I am at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the Boston-based art-rock band Bent Knee, both to interview them and to see them play live for my first time. I would love to say that I had been following the band for years and have already seen them a handful of times, but somehow their head-spinning mixture of heavy-hitting Faith No More energy, proggy theatrics, and off-kilter pop/rock experimentations somewhere between Björk and St. Vincent had escaped me until only just this year when a fellow Heavy Blogger introduced me to them through their 2014 sophomore LP Shiny Eyed Babies. Upon hearing tracks like “Way Too Long” and “Being Human” I was instantly hooked. The blend of jazz influences with the bite of heavy rock and metal, extensive incorporation of violin, and the powerful siren sounds of vocalist Courtney Swain were more than enough to grab my attention, and I quickly did all I could to catch myself up on their (at the time) 3 albums.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to Vincent Bennet of The Acacia Strain about their new album, new members, and becoming a veteran band. He was super down to earth and fun to talk to. Here’s what we said.
We have countless examples from (the original) Woodstock to Glastonbury that sexual assault is an ongoing problem at our shows and festivals. Every year there is at least one reported rape or sexual assault at a major music festival in the U.S. Europe has become concerned enough with the issue that Sweden, as a nation, are proposing new laws and in the UK promoters are actively working to get not only their festivals but their artists on board with calling out this behavior. With a new festival season around the world looming, promoters, artists, and allies are taking it upon themselves to speak out and up to attempt to educate concert-goers about this issue in a renewed effort to stem, and eventually turn, the tide of sexual violence (among other things) in our shared show spaces.
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” – Aristotle There’s a certain magic to place particularly when viewed through the lens of the human position in it. Specific places can speak to us in hushed tones only available when we allow ourselves to be…
As I wrote in my review of LA post/math-rock enclave Arms of Tripoli’s recent sophomore album Daughters, I have a particular soft spot for the band not only because they clearly pull influence from so many instrumental and progressive bands that I already love, but also because they were the first band I came to know and love specifically through writing for Heavy Blog back in 2014 for their debut full-length Dream In Tongues. In my mind the band are just about everything that is good about instrumental post-rock without any of the bloat, mediocrity, and tediousness that plagues so much of the genre and its heavier cousins in post-metal. I’ve been following them closely since and eagerly awaited their next release. So when Arms’ bassist Mike Bouvet reached out to me personally about the upcoming release of Daughters, I knew that I wanted to talk to them about a whole bunch of things. Over a few e-mails we discussed their formation, their collaboration and improv-focused writing process, what sets them apart from most post-rock bands out there, and, of course, eggs.
I catch Matt Calvert, founder and boss-in-chief at Dark Descent Records, as he is visiting friends in Southern California. He’s a busy man, and the road trip he is on has thus far been extensive. Decibel events. Metal merchandise swap meets. Calvert’s travel schedule is borderline relentless. It’s snowing on a blustery and damp evening in Colorado, where we both call home, so as Matt steps away from his buddies to talk with me we take a few moments to chat about the weather. It’s that weird, yet oddly socially standard way to start a conversation. To be honest, this emphasis on small talk is partly the result of my own nervous state. Being an ultimate fan boy of his label’s consistently excellent output, talking with Matt is the equivalent for me of a film buff sitting down for coffee with Martin Scorsese. He’s just that good, and needless to say jitters abound. Regardless, I’m looking forward to his insight on a particular topic of interest that few in the metal world have a clearer perspective on: small, independent labels and their impact on metal as a whole.
Back in March, I spent the better part of an hour speaking with Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs to discuss his myriad of projects and his development as a musician and evolution as a bass player. The first half of our talk was published last week, wherein we discussed collecting vinyl, the prog aesthetic, and the records that inspired him to first pick up a guitar — and eventually, bass and keyboards. In this second half of our interview, we discuss his new project Nova Collective and its place in the genre of jazz fusion. We also discuss the process of revisiting their modern classic Colors, and where the band goes from here.
Over the years, we’ve watched North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me climb the ranks from metalcore weirdos struggling to find a place in the metal scene to prog metal masters with a legion of rabid fans and achieving worldwide headliner status. Through a series of critically-acclaimed opuses, a scene had formed itself around Between the Buried and Me as trailblazers of a new branch of modern progressive music, and one might argue that the biggest splash from the group came from their 2007 opus Colors, which turns 10 this year(!!!).
Last year, my interest was piqued by a surprise release from Woodsplitter, an instrumental solo project from Ben McLeod, guitar player of one of my favorite “new” bands, Nashville’s All Them Witches. Inflamed examines metal guitar through a variety of lenses: post, prog, death, stoner, doom, and even krautrock; showcasing an impressive variety and a refined level of comfort as each track seems to pare down to the core of what makes these sounds appeal to so many. His newest venture, Egyptian Overload explores an even wider swath of sounds and textures, plus the addition of saxophone. I asked Ben a few questions about the project, the rawness of his latest record, and future plans.
During the mid-2000s, the UK hardcore and metal scene underwent a re-energisation of sorts due to the emergence of several bands who have since spearheaded the genres to modern popularity. Bands like Enter Shikari and Bring Me the Horizon resonated with mainstream crowds since their inceptions and have since established themselves as global institutions. On the other hand, Architects instantly occupied the forefront of an underground charge and, over the years, have also crossed over into popular realms. However, bubbling underneath the surface was (and still is) a whole scene of innovative, vital artists whose records define the country’s musical output at its finest, with albums that will undoubtedly stand the test of time among aficionados of heavy music. One such act is Devil Sold His Soul who, in this writer’s humble opinion, are one of the best bands the UK has ever birthed.