by: Susan Dusse
Released this year, “Burn the Ships,” the second release for Texas’ Blacktop Mojo, is 13 tracks of upbeat, toe-tapping rock. Composed, played, and recorded very well, Matt James and his band have stepped firmly onto the playing field with the likes of AlterBridge, Daughtry, Nickleback, and Shinedown, and will no doubt prove to be serious contenders in the genre.
Though it came out in 2017, Blacktop Mojo could have recorded this album at any point from 1995 – now. They are in the category, and of the caliber, of Zakk Wylde’s Pride and Glory and Sevendust, and that vast in talent. They have mastered the perfect combination of a sexy groove with a Southern Flair, and a vocalist who communicates what we all feel, through words and tone. It is a band that will stay relevant no matter what trends come and go.
“Where the Wind Blows,” sits at track one. James has a voice that you feel you’ve heard before, but as you try to identify where you’ve heard it, you realize it is a combination of all of the great vocalists that you love. From Robin McCauley of MSG, to Miles Kennedy of Alterbridge, this song is particularly good. It provides a seductive slow groove, a proper guitar solo that communicates the mood of the song, and very pretty chorus.
“End of Days,” is the second track to this release. It’s my favorite track on the album with its powerful chorus and great buildups to a climax. The song is beautifully written and performed.
“Burn the Ships,” track three, and the album’s namesake, is full of interesting isolations of each member’s instrument. It delivers another great chorus, chugging alternating riffs done at a great tempo, nice bass work, and an interesting break at just before 3:00 minutes. This song definitely evokes a feeling of doom and danger.
“Prodigal” is a slow ballad resting at the fourth position. Any number of popular relevant artists would no doubt love to have written this appealing and very emotional song. While you’ll possibly feel as if you’ve heard parts of the solo before, you’ll soon realize that it is simply because the emotion between the vocals and the guitar require it to be exactly as it is, which has been the case since the beginning of good rock. As the second solo takes you to the end of the song, you’ll feel as if you’ve experienced the beauty of death, or the end of something beloved.
“Shadows in the Wall,” track five, is an ambient, experimental song with dreary down notes where you least expect them, and a flanger effect that makes you a bit uncomfortable. In this uneasy structure, it is again James who stands out and casts all doubt aside regarding his vocal ability. At 3:20 the band provides an incredible groove that is memorable. I clicked rewind multiple times here to experience it over and over.
Song Six, “Sweat,” highlights their Southern roots in the vein of Corrosion of Conformity and Down. It is here where I noted that their lyrics aren’t trivial; they speak to life.
“Pyromaniac,” hits just past the half-way mark at track seven. It is my least favorite track on the album. I felt like I had heard it before in a culmination of the songs that preceded it on this release.
Appropriately placed, “8000,” at track eight, is a beautiful interpretation of emotion. From the faint screams to the acoustic journey, it definitely tells a story…like a tragic love story, cowboy style. I envisioned the song ending with a fade out during the pretty ambient part, but it jumped back into full force rock. I guess they knew what they were doing, as it was a great transition into the next song.
“Dog on a Leash,” track nine, is the definite radio hit here. The juxtaposition of the voices, matched with the classic style of this post-grunge adult contemporary rock song, could have been sold for millions to bands like Nickleback or Shinedown. This is a great song, and one that everyone should hear.
“Make a Difference” track ten, is another radio friendly potential hit. It fits nicely after “Dog on a Leash,” and is nothing short of pleasant.
“Chains,” track 11, is a hard, groove-driven song. If you like Sevendust, you will like this song. Another favorite of mine, I wish there were more tracks like this on the release.
Likely the song that will get the most attention (and that attention would be deserved,) is the classy cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” at track 12. It’s a crisp modern replica of the beloved song. It is done well, and dare I say it is better than the original. Because it is so good, and the song is so familiar, it will likely be the one that gets the accolades. It was a bold move by the band to put it amongst their originals, and may pull attention away from their great compositions on this release due to how well it was done. Hopefully it will be interpreted as a cherry on top of the awesome desert, rather than the shiny beacon that stands high above the rest.
