By Carl Begai
Over the last couple months I’ve been subjected to some unsigned bands that have done a great job of knocking me on my ass. Call this Round 1 of what will hopefully be an ongoing column on this site assuming the music continues to grab my attention as these folks have. Read on if yer curious….
Over The Coals out of Vancouver have started make a buzz outside of their regular haunts thanks to the video for the song ‘My Worth’, a track taken from a forthcoming EP. It’s my understanding that they used to have a male singer – YouTube footage supports this – but the addition of one Susie Myers seems to have been the clincher in terms of solidifying the band’s sound. First thing that came to mind when I heard ‘em…. it sounds like Strapping Young Lad and My Ruin had a baby. Must be a West Coast thing. It’s impossible to judge them on one song, of chorus, but I like the sound of serious potential
By Carl Begai
Their name sounds like the house band at Arnold’s Drive-In on an updated adult version of the iconic ’70s / ’80s sitcom Happy Days. The music sounds like a mix of The Go-Go’s, The Cars and The Ramones. Yes, the quartet out of London, Ontario known as The Alcohollys are something special. Seriously something special, and definitely different. For the moment they have a small but loyal group of followers and, as of today (February 12th), one official independent release (The Flashback EP) under their belt. The Alcohollys also boast Kittie drummer Mercedes Lander and original Kittie bassist Tanya Candler as part of the line-up; a completely unexpected partnership when you put songs like ‘Flashback To ’93′ and ’27 Death Riot / Demolition In Speed City’ against the Kittie debut from 1999, Spit.
Mercedes: “I’ve only been in The Alcohollys since 2011, but the band has been around since 2009. Dana started the band with some girls that aren’t in the band anymore, and Tanya joined in 2010. When they lost their drummer, I’m pretty much the only female drummer they know in town (laughs). They asked me if I wanted to join and I wasn’t doing anything, so I said ‘Fuck yeah.’ I’ve known Dana (Hartman / vocals, keyboards) for something like 17 years, and I know Tanya of course from playing in Kittie. And we have out new guitar player, Bri (Lue-Kim), so since 2011 we’ve gotten serious about this band.”
Take the above description of the band’s sound for what it’s worth – in this office, that’s a lot – or check it out here. Bottom line is The Alcohollys stick out like a sore thumb on today’s rock scene and are better for it, right down to their stage names: Kimber Heart, Scarlet Fever, Ruby Pubey and Maiden China. Kittie fans and metalheads in general with narrow minds would do well to buy a can opener.
Mercedes: “I don’t think we have a particular sound compared to other bands where people can say ‘Oh, that band is death metal…’ or whatever. The closest thing that I think we fit into is the ‘70s power pop movement. It’s weird, though, because we play a lot of metal shows, so we’re obviously the odd man out. For instance, the last time we played Windsor it was us and three metal bands, but we had the biggest crowd of the night. I think the appeal of The Alcohollys to the metal crowd is the musicianship in the band.”
According to Dana, in spite of The Alcohollys’ modern day ‘70s sound – something one would assume most musicians on the low side of 30 would shy away from in favour of mindless pop pap or trendy death / black / oh-so-evil metal – she hasn’t had a problem finding musicians to keep the band moving forward.
Dana: “I find that girls are more open to playing this kind of music, something that’s more pop-oriented. Nobody’s had any complaints (laughs). I’ve always wanted to have an all- girl band but I could never find enough girls to make a full band, so now I’m living my dream (laughs).” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
David Gold was Woods Of Ypres, but there’s no discounting the long list of musicians that helped him bring the music to life during the band’s 10 year career. One of the last names on that list is twentysomething-on-the-younger-side drummer Rae Amitay, and it wasn’t until the tribute shows held in David’s honour back in April – in Toronto and his home town of Sault Ste Marie respectively – that fans were truly aware of her connection to the band. Conscripted for a European tour planned for early 2012 in support of Woods 5: Grey Skies And Electric Light, she had yet to be tested as a full card-carrying band member, but those plans and expectations were tragically derailed when David passed away on December 21st, 2011.
It was a small but necessary consolation for Rae to be able to attend the tribute shows and pay her respects both as a performer and a fan.
