Black Sites – Untrue

Untrue Album Cover Art

Black Sites – Untrue
Self-Released
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Running Time: 43:51
Review by Simon Black
7/10

Prog Metal is, probably, simultaneously the hardest and the most likely to benefit from the new remote recording models forced on the world’s musicians in the last eighteen months. On the one hand, you more often are talking about a cadre of musicians who are usually not short of some serious technical skills both with their instruments and the technology behind the recording process, – hence the reason so many self-produce. On the other hand, we are also talking about a sub-genre of the Metal world (or perhaps Empire would be more accurate a collective noun) where subtle interplay, shared musical shorthand and improvisational precision (what an oxymoron) are crucial in creating an end product that is both technically complex but a fluid living thing. The consequence of recent events has meant many Prog albums that have sounded clinically precise, but lack the emotion that comes from face to face writing and recording.

“Untrue” does utilise a producer, but is ninety percent remotely delivered. Oddly, it has an enormous element of freshness and groove that others in the genre have recently failed to capture. The presence of a producer helps, because you have a third party able to offer opinion and constructive criticism regarding arrangements and temper the technical flourishes to enable accessibility. In this instance the production has also delivered a really rough and ready garage feel to the sound mix, which means instead of the acoustically over-polished sound that often comes at the expense of energy, this whole thing actually feels like it was recorded in a rehearsal room environment or could be coming at you live. Once you adjust your head to that concept, then the album flies out of the speakers and steals you away.

This is the third full length release from the Chicago-based three piece and quite frankly it’s a doozy. It has a huge amount of energy to go with that fresh feel, but frustratingly takes a couple of tracks to get into its groove, picking up the pace and energy as it goes like a boulder on its way down a mountain. It does that with a guitar sound and groove that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Stoner setting, but technically varied enough to never get boring. That said, for a Prog album it does not outstay its welcome, with tracks around the five to six minute mark as standard, with all eight of them coming in under forty-five minutes of run time. ‘They Eat Their Young’ steals the show for me, with its belting pace energy, roaring rhythm riffs and galloping bass line, but with enough subtle fills and time complexities to get the musos nodding in approval, you can see this tearing up a live crowd balancing the technical with the accessible perfectly, which to be fair is a great summary of the whole album.

‘They Eat Their Young’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Sword Of Orion
02. Call It By Its Name
03. Lost Tribes
04. Echo Of A Lie
05. The Worst Of Us
06. Nocturne/Everything Went Black
07. They Eat Their Young
08. White Ashes

LINE-UP:
Mark Sugar – Vocals, Guitar
Ryan Bruchert – Guitar, Vocals
Garry Naples – Drums

LINKS:

Black Sites Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Autocatalytica – Powerclashing Maximalism

Autocatalytica – Powerclashing Maximalism
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/10/20
Running Time: 37:30
Review by Steven Hooke
6/10

Progressive music in 2020 is a funny old thing. New music typically falls into one of two camps; the wild and frenetic mathcore side which consists of seeing how many notes you can play in a two and a half minute period before your fingertips catch fire, and the classically trained/musical theory side where you show off how many musical scales you know and most conversations people have end with “what do you mean you don’t know who Alex Lifeson is?” Inevitably, you’re going to get artists who try to emulate both, as is the case with New York-via-Boston four-piece Autocatalytica.

Having begun life as a musical outlet for guitarist and frontman Eric Thorfinnson, Autocatalytica soon formed into a more traditional band structure, albeit with an ever-changing cast of characters with up to 15 musicians contributing to the band over the years. The rather chaotic nature of the band’s origins (combined with the apparent and alarming thought processes of Thorfinnson) is reflected onto its sound, a heavily jazz-inspired progressive racket that stretches into the extreme levels of a Meshuggah or Between the Buried and Me and reaches all the way to the other end of the spectrum, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Steven Wilson or Cloudkicker.

As a result, it becomes such a bastard of a time trying to gauge the overall quality of an album like this because of the polar opposites trying to work together. “Powerclashing Maximalism” opens with ‘Borndun’, a crushing opening track that sounds like Meshuggah fronted by Avatar’s Johannes Eckerström playing the hits of Protest the Hero. And much of the first half of the album remains of this ilk, it is consistent in its inconsistency, utilising an avant-garde approach to song structure that keeps you on edge for what madness they conjure up next.

When you hit track four ‘Cheggo’ though, that’s when the avant-garde side of Autocatalytica really kicks in. An instrumental barrage of classic prog rock, guitar effects, some brass instruments, and maybe even a cheeky bit of organ in there for good measure. It is impressive for sure, but it edges too far into the world of “I’m a Grade 8 in guitar”, especially coming so soon after the extreme metal influences seen earlier in the album.

