Record review: All That Remains – The Order of Things (2015, LP)

all that remains

Springfield, Massachusetts rockers All That Remains have been plying their trade for nigh on 15 years, and with over a million record sales and fingers in the pies of death metal, heavy metal and metalcore, the quintet have plenty to draw on for album number seven. However, the follow up to 2012’s A War You Cannot Win still manages to fall flat. Singer Phil Labonte has courted controversy in the past, but he’s in a more reflective mood here, albeit set to a series of tunes that, if listed in order, could almost write this review by themselves. ‘This Probably Won’t End Well’, ‘Pernicious’ and ‘Bite My Tongue’ describe the feelings these tunes produce at various points. “We have to get through this,” Labonte sings on gentler number ‘For You’, in a moment that makes a whole lot of sense, while he pleads “Don’t give up on me now” on ‘A Reason For Me To Fight’. Brooding closer ‘Criticism and Self-Realisation’ is all about “finding the strength to carry on” through a difficult seven minutes, and rounds off an overly bland and generic set of tracks. Founding guitarist Oli Herbert pulls off some nice melodic licks and drummer Jason Costa is a powerhouse throughout, but take these things away and all that remains is a firm feeling that this album is one for the hardcore fans only. (Cooking Vinyl)

For mX

Interview: Chris Jericho of Fozzy

fozzy band

AS a former professional wrestler, Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho is used to talking big, but this time he really means it when he says new album Do You Wanna Start A War is the best of his band’s 15-year career. The metallers’ sixth album is due for release on July 25th, and Jericho has high hopes.

Your album’s about to come out. How are you feeling?

It’s always a cool time for you guys or for fans, but when you’re in the band and recording it, you hear the songs over and over and over again. From the writing stage to demo stage to tracking stage to editing stage to re-tracking to listening to putting the track list together and everything, we’ve heard the record hundreds of times. We think it’s the best record we’ve ever done. Now, a lot of bands say that and this is the way you should feel, but it’s always, shall we say, intimidating to wait and see what does everybody else thinks, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now. It’s a cool time to be at, because you make records for yourself and we did the best record that we think feels best for us. Hopefully people agree.

Why was ‘Lights Go Out’ chosen as the first single?

It’s one of the best songs on the record, has a great hook and is a little bit different. It has a little bit of a dance vibe to it. If Fall Out Boy and Black Sabbath had a bastard child, it would sound like ‘Lights Go Out’. You could hear it at a strip club and you could hear it at a Slayer concert and anywhere in between. The reason why it fits perfectly for us is that it’s still dark, but it’s got a groove that’s sexy and sleek. It’s a really cool song that we thought was one of the stand-outs. We wanted to start this record – even though it’s an old-school record like [Def Leppard’s]Hysteria or Appetite For Destruction, where there’s five or six singles on it, we wanted to start off with something a bit different, so when people hear it they go ‘wow, I never expected that from Fozzy’ or ‘we never knew Fozzy sounded like that’. It’s a song that opens doors, because it’s going to appeal to long-term fans and it’s going to make a whole lot of new fans, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.

How has the new material been going down live?

We’ve been playing ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ and ‘Lights Go Out’. ‘Lights’ is making tracks on radio and we’ve been opening our sets with ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’; a song that people have never heard before. That’s always an interesting concept, but we can see people slowly getting into it because it’s such a hooky, catchy song and by the second or third chorus they’re singing it and they know it. I’m really excited to hear what people think when they hear the song for real; not just on a grainy, scratchy YouTube clip or just from experiencing it in the moment live. People might like it even better than ‘Lights Go Out’.

In a recent interview you said Fozzy have been playing both big arenas and small club shows. Do you have a preference?

It’s always been the way for us. Our motto is “10 or 10,000”; we play the exact same show whether there’s ten people there or whether there’s 10,000 people there. Any band will tell you this; it doesn’t matter if it’s Avenged Sevenfold or the local pub band playing across the street from you right now. Sometimes crowds are loud and crazy and sometimes they’re not, and it doesn’t matter. You have to be able to go with the flow, work that crowd and get them into it as much as you possibly can. Some nights you play in front of bigger crowds and some nights it’s smaller crowds; it doesn’t matter. You should never punish the people who’ve showed up. They’ve paid their money no matter if there were thousands or dozens of others with them. You can’t phone in a show, because every show matters, and we’re in the big leagues now.