Closing out the album is “Underneath,” at track 13. It is a heartfelt simple song that nearly brought me to tears. When music touches you so deeply upon first listen, you know it is good. It shows the breadth and width of this band’s talent, and will pull at your heartstrings if you’ve had any life experience at all.
Consistently flowing through “Burn the Ships,” is a satisfying groove. It is nearly impossible not to move some portion of your body while you listen to this sturdy release by Blacktop Mojo. Also, consistent throughout is the dynamic vocal performance by James. James is the standout superstar here, amongst a band of superstars.
A perfect live lineup would be Daughtry, Blacktop Mojo, Shinedown, Sevendust; that order could no doubt change, catapulting Blacktop Mojo higher towards the headliner, as they continue to put out music. With a second release that feels as grown up and mature as a band that has, say six releases under its belt, this band is ready for the big time.
by: Susan Dusse
Released October 4th, “City of Stone” is just over six minutes of complex metal. Hard to categorize in any one genre, Aseitas is a highly talented group of young accomplished musicians.
Lending his talent to this pleasantly complicated band, Dysrhythia/Gorguts guitarist Kevin Hufnagel’s contribution is heard on this dark, yet beautiful song.
Composed with quick shots of unexpected notes, followed by surprise downturns, “City of Stone,” is beautifully composed. Pummeling drums, mature guitaring, authentic vocals, and solid bass lines, this single has moments of technical death, progressive, melodic, black, and doom metal, all rolled into one.
As you listen, you can visualize a story through the soundtrack that “City of Stone,” provides. It has great buildups and dramatic downturns, interspersed with heavy grooves, and appropriately placed breakdowns. “City of Stone,” is a masterpiece.
You can listen to it here:
All that I can say is, I’m so glad this band exists. “From Fear,” is truly awesome.
I first saw Von Doom open for Dark Tranquility nearly a year ago. They stood out like a shiny beacon then, and they will stand out on Tuesday, August 8th, when they release their single, “From Fear.”
I’ve listened to it now about six times in a row. It’s one of those songs that you wish didn’t end, but I guess it would be weird to have 10 tracks on an album that are exactly the same. But, if any band could do it, Von Doom could with this song.
“From Fear,” is the band’s first release in six years. It is aggressive from the start, complete with background vocals upon the first note. I was a tiny bit worried when I first heard it, wondering if the vocals were recorded low…but rest assured, they aren’t; that fact becomes very clear within seconds of listening.
Let me just get this out of the way: the guitars are fantastic, the lyrics are clever, the bass is strong and provides superior support to the drums (which are ridiculously good,) and the vocals match the pace and feel of the song really well.
I find Von Doom to be a bit difficult to categorize in my mind. Yeah, I don’t like the plethora of genres either, but I somehow have to make the identification in my mind when I listen. They are good ole’ USA thrash metal, but they are also very akin to European death metal, with a splash of ambient black metal.
The song starts out with a nice groove and immediate low-level vocals, and it works really well. It moves right into a full swing of bouncy groove riffs, followed by a fast thrash metal section. A reprieve with a melodic ambient slice, and then back into thrash. The interesting breakdown with an off-pattern component ends the cycle, and it goes back to relive the awesomeness all over again. The song ends with frantically fast guitaring and believably angry vocals that soften to a pretty note at the end. And when it is over, you have to listen to it again…because it is just that good.
Smart lyrics, melodic, heavy, groove-driven, aggressive, well written, well recorded, well played, and no clean vocals. The correct length in theory, but too short for maximum pleasure. Thankfully we all have a repeat or “back track” button. That sums up “From Fear.”
I can’t wait to hear what Von Doom does next. I wrote the band after I heard it and just said, “Seriously?” The song is that good!
If this song is any indication of what the band has in mind for the future…the sky is the limit for Von Doom.
I highly suggest you put Von Doom on your radar if it isn’t already. (And, if you are lucky enough to be in the Pacific Northwest, catch them on the Devil Driver bill.)