“Unfortunately, with everything that happened we didn’t have time to make a proper announcement about the new line-up,” says Rae. “I thought I was going to get completely lost in the shuffle when the tribute shows happened, so it was so nice of Joel (Violette / guitars) when he brought me and Brendan Hayter (bass) up because we were really looking forward to being in the band. I started hearing rumours about tribute shows and I wanted to be a part of them, but there was no way unless I could do something with Joel, and I really wanted to. So, I approached him and asked him if he’d be interested, and he was like ‘Wait, there are tribute shows?’ People just assumed Joel was going to know about them, but he didn’t. We got some basic information and started planning a tentative set, and it all came together from there.”
“I think Joel had to be there, because he played such a massive role in the writing and recording of Woods 5. I felt that if he hadn’t been a part of those shows it would have detracted from the whole thing because there needed to be some semblance of Woods Of Ypres present. It was very important that Joel got to take part in it.” (continue reading…)
Folks that spend any time on this site – and to those that do, thank you – are aware that the passing of Woods Of Ypres frontman/founder David Gold last year affected a lot of people on the Canadian metal scene, myself included. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the tribute shows that took place at home earlier this month, but drummer Rae Amitay – who was gearing up to tour with Woods through 2012 – and Eclipse Eternal frontman Voldamareshave issued their own special recaps of the events dedicated to David’s memory. They both appear below.
Rae issued the following via Metal Review:
“When I try to put my experience from Ypres Metal Fest into words, everything from that night and the days leading up to it seems to blur together into a mess of emotions that I can’t properly articulate. As those reading this may know, David Gold had asked me to play drums for Woods of Ypres in support of the brilliant album Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light. I accepted without hesitation, and my days quickly filled with practicing and making plans with him, Joel Violette, and Brendan Hayter. For each of us, being in Woods was a dream come true, and we were greatly looking forward to being a part of the band together. It all felt like the beginning of something extraordinary. (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light is arguably one of the strongest works in Woods Of Ypres frontman / founder David Gold’s catalogue of music. It’s certainly his most accessible album. Sadly, it also marks David’s final journey.
Killed in a car accident mere months before the official release, David never had the opportunity to enjoy the praise or consider the criticism of what is the most adventurous album of his career. And despite the accolades heaped to the sky, the simple truth is that not all diehard Woods Of Ypres fans will like it. Grey Skies & Electric Light is loaded with the doom and gloom they’ve come to expect, but the way it’s presented is much different from the revered Woods 3 and 4 records. David’s clean voice dominates the new production over his death metal growls, the song arrangements don’t have the crushing density of its predecessors, and it’s loaded with brazen hooks big and small. Not what some expect of the blackened doom underground cornerstone of the genre. Current reactions indicate, however, that the majority of followers consider Woods 5 to be a masterpiece, and not merely as a show of respect for the fallen.
In an effort to showcase the new music, I spoke with Kittie vocalist / guitarist Morgan Lander, producer Siegfried Meier, and Woods Of Ypres guitarist Joel Violette, all of whom accompanied and worked with David during various stages of Grey Skies & Electric Light’s creation. (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
Kittie threw down the gauntlet in 2007 with Funeral For Yesterday, an album that earned them a truckload of credibility amongst the metal masses for nailing the coffin shut on the alterna-nu-metalcore sound that yanked the spotlight in their direction in the late ‘90s. The highly anticipated 2009 follow-up, In The Black, cemented Kittie’s place at the table occupied by old school metal purists and a younger generation with its collective head in the right place. No surprise, then, that I’ve Failed You stomps even deeper into the realms of metal, crushing any lingering thoughts of the foursome as nothing more than an all-female novelty act. The level of musicianship and song dynamics on the album, on the other hand, is a bloody revelation.
Not that Kittie didn’t have the chops before, but if “maturity” is a dirty word the ladies have been mud-bathing for the last year and come out all guns blazing. (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
It didn’t matter that I was a huge believer in and supporter of Canadian metal and assorted aggressive offshoots; the hype that surrounded their 1999 debut album Spit rubbed me the wrong way. It blew my mind that a band featuring a singer with zero vocal control was able to sell a song like ‘Brackish’, Kittie’s teen angst calling card featuring one of the most annoyingly memorable choruses known to man, woman and pub crawling beast. Any attention I paid to the band after that record was out of masochistic curiosity, and fleeting at best.
