Friday, January 28, 2011

Interview with Mike Williams of Eyehategod!!

Phone interview conducted on May 21, 2010.

WULF: So hey man, I just want to start by saying it's an honor to be able to talk to you and to do this interview.

MIKE: Cool, man.

WULF: I've been a fan for a long time, and actually when I first started getting into metal I was like, I don't know, 16, I'm 24 now, and you guys were one of the first bands I was introduced to as far as the sort of like, sludge--

MIKE: Extreme (music/metal), yeah.

WULF: Yeah, yeah, anyway, so I think that my 16-year-old self knowing that I'm talking to you now would probably just...shit his pants.

MIKE: (laughs) Well I appreciate that, man. That's cool. I'm always glad to hear from people that enjoy this mess (inaudible).

WULF: Alright man, just a personal kind of question, I don't know-


WULF: Awhile ago I read in a metal magazine that you were living at Phil Anselmo's home...or at least on his property. I was just kind of curious, are you still living there, or where are you at now?

MIKE: Yeah, I'm actually still here.

WULF: Right on.

MIKE: He lets me stay here, I take care of the animals and stuff too (when Phil's on tour). When I'm on tour, they take care of my animals, so it's kind of like a little commune here, you know?

WULF: Yeah, that's cool. That's real cool man. Sorry, I was just kind of curious about that. OK, so I'm gonna start off with just kind of a general guys have been playing some live dates and I'm just kind of curious how has that been going so far?

MIKE: Oh, amazing! I mean, better than we could ever imagine!

WULF: Really?

MIKE: We don't even have a new album out, we haven't had an album out in...well we put out "Preaching the End Time Message" in 2003 (I think he meant 2005), but it wasn't like an official release or anything...but for not even having a record out it's just insane man, I mean, the crowds are all sell-out shows, people driving from miles to see us. It's really been overwhelming, to be honest, you know? It's been awesome.

WULF: Well that's awesome man, because, you know, when I was coming up with questions for this it wasn't difficult but I was just looking (on the internet) and was like, man, it's been a long time since you guys put something out that wasn't like, a split, or a "best-of", which is cool, but I know that you guys have been going through a lot of shit also. So there's a lot going on with Eyehategod right now, but what I'm kind of curious about as far as what you're doing...what's going on with your other bands, like Outlaw Order and Arson Anthem?

MIKE: Arson Anthem, I'm actually working on that as we speak. We're trying to get the artwork together and stuff. It was supposed to be out this June but due to Eyehategod just getting back from Europe and Phil just got back from Romania or somewhere so we're trying to work on the artwork and get this Arson Anthem album out.

WULF: Awesome.

MIKE: So it should be out pretty soon, in the next few months I hope. Cross my fingers.
WULF: Yeah, the The Guilt Øf..., I saw that, the "Øf", the "o" has a line through it, or whatever?

MIKE: Yeah, yeah, The Guilt Øf... we have a split coming out with Merzbow, which is this Japanese noise guy-

WULF: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MIKE: Just something I've always wanted to do, something on that side of things, I've always been into that type of music, if you want to call it music. It's experimental stuff, you know?

WULF: Yeah, no, I got you man! That's cool man, for sure!

MIKE: I try to keep busy, you know? I try to keep busy...I'm writing too, I'm writing books, I'm just doing as much as I possibly can. Stayin' out of trouble, you know?

WULF: (laughs)
Well, that's actually one of my questions later, I was going to ask you about your writing. We'll get to that in a second. Really fast, I saw that you were in a band called that still going on, or what's up with that?

MIKE: No, that was something we did back in the (early 90's), that was like '91 or something.

WULF: Oh...

MIKE: It was just a project that was just me, Jimmmy (Bower), and this guy Ross. Ross actually played keyboards in (The Mystick Krewe of) Clearlight, which is Jimmy's other band.

WULF: Uh-huh. Mystick Krewe of Clearlight.

MIKE: It gets confusing, man. It's a lot of a mix of band members going on.

WULF: Kind of incestuous scene.

MIKE: We don't do Drip anymore. (It was) something we just recorded, and now it's floating around and I kind of think it sucks, I don't even like it.

WULF: (laughs) Well, you know, I just read just read on the page for it, it was talking about how you guys jammed from time to time or something...I don't know. I don't know if that's really old. Alright man, so I saw an interview on (Eyehategod's) Myspace that you guys just got done playing in Europe not too long that right? Or was that like, a while ago?