Follow them and buy “From Fear” here: Facebook: facebook.com/vondoomband or Bandcamp:vondoom.bandcamp.com
Photo credit unknown (taken from Google image search - The Indie Spiritualist)
By: Susan Dusse - 07/20/17
It is ominous to know that Chester Bennington died on Chris Cornell’s birthday; that he sang Halleluiah, and some reports suggest gave a eulogy at Cornell’s memorial service. I’ll stop here and show the following video of Bennington and Cornell performing “Crawling” together. Their friendship is apparent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_v1SLIt01Q
All reports indicate that Bennington, singer for Linkin Park, father of six children, husband, son, bandmate, hung himself early today, July 20, 2017. Allegedly he was found by an employee, and was in the home alone.
I’m absolutely dumbfounded by what must go through someone’s soul, mind, body to take their own life. How can you have such a strong feeling of despair, pain, anger, that death is the best solution? I will never know, because I've never been there. How must it feel to not wake up (or wake up in an alternate place depending on your religious views) the next day after you’ve had time to rethink your decision?
Bennington, #74 on the Richest Front Men in Music list was worth an estimated $27,000,000 from his work with Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise, and brief stint in Stone Temple Pilots, among other ventures. By “our” standards, he had the perfect life… a beautiful house, wife, kids, fame, wealth, was a music producer, actor. He was young, and ranked high on lists for “best front man.” At this point, I am unaware of a suicide note indicating the motivation, however, I’m sure we will know soon, or at least be poked by conspiracy theories. But as is shown over and over again, our standards for “the good life” and what makes us happy all differ.
As I looked over his career, I found the darker side to his life. He was the product of divorce at an early age, was sexually abused by a male friend of the family, chose not to prosecute or file legal action, battled drugs and alcohol, had a divorce himself, was riddled with injuries and surgeries, had a severe cyberstalker, and lost a close friend to suicide recently; who knows what else wasn’t revealed that remained only known to him.
Often writing and singing songs that have been/will be/are an integral part of many people’s lives, I found this quote interesting: "It's easy to fall into that thing – 'poor, poor me', that's where songs like 'Crawling' come from: I can't take myself. But that song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down." – Rolling Stone Magazine, 2002
Suicide is like politics, abortion, and religion in some ways. Like, we shouldn’t talk about it at a dinner party or with relatives. Opinions are strong and emotions are high. We all have very rigid feelings about it based on personal experience with someone who has, who has tried, who has threatened, or by our own naivety. I say naivety because if we are still here, then we actually do not know what someone actually goes through to end their life.
What I’m choosing to do is to celebrate what he put into the universe for us to have. His lyrics and voice are something we are all familiar with, even if we aren’t the biggest Linkin Park “fans.” His voice was amazing and his talent was undeniable.
The internet is full of photos that are allegedly his last: Last Instagram, last Facebook, last concert, etc. I’m going to pass, and not participate in the glamorization or defamation of his career and subsequent suicide.
I offer these three links out of my heart and two of them out of personal responsibility:
Cody Perez, singer of Portland's own Amerakin Overdose, calls out Otep on her recent behavior.
Known for having no filter, Cody apparently has had enough of Otep Shamaya, and lashes out via social media. Otep retaliates much to the dismay of the rest of Amerakin Overdose and an all out twitter war ensues.
See the interaction below.
These are straight from Facebook and Twitter
Cody: Fuck this piece of shit! The band is terrible and she's full of shit! I will never attend a show Otep plays. The only times I have seen her live is because of the other bands playing with her. A recent live stream she posted she said "Local bands DONT sell tickets!" She's full of shit. I have plenty of friends that have opened for Otep and sold tickets. She claims the local promoter is the one who decides if locals open. In my experience, the local promoter allows local bands to open IF the touring manager asks for locals. There is plenty of times the local promoter will say "The touring manager doesn't want locals." If the touring manager is asking for local support it's because they know Otep can't fill the place themselves and they NEED the help of the local bands for a crowd. Otep is a fucking joke! For someone that tries to put herself in the positive light she brings a lot of negativity. Here's to you Otep
Here is what former Amerakin Overdose bassist Brandon Sills had to say:
Otep. I do not understand exactly why you are continuously responding to tweets or messages the way that you're doing it. I don't know if it's you giving people the publicity or your means to fight back. But when you say my former band's vocalist is a homophobe, I will take issue officially.