‘Dukka Dukka’ does better at finding that middle ground that “Powerclashing Maximalism” seems to be searching for, drawing comparisons to BTBAM’s “Automata I & II” albums from 2018, where the two sides of prog are used to build towards each other instead of fighting for attention. But then the final third of the album breaks down once again, losing a lot of the momentum re-established by ‘Dukka Dukka’. ‘Bananas Have Potassium’ (great title by the way) is equal parts classical music used for an end credits sequence of a game, street busker and cat walking on a piano; ‘Crawboi’ is a half-decent attempt at recreating “Ki”-era Devin Townsend Project (complete with their own Ché Aimee Dorval-equivalent); and ‘Graveo’ is the kind of idyllic music that’s usually played over a babbling brook or something.

“Powerclashing Maximalism” feels like what would happen if you tried to compress Opeth’s entire back catalogue into one album. For some, it’s a wet dream. For others, it’s an acute bout of vertigo. Multiple times during this write-up alone, the grade for this album has changed from a 6 to a 7 even to a 5 just because of how much is going on. Dedicated prog folk and those with more affiliation for jazz will view this album much differently, but for the filthy casuals, the pacing is a little jarring, good ideas and healthy inspirations are there but mismanaged, and there’s a distinct lack of killer hooks to really latch on to. Good songs like ‘Borndun’, ‘Trash Serum’ and ‘Dukka Dukka’ are worth sticking around for though.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Borndun
02. Zippler
03. Trash Serum
04. Cheggo
05. Dukka Dukka
06. Bananas Have Potassium
07. Crawboi
08. Graveo

LINE-UP:
Eric Thorfinnson – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Erik Sorensen – Guitars
William Purcell – Bass
Emmett Ceglia – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with WILDERUN

EMQ’s with WILDERUN

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with stunning Boston, MA based Progressive Metal band Wilderun. Huge thanks to bassist Dan Müller for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name is Dan Müller and I play bass and do orchestrations for Wilderun. We started out in 2012 when we independently released our first album, “Olden Tales and Deathly Trails”. We then spent time touring and writing our sophomore record, “Sleep at the Edge of the Earth”, which we released independently in 2015. After 4 years of continuing the cycle we released our latest record, Veil of Imagination in 2019, which was then picked up by Century Media this year for a re-release in July.

How did you come up with your band name?

The name is actually the name of a region in the Elfstones of Shannara book. Evan picked the name because it essentially represented the Wild West of the world and thought it would be a fitting name for the band.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

I’m from around Boston, Massachusetts and the scene has changed a lot over the years but there seems to always have been a small but strong scene of heavy bands here. It’s always been a tough time finding venues to play though because it seems like smaller clubs and bars around here that will host metal shows don’t seem to be able to stay open for very long. The scene seems to have persisted all this time though.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

“Veil of Imagination” was our latest full-length record but we released a rearrangement of a song off our second record called ‘Hope and Shadow’ on our YouTube channel a couple months ago.

Hope & Shadow (Quarantine Session)

Who have been your greatest influences?

Dream Theater was probably the most influential for me because hearing them for the first time when I was 14. It was the moment I realized what was even possible on bass and in music as a whole. They were the first metal band I became a fan of.

What first got you into music?

My parents actually. They had me start taking piano lessons when I was about 6 or 7 years old and I stuck with it until I first picked up a bass at 14.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

I think I would want to collaborate with Fleet Foxes. They have such an organic vibe that I love and they really know how to arrange their songs in a way that is simultaneously vast in sound and concise in composition.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I have always dreamed of playing Wacken so that would fulfil a bucket list item for me but more recently I found out about the Fire in the Mountains Festival in the mountains of Wyoming which I think would be the perfect atmosphere to play a Wilderun set.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Not necessarily the weirdest gift now but we got a loose bag of weed in Oregon once. That was a new one for us.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Spend some time outside. We’re not meant to be cooped up in buildings all day.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Scott Walker. That guy made some of the craziest, most interesting music I have ever heard and I was devastated when I learned of his passing.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I enjoy being on stage and playing a good show the most. There’s nothing comparable to that feeling of playing in front of an excited crowd singing along to your songs. However, I hate almost everything that happens before and after that moment haha. Touring and eating garbage food is rough on the body.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

I would hope one day that labels would get behind more interesting bands more often. Yes, bands who play run-of-the-mill material sell well but I think that’s mostly because that’s what’s being shoved in people’s faces most often. People are much deeper than a lot of labels give them credit for.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“Last Rights” by Skinny Puppy

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

I’m personally a high-quality WAV downloads guy myself. As much as I appreciate physical media, I like to keep my home fairly minimalist.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Definitely 70,000 Tons of Metal earlier this year. That was an unforgettable experience playing to a packed crowd at 4:30 in the morning in the middle of the ocean.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Probably more hunting and fishing. I love getting up early and spending time outdoors even though that schedule runs very opposite of a typical night-owl musician’s schedule.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

The rest of Wilderun and my wife. They’re just the best people out there.

What’s next for the band?

We’re currently working on a follow-up record that we hope to record sometime next year if all goes well. We also just got confirmed for an opening slot on Soilwork’s upcoming tour in the fall of 2021.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

We mostly try to promote our website, http://wilderun.com as it has all the links to everything we’re currently doing on there.

