On Stage: Metal for everyone

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Ice Nine Kills

There are concerts every night of the week just about 365 nights every year. When winter weather departs from the northern states around this time every year, the weeknight concert schedule becomes almost as heavy as the weekend night schedule.

This week, there are numerous midweek concerts in the area featuring interesting acts.

Fans of metal music have to be smiling with concerts on Tuesday and Wednesday evening featuring Ice Nine Kills, New Years Day, Falling In Reverse, From Ashes To New, Psycroptic, Cannabis Corpse, Gorod and Micawber.

Music will be hitting heavy at Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) on May 7 when the venue on South Street hosts a show featuring Ice Nine Kills, New Years Day, Falling In Reverse, and From Ashes To New.

Ice Nine Kills is an American metalcore band from Boston, Massachusetts that is signed to Fearless Records. Best known for its horror-inspired lyrics, Ice Nine Kills formed in its earliest incarnation in 2002 by high school friends Spencer Charnas and Jeremy Schwartz.

The group’s music style has been described as metalcore, heavy metal, melodic hardcore, post-hardcore, symphonic metal, and, most fittingly, horror metal.

Ice Nine Kills has released three EPs – “The Burning,” “2 Song Acoustic” and “The Predator” – and five full-length studio albums – “Last Chance to Make Amends,” “Safe Is Just a Shadow,” “The Predator Becomes the Prey,” “Every Trick in the Book,” and “The Silver Scream.”

The band took its name from the fictional substance ice-nine from the science fiction novel “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut.

“The Silver Scream” was released on October 5, 2018 on Fearless Records.

“We’re still touring ‘The Silver Scream’,” said Charnas, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“The album was recorded over a period of several months in 2018. The songs had been building up for a while. We recorded the album in L.A.”

All the tracks are inspired by horror films. Some of the films that inspired songs were “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Friday the 13th,” “The Crow,” “The Shining,” “Halloween,” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

“I knew from the outset that the album was going to be based on horror movies,” said Charnas. “Horror moves are something I’ve been interested since I was a little kid.

“Horror movies provide an escape for people from their mundane lives. There aren’t a lot of modern horror films that are on my radar. I prefer classic horror films.

“There are a lot of horror films that I’ve watched 20 times or more like ‘Halloween,’ ‘Friday the 13th,’ and ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night.’ The songs on ‘The Silver Scream’ are based on characters from these songs.”

The number of songs on the album should come as no surprise to anyone.

“There are 13 songs, and each is based on a different movie,” said Charnas. “I had them on in the background when I was writing the songs. ‘Halloween’ started it all with all the 80s slasher films in its wake.”

Just over two years ago, Ice Nine Kills played the same venue with a themed show – a horror-themed show that gave fans a unique opportunity to experience prom like never before.

 “The Hell In The Hallways Tour” played off the band’s cinematic video for its song “Hell in the Hallways,” which created a fresh, new spin on the 1976 cult classic film “Carrie,” based on Stephen King’s 1974 novel of the same name. Fans were encouraged to wear their most elegant prom attire to the show and there was a prom king and queen crowned each night.

“We always get fans coming to our shows dressed in horror outfits” said Charnas. “We also see adults bringing their kids dressed in horror outfits.

“In addition to our music shows, we try to do a lot of horror conventions. There are quite a lot of them and many fans of horror travel across the country to attend them. They’re very die-hard.”

Hardcore horror music and die-hard metal music fans – that has been the formula for success for Ice Nine Kills.

Video link for Ice Nine Kills – https://youtu.be/wGns433H8nA.

New Years Day

New Years Day is touring in support of its new full-length album “Unbreakable,” which was released on April 26 via RED Music.

The first single, “Shut Up,” climbing into the Active Rock Radio Top25 immediately after its release. The song also been featured on Spotify’s “Rock Hard,” “Heavy Queens,” “New Metal Tracks,” “New Noise,” and “Fierce Femmes” playlists, along with Apple Music’s “Breaking Hard Rock,” “Rock Scene,” “Brand New Music,” and “Fresh Hard Rock” playlists.

