Music Interview: James Perry of Food Metal

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Hey James, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions.

My pleasure, man! I’m honored.

 It was Food Metal that has brought us here, so let’s start with, why Food Metal? I’m not complaining, just wondering, why food?

Silly music is nothing new to me! I’ve been writing silly songs for as long as I’ve been a musician. So about 12 years ago I was feeling sort of down. My girlfriend at the time and I had broken up (we got back together and broke up many more times and I wrote my “Now You’re Gone” album about her but that’s another story!), my old industrial band Control Theory had split up and I didn’t know what I wanted to do next… so I set a challenge to myself, to write and record a heavy metal about food in one month’s time! I got a bunch of friends involved too and it was great fun, and we cranked out some great tunes. But at the same time, it really showed that I did the whole thing in a month’s time as it was pretty raw and a lot of the recording was kind of half-assed. So a few years back I decided to rework Food Metal. I kicked out the songs that I didn’t like as much, substantially re-recorded the songs that were left, and wrote and recorded two brand new tracks. Or as I like to say, the new Food Metal album has eight reheated leftovers and two brand new recipes!

Also, I feel like there’s a market for silly metal. Look at everything that’s come out since I first started Food Metal: Metalocalypse, Steel Panther, Devin Townsend’s Ziltoid the Omniscient project, Mac Sabbath… All great music, but very silly and funny, which is what I’m trying to do too.

How does Food Metal compare to your other projects in terms of the writing process? Was it easier? Did you have to eat matzah ball soup before/during/after recording Matzah Ball Soup to get you there?

Hahaha, well, it turns out I’ve actually never had matzah ball soup! Eric Gottesman (of Everything Goes Cold, Psyclon Nine, and every industrial band ever) wrote the lyrics and sang lead vocals on that one. But as far as the main question, silly songs have always been much easier and faster for me to write than serious songs. Food Metal was also easy to write because I had such a specific style in mind which helps me focus. I can get lost as a writer if I don’t have a set of constraints to work within.

Do you think that there will ever be a live Food Metal performance (if there hasn’t been one already)?

I’ve played “Pass The Beets” and “O Banana” a handful of times at my solo acoustic gigs. Beyond that, I don’t know if I ever will perform this stuff live, but it would be a lot of fun!

What was the last thing you ate and what was the most metal thing about it?

I ate a handful of almonds. It turns out that wild almonds contain the glycoside amygdalin, which becomes hydrogen cyanide when they’re eaten, which is quite poisonous!

Not a question, but a request; If there ever is another Food Metal release, please consider a black metal-ish song about heartburn.

Hahaha, great suggestion! I love it!  I do have ideas for another Food Metal project down the line. I was thinking that I’d include some songs about ethnic cuisine (you know, like Indian, Mexican, or Japanese food), and the music would reflect the same culture the food came from. I actually half-wrote a song called “La Taqueria” about Mexican food along those lines that I never finished because it was too hard for me to play at the time I wrote it and it’s got a very Mexican sound. Although with the current political climate in this country, maybe I should rewrite it to be about taco trucks!

Now, how about some of your other projects? What have you got going on with Dream In Red? I saw that you guys were playing your asses off for a while, there.

Unfortunately Dream In Red is on hiatus for the time being as our drummer moved away and had to leave the band. That being said, we released an EP called Our Violent Temporary Times awhile back and it’s available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and so forth, and our first full length album will be released soon. I’ve been playing acoustic and semi-acoustic solo shows in the Sacramento and San Jose areas lately. I’m mostly playing songs from my 2009 solo album Now You’re Gone along with some newer stuff and a few covers. I’ve got quite a few songs I never properly released that I’d like to record and release as an EP or album at some point, and with all the madness happening in America these days, I think I just might have to write some pissed off political songs too. Oh, and I just finished a music video for one of my solo songs, “Slipping Away Again”!

Do you have any interesting hobbies or projects outside of music or food?

You mean there’s life outside of music and food? Well, I got engaged earlier this year! My fiancee is in New Zealand and we’re both working hard to save money so she can move here. Getting a fiancee visa and arranging a move across the Pacific Ocean is no joke and not cheap! Buy my music and you can help make our dream of being together come true!

Do you ever intend to grow your hair out, again? That mane was sweeeeeet!  😉

Dude, I wish! I cut off my long hair back in 2001 because it was getting too thin, I wasn’t too keen on the “aging Night Ranger fan” look, you know? I would look so much older if I grew out my hair again. But I tell you, to this day I still frequently have dreams that I grew my hair back!

Is there anything that you would like to add for the Crown of Viserys/From Etna Unleashed audiences?

Thanks for reading and thanks for being awesome and supporting heavy music!

