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SPECIAL FEATURE: Best of 2016 – TO STAFF (Combined List)

Yay! We’ve completed yet another revolution around our home star! While we celebrate this cosmically insignificant milestone by resetting our man made Gregorian calendars, the staff here at Trasncending Obscurity wanted to call attention to some of their favorite records from 2016. This combined list is split into Black, Thrash, Death, Doom / Sludge, Post Metal and Grindcore sections to reflect the tastes and preferences of our scribes in a better way. I’m sure even with all of us working together, we will not be accounting for every single standout release. So why don’t you comment below and tell us whether you agree with this list or if you had better albums in mind? ~ Shrivatsan R

Black Metal

Celestial Grave

Celestial Grave – Burial Ground Trance EP (Iron Bonehead Productions)

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Black/Thrash Metal band EXORDIUM MORS sign to Transcending Obscurity Records

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After working several Australian bands, it made sense to also look into New Zealand, and having worked with Exordium Mors for promotional purposes, it was imperative to reach out and have our first band in the black/thrash style. Their ferocity coupled with their superior songwriting skills make them a band to watch out for.

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Kunal Choksi states, “I’m a sucker for black/thrash like early Destroyer 666 but just when I thought those days were gone, I came across Exordium Mors from New Zealand and was astonished not only at their potency but also their progressive leanings. They manage to weave together excellent song structures without diminishing the intensity. The awesome attitude doesn’t hurt either. I’m thrilled to work with this band, my first from New Zealand, for their upcoming full length which promises to be a gnarly affair. One of their songs will also be part of the 2016 label sampler.”

Exordium Mors comment, “We are very pleased to be on Transcending Obscurity Records’ roster, who in our opinion, represents what underground metal should be about. No bullshit, no compromises – just passion for the music and spreading the noise like a virulent disease!

Our debut with Transcending Obscurity Records will be our second full-length, and although it will have the same foundation of frenetic guitar-work, ripping basslines, destructive war-drums and manic vocals; the sound has progressed to a more triumphant and epic sound akin to a great warrior’s death march.

Long time followers of the band will hear new things musically, vocally and lyrically in this album. Simply put, we are very excited for our followers to witness our death-hymns, and believe Transcending Obscurity is the right label for this piece of black art to manifest into physical form. Hail Kunal! Hail Transcending Obscurity! Hail Death!”

 

Exordium Mors Facebook | Exordium Mors Bandcamp | Transcending Obscurity Label Roster

INTERVIEW + ALBUM PREMIERE : Colombian Old School Veterans – Witchtrap

As many modern metal bands are striving to play it technical and make metal more intricate and complicated, bands like Colombia’s Witchtrap are proudly waving the old school  flag. Having released 3 full lengths and a series of EP’s and splits, Witchtrap’s music has some not so subtle nods to the old guards like Venom, Motorhead, Sodom etc. The band’s most recent full length effort ‘Trap the Witch‘ originally came out last year through the band’s very own Dirty Sounds Records. This album is now being given a wider release courtesy of Hells Headbangers who will be releasing CD, Vinyl and Tape formats of the album on the 11th of November.

Impressed by the denim and leather based old school metal attack, we talked to the band’s drummer Witchhammer about the band’s history and the metal scene in their native land of Colombia. Also, we have ‘Trap the Witch’ streaming in it’s entirety below! So put on your battle jackets, crack open a beer and get lost in the old school charm of Witchtrap.

Witchtrap

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Interview with melodic thrash metal group Murashita

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Who or what is Murashita? Well, if you like sharply-delivered melodic thrash/death metal with a technical edge and good songwriting, then I suggest you check out the below interview with the man himself, preferably while blaring out ‘Inescapable Damnation’ at full volume.

Transcending Obscurity: Introduce us to yourself

I’m Masaki Murashita, singer/guitarist of Los Angeles Melodic Death/Thrash group Murashita (ex-Hemoptysis). I’m also the touring guitarist for Voice of Dissent, and a recording engineer/mixer. I was in a melodic thrash band, Hemoptysis in Phoenix AZ for 7 years, and after after Hemoptysis parted ways, I relocated to LA in late 2013 to begin my solo project, Murashita. The ‘Inescapable Damnation’ EP in was released in October, 2015, and we followed with a Japan tour last September, and are doing dates in the U.S. this summer!