New Years Day – Ash Costello – Vocals; Nikki Misery – Guitar; Frankie Sil – Bass; Austin Ingerman – Guitar — is currently on the road with Falling In Reverse as support on the band’s U.S. tour.

“The songs on ‘Unbreakable’ are a little over a year old,” said Costello, during a phone interview last week from a New Jersey tour stop.

“We started writing every chance we got – whenever we weren’t on the road and had the opportunity to get in the studio. Everything is written in the studio.”

Formed in Orange County, California by Ashley Costello in 2005, New Years Day shook the scene with its Century Media debut, “Victim to Villain,” in 2013.

After building a reputation strictly through promotion on the social networking website MySpace, the band released its debut self-titled EP in 2006 and its first full-length album “My Dear” in 2007. Six years later, “Victim to Villain” was finally released, shortly followed by “Malevolence” in 2015.

In January 2018, the band released the EP “Diary of a Creep,” featuring its own song “Disgust Me,” a cover of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” a cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” and covers of songs by Pantera, Linkin Park, and Garbage.

“With ‘Unbreakable,’ right away I wanted to do pop metal or metal pop,” said Costello. “I just wanted New Years Day to grow. I didn’t want to put out the same thing over and over again.

“I didn’t put too much thought into a theme. I wrote what I wanted to say in the moment. The general vibe – I’d gone through a lot and come out the other side. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. It was personal experiences – whatever I was going through. The title – ‘Unbreakable’ – hit me like a ton of bricks.”

The album was an expression of transformation.

According to Costello, “If I had to look at my life like a timeline of colors, when I wrote our last album, ‘Malevolence,’ it was pitch, charcoal black. But in the last couple years, the band cut off toxic people, built a new business team, and we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.

“So, when we went to make ‘Unbreakable,’ I wanted the process to be fun, to reflect our renewed vibe and energy. We set out to write the poppiest metal album, or the most metal pop album.”

New Years Day didn’t change into the Partridge Family dressed in black, but it did show a new side. “Unbreakable” features 12 intense, boundary-melding songs that may touch on metal or goth but are ultimately undeniable modern rock and roll tunes.

“We cut the album in Southern California,” said Costello. “We started in January 2018 and did it over the span of a year. All the songs were fresh, and no song is really the same.

“My influences are goth, Marilyn Manson and Kiss. This album, I just wanted to make music I like. I wanted to show my influences and, at the same time, do more melodic songs.

“In our shows right now, we’re playing two new songs – ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Come for Me.’ That’s enough for now. We’ll do songs from all our albums because I know when I go to see my favorite band, I don’t want to hear all new songs.”

Video link for New Years Day – https://youtu.be/F7BjFq6VAbY.

The show at Theatre of the Living Arts featuring Ice Nine Kills, New Years Day, Falling In Reverse, and From Ashes To New, will start at

Tickets for the all-ages show are $45.


On May 7, Psycroptic will top the bill at The Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602, www.voltagelounge.com) along with co-headliner Cannabis Corpse.

Australia is a land all its own – a country that is geographically huge with a lot of towns and cities located in remote places. Tasmania is one of those remote places – an island state located off the southeast corner of the mainland. Hobart is Tasmania’s capital most populous city with a population of just over 200,00 people.

Psycroptic is a death metal band formed in Hobart in 1999. The band was founded by brothers Dave Haley on drums and Joe Haley on guitar. The group’s lead vocalist, Jason Peppiatt, joined in 2004. The band’s newest member is bassist Todd Stern, who joined in 2015.

As of February 2019, the band has released seven studio albums – “The Isle of Disenchantment” (2001), “The Scepter of the Ancients” (2003), “Symbols of Failure” (2006), “Ob(Servant)” (2008), “The Inherited Repression” (2012), “Psycroptic” (2015), and “As The Kingdom Drowns” (2018).

Psycroptic is currently touring the states in support of — “As The Kingdom Drowns.” The tour is providing Stern with the opportunity to play shows near his home turf.

“I’m the American in the group,” said Stern, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Portland, Oregon. “I was born in New Jersey.

“Psycroptic was touring the states in 2015. They needed a bass player, so they figured they’d get a guy from the U.S. They asked my friend who was the bass player in the band Revocation. He couldn’t do it and recommended me.