During my time as a bassist for Amerakin Overdose, I was met with a level of respect and kindness that should be exerted when you barely know people. As time progressed, we had bonded on a level that was almost like the special missing ingredient to a mix. I was given an opportunity with them and I am forever grateful for it, regardless if I personally continue to pursue music as a career or not, on my own, or if I rejoin them.
Who gives a fuck if you're counting your Franklins, Grants and Jacksons on the way to the bank? Gloating about it publicly not only to the fans, but also to the haters, makes it seem perhaps that you have succumbed to greed? Personally, I'd be happy to have enough cash to just make the monthly ends meet, and enough fun money on the side perhaps to pay for my own touring.
Not my right to judge others per se, when it comes to business and money though...
But when you call my family homophobes, I take issue. I might not be the poster child for a Folsom Street spit roast, but I'll be damned if one of the nicest motherfuckers in music I've ever met, let alone worked with, is called a homophobe by one of my own.
Whatever you are doing right now, is to yourself. Even if it's bad press. They say bad press is just as good as good press. Well, the moment I get dragged into this, I officially have a problem. From what I have seen via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Theprp.com, and the likes... I have no real words for it. Just a disgusting taste in my mouth, that someone who openly identifies as a lesbian, a vegan, an activist... can not only call my family homophobes, but also possibly suggest to another bandmate that he has no black friends (perhaps a stab at the phrase "white privilege") on your Twitter account.
We get it that you've been in the business for 15 years. We get that you have 7 albums. We get that you have "singles" that have charted on Billboard and all that.
The question is, is all of this responding to the hate necessary? The whole story about The Convalescence blowing up into this, because of some he said she said regarding events related to your tour?
I would have handled things way better to be honest. But I'm not a lesbian, a vegan, or an activist, or straight edge, or any other label you identify with.
I'm a gay autistic spiritual metalhead who has treated everybody I've come across with the respect they deserve until they prove otherwise. I'd take a bullet for every life I've changed for the better, and I'd take a bullet for my AOD family. They'd do the same for me. So if you're going to attack them, you're attacking me in kind.
With all that said, get off your high horse and start treating people with respect and kindness.
Whose side are you on?
It’s a very energetic and colorful interpretation of a very energetic and colorful song. Chronological Injustice’s new official video for “Pendulum,” is straight-forward and vibrant. Actually, that is a really great depiction of Chronological Injustice as a whole.
Chronological Injustice is a young band out of Portland, Oregon. Not young as in, “haven’t been around for very long,” (because they have been around for quite a while.) I mean young, as in their youngest member, Gunner DuGrey, (also in Vicious Rumors) is 18.
The video has camera panning, side-to-side, and forward and backward movement that is quickly becoming a signature move for HotKarlProductions. The camera angles greatly enhance what could have been just a “live” video. While just a live video would have been fine for Chronological Injustice, because their fervor and energy are both audible and visual in any scenario, the implementation of the shots, juxtaposed with the vivid background in the magical graffiti courtyard selected for the shoot are effective. The colorful location, the extreme energy of the band, and their downplayed wardrobe make this video incredibly interesting.
See video below
There are great shots of nature, highlighting a particular member, peppered throughout the video: the city, a lake, and a field with an old barn. While the shots likely weren’t critical, they add to the appeal of the overall feel. Obvious attention was paid to focus on each member at the point(s) in the song where their performance stood out (guitar solos, brutal vocals, cool drum parts), and there are many spots. It is done very smartly so that it doesn’t look planned, staged, or timed.
It feels like a well thought out organic video of five guys, with incredibly good hair and tons of energy, playing in a heavily (and beautifully) vandalized location…like you’d imagine they do every day.
I’ve seen Chronological Injustice live on many occasions over the past few years, and this video is a great representation of the band and its members.
Chronological Injustice are briskly becoming refined and polished in their presentation of themselves.
Guns N’ Roses has had an extraordinary comeback over the course of the last 18 months or so. Throughout much of 2016 and 2017, the group has been on tour, playing shows all over the United States and Europe. Dubbed the “Not In This Lifetime Tour,” it’s been the first stretch in years that the group was back together with any kind of regularity, and the shows have been going very well. While classic rock may be past its golden age, there are a lot of groups still going strong today. That means there are tons of fans who will still get excited for something like a GNR concert coming to town. At times, this has all felt like we got stuck in a time machine and transported back to the late-'80s.
