We Must Obey is one year old!

Holy crap. Little did I know when I started this little blog on May 23rd, 2011, that it would be where it is today. Little did I realise I would have a nice little thing going on, with people from around the world viewing this little site and actually giving a crap about what I, and occasionally Michael, have to say, on subjects as diverse as rock, metal, live music, videos, popular topical culture, idiotic journalists, cake, beer, local issues, etc.
It goes without saying I’d like to thank each and every one of you who has supported the site is anyway since its inception. The labels, the PR firms, the bands, the gig venues. And you, the readers, the fans. And anyone I forgot.
We’re still a small operation and I, in particular, am hampered by woefully falling behind most modern technology and instead am really running this show on a shoestring. Limited access to internet, a laptop that barely works, and a reliance on listening to albums on the commute. If I were forced to continue down that path, I’d still be as happy as the day I started – listening to heavy music is my force majeure, and discovering new bands is my musical caffeine, and forever will be.
At this stage I ought to give a special shout out to Lauren Barley at Rarely Unable, who has done a fantastic job filling me in and keeping me informed on a lot of wonderful heavy music and some weird and wonderful stuff too that has truly broadened my mind. Not least of all for getting me in touch with a world I was previously not used to. A special shout out also goes for Chris at Witch Hunter too, Paul Priest, and any bands and indeed anyone who has e-mailed my inbox in the knowledge of having little or no chance of a reply. And certainly not least, cheers Mike for chipping in with your wonderfully-worded reviews and live pieces. That Five Finger Death Punch rant always makes me chortle.
My lack of resources and indeed the roving eye of copyright means none of you won’t be getting a mixtape out of me, or a sneaky free download or anything like that. However, I decided to give the site a lick of paint, which I sincerely hope you appreciate, and in addition, I’m going to provide you with a video I’m pretty sure is harder to come by than an issue of Kerrang that doesn’t feature the Black Veil Brides these days. This is the Combat Tour 1985, dubbed The Ultimate Revenge, featuring Exodus, Slayer and Venom in their prime. I was only a nipper when this tour took place. The only reason I wish I was about 20 years older. Three kick ass bands, all metal, all raging. Enjoy.
I’m going to mutedly celebrate privately at home tonight with my family and anyone else who happens to be there. With beer. And maybe cake. I deserve it, cos I work my backside off for this blog, and I will as long as it’s humanly possible.
Merci!
Peter Clegg

Visions: Municipal Waste – The Fatal Feast (NSFW)

I’m by and large a big fan of Municipal Waste, having been a big part of satiating my wish for thrash to be the in thing in my lifetime – I missed the original wave as I was blissfully unaware, due to young age, of the effect this style of music was to have on my neck one day. I’ve been quick to obtain their albums upon release and have enjoyed them all right up to ‘Massive Aggressive‘, which was still a great album even if not quite on a par with the two albums that preceded it.

The ‘Waste are back with ‘The Fatal Feast‘ and the title track is the inspiration for a brilliantly and typically over the top video from the Richmond crew, as they engorge their way through a space vessel’s crew and its rescue team. The track itself surprised me at first with its more melodic vocals – but its no less thrashy and old school and it certainly picks up a gear at the right time. Their bloodlust is seemingly insatiable and hence, its every bit the reason you should probably not let your boss catch you watching this. As comical as it is, there’s always plenty of blood to be spilled in Municipal Waste’s world, and they’re not holding back here. After the jump.

Peter Clegg 

Municipal Waste – The Fatal Feast (official video)

Overkill – The Electric Age

Overkill

The Electric Age
Nuclear Blast
Within many walks of life, age is seen as a potential barrier to any further progress or indeed success. Within music and indeed heavy metal, it couldn’t be any more the opposite. Showing absolutely no signs of letting up even as they get well into their fifties, New Jersey thrashers Overkill have unleashed sixteenth album ‘The Electric Age‘ to the masses, off the back of the incredibly well-received and thoroughly awesome ‘Ironbound‘, which no question was a huge shot in the arm for the band which arrived just as the thrash revival began to run out of steam. 
 