TO: What are your influences?

Definitely classic Metal bands such as Megadeth, Iron Maiden, old Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Slayer, Black Sabbath, etc. Like most metalheads, I grew up listening to their music and they were the bands that opened the door to metal for me. Megadeth inspired me to pick up the guitar and play metal, and Dave Mustaine is definitely a huge influence on me as a guitarist. All the timeless classic metal songs have good memorable riffs, solos, vocal melodies and hooks. As a songwriter, these are very important to me and my ultimate goal is write some songs that will be considered classic Metal songs maybe few decades later.

TO: Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend

My recent favourites are:

Voice of Dissent – ‘Hellbent (Left Hand Path)’

Black Fast – ‘I Conspire’

Death Angel – ‘Hatred United / United Hate’

D.R.I. – ‘Against Me’

Sargon – ‘In Contempt’

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TO: Tell us about your debut release – Inescapable Damnation

I wanted to make a solo record for about a year before I left Hemoptysis, and my original plan was doing both the solo project and Hemoptysis. However, the band ended right before I hit the studio for the new record, so this solo project became my new main band.

Looking back now, it was definitely a transition time for me. I quit and lost the band that I’ve given everything to for 7 years, moved to LA to start over. A lot of people left when the band was getting close to the end, and it became a major struggle to keep going. I was ready to give up and move back home to Japan, but I just could not give up without putting out something once more, especially since the record that was supposed to happen with Hemoptysis didn’t due to the disagreement of direction with the other members. I wanted to make a record with full creative control and work with the talents that I wanted to work with and have fun with it.

Everything that happened during this period inspired me to write this record.

All experiences whether good or bad turned into a part of these songs as inspiration.

There were times that were really frustrating where things didn’t go the way I wanted. Sometimes the biggest enemy is within yourself and it’s your own emotions. That became a theme of the song, ‘Conquer The Foe’. Emotion could kill someone else or yourself and it’s very scary. We need the discipline to keep them under control which is sometimes difficult to do. ‘Retribution’ and ‘Inescapable Damnation’ are revenge themed songs, but not in negative way. It’s easy to be pissed off and just sit and whine. I converted all my anger and frustration into fuel for motivation and inspiration. Many people are going through difficult times while they are working hard to achieve their dream, and so am I. It’s easy to just give up, but ‘This Show Must Go On’. Not all hard work pays off, but unless you try and put in some effort, nothing will happen.

TO: What’s the process you use for writing songs?

I usually set up a new session on Pro Tools in my studio, and start tracking the ideas there whenever I come up with new riffs and put the basic drums ideas behind it. Then I polish the song to completion. Sometimes I run the drum beat and try some ideas, but usually the songs come out naturally. I don’t try to force writing because whatever comes out naturally is always the best and something you like. Yes, sometimes it takes time to come up with some great ideas, but it’s worth the wait for me!

TO: What’s your favourite song on the album and why?

I like all of them, but Retribution is definitely a special one because it was the first song I wrote as Murashita. Also, it’s the fastest song I’ve written and it shows how pissed off I was at the time! Hahaha!

TO: You have a lot of high-profile guests on this release – how did they come about?

I’ve wanted to work with the musician friends that I respect…I had pretty much no experience working with other musicians besides the band members when I was in Hemoptysis. I was always curious about what other musicians would do with my music.

I was inspired for the whole idea from seeing fusion/jazz artists that I work with as the Directer of Artist Relations at Providence Pedals & Cables including Michael Landau, Steve Lukather, and Larry Carlton, and more. Their live lineup isn’t consistent all the time in a good way. There’s a chemistry in each lineup and have different vibe and that’s part of the excitement. Seeing their shows definitely gave me an outside of box view.