This all started with some very deliberate efforts on the band’s part though. It’s not as if they just got together for a reunion concert and kept things rolling for a year. Guns N’ Roses seems to have been pretty clever about reaching out to audiences beyond their own loyal fans, gradually building anticipation for the reunion and tour that were to come.
First up was a partnership with an online gaming company aimed at casino players. The Guns N’ Roses slot reel is featured among the most popular gaming offerings from NetEnt, a developer that has made a habit out of working with classic rock artists. The game itself is more or less a traditional slot reel. But its background, symbols, and special effects are all about the band, which makes for an interesting blend of activity. On the one hand, the game can bring GNR fans to this particular genre of online gaming. On the other, it can also expose young casino gaming enthusiasts to the music and iconography of one of the great classic rock groups.
In another bid to reach out to audiences that might be broader than their own, Guns N’ Roses debuted a mysterious trailer during previews for Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in the winter of 2015. The trailer didn’t make it clear what was coming, but it did seem to reveal that the band was up to something and generated quite a bit of attention. That’s not to say that every Star Wars fan instantly got excited about a GNR reunion, but gaining exposure through one of the most popular films of the century certainly didn’t hurt the group.
As it turned out, the trailer was a hint regarding the band’s public reunion at Coachella in 2016— which in turn launched the Not In This Lifetime Tour that’s still going on this year. Now it feels like the group is back in full swing, having never missed a beat. The only thing missing has been new material, and that might be about to change.
According to some new reports, guitarist Richard Fortus has stated that the band is assembling ideas for a new album. Though he stressed that Guns N’ Roses has not actually put in any studio time, he said things are going too well lately not to result in new music. Fortus anticipates putting together brand new material with Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan all on board. He's also gone so far as to say that some of the material has already been recorded (just not in an official studio setting).
It sounds like we know what’s next in GNR’s extensive and successful revival. There's no underestimating the power of a good tour and the "Not in this Lifetime Tour" has consistently been one of the top grossing tours of the year. If they can add new material to add to the shows, it's likely that they'll do even better.
Quickly becoming one of the best video concept and production companies around, HotKarlProductions knocked this video out of the park. While the talent in Separation of Sanity (SOS) was no doubt easy to work with, the concept of the video for the song, “Vengeance,” aligns with the song title perfectly. To use the word intense in describing this video would be an understatement. I was lucky enough to spend a day with Separation of Sanity and HotKarlProductions on day one of this video shoot. It was a bloody cold day, in a heatless giant warehouse, but it warmed up quickly as SOS’s “Vengeance,” played in the background over the PA system. Speakers blew, sweat rolled, and ears rung for days.
The concept of the video is this: It was just an accidental beer spilled on a random big dude sitting next to Jason X. No need for a fist fight, just an apology and a towel…maybe a new beer. While the gentlemen in SOS were apologetic, the big guy (who happens to be a MMA fighter in real life) was not having it. Maybe he had a bad day; maybe he’s just an aggressive asshole. Regardless, he was pissed off and wanted to fight. He threw the first punch, but one swift blow to the head by Ivar, and a nice evening of drinking beer turned into vigilante justice…. mosh pit style. Who is the victim in this scenario? You just don’t know for sure, but the one thing you do know is that Jason X and the boys in Separation of Sanity won’t stand for bullshit; they will dish out a punishment worse than anything you thought of.
See video below.
The energy and intensity of the mosh pit, moving in unison to the aggressive “Vengeance,” paired with the dramatic, “where the fuck am I” moment by the big dude, now chained in a chair, lends well to the title of the song. The added bad-assery of Jason X slowly approaching the chair, in a taunting fashion, is exciting to watch.
Perhaps besides the song itself, what will be most remembered about this video is the rabid moshers who take on Jason X’s cause…joining in his plight. It is clear you don’t mess with Jason X or any of his band mates…because you WILL be out numbered.
It’s a great song and a great video. Another commendable piece from these Portland, Oregon rock stars.
