METAL FOR YOUR GYM EAR: GOJIRA RETURNS WITH “MAGMA”

METAL FOR YOUR GYMEAR: GOJIRA “MAGMA”

Gojira creates another unique record with a less-is-more approach to it’s riffs. Is that a good thing though?

Through the years, the French metal messiah known as Gojira has taken the heavy world by storm, plugging it’s melodic nature through huge, crushing and simplistic hooks that have blended doom drenched production (From Mars to Sirrus) into complex progressive metal labyrinths (The Way of the Flesh). They’ve grown their fan base to a fever pitch since their last release (L’Savage) and after countless tours and word-of-mouth from fans proclaiming their live shows are second to none, they had to end up at a new road. “Magma” is now that road.

After the death of their mother the Duplanteir brothers Joe and Mario used the emotion as fuel to, instead of creating anthems, creating a giant 43-minute symphony of atmospheric vibe and pulsating feelings. This is something Gojira has always been able to do better than most. On the previously mentioned records, though filled with anthems, they all had a general purpose. On “Magma” it feels as if creating memorable songs wasn’t so much the objective as it was to create a living, breathing thing. From the opener, “Shooting Star” the canvas is set to be smeared with dark and light grays of sound, in a fit of desperation to make sense of their own emotions. From there, there are several classic Gojira hooks on tracks like “Stranded” and “Silvera” that will leave you singing along at live shows for years to come.

But this also is something I’m having trouble with on this record. As a whole, it’s beautiful, but for the most part, the band has attempted to have riffs of one open or chugged note all too often. And with his, the complexity of the album, at least for us, takes place. They have stripped down the thing we love most about the band and almost, nearly, over simplified the song writing for the full album’s sake. Progression through reduction, if you will. Songs from the past like “From the Sky” or “Oroborus” are memorable simply because the few riffs in the song are so full of hook they catch fish upon listening to them. Aside from the aforementioned tracks “Stranded” and “Silvera” without listening to the record I cannot recall many parts of the album from memory, even after 20 listens.

So with this, drive the point home that Gojira has made a complete ALBUM. And as a cover to cover it’s one gorgeous story. But unfortunately there aren’t many parts of the plot that stick out on their own. That being said, we love it, as we do with anything they release. But we do hope in future releases they can combine the catchy riff oriented tracks we love AND the full concept of an album a bit more.

METAL FOR YOUR GYMEAR: NAILS “YOU WILL NEVER BE ONE OF US”

You’re going to see a lot of reviews on this album in the next few weeks. So what I’m about to type isn’t going to be a landmark statement.

“You Will Never Be One of Us”, barring a metal miracle, is the album of the year.

Yeah we know what you’re about to say. “But Devin Townsend! But Gojira!” Yes, we get it. Those are two of our absolute favorites. But what Nails have done is not only upped their own game since “Abandon All Life” but created a beatdown that makes “Reign In Blood” it’s bitch. This is a BOLD remark, yes, but in 2016 and in modern metal, bands go for an extreme amount of compression, length of track or drop-tuning in hopes to make something heavier than the last. Nails flips this process off and by their natural habit, created a masterpiece.

In 21 minutes. (So if they don’t need a lot of time to do it, we don’t need to give you a long review!)

They only needed 17 minutes on their last album to wipe out costal seaboards. On “You Will Never Be One Of Us” they use 21 minutes to kill you in front of your spouse and wipe the corners of their mouth with your shirt. Blast beats, breakdowns, skank tempos and violent throat work in perfect harmony with each other. Powerful, hardcore disbeat punk and metal, a blissful marriage of analog saturation and ass-kicking live sounding production imaginable. And even as I listen to this for a 3rd time in an hour, I’ll probably go for listen #4 right afterwards.

Nails have created a type of heavy music that the equivilent of cocaine. A quick blast of a fix that leaves you needing more immediately. And you feel downright awful if you don’t get more. Purchase it as soon as you can.

Metal For Your Gym Ear: Gina and The Eastern Block

It’s not often we get blown away from live acts anymore on first listen. We’ve been around the ‘block’ and seen a million shows in our lifetime and you’d think it would happen more often. But sadly, many modern bands don’t put a lot of thought into their live shows anymore. They think just plugging in and playing will do the trick. But one of the fun things about seeing bands play live is when they make themselves anonymous or larger than life. A bit of mystery with a dash of untouchable. And although the following group is not metal through and through, they were so good in their brief set opening for 16 Volt in Seattle (who was as always great live themselves), I couldn’t ignore it. So here you go.

Gina and the Eastern Block are going to rule the fucking world.

