Sevendust, All That Remains, Emmure, For Today
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Tuesday, Aug 13th 2013 marked an extremely monumental milestone in the history of ASKING ALEXANDRIA and their label Sumerian Records. The band's highly acclaimed new album, From Death To Destiny, officially debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 charts with 41,082 units sold. This achievement not only marks the group's highest charting debut ever, but also Sumerian Records' highest first-week sales to date. They also graced the covers of Alternative Press and Guitar World, a huge accomplishment in today's fickle media world.
They will spend the fall of 2013 on the road as direct support to Korn across North America and then cap off the year with a huge headliner with Sevendust, All That Remains, For Today and Emmure in the support slots.
To say that 2012 was a breakout year for the UK's ASKING ALEXANDRIA would be a massive understatement as the group headlined massive, sold-out European and North American tours, which was capped off with a slot on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival emerging as one of the fest's most talked about artists.
Amidst a slew of recent speculation regarding their stability, ASKING ALEXANDRIA, undoubtedly proved to all naysayers that they are one of the genre's most exciting, ground-breaking and heralded artists as their critically acclaimed new album, Reckless and Relentless, debuted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 charts scanning an impressive 31,449 units. This was the point where the band started to gain major, mainstream attention.
The album's stunning debut quickly caught the attention of mainstream media across the globe resulting in their national television debut on the ABC late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” They spent the summer of 2011 on the Warped Tour mainstage and emerged as one of the festival's most talk about performers. Throughout this timeframe they also graced the covers of such major publications as Alternative Press, Guitar World and Kerrang!
This is controversial, unapologetic hard rock at its very finest and you ain't seen nothing yet.
Lajon Witherspoon (vocals)
Morgan Rose (drums/vocals)
Clint Lowery (guitar/vocals)
Vince Hornsby (bass/vocals)
John Connolly (guitar/vocals)
Somehow, Sevendust grow stronger with each successive album. Their personal bond not only strengthens, but the music tends to get tougher and tighter as well. Their ninth full-length offering, Black Out the Sun [7 Bros./ADA-Music], staunchly upholds that tradition. They don't stray from the bruising hallmarks of their patented style, but they also don't stick to a script either. They deliver what their diehard fan base has loved since day one, but they continue to challenge themselves in the process. As a result, Black Out the Sun sees Sevendust at their most uncompromising, unwavering, and undeniable.
For the first time since their formation, the quintet took a much-needed break right after touring for almost two years behind 2010's Cold Day Memory. The record served as a milestone for a few reasons. It welcomed founding guitarist Lowery back into the fold after a 6-year absence and yielded the band's highest first-week debut ever on the Billboard Top 200, reaching number twelve on the chart. After the roller coaster tour cycle, the group enjoyed a real "vacation". Lowery and Rose joined forces for Call Me No One, dropping their debut The Last Parade, and Connolly and Hornsby formed Projected and released Human. However, by the summer of 2012, everyone began chomping at the bit to return to Sevendust.
"It was cool to recharge for a minute and come back hungry again," admits Connolly. "We needed to hit the reset button and remember how important this band was to us. The juices started flowing, and we were thrilled to do it."
"Taking a break helped tremendously," Lowery agrees. "We're family, and we missed each other. We were ready to write, record, and laugh together again."
That excitement carried over to the studio. The band retreated to Architekt Music Studios in Butler, NJ where Call Me No One recorded and immediately got back in the groove, self-producing alongside engineer Mike Ferretti. Writing and recording as they went along, the entire album was finished in merely 31 days, only breaking to enjoy a beverage or two at "The Murder Bar."
Connolly laughs, "There was this bar that looked like a house across the street from Architekt. The first day we got there, the studio owner George Roskos told us if we went there we'd get murdered. Within five minutes of checking into our hotel, Lajon, Vinnie, Morgan, and I were in there checking it out. It happened to be the most unassuming and harmless place on the planet, but it's part of the album's story."
That story also happens to be the band's deepest to date. Prior to recording, Lowery endured the loss of his father Willie, a patriarch for the group as a whole. The title track went on to serve as a tribute to him.
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"Lajon kept saying the line Black Out the Sun over and over again, and I attached that title to my experience with my dad," recalls Lowery. "He was a huge part of my musical history. He was a great musician, and I idolized him. The song is about the anger I had over losing him. It's not lashing out, but it's dealing with that sadness positively. Life gives and it takes. It was important for me to give him this one last message about how much he means to me."
With its staggering guitars and impactful melody, "Black Out the Sun" stands indicative of the record's vibe as a whole. "I always felt like this album was going to be dark," Witherspoon goes on. "It's darker, but it's lighter too. From the end to the beginning, you're able to tap into every emotion. As we get older, we see death more, but we also life more with these babies we're having and our kids growing up. We're going through this transition of life and seeing the devastation and change in the world."