“I did that tour and then we did a tour of Europe in 2016. We continued to tour together, and I’ve been in the band ever since. ‘As The Kingdom Drowns’ is the first recording I’m on. I was in the band when the record started to be written back in mid-2017. We recorded it at the end of 2017 and into 2018. By March, we were filming videos in Tasmania.”

Many Americans have no idea what or where Tasmania is, but they are familiar with the term “Tasmanian Devil.” The Tasmanian Devil, commonly referred to as Taz, is an animated cartoon character featured in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons.

For the Australian members of Psycroptic, Tasmanian Devils are very real.

Long known as the “Tasmanian Devils,” they recently became the first band in the world to adopt their own Tasmanian Devil in an attempt to help preserve the critically endangered carnivorous marsupial. They gave their new mascot the name “Psycro.”

“With Psycroptic, the main songwriter is Joe,” said Stern. “Joe records the band. It’s just a home studio, but Joe is an audio genius. Jason does the lyrics. Joe and Jason work on the song structure together. Then, they tell me what they want me to play. I was home in New Jersey. They’d send me the tracks and I’d put in my parts.”

“As The Kingdom Drowns” was produced by Joe Haley and mixed and mastered by Will Putney. Released in late 2018, the new album immediately entered the Billboard charts at #17 for Top New Artist Albums and #25 for Current Music Albums followed by swift addition to multiple year end lists for Best Albums.

“After the album dropped, we did a headline tour of Australia,” said Stern. “We did a large headline tour in Europe earlier this year and now we’re in the middle of a big U.S. We’ll also be playing a lot of festivals in Europe later this year. Half the set is the band’s music from the ;last 20 years and half is material from the new album.”

Video link for Psycroptic — https://youtu.be/9kBACkguBR0.

Cannabis Corpse

Cannabis Corpse is a marijuana-themed death metal band that formed in 2006 in Richmond, Virginia. Since then, Cannabis Corpse has released three albums and one EP.

The band features members of Municipal Waste, GWAR, and Antietam 1862. The band’s name originates from a parody of the name for veteran death metal band Cannibal Corpse.

The band delivers a deadly dose of brutal death metal with its most recent LP “Left Hand Pass” – an album which also features guitarist Ray Suhy.

Under the influence of the genre legends who preceded them, the trio give rise to unrelenting piece of crushing, weed-themed death replete with their signature, THC-fueled, horror fiction lyrics.

While the Cannabis Corpse songs are fully original, the group’s album and song titles are parodies of many other death metal bands’ album and song titles – for example, “Tube of the Resinated” from Cannibal Corpse’s “Tomb of the Mutilated.”

Philip “Landphil” Hall and his brother Josh “HallHammer” Hall along with Andy “Weedgrinder” Horn recorded a demo which eventually became “Blunted at Birth” and the band signed with Richmond, Virginia-based Forcefield Records.

“I formed the band in 2006 with my brother,” said Philip Hall, during a phone interview last week. “We’re twin brothers and we spend a lot of time together.”

When asked which twin was older, Hall offered an unusual explanation.

“At this point, I’m not really sure,” said Hall. “It was a c-section so it was whichever one the doctor grabbed first.”

Seniority never mattered much to the hard-rocking twins.

“We had a lot of the same experiences and we liked a lot of the same bands,” said Hall. “We enjoy playing together and we were looking for some good technical death metal.

“We were making some death metal we liked, and it snowballed from there. It was well-received, so we decided to put a live band together. At first, all the guys were from Richmond. But band members have come and gone. In 10 years, we’ve really improved a lot.”

“Left Hand Pass,” which was released by Seasons of Mist, received a lot of positive reviews in the metal community.

“We were working on the album for two years,” said Hall. “Josh and I self-produce all our music. We do all the tracking and editing ourselves.

“Most of the tracks are ones I’ve written. Then, my brother and I record them and send them to Ray. We still live in Richmond while Ray lives in Red Bank, New Jersey.

“In our live show, we play a mix of everything. We just try to make our set as brutal as possible – brutal, old-school dark metal.”

There is good news for fans waiting for new music from Cannabis Corpse.

