There must be something in the desert water. I'm not talking pesticides or Valley Fever -- I'll leave the exposé side to the news section. I'm talking heavy metal.
But I'm okay with it.
Arizona's richly diverse, collaborative heavy metal scene involves support from thousands of fans and musicians. It makes me happy I'm drinking the Kool-Aid, whatever metals might be in it. It's helped evolve some pretty masterful metalheads, from Jason Newsted to Maynard James Keenan to Dave Ellefson. Oh, and lest we forget, the talented Cavalera family. Metal icon Max Cavalera (ex-Sepultura, ex-Nailbomb, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer be Killed) has a spawned a whole heavy metal-lovin' family. One of his sons, Richie Cavalera, fronts modern metal thrash act Incite, which just released its third album, Up In Hell, on September 2. And it's freaking solid.
Produced by Matt Hyde (Deftones, Slayer, Hatebreed, Parkway Drive), the album Up In Hell really incites a new meaning to Arizona metal being hot as hell.
"Hyde pushed in ways that we had never thought were possible. We would all sit down and talk about parts of the songs and come up with the best solution of how we wanted it to come across," says Cavalera. "He's real patient, picky and by the book. We really wanted somebody critical of every song."
Incite is one of those local bands that is rising to metal industry flagpole. Comprised of Richie Cavalera (vocals), Derek Lennon Lopez (drums), Kevin "Dis" McAllister (guitar), Christopher "El" Canella (Bass) and Dru "Tang" Rome (guitar), Incite has reached Top 40 status on Sirius Metal Charts and Liquid Metal's the Devil's Dozen with tracks from their past two albums The Slaughter and All Out War. Revolver named 2012's All Out War an "Album of the Week."
Up in Hell is an impressive release, and I gotta say if you're a sucker for double bass you're really going to be a fan.
"Our new drummer has been with the band for about two years now and is a whole new beast. He brings a different level to this record," says Richie Cavalera. "We went to Ryan Greene's studio in California and he brought a drum kit from Primus which was awesome. Lennon went in there and just killed it. The whole experience ... I hadn't been a part of something that big. It helped us make a great record."
Cavalera is no stranger to witnessing the production of great music, however. As Max Cavalera's son, the influence of music in his life is substantial.
"Just sitting and watching someone like Max on a daily basis, from the early '90s to now. He's always been a crowd-worker," comments Cavalera. "He knows how to hold them in the hand and walk through an entire show with them. It's amazing to see. I think him bringing me up on stage at a young age really brought forth my frontman abilities."
The title track on "Up In Hell" is a wicked introduction to the album, with extremely tight instrumental lead-in and roaring vocals laced right in. "Rightful Spot" features Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats, and "Rise to Greatness" is one of Richie's personal favorite tracks.
"It's about overcoming challenges and feeling down a lot of the time and you know, in the end you just gotta stay at your goals and what you want to accomplish," explains Cavalera. "That song hits home for me."
In Cavalera's opinion, home is very important for him.
"Arizona has amazing fans. People are always out for shows. You never go to [Arizona] and have a bad pit or a bad crowd. [Arizona] is always bringing it for everything whether it's the biggest band or smallest band. There's a lot of bands out in Arizona that have been playing a long time and pushing their names out there."
And now through fall seems to be a prime time for local metal. Or at least it appears that way, with about a dozen album releases coming our way.
Depraved Heretic released their album Absolution in late August, and their blackened death metal has been on my stereo more than once since then. I reminisce about Morbid Angel meets Emperor when I hear their music. Other August releases include Sorxe and T.O.A.D. (Take Over and Destroy), the latter of which are self-described as "An American rock 'n' roll band from the 1970s trapped inside a Scandinavian metal band from the 1990s." Their release Vacant Face is a great testimony to that mantra. The title track is a slow upheaval of atmospheric instrumentals, catchy trailing guitar and powerful vocals.
One of my favorite desert sludge metal acts, Godhunter, is releasing a split LP called Ghosts that they did with California act Secrets Of The Sky on September 9. This band is one that has garnered a lot of respect in the local scene -- not just for the solid, gut-punching heavy metal, but for also being huge supporters of other bands on the Arizona metal scene.
Lago, another one of my favorite bands, released an exclusive track to MetalSucks in late August, the title track "The Tyranny of Men" from their debut album, Tyranny, which is out on September 16. For me, this album is an ideal mixture of old-school death metal, artful brutality and eclectic pacing. Head to their release party on September 20 at Tempe Tavern to see them alongside Sorrower, Meathook, Deadspawn and more. It's free, so there's really no excuse.
Experimental deathcore band Virulent is releasing their second album Empire and on September 27 are throwing a release show at Club Red. Pelvic Meatloaf, Howitzer, Killing Spree and N.M.E. are playing at the show as well. Singularity is releasing a debut album on September 23. As a constant fixture on the AZ death metal circuit, needless to say I'm excited to hear some new work from the extreme metal act. And certainly not least or lastly (this list doesn't comprise all of the new metal releases this fall), hard rock/metal act Some Call Us Heroes is putting out their debut EP Destinations on September 19, with a release party at Joe's Grotto on the same day. I'm pumped for this music, because it's with former members of Laconic, Butcher Jones, Sixstitch and Depswa.
So it seems that even as the weather cools, the local metal scene is still hot as hell.
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