Circle Six Magazine http://www.circlesixmagazine.com The Cult(ure) of Music Sat, 02 Apr 2016 00:10:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 New/Old Material http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2016/04/01/newold-material/ Sat, 02 Apr 2016 00:09:46 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4837
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Butch Walker at The Great American Music Hall http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2015/06/18/butch-walker-at-the-american-music-hall/ Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:06:58 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4824
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Paul Stamat
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Full Devil Jacket: Valley of Bones http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2015/02/28/full-devil-jacket-valley-of-bones/ Sat, 28 Feb 2015 18:50:39 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4814
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Paul Stamat
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Yesterday’s Saints “Generation of Vipers” http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2015/01/30/yesterdays-saints-generation-of-vipers/ Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:39:28 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4807
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COVER ARTWORK  FLAT 2I need to start this off by saying that Yesterday’s Saints “Generation of Vipers” is ambitious concept album to say the least.   It attempts to cover some of the most interesting stories found in the Bible and attempts to do this from the point of view of one of the greatest villains in literature – Lucifer Satan. This is a topic that some have spent years in seminary (or years of literary study for that matter) in order to understand and it’s still not without its controversy – even as an allegory. I say all of this to also point out that we haven’t even gotten to the part where people consider what’s inside the Bible as truth yet. However what Yesterday’s Saints is attempting to do in this particular concept album is ask the question (it seems) from an honest place. Who or what is Satan and more importantly does this, ultimately, make him a hero or a villain? That’s what makes this an interesting album to explore because it presents some tough questions for believers and nonbelievers alike. I wouldn’t consider it canon, but I like how it considers some of the Biblical mythology either found in other narratives from writers like Milton, who penned “Paradise Lost” or other texts as a jumping off point to begin this discussion. If nothing else, this is definitely an epic attempt to continue the narrative - even for metal. The album begins with the war in heaven where Lucifer is cast out of heaven. This part comes straight out of the book of Isaiah where Satan and a third of the angels are cast out of heaven in a battle that was the result, at least in part, from what is known as Lucifer’s five “I will” statements in which Lucifer declares the following, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” The band covers this and adds the idea that Satan not only desires to ascend, but to ascend with malice using the Latin “I am coming for you” as a lyrical cry for war. When you dig deeper, the idea of what causes the fall of a third of the angels is a fascinating story to say the least and lead vocalist/lyricist Matt Rice begs us to do our own research on this too (which I have). Trust me when I say that the story is much more complicated than even this Yesterday’s Saints album can capture in three acts though I applaud their efforts just the same. If you like melodic doom metal, act one (and the rest of the album) is a sonic treat and takes us on a ride down the rabbit hole that even gives a slight nod to a similar concept-like album effort by Venom back in the eighties. Act II is where the album takes a few liberties that aren’t exactly biblical in origin, but fascinating in its attempt to explain that the origin of Satan’s seed may have come from a union between Eve and Satan resulting in Cain. In case you’ve ever wondered where this idea comes from, it was taken in part from the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, which first appears around the 3rd Century AD and the idea is also presented in Jewish Midrashic texts much later. Regardless of what you might think you know about this topic, this is the leaping off point and Rice suggests that being Satan’s seed might be why Cain’s temperament and ambitions as some of the reasons why he would kill his brother. Regardless, some of these acts would lead to why he is banished into the wasteland by God. It certainly isn’t word for word what’s presented in the books of Genesis (or even the Biblically endorsed books of Enoch, The Book of Jubilees or The Book of Jasher) but it’s worth exploring – if only to understand how to follow the narrative of this particular album into Act III. After all, where would the seed come from, how would they survive and why does this even matter? Act III is by far the most intriguing part about this album. Act III explores not just how evil survives, but how that seed (of evil) has survived throughout history. Act III does jump around and assumes the previous logic of how Satan’s seed survives the flood by possessing serpents and surviving the flood by hiding in the earth. It even presumes that seed is recognizable as John the Baptist calls them out by name as “vipers.”   Satan also survives in literature and as Rice also asserts in the hearts and minds of figures in history from Templars, Kings (Vlad the Impaler) and seers (like Nostradamus). Apparently Rice suggests that all of this resonates as man continues to dream about ascension into the heavens.   Thematically and eerily similar to Lucifer’s original declaration of his five I wills. “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” It might be Rice’s theory that Mankind continues to dream Lucifer’s dream even today.  I would say the ideas in this album are worth exploring and even worth a listen. After all, it might be a good way to begin the discussion about God, the Devil and Mankind and how those ideas might still be relevant in the modern era. By