The Electric Age‘ continues off the excellent work on ‘Ironbound‘, with opening pair ‘Come and Get It’ and ‘Electric Rattlesnake’ full of sneering attitude, trademark Overkill shred and cracking vocals, led respectively by bassist D.D. Verni and vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth. The latter of those songs is one I’m still listening to over and over again for weeks; it’s so infectious as it bounds into the chorus, Blitz singing: ‘More,  than you can take/make no mistake/I’m an electric rattlesnake‘. Elsewhere, the New Jersey guys demonstrate impressive variation to straight ahead thrashing, with the blues-thrash of ‘Black Daze’ and the melodicism of ‘Drop the Hammer Down’, a thrash/heavy metal anthem like the days of old, yet at no point does the proverbial electricity in their sound let up.
Overkill – Electric Rattlesnake (official video)

The Electric Age‘ is certainly a must-have album for any thrash fan and any self-respecting metal fan in particular, although I’m personally of the disposition that this doesn’t quite match the lofty standard set by ‘Ironbound‘, which was arguably up there with the glories of ‘Feel the Fire‘ and ‘Horrorscope‘. Where its predecessor was lifted by the energisation of the recent thrash metal revival, ‘The Electric Age’ is more a continuation of their recent fine fettle, with one or two tracks that don’t quite do it for me in quite the same way.

Crucially though, it still kicks a hell of a lot of ass, and you won’t find a thrash metal band who wears that badge on their sleeve more than Overkill. They’re not pandering to trends, or retro worshipping, instead just ploughing ever forward with the searing heads down, play hard, thrash harder mentality that has embodied them their whole career. Bands half their age or younger would struggle to keep up with Overkill on this form, and it feels as though there’s nothing that could possibly stop them at the moment. Can the young whippersnappers keep up with Overkill? Can you, the listener, keep up? This is Overkill’s invitation to bang your head – better late than never. As the opening track says, ‘come and get it!
Peter Clegg

Vektor – Outer Isolation

Vektor
Outer Isolation
Heavy Artillery

While thrash enjoyed something of a mainstream resurgence in the last few years, one band became a buzzword among underground thrash fans and yet haven’t received the attention of their less forward thinking peers. Crossover and Exodus baiting are all well and good, but why not push the boat out a little. Thirteen minute progressive sci-fi thrash metal odysseys? Ladies and gentlemen, and the uninitiated, welcome to Vektor, an outfit mixing old-school values with the lyrical vision of Voivod and classic science-fiction. Their debut ‘Black Future‘ is seen a something of a rare undiscovered diamond, so standout it was from other releases of the time, but chances are you probably haven’t heard of it as they didn’t get swept up in the first instance.

The surprise factor may have disappeared for the initiated, but Vektor still have plenty to offer the unsuspecting potential fan, and ‘Outer Isolation‘ delivers that in spades. The riffs churn and probe more than ever, and are incredibly distinct and memorable, an ace in the deck for any would-be standout thrash band in 2011. The ten-minute, multi-limbed ‘Cosmic Cortex’ is a swirling vortex of riffs, soloing and blackened blasts and screams spewing forth from the Arizonans. There’s so many awesome riffs in there, blackened or not, as sums up Vektor in a nutshell pretty well. Unlike ‘Black Future‘, where they broke the 10-minute barrier on more than one occasion, there are no further forays of such duration on ‘Outer Isolation‘, yet this doesn’t shackle Vektor one bit, often displaying several memorable moments per track A sickening turn of pace halfway through ‘Echoless Chamber’ is one such example, adhering to old-school thrills, and the riff that appears near the beginning and end of ‘Venus Project’ is so different and intense it almost channels an unearthly threat. Vektor always recognised the need to input a melody when necessary, the surf-esque lick in ‘Tetrastructural Minds’ being a highlight, as is the mid-section of the title track. I could go on about these key points within tracks, but they’re too numerous to mention them all, and they wouldn’t be so important were the bits inbetween them so damn incredible.

The eight tracks here further emphasise Vektor’s portrayal of the future as bleak, barren and destined to become hostile. Frontman David DiSanto has a voice perfect for this material – his scowl has a quality that seems almost alien in its delivery, adding to the authenticity of the lyrical themes. His screams (such as those on ‘Fast Paced Society’) make it seem as though extraterrestrial beings are conducting experiments on him as he lies awake, with lead guitarist Erik Nelson hellbent on getting every skronk, solo and squeal out of his guitar in another impressive lead performance.