“We have a new album that’s getting mastered right now,” said Hall. “We’ve always self-produced our albums and it’s the same with this one. We have our own studio here in Richmond. It’s a good setup with ProTools and mics.

“Having our own studio lets us take our time when recording. We’re still with Seasons of Mist and they’ll be releasing it.

“The album sounds more raw – like old Cannabis Corpse. It’s getting mixed by Jarrett Pritchard, who has worked with Goatwhore. ‘Left Hand Pass’ got a little progressive. The new album is more old-school – like the 90s.”

Video link for Cannabis Corpse – https://youtu.be/kpIQ8uiGWZg.

The Psycroptic and Cannabis Corpse show at The Voltage Lounge, which also features Gorod and Micawber, will start at 6 p.m. Tickets for the all-ages show are $20.

More metal will be on tap later in the week at the Voltage Lounge with Eyehategod, Negative Approch and Sheer Terror slated for May 10.


If you want to go to a show and hear something different than heavy metal music, you can hear something really different at the Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) – a concert by Elvana.

If you parse the band’s name, it looks like it might be a blend of Elvis and Nirvana. Guess what – that’s exactly what the band is about.

Nope, it’s not a joke!

From the bowels of Disgraceland, rock-and-roll icons are raised from the dead. Rock and roll meets grunge as Elvis fronts Nirvana, giving the band the front man it’s been missing since 1994. Elvana tears through Nirvana’s catalogue and blends in grunged-up sections of Elvis’ finest moments. The result is a mega mash-up of overdrive and old-school rockabilly.

In recent years, there have been new tribute acts not content to be just tribute acts – bands such as Mac Sabbath, a Black Sabbath tribute band featuring a Ronald McDonald impersonator, and Tragedy, an all-metal Bee Gees tribute band.

Elvana, a quartet of Brits from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the band features Elvis Cobain, Danny Cobain, Rob Novoselic and Bobby Grohl.

“We’ve been doing it for about five years,” said Elvis Cobain, during a phone interview Friday from a tour stop in New York. “It happened accidentally.

“We’d been in bands and had been touring without much success. So, we all had day jobs. Danny, our guitarist, said he wanted to start a tribute act. Danny said he wanted to do Nirvana songs – but we didn’t look like Nirvana. So, I said – I’ll do Elvis Presley.

“We did a show for our mates and they liked it. We did another show and got a good response. It spiraled from there. It started as a joke and now it’s a job. We got signed to play Glastonbury Fair and now we’re dipping our toe in your country. We came over to play America for the first time just about this time last year.”

Some die-hard Elvis fans and Nirvana fans view Elvana’s act as sacrilegious but most music fans — including those of both Elvis and Nirvana — have liked what Elvana has been doing.

“They key to what we do is play Nirvana,” said Elvis Cobain. “People love the music of Nirvana but there is a certain amount of sadness with losing Kurt Cobain. We bring the fun – and drop Elvis into the mix. People have a good time and forget about mourning Kurt Cobain. Some people make judgment that Kurt Cobain would be turning in his grave – but they’re wrong. As soon as people see us perform, they get it.”

The musicians from the northeast part of England make fans come alive with their celebration of Cobain’s times songs.

“The crowd is an integral part of our show,” said Elvis Cobain. We sing with the crowd. It’s a party. We introduce some Elvis into the mix. Everyone knows the Elvis songs we do – ‘Love Me Tender,’ ‘All Shook Up,’ ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.’ We draw Nirvana fans from the 90s, Elvis fans who are curious and younger fans who are just getting into Nirvana.”

If a city (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) can be known for a sports team nicknamed “The Magpies” (English Premier League football squad Newcastle United), why can’t it also be known for a Nirvana/Elvis tribute act called Elvana.

Video link for Elvana – https://youtu.be/Z5vLcQUCtpQ.

The show at The Foundry, which has Purple to the Core as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14.

Another act with something different to offer is playing Philly this week.

Your Heart Breaks

On May 8, Your Heart Breaks, coincidentally another band from Washington State, is part of a show at PhilaMOCA (531 North 12th Street, Philadelphia, 267-519-9651,www.philamoca.org) featuring four queer-rock acts. The other bands are Nana Grizol, Loamlands and Teenage Halloween.