MIKE: We've been home about a month or so, I think. Yeah, that was fantastic. We did like, three weeks over there, which was insane. We haven't been over there in a long time, you know? It was really great, man.

WULF: Well that's good, man! And you know, I'm just kind of curious, I don't know if the Eyehategod shows are different than (regular extreme metal shows), but is there a noticeable difference to you between European and American Eyehategod fans or shows?

MIKE: It used to be like you could tell more a difference. I don't know, it used to be that the crowds in Europe were more polite, I guess you could say? Like, they wouldn't go nuts, like stagediving and slamming and all that stuff, but they would just like...politely clap, you know? For like, every band.
But now it, this time there were people going insane over there, I've never seen it like that. And it's different in different countries, like Holland, I think they're a little more stoned (laughs) so they kind you more, but they really love it too, though. (inaudible) is always a bunch of crazy nuts too though, you know?

WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I saw that also you guys have played in Tokyo? And maybe other parts of Asia? Is that right?

MIKE: Yeah, yeah, we did a Japanese tour in--

WULF: There's a DVD for it, right?

MIKE: Yeah, yeah, we put that out ourselves. That was back in 2000-something. Yeah, we went to Japan, man. I'm ready to go back there, too.

WULF: But that was a lot of fun too?

MIKE: Yeah, it was great, man. That's an amazing place.

WULF: I'm kind of curious, as far as your own personal preference, do you have a favorite city to play in, like, in the world? Is there any place that you really really look forward to playing?

MIKE: There's so many I couldn't pick just one. I mean, Europe's great, like, everywhere. But the best places over there were like, in England...anywhere in the UK, people just went apeshit, you know? Copenhagen, Denmark, was insane. We played there, the crowd was crazy. And there's a few places like that, here and there. But I like playing everywhere, man. Even if there's no crowd, even if there's, like, three people there, which is how it used to be in the old days, we'd still get into it and play a good show, you know? Or try to.

WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure, man! Every place is different. That's cool, man. OK, so speaking of that DVD, I'm kind of curious, I'm assuming that you've got a new Eyehategod album coming out. Is that correct?

MIKE: Well, it's not even recorded yet. I mean, I know we've been saying this for years, man, we've been trying to get it together...Katrina screwed a lot of things up down here as far as bands go, and also we were having record label right now we're not even on a label.

WULF: Oh, you're not on Emetic (Records) anymore?

MIKE: Well, we never were officially on that, he just put that ("Preaching the End-Time Message") out, you know? He runs his label and just puts stuff out for people, we're not signed to him or anything. So a lot of different things were happening, Jimmy was touring with Down and stuff too, so it's been hard to get together and to write, but we've got probably six new songs, we'll just hopefully go into the studio after this June tour. That's what we're hoping for.

WULF: Well awesome man, whenever it does end up getting recorded, however long it takes, I can't wait to hear it. I think it's going to be awesome.

MIKE: Yeah, it's going to be good.

WULF: And so I guess it's going to be too difficult to say, then, if you guys are going to put out, like, a new DVD of you guys playing all these past shows...has that even been talked about yet?

MIKE: We've talked about it, but we travel pretty sparsely...we don't have a whole lot of people in our entourage, or whatever you want to call it. So we should have had somebody videotaping this whole Europe trip, you know? I mean, there were certain shows that were videotaped, I'm sure it's already up on Youtube and stuff...I mean, I don't know, do people even buy DVDs anymore?
I mean, what's the point?

WULF: Well you know man, I know that music sales have definitely declined with downloading...I have no idea about music DVDs.

MIKE: Yeah, I haven't seen many good ones out. I mean, I don't know, I just go to Youtube if I want to see somebody good, it's got all the rare stuff on there anyway.

WULF: Yeah that's true, that's true. Alright, well OK so as far as touring goes, you guys have had a reputation in the past, I'm certain for now too, as being kind of crazy dudes. But I'm kind of curious, who, would you say, is the craziest band that YOU'VE ever been on tour with?

MIKE: Craziest band?

WULF: Yeah, like, besides you guys, you know? You guys, in the past at least, were like, really crazy. Who would YOU say is crazy?

MIKE: I mean, we still put 1000% energy into (our shows), and shit happens sometimes on stage...fights and things happen in the crowd...involving us, probably.
But I mean, we don't go looking for that type of thing. None of us can fight. I can't fight. The craziest band we've toured with? God, so many come to mind, from Pantera...those guys were completely out of their mind, to...Anal Cunt, the guys in Anal Cunt, or at least their singer...Chaos UK were a bunch of nuts- a punk band from England...Buzzov•en, those were wild shows. There's been so many, man.

WULF: Yeah, yeah...well you know, it's funny, I was talking to the dude from Lair of the Minotaur and he said Anal Cunt also. At least Seth Putnam.

MIKE: Yeah, at least Seth...I don't know, they had this guitar player named Josh (Martin), I think he's still with them...he's been known to smash his guitar and stuff. But we never put on any kind of act, we never were going up there to do this stuff on purpose. I mean, we play shows where it's perfectly normal, you know? I mean, you get up there, and maybe you start drinking before the show and the crowd's drinking, and sometimes things get out of hand, but it's just part of the energy. Violence is sometimes part of the energy, you know?

WULF: Yeah, oh yeah. For sure. OK, so I also want to ask, because I know we're running out of time here, but I'm curious about your writing. I've been actually meaning to read your book for a long time and unfortunately I haven't yet, but I'm curious, man, but you say you're writing new stuff now?

MIKE: Oh yeah, I've got like 20,000 words, like in the computer here. It needs to be edited, but I think that's at least another couple of books, you know?

WULF: Damn! Wow, man!

MIKE: It's just stuff I've been writing, I've been writing every day, or I try to, you know? I write for a couple magazines too, like this Argentinian magazine called Jedbangers, I've got a column in there. Yeah, I write for Paranoise, which is a local magazine here in New Orleans, an Australian magazine called Unbelievably Bad, I've had stuff printed in there.

WULF: You used to write for Metal Maniacs I know, like, a long time ago.

MIKE: Yeah, yeah, back in the mid-90's.

WULF: I wasn't even into metal back then. I'm kind of young.

MIKE: No, I hear ya. That's cool. I want to say, that's one thing we've been seeing at these shows lately is that there's a whole another generation of people that seems like they've got into Eyehategod. People will tell me, "yeah, my son likes you guys". And they bring their son to the show and it's awesome, you know? It's great to (see that), that we can stick around like that. It's cool.

WULF: Well yeah, it's definitely timeless music, for sure. I think, probably, if I have children ever I hope that they really like it too. I could see them getting into it.

MIKE: Yeah, I just think kids today, they seem more open-minded to a lot of (things) with the name of the band and the artwork or something, it's pretty extreme stuff to some people, but I think younger generations are getting into it.

WULF: Maybe it's the internet, everybody's just so desensitized now to everything.

MIKE: Exactly. Yup.

WULF: Well hey man, do you have time for one more question or do you have another interview to do right now?

MIKE: No, this is actually my last one today.

WULF: OK, well then I have one more question if you don't mind. It's a little personal, so I don't know how you feel about answering it, but I've heard or I've read that you guys are not heavy-drug users anymore or anything, for the most part...

MIKE: Right.

WULF: Well, I was curious, I'm sure you get asked this a lot. Has this had any noticeable effect, positive or negative, on the band's music, live or in the studio?

MIKE: Well, I think in the past it had a lot to do with why we would be inactive for periods of time. Everybody was pretty messed up. Everybody in the band was doing their own thing. And yeah, in the past, it definitely hindered us. But today, now that everybody's clean, for the most part, like you said...
I mean there's still alcohol, and a few things here and there...not like it used to be at all. And yeah, I think all that stuff in the past can only make you stronger, you know? I think we're all stronger for having been through all that, and I don't know man, you find out that the drugs aren't making you creative, it has always been there. At least, that's how it is with me, and I'm sure with the rest of the guys too.

WULF: Well cool, man! I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me...again, it's an honor, and I wish you guys the best of luck. I know you guys are playing a bunch of dates coming up here in the US--

MIKE: We're doing a whole US tour coming up in June! Well, I'm sorry, I shouldn't say that, we're doing a whole East Coast of the, a three-week tour coming up on June 3 we leave, and we're playing Maryland Deathfest, and we're playing this Thursday, coming up, in New Orleans with Pentagram.

WULF: Oh, that's going to be awesome! Have you ever played with Pentagram before?

MIKE: Yeah, we've played with them a couple times.

WULF: Oh man, I've never seen (Pentagram)...I've never seen you guys live, actually!

MIKE: Oh, really?

WULF: Yeah, and it sucks, because I guess you guys weren't playing very much, I guess like, a few years ago, or something, I don't know.

MIKE: We were playing locally, we've played local shows since Katrina, but we haven't been out of town really, that much.

WULF: Yeah man, and I'm in Kansas. Kansas City-area, and so not a lot of bands come through here. I was actually going to give you a hard time for you guys not coming around here--

MIKE: I do feel bad about that! People are always like, "why don't you come to Spain?" or "why don't you come to the Philippines?" or Kansas! We've played Kansas before, we've played there a bunch of times.

WULF: Oh, really?!

MIKE: Yeah! We played Kansas, we played probably...Kansas City, we've played Wichita, we've played there many times in the past, on different tours.

WULF: I see.

MIKE: I wanted to mention a book that's out now, the one that you were mentioning earlier, it's called "Cancer As a Social Activity", and you can get it at Housecore Records. Phil's (Anselmo) label.

WULF: Yeah, it was Arson Anthem, I got that for my radio show, and I saw (the label) and I looked it up, and thought "yeah, this is badass, it's Phil's label, and he's putting out this stuff!"

MIKE: Yeah, it's pretty cool, man. It's starting to pick up, too. There's a lot of new stuff coming out, and you should go check out the website, you know?

WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure man! Alright, thank you again for taking the time to talk to me, and hopefully we'll take a road trip and see you guys in St. Louis or something on this upcoming live date tour you guys are doing.

MIKE: That would be cool, man! Bring a bunch of people and come out! We'll have a drink!

WULF: For sure, man! Alright, take it easy Mike! Take care!

MIKE: Take care.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interview with John 5!!

Phone interview conducted in late May, 2010.

WULF: So I'd like to start off by saying thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, when I got your CD, I knew who you were, but when I started doing research for this interview I had no idea (that you've done so much stuff)! It's insane! So anyway, I'd like to start of by saying I'm honored to talk to ya. So my first question for you is...this might be kind of dumb, but I looked around and I couldn't find an answer for it...why the name "John 5"?

JOHN 5: Well, when I joined Marilyn Manson I was the fifth member and it's also a Biblical meaning. So I always kept that name because of the fact (that) know, it's just like if Ace Frehley left Kiss and he would change his name when he left Kiss to Paul Frehley, his real name, so I just kept the name because people know me as John 5. So I always just kept that name.

WULF: Yeah, I wasn't sure, because I read on Wikipedia that you got that name when you joined Marilyn Manson, so I didn't know if it had to do with a serial killer or something, but I guess it's kind of the opposite, then. Alright, so I'd like to say that the new album is awesome. I really like it. I knew you were a good guitarist, but I had no idea that could shred, like, amazingly. I was pretty blown away, and also by the versatility of the album too. While I've seen on your website and on Myspace that the album's gotten good reviews, I'd like to ask, for you personally, how do you feel the reception, so far, has been for this record?

JOHN 5: Phenomenal, man. I can't even believe that people are just going crazy for it, and I appreciate all the kind words and everything. It makes me feel great because I put a lot of work into this and I'm just really excited that people are digging it as much as they are.

WULF: Good man! Yeah, because even from the first song, which is actually, probably overall, my favorite track--

JOHN 5: Yeah, mine too.

WULF: Yeah, "Nightmare Unravels". I'm also kind of a sucker for like...I'm assuming this would be, like, the single, I mean it's what we play on my radio show. I'm always a sucker for that. Yeah, it's really good. Well what I would like to know, I guess you answered it, but I was going to ask you your favorite track, but is it "Nightmare Unravels"?

JOHN 5: "Nightmare Unravels", yeah, I mean I love 'em all, but that one has a little but of everything, so I'm really psyched for it.

WULF: Yeah! Now, what I want to know is, because I'm interested in "behind the scenes" stuff, but was there a track in particular that you found to be more difficult than the others, like, to nail in a certain take or something?

JOHN 5: Well, what I did was when I wrote them I would sit at home and practice them for weeks and weeks so I wouldn't go into the studio and be spending a lot of time, and it was kind of like preparing for a fight or something, so I made sure to really have all my stuff down so I cut all the songs pretty quickly, like, going into "Nightmare Unravels" only took me like, 45 minutes or something to get the guitar parts down because I rehearsed it so much. I just rehearsed, rehearsed, so...

WULF: Wow! Only 45 minutes?! Damn!

JOHN 5: Yeah, just because I was going over it and over it and over it so much. So it came together really quickly.

WULF: Also when I was looking at the album art I noticed that there is a "babe" in the album art. I was just kind of curious, is that like, your wife or is that just some model, or--

JOHN 5: Yeah, that's my wife, yeah.

I better be careful about what I say then! No, but--

JOHN 5: No, no, it's good!

WULF: No, I was like, wow! I was just kind of curious. So, OK, right now I understand that you're in the middle of a tour, or at least, on your Myspace it says that you're playing all these dates with Alice Cooper but then it looks like afterwards you're going on a solo tour?

JOHN 5: Yeah, it's called "The Gruesome Twosome" and it's Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, and we are going to do the Mayhem Festival in the summertime, and it's going to be a blast.

WULF: Yeah, and you know, unfortunately, I was going to give you a hard time for not coming around the Kansas City area.

JOHN 5: Yeah...

WULF: No, but Mayhem came last time but I know this is kind of a smaller market so, you know...we're happy for stuff that comes through but...

JOHN 5: Yeah, we're really looking forward to it, it's going to be fun.

WULF: Yeah, for sure man! So I want to know right now, how is the tour going for you on the dates that you've played so far?

JOHN 5: It's been one of the best tours I've ever done, it's been a blast! The crowds have been great, it's just been a lot of fun man. It's been sold out everywhere. We've had such a great time, and we love listening to Alice every night. Sometimes these tours are a drag, but this one is just a lot of fun.

WULF: Really? So some times in the past it hasn't been as good or whatever, but this time around it's really killer then?

JOHN 5: Yeah, it could be anything, it could be weather, it could be crowds, it could be everything, but we've just been really having a lot of fun out on this tour.

WULF: Good, man! Well, I know that you've played live, like, a zillion times in your lifetime, but I'm just kind of curious, as far as you personally, anywhere in the world...which city, would you say, is your favorite place to play? Which cities do you have the fondest memories of, or who has the craziest crowds?

JOHN 5: Well, I don't know, you know? Because it's always different. Let's say we're in Kansas City or something and the crowd was really bad last time but it was great the other times...I don't know, but I love touring in America because everything is familiar. You can always get your favorite things...if you're in Europe or something and it's really hard to just get the things that make you comfortable. But I love touring America and that kind of stuff, and (it's comforting) because I know where everything is. Like right now we're in Toronto, Canada, and I know where everything is because I've been here so many times, so I know where I want to go and where I want to eat--

WULF: And food, yeah I got ya! Because sometimes I ask that question to other people I definitely get a varied response. I've noticed that some people prefer the exoticness of other countries, and so it's kind of an interesting contrast.

JOHN 5: Yeah, I love touring America, and (have access to) things that are familiar to me, it's easier that way.

WULF: Yeah, no I got ya for sure. Alright, so one of my next questions is...I was kind of curious, for the album trailer on your website, and I saw pictures from another interview that you've done on your website, and I saw pictures, I saw video, and I was curious, are you going to be coming out with a DVD that captures this tour that you've been doing or anything like that? Like, a new DVD, that's going to be non-instructional?

JOHN 5: Certainly! Yeah, there's talk about it, so hopefully if everything works out we will be doing that and that will be awesome because I would want to see it more than anybody. We've been filming a lot of stuff and it's been going really well, and if we get it all done in time we'll definitely put it out.

WULF: Yeah! And so as far as getting other people to play on your solo stuff, have you ever thought about forming up a solidified, new band? Is that in the process also for stuff that you're doing?

JOHN 5: Well in the future I'm so busy right now with (Rob) Zombie, but I also like doing clinics because it's free to get into, young kids can come, you can shake my hand, you can ask me questions, you can take pictures, but if I'm in a club or something a lot of people wouldn't be able to come because it's 18 and over and (inaudible), and you probably wouldn't get a chance to meet me, so I like to do clinics because it's o easier on everybody.

WULF: I see, hence why all the instructional DVDs and stuff?

JOHN 5: Yeah, hopefully it inspires and influences people to go out there, so it's a lot of fun for me.

WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure man. I like watching that stuff. I play a little guitar, I'm not any good but I still like watching that stuff too just because I find a lot of that stuff interesting. So one of my favorite questions to ask, just sort of as a guilty pleasure on my part, is I like to know've played with so many bands and you've done so much stuff, I want to know, who, of all of them, would you say is the craziest band that you've ever toured with in your entire history?

JOHN 5: It would definitely be Marilyn Manson. I mean, there's nothing much that came close to anything as wild and crazy as that. Completely out of hand. That was New Year's Eve, every night. Totally crazy.

WULF: Wow! Yeah man, I think it'd be crazy too...I think I was in sixth grade when "The Beautiful People" came out, and I think my sixth grade self would probably shit his pants if he knew that that he would be talking to a former guitar player of Marilyn Manson's, just because back then that stuff was so...I'd hear stories of how crazy this new dude is and so, so it's cool to hear also that that stuff was for real, too, as far as craziness goes.

JOHN 5: Oh yeah, it was definitely for real. It was craaaaaaaaazzzyyy.

WULF: Because I read also that there was some statement made about how you don't do drugs and you don't drink, or at least on that tour...

JOHN 5: Right, yeah I never have.

WULF: Because that's interesting, also, for you, joining a band like Marilyn Manson or something, that has a reputation for being really nuts.

JOHN 5: Yeah, because they were all "party party party" but I never would, so maybe that was the whole problem, because I didn't do it.

WULF: Was there any pressure on the road ever?

JOHN 5: Not really, it was fine, but they all went off and did their thing and I just kind of hung out, which was fine, because I'm glad I was there and I did what I did because I've done so much since I've left, so it's been quite a journey and I'm really excited about it.

WULF: Well I would think also, maybe, since you don't do that stuff, so it's no wonder that you're able to do so much other crazy stuff and put out so much material, like you don't wake up hung over and waste half the day.

JOHN 5: I definitely like to get stuff done, that's for sure.

WULF: That's really cool, man. Well hey, anyway, I know that you've probably got another interview after this, and we're supposed to keep these around the 15-minute mark, so that's basically all the questions I have for you man.

JOHN 5: Thank you, I appreciate it.

WULF: Hey, thank you so much for taking the time with me. I wish you the best of luck on the future dates that you're playing and I think it's awesome that to hear that this is going really well for you.

JOHN 5: Great, I appreciate it, thank you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Yeah, yeah, it's officially 2011 now, but I really wanted to wait till the end of the year to make my list for two reasons:
1. So that I could consider any releases by bands that pulled a Nokturnal Mortum and put out their album on like New Year's Eve.
2. I could listen to as many releases as I could that came out in 2010. Granted, with the internet it's now impossible to listen to EVERY release, but I really tried hard to listen to as much metal as I could. After reading tons of reviews in Decibel, online, and lurking in the forum, I've decided to finally hop on the "Top 10 Metal of 2010" bandwagon, except I'm not putting mine in any particular order because I'm too scared. As the infamous Victor Continental would say, "OK, here we go!!"

"Blekinge" - Istapp

Maybe it's because it was perfect for my trip to Alaska a few months ago, but this album is definitely special to me. I'm already a sucker for melodic, catchy metal, but throw in some majestic, frigid atmospherics and icy, grim riffing to make this one of my favorites of the year.

"Opportunistic Thieves of Spring" - A Forest of Stars

This is definitely one of the weirdest albums I'd heard in a long time. Mysterious, theatrical, and subtle are characteristics that make for a strange combination in the realm of metal, and it seems as if their surreal, avant-garde style might have turned a lot of people off. While it might be somewhat of an overstatement to claim that this album is a masterpiece, I believe it was both underrated and overlooked by many a fan and critic alike. Check these guys out if this sounds intriguing to you, or at least take the time to check out their bizarre official website and Myspace. A unique band, for sure, and "Opportunistic Thieves of Spring" is a damn good album.

"Circle the Wagons" - Darkthrone

Probably my favorite of Darkthrone's newer shit, "Circle the Wagons" had some of my favorite songs of the year, from the catchy-as-balls "Those Treasures Will Never Befall You" (I STILL sing the chorus to myself when I'm in the shower, or whistle it when I'm performing some mindless task at work), "I am the Working Class", and the title track, to the grim atmospheric of "Stylized Corpse". The band's liner notes are always interesting/amusing as well. Although Fenriz and Nocturno Culto crank out new stuff all the time, it's clear that their creativity is at an all-time high right now.

"Opus Eponymous" - Ghost

While this is pretty questionable as a metal release, it's a great album nonetheless. Not too much to say, except it's an excellent mix of 70s rock licks, proto-metal, psychedelia, and Satan! Can't go wrong with that! Also, some of the catchiest shit I'd heard all year (on par with Darkthrone!).

"Belus" - Burzum

Uh oh!! Vargy!! Yeah yeah, this is the most controversial metal album of 2010, but I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a big Burzum fan and that "Belus" is a strong, solid return. Raw (but not TOO raw), hypnotic, and subtle, Varg wisely evolved his songwriting so that he's not just rehashing the old Burzum days, which is something I believe most people expected. If you're not into Burzum because of the crazy rantings of Mr. Vikernes then I understand, but just know that you're wrong, a hypocrite, and missing out on one of the best albums of 2010!!

"Wolves at War's End" - Hammerlord

I might have a slight bias when it comes to Hammerlord since these dudes are my buddies and they're a local band, but I don't care. Like their previous album, "Wolves at War's End" kicks a ton of ass, and it would be wrong to not include them on this list just because they're hometown favorites. It's too bad that Decibel Magazine couldn't get into this album, because the aspects that the journalist who reviewed the album didn't like are characteristics that I find to be Hammerlord's strengths. While the band is definitely influenced by 80s thrash and heavy metal, not a retro band, and the "modern-sounding" production, variety of influences (death, black, groove) give Hammerlord a much more free, versatile style. The top-notch musicianship doesn't hurt either, and "Tombstone Piledriver" is arguably my favorite metal song of the year.

"Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2" - Nachtmystium

Pretty much anything that could be said about this album has already been done to death, so I'll just say that while their new sound seemed to not go over too well with their fanbase, I dig the more "accessible", experimental style. Blake Judd's lyrics may be pretty lame, but his overall songwriting is killer. A worthy follow-up to "Assassins", for sure.

"Écailles de Lune" - Alcest

When it comes to describing Alcest, you'll often hear words like "beautiful" or "haunting". While "Écailles de Lune" definitely had more balls than 2007's "Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde" by including screams, blastbeats, more aggressive riffs, etc., "Écailles de Lune" is no less of a beauty. 2010 was a strong year for French metal, and it seems like Neige is leading the charge.

"Rekreatur" - Equilibrium

I'll admit, this album didn't grab me at first. I thought the cover art was pretty lame (and believe me, that's saying a lot because I have no problem with cheesy album art...Manowar is my favorite metal band of all time for Christ's sake!), and Mark of the Beast wasn't having an orgasm over it like he did with their last two albums. I loved "Turis Fratyr" and "Sagas", but I was afraid that with "Rekreatur" they had run out of ideas or rushed the whole thing. Upon actually listening to the whole album, however, I was clearly wrong. While "Rekreatur" may not quite be on par with the last two albums, it doesn't matter. This album is everything you'd expect from Equilbrium- it's catchy, majestic, and very, very epic. "Aus Ferner Zeit" is one of my favorite Equilbrium songs ever...even Judge Dredd likes it!! And he has a beard!!

"Paracletus" - Deathspell Omega

I really, really hate to admit it, but...I didn't really get into this album until I watched the latest Harry Potter film. I know, I's really embarrassing to admit, and to make matters worse, this is the first Deathspell Omega album I've actually ever really listened to. I don't know what the deal is, but sometimes I overlook albums simply because I only want to listen to them when I'm in the right mood or have enough time to really sit down and get into them...which is pretty much never. When Judge Dredd played "Devouring Famine" on Malicious Intent, I thought it was pretty cool but thought it just sounded like a black metal version of the Dillinger Escape Plan. Yeah, Deathspell's interviews are amusing and make the band seem possibly much more evil than they really are, but, like I said before, this album really didn't grab me until after I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1. For some reason, when listening to "Paracletus" all I could think about was Helena Bonham Carter's character running around shooting fireballs and laughing maniacally. The madness and inhumanity of the Death Eaters really seemed to sync well with my imagination and Deathspell Omega's music. I know the band would probably kill themselves if they knew that that's what their music made me think about, but who knows!? Maybe the dudes in Deathspell are huge Harry Potter fans, and Voldemort and co. are a huge inspiration to the band's sound and I'm just the first to realize it! You never know...
At any rate, this is a modern black metal masterpiece, and while I still think that they do sound a bit like a black metal Dillinger Escape Plan, I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to listen to some evil-ass shit.
And there you have it! That's my list for 2010!! Here's to 2011 being the second most metal year EVER (since, of course, the most metal year is obviously 2012 since the world's going to explode or whatever)!!!!