Put simply, Vektor have proved themselves not to be one trick ponies, although the constant fast pace could do with being reined in a little more in future. That’s just a minor quibble – Vektor may wind up being a distant star, one admired by few from afar and not being fully appreciated for their majesty. Justice decrees their bionic thrash should be worthy of gracing more lost souls in need of an original metal fix. ‘Outer Isolation‘ is an impressive roadmap for a dystopian metal prognosis, and if Vektor were to be at the helm of that potential future, I’d honestly lend myself to their vision.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Outer Isolation‘ here
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Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience

Savage Messiah
Plague of Conscience

Earache

British melodic heavy metallers Savage Messiah certainly generated themselves some welcome publicity when they announced they’d be giving their new album ‘Plague of Conscience‘ away for the price of your e-mail address just a couple of weeks ago, allowing their fans to taste the album prior to its official January 2012 release, ahead of the major press outlets and without resorting to piracy either. The move is nothing new (labelmates Gama Bomb did the same thing in November 2009 for ‘Tales From the Grave in Space‘) but its still bold to risk your album sales for free promotion and hope of added merch sales.

The promotion is something Savage Messiah could do with. They possess the same melodic metal abilities as the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium, etc. while maintain a slight thrash leaning that beefs them up enough to distinguish them from the pack. It owes more to Megadeth, Testament, and contemporaries like Evile musically than the more mainstream acts, and this gives them a good platform to work from. Unfortunately, ‘Plague of Conscience‘ doesn’t quite exploit the potential shown by the band. The groundwork was there on previous albums ‘Spitting Venom‘ and ‘Insurrection Rising‘, and despite its best efforts, I don’t feel ‘Plague of Conscience‘ goes far enough. There’s nothing much wrong with the songs, with some pretty enjoyable numbers like ‘Carnival of Souls’ and ‘All Seeing I’, and the guitarists are certainly on fire during the solo sections, but ultimately its all a bit too samey for the first nine tracks, as good as the tracks are in terms of quality.

It takes right up until the final song, ‘The Mask of Anarchy’, for Savage Messiah to truly spread their wings and attempt something different, even if its fairly indifferent within metal circles. At 8:37 in length, it has plenty of time to breathe and develop, starting as an acoustic ballad before shifting into heavy mode, back to acoustic, and then heavy again with some more impressive noodling. For me its by far the best track on the album, and leaves me questioning why they left such an approach late?

Plague of Conscience‘ is certainly more palatable than the majority of the radio friendly hard rock/metal frontline (although that’s not too difficult in itself) and they ought to be challenging them, putting themselves in the mixer and pushing onwards. Having not quite been swept up by thrash’s brief renaissance, ‘Plague…‘ for me represents an opportunity for Savage Messiah, with the right backing, to take the bull by the horns, and will certainly appeal to those looking to try something a little heavier and truer. But its not quite exceptional, and Savage Messiah may just want to take a few more risks in future to get ahead in this game.

Peter Clegg

Download ‘Plague of Conscience‘ here (e-mail sign-up required)
Officially released on Monday 23rd January, 2012

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The trial of Conrad Murray – a musical analysis

As Dr. Conrad Murray awaits his sentencing for the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson, We Must Obey implements a musical analysis at three other elements in this court case: money, the media, and those who gathered outside the courts on a daily basis. Needless to say, there’s going to be some true words, and some harsh ones too – PC

Many of us will never know exactly what went down at the time of the death of Michael Jackson and the guilty verdict delivered to his doctor, Conrad Murray, with only the accounts of what was stated in the courtroom and on the newswires as word.

One thing is certain. America, don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope you’re happy you’ve got your scapegoat.

Throughout this whole trial, Murray looked like a rabbit in the headlights. Rightfully so, because yes, he is guilty of not following medical code, guilty of unethical practice, and guilty not doing enough to save Jackson when it was critical to take action, and ultimately allowed himself to get caught up in the media circus that was Jackson’s life, though it wasn’t he who admitted the lethal dose in the end.

