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  • DOWN To Make 'Big Announcement' On Tuesday
    on August 8, 2020 at 14:09

    DOWN will make a "big announcement" on Tuesday, August 11 at 1:00 p.m. EDT / 10:00 a.m. PDT. The acclaimed supergroup is expected to officially reveal that it will perform live for the first time in four years as part of a virtual concert later this month. The news of DOWN's return to live activity was broken by the band's longtime manager, SKID ROW guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo during last weekend's episode of "Tribute Wars", the Internet show co-hosted by MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson. Speaking about how he has been keeping busy on the managerial front, Sabo said: "I've been managing since 2006, which seems like a lifetime ago, and it kind of is. I've been managing the band DOWN since then — Philip Anselmo and Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein — and that, for a long time, took up a lot of our time. But they've taken a bit of a hiatus. They're actually gonna be doing one of those streaming live shows August 22nd. So we'll have more information out online as that progresses, as we get closer." Last month, Windstein told Revolver that DOWN was planning "something really special in the next few months," but he offered no further details. A founding member of DOWN, Windstein left the band in 2013 in order to focus on CROWBAR and his family life. He was replaced by Bobby Landgraf, DOWN's former guitar tech who was previously in GAHDZILLA MOTOR COMPANY, a 1990s outfit also featuring Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS, WATCHTOWER), and HONKY. Windstein announced his return to DOWN last year, with the band confirming a number of festival appearances for 2020 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of DOWN's debut album, "NOLA", all of which have since been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic which is sweeping the globe. Asked if DOWN has started work on new material, Kirk told Revolver: "There's actually been no talk of that. The main thing was trying to do the European festivals and Psycho Las Vegas [in Las Vegas]. Psycho Las Vegas was pushed back a year, and, obviously, the European festivals were all canceled. So I have no idea what's in the future. We're working on something really special here in the next few months that I'm excited about, and that's all I can really say. I'm super excited to get together with all the guys again." DOWN was forced to cancel a number of shows in 2016 after singer Philip Anselmo was filmed giving a Nazi salute and shouting "white power" at a California concert. Guitarist Keenan later offered his take on what transpired, telling Metal Wani that DOWN was "far from done" after the controversial incident. "You know, DOWN didn't do anything wrong," he said. "I mean, we were just guilty by association on that one. That was Phil's mistake. I've spoken to Phil and told him to get his shit together, and he is. He knows he made a mistake and was being stupid." He continued: "I've known the guy [most of my life]. He's not what that whole thing framed him to be at all. But, yeah, there's definitely a future for DOWN. I wouldn't throw all the shit we've done, beautiful music we've done on one stupid moment that was caught on camera, and he apologized for. [So we are] far from done." DOWN's last live appearance took place in August 2016 at the Psycho Las Vegas festival in Las Vegas. Big announcement Tuesday 8/11 at 1pm EST...keep your eyes on that #DOWNNOLA page... — down nola (@downnola) August 8, 2020

  • Hunter Gatherer - AVATAR
    on August 8, 2020 at 13:55

    Cheerfully standing apart from the crowd and confusing the hell out of almost as many people as they delight, AVATAR are a unique proposition. They're also a fantastic heavy metal band: a fact that is often missed, largely due to the Swedes' cartoonish image and their propensity for occasionally sounding like a power metal SYSTEM OF A DOWN. Frontman Johannes Eckerström has a giant twinkle in his eyes at all times, but there's nothing frivolous or lightweight about the music on "Hunter Gatherer". As with 2018's "Avatar Country", which saw them explore more traditional metal territory while still sounding wonderfully unhinged, AVATAR's eighth album exudes the kind of confidence you get when you know you're in a class of one. Yes, there are occasional nods to alternative rock, nu-metal and grunge here, but the core of songs like furious opener "Silence in the Age of Apes" and the anthemic "Scream Until You Wake" is bold, belligerent and bombastic singalong metal, informed by modern notions of brutality but primarily focused on delivering unforgettable melodic money shots. The strongest moments come when AVATAR stretch out a little: "A Secret Door" is a feast of skewed melodrama, with Eckerström crooning the verses and bellowing the choruses like Satan's jester. A final flurry of bait 'n' switch dynamics is simply superb, recalling FAITH NO MORE at their subversive best, but with enough underlying pomp to please any POWERWOLF fan. Similarly, "Child" is a fidgety, cinematic mini-symphony which somehow manages to sound like IRON MAIDEN and DOG FASHION DISCO simultaneously. Closer "Wormhole" is even better: a pummeling, double-kick deluge with gruesome, deathly doom riffs to match, it's easily the heaviest thing AVATAR have ever done, and yet it sparkles with multiple inspired melodic tricks and an almost QUEEN-like sense of grandeur. If "Hunter Gatherer" lacks anything, it's an iron-plated crowd-pleaser like perennial live favorites "Hail the Apocalypse" and "Smells Like a Freakshow". But AVATAR have now evolved to a point where doing the obvious is not even a possibility, let alone a plan: there's a joy in the flagrant heaviness and post-thrash aesthetic of songs like "God of Sick Dreams" and "Gun" that makes the curious detours and wonky hooks sound entirely logical. And yes, Eckerström's personality still leaps from the speakers and slaps you around the head. There are few contemporary frontmen with a better grasp of how to sell a song, however thematically ludicrous it might be. Striking a balance between goofy showmanship and balls-out metal isn't something that anyone can pull off, but AVATAR have mastered it and are really blossoming here. Don't hate them for being more fun than your favorite band.

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