Paul Stamat

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A Night with Atreyu http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2014/12/22/a-night-with-atreyu/ Tue, 23 Dec 2014 01:19:16 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4761
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st performance where they covered their album “The Curse” in its entirety. I still remember when “The Curse” was first released and the band had made an in store appearance at the Virgin Megastore (now closed) at The Block in Orange, CA. The line of fans, back then, went through the Megastore and out the door. The paradigm of music consumption since then has not just shifted to online retailers and digital downloads, but you’re hard pressed to find brick and mortar retailers that specialize in music at all (maybe a few are left like Rasputin or Amoeba off the top of my head). However, long gone are the record stores of the past. So if things have changed, they’ve changed in this way: music itself is no longer the commodity that it once was, but the bands themselves still are. Atreyu’s second show was full of people, including myself, that had had made Mecca-like treks to see them (some as many as twenty times by their own accounts). Which brings me to the point of this concert and why people who go to live events or make these kinds of sacrifices. The act itself is a part of what separates those that go for the music and those that casually say that they like music. There’s a world of difference. Fans of Atreyu will attest that they will walk to the ends of the earth for a full contact experience that only a live show can bring. Not only did the concert feature an assortment of old songs and their new one (“So Others May Live”), but it served as a reminder that music going experience transcends what you might hear on your iPod. Music speaks to us profoundly, but you truly never know what you’re going to get from the moment the band walks on stage to the moment the drummer tosses his last stick into the audience. At the Observatory, the Atreyu fans were united with their hometown sons singing (and even at times crying) in unison through much of the night. It was a blazing wall of sound proving that if you can’t go home again, you haven’t spoken to Atreyu (or me) about it. I was left with this impression as the concert ended and fans were screaming for “one-more-song” mixed with a chorus of “A-trey-u’s” that they were given more than a show as the band tossed out an assortment of guitar picks, set lists and drum sticks. These were the kinds of things you can’t get from a download. It served as a reminder that in order for the bands that aren’t backed by corporate entities that serve us Beyonce and Jay-Z on an American Idol platter that the fans need to keep these things in mind or bands like Atreyu will also go the way of Virgin Megastores as well. Yes, the world is a different place, but if you support your music like the treasure it is there is no way that bands like Atreyu (and many others) will go out quietly. Just something to think about as we enter 2015 - we are the culture of music. By

Paul Stamat

[See image gallery at www.circlesixmagazine.com]
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In This Moment Live at the Filmore http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2014/12/18/in-this-moment-live-at-the-filmore/ Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:10:55 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4694
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here. On to the show: The live show borrows many of its basic elements from the likes of Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. In This Moment has taken these lessons to the next level of entertainment, as a friend coined the phrase, and what I’ll also call it “Industrial Cabaret.” If the show features Maria Brink in a variety of roles from Black Widow to Sex Metal Barbie – they are able to do things that neither Cooper nor Manson ever could – they are able to embrace frailty and sentimentality normally associated as being disadvantages for females and turn them into strengths. This brings me to something else that I noticed, though, that I found interesting. These points are exactly why their fans embrace them. This isn’t just the Maria Brink show. They are a really good band. Maybe brilliantly understated, at times, but Chris Howorth and company are solid musicians who know what they are doing.  If you haven’t seen them yet, you should. I will wager that it won’t be long, all things being equal, that they turn into the next Def Lepard or Bon Jovi. Then again if Chris and Maria have anything to say about it, maybe they won’t. By

Paul Stamat

[See image gallery at www.circlesixmagazine.com]
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In Flames/Opeth with Red Fang http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2014/12/10/in-flamesopeth-with-red-fang/ Thu, 11 Dec 2014 05:54:09 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4670
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Red Fang This was my first opportunity to witness Red Fang in concert and I wasn't sure what to expect.  Based out of Oregon, Red Fang, was a solid compliment to In Flames and Opeth on this tour.  If you aren't familiar with Red Fang, you really should check out "Prehistoric Dog" on YouTube, it's one of the funnier videos I've seen in quite some time. [See image gallery at www.circlesixmagazine.com]  