I said it. I mean it. And I know this was said by countless glam bands in the late 80’s and early 90’s (…talking to you Bulletboys!) but the sound that GATEB bring to a live setting cannot be denied, even by this guy here, who is all about the death and the doom of metal as fuck as can be. But since I’m a mega-nerd of great live shows with dancers, lasers, lights and explosions….fucking give us QUITE A THING in a live setting and you win us over. It’s why bands like Rammstein, though not our favorite, are worth every penny because they are on that upper tier of “Wutang Unfuckable”.

On disc, the sound of Gina can be described as dabbling in various sub-genres, giving the listener a sample of the diversity they can offer. Ranging from a bit of Revolting Cocks twang rock(Sippin on a 40oz) to balls out electro-punk (Start A Riot) to sex-drenched Dub style (Bootsy Wally), Gina and the Eastern Block has a sound that will continue to evolve, and still leave room for everything that gives it their signature mark already. Marc Jordan, their drummer and producer, has a clever ear for a ‘to-the-point’ construction of tracks and doesn’t destroy the listeners ears with a million industrial layers of unnecessary bullshit. The Eastern Block is effective with a less-is-more approach so the tracks retain their energy and purpose.

But let’s get to the fact of the matter: it is in a LIVE setting where Gina and the Eastern Block rock the motherfuckin’ cock. From the start of their intro where the Eastern Block geared up, what appeared to be a drunk girl in black ready to do burlesque grinding on the front barrier of El Corozon, was actually Gina herself, drawing attention from every motherfucking set of eyes in the room. So by the time she crawled up on the stage and the band dropped into a way heavier version of “We Are The Streets Of The City” the room was fully engaged with Gina’s complete command of the audience. Ranging vocally from Sofia Toufa to Pink to Voodoo U-era Lords of Acid, Gina does an incredible balancing act between dominant rock diva front woman to the human equivilant of a giant Viagra pill, keeping the room hard for the whole set. The Eastern Block simply sits back and pounds and strums with every unit of energy possible while Gina crawls and grinds around with zero fucks to hand out. It’s everything I miss about live shows. Sex, Drug References and Rock’n’Fuckin-Roll. An heir of danger, confidence and foreplay to a point that would make any prude in the audience blush. Gina gets right in your silly little face, gets you wet and refuses to apologize for it.

Simply put, in the wide spectrum of sounds Gina and the Eastern Block create, they mostly give a much needed kick in the nuts to the electro-rock genre. If they continue to get in front of as many eyes as possible, mark my words, they will be EVERYWHERE in a years time. Much like her sexual rage on the stage, Gina and the Eastern Block cannot be ignored.

THE FIT AND THE FURIOUS: ROBERT CHEEKE TELLS THE WORLD TO “SHRED IT!”

So if you haven’t noticed, our blog updates have been far and few between lately. This happens when you’re trying to get tasks done, life moving and goals reached. One guy who gets this, probably more than most, is Robert Cheeke. Robert, who many in the fitness industry know, is more or less, the Godfather of the Vegan Bodybuilding movement. Arnold Schwarzenegger with more Kale and less Austria. The man with the plant based plan. And if you know the name, and you know the man, then you know from launching the Vegan Bodybuilding revolution, he’s nailed one goal after the next, all ultimately for the animals. He literally wrote the book on Vegan Bodybuilding. Twice. And the guy is on the road more than Metallica and AC/DC.

In fact, this interview took place over the course of a few weeks due to his relentless touring schedule. “Is he in a band now?” you metalheads might be asking? Not that he’s told us, but he has spend the last few years taking vegan activism and the life of a best selling author to another level. From Europe to Australia, to countless Vegan Expos and Vegfest’s as well as Fitness Expos the world over, Robert’s dedication to spreading the word of a plant based, non-cruelty lifestyle is second to none. The Oregon native (currently in Colorado) has worked with a multitude of organizations and industry people on pushing the message to every postal code possible, and slowly but surely has been cracking open stereotypes in the fitness industry that non-vegans have about those with plant power. With two simple words: SHRED IT!


Robert and Vanessa Espinosa pushin’ weight

His latest book, SHRED IT!, is a ‘can’t live without’ manual of health and fitness information, recipes, testimonials and scientifically backed facts that has endorsements from some of the biggest names in fitness, from the likes of Dr. Colin Campbell to Rich Roll. Robert’s influence on the industry has been nothing but a positive impact, a vegan muscle meteor crashing into a fitness industry in dire need of a wake up call that many of it’s archaic traditions are no longer working in a progressive world. Remember when you heard about Schwarzenegger talking about how more should back off from meat and dairy and embrace more of a plant based diet? You can bet some of this can be attributed to Robert’s work. And chances are, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Cheeke’s plan for a less cruel, healthier planet. When he was a young kid in Oregon, he wanted to be an athlete and an author. He’s living his dream, and we all benefit from it.

