ALBUM REVIEW: Foo Fighters – But Here We Are


 

Ronnie James Dio. David Bowie. Dimebag Darrell. Lemmy. Jeff Hanneman. John Lennon. Kurt Cobain. Layne Staley. Trevor Strnad.

 

Countless others.

 

We all know where we were when we first heard they had died.

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Ulver – The Assassination Of Julius Caesar


Ulver has made a career of doing the unexpected and turning it into a sublime musical journey. The uneasy alliance between artist, subject matter, and fans hasn’t always been linear, and certainly never bowing to the obvious. For some just the mere name of the band conjures up a deep well of love for their first-wave black metal releases, some 25-plus years ago. Even back then, they were the most out of the box group of artists from an era where many tried and failed to be unique. They choose to defy categorization, and follow their own pure inspiration. If you really love making or enjoying good music, old scenes don’t dictate what drives you anyway. Continue reading


Behavioral Science – Rae Amitay of Immortal Bird


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Immortal Bird may come from Chicago, but to listen to them you might think they looked out their back window and lay witness to a misty, frozen fjord. Playing a strain of modern black and death metal with other style elements mixed in, combined with striking production values heard too little from this scene they are making an impact. Having played mainly around Chicago, their did a brief US tour this winter to support their debut EP Akrasia (Closed Casket Recordings). We caught up with front woman and group mastermind Rae Amitay after their tour stop in Worcester, MA for an interview.

 

How is the tour going?

The tour is going great! I’m really happy with how everything’s been playing out. We’re really getting into the swing of things now, and I’ve gotten to see a lot of friends.”

 

How do you feel about the response the EP has gotten so far? “

It’s been pretty amazing, and I feel really good about it. You never know how people are going to react, especially to a brand new band with no point of reference, so receiving such overwhelmingly positive feedback is a relief of sorts. I’m sure we’ll get a scathing review at some point, but ideally there will be some sort of constructive criticism hidden amidst the evisceration! I’m glad people are finding something to connect with in our music.”

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What is concept behind Akrasia?

It’s not a concept album exactly, but most of the lyrics deal with the emotional repercussions of acting against one’s better judgment. That’s what ‘akrasia’ is – weakness of will – so a lot of the music explores that side of human behavior.”

 

 

Did you develop the concept and the lyrics, or the music first?

The music came first. Then as I was writing lyrics I started noticing some common themes, and ‘akrasia’ seemed to be the perfect word to describe the overarching message.”

 

Did you always envision being the front woman for this project and did you have any reservations about doing it?

I always knew I’d record the vocals for Immortal Bird, but I wasn’t sure about it ever becoming a live project until later on in the writing process. I had a few reservations, because I didn’t want us to get pigeonholed by the whole ‘female-fronted’ thing. I hate even mentioning it, honestly, because it’s so irrelevant to everything this band is about. It can be frustrating, and at times I thought I didn’t want to go through the hassle of explaining that ‘female-fronted’ is not a genre tag. Aside from a few lazy write-ups that felt compelled to repeatedly mention my gender/appearance while writing about our music, I have very few complaints.”

 

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You had a dream team of metal production gods working with you on this album. How did you get connected with Jeff Ziolo, Kurt Ballou and Brad Boatright?

Jeff came recommended to us by our live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom/Without Waves). He was a pleasure to work with and he put in a ton of hours to make sure we had a product we felt strongly about. I’d always wanted to work with Kurt and Brad, and they’re a dynamic duo of mixing/mastering, so I just went ahead and asked! I’m grateful that they took us on. I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll be working with them. Their body of work is incredible, and I still have moments where I’m incredulous that Immortal Bird’s debut EP was placed in such gifted hands. Having personnel of that caliber involved really sets the bar high for our next record!”

 

Other than the Chicago connection, how did Garry come into the project?

Garry is a good friend of mine, and he plays drums for damn near everyone in Chicago. I’d seen him play with a bunch of different bands, and it was clear to me that he could breathe new life into our material playing it live. It’s also quite beneficial to our dynamic that he and John Picillo (bass) are in another band together called Without Waves. They’ve been a rhythm section for almost a decade, and it shows. They’re completely locked in with one another, and it’s an incredibly important variable that brings our performances to a higher level.”

 

This is a return of sorts for you, coming back to the Boston area fronting your own band, as opposed to playing with others. Does this bring up any emotions for you?

Only good ones! In the past, I’ve been a hired gun. It’s an entirely different set of emotions to be on the road with a band that I created. Seeing so many friends tonight means more than I can say. Even though I live in Chicago now, this feels like ‘home’ to me.”

 

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Aside from Immortal Bird most people associate you with Thrawsunblat. What is going on in that camp?

Thrawsunblat is alive and well! We’re currently writing and plotting for our third full-length. That’s all I can say for now, but yeah, there is a bunch going on!”

 

One thing that really stands out about you the most is your talent. The novelty of women leading black and death metal bands is well over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t idiots out there. Have you had to deal with any knuckle heads so far in your career?

Oh, of course! People haven’t been nasty so much as they’ve been rude, haha. Guys have come up to me and said, “I thought your band was gonna suck because you’re a girl, but you were actually really good.” I think that’s meant as a weird backhanded sexist compliment, but moments like that make me hope that the person in question is not planning on reproducing. There was also a guy who suggested “less screaming and less clothing.” That was more blatantly knuckle-headed, and I suggested “less speaking and less breathing”. He wasn’t amused.”

 

Outside of music what are some of your hobbies you wish you had more time for?”

Frolicking with puppies. Seriously. I would love to have a dog, but with my lofty touring goals, it’s not going to be possible for a few years at least. I also wish I had more time for non-music writing. I get so preoccupied working on new songs that I don’t really have a ton of time to jot down words.

 

Immortal Bird on Facebook

Words: KEITH CHACHKES

Live photos: HILLARIE JASON PHOTOGRAPHY