In Flames

I felt like In Flames kind of stole the night.  In Flames has gone through it's share of changes over the years and they have long since said goodbye to their melodic death metal days in favor of a more alternative metal core-ish sound. I may be a bigger fan of their latter music, having missed their earlier work entirely the first time around.  The show at the Warfield was, as expected, a high energy show that did not disappoint.  While they joked about the danceability of their songs and about the crappy quality of cellphone videos that would later end up on YouTube (a tongue and cheek commentary on those that forget they are at a live show).  In any case, even given the banter, they were very aware of the selfie culture of today's fans even inviting one to record the show from the stage. [See image gallery at www.circlesixmagazine.com] In Flames Set List In Plain View Everything's Gone Trigger Cloud Connected Delight and Angers Paralyzed Through Oblivion Only for the Weak With Eyes Wide Open Where the Dead Ships Dwell Rusted Nail The Quiet Place Ropes The Mirror's Truth Take This Life

Opeth

Opeth, to this day, is a bit of an enigma.  While they also share some of the same roots as fellow Sweedish band, In Flames, Opeth has not so much abandoned their death metal roots as they have embraced doing whatever they want.  For fans, this means their concert can be a hodgepodge of everything from their early music, growls and all, to their current stylings on Pale Communion which is definitely more progressive in nature.  By their own admission, they aren't much to look at, however musically they are something to behold.  I can't think of too many bands out there other than the two covered here that can change so drastically and keep the core of their fans at the same time - whatever that means, few have the balls to try something really new the way that Opeth has and survive.  If the lines outside the Warfield in San Francisco were any indication at all, Opeth has done just that and more including closing with their 13 minute classic "Deliverance." [See image gallery at www.circlesixmagazine.com] Opeth Set List Eternal Rains Will Come Cusp of Eternity The Drapery Falls The Moor Windowpane The Lotus Eater Deliverance By

Paul Stamat

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In This Moment: Black Widow http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2014/12/02/in-this-moment-black-widow/ Wed, 03 Dec 2014 06:03:55 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4578
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bundle1-mobI’m going to just put this out there for those who don’t like to read reviews about the “genius of rock stars” – In This Moment’s latest album, “Black Widow” might be the best album released by anyone in 2014. I know what you’re thinking, you’re either thinking, “No way, ‘Blood’ was a far superior record and thematically very similar” or you’re thinking, “Who the hell is ‘In This Moment’?” To the first group, Blood is a very similarly themed album, true – but ultimately a very different album for reasons I will get into later. For the second group, the ones that still don’t know who In This Moment is, to steal a phrase from a friend, they are the group that sounds like what Marilyn Manson would have sounded like if he were still good. Black Widow is their fourth album with producer Kevin Churko and it’s a masterpiece. In fact, this is the best story I’ve heard since Dream Theater released Scenes from a Memory in 1999. This album, ultimately, is cautionary tale of the Black Widow and takes us on a journey of a true anti-hero who comes from broken and humble beginnings and covers a life of poor decisions, bad luck and feelings of worthlessness until finally finding meaning through her trials and tribulations. The album embraces the uncomfortable realities shared by far too many women these days. Yet through it all Black Widow is an infectious and enticing ride from beginning to end exchanging some of Maria Brink’s trademark screaming for deliberate melody and story telling. That’s not say it’s without its heavy and driving music reminiscent of what their fans have come to know and love, but the band seems hell bent on taking aim at the mainstream (or what might be fringe listeners) with the kind of macabre appeal that dare I say might even be danceable at times. Ultimately the Black Widow is used as a metaphor. But to say that the album is simply a metaphor would be selling the story short. While the album might be one part cautionary tale, it is also a story about the rise and fall (and rise again) of anyone that had to find their own way out of their own private hells – whatever they might be – and finding beauty in the struggles that many of us face. It is the struggle of the Black Widow is that thing that makes this album perfect. This brings me back to the idea of reoccurring themes that In This Moment tried to cover in the past like on the album “Blood,” for instance. The fact of the matter is that the themes were simply better this time around. While Blood is at times vulgar, Black Widow finds a more elegant approach and instead of simply dangling words and snapshots of the ugly side of humanity, Black Widow is a journey that finds redemption in the struggle. It’s this story, the story of finally climbing out of hell that leaves the listener breathless. In the end this album is full of the kind of empathy and hope that is a reflection upon our own personal struggles making the statement that we are not as lonely as we might think. Black Widow is a must listen. In fact, if you only buy one album in 2014, this is the one no matter what your musical taste. Any album that tells a compelling story with catchy tunes is one thing but add to it one that runs the gamut of the entirety of the human experience in an open and honest way is something that we should stop and examine if only to better understand what it is to be human. In that end, these are ideas that make us all beautiful. If nothing else, this album is an attempt to place the mirror up to the audience in order to show us something common within all of us in order to help us, to quote the album’s final song, “Out of hell.” By

