Album Review – Motograter / Desolation (2017)

Get “motograted” by the thrilling fusion of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock blasted by this tenacious American outfit.

Do you know what a “motograter” is? If you’re familiar with the fusion of Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock crafted by a relentless American squad known as Motograter, you already known that the “motograter” is a homemade musical instrument designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound, and by that you can imagine how thunderous their music sounds. Formed in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California, United States, the band (which by the way displays a tribal style body paint for their live concerts) has suffered considerable lineup changes and a few split-ups since their inception, but that didn’t stop the band from keeping on rocking, being reunited once again a few years ago and releasing this year their second full-length album after their 2003 debut self-titled release (featuring Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch on vocals), the hard and heavy Desolation, now with James Legion (Deadform, The Breathing Process) on the vocal duties.

As aforementioned, the reinvigorated Motograter, comprised of the talented James Legion on vocals, Matthew “Nuke” Nunes and Jesse Stamper on guitars, Mylon Guy on bass, Noah “Shark” Robertson on drums and Dustin “Skunk” Anderson on the motograter, will hit you in the face with a feast of alternative and metallic sounds found in their new album, with the artwork designed by Mister-Sam Shearon (who has already worked with renowned bands such as Iron Maiden, Ministry, Rob Zombie and Rammstein, among several others, and also created covers for comic books and graphic novels including Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Judge Dredd and The X-Files) effectively representing the energy and aggressiveness you’ll find throughout the entire album. With that said, are you ready to be “motograted” by this insane metal tribe?

You’ll experience modernity and electricity flowing from the very first second of the opening track Parasite, where Mylon, Noah and Dustin provide their welcome card in the form of thunderous and vibrant background sounds, giving all the necessary support for James to thrive with his vocals in an awesome blend of Hard Rock with Alternative and Nu Metal. Gripping guitar lines kick off another born-to-be-a-hit composition by Motograter, titled Dorian, with Matthew and Jesse slashing our ears with their riffs while Noah keeps the musicality as heavy as it can be with his pounding drums, not to mention the song’s completely addictive chorus that won’t leave your head for a few weeks; and their galvanized, rumbling sounds continue to permeate the atmosphere in Victim, another great sample of their contemporary Alternative Metal led by the ominous vocals by James.

In the excellent Paragon it becomes clear that those American metallers will never get tired of piercing our brains with their rumbling tones and roars, with the motograter going along really well with the song’s guitar riffs and the potent voice by James, being perfect for banging our heads nonstop together with the band due to its modern and thrilling rhythm. Slowing down a bit and sounding less metallic, Bleeding Through is a semi-ballad by this skillful sextet recommended for some radio play, albeit not as dynamic and fun as the rest of the album, followed by Misanthropical, which despite feeling like it’s going to be another ballad, it slowly morphs into an obscure metal chant with the motograter shaking the foundations of the earth, while the infernal duo Noah and Mylon continue to set fire to the music, and with the song’s guttural vocals adding some good amount of fury to the overall result. Daggers keeps the album at a great level of intricacy and stamina in an interesting mix of what’s almost a dark ballad with the heavier sounds of Alternative Metal, with Mathew and Jesse being fantastic on guitars, delivering both smoother and more electrified riffs during the whole song.

The last part of the album begins with Portrait of Decay, a hybrid of the more visceral music by Slipknot with the melody found in bands such as Alter Bridge, therefore becoming another strong candidate to become a radio favorite due to its catchy pace and vocals. Locust sounds and feels more aggressive than most of the album’s previous tracks, with Noah smashing his drums flawlessly while Mylon and Dustin make sure the music remains vibrant at all times (and let’s not forget about its harsh growls, one of the main ingredients that make this tune so amazing). Rise (There Will Be Blood), the second to last tune in Desolation, is one of those songs to jump up and down with the band during their live performances, bringing elements of more alternative bands like Linkin Park to their already potent sonority, followed by Shadows, a decent dark ballad that’s slightly below what Motograter can offer us despite the great job done by James on vocals. It’s still very enjoyable, though, especially if you’re into modern metal ballads.

In case you feel you’re more than ready to be “motograted” by Motograter, simply follow them on Facebook and listen to their music on YouTube or on Spotify. And if Desolation brings forward all you enjoy in modern metal music, you can buy your copy at the EMP Label Group webstore as a regular CD or as a CD + t-shirt bundle, as well as on iTunes, on Amazon or at Discogs. Not only Desolation has all elements needed to be a must-have album for admirers of contemporary Alternative Metal, but above all it will definitely help Motograter in solidifying their path in heavy music, and let’s hope the band’s lineup is finally stabilized once and for all and that they keep delivering high-end albums like this one for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Parasite, Dorian, Paragon and Locust.

Worst moments of the album: Bleeding Through and Shadows.

Released in 2017 EMP Label Group

Track listing
1. Parasite 3:46
2. Dorian 3:46
3. Victim 3:30
4. Paragon 4:03
5. Bleeding Through 3:28
6. Misanthropical 3:41
7. Daggers 4:21
8. Portrait of Decay 3:35
9. Locust 3:42
10. Rise (There Will Be Blood) 3:40
11. Shadows 3:18

Band members
James Legion – vocals
Matthew “Nuke” Nunes – guitar
Jesse Stamper – guitar
Mylon Guy – bass
Noah “Shark” Robertson – drums
Dustin “Skunk” Anderson – motograter

Guest musicians
Aleksi Oksa – samples
Justin Fowler, Ahrue Luster & Jon Berrier – additional samples

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Album Review – DevilDriver / Trust No One (2016)

If Dez Fafara and his crew say we must trust no one, who are we to go against the circle pit masters of California?

