Review: The Famine – The Architects Of Guilt

“The New Hell” opens with amazingly great riffing and machine gun drumming. I am loving this vocalist. He has a good transition from highs to lows. This riff is amazing. Catchy, melodic and very easily memorable. This band is not playing around. Everything is very tight and synchronized. Very catchy chorus as well. This is a great way to open an album. A sample comes in toward the end of the track bringing it to a close. “Ad Mortem” opens with a blistering riff and killer blast beats. This band is wasting no time in getting to the brutality. This vocalist is great. His voice is brutal and evil, but you can understand every word he says. This is a great combination that is often hard to pull off. A nice chugging breakdown begins close to the 2:00 mark. A nice lead guitar play around it. Another great track. “We Are The Wolves” again begins in all out brutality. This is a band that gets right to the point with no fucking around necessary. I like the vocal pattern on this track. The drumming accents it very well. Everything is very fluid. A nicely executed solo comes in around the 2:00 mark. It stands out kind of awkward with the drumming pattern, but not all it lost, as the menacing vocalist brings everything back around. repetitive screaming of “We Are The Wolves” closes the track. “Turner Classic Diaries” opens with yet another brutal-as-fuck riff. This track isn’t as melodic as it’s predecessors. This song is straight to the point without the need of catchy riffing. This is a full on moshing track. I can picture a crowd beating the shit out of one another to this track. This track contains a lot of start-stop riffing and structure. I don’t see this track being as memorable as those that preceded it. The chugging section towards the end of the track with the solo is possibly my favorite part of this track. “Bigger Cages, Longer Chains!” opens with a very catchy riff. This is back to the formula from the beginning of the album. This track isn’t as fast as I expected, though. It’s still heavy and punishing, but set to a slower tempo. I am actually really digging this. The vocals are perfectly executed, the riffing is superb and the drumming is otherworldly. This is by far my favorite track thus far. “The Crown and The Holy See” opens with an amazing lead guitar riff. This track is fucking unbelievable. I am loving this 100%. Melodic, fast, heavy. This is great. I retract my previous statement. This is my favorite track. This track is very bass heavy, which is also a plus for me, as I like a lot of bass. Variation of timing is also a good thing. Very well executed solo towards the end of the track top off this evil, heavy-as-fuck cake. Damn fine track. Damn fine. “VII The Fraudulent” opens with the vocalist screaming “liar, liar, liars!” before the actual band kicks in and the verse starts. Interesting. This song has a great tone and tempo. I like everything about this track as well. Nice melodic chugging riffs, complex and remarkable drumming patterns. Excruciatingly powerful vocals. Mix this all up in a bowl and you have yet another great track by The Famine. At times, sometimes only for a second or two in a song, this band reminds me of Whitechapel. “A Pavement of Good Intentions” opens with a nicely done riff. Sections of it seem to lean towards the tech death vein, but not quite hitting the nail on the head. Again, the vocal pattern is great on this track. I love the chugging sections of this track. This has kept my head nodding since the beginning of the track. This band is definitely no joke. They are here to kick ass and that is exactly what they are accomplishing. This band continues to keep me interested with “A Fragile Peace.” Utterly amazing. Melodic and very easily memorable, as are a vast majority of the tracks on this album. This track is in a running tie with “The Crown and The Holy See” for the best track on the album. This has agreat tone and vibe about it. The breakdown close to the end is interesting. Amazing. “Pyrithion House” opens with another unbelievable riff. The high-pitched screams on this seem to be more emotionally driven than on some previous tracks. This band seems to have a way about them of running a tight-knit operation and producing menacingly melodic, catchy songs. I absolutely love the guitar tone throughout this one. The drums are not chaotic and blasting. The double bass keeps a steady tempo which is very good if you’re headbanging. A nice drum section opens up “To The Teeth” which has an extremely doom laden thrash sound to it right off. The riff is one of the most memorable on the album. The entire mood shifts slightly towards a more brutal sound. The groove comes back around the 1:33 mark, though. When I say groove, I mean just that. This track has some serious grooving to it. This is absolutely amazing. I like the tempo changes. It keeps you on your toes about what to expect next. Fucking fantastic. I really like this album. The Famine did a terrific job on this. If you have never heard this band, look them up!

