, and a Castlevania cover. I am only going to focus on the new songs that are entirely original on this release. I really don’t see a point in speaking about the re-recorded songs, except to say that they still rule and the new mix befits them quite nicely. (He redid “Andromeda” as well as recording a new version of “Pillars of Creation” called “Pillars of Re-creation”.)
(groverXIII brings you some excellent music that’s free — though you can certainly kick in some money if the spirit moves you. At the end of his post, you can hear music from the albums he’s about to recommend.)
Greetings and salutations, NCS readers. It is I, your old pal groverXIII, here with another round of free goods for you all to download for your listening pleasure. Join me on a sonic adventure!
We start with an old friend of The Number Of The Blog, the inimitable Keith Merrow. Keith, as you all should be quite aware, is one of the best-known one-man home-recording metal artists to arise in recent years. He’s put out some amazing music over the last few years, most recently 2011’s Awaken The Stone King, and on Sunday he gave us a new EP, entitled Retrospecial. This is what he told me about the EP:
“The album has a nerdy, light-hearted kinda Sci-Fi thing going on even though a couple of the tunes sound sort of serious. I’ve always been inspired by the 80’s sci-fi I grew up on… also old Atari and Nintendo games. I’ve been feeling really nostalgic the past year or so. The name Retrospecial is basically a culmination of that inspiration, but there’s also a couple older songs on here that have been redone. So those are in “retrospect”. It’s just a simple EP, with 8 tracks on it. I don’t expect it to blow anyone’s mind.”
It may not be mind-blowing, but it is a fantastic release from a very talented artist.
(Demisery is a two-man death metal project consisting of noted guitar whiz Keith Merrow and his partner in crime, guitarist/vocalist Gord Olson. TheMadIsraeli raved about their 2011 debut album Hive of Misery in his NCS review last November — an album you can stream and buy HERE. Today, we’re happy to publish his interviews with Demisery’s dynamic duo. In this post, he talks with Keith Merrow and in the next post, Gord Olson.)
This is so fucking cool to be doing an interview with you. How are you today fine sir?
Hey thanks man, things are fantastic right now. Happy to chat with you!
Alright, so let’s get to the nitty gritty here. How did you and Gord hook up, why form Demisery, and how do you feel about Hive Of Mutation in retrospect?
I met Gord a couple years ago. He had emailed me for some production tips, and I ended up doing a Skype lesson for him. We just basically hit it off after talking about our musical influences, and found that we had so much in common, musically. We’ve talked nearly every day since we met, and he’s just a great guy. He’s a wicked guitar player and has a knack for writing awesome old-school DM. We had talked about doing a collab on a death metal project for a long time. After he sent me a couple riff ideas he had, we basically just dove into it, head first. I’m really happy with how it turned out, in the end. We set out to make a traditional DM album, and that’s just what it is. It was cool to pay homage to our influences.
(TheMadIsraeli provides a quick alert about a two-man, old-school death metal project that includes Keith Merrow.)
Keith Merrow has been slowly working his way up the ranks of metal supremacy. You’ll know him for his unique style of instrumental groove metal, and if not… well… get on checking that shit out.
Demisery is Keith’s first venture (that any of us will have heard) into a different style of music, old school death metal. Teaming up with his friend and vocalist Gord Olson, this two-man project is set to take the world by storm with their coming debut Hive Of Mutation”. I’ll let the band’s mission statement speak for itself.
“This collaboration is extremely fun, and the music is in the traditional Death Metal vein. It’s pretty much a blatant tribute to old (and some newer) Death Metal tunes. Fans of bands like Grave, Death, Obituary, Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity, etc… will find a familiar sound and traditional DM feel. We’re currently in pre-production of our first full-length album at the moment. It’s packed full of blast beats, trem picking, guitar solos and guttural vocals. There’s no core, no prog, no “djent”, this is a 100% Death Metal album.”
Sound good to you? Does to me. Demisery have released two songs thus far called “Thralldom” and “The Enlightener”, included after the jump, as well as a trailer of Keith Merrow recording various chunks of the album. Definitely expect a review of this down the line when it’s out.
(NCS contributor Siddharth Darbha has become The Bystander Chronicler . . .)
Back at the Man Cave, a.k.a., NCS HQ, we were doing the usual shit; plumbing, repairing cars and teaching Don Draper how to drink Scotch. Somewhere between the overdose of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and the disproportionate ratio of LSD in our jam toast, a flash of light told us we have to feature seven bands that haven’t appeared on NCS yet, and pretty much blur the sense of reality we create for ourselves. We followed to the word. We are weak at math, but added roman numerals to compensate.
Most of the artists here don’t give a fuck about being metal enough. You have been warned. Also, somehow, through the alignment of all the planets from the CQ34R system, all except the first turn out to be instrumental bands, fitting nicely into our basic rule welded into the URL itself. Why did we chose these artists? We fear most of you are turning into serial necropedophilic rapists, and we need to calm you down. *Hypercool Dr. Evil grin*
I : THE HAARP MACHINE
We listen to a good amount of technical metal, and can tell when we hear a good one. Though their debut album is yet to release this year under Sumerian Records, we will hold our panties in a bunch until these Britishers (pictured above) throw those discs at us. Excellent note choices, good grooves and a weird middle eastern-ish ambient touch; they know what they’re doing. Here, to reinforce our opinion, we feature their track “The Escapist Notion” (immediately after the jump):