VENUE: ArchFront Media Presents:
Spineshank, The AGONIST, Vampire Mooose
MUREAU, Slumber Amidst Decay
3108 Locust St.
St. Louis, MO, 63103
Doors 7:00PM / Show 7:30PM
Spineshank is an American industrial rock/metal band.
Began in February of 1996, rising from the ashes of a previous band, Basic Enigma (which included future Spineshank members Jonny Santos on vocals, Mike Sarkisyan on guitars, and Tom Decker on drums). Basic Enigma broke up upon hearing Demanufacture, the 1995 release by electro-metallists Fear Factory, but soon reformed with a different sound and moniker, and a new bassist (Robert Garcia).
The band soon befriended Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares, who upon hearing their demo, offered the new band to open a show for F.F. at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles. This led to other coveted opening slots (with such popular acts as Coal Chamber, Snot, Soulfly, Sepultura and Danzig, among others), and label interest, with Roadrunner eventually signing the band. Their debut, Strictly Diesel, was released in September of 1998, and featured yet another tie-in with their favorite band, Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell sings on the track Stain. The Height of Callousness followed two years later. Two singles were released off of this album (as well as became available in video form); PlaySynthetic & PlayNew Disease. The band would hold a second stage slot on Ozzfest 2001 for the majority of that summer as well as touring with the likes of Disturbed, (hed) p.e., Orgy& Mudvayne.
2003 saw the release of the much anticipated Self Destructive Pattern, as well as the single PlaySmothered.
It's been over two years since Spineshank released their sophomore album, The Height Of Callousness, but upon hearing Self Destructive Pattern it is clearly evident that it was time well spent. Self Destructive Pattern is the sound of a band hitting its full creative stride and bringing to fruition all of the possibilities that had thus far only been hinted at. "We realized where we stood in our career," drummer Tommy Decker explains, "and that we needed to put out a great record and we concentrated on that. We felt it was time to change, and made our sound more of a punk rock type thing. There are fewer loops and less electronics, and we simplified some of that and made a rock 'n roll record. We wanted to stay true to kids who loved our last record, and we wanted to make stuff we liked." While serving those two masters is sometimes impossible, Spineshank manages to improve upon the sound of its past and further assert that they are creating the sound of the future on Self Destructive Pattern. While many of the songs maintain the aggression of The Height Of Callousness, they also display tremendous growth in both song structure and melody. The Height Of Callousness enjoyed both radio and video airplay thanks to the singles "Synthetic" & "New Disease". It also saw the band touring the world and sharing the stage with Disturbed, Mudvayne, hed PE and Orgy and landed Spineshank on the 2001 Ozzfest Second Stage. It was a grueling year and a half spent on the road and the band was tired and ready to rest. But there is no rest for the weary and the band headed into the studio with producer GGGarth Richarsdson (Mudvayne, Chevelle, Kittie) only to find that perhaps the road wasn't that bad at all. It took every collective ounce of blood, sweat, energy, and creativity from their bodies to come up with the tracks that comprise Self Destructive Patterns. It was a process fraught with stops and starts and trials and tribulations. Once during the recording, the computer, on which a major portion of the album was saved, crashed. The band thought three months of hard work was lost, but GGGarth managed to save it intact. Guitarist Mike Sarkysian says, "It took us 16 months to make this record. It's like giving birth. Some moments happen quick, and some don't. It takes its toll on you. But we stepped back, and looked at it differently and tried different things, which was exciting and challenging." "Recording this album was like the equivalent of getting tattoos," drummer, Tommy Decker quips. "The artist is working on you for a long time. Then he stops, and sprays the area with the water, and it feels good. Then, when he starts up again, and it's worse than it was and you wish you never took that break." From all of the pain though, came inspiration, and Self Destructive Patterns truly benefited from the labor expended to achieve it. As a whole, the album covers a much more expansive spectrum of sounds and styles. Sarkysian admits that "there are more peaks and valleys, whereas our last record was straight up punching you! There was 37 minutes of kicking your ass. Now, we kick your ass and then let you think it's over and you're getting away, and then we'll just kick your ass again." In true Darwinian fashion, the fittest, most Spineshank-like songs survived the cut from the 30+ songs the band entered the studio with. Singer Jonny Santos also knew that Spineshank had to step up to the plate more now than ever. "It's another evolution. If you listen to Strictly