MMF: So, give us a run down of the insanity that has been the Robert Cheeke world tour since your latest book Shred It! was released. I think you’ve had more tour stops than Iron Maiden in the last two years. What’s it been like going around the world promoting and discussing it?

Robert Cheeke: It sure has been a wild ride. Shred It! was released in November of 2014 and I have spent the past year and half on tour. One example of how crazy it has been is that within a few days of the book’s release I took off on a 3-week tour in Australia. It was so successful, I went back a year later for another 3 weeks in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, which are all wonderful cities. At one point in late 2015 I spoke at six vegan festivals over six consecutive weekends in places far from one another such as Florida, Texas, and Oregon as well as three cities outside of the US. Over the past 18 months I have traveled all over the USA and Canada as well as exotic places such as the Caribbean, Asia and Australia.

To me, one of the best parts of being an author is going out on tour and meeting people and seeing amazing places from small towns to iconic cities. I enjoy giving presentations, signing books, and I genuinely like the travel. Being an author has opened up many amazing opportunities for me, as well as for my family, and my business. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angles, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, and London, among other places. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was eight years old so it is really rewarding to live out that dream every day. I realize that the tours could end anytime, that I could be here today and gone tomorrow and no longer relevant, so I embrace every opportunity that I have to pursue this dream and leave a positive impact on those I influence.


Robert at one of many tour stops around the globe

MMF: Along the way you’ve had to encounter some of the bigger names in the fitness industry, not just the vegan fitness industry. Have fitness personalities outside the vegan community been receptive to the message of the book?

Robert Cheeke: Part of the fun of being an author about a specific subject, in my case, plant-based fitness, is that I quickly become associated with that topic and those seeking information about the plant-based fitness lifestyle will likely find my work. I have signed books for lots of celebrities in the vegan world and outside of the vegan world, from Mike Tyson to Jay Cutler and from Def Leppard to Tony Robbins. I have not only maintained my fitness but also put on muscle since releasing Shred It!, and I think that adds credibility, especially in the eyes of the non-vegan influencers, such as Tony Horton (P90X) who I recently worked out with at his house.

Overall, my book has been received very well from the non-vegan community. I think that is because of a few core reasons, including the passion I put into it. People can often recognize effort, heart, and passion, and can see that I spilled that into my book over the 2 ½ years it took me to produce it. Furthermore, Shred It! has been endorsed by dozens of world renowned experts, including some of the biggest names in the nutrition, health, and fitness industries. Experts such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Julieanna Hever, R.D., Rich Roll, Kathy Freston, Rip Esselstyn, and about 20 other industry leaders peer reviewed and endorsed my book. These authorities in their fields have sold millions of books collectively and having their endorsement gives readers confidence that Shred It! is a good book, capable of changing lives and having a positive impact on readers.

MMF: One of the best things I’ve heard in a while was at the Portland Vegfest during the Athletes Panel with Brenda Carey and Vanessa Espinoza, you talked about the “macros” craze and had some pretty hilariously accurate choice words about it. Can you give me a little slice of that here? I know a lot of people who read the site are pretty into the “If It Fits Your Macros” craze and it’d probably be some stuff they should hear. 

Robert Cheeke: This was an interesting point during the panel discussion. We had about an hour of just Q&A, which can be challenging, but also very interactive and a lot of fun. We fielded questions from the 100 to 200-person audience and then came a question about the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) approach to nutrition. I probably overreacted to the innocently asked question when I deliberately banged my head against the table, before addressing it. It got some good laughs and then I set the tone, explaining my overreaction to the question, and addressed it head-on. Basically, my concern over this ‘nutrition’ approach is that for many people, is has little to do with nutrition. Macro-nutrients are such a small part of overall nutrition. They are a key component for sure, and too much or too little of any one of them could be problematic and have health consequences, but it is the micro-nutrients that are grossly overlooked in this scenario focused solely on macro-nutrient numbers.


Robert does pushups, any place, any time, anywhere.

For those who are unfamiliar with them, macro-nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Followers of IIFYM have specific targets, say 60% of one, and 20% each of the other two macro-nutrients. Therefore, people will aim for these targets even if the foods don’t contain actual nutrition such as pizza, ice cream, pastries, donuts, and other popular foods consumed by individuals following IIFYM. This doesn’t make sense to me. I understand aiming for specific macro-nutrient targets, and I dedicate a section in Shred It! to that subject, encouraging readers to follow a 70% (real food) carbohydrate, 15% protein and 15% fat whole-food, plant-based diet. It makes sense to have some sort of awareness of your macro-nutrient breakdown, but it makes little sense to eat foods just because they are high in one macro-nutrient if those foods don’t contain actual nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other components found in whole plant foods.