GOATWHORE Unveils "Chaos Arcane" Lyric Video; Vengeful Ascension Release Day Draws Near + Band To Kick Off Headlining Tour June 9th
Vengeful Ascension is the imminent new full-length from New Orleans' metal legion GOATWHORE. Set to drop on June 23rd via Metal Blade Records worldwide, the band's seventh full-length and second recorded reel-to-reel was captured at Earth Analog in Tolono, Illinois with longtime soundman and comrade Jarrett Pritchard (1349, Gruesome).
In advance of its release, today the band shares the official lyric video for "Chaos Arcane." Based on H.P. Lovecraft's character Nyarlathotep who attempts to recount the inexplicable sense of fear in expectancy of an unknown evil, the track conveys that sensation of impending doom through sound in a way only GOATWHORE can.
Check out "Chaos Arcane" at THIS LOCATION.
Vengeful Ascension will be available on CD, vinyl (in multiple limited color variations), and digital formats. Various preorder options are currently available at metalblade.com/goatwhore where you can also sample the record's title track.
Mixed by Chris Common (Tribulation, Pelican) and mastered by Maor Applebaum (Faith No More, Halford, Today Is The Day), the ten-track Vengeful Ascension is a sonic manifestation of war, chaos, desolation, and emotional conflict, seamlessly bridging twenty years of the band's signature brand of audio venom. While hardly a concept record in the traditional sense, Vengeful Ascension loosely revolves itself around Luciferian notions in title and spirit where the symbol of Lucifer serves not as a fiendish, all-destroying demon but rather an emancipator or guiding light. It's a theme of struggle and transcendence derived from John Milton's Paradise Lost epic and one that has appeared, whether directly or indirectly, within GOATWHORE works of the past.
GOATWHORE recently wrapping up a successful tour with labelmates Amon Amarth. The band will play the Fort Worth Metal Fest at the The Rail Club in Fort Worth, Texas this weekend before taking to the streets again for a near-three-week North American headlining journey from June 9th through July 1st. Support will be provided by Vancouver metallers, Anciients. See all confirmed dates below.
5/27-28/2017 Fort Worth Metal Fest @ The Rail Club - Fort Worth, TX
6/09/2017 The Rock Box - San Antonio, TX
6/10/2017 Backstage Lubbock Depot - Lubbock, TX
6/11/2017 Launchpad - Albuquerque, NM
6/12/2017 The Green Rom - Flagstaff, AZ
6/14/2017 Stork Club - Oakland, CA
6/15/2017 Old Nick's Pub - Eugene, OR
6/16/2017 Northwest Terror Fest @ Neumos - Seattle, WA
6/20/2017 Generator Cabaret - Prince George, BC
6/21/2017 Distortion - Calgary, AB
6/22/2017 Brixx Bar & Grill - Edmonton, AB
6/23/2017 Riddell Center - Regina, SK
6/24/2017 Windsor Hotel - Winnipeg, MB
6/25/2017 Triple Rock Social Club - Minneapolis, MN
6/26/2017 The Metal Grill - Cudahy, WI
6/27/2017 Frankies - Bryan, OH
6/29/2017 George's Majestic Lounge - Springdale, AR
6/30/2017 Vino's Brewpub - Little Rock, AR
7/01/2017 Maggie Meyers Irish Pub - Huntsville, AL
Once upon a time, CKY burned it all down, with a raucous, anarchic, hard rock sound soaked in the skate-punk culture that birthed them and a hard-partying lifestyle onstage and off that decimated relationships and reputations in its wake. Now, CKY rises from the ashes of the aftermath with The Phoenix, a bold mission statement that hoists the flag high for big, raw, authentic, earth shaking rock n’ roll, liberated from useless pretense.
CKY’s sonic rebirth sounds as incendiary, expansive, and groovy as the Joshua Tree desert where it was made, and as decadent and funky as the strip-club adjacent rehearsal room where the songs were jammed out into submission. Each song is a forceful meditation on what makes CKY so killer.
Chad I Ginsburg, the band’s guitarist and singer, steps into the frontman role with charisma, charm, and bravado, confidently delivering a diverse performance as he claims a position that was clearly rightfully his to own.