Before I left Hemoptysis, I already had an idea of making a solo record and started writing Retribution. I contacted Kevin Talley to do drums, and he did superb job! At the time, I was still in Arizona, and I knew Kelly Conlon (Death, Monstrosity) already by sharing the stage with the bands he was in then. I’ve seen him playing live, and knowing he was part of the emergence of death metal in Florida back in the day, I was curious what he would do to the song. It was fun recording the track at my studio. We both threw out the ideas and had a blast! It came out great, and it brought the fun of making music back. Having David Ellefson (Megadeth) playing on one of my songs was dream come true. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe it happened, but when I wrote the song, Inescapable Damnation, I wanted him to play bass, so I reached out to him and asked. I’ve known him since he was in a band called F5 while he was out of Megadeth, and have worked with him several times before in the production end. It’s super cool that listening to that song, you can hear him playing. He has that signature sound! Rodney McGlothlin (Voice of Dissent) has been one of my closest friends for few years. I’ve known him since before I move to LA, and I’ve always respected him as a bassist and songwriter, so I asked him to play on few songs on this record. Just like working with Kelly, it was fun working with him at the recording session and he totally rocked it. He now plays bass with this band for shows and we went to Japan together for a tour last September. I never knew we would be playing together when we became friends first. I now play guitar for his band, Voice of Dissent for their shows too!

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TO: How was the cover artwork chosen?

I was surfing the web to see some cool artworks and came across Remy at Headsplit Design. He has done some cool artwork and shirt design and I reached out to him and told him my ideas for the artwork. A few weeks later, he came back with that cover art and I was beyond happy how it came out. He is super talented and I get a lot of people saying that it’s badass artwork!

TO: How do you think your music will progress in the future?

I would say let’s see what happens. For me, I don’t try to write to sound a certain way. Whatever the riff or ideas that I come up with and sound good to me is going to be the song, so I honestly don’t know how my music will progress in the future. All I know is I wouldn’t release it unless I feel confident, so it is the best I can offer!

TO: Tell us about your upcoming live shows

Yes, we have a show at the Viper Room in Hollywood on August 8th, and currently booking more shows for rest of the year. These will be announced soon. I’m also working on some out of states and international dates!

TO: Do you prefer your music to be digital or physical?

Physical. The music should be an experience and a form of art. I am probably the last generation of people who used to buy records by the design of the cover art to find new music, put it on the stereo, and read the lyrics and credits. There are metalheads who still do that and appreciate the artists who still consider the cover art, album layout, lyrics page, etc as a part of the product. Printing physical copies isn’t cheap, especially for an EP, and I do not want to compromise when I do it, like printing just the 2 pages panel as I don’t think it’s fair to people who actually bought a physical copy. I don’t feel like I made a record and accomplished a completed project unless I have a physical copy too. I personally never buy music digital unless it’s only available in digital. I like to own a physical copy and read lyrics and credits! As an engineer, I’m always curious to see who was involved in production too.

TO: What’s you view on the current state of the music industry in 2016?

I think we are returning to the early days. Just like everybody says, the record sales are declining and bands need to play shows and sell merch to survive. The chance of getting signed with a label with a decent deal is slim to none unless you are already highly established. That’s basically how it was back in the day. Yes, labels screw bands, but it’s not something new. Read the contract, negotiate and don’t sign it just for the sake of saying we are signed. You are responsible for what you signed. It will never change, just like the pay to play unless bands stop taking it.

I feel the teamwork is lacking and people are just pessimistic about the whole industry and not trying to do anything to improve the situation. Labels don’t have money? Stop signing hundreds of band to make short term profit, then drop them and use them like a disposal camera. Invest and develop the few artists you truly believe in. Bands that complain about why they aren’t going anywhere? Nobody wants to invest in you unless they feel you are worth their time and money. Write good music, have a killer quality record, embrace the online and social media, hire a publicist to promote your songs, work on stage performance, etc. You have to earn it. Labels don’t want to take a risk signing you if you don’t have a good work ethic. Why do your favourite bands not tour often or have disbanded? Buy CDs and merch, and go to shows with friends!