But whatever your opinion and regardless of the verdict, some of the fervour from the mainstream news outlets and the shameful hoo-rah brash triumphalism of Jackson’s fans really got me in the mood for some commentary on justice, whether true or fair or even clearly decrepid. That, or songs that tell of the downfall of a subject in general. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the songs serving as an alternative musical analysis to this sorry situation.

Metallica – …And Justice For All
[from ‘…And Justice For All‘, Vertigo, 1988]

It’s plain for all to see that such was Jackson’s celebrity status that there was a huge amount of money to be made from Murray’s trial. And like it or not, it’s hard not to look past that fact and wonder what influence it played. The title track from Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’ may be twenty-three years old, and a beast at nine minutes, fourty-four seconds in length, but to this day musically and lyrically remains relevant – indeed it sticks out like a sore thumb on the issue of justice. For Murray, justice really is ‘so grim, so true, so real‘. And ultimately, the client with the biggest team of lawyers won. No prizes for guessing who did have the largest ensemble. The only flaw here of course is that I’m not suggesting the trial was corrupt, although no doubt there had to be a lot of outside influence by the money men.

Bad Religion – Los Angeles Is Burning
[from ‘The Empire Strikes First‘, Epitaph, 2004]

There’s not many songs that hit the nail on the head about mainstream media than Bad Religion’s ‘Los Angeles Is Burning’. The standout single from ‘The Empire Strikes First‘, while not as memorable as some of their other classic material across their 31 year history, showcases Greg Graffin’s incredible lyrical ability as he weaves here a scathing attack on Los Angeles’ ‘media mecca’, who in this instance gave this story incredible levels of coverage. But LA isn’t the only one to blame.

In this country, I can’t remember a time when I wouldn’t flick to Sky News to see yet more coverage of this case. At a time when the eurozone is in meltdown and when conflict is rife in other parts of the world, you wonder if the mass media have their priorities straight. Clearly only viewing figures matter to them, and when you see the kinds of gatherings of ‘fans’ outside the courts, practically eating from the hand of sensationalised coverage, in itself no doubt creating this sort of frenzy. It only perpeturates the circus that Jackson created around him and turns the whole thing into a sordid sideshow.

D.R.I. – Think For Yourself
[from ‘4 of a Kind‘, Metal Blade, 1988]

This is more a broadside I’m using at the masses of people who gathered outside the courtroom, Michael Jackson’s fans. Quite simply, I don’t agree with fans of anyone getting tried by law gathering outside a courtroom. What exactly have you to do with the case? But more appropriately, what brought you there in the first place? Clearly Jackson’s cult of personality and the media coverage had a lot to do with it, but were those people – some of whom I swear must’ve been tagging along – actually so programmed simply to believe Murray was instantly guilty, leading the the mob mentality of people chanting ‘guilty, guilty!’ outside the courts, as though they were baying for the blood of a Roman gladiator. Do these people have jobs to go to, families to look after?

‘Think For Yourself’ sums up these morons quite appropriately from the get-go: ‘How can you be so quick to condemn/By word or rumor, heard from a friend?‘, and advises caution against going with the flow: ‘Inspect each situation, see from both sides/Seek out the truth, bury the lies‘. Anyone with half a brain could at least measure up this trial by looking at the facts obtained to come to a logical, objective conclusion, and actually just observed the trial from the vicinity of their home, workplace or other. Unfortunately, nobody told the zombies who descended upon the courts like a plague, the majority (if not all) having jack to do with Michael Jackson or his family, other than being a fan.

The purpose of We Must Obey wasn’t to necessarily get involved in matters like this, but as proved with the earlier article on the England Riots, I felt inclined to put such a spin on matters through metal/alternative/rock music as a social commentary. And quite frankly, the sooner this is all over and we don’t hear about it again, the better. Report real news. Go get a job and care for YOUR family. Let Michael Jackson rest.

Peter Clegg

Revocation – Chaos of Forms

Revocation

Chaos of Forms
Relapse

Despite accumulating a cavalcade of plaudits for their previous albums, swallowing up top positions in year-end lists like Sebastien Vettel snatching pole positions, Revocation can consider themselves unlucky not to have risen to the cream of the crop unlike recent metal success stories such as Mastodon, Kylesa, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, etc. Their music is certainly on a par with those bands at least, possessing a care-free swagger fuelled by main man and guitarist David Davidson’s style and sheer confidence that most rock ‘n’ roll bands would give their right arm for, never mind heavy metal bands.

Revocation can best be described as a technical death/thrash metal band, but to describe this trio in these terms is scraping the barrel slightly. ‘Chaos of Forms‘ is certainly their most complete record yet, surpassing their previous albums for ambition and even quality by some distance. ‘Chaos of Forms‘ could not be a more appropriate title, as Revocation churn, skronk, twist and waltz and more whilst effortlessly blasting away the competition in virtuostic fashion.

It’s death metal, with thrash elements, technicality, classical flourishes and a hard rock swagger. The majority of what they do is aggressive, tight as Ken Bates’ chequebook, with catchy nuances and hooky riffs all over the place. ‘Cradle Robber’ offers the first chance for an anthemic chorus , but not before a savage blasting and a devastating riff. This track and the songs either side of it are Revocation at their most primal, delivering pure technical riffs and shreds, mixing up thrash and death metal beats and all with killer precision. Even when they’re not going full speed ahead, things are glorious, the closing melodic monotone to ‘Conjuring The Cataclysm’ being a particular highlight as it backs Davidson’s screams.

Revocation then start to show a more experimental side from then onwards, ever subtle at first, before going full throttle for the outrageous. The title track itself showcases most of ‘Chaos’…‘ characteristics, absolutely on the front foot at first…before suddenly stepping back around the 2:30 mark with a spacey solo, and a virtuostic melodic section follows that to immense effect. The following song, ‘The Watchers’, going all Dillinger Escape Plan one minute a la the ‘Ire Works‘ album, and stunning with a Hammond organ solo straight after that. The charm beyond that is that nearly every song is a potential anthem – Revocation certainly know what makes a killer song, and do possessing a melodic edge without sacrificing heaviness, and not for the sake of airplay either.

The brilliance of this band is there to behold – although they’re not unique in that they do share similarities with similar bands of the moment, they’re smart enough and ambitious enough to stand out. Not too flashy to become pretentious, essentially heavy and brutal without sounding the same as the other 99%. That I’ve listened to this album numerous times and have yet to find a discernable flaw is a testament to the level of performance on this record. A must-have.

Peter Clegg

Ghoul – Transmission Zero

Ghoul
Transmission Zero
Tankcrimes

Before we get into the skinny on Ghoul’s fourth album, ‘Transmission Zero‘ – their members are or were part of other groups such as Impaled and Exhumed, and keen inherit their gory themes across from those bands. This is known despite their efforts to keep their identities secret, performing in executioner-style masks and going by the monikers of guitarists Destructor and Digestor, bassist Cremator and drummer Fermentor. Oh, and all their songs revolve around happenings in their ‘hometown’ of Creepsylvania (aka Oakland, California), which I assure you is as welcoming as a bout of voodoo-induced insanity.

Much of Ghoul’s appeal is likely to depend on whether you first and foremost like thrash riffs pulled straight from the 80’s Bay Area scene, and given a death metal sheen through the various vocal styles spread across all four members; and secondly (and not far behind), the penchant for schlock-horror themes that provide much of Ghoul’s lyrical content. That might not work for all, but it certainly worked for Alice Cooper and GWAR among others and the blood and gore approach that Ghoul is even self-referencing – Destructor even has an eponymous song about himself on here. Albeit one which sounds a little too close to S.O.D’s ‘Sargeant D & the S.O.D.’ But that’s a minor flaw we can overlook.

Ghoul are a band unashamed to display their influences and are all the better for it, however varied they are. The opening track (the instrumental ‘The Lunatic Hour’) sets the scene as a fist pumping thrash intro, before the full introduction of vocals in ‘Off With Their Heads’, a call to Ghoul’s brothers to join them in battle, punctuated with a gang vocal shout  That’s just the start of an enjoyable romp, as Ghoul infuse surf (‘Death in the Swamp’), doom (‘Morning of the Mezmatron’) and more besides into ‘Transmission Zero‘. The riffs, the drums, the vocals, the production – everything is delightfully old-school, right down to those gang vocals, for which their love for is confirmed more than one more occasion.

There’s nothing about this album not to enjoy – it might not be the most original, but Ghoul are content not to take things too seriously, and just have fun instead, and so long as you loosen up and immerse yourself in their world for 40 minutes, things should be fine. Especially when the riffs are rocking and the blood is flowing.

Peter Clegg

Buy/Download/Stream ‘Transmission Zero‘ here

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Savage Messiah giving ‘Plague of Conscience’ away for free from tomorrow!

Yes, you read that right – Dave Silver of UK heavy/thrash metallers Savage Messiah announced on YouTube yesterday that the band’s new album, ‘Plague of Conscience‘, will be available as a free download via the Earache Records website from tomorrow (Wednesday November 23rd)! The album is not scheduled for a physical release until Monday January 23rd, 2012, but the band have offered fans the chance to get in there before the journalists get hold of it.

Once again, Earache and their roster prove to be ahead of the curve, with Savage Messiah following the recent free album giveaways by label mates Gama Bomb and Wormrot. All you need to do is to head to http://www.earache.com/savagemessiah and prove your e-mail address – and the album will be yours.

See frontman Silver’s announcement below. Be sure to pick it up and spread the word!

Peter Clegg

Megadeth – Th1rt3en

Megadeth
Th1rt3en
Roadrunner

Dave Mustaine might have turned 50, and might have found God, but he’s not reaching for the pipe and slippers yet. After he and Megadeth were suddenly rejuvenated by the masterclass in thrash that was 2009’s ‘Endgame‘, they return, with Dave still angry as ever, with a cunningly-titled 13th album that proves that Megadeth still reign supreme above the majority of metal bands, even if ‘Th1rt3een’, as I’m about to describe, is a little hit and miss at times.

Megadeth’s thirteenth studio album starts off on a mission, with the solo fest that previously tested Guitar Hero fans, ‘Sudden Death’, and the lead single, ‘Public Enemy No. 1’, which, had it been recorded at their peak in the early 90s, would have been hailed as a classic ‘Deth track. However, it also signifies at a groove-laden approach, which benefits and hinders the album at the same time.

Much of the opening exchanges  follow the groove-thrash track, giving returning bassist Dave Ellefson plenty of room to get his bass to the fore, though that said, this approach isn’t giving the enjoyable shredfest that took place at times on previous album ‘Endgame‘, and results in some patchy work in places – ‘Guns, Drugs & Money’ in particular just feels lacklustre. Thankfully, the pedal is floored again for ‘Never Dead’, where the classic shred tone that Megadeth make their own appears again, and songs like ‘Fast Lane’ and ‘Wrecker’, presenting itself as a venomous ode to a woman scorned, are quality songs, despite their throwaway lyrics, thanks to some phenomenal guitar interplay from Mustaine and fellow guitarist Chris Broadrick. The slower approach doesn’t always prove to be a burden, picking up as the album draws to its close, particularly on ‘Black Swan’ and the closer, the semi-autobiographical(?) ’13’, is quite simply incredible.

Josh Haun of the metal zine That’s How Kids Die stated in his review of ‘Th1rt3en (recommended reading) the pointless nature of comparing new albums by legendary metal acts such as Megadeth to their considered classic works, a notion I completely understand and support. There is no point expecting 50-year old Dave Mustaine to go all out for another ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?‘, and the sooner the fickle Metallica fans stop comparing everything to their first four albums or complaining about similar acts being supposedly over the hill the better. They grew up a long time ago and likely don’t have the same world viewpoint they had thirty years ago.

All things considered, that still won’t make ‘Th1rt3en‘ eligible for classic status, as it simply isn’t up to that standard owing to a couple of bad apples, a few dodgy lyrics, and ultimately being unable to meet the bar set by ‘Endgame‘. Other than that, its another solid return from Mustaine and Megadeth, arguably faring better than any of the Big Four in terms of critical reception at the moment, and you can’t see where this journey ends for them, so long as business is still good.

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