heavy metal

By now, everyone and their metal brother has an opinion of ‘djent.’ My compatriot Chris has spoken about this phenomenon before, as well as its divisive nature and the splinter’s penchant for drumming up intense debate about how metal ‘should’ sound. I find myself a man without a country in this particular instance. I can’t in good conscience speak against an entire outlying genre when it’s entirely possible that someone out there can make it sound good.

Confession time, kids. I have long been, since my college days, a closet Saliva fan. I hear the rampant, frothing criticism already – ‘Drew, that’s less metal (and therefore worse,) than your general support for the mainstream Five Finger Death Punch and the cupcake that is Sick Puppies.’ I know. I get it. Bear with me. Just like those other two bands, Saliva has long distinguished themselves by being able to execute a quality formula for pop metal (if I can call it that.) while maintaining a certain credible edge. With that in mind, we venture forth into “In It to Win It.”

We metal fans are not above snobbery. We love our pedigrees as much as any blue-blood. When a new band comes along, we tend to look and see who the members may have played with in the past, hoping for an indicator of quality before we ever hear a note. Seeing a familiar old name attached to a project makes us feel better about getting involved with yet another new band, even if it does tip the scales before our brains are ready to make an informed decision.

By this point, the saga of Kyuss has been fairly well reported. To tell the story fully would require a documentary film of appreciable length, a flowchart with Cliffs Notes and a very long afternoon. What began simply as the band that invented and molded desert metal became a long and drama-ragged tale of music and litigation.

The upshot is this: out of the ashes of short-lived revival Kyuss Lives! comes Vista Chino, spiritual successor to the original Kyuss and composed of that band’s co-founding members Brant Bjork, John Garcia and occasionally the enigmatic Nick Oliveri.

I had the good fortune to come of age during the "golden era" of metal. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was in full swing, "Ride the Lightning" had just come out, "Reign in Blood", "Peace Sells" and "Among the Living" would soon follow along with countless bands who would disappear into obscurity.

Sometimes, all it takes is a moment. With the remarkable success of their freshly released, high-gloss video for “No One Survives,” Nekrogoblikon has made the leap from “totally obscure” to “dark horse” and done so seemingly overnight. The video itself has accrued more than two million views and was a product of chance meetings, creative direction and adult film starlets. Los Angeles truly is a magical place, indeed.

My top ten list last year was incomplete, because Monsterworks' “Album Of Man” straddled the new year and now exists in it's own little world, unattached to any year in particular. It's a shame, since that album was a schizophrenic joyride through some of the wildest and most daring metal I've come across in a long time. It was, and still is, a bit of a confusing puzzle, but the pieces were so tantalizing that not seeing the big picture isn't really a problem.

Dan Swano is as much an extreme metal legend as you can get. From his work with the seminal Edge Of Sanity, to his years spent behind the desk making every band he worked with sound better than they ever had before, he is one of the key figures in the history of European extreme metal. And all of that is before even mentioning “Moontower”, his solo triumph. That album, in my eyes, is the single greatest death metal record ever made, and a towering achievement that single-handedly proves the merit of growled vocals.

So here we are again. Steve Souza, singer, songwriter, band leader, legend, metalhead, sports fan, father and horror aficionado extraordinaire, is back with another record. Not content to rest on the laurels of Hatriot's recent debut "Heroes of Origin," the man known as Zetro is determined to take the nearly unprecedented step of releasing two records inside a calendar year. The always outspoken and never shy Souza sat down with me again to talk about the new record, the present stage of metal, the latest Slayer developments, the rumors surrounding Dublin Death Patrol, the quandary of Hatriot, the Oakland Raiders and as ever, horror. It was, as you might imagine, a long conversation. In an interviewing first for me, Zetro started the conversation off without prompting. Read on and enjoy!

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What can I say about "Winter Kills", the latest release from "Devildriver", except "holy crap!". These guys are really pissed off. "Winter Kills" is heavy handed, aggressive and at times, dare I say, even melodic. I listened to this album while attempting to do some household chores and damn near put a lamp through the window and kicked over the couch.