Music Review: Food Metal – Food Metal

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Genre: Food Metal
Label: Independent 

Alum, sodium, zinc, etc… I get plenty of metal in my food. Now if I can just manage to get some food in my metal… wait, what? Native Californian and sometimes New Zealander James Perry?! Why are you putting your guitar in the oven? Ohhhhhhh…

Food Metal apparently started off as an exercise in song writing and snowballed into a legitimate project (think Tim Lambesis’s Austrian Death Machine only with no celebrity impersonations and less attempted uxoricide). This self-titled offering is a savory selection of songs that blend hard rock, metal, gastronomy and humor together to make an album that’s not heavy on calories, but heavy where it counts.

Mr. Perry borrows from a multitude of subgenres before butchering them, marinating them in his own distinct style, broiling them and finally serving them up on Food Metal‘s sonic smorgasbord. “Fries” takes bit of a slower paced thrash approach (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”), while “Pass The Beets” finds James in more familiar territory (for me at least) with a slower, more melodic (almost poppy) tune. But, in terms of balls out headbanging, the cake surely goes to “Where the Hell is My Food”. James’s vocals, dirty rollin’ riffs and lines about being pissed off about shitty customer service fit perfectly together here.

My only complaint here is that I felt a bit like Oliver Twist towards the end. “Please Sir, may I have some more?” (Ok, not an apt comparison since James would gladly give an orphan all the metal he/she could handle and I’m a fully grown ragamuffin.) I guess I should ask him if he plans on serving seconds in our forthcoming interview?

Food Metal Site
Food Metal Facebook

Music Review: Shark Infested Daughters – These Tides, Our Tombs

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Genre: Metalcore
Label: Independent

Shark Infested Daughters is a local abnormality making waves in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta. They are one of the few local bands who manage to garner as many rabid haters as devoted fans. When expressing dislike for the band, people rarely make mention if it’s the music they dislike, or if they think the members are pricks; the subjectivity of music is ignored, it’s just straight up, fuck that band.

I assume these people haven’t listened to SID since they released Reflections of the Dead (EP) in 2013, which is a unfortunate mess of unrefined vocals, misplaced guitar solos and heavy does of egregious synth abuse. SID has definitely come a long way in 3 years. Their latest release, These Tides, Our Tombs shows a far more mature sound with a multi-dimensional feel where most metalcore tends to fall flat and become monotonous. One of the most appreciated enhancements is less dramatic use of keyboards and the clean vocals taking a far more prominent role, providing a soothing break from the chaotic harsh vocals. Sticking with the typical metalcore format, the riffs are fast and heavy with more aggression and less emotion than previous releases. We are given an album that shows dedication to improvement, complete with creative, progressive riffs, intricate melodies and a cohesion not typically found in the ‘core’ genres.

Keeping in mind that this is metalcore, the album is pretty close to flawless, managing to seamlessly blend perspicacious lyrics on top of a formidable metal sound, compiled together with expert production. This is an album that has the originally to break down genre walls and create a truly diverse and dedicated fan base. A revised sound that maintains the positive elements of past releases that veteran fans know and love, compounded with enough creativity to attract a plethora of new listeners. It’s rare to find such a definitive offering from an unsigned local band, that I’d consider a shining example of everything that can go right with underground original music. If haters are a sign of success, then SID deserves them. If they have improved this much in 3 years, I’m personally very interested in seeing what washes up on shore in the next 3.

Favorite track – Hitokiri

Shark Infested Daughters embarks on a western Canadian tour starting Nov 3. You can find music and merch over on Bandcamp.

Music Review: Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

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Genre: Melodic Death
Label: Century Media

Never to be a band that rushes releases, we have seen a new album from Insomnium every couple years, with each release surpassing the former in ingenuity, most recently Shadows of the Dying Sun in 2014. This was an absolute masterpiece and instantly became my favorite album of the year, and my quintessential melodic death metal album. To follow a piece of art like that is not a small undertaking, and many bands falter after producing several albums. Following an album I considered to be perfect, I was hesitant to see if Insomnium would be able to keep going with the creativity and maintain the standard they had set. Enter Winter’s Gate, the 7th full length from the Finnish quartet, an innovate concept album that pushes the band in to a format completely new to them.

It’s not uncommon for bands to try different formats to grow their fan base but the rate of failure is depressingly high. An inability to  effectively deviate from the proven formula alienate many bands from their long time fans. Refreshingly, that’s not the case for this album, with its tale of ‘a group of Vikings setting out to find a fabled island west of Ireland, despite the treacherous winter drawing near’. Even with the new layout it remains very reminiscent of previous Insomnium albums, from speeding riffs to the gritty comforting cleans that explode into powerful dominating harsh vocals that manage to remain articulate.

As Insomnium does expertly, you get to the part where the speed and ferocity make you want to bang your head and scream along, and then the switch is flipped and a wave of calm eases you into a slower spoken bit. A slow, generous serenade, like the sun rising and hitting the morning dew, a melodic chorus paired with acoustic strumming that paint a serene picture of the utopia that the Vikings seek, gradually speeding up, thrusting you back into the characteristic death metal intensity. This album is seductive, plain and simple. From the intro to the outro, it is 40 minutes of cheek flushing, skin tingling, orgasmic beauty. Few melodic death bands manage to glide so effortlessly between  the gentle caress of the ballad and the fervent rush of thunderous drums and incredible guitar solos that just the right length, they never seem to end too soon or go on to become a hindrance. Over the course of 34 minutes you are taken on a roller coaster of emotions, following the group of Vikings on their epic sojourn. Your heart rate increases to match the drumming, an intense climax ensues during the finale of the story, after which the pacifying sounds of rain, acoustic guitars and piano lulls you to in a calm, but you’re still shivering and shaking from the euphoria. You could say I liked it.

Music Review: Shadecrown – Agonia

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Genre: Melancholic Melodic Death Metal
Label: Inverse Records

Churning out the largest number of metal bands per capita means lots of potential pouring out of Finland these days, including Shadecrown’s Agonia. They are off to a great start with this album, even though some of the elements don’t jive the best with each other. The contrast between the vocals is stark, with the growls tending to sound a little on the forced side and grating at times. When there is a break from vocals, like the beginning of “Eremohbia”, and the spotlight is only on the musicianship and the writing, you can see where Shadecrown really excels. It’s nothing complicated, nothing that breaks the mold of traditional melodic death, but it’s well done and well thought out. They have furthered subgenrefied themselves, by adding ‘melancholic’ and justly so, feeling of gloom is definitely present throughout each of the 10 songs. The sporadic use of clean vocals adds a nice touch without going overboard, although the auditory break from the raw vocals is appreciated. The main downfall is that Shadecrown lacks a bit in consistency, some songs are a great example of melodic death such as “The Ruins of Me”; a heavy, powerful track where the vocals aren’t too strained and there is a wicked guitar solo to round it out. Some of the songs, including “Walk Through Hell” and “Silent Hours” have more of a hard rock feel, bordering on thrash with a huge Iced Earth influence. While not to say it’s awful or poorly executed, I just don’t particularly like it. I thoroughly enjoy the piano and acoustic bits, especially on “Led Astray” but the vocals are too inconsistent in pattern and rhythm.

This a fairly strong debut album, I will give it that. Shadecrown has some refining to do and need to perfect their individual sound a bit more, but they are definitely on the right track.

Favorite Track: “Led Astray”

Music Review: Norselaw – Serpent in the Circling Sea

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Genre: Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Fucking Metal
Label: Independent

Man, who would have thought that buying an album based entirely on pity would yield such positive results? Allow me to explain:

Norselaw himself apparently had a dispute with his then employer that ended with his (in my opinion, wrongful) termination. Having only recently lost my job due to similar but completely different circumstances, I decide to toss my fellow warrior a bone and bought one of his albums. He suggested Serpent in the Circling Sea as it would play to my tastes… how this metal marauder knew such a thing is still a mystery to me, but goddamn, was he ever right!

Serpent in the Circling Sea features a plethora of headbanging highlights from beginning to end. Norselaw’s mastery of the art of the shred, for one. Where on Earth did this guy learn to wield a guitar in such a manner? My guess is he transferred whatever skills he learned as an axe swinging viking from hundreds of years ago to his new modern day “axe”. Or at the very least, he’s The Doof Warrior from Mad Max… hmmm…

Up next on the docket, we have the vocals. Let’s get the clean vocals out of the way; they’re rough. Not bad by a long shot, but they could definitely use some refining. As for his bellowing, fuck man, if he shouted at me to, “Get out of the way,” in that tone, I’d be in the next state over before he could finish his command. Motherfucker is scary.

Have I mention lyrical content yet? Norselaw pulls his imagery from everyday political strife (“fat blue line guarded by swiiiiine!”), to Conan The Barbarian to H.P. fucking Lovecraft. And speaking of Lovecraft, “Fungi From Yuggoth” is one of the best tracks on the album, not only due to the ever-presence of the Old Ones, but because of Jamie Lannister’s energetic drumming. Guy lets his fucking hair down and says, “fuck your ability to ever hear anything ever again!” and proceeds to rupture the eardrums of anyone within range in a berserk barrage of percussive power!

If you walk away from this review and can only manage to remember one thing, make it this: Norselaw is law. These guys fucking rule!

News: Eye of Horus Unveil New Album Art and Title, Announce CD Release Party

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Edmonton’s death metal legion Eye of Horus have been working on a new EP, and they are ready to unleash it upon the world. Entitled Obsidian, the EP features for new songs and will be ensconced in beautiful artwork by Frederico Musetti, who did their last album’s artwork as well as art for Unbirth, the Everzone game, and more.

According to Facebook, the tracklisting for Obsidian is as follows:

1) The Nithing
2) Unsolemn
3) A Tome Writ In Blood
4) Death Flourished In A Withered Grove

The EP will be officially released on December 3, 2016 with a CD release party at Mercury Room, Edmonton. Presented by Crown of Viserys, the show will bring Edmonton’s Storm Horizon and Skepsis together with Calgary’s Exit Strategy, and of course Eye of Horus, to bring the walls of the Mercury Room down.

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Crown of Viserys on Patreon