Your Heart Breaks is an indie rock band from the Pacific Northwest, led by queer/transgender artist and musician Clyde Petersen (guitar and vocals). The group was formed in western Washington just prior to the turn of the century. Though the lineup varies from show to show, current contributors include Karl Blau (Guitar/Drums/Vocals), Lori Goldston (Cello) (Nirvana, Black Cat Orchestra), Kimya Dawson (Vocals) (Juno), Kyle Field (Guitar/Vocals) (Little Wings), Dylan Carlson (Guitar)(Earth) and Adrienne Davies (Percussion)(Earth) and a wealth of amazing Northwest musicians who drop in from time to time.

Your Heart Breaks recently spent the last two years touring the world, from North America to Japan and Europe, performing a live score to Clyde Petersen’s stop-motion animated feature film, “Torrey Pines.” The band has released nine albums, a film score and several split albums with Rae Spoon, Karl Blau and Madeline Adams.  

“This is the 20th year I’ve had this band,” said Petersen, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from her home in Seattle. “I started it in Bellingham in 1998 when I was going to college at Western Washington University. I was studying film production and stop motion animation.”

Your Heart Breaks is touring in support of its new album “Drone Butch Blues,” which came out on April 26 via SofaBurn Records.

“Drone Butch Blues” is a queer concept album based on the writings of historic and contemporary GLBTQI authors. With a focus on stories surrounding the queer community, “Drone Butch Blues” touches on topics of secret and forbidden love, sex with strangers, the lives of hustlers, the impact of AIDS on homosexuals, historic events and rebellion all interwoven with Petersen’s personal narrative.

Striving to examine the contemporary gap between generations of queers and their elders, Petersen turns to written materials to find buried remnants of gay culture and creative vibrant humans, lost to the plague of AIDS.

“I’ve been queer most of my life,” said Petersen. “The new record mainly about the history of the GLBTQI community before AIDS. I’m interested in history and there is a large gap there.

“I read about 30 books. There is a reading list that comes with the record. I interviewed a lot of people around Seattle who have survived that era. My research has been going on for about six years.

“I have a friend – a fashion designer named Mark Mitchell – who is an older gay man and survivor. He said – you’ll never know what it was like to go out dancing in the dark. I got the impression that community was a big word then – not so much today.”

Mark Mitchell is an artist who speaks to social issues through textiles. His contributions to Seattle’s cultural community bridge a number of disciplines, including art, music, theater, fashion, activism, and education. He is the subject of the award-winning short film “Burial,” and presented a performance and exhibition of the same title at the Frye Art Museum in 2013. Mark was recently artist-in-residence at The New Foundation Seattle where he continued to develop his new group of sculptures concerning racism and mass incarceration called “Burial 2 .”

“Drone Butch Blues” lives somewhere between a memorial service and a queer anthem, trying to encapsulate or understand such a historic loss of a vibrant generation of artists, while celebrating intimate moments shared in queer communities.

“I cut the album at The Unknown in Anacortes, Washington,” said Petersen. “It was produced by Karl Blau and engineered by Nicholas Wilbur. We did it in one day. Karl, who has produced all our records, recently moved to Philadelphia.”

Similar to North Indian Hindustani classical music with its tamboura, the base of Petersen’s album is drone. Each track contains its own unique drone element and is then layered with folk instruments. You won’t find any drum sets on “Drone Butch Blues.” Instead you will discover rhythm in the textures of the strings and pianos.

“I’m interested in drone music,” said Petersen. “There is a band in the Northwest called Earth. I’ve toured with them and that got me interested in drone.”

Earth, a musical group based in Olympia, Washington, formed in 1989. Led by guitarist Dylan Carlson, Earth’s music is nearly all instrumental. Earth is recognized as a pioneer of drone metal, with the band’s “Earth 2” being regarded as a milestone of the genre.

“I just finished a band tour and now this tour will be solo,” said Petersen. “I’m touring with a bunch of films I made. Each song has a film.”

Video link for Your Heart Breaks — https://youtu.be/ii9QbzqcaHk.

The show at PhilaMOCA, which features Your Heart Breaks, Nana Grizol, Loamlands and Teenage Halloween, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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