The first single "Decay" directly reflects upon the state of the world today. Primed with an explosive groove and guttural distortion, it's Sevendust at their heaviest. "That song deals with what's going on around us," reveals Witherspoon. "There is so much decay, but we're trying to get to a better place together. It's a hard-hitting track that really defines what Sevendust is."
There's also another side of Sevendust, and that comes through on the pensive and poetic acoustic musing, "Got a Feeling". Penned by Lowery, it's a haunting moment punctuated by vocal harmonies from all five members.
"It's all of these random thoughts about life and humanity," the guitarist explains. "I thought it'd be cool if everyone sang on it. We always like those dark and moody songs, and this is one of them."
That moment when everyone sings remains emblematic of the unity at the heart of this group. It's a big reason why Sevendust stands as strongly as ever since their landmark self-titled debut. Along the way, three of their eight albums have reached gold status and they've played to sold-out crowds around the globe. However, it still feels like the beginning.
Now, the Sevendust freight train shows no signs of stopping with Black Out the Sun. "This is the culmination of our career thus far," proclaims Connolly. "There are all of these bits and pieces of what we are, but it's newer and updated. Our style is our style. We constantly strive for a better version of it. There aren't a lot of bands that have all five original guys after 15 years. It's a very unique gift we have, and we treasure it."
Witherspoon concludes, "I can't wait for people to feel the emotion and energy in this album. I'll never forget the first time we got together. There was something magic about it. It's like this band is what we were all meant to do. I still feel that way. I never want to stop. This is what fans have been waiting for, and Sevendust is here to stay."
— Rick Florino, December 2012
All That Remains
It’s a respect issue; growing up in Queens, NY you either have to kill or be killed. Embracing this ideology, EMMURE has taken no prisoners and risen to the top of the metal scene. However, instead of taking out their aggressions in negative ways, they channeled their collective angst into their music to create a propulsive blend of unabashed aggression and intensity that the youth across the world embrace with open arms. They keep it simple and straight-forward. This straightforwardness, coupled with vocalist Frankie Palmeri’s brutal openness and honesty creates a connection to fans on a level that few other bands can accomplish.
Everyone has demons and dark sides to their lives, but this group shows that everyone deals with these types of issues and that there are productive ways to let it all out. EMMURE have gained the loyalty of the metal community and legions of rabid fans, but make no mistake- if you disrespect them, you will be left sleeping with the fishes. EMMURE’s fourth full-length release was produced by the acclaimed Joey Sturgis (The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria). This new effort promises to be their most cohesive, dynamic and utterly violent offering yet. Frankie Palmeri (vocals) states: “The new EMMURE record is definitely a major stepping stone for the band and our fans. We’re entering a new realm of collective consciousness and we are trying to enter this new era of music and life with the people that support us. This is more than just a collection of songs; this is a message to the world.” Few bands around today are able to deliver a memorable and entertaining live show, but the performance is where EMMURE excels as they always aim to set a very high standard for themselves. It would suffice to say that the band experiences a transformation upon stepping on stage; they turn into a dominant beast that is out for blood, unleashing a frenzy of energy on the masses that cannot be contained. This is exactly why the band emerged from the Warped Tour 2010 as one of the festivals’s most talked about acts. If you are a fan of heavy music and haven’t seen a live EMMURE show, you are truly missing out. EMMURE sets the standard for bringing together an emotionally unhinged blend of blistering hardcore and punishing death metal that appeals to a wide array of fans ranging from THE ACACIA STRAIN and SUICIDE SILENCE to DEFTONES and label-mates A DAY TO REMEMBER. They released Goodbye To The Gallows (2007) and The Respect Issue (2008) on Victory Records, but it was Felony (2009) that blew things wide open for the band as they truly began to hone their definitive sound that really connected with a worldwide audience. Motivated, EMMURE released their fifth full-length project, Slave to the Game, released April 10th, 2012, only one year after releasing Speaker of the Dead (2011). Delivering unapologetic lyrics that could make your mother cry, Slave to the Game embraced the video-game-loving side of the band, incorporating references to old school arcade favorites such as Street Fighter II, while still maintaining their rage-infused metal roots. Between powerfully low chugging, technical riffs and bone crushing drum work, the album provided metal fans with classic EMMURE sounds, while still able to openly experiment with tune and pitch effects. Overtime, one thing has become overwhelmingly clear; you are either with EMMURE or against them. Frankie Palmeri has made a conscious effort to push as many buttons in the industry as possible and for some, his sarcastic, ironic humor is anything but charming. Never one to bite his tongue, Palmeri has made EMMURE a band that is as impossible to ignore as they are to forget.