Diesel and then The Height Of Callousness, it's almost like a totally different band. We had to grow again. We wanted to make an extreme record. We didn't follow any rules. "Violent Mood Swings" is brutal. But then songs like "Forgotten" are almost Nirvana-esque, in that slow, "Rape Me" style. We were like 'Where did that come from?' But it felt good." A lot of personal issues manifested themselves in Santos's lyrics. "I had such a bumpy road the past couple years," he reveals. "It has ruined a lot of my personal and social life with people that I thought were close to me. I didn't want to write angry hate songs, because there is enough anger in Spineshank to go around already!" Other subjects broached on the album include having an addictive personality (be it to a drug or a person). Santos and Tommy co-wrote almost all the songs together, and the two really gelled. Santos admits that self-reflection was a major source of inspiration. "A lot of people don't reflect on themselves. When writing songs, it's always about someone else, and you point the finger at them and not at yourself," Santos admits. Santos finishes, "This is most focused this band has been, ever. Everyone had a different goal on the first two records, which is good. But this time, we knew exactly where we wanted to go, and we had to figure out how to get there. There was a lot of hard rock, and the occasional fight. But I'm married to these guys. Right now, it is my favorite record in the world. It's fucking Spineshank. We tapped into something we haven't been able to tap into. We took a lot of risks and chances on this one.
THE AGONIST, strikes back with their second full-length offering, Lullabies For The Dormant Mind, which combines shredding leads with pure technicality, topped off with the glamorous Alissa White-Gluz's brutal growls, as well as dramatically melodic clean vocals, that take THE AGONIST to a new level of musical grandeur. It is extremely rare to find an up-and-coming metal band taking strong political stands, much less one that's led by a dominating, beautiful, edgy female. This quartet delivers introspective, scathing lyrics, and their debut album, Once Only Imagined, definitely caught people's attention.
THE AGONIST, born in 2004, covers a wide range of styles from classical to black metal. Their debut album, Once Only Imagined (2007), caught the eyes and ears of many musicians and music fans alike, and their sophomore album, Lullabies for the Dormant Mind, will once again prove the diverse talents of these young musicians. The a cappella version of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" is only one example of the band's musical abilities as it impressively exhibits White-Gluz's mind blowing wide range of vocal skills and professionalism as a singer.
Produced by Christian Donaldson (Cryptopsy, Mythosis), Lullabies for the Dormant Mind exposes new facets of the band and touches upon classical, jazz, opera, grindcore, thrash and black metal influences in a complete metal opus. Following a dark, twisted yet beautiful, surrealist visual concept from Natalie Shau once again, THE AGONIST have created an uncomfortable yet addictive setting for their metal. Lullabies For The Dormant Mind promises to turn heads with its daring mix of moods and styles, a challenging album well ahead of its time.
White-Gluz's vegan roots fuel her need to promote the protection of the planet and its inhabitants, and she does so through this outlet. Along with guitarist Danny Marino, bassist Chris Kells and drummer Simon McKay, each member brings their own rich musical backgrounds to the table, creating the perfect expression of melody and madness. Make no mistake, this is a straight-up metal band that holds nothing back with one goal in mind: to make music that is as catchy as it is heavy; as sweet as it is loud; and as angry as it is melancholy.
THE AGONIST, known as being road warriors, toured relentlessly in support of Once Only Imagined with a very diverse group of artists including Overkill, Sonata Arctica, Enslaved, Arsis and The Faceless. This further proved that their commanding and intense live performance can win over any crowd. White-Gluz's uncompromising vision, intelligence and thought-provoking lyrics has also helped garner some positive attention. Once Only Imagined tackled some of society's biggest issues, including animal testing, drug abuse, eating disorders, environmental protection and man's inhumanity towards animals and each other. The band's ultimate goal, though, is simply to encourage people to think for themselves.
A Vampire Mooose is the meanest thing you could ever encounter."
- Eric Baudendistel
Unorthodox, unrelenting and utterly unpredictable, St. Louis quartet Vampire Mooose may well be the meanest musical beast you ever encounter. It certainly will be one of the most unique.
Fusing death metal brutality and raw hardcore intensity with abstract, progressive arrangements and jazz-like instrumental dexterity, Mooose sounds something like the progeny of an insane cross-breeding of Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan and Obituary--only weirder and more vicious.
Mooose's skull-scrambling Rotten Records self titled debut, is an album that's entirely out of this world. From Chuck Sevick's dive-bombing, turn-on-a-dime guitaring and Eric Baudendistel's tornadic drumming to Ryan Pulliam's feral, spasmodic voice and cryptic lyrics, Vampire Mooose delivers pure sonic chaos on tracks like "Spiderman Vs. Venom," "Adamantium's Elbow" and the evocative "Big House."
Add to it the surreal, effects-laden instrumental "Waltz del Monstruo" and "Evil Dead" series hero Bruce Campbell's "Welcome to S-Mart" voiceover before the crushing "Colonize," and you've got anything but the same old metal thing.
"It's an emotional train wreck that you can ride from track #1 all the way to the end of the album," said Pulliam, who cites such far-flung influences as Tool, Sepultura, Tori Amos and Phish. "I think that this album provides an atmosphere with it that most heavy albums don't provide."
"We describe our sound and our style as raucous, or as we spell it 'rawkus,' a metal sound with an almost punk feel," said Sevick. "We've always written our songs with the intention of not fitting in with any one style, or with anyone for that matter, except for people who are looking to hear something that may take a second or third listen to appreciate. That's what we listen for in music--music that is not spoon-fed and piques interest."
"I think all new school takes a couple of times to grasp it," adds Pulliam. "But after you get it, it's all love from there!"
Vampire Mooose has been getting much love in and around St. Louis since forming in early 1999. Its legion of "Mooose-heads" has grown exponentially during the past three years thanks to opening slots with Testament--and the more unlikely Nickleback and Hot Sauce Johnson--and the band's own legendary headlining gigs.
"I think we have broken many boundaries in music ... our crowd consists of people from all different backgrounds; people that like all types of music like hardcore, hip-hop, death, grind and good old jam bands," said Pulliam. "This is a hard thing to do because people that like one kind of music don't like other kinds of music and won't give it a chance if they didn't hear it for themselves."
The Mooose-heads are somewhat notorious for bringing as much intensity and aggression to Mooose shows as the band itself. This has made for nervous club owners and bouncers around the area, but it all earned enthusiastic word-of-mouth from show-goers that--along with a three-song demo available on MP3.com--helped spread the band's reputation well beyond the Heartland.
"Using our music as a springboard into the pool of aggression, our crowds have a tendency to get very wild," Sevick said.
"Our live show is very brutal and beautiful," adds Pulliam. "We have never played a show without a huge pit. Our crowd is hands down, the most loyal and insane crowd I have ever seen. Without them it's just a show, they provide the show for us and that drives us wild and makes us push harder for them.
"We don't promote violence in any way shape or form at our live shows, but things happen. We try to keep things under control, but Mooose-heads are insane and I wouldn't want it any other way."
With the debut's release imminent, and the band itching to tour, venues across America better be ready to batten down the hatches.
Vampire Mooose came together when Pulliam teamed with Sevick, former drummer James Manlove and recently departed bassist Al Carson, all veterans of such other local bands as Dr. Jones, Jibe and ninetrigger. They were acquaintances from the St. Louis-area scene, and pre-destined to work together.
"There is an old magazine (Back Stage, May-99') that features Jibe, Broke [another St. Louis metal band signed to Rotten] and ninetrigger, with a cover photo of all of us," said Sevick. "In this magazine, Ryan talks about taking all of these groups and forming one group and calling it Vampire Mooose."
And so it was done. From the start, the band was an intense endeavor. Manlove bailed in the fall of '99, and was replaced by Baudendistel, who'd attended Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he'd learned a lot of jazz.
"We were much-anticipated when we started this project," Sevick said. "We were very excited and there was a lot of energy at our live performances and that energy is still building. We are all very excited about the range of unlimited possibilities."
On the strength of the aforementioned demo, Vampire Mooose signed with Rotten last year. The debut full-length was recorded at Jupiter Studios in downtown St. Louis to record with producer Jim Callahan.
"We had so much fun, maybe too much fun," Sevick said. "There was laughing, fighting, mending, creation, destruction and nudity!! "The album is everything I had hoped it to be and more. It's heavy, mean, unrelenting, fun, and just an all-around good album. We've got Bruce Campbell on it!! What more could I ask for?"
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