Rating: 8.5/10


Exclusive: Ben Read (The Mark of Man, 8 Foot Sativa) Interview

I learned about the band 8 Foot Sativa a few years ago, intrigued by the name alone. I listened and I liked what I heard. The vocals were strong and extremely well executed. Ben Read’s vocals are inspiring to me not only because I am a fan of his music, but I look up to him in my own personal musical projects. He has done a stint with Ulcerate and, as of last year, started another project known as The Mark of Man. Read on to learn a little about The Mark of Man, Ben’s time in Ulcerate and how the New Zealand metal scene was when Ben was starting out.

What is the main difference between The Mark of Man and 8 Foot Sativa?
8 Foot is a band who has an established sound and history, whereas The Mark of Man is an entirely new entity, forging a new sound and path for ourselves. The Mark of Man is very focused on exploring ethics and issues lyrically, and creating a new sound by drawing influences from different styles of metal.

From those bands, how different was it playing with Ulcerate?
Playing with Ulcerate was a very different experience for me, and especially different from playing in The Mark of Man. Ulcerate is very much a vision of Jamie Saint Merat and Micheal Hoggard, who have a very definitive vision on all aspects of Ulcerate. I was lucky enough in contribute to that vision for a couple of years, but like my time with 8 Foot Sativa, I guess it wasn’t so much MY band as I was part of someone else’s band. To me, that’s the really exciting thing about The Mark of Man – it is a band all 5 members have created together, with a shared vision and aesthetic. It is very rewarding to be able to create something from the ground up and decide where we take it.

The Mark of Man was formed because of Gary’s (8 Foots Sativa) injuries. I must have missed this. What kind of injuries did he sustain?
He has been suffering from what seems to be Carpal Tunnel for several years. As you can imagine, this was extremely difficult for him, as metal is a fairly taxing form of music in terms of playing. What it meant for the band was cancelling tours and shows, and very slow progress.

The Mark of Man’s debut album came out last year. I think it is amazing. How do you feel about it?
We are very happy with it. Everyone that contributed did a great job, and is a great looking and sounding album. It is however a very transitional album for us as a band. It marks a place in time for us which is between what we were with 8 Foot Sativa, and what we will become with The Mark of Man, if that makes sense. I truly feel that the next album will represent us wholly as a band, and define the sound of The Mark of Man.

Can you tell me a little about the album? Lyrical themes, recording process, etc.
Sure. There are different topics and themes explored in the lyrics. There are songs dealing with the exploitation of animals for mankind’s ‘benefit’, violent infliction of democracy (or is that demockracy?), the suicidal destruction of mother earth, the cowardice of child abuse, and then topics like living every day as a hypocrite and just trying to survive.

In terms of recording, it was a pretty drawn out process. Drums were tracked over 3 days at quite a lush studio, then we tracked guitars and bass over the next couple of weeks at Zorran’s (producer) studio. After that we track vocals over quite a few weekends at our practice space. From there is was mixed by Zorran and Christian (guitars), layers were added, and then it was sent to Sweden to be mastered by Peter in De Betou.

Are there any upcoming plans to tour?
Right now we are lying low and working on the next album. About half of it is written, but we want to take out time with it, to make sure everything is perfect, and there is zero filler. Already its shaping up to be amazing, and we all can’t wait to see it to fruition. In terms of the future, we are looking to Australia, and will no doubt be touring NZ again in the coming months.

How was the New Zealand metal scene when you were starting in music?
It was pretty thriving actually. The death/extreme metal scene was booming, with bands like Ulcerate, Dawn of Azazel, Forced to Submit, Greymalkin and the like. I have some very fond memories of some extremely brutal shows. At the same time the hardcore scene was also thriving, with bands like Promise of Bloodshed reigning supreme. It was a very fun time to be involved in music.