While we may never know what goes on inside of their heads, we do know that they won’t rest until they have everyone’s attention. Touring with the likes of PARKWAY DRIVE, WE CAME AS ROMANS, THE WORD ALIVE, HATEBREED and STATIC X and label-mates GOD FORBID, along with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, 2012 has proven to be a very busy year for the band, gaining thousands upon thousands of new followers with each set. 2013 has begun and EMMURE remains busy as ever, on the road, prepping to headline the Mosh Lives 2013 tour presented by Metal Hammer Germany, which begins April 5th. With fists balled, knuckles white and heads down, EMMURE promises to remain pissed off as ever, summoning all of their hate for the next record. Not for the faint of heart, EMMURE has secured their spot as one of the heaviest metal bands to ever hit the scene and they have only just begun.
Mattie Montgomery (lead vocals)
Ryan Leitru (lead guitar, vocals)
Brandon Leitru (bass)
Sam Penner (rhythm guitar)
David Puckett (drums, percussion)
Even in the face of seemingly “impossible” odds, there’s always a way to muster enough strength to soldier on and cross the finish line victoriously.
That goes for all facets of life. If you’re willing to disregard the naysayers, forget the doubters, and defy the odds, you can accomplish anything. The story of Sioux City, IA hardcore and metal outfit For Today remains one of triumph. Breaking out of Iowa is hard enough. When you’re playing heavy music with a Christian message, it’s even harder. Still, the quintet—Mattie Montgomery [lead vocals], Ryan Leitru [lead guitar, vocals], Brandon Leitru [bass], Sam Penner [rhythm guitar], and David Puckett [drums, percussion]—consistently persevered, and it’s all documented on their brand new DVD film and five-song EP, the appropriately titled, Prevailer [Razor & Tie].
In 2012, the group made a collective decision to encapsulate their journey in one cohesive piece. Prevailer pairs intense live footage in front of roaring crowds alongside intimate behind-the-scenes vignettes and honest, heartfelt interviews. In the process, the film paints a powerful portrait of the band’s road thus far.
“We felt like we really had a story to tell,” explains Montgomery. “In the beginning, everyone told us it’d be impossible to get this band off the ground. We were endlessly turned down by everybody you could think of—from labels to booking agents to promoters. We did things D.IY., and we didn’t ever expect anything. We were never rich and famous in the first place, and playing music was never about that. We pursued our dream in spite of everything. We decided to make this DVD to show people who we are and give them a little bit of our history.”
That history has proven to be quite remarkable. For Today reached a major milestone last year when their fourth full-length album, Immortal, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at #15 with 14,700 units sold in merely one week. In addition to appearing on the Van’s Warped Tour, they’ve shared the stage with everyone from The Devil Wears Prada and August Burns Red to We Came As Romans and As I Lay Dying. Prevailer not only reflects on their journey to date, but it opens up the door to the next chapter.
Touting a conceptual arc through the first four songs that mirrors the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the EP teems with cathartic hardcore energy and precise metallic firepower. The group hit The Machine Shop with producer Will Putney [Lamb of God, Suicide Silence, Miss May I] and tracked the effort in merely 10 days, capturing a distinct vibe.
“For the first time in a while, we incorporated elements of our early sound,” the vocalist reveals. Our first two albums, Ekklesia and Portraits, had more progressive metal elements that we moved away from over time. I feel like a lot of that came back on Prevailer. It’s still catchy, but it’s also super heavy. We find a way to play opposing genres of music so they work in conjunction. We don’t have a common denominator musically, and that creates a level of diversity.”
That dynamic defines these songs. After foreboding church bells, unmitigated brutality courses through the first single “Crown of Thorns” as a death metal-style verse storms into a soaring refrain, “The last will be first to inherit the earth”.
“Musically, the song is really dark,” the vocalist goes on. “We wrote it in the 6/8 time signature and used a different tuning to convey this darker and more sinister feeling. Fans will immediately get into it.”
The bludgeoning subsides on an acoustic rendition of “Fearless” from Immortal. This stripped-down take shows a vitality and vulnerability that resounds as loudly as any distorted breakdown. “We wanted to do something different,” affirms Montgomery. “It was Ryan’s brainchild. When I first heard it, I got chills. The song became entirely a new entity. It’s really special.”
Everything about For Today’s rise has been special though. The band has built an overwhelmingly supportive following since forming in 2005. They’ve logged over 1,000 shows on five continents and have cumulatively sold over 115,000 albums in North America to date. Critical endorsements have come from Revolver Magazine, Alternative Press, and more. However, the next chapter commences loudly with Prevailer.
“This is definitely the start of a new season for us,” concludes Montgomery. “Prevailer shows how far we’ve come. At the same time, it’s a good introduction to the band. You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy a For Today show or buy an album. This is open to everyone. We’re all part of something very big together.”