He’s joined in enduring partnership and musical and personal chemistry by fellow CKY cofounder, Jess Margera, the drummer whose extracurricular work in projects like The Company Band (with guys from Clutch and Fireball Ministry) expanded CKY’s horizons as much as Ginsburg’s solo work has as well. The duo returned to their primary project refreshed and reenergized, with bassist Matt Deis (ex-All That Remains), who first joined CKY in 2005.
Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Deftones have all personally invited CKY on tour, cementing a legacy as a hard-charging live act. CKY built a worldwide fanbase of dedicated acolytes, friends, and supporters, lovingly dubbed the CKY Alliance, with a broader group of musicians, athletes, and other creative types in the CKY family, both literally and figuratively.
Carver City (2009) debuted at #4 on the Hard Music charts. It was the second CKY album to debut in the Top 50 on the Billboard 200: An Answer Can Be Found (2005) hit #35 upon its release. But if anything, The Phoenix is a spiritual successor to CKY’s breakthrough, Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild (2002), with a hint of the appropriately titled debut, Volume 1 (1999).
“We’re grown adults now with an eagle-eye perspective on who we are, what we do, and how to do it right,” Ginsburg declares, with matter-of-fact certainty. “None of us are out there in the clouds. We’re pretty well-grounded people that have an honest perspective on where we’re at.”
And where they are at is with a career-defining album that reshapes the brightest spots of CKY’s past while charging forward into a bright, self-assured future. “We made sure that we went into the studio with our guns blazing,” Margera says. “This isn’t a bunch of parts thrown together. We focused on the songs. We didn’t ‘have to’ make this album, we wanted to.”
In keeping with CKY tradition, The Phoenix was recorded at the famed Rancho De La Luna studio in California, which has played host to Daniel Lanois, Queens Of The Stone Age, Victoria Williams, Fu Manchu, and Mark Lanegan, among others. The studio was founded by David Catching, touring guitarist for Eagles Of Death Metal (among many credits), and late “desert sound” visionary Fred Drake.
“It’s one thing reading about the vibe at Rancho,” Margera says of the locale where the notoriously cool 1997 collaborative musical collective series known as The Desert Sessions took place. “And then it’s another thing to actually go out there and make an album. You’re like, ‘Ok, I get it.’”
“It’s the center of something out there,” Ginsburg agrees. “There’s a magnetic pull or something that lands directly in Dave’s backyard. I was just relaxed, waking up in the morning and getting right into the music.”
The goal was to make an authentic, organic, and “real” rock n’ roll record, uncompromising in its dedication to capturing what CKY actually sounds like playing in a room together, experienced at that gut-wrenching level of artistic intensity and swinging groove. As Margera explains: “Listen to a Zeppelin or Pink Floyd song and put that up against the copy/paste albums that are just snapped into a ‘grid,’ or whatever. There’s no comparison.”
The Phoenix touches on anger, revenge, good versus evil, desperation, recovery, growth, knowledge, survival, enemies, friends, and more. There’s heavy, dark, signature CKY grooves, “fun shit,” “fancy shit,” driving and almost danceable stuff, big melodies, total ear candy, immense diversity… There are even parts that sound like maybe Quincy Jones was given the keys to Rancho De La Luna and just ran amok with the dudes in CKY.
The totality of the CKY experience is perhaps best summarized by a quote from enigmatic comic book legend, author, and self-proclaimed magician, Alan Moore. “My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky.”
Margera observes that it was “a perfect storm of events” that led to CKY becoming a pretty popular name. “When it’s happening, you’re not paying attention. But once you get a couple of years under your belt, you realize, ‘Holy shit, man. That was lucky as hell that happened to us!’, ya’ know?”
“We’re feeling rather lucky,” Ginsburg agrees. “We’re not taking things for granted. We’re saturated in gratitude. It’s an incredibly humbled CKY, with a fire to last another twenty years. The point is to go play rock n’ roll and appreciate everybody else who does it, too. It’s a lucky job to have.”
Chad I Ginsburg – Vocals/Guitar/Synths
Jess Margera – Drums
Matt Deis – Bass/Synths/Backing Vocals
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM