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"they came from Venus to destroy the cities." Planet Earth in the year 2008 must look like a pretty strange, messed-up place to an outsider. From election-year sensationalism, global warming hysteria and widespread warfare to reality show overload and the latest celebrity meltdowns caught on film, it may seem to some that The End is imminent. But there's hope for the human race. Just ask the extraterrestrial members of Valient Thorr, the rock n' roll saviors from Venus who crossed the solar system to warn Earthlings about the error of our ways, delivering a message of redemption wrapped in rock n' roll, with pounding drums and shredding guitar licks. The grizzled time-space travelers may look like a chapter of the Hell's Angels, but there's much more to this band than meets the eye. Their combination of heavy rock n' roll and thought-provoking lyrics gives their legions of fans--dubbed the "Thorriors"-- food for thought through their staggeringly productive output. The group has averaged close to 250 tour dates a year, and is currently polishing up their fourth album in five years, Immortalizer, set for release on June 17 on Volcom Entertainment. After fleeing their overpopulated, war-torn home world of Venus and finding some prime North Carolina real estate, Valient Thorr officially announced their current Earthling incarnations in 2001. Since then, these interplanetary dudes have been on a single-minded mission to spread their revolutionary, metal-tinged gospel as far and wide as possible, to ensure that we don't share the Venusians' fate. And it's literally a universal message, Valient Thorr's charismatic frontman, Valient Himself, states: "It doesn't matter where you're from, it's where you're at and what you're gonna do." The new record follows the band's self-released 2003 debut, Stranded on Earth, which prompted their first major tour of North America—a whirlwind 47 shows in 52 days. Upon signing with Volcom in 2005, Valient Thorr released Total Universe Man, the success of which allowed the Venusians to quit their undercover Earthling day gigs—which included the members earning Masters Degrees in various Earth studies and Valient Himself's stint as a 6th-grade teacher--and hit the road full-time, including high-profile stints on that year's Vans Warped Tour. Those incendiary appearances got the band asked back on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour, which coincided with the July release of their Volcom follow-up, Legend of the World, and found them headlining the main stage with Warped favorites NOFX and AFI. In all, 2006 was a breakthrough year, as the band toured incessantly for a stunning total of 272 shows with such varied acts as Joan Jett and the Black Hearts, Eagles of Death Metal and Gogol Bordello. Valient Thorr is not a group of aliens to rest on their laurels, so 2007 was equally intense. Starting off on a lengthy trek with fellow heavy rockers Fu Manchu, Valient Thorr also spread their intergalactic message to Europe for the first time, and co-headlined the inaugural Volcom Tour with labelmates the Riverboat Gamblers. The year was capped by a triumphant victory, as Valient Thorr was selected by metal heroes Motörhead to accompany them on a three-week tour of Germany. Taking some much-needed time off of Earth's crazy system of roads, Valient Thorr recorded Immortalizer in Seattle with legendary Earthling Jack Endino, producer of seminal albums by Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney as well as younger upstarts Hot Hot Heat and High On Fire. Recording with Endino in his hometown of Seattle, Valient Thorr continued to work from the starting point of their classic 70's influences such as Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy as well as those groups' more obscure yet equally important contemporaries like Master's Apprentices and Sir Lord Baltimore—all of whom kept the guitars heavy while adding some funky bounce to the rhythms. It's no coincidence that Valient Thorr shares more in common with that past era of greatness than today's formulaic, watered-down sounds. As Valient Himself puts it, "When rock lost its roll, it lost its soul. We're putting the roll back in rock n' roll!" While older albums tackled the world's problems straight on with a blunt, in-your-face attack on the Bush Administration, war in the Middle East and capitalism run amok, the band is now taking a more allegorical approach. In addition to double-barreled assaults on the pompous A-holes in D.C., Immortalizer uses veiled references to comment on the everyday obstacles that life throws at everyone, whether it's dealing with the death of a family member, your old lady running out on you, or trying to keep your head up while being a homeless traveler. The latter is a particularly personal situation for the band, as embodied in the new track "Nomadic Sacrifice." Considering that Valient Thorr has spent the last three years touring with barely a break, it doesn't leave them much room for a "normal" life, let alone a little personal space from time to time for your average Venusian. These road warrior experiences will be captured with Valient Thorr's upcoming DVD, In Heat, expected to drop this April. Valient Himself's previous experience as teacher has also informed his lyrics. "This crazy Earth system creates rotten people with messed-up values," he explains. "I wrote some of these new songs about these rich parents who don't care for their kids, they just put 'em on pills and turn 'em loose for the schools to worry about. Luckily, they've got Valient Thorr to show them the error of their ways." The lyrical content isn't the only heavy element on Immortalizer. New guitarist Voiden Thorr brings a sharper metal edge into the fold, joining fellow six-stringer Eidan Thorr for an über-heavy, double-axe attack. Meanwhile, drummer Lucian Thorr and bassist Nitewolf lock down earthy grooves, ensuring that the faithful will keep their heads nodding and fists pumping. "Our live show is where it's at," Himself explains, "no one can deny that. We play all over the world, with kids singin' our songs, and they don't even speak English! It makes you realize how small the Earth has become through the internet." Indeed, these hardcore Thorriors memorize their favorite Valient Thorr songs, make their own Valient Thorr jackets, stickers and posters, and track the band from show to show, town to town. Cities worldwide have their own Thorrior chapters, each with their own logo and set of colors that are unique to them, all of which come together through the global forum at www.thorriors.com. Valient Thorr will—of course—be back on the road for most of 2008, bringing their heavy metal mayhem to Europe throughout June and back in July to start touring the U.S. in support of Immortalizer's release. And you can be sure the band won't be slowing down anytime soon; after all, Earth needs them now more than ever. "I might be from another planet, but I know the language Earthlings speak, and it's definitely rock n' roll," says Valient Himself. "We're just getting started. I got some last words, but I hope I don't have to say 'em for a good long while."
Formed in Southern California in 2008 when vocalist James Paul Luna and drummer Tyler Meahl diverged from Pasadena metal squadron White Wizzard and teamed up with San Diegan guitar hero Eli Santana, the band was called Sorcerer until it became clear that the moniker didn’t quite capture the rarefied nature of the members’ collective talents. Sorcerer became HOLY GRAIL. The band became so unstoppable that California just couldn’t contain them and now, like their spiritual forefathers in Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio, HOLY GRAIL are poised to bring their hook-laden shred anthems to an arena near you. HOLY GRAIL are heavy metal personified, possessing a seemingly infinite arsenal of mind-blowing riffs, skyscraping vocal melodies and devastating drum dynamism. Not mention the kind of six-string acrobatics and straight-up power-shredding that would make Yngwie Malmsteen chuck the proverbial goat in sweep-picking solidarity. “We shred and we’re serious about it,” Luna offers. “This is not a tongue-in-cheek thing. It’s not throwback or retro. HOLY GRAIL is a modern band with a new twist on the best of old-school metal with death metal riffs, modern breakdowns and power-metal singing. We just tried to pick stuff from all our favorite bands and make the best blend of metal we could.” But don’t take our word for it—or Luna’s. The fine folks at Decibel magazine knew exactly what they were talking about when they hailed HOLY GRAIL as “the most exciting prefix-free metal band to come out of L.A. in the last two decades.” The esteemed editors at UK’s Metal Hammer nominated the gentlemen of the Grail for the magazine’s “Best New Band” award at their annual Golden Gods ceremony before HOLY GRAIL even had an album out. But a certain tall, handsome genius over at Thrasher summed it up best when he proclaimed, “HOLY GRAIL are the reason that heavy metal will never die.” After basking in the glory of last year’s critically acclaimed “Improper Burial” EP, HOLY GRAIL have finally unleashed their full-length debut, “Crisis In Utopia.” The title comes from a short story that Luna found in a 1930s-era sci-fi mag. Inspired, he transposed the tale’s apocalyptic theme to the band’s L.A. stomping grounds. “The way I envisioned it, it’s about what would happen to Hollywood in end-times, the fate of all these people who have no idea how to survive without modern conveniences,” he explains. “Then all the humans are killed off and the next species forms from their parasites. It was kind of a sick pleasure to write.” Produced by former Nine Inch Nails member and A Perfect Circle collaborator Danny Lohner, Crisis In Utopia is loaded with instant fist-pumping classics like the title track ,“Call Of Valhalla,” and revamped versions of Improper Burial’s modern classics “Immortal Man” and “Fight To Kill.” Opener “My Last Attack” is especially impressive, showcasing Luna’s soaring pipes over a dizzying series of scorching twin leads and white-hot hooks. Insanely catchy jams like “Hollow Ground,” “Requiem” and “Chase The Wind” set an impossibly high standard for the next decade’s would-be arena anthems. Meanwhile, the instrumental interlude “Nocturne In D Minor” features guest shots from Anna Murphy and Meri Tadic of Swiss folk-metal luminaries (and recent tour mates) Eluveitie. Triumphant performances at the UK’s Download Festival, Japan’s Loud Park and Germany’s Wacken Open Air have recently spread the HOLY GRAIL gospel overseas, while North American tours with metal monoliths Amon Amarth, Exodus, 3 Inches Of Blood and Blind Guardian have left the home front in a sweat-drenched state of HOLY GRAIL fever. Yeah, you say, but What Does It All Mean? What it means is that you’ve been reading this thing for way too long. Just press fucking play already. Holy Grail is: James-Paul Luna – Vocals Eli Santana – Lead Guitar Alex Lee – Lead Guitar Tyler Meahl – Drums Blake Mount – Bass
Royal Thunder is an Atlanta based, four-piece, progressive rock/metal, alternative band founded by lead guitarist Josh Weaver in 2006. After going through some lineup changes, Mlny Parsonz (bass/vocals) joined the group in 2007. Together, the two added drummer Lee Smith whom Weaver and Parsonz had played with in a previous band, and then last but not least Josh Coleman (rhythm guitar) was added to the fold. Royal Thunder self-recorded and released a seven song EP in late 2009 before signing with renowned independent label, Relapse Records, who re-issued the EP in 2010. The band quickly gained critical praise, being described as "Led Zeppelin astride a psychedelic unicorn" by NPR.org and "Black Math Horseman or Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, fronting Black Sabbath." by Brooklyn Vegan. Royal Thunder is set to release their proper full-length debut entitled 'CVI' via Relapse Records in the spring of 2011. 'CVI' is a sultry, southern, hard rock thinker of an album that is an absolute must have for fans of the Atlanta and Savannah hard rock scenes (Mastodon, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, etc). Royal Thunder have crafted an unforgettable, truly soulful sound with 'CVI'. With a hard-hitting, hypnotic live show that is more of a ritual than a rock concert, the four piece has been capturing audiences with their passionate performances, sharing the stage with a range of artists including Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Wovenhand, Birds of Avalon, Kylesa, and many more. Keep this band on your radar in 2012 and beyond.
You're standing along a busy street when suddenly there is an accident, and that causes another accident, and then another, and then another. Metal is scraping, sparks are flying, people are exclaiming things but you can't make out what they are. There are colors everywhere, smells, sounds; chaos. And it is the most fun you have ever had. That is what listening to The Kickass is like. Spastically heavy guitar parts. Pounding bass riffs. Amazingly on-point drumming. Actual keyboard parts (none of that one-note-hold-it stuff here). This four-piece from Greenville, NC has been combining metal, melody, and general mind-blowing musicianship into one incredibly intricate and threatening package for five years now, marching to the beat of their own otherworldly drummer. With their first full-length album, Death Metal is for Pussies (Bifocal Media), The Kickass exhibit the ability to go back and forth between heavy driving riffs, quirky time changes, and euphoniously quiet thoughtfulness.all within the same track. And as is reflected in reviews by the likes of Indieworkshop.com, Transworld Surf, and Popshot Magazine, The Kickass do indeed kick ass. In between touring constantly, the band has found time to record new songs for a split record with Continent (featuring ex-Ladderback members) to be released on Satire Records based in Japan, where they will also be touring in December of 2004. And the only thing better than listening to The Kickass is seeing them live. It is refreshing to see a band playing, really playing. Imagine watching the world collapse right in front of you and it's the most fun you've had in years. It's hard not to crack a guilty little smile every time they weave delicately between their many musical styles while never even hesitating to catch their breath. And they seem to enjoy it, which makes the whole experience remind you of why you like music in the first place.
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