So, I spent time banging my head against the table as I addressed some of these issues in Portland. For example, would it make sense to eat donuts because you want to boost your carbohydrate intake? Of course not, as there is no nutritional gain for doing so. You might as well eat Pixie Sticks or a bag of Fun Dip. Would it make sense to drink some sort of vegetable oil to boost your fat intake? Of course not, because oil is pure fat at 4,000 calories per pound, without the nutrition that actual whole foods such as avocado, walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and coconut have. I understand the concept of IIFYM, and I have some friends who follow it and love it, because they eat real foods, for the most part, but I think it can be problematic for many people because it serves as an excuse to eat junk foods (as long as they fit your macros for the day). One of my main underlying themes in my approach to achieving success in health and fitness is to change behaviors to create positive habits. Eating junk foods because they fit your macros is not a healthy way to create positive habits. It’s like taking a few steps forward and then a step backward every week, or every day for some people, which will often minimize or even completely negate progress.
Our outcomes in and health and fitness, and to some degree in life in general, are often largely based on our habits. Our true behaviors and habits (not the things we think we’re doing and what we post about in social media status updates) reveal our priorities and dictate our outcomes. Eating junk food daily, in significant quantities in many cases, if people are being totally transparent, is not a healthy or effective way to achieve positive health and fitness results. Therefore, I hope the banging of my head on the table has now been partially justified.


Us with Trin of Dragonz Fitness and Robert at Portland Vegfest 2015

MMF: It seems like every day the Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness Facebook group has tons more members (26,000+!), celebrities are announcing they’ve gone vegan, more documentaries are coming out, etc. So with the vegan explosion on a worldwide level, do you feel as if the global awakening is in full swing? And as someone who is a leader in their respective field, do you have some ideas about how the movement can continue to grow?

Robert Cheeke: First of all, thank you, Dru, for being an admin for our Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness Facebook group! I remember sitting in a restaurant with you in Seattle a few years ago, talking about the community we managed. I was worried about the group surpassing 10,000 members because it was becoming more and more challenging to run with so many passionate people expressing various strong opinions on one topic or another. I appreciate you being part of the growth we’ve been able to experience as a company, as a brand, and as a community. I know I’m dating myself here, but I became vegan before the Internet came around, so I’ve been able to witness a lot of changes over the past couple of decades that I’ve been a vegan athlete. The awareness of a vegan lifestyle is greater than it has ever been. You’re right, there are so many celebrities, athletes, films, musicians, and other influencers who are adopting a vegan lifestyle and promoting it. From mega superstars like Carrie Underwood (super popular in country music) to powerful films like Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy, the world is taking notice of the growing increase in the vegan lifestyle.

When I first went out on tour about 10 years ago there were relatively few vegetarian festivals. They existed in places like Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, Portland, San Francisco, Toronto, a couple of cities in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and that was it, it seemed. Today there are so many vegan festivals around the world it is hard to keep up with them. In fact, when before I had to wait weeks in between one festival and another, now I have seen as many as six vegan festivals taking place on the same day! As a touring speaker, the hard part these days is deciding which event to go to. For example, I’ll be selecting Denver VegFest over Chicago VegFest this summer and London (UK) VegFest over Melbourne, Portland, and many others taking place the same weekend. The same goes for selecting Atlanta over Tampa and London (ON) in November.
In the early days of my vegan lifestyle there were only a handful of vegan “meat” products. Now there are more than I can keep up with from brands such as Beyond Meat, Tofurky, Gardein, and Field Roast. The same goes for vegan cheeses, vegan ice cream, non-dairy milks, and essentially everything from eggs to sweet and sour pork, it’s all being made vegan these days. As someone who promotes a whole-food, plant-based diet, I don’t eat a lot of these foods, but the fact that they exist in major grocery store chains such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, and in basically every other major chain, is a clear sign of changing times. Vegan restaurants are also booming like never before, some even have chains with lots of locations such as Loving Hut, Veggie Grill, and Native Foods to name a few. The world vegan is listed on menus from International restaurants to every day common restaurants, due to customer demand. The overall number of vegans is skyrocketing in the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia, especially.

The number of vegan books, TV shows, actors, actresses, and influencers of all types continues to grow on a daily basis. One needs only to look to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or God forbid, YouTube (try to avoid the bacon comments. You can’t), and search the word #vegan to learn exactly how popular this movement is.

To continue to make forward progress in our effort for a more compassionate world, we need to make veganism as mainstream and as accessible as possible. I’d love to see mainstream athletes like LeBron James, Tom Brady, and others who have a massive influence, adopt a vegan lifestyle and promote it. The same goes for musicians, doctors, TV personalities, Presidents, and so on. People in a position of influence (millions upon millions of social media followers, TV audiences, stadium audiences and so forth) have an amazing capacity to create positive change if they choose to use their platform for such a noble effort. When the vegan lifestyle becomes more mainstream more animals will be saved, lives will be spared, and our planet will benefit. Until every cage is empty, we move onward in our quest for compassion, leading by positive example.