Are you keen to throw your hat into the ring for Soundwave next year?

We’d love to play Soundwave. We played Soundwave in 2013 and it was one of the best tours of our career. We had great crowds; we were one of destination go-to bands every day. It was funny, because I always pay attention to what the crowd is like before you played and what the crowd is like after you played. It was very interesting, because although we were on early, you could tell people were coming to check us out because the band before had not a lot of people, then we played and there was six, seven, eight thousand people. In Sydney, eight thousand people came to see us and then I’d go out 20 or 30 minutes later, and the next band was playing in front of dozens of people. That’s when I started to realise we’re a destination band; people would come to see Fozzy and then go on to the next band. When you get that sort of reputation and response, you know you’re making headway. We’d love to do Soundwave again; hopefully it works out. If it doesn’t, we’ll come back in another capacity, because Australia has always been a great country for us. We’ve been touring there since 2005, and you can just see how the band has been growing and evolving every single tour, to the point where we toured Australia twice last year. I’d say that’s a pretty rare thing, to be able to do that. I love Australia; it’s a great rock and roll country, it has great fans, beautiful girls, awesome food. What more could you want? Book me now man; I’ll come play at your house.

You’ve had a few line-up changes over the years, but what makes the relationship between you and Rich Ward work so well?

It’s just chemistry and understanding. We’re lifers, man. We understand what it takes to make it. In all fairness, there were three of us who started; me, Rich and Frank Fontsere. Being in a partnership with two other guys for fifteen years is a pretty cool thing. Obviously everybody wishes they could be U2 or ZZ Top or Rush and have the same line-up their entire career, but everybody’s line-up changes. There was a time in the early ’90s where Iron Maiden had only two original members as well; Steve Harris and Dave Murray. And to this day they only have two. For us, the core unit is Ward, Jericho and Fontsere and it’s just one of those things. It’s like being in a marriage. If you’re going to make it in a long-term relationship you have to compromise and weather the good and the bad, and it’s the same as being in a band. It’s just that instead of being with one guy, you’re with two or three or four, and you don’t get to have sex with them, so there’s not even any fun in that respect either.

Will you be pretty much be touring for the rest of the year?

Yeah, just getting ready to release the record, getting ready to release the video and playing a bunch of radio festivals here in the States. Then we’ll start hitting the road in earnest, starting with the States and then heading overseas early next year. We did 17 countries last time, and I expect to beat that easily with this record.


For The AU Review

Live review: Steel Panther + Buckcherry + Fozzy – Riverstage, Brisbane – 6/12/13

It’s pitch black and the humidity is thick. I can’t see two metres in front of my face, and unseen creatures slither and skulk in the bushes and trees around me. Bewildered by the black summer night, I try to work out which way is best to go, and my eyes strain to pick out shapes of branches and hulking tree roots ahead of me. A sense of dark foreboding shakes my very soul, my ears prick up, and the hairs on my arms stand on end as a heavy rustling approaches from my right. As I tense up and close my eyes to await my fate at the hands/claws/teeth of unknown beasts, a nearby streetlight clicks on and the scene before me becomes clear. It’s a middle-aged guy with a mullet in a Steel Panther T-shirt taking a piss with one hand while slurping from a can of Jack Daniels and Coke with the other. Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens really needs to be better lit after dark.

After my heart rate has returned to normal and a quick set by the Chris Jericho-fronted Fozzy in front of a small but increasing crowd, Los Angeles hard rockers Buckcherry take to the stage. “We’re fucking jet-lagged but we’re here,” announces frontman Josh Todd, before using his fantastic rock ‘n’ roll voice in numbers like ‘Everything’, ‘Sorry’ (dedicated to “all the hot chicks on this continent”) and Icona Pop’s fucking horrible ‘I Love It’. A short blast of AC/DC’s Bon Scott-era ‘Big Balls’ is much more welcome despite an obvious lack of rehearsal on that particular number, as is some of The Rolling Stones’s ‘Miss You’ before the band’s own classic ‘Crazy Bitch’. It’s easy to see why they are often compared to classic hard rock bands like Aerosmith and Guns ‘N’ Roses; they are a classy, tight, straight-up rock band capable of playing big rock songs in style. And Todd’s shirtless abs seem to be a big hit with the ladies and probably a fair percentage of the blokes.