Fast forward to 2007 and a four song EP entitled Never Again dumped in my lap by management via BW&BK HQ. I couldn’t believe my ears even after repeated listens, and I was left wondering what the four women masquerading as Kittie had done with the Lander sisters. They were, after all, the creative core of the band and had proven limited in that capacity as far as I was concerned. This new material, this was music. Hell, it was fucking metal.
And singer Morgan? She’d picked up control, shred-ability, and a Flying V along the way.
Calls were made, emails were sent, and I learned that Kittie was a family affair, with Morgan (vocals/guitars) and Mercedes’ (drums) parents taking care of most of the band’s legal and promotional affairs. The interview with the sisters that followed, for the Funeral For Yesterday album, proved to me that the ladies could stand on their own feet rather than needing to rely on mommy and daddy. They were also real musicians with a clear view of where they came from and a vision of where they wanted to take their music. They turned me into a Kittie fanboy. (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
Small town Ontario has given the world big name pop stars Shania Twain (Windsor) and Avril Lavigne (Napanee), and coughed up metal artists that have received international recognition including Helix (Kitchener), Kittie (London), James LaBrie (Penatanguishine), Sebastian Bach (Peterborough), Woods Of Ypres (Sault Ste. Marie) and Protest The Hero (Whitby). Add to this list one Cory Manahan from Keswick, a 17-year-old shredder / singer out to make extreme metal a little more dangerous. His debut album, Commence was released in 2010, quickly marking him in and around Toronto as an up-and-coming talent to watch. It also makes him a little intimidating when one considers the high level of creativity coming from a teenager, following in the footsteps of some of metal’s finest.
For the record, Commence is clearly influenced by modern metal-edged acts such as Slipknot and Lamb Of God, but there’s no mistaking the old school undertones that put the record on par with some of Manahan’s heroes. No small feat for someone who is still learning the ropes.
“I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 10 or 11,” Manahan begins, “and I started with playing early Zeppelin and Sabbath. When I was about 14 I started getting into the more extreme metal, and I’ve been listening to everything since. And playing and practicing. The first couple years that’s all I did, 12 hours a day. I’m such a nerd (laughs).” (continue reading…)
By Carl Begai
It was only a matter of time until Kittie got their ducks in a row and began tearing the heads off ‘em one by one.
The band’s new outing, In The Black, is a metal album. Raw and uncomplicated, eerily reminiscent of Carcass (listen through a few times and the similarities are a shot in the arm), it’s the last thing anyone expected from a band considered nothing more than teenage nu-metal aggression junkies when they made their debut 10 years ago. To their credit, sisters Morgan (vocals, guitars) and Mercedes Lander (drums) have yanked Kittie a little further out of that hole with every new album, finally getting away from their early one-dimensional sound entirely in 2007 on Funeral For Yesterday. Fans may argue the point, some certainly favour the band’s old sound over the new, but the haters will be forced to concede that In The Black has a solid steel backbone and gives Kittie a truckload of credibility on today’s metal scene.
“This is the album we always wanted to make,” states Mercedes. “With the last record, I think the songs were there but the production wasn’t. It was pretty fucking bad production. Every album we’ve done we’ve used analog tape, but it wasn’t the analog that was the problem on Funeral For Yesterday; it was the way we recorded it. We didn’t have a lot of say in it and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. This new album, we did it blind with nobody sticking their fingers in it. We did it by ourselves.”
Just a quick heads up to keep your weekend more interesting.
For starters, I have an EX DEO story up on a brand new metal site called Metallus Maximus. In case you’ve been living under a rock, EX DEO is a concept-based project kicked-off by KATAKLYSM frontman Maurizio Iacono based on the Roman Empire. The debut album, Romulus, has been getting rave reviews across the board, this site included (check out my review here). My interview with Iacono is worth the read, if I do say so myself Click here to check it out.