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

They’re Jaffe Cakes!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I hope everyone is doing okay and getting through these weird times alright. We’ll get back to tearing up stages across the world soon.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with COYOTE MAN

EMQ’s with COYOTE MAN

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Chicago, IL based, Instrumental/Progressive Rock/Metal band Coyote Man. Huge thanks to drummer Ian Wheeler, for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name is Ian Wheeler and I play drums for Coyote Man. Me and Augie (guitarist) have known each other since high school and played in a few bands together. I would say we’ve been playing together for almost 20 years now. We played some covers and originals with a few different vocalists between 2001 and 2004. I would say around 2005 or so we just started creating instrumental parts to original songs. We took a break after that for a few years. The summer of 2015 we decided to get back together again and Coyote Man was formed.

How did you come up with your band name?

We came up with it one day going through some random names. We just want to leave it up to speculation and let the listeners decide what it means. Imagination is the name of the game.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We are from the United States. The metal/rock scene is explosive in the US. We have only done a few small tours in the mid-west so far and they have all been fantastic. At the moment, for us, Michigan has been extremely kind to our band. We have played some kick ass shows there. The fans have been really good to us in Michigan. We still haven’t travelled the world yet but from what I hear Europe has the best metal/rock scene.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

We came out with our single ‘Perilous’ on March 2nd available on all streaming platforms. This single will be on our upcoming sophomore record “Precognition” which drops on April 20th.

Who have been your greatest influences?

There’s a lot to choose from over the years. Growing up The Beatles and Pink Floyd were played a lot in my household. In early grade school Nirvana blew my mind. Dave Grohl’s drumming on “Nevermind” made me want to play drums and then Tre’ Cool from Green Day added more inspiration shortly after that. Later on bands like Rage Against the Machine, 311, The Mars Volta, Deftones, Radiohead really opened my eyes on different drumming styles and techniques. I’m inspired and influenced almost every day from different groups which is the beauty behind music.

What first got you into music?

My family has a lot of musicians on my mom’s side and growing up I would always watch my uncle’s jam on guitar and jam out some oldies at family parties. I think my first percussion instrument was the tambourine just because I could hold it at a young age and it was very interesting to me. I think any instrument should be given to a young child so you can start them off right away with music.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Matt Embree from Rx Bandits or SA Martinez from 311 would be a dream.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

If there was another Woodstock that would be incredible. Nothing will beat the first Woodstock concert but to be a part of that again is something beyond special. I can die a happy man if that ever happened. (Laughs)

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

We did receive some beef jerky from a show we did in Wisconsin. I wouldn’t call it weird but more like a weird unexpected delicious treat.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

“Enhance your calm” or use the three seashell method. (Laughs) Sorry, I just finished watching Demolition Man the other day.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Kurt Cobain or John Bonham.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I enjoy playing live in front of crowds. Playing and creating music is like no other feeling I can explain. I don’t hate it but loading in and out from shows can be a pain in the ass but that’s part of the job.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Streaming platforms need to pay bands more for their art. Small percentages are not enough. The music industry itself I’ll just keep those comments to myself. (Laughs)

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Toadies – “Rubberneck”

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

I would have to say Vinyl and CD’s only because I have a lot of them. (Laughs) I do stream music on my phone constantly, so it does help when you’re working on the road too.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Playing with Bit Brigade last year at Reggie’s Rock Club was a great show. Our first sold out show in Chicago we ever played I believe. Bit Brigade are an instrumental video game rock band. They have a guy on stage with them playing the original Mega Man Nintendo game while the band plays the soundtrack for each level. It’s pretty wild. Our last show back in October we got to open for one of our favourite bands Brutus, which was also a great experience. They are probably some of the nicest people we ever got to share the stage with. It was quite an honour playing with them at the Chicago venue Schubas.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

That’s hard to say. I would probably still be a musician. Working in the Cannabis industry too. (Laughs)

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Living and dead? I’ll just throw some out there. Jim Carrey, Hunter S. Thompson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rob Zombie and John Carpenter.

What’s next for the band?

At this moment in time we will be releasing our new album “Precognition” on April 20th. A lot of our upcoming shows are going to be postponed due to the Coronavirus. We are just staying safe and working on more new music since we have a lot of time now. I’m already super excited with the new batch of songs that we have. We’ve been working with our new bassist too and it’s going really well!

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people
Facebookwww.facebook.com/coyotemanband
Bandcampwww.coyoteman.bandcamp.com
Instagramwww.instagram.com/coyotemanband
Websitewww.coyotemanband.com
Twitterwww.twitter.com/coyotemanband

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I have never had one but I see that they are from the UK. I would definitely try one if I ever get the chance. They look like a sugar based biscuit so I will go with biscuit.

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you so much for this interview. Stay safe out there and make sure to listen to our new single ‘Perilous’ streaming on all platforms. Don’t forget to listen to our new album “Precognition” on 20th April this month. Wash those hands and keep your distance from other people please.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.