Rating5

coverWhen frontman Dez Fafara and his sick crew known as American Groove/Melodic Death Metal band DevilDriver say we must trust no one, we should definitely follow their trenchant and wise advice. Cursing the clouds over California for almost 15 years, Santa Barbara’s own circle pit masters are back with their seventh studio album, entitled Trust No One (also stylized as trust no one.), another solid release by a band that, above all things, knows how to craft exciting metal music for the masses. Longtime band member and guitarist Mike Spreitzer described the album as “the record (I’ve) been wanting to write for 12 years”, while Dez stated that the album is “a vicious record filled with huge grooves and big hooks, guitar bass assery and thundering drums”.

Although not as amazing as their 2007 classic The Last Kind Words, let’s say that the music found in Trust No One, the first album since their 2013 release Winter Kills (making it the longest time span between two albums in the band’s history due to Dez reuniting with his former band, American Nu Metal act Coal Chamber), matches considerably with the words by Mike and Dez, living up to the band’s history despite all the recent lineup changes. This is their first album without original members John Boecklin and Jeff Kendrick on drums and guitars, respectively, being replaced by drummer Austin D’Amond (formerly of Chimaira) and guitarist Neal Tiemann. Chris Towning, who played bass on Winter Kills, also left and got replaced by former Static-X bassist, Diego “Ashes” Ibarra.

Opening their metallic ceremony, Testimony of Truth is as melodic and groovy as expected from DevilDriver, with the guitars by Mike and Neal sounding polished and brutal at the same time. Furthermore, when the opening track has lyrics like these, you know the band is on the right aggressive path (“The truth is I never liked you this / testimony is one of truth you’re just / a means to an end / With no redeeming thing about you / Walk in my shoes / This dead empty space / Walk in my shoes / This burdens on you!”). In Bad Deeds, the band’s traditional Groove Metal arises, crushing the listener to the sound of the harsh vociferations by Dez and the imposing beats by Austin, also sustaining a creepy atmosphere in the background no matter how violent the music gets; while My Night Sky is an old school DevilDriver composition where all instruments (including vocals) are in line with all their previous records, being therefore tailored for diehard fans of the band.

This Deception proves that when DevilDriver accelerate their music things get even more exciting, resulting in a potent circle pit generator thanks to the awesome job done by Austin on drums and the always piercing sound of their guitars, followed by Above It All, a song which we could call the epitome of American Groove Metal. Dez has another solid vocal performance leading the band’s attack, and although it’s far from being the most creative song in the world, it works quite well in the end. The first single of the album, called Daybreak, blends Melodic Death Metal with Groove Metal, with both Mike and Neal firing some blazing riffs while Dez keeps growling like a beast, whereas the title-track, Trust No One, might be one of the most intricate and harmonious compositions of the band from their past few albums. I love the vocal lines by Dez, transpiring absolute anger and hatred, as well as the song’s kick-ass guitar solo, not to mention the simple but effective message of the song, which makes total sense in modern society (“There’s always a need for violence / Slowly singing to the somber sun / Give my regards to the ones you call your angels / Dusted I’m the only one”).

devildriverThe last part of the album begins with more violence and groove in the form of Feeling Ungodly, a good composition that unfortunately falls flat after a while due to its very repetitive vocals and riffs, followed by the low-tuned bass lines and rhythmic drumming of the decent Retribution, with its second half getting more exciting and obviously adding more electricity to the final result. And finally, the band gets back to a more thrilling and raging state in the closing tune entitled For What It’s Worth, where its beautiful guitar lines and solos perfectly complement Dez’s unique barks and the always violent aura found in their music.

In summary, while many will consider this just another DevilDriver album, I personally think Trust No One is not only an important landmark in their career and an album that will keep the band alive and on fire for the next coming years, but also a solid statement that confirms Dez and Mike won’t be negatively impacted by all the changes that happened to the band recently. Quite the contrary, they were able to absorb all the negativity, go against all odds and turn adversity into high-quality heavy music. And, as already mentioned, when a band like DevilDriver tells us we should trust no one, who are we to go against them? Stay alert to every wolf in sheep’s clothing around you, keep listening to the sincere and hostile music by bands like DevilDriver, and everything else will be a lot easier in your life.

Best moments of the album: Bad Deeds, This Deception and Trust No One.

Worst moments of the album: Feeling Ungodly and Retribution.

Released in 2016 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Testimony of Truth 4:43
2. Bad Deeds 3:46
3. My Night Sky 4:28
4. This Deception 3:47
5. Above It All 3:22
6. Daybreak 4:23
7. Trust No One 4:38
8. Feeling Ungodly 3:41
9. Retribution 4:01
10. For What It’s Worth 4:31

Digipak/Limited Edition/Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. House Divided 4:56
12. Evil on Swift Wings 4:17

Band members
Dez Fafara – vocals
Mike Spreitzer – guitars
Neal Tiemann – guitars
Diego “Ashes” Ibarra – bass guitar (live)
Austin D’Amond – drums