Robert and Vanessa doin’ work!

MMF: Knowing your work ethic, I’m guessing you already have another book planned for the future? Do you think you’ll be expanding on the Shred It! message or heading possibly into another direction or set of topics?

Robert Cheeke: To be fully transparent, you sent me these interview questions months ago, and I apologize for the delay getting back to you. It is easy to make excuses and say that I was traveling, often for weeks at a time before coming back home, all the while running my business and keeping up with a high social media presence I’m known for, but I also spent plenty of time lying on a beach, on a couch, or seated at a poker table, so I don’t use excuses. But what I will say is that from the time you sent me these interview questions to the time I’m following up, I have nearly completed a new book. I am co-authoring a plant-based fitness book with my training partner, Vanessa Espinoza, and our first draft is nearly completed. It won’t be out for months, but yes indeed, I am busy working away on a new book while I continue to tour with Shred It!. Al the while, I am working on other business projects like releasing a whole new clothing line and growing our social media communities to try to get the attention of big New York publishers. I think Shred It! is my signature book, you know, much like a band has their best album. I released Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness more than five years ago, and released a companion book to Shred It! in January of 2016, but I believe that Shred It! is my stand alone best book.

One thing that I’m considering is pitching it to big New York publishers and seeing if I can get book deal to get Shred It! into bookstores all over the country and make it more mainstream. We’ve sold thousands of copies directly, through our website and in person, and I have toured all over the world, and I think we can present a compelling case to get published by a major publisher. My books have sold tens of thousands of copies combined, and my social media following is in the hundreds of thousands, and I’m optimistic we can take Shred It! mainstream in due time. In the meantime, I have another book to finish.


Robert with Phil from Def Leppard

MMF: With the site being a combo of metal and fitness, I’ve personally talked to a lot of musicians that are or have been vegan or recently made the switch. Phil Collen from the legendary rock band Def Leppard is someone you know. Have you guys met face to face and talked shop before? What do you think it means to the vegan rock community to have a huge name like him representing us?

Robert Cheeke: I don’t consider myself much of a music guy, but throughout my years on the road I have come across numerous vegan musicians, including Phil from Def Leppard. I’ve been friends with John Joseph from the Cro-Mags for years, and I met the (now former, after 19 years) drummer of the Goo Goo Dolls, Mike Malinin, who is also vegan, and Stic Man from Dead Prez, another vegan. I first met Phil years ago in Los Angeles. I had no idea who he was, but my friend is a huge Def Leppard fan, and when I learned he was in the band I asked Phil if he would sign a photo for my buddy. A year later I was backstage at a Def Leppard concert in Massachusetts (with the friend I got the signed photo for) and we got to go on the tour bus and hangout backstage. It was a really cool experience and it was my first time attending a major concert since seeing The Smashing Pumpkins in 1997 as a teenager. Recently, Def Leppard came to Denver, where I currently reside. I reached out to Phil, and sure enough, my girlfriend and I were hanging out backstage with all access passes. Phil is a super nice guy, and incredibly fit vegan at age 57, and is the co-lead guitarist for an iconic rock band. I think it is awesome for the vegan movement. While back stage we even saw vegan cake, almond milk, foods labeled as ‘vegan,’ and I think it is very encouraging. Def Leppard has an all-vegan tour bus as well since drummer, Rick Allen, is also vegan. I’m sure you know plenty of other vegan musicians, being in the music industry. These people mentioned above are just some that I’ve come across during my travels. It sure makes touring more interesting showing up at Cro-Mags concert wearing a sweater and collared shirt and being told to stay off to the side so I don’t get hurt from the flailing limbs in the mosh pit, or whatever it is called.


Get your copy at http://www.veganbodybuilding.com

METAL FOR YOUR GYM EAR: HATEBREED “THE CONCRETE CONFESSIONAL”

Shit is opening up now like a wound. There are a lot of metal and heavy music releases we’re excited about for the year going forward. Which is crazy considering we’ve heard a lot of sick tunes already in 2016. So When we say “oh this might be album of the year” it’s something we might have to eat our words on later. But we’ll just get this out of the way now that “The Concrete Confessional” from Hatebreed will be in that top ten list.

Now it’s not automatic just because the Hatebreed boys released a disc that we’ll say that. It has to be stellar otherwise we’ll make that face like we just sucked on a lemon. But thankfully, and maybe unnoticed by some, they’ve stuck with their based East Coast formula since blowing up on the scene AND managed to slowly either let some pure thrash metal influence seep into their sound (such as on the track “A.D.”) or they’ve reverted to make the original hardcore stylings sound modern and fresh. It works and it’s always solid, or fucking solid. We have the sliding scale of “solid”.