Paul Stamat

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Emigrate: “Silent So Long” http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2014/11/18/emigrate-silent-so-long/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 19:07:04 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4564
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Photo_Silent+So_300CMYK“Silent So Long,” is the 2nd album released by Rammstein’s guitarist Richard Kruspe, under the Emigrate moniker. It’s a follow up to the 2007 self-titled debut Emigrate and begs the question; there was a first album? I will say, right off the bat, that “Silent So Long” is fantastic, especially for those that love that driving and haunting industrial metal reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson and, of course, Rammstein. This is a good addition to Kruspe’s already illustrious career except that this album is in English. The album features notable appearances by Motörhead’s very own Lemmy Kilmister, Korn’s Jonathan Davis and several others. This album feels like a kick to the head and a welcomed one at that. While I can appreciate such an eclectic group, I do feel that Lemmy struggles to find a home on this album feeling more like a Motorhead tune than anything else featured on “Silent So Long.” That being said, I’m not sure I can fault Kruspe for the addition. While the song begins awkwardly, it finishes strong (and it is Lemmy after all) so what are you going to do? If anything, Richard Kruspe isn’t afraid of keeping the listener a little off balance by making the first three tracks so front heavy with the aforementioned guest artists. However by the time we enter the song “Hypothetical” we are completely immersed into what makes Emigrate, musically, such a good ride from start to finish. Once we pass “Hypothetical” the album rides a few different thematic lines while staying very true to itself and the intent seems very solid through "Faust." Ending on the album’s title track “Silent So Long” with Korn’s Jonathan Davis is a marriage that is the perfect bookend to the guest heavy beginning and possibly the strongest song on the album besides “Hypothetical” in my opinion. “Silent So Long” is a haunting anthem that stays with you just long enough make you wish the album had one or two more songs on it. The album is a solid and enjoyable tryst into realms that may not have cycled into your musical rotation for quite a while. I know that I have ignored these genres recently.  In any case, Emigrate's latest definitely takes me to a place where I want to go back and explore several other albums including some from the ghosts of Rammstein's past – but maybe only after I give Emigrate’s newest a few more listens.  (The album drops December 9th.  Be sure to grab your copy when it does.) By Paul Stamat
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Tourniquet’s Ted Kirkpatrick: “Onward to Freedom” http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/2014/11/13/4555/ Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:43:50 +0000 http://www.circlesixmagazine.com/?p=4555
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coverTourniquet’s Ted Kirkpatrick's "Onward to Freedom" is an interesting PETA friendly concept album. This isn’t a new thing for Ted Kirkpatrick who has been known to release a song or two in the past talking about his stance against animal testing in general and vegetarian lifestyle. That being said how does this album stand compared to the nearly impossible to pronounce and medically laden titles of albums past? It’s a solid effort, though schizophrenic sonically (the album can’t be categorized as one flavor of metal). As a mixed bag, Onward to Freedom, features some of the most recognizable singers in rock. Kicking off with Stryper’s Michael Sweet, the tracks bleed right into a gritty screaming tune featuring metalcore styling Mattie Mongomery from the band For Today to Gabbie Rae to Dug Pinnick (King’s X). If that sounds like a lot to digest, I have yet to cover Rex Carrol, Tony Palacios and the rest of the musicians involved on this project and what they too added to the mix. It’s quite a list to be sure. It’s a lot to digest and I would argue that it takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate. If there’s a through line, beyond the message for animal rights, it is getting such an eclectic group together in support of Kirkpatrick’s vision at all. Listening to “Onward to Freedom” features as much Kirkpatrick and company’s ability to play almost anything from Classical to the heaviest of metal, but also showcases their ability to forge through this literal kaleidoscope of sound quite well – surprisingly well when you consider that in the end that this is still vintage Tourniquet – a band that has been known to explore and feature its fare share of genre changes over the years. Caveat, this album isn’t for everyone. Musical schizophrenia treads the line of a compilation album as much as it does showcase the best of musical abilities. That being said, this album is a good listen and should be given a chance especially for those that have witnessed and have stuck around with the likes of Kirkpartick (and Tourniquet) through its fair share of lineup changes since the days of "Psycho Surgery." Onward to Freedom truly does stampede its way into surprisingly interesting musical territory. I would argue it might also be the one album that doesn’t require the need of Grays Anatomy to fully get. All you need is a soul and an open mind. By Paul Stamat
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