Exclusive: James Paul Luna (Holy Grail) Interview

I discovered a lot of amazing bands last year. One band, one that made my Top 10 albums of 2010, was Holy Grail. They are an amazing band and James is pretty much as cool of a cat as you can get. Read on to learn how Holy Grail started, that James is not a CD kind of guy and how he feels about the album.

Holy Grail on Metal Archives
Holy Grail on MySpace
Holy Grail on Facebook

Tell me how Holy Grail came to be.

Originally we started in the ashes of White Wizzard. Tyler, LaRue, and myself were looking for a band that wouldn’t limit us to strictly classic metal but also introduce thrash, speed, and death metal riffage as well. After months looking for a 2nd guitarist, we found that Eli Santana, an old friend of LaRue’s, was in LA. After one jam with Eli we knew he was the right choice.

A lot of people compare Holy Grail to White Wizzard. I don’t connect the dots exactly. How would you describe differences between the bands?
Well, in a nutshell White Wizzard is a classic metal revival band and Holy Grail is a modern metal band with classic influences.

You just finished up a tour with Blind Guardian. How did that go?
The tour was phenomenal. Great crowd response everynight. A whole bunch of new friends and fans, and we really got to learn tricks and lessons from guys that have been doing this for 20+ years.

The band released it’s debut LP, Crisis In Utopia, on Prosthetic last year. Personally, I loved it, as I’m sure you know from my review I sent you. How do you feel about the album?
I’m very proud of it and really happy it’s been received so well. Of course we’re our own worst critics and there’s parts here and there that I always think could be better but really they’re such minor things that I don’t think it matters in the big picture. Hopefully our next album will be even more close to perfection. But I understand that’s almost never possible for perfectionists.

Can you tell me about the writing and recording of the album? Some of the lyrical themes?

The album was a collaborative effort, each song came together in it’s own unique way. We took 3 songs from our early song list but the other 8 were all new penned by Eli, LaRue, and myself. The big change was adding Eli’s songwriting to the mix because he had joined at the time we were finishing up tracking our EP so we hadn’t got to experience that collaboration until now, And it was pretty amazing!

Lyrically, the album title and title track are specifically about post apocalyptic events in which the perfect Hollywood picture of Los Angeles gets destroyed by an otherworldly turn of events causing humanity to vanish off the face of the earth and new lifeforms are created from their remains. The other themes off this album are about life and dealing with negative people/ past bandmates/relationships trying to control us and keep us down.

Who or what are some of your personal influences?
For me it’s the classics: Gillan, Halford, Dio and Meine. These guys really inspired me to pursue heavy metal singing as my life goal.

Holy Grail pulls off a style of music that a lot of bands try and fail at. What is the secret behind Holy Grails new age traditional heavy metal sound?”
If I told you, I’d have to kill you Ross. Haha. But seriously, we don’t even think of it that way we just try to write the best songs possible within our means.

Tell me a little about the filming of the music video for “My Last Attack.”
That video was shot at one of our favorite little bars that hosts free metal shows in Hollywood. It’s about 200 person capacity and there’s not even a stage really. We wanted to make a really raw and live video so we played this unannounced show as a secret name but I guess the word got out fast ’cause everyone knew we’d be there. That was a great night and we got a killer video after it.

Did you listen to many albums in 2010? And if so, where there any that stood out to you?
The new Accept album was simply amazing. I also really liked the Witchgrave EP. Both Great releases!

When will writing begin for the next Holy Grail record?
We always write riffs and melodies here and there, but actual album material and complete songs probably won’t happen for a year or so. Once we really push this album to the max.

Speaking of records, what do you prefer, CDs or LPs?”
I download digital and collect LP’s. Not really a CD guy.

What is in store for Holy Grail in 2011?
Touring and spreading the word of the Grail across the globe!