And whether or not they slip in the obvious Slayer riff influence, and it’s been going on for a while so that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, it doesn’t do anything to sway their base message of self empowerment and improvement to create a better world for yourself and the people around you. Jasta and company, more or less, beat the shit out of the listener in hopes that it toughens them up to face any adversary heading their way. Hatebreed brings the energy, drops a filthy breakdown and waves the “PMA” flag for all to see. They’ve even stockpiled hefty political messages in some of the tracks for good measure. Sure, their sound is often panned by metal hipsters saying their too big to relate to the common kid (which is bullshit) but you can even be an older hardcore kid like myself at heart and know you’ll always get a punchy mix, to-the-point hardcore inspired tracks and a message that gives you enough confidence to face bad traffic, a shit boss, shady friends or the store being out of your favorite flavor of ice cream. Daily struggles and such, ya know? Hatebreed returns with our favorite record of theirs since The Rise Of Brutality. 22 years and Hatebreed is still in the prime of their career. Buy this and crank this.

METAL FOR YOUR GYM EAR: THE WRETCHED END GOES BACK TO THE BLACK METAL FOREST

If you were to ask us “name your favorite modern guitar players” we would have quite a list of people we have been influenced by and enjoy the most. Devin Townsend of course tops our list (probably forever) but one of the names that is in our top 5 is Samoth, famed axe murderer from Emperor and the mighty Zyklon. Pretty much anything he’s done with the major projects listed above is high on our best ever list, especially the work on “World ov Worms” with Zyklon as it served as a great launching pad towards separating himself from the black metal genius of Emperor. So when The Wretched End became a project, teaming with Cosmo from the SCUM project, we had a feeling it would be something good.

Three albums into it, The Wretched End is still serving as a quality creative outlet for Samoth, even if it has taken a bit to get the latest album, In These Woods From These Mountains, released. But all good things come to those who wait. In the 4 years since their last, TWE have taken their sweet ass time constructing an album that unlike their previous two, tap into the Nordic Black Metal influence unheard of from Samoth since his Emperor days. Sure, Zyklon and The Wretched End have shown a bit of that traditional ‘burnin’ down the church’ black as fuck flair, but from the first few minutes of the outstanding “Dead Icons” you’re submerged back into a familiar sound which will not only surprise the listener (unless they read this, then the surprise is now ruined I suppose) but fill your heart with that warm & cuddly fury from the days of old, when you’d put on “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” and freak the fuck out at it’s breakneck speed and evil symphonic sorcery. And this album has a metric fuck ton of this. Where Inroads and Ominous were death and thrash as possible, In These Woods From These Mountains is Samoth and Cosmo rolling with what felt best during the process and it comes across not as a “well too many fanboys wanted a new old Emperor sounding record so here you go” compromise, but a legit down-to-their-core beast of an album with Samoth ruling the 6 strings with the style that has brought him fame: fast, furious, evil black metal chord progressions with a dash of thrash and oven baked at 666 degrees.

And while we should wish to take this album on our next hiking adventure (it’s got a name that at first makes you think it’s an adventure novel for mountain climbers…but we get what it really is talking about) it would just scare the shit out of us in a darkened woodland area. In These Woods From These Mountains is an avalanche of all things Samoth, and should not be ignored as a vital release in 2016 from one of metal’s best guitarist and songwriters.

FUEL FOR THE FIRE:THE GREAT WESTERN HEALTHKILL

The National Football League, when it’s not covering up scandals and employing wife beaters and accomplices to murder, sometimes promotes some good to the world. Their PLAY 60 campaign encourages young ballers to get off their asses, put the Xbox down, and play outside at least 60 minutes a day. Beings we’re behind anything involving physical activity, we applaud the NFL for this program.


As long as they don’t play “Greg Hardy and Aldon Smith’s Wacky Adventures”

Unfortunately, in a new report released literally 23 minutes before I started typing this article, childhood obesity in America is still going up. Why? Well the simple scientific answer is the same as it’s always been: eat more calories than you’re burning off as energy. And as of 2012, 18% of kids 6-11 years old were obese. But there’s more to it.

Apparently China got jealous and decided the Eric Cartman look was a better fit for their youth as their own childhood obesity is on the rise as well. Back in the 80’s only 1% of Chinese kids were obese. As of 2014 it’s at around 13% (17% for boys, 9% for girls) and you probably could guess the traditional Chinese diet has shifted to more fat, low fiber thanks to a culture bomb known as the slow colonization including western food. And it’s not video games doing it, it’s what is consumed while doing nothing to burn the sugar off.