Once the stage is set and the lights are dimmed, it only takes someone backstage to hit the play button on Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To The Hills’ to get the majority of this audience frothing at the mouth for Steel Panther. After a short video of the band playing ‘strip battleship’ backstage, the spandex-clad quartet appear and kick into ‘Eyes of a Panther’.

Now, it’s no secret that Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxx and Stix Zadinia (as they call themselves) can really play, as all four members are seasoned musicians and have been parts of various ‘genuine’ metal and rock bands going back decades. In many ways they are more successful than the bands they are taking off, and while some of their music and on-stage banter at first appears to be fun, it’s only when you realise that there’s a large amount of people in this audience taking this shit seriously that things get uncomfortable.

By third song ‘Asian Hooker’, the act is no longer funny. In fact, it’s just plain fucking boring. Steel Panther are often compared to original rock piss-takers Spinal Tap, but the thing about Spinal Tap is that their jokes were well-constructed and smart, and the laugh was always on them. A Steel Panther set is basically the same two or three dick jokes repeated with increasing levels of crudeness, punctuated with calls to the most brazen girls in the crowd to “show us your vagina”. You’d need to be a brain-dead moron to continue to find this shit funny for an hour and a half. Add overt sexism, jokes about paedophilia, and clear racism, and you have one of the low points of live music this reviewer has witnessed this year. Slagging off the likes of Hoobastank and the Goo Goo Dolls I welcome with open arms, but for fuck sake, this band needs to get some new material in the banter department. New songs from their upcoming album like ‘Gloryhole’ and ‘Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World’ suggest that the themes won’t be changing any time soon.

It’d be fair to ask what the fuck did I expect from a Steel Panther show exactly. The answer would be that the band be far less enthusiastic about the darker parts of their act, and much more satirical with their comedy, instead of relying on the lowest common denominator with which to get laughs. Also, not to be so bored and underwhelmed by long stretches of the so-called ‘banter’, which seemed to exist solely to fill time in many instances. It’s telling to see that the majority of the audience laughing so hard are white males with beer guts, with a large amount of them probably old enough to have seen Motley Crue in their heyday.

After pulling a group of girls out of the crowd and encouraging them to flash their chests at the audience, the band is forced to cut their encore-free set short by the strict 10pm curfew at the Riverstage. ‘Death To All But Metal’ is a strong song on which to finish, but as I make for the exit gates, the crowd bellows “bullshit, bullshit” to a by-now empty stage, and behind my pained expression I’m thinking that I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Record review: Sexy/Heavy – Battlesushi (2013 LP)

Man, there’s some seriously good hard rock coming out of Melbourne at the moment. The likes of Clowns and The Bennies have been leading the charge of a new wave of high-octane riff-bashing guitar bands, and now Sexy/Heavy are bringing something altogether more sludgy to the table. Dirty, low down riffs and ominously brooding lyrics are the name of the game on this nine-track debut album, with singer-guitarist Logan Jeff’s industrial riffs being underpinned throughout by the crunching bass-lines of Ross Walker. The always-excellent Shihad sticksman and producer Tom Larkin laid down the drum tracks for the album, and the sound undoubtedly benefits from his hard-hitting method of attacking the skins. From the opening guitar lines of first track ‘The Task at Hand’ it’s clear that subtlety doesn’t feature much in Sexy/Heavy’s music; instead, these are all-out, sweaty and downright nasty tunes to jump around to. The title track is the highlight; its suspenseful, slow-burning opening explodes into life half way through, while the interestingly named ‘Testibreasticles’ is much more dark and ominous. There’s an unmistakable whiff of ’80s metal throughout, as well as the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails, and fans of those bands will find lots to like here. If we discreetly ignore the fact their roots are in New Zealand and not actually Melbourne, we can enjoy a fine new addition to Australian rock and metal music that begs to be played LOUD. (Independent)