Everybody wants what they want, but we need to work together. It’s time to end the vicious circle and start working together for better future and metal community.

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TO: Playing live – essential or pointless?

Essential. Live is an experience and where artists get to interact with their audience and share the moment with their music. Every gig is different and one of a kind. We all get to meet friends and make new friends at the show and have a great time.

TO: What are you up to for the rest of the year?

We will be playing more shows while I’ve started writing new songs for next record.

I’m super happy with the current live lineup and I can’t wait to play more! I also have some shows with Voice of Dissent, so I’m pretty busy the rest of the year.

TO: Any final words?

Thanks for the opportunity and I appreciate everyone who took the time to read this interview. I hope you like the music and if you do, please suggest that your fellow metalheads give it a listen and I hope to get to see many of you soon at the shows! \m/ Don’t forget to follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/murashitamusic and you can pickup a copy of ‘Inescapable Damnation’ directly from me at http://masakimurashita.bigcartel.com Horns up!

Exclusive premiere – Bangladeshi thrash metal band Psychotron

Psychotron

Bangladesh is known for its old school metal and the country’s thrash metal scene in particular is commendable. I first chanced upon Dissector, which I felt was terribly underrated (and indeed an attempt was made by Transcending Obscurity Distribution to reissue it but perhaps that is something only the future will tell now). Enmachined and Thrash are other acts, but more recently, Surtur and Exalter have made a mark. It’s indeed exciting to see yet another thrash release emanating from that country, going by the name Psychotron. (more…)

2016 Video Round up – Part II

It has barely been a month since we put up part I and already, we find ourselves trying hard to keep the videos to be featured in part II under a reasonable number. It is nice to see bands continue to take the effort to make quality music videos. These are not merely videos of the band playing set in some exotic backdrop. In most cases they’ll well produced and well executed visual representation of the band’s music and theme. So here you go, 15 music videos that are definitely worth checking out. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Aetherian – The Rain (Independent)

I’m not familiar with Aetherian, but I am pretty stoked for their upcoming album. This track, The Rain fills me with nostalgia for the golden age of melodic death metal: backdrop of a dead forest, grey and sepia filters, slo-mo silhouette shots, and of course plenty of long-haired headbanging. It’s a simple but beautiful video to fit a great song. Plenty of focus on the guitar playing for all of you developing axe men out there. ~ FlightOfIcarus

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Exalter from Bangladesh to release new album through Transcending Obscurity Distribution

Bangladeshi thrash metal band, Exalter, who’ve wowed metal fans from around the world with their debut release, have come up with new material for the 2016 sophomore release titled ‘Obituary for the Living’. The three new songs are coupled with the entire first ‘Democrasodomy’ release, making it like a proper full-length affair, lasting for around 30 minutes which are full of sharp, brisk and deadly thrash metal.

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Transcending Obscurity Distribution owner Kunal Choksi comments, “Exalter are possibly one of the best bands in the subcontinent and their brand of thrash metal has everything I adore – it’s gnarly, old school, uptempo, and even sounds crisp and good. I think they have great potential and hope our partnership extends beyond the label/PR sphere and even entails the band crossing over to play more shows in the country. This year is looking good for thrash metal with Exalter and after that Chaos and Carnage Inc. releasing albums under the TO banner. Armament paved the way and it’s time for Exalter to carry the torch.”

Exalter state, “First of all, we want to express our gratitude towards Transcending Obscurity Distribution. This is our second release. Big thanks to brother Kunal Choksi, the owner of the label. We are honored to work with you. We are excited and looking forward to our endeavors with Transcending Obscurity Distribution.

In the ‘Obituary for the Living’ MCD, Exalter explore themes related to freedom, liberty, power, torture; and all of it expressed through the classic thrash metal fury and boldness. The drive and the pulse of the songs are heavily infused with thoughtful words that are as meaningful as they are aggressive. People who appreciate dynamic heavy music will be thrashing along to this damning obituary.”

Exalter Facebook | Transcending Obscurity Facebook | Exalter Bandcamp | Store Purchase Link

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