Now I know what you’re saying (I’ve bugged your house and wiretapped your phone). You’re probably saying “But Dru, don’t you want a fatter, plumper America so you can have more clients?”

As a fitness professional we love clients but we also know a healthy country is a happier, smarter country for the most part. And right now that is simply not happening. Michelle Obama did implement the “Let’s Move” campaign a bit ago, but that worked as well as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign in the 80’s. It was put out there, people thought it was a great slogan as they were doing lines of coke off Samantha Fox’s ass at the local discotech. And the same goes for the “Let’s Move” push. America is now pushing around 6 million kids with not just obesity but SEVERE obesity. The kind that leads to the early development of kid diabetes, lil’ hypertension and My First Asthma. Additionally these statistics are where? You guessed it, mostly in the poorer cities and those with on the lower class side of things.

If you’re in the fitness industry like us, you know that the large bulk of people who come to us for help lack one thing: how to implement a nutrition plan. The sad fact that we’re in an age of any information you need right at your fingertips, but it’s primarily being used to do Google searches on things other than “proper diet” or “nutrition”. And it’s a fact that obese children generally have obese parents as well. The lack of information and/or the implementation of the information is all to often promoted more in one direction while unimportant things or bad information is shoveled towards the lower economic bracket.


BUT IT HAS CALCIUM! IT SAYS RIGHT THERE MAN!!!

Maybe it’s on us, in the fitness industry, to do more to reach kids. Many that are considered in the fitness industry spend so much time promoting to grow a business we forget that the information we have isn’t inclusive and should be used to help EVERYONE if we’re able to spread it around. Since it seems mass marketing and bad information (like boxed juice has some sort of nutritional content which is FUCKING WRONG) keeps getting pushed to kids like heroin to a Seattle musician. Much like when a rockstar has the microphone to spread a message to fight the establishment, this is where us as fitness industry professionals can get our punk rock on and get the word out as much as possible, industry of showing how awesome we look with our shirt off in front of a mirror on social media all the time. If the NFL is making a better effort than us, it’s time for us to step up.

METAL FOR YOUR GYM EAR: THE 2016 DUAL THREAT OF ABORTED

I guess we need to do this because quite frankly, we’re a metal blog that loves all things fitness. And whenever the Belgium “Waffling Your Face With A Bat” band Aborted releases something, we typically get giddy. Giddy as a pig in shit.

And this time, it’s more like a pig in shit that realizes they just won the lottery.

Retrogore; boasts one of the best throwback style album covers since the 80’s. Why they did this? We’re only going to guess because they love their craft but don’t take life 100% serious. So instantly, if you’re into the comical gore side of metal, that should make you a fan.


Told ya they are silly

Hit play and you’re blindsided, however, with a box of razors being dumped on your head from 100 feet up. Aborted manages to improve on every level from their previous stellar releases (if that was even possible), from songwriting to production as they keep their well known “Precision Death Gore” sound intact. Occasionally dousing the listener with gasoline marked “slam” or shoving a timely breakdown into your mouth, for the most part it’s non-stop double bass drum-struction being dry humped by some of the best metal riffs you’ve heard since “Arise” and vocalist Sven de Caluwé is so on target you’d think he’d be wearing tan slacks and restocking socks. From “Bit by Bit” to the title track Retrogore, he allows his dual-threat viciousness to weave in and out of the constant barrage of death metal punches and kicks to the gut, as you’d expect. He’s easily one of the most under appreciated vocalists in the game today.

Earlier this year they released their 20th anniversary EP “Termination Redux” and essentially proclaimed “this is our year motherfucker!” and the band could be right. Not many bands can release two near flawless releases in such a close amount of time. But Aborted are professionals, masters at their craft. At this point they’d have to go completely full retard to miss their mark with anything they do. And Retrogore should, will, and could end up on many a top ten or top five to end the year. For us, it’s a ‘you bet your ass’ lock to be on ours. Lift heavy shit to it, thrash your neighbors car to it, make sweet love to you and your two girlfriends to it. It’s an all-purpose blitz of heavy music that’s as creative and deadly as they come.

Metal Made Workouts: Less Press, More Pull

Walk into your neighborhood gym and quickly write down on a piece of paper, what you more than anything else.

Did you write down “Bros”? “Bad Form”? “Cardio Princesses”? “Bros hounding Cardio Princesses with Bad Form”? “That One Guy Who Looks Like Vern Fonk with a Journey Tour T-Shirt from 1982”?


Or did you write down “these guys”?

All these are solid answers. It’s nothing we could actually dispute since we’ve literally seen all these. One thing however we see a lot of is poor posture, and more specifically “Rounded Shoulders”.

While there are a few people out there who claim to have naturally rounded shoulders, like anything with the human body, this is stuff that is typically an imbalance. The culprit? CHEST-PRESS-LEMANIA. Too often than not, vanity muscles are over trained while neglect on the REALLY IMPORTANT ONES takes place.

What do we consider the important ones? Let me introduce you to my good friend “The Posterior Chain”.


Most of our friends don’t have skin. We’re weird like that.

Now it’s not that everyone steers away from the posterior chain. In fact, Deadlift Mania is almost as popular as that fake Chest Presslemania thing I invented above. And while that isn’t a bad thing, a lot of people can’t pull off a decent deadlift due to limited hip flexor mobility and bad form. Defend Proper Form with all your blood and sweat people! Defend it til your death!

There are other causes of rolled over shoulders that are not due to imbalance. For example, older folks spines can actually bend and roll over forward because of the kyphosis associated with osteoporosis. For them, exercise will not help with the correction of the issue, but with exercise and strengthening the posterior chain, it will dampen the severity of the kyphosis.

Better than not, folks who are smart enough to PROPERLY train the posterior chain (mad flow skills there from MC Metal Made) probably have pretty upright posture with good shoulder positioning. At least we hope dearly. And having proper shoulder posture can be a number of things but over training with chest press exercises is often the biggest reasons.

“I’ve seen bootcamps where people make plans that have WAY too many press exercises and not enough pull movements”, says Michael Bailey, a super skilled trainer out of Redmond, Wa. “Like a million pushups or so. And considering so many workouts are push oriented, it creates that imbalance that keeps people hunched over”. He has a point. He literally said this before in conversation and I’m not making it up. He’s a real person in fact. Oh yeah, and add in “texting neck” or “sitting at a PC all day” and you have a recipe for disaster as far as upright, nice, clean posture is concerned.


Going back to the stone ages. Like as in “caveman posture” stone ages.

What can we suggest? Recently we stopped lifting heavy because we got bored with it (it’s boring) and knew that for function purposes it didn’t serve our agenda to go up the sides of mountains. So the program we created has completely abandoned the Bro Culture moves everyone is so obsessed with beating like a dead horse. We have 3 total chest moves all week, and everything else is concentrated on keeping our body upright with a neutral spine, a lot of unilateral stances and contra-lateral moves and anything that will “pull our shoulders back”. So far our progress has been excellent as we’re standing up straighter and more like a superhero.

So if you stand in the mirror and notice this to be a problem, review your training program and scale back on all that chest for a bit and up the rear deltoid, trap and lat moves until things even out. And pro tip number two? Start observing your posture in the mirror or windows you walk by. If you see yourself slouched like a couch, stand the F up! You’ll feel like a rockstar after a few days of doing so. Without all the post-tour hangovers.

METAL FOR YOUR GYM EAR: HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH “DETESTOR EP”

There are very few projects right now that make me lose my mind with an unrestrained orgasm of “oh my god” upon hearing new tracks of the band. So let it be known when I hear anything Humanity’s Last Breath releases, this is usual the reaction.

Pick something up. Throw it. Scream. Collapse and laugh an insane laugh of pleasure.

“Detestor” is only an EP, a short play of 5 full tracks of brand new fury. But the amount of talent Buster Odeholm contains is more than 95% of the whole djentcore (or whatever) sub-genre has as a collective. It’s one guy doing this destruction. As in the same way Devin Townsend can create a one man army of wall to wall positive progressive metal by his lonesome, Odeholm manages to write symphonies of the most crushing, diverse and uneasy beatdown tunes imaginable. Or possible.

As with the last self-titled release, Buster doesn’t fuck around from the start. He sets the seed of creepiness down, pours battery acid on it, and it turns into it’s own uncontrollable monster hell bent on eviscerating anything in it’s path. “Detestor” is a fucking nightmare of punishing drops and switches, in which no light or happiness can go within several miles of it without risking death. “Detestor” is so good it’s nauseating to the point of making you sicker than hearing Donald Trump’s speeches. The EP is so heavy that bros constantly try to dead lift it, only to fail miserably in front of the gym babe they’re trying to impress….Because it weighs a incomprehensible metric fuck-ton of concrete. If you look up “heavy music” in the dictionary, this EP would come up behind you and crush your skull with a bat and leave you to bleed out on the pages. If “Detestor” was an MMA fighter, it would mount you and pound your face in, even after the ref calls it, to the point of getting disqualified for not stopping the violence. If you want to keep kids from ever going into the basement, tell them this EP lives down there and it will disembowel you if you go down there.

I think that sums up how we feel about the new Humanity’s Last Breath EP. This looks to be an incredible year for heavy music. In our book, this is the top release so far. And it will take a stroke of genius to dethrone it.

GET IT HERE NOW