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Home Of The Free?

| October 31, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Bible Of The Devil’s new album (out this month) is called Freedom Metal. Initially this isn’t that eyebrow raising, certainly not controversial, but the Chicago band, which tours Europe yearly, is prepared for a backlash nonetheless.

Fuck. Remember “freedom fries”?

“We still get a lot of questions like ‘What’s up with your name? Are you guys Satanists?,'” guitarist/vocalist Mark Hoffman says. “And I hate having to explain over and over again, ‘Look man, that’s not what we mean,’ so I kept thinking if we call this Freedom Metal, every interview we do is going to be like, ‘So, what’s up with America and freedom?’ We do quite a few foreign interviews, but in the end I figured ‘Oh well. If I have to give the stock answer in every interview, I will.’

“We decided to call the record Freedom Metal, but we didn’t want it to come off cheesy,” Hoffman continues. “We mean freedom in the Thomas Hobbes sense in that ‘A free man is he who is not hindered to do what he has the will to,’ like the pure philosophical sense.”

Thomas Hobbes? Philosophy? That’s the English major in Hoffman.

Drummer Greg Spalding simplifies: “It’s kinda really, do whatever the fuck you want to do,” he says. “I think in this day and age there are so many divisions of what metal is. It’s so genre specific, like ‘oh you’re death metal, or stoner metal, or prog metal.’ It’s like, ‘Who really gives a fuck?’ For us it’s always what comes to us in any kind of format and, generally, we obviously lend it more to the classic rock/basic side of metal, but I think in the end that’s just kinda what it is: You’re free to do whatever you want to do.

“It’s kind of a weird response because we’re going to go back to Europe next year and people find out about the freedom thing and they turn their nose up a little bit because they associate it with so much of what goes on in this country with that word, but I mean, it’s just what metal means, and to us, it’s just a good time, you don’t have to be limited by a lot of stuff.”

The group, completed by guitarist Nate Perry and bassist Darren Amaya, certainly wasn’t limited on Freedom Metal, its fifth full-length and second for Italian label Cruz Del Sur (third recorded by Chicago heavy-music maestro Sanford Parker). Not that the group was necessarily limited on its two prior releases, 2005’s Brutality, Majesty, Eternity, or ’06’s masterpiece (completely comfortable saying it), The Diabolic Procession, but this time Bible wasn’t bound by the thematic.

Brutality was loosely based on the plight of a struggling, road-dogging rock band, and for Diabolic, Bible went full-fledged and dissected the fabled Children’s Crusades of 1212: a daunting task Hoffman fully embraced as the group’s primary lyricist.

Don’t forget about that English major, after all. “I thought it was a challenging way to write, because we’d never done that before,” he admits. “In some ways it’s easy to write that way; in other ways it’s really hard because you kind of paint yourself into a corner and say ‘Oh shit. I have to come up with another topical subject for the next song.’ But I liked it, too, because it was kind of like tying together a novel or something . . . or writing a short story.”

In a 2006 interview with Illlinois Entertainer after the release of Brutality, Hoffman and Spalding agreed that album led the band in a more “epic metal” direction, a prediction that obviously proved true on Diabolic. Strands of it still run through Freedom Metal and songs like “500 More” (about blazing a path of heavy metal across the land) or “The Turning Stone,” but tunes like “Night Oath,” “Ol Girl,” and “Womanize” thread some of the classic rock roots of early Bible albums Firewater At My Command and Tight Empire.

Spalding doesn’t argue: “This record, if anything, is just about back to the old-school Bible days and more party anthems, but with some more serious content as well.”

Whatever the case, Freedom Metal should, needs, to be heard here . . . in the United States. Diabolic Procession was one of the best metal records in 2006, yet, too few of you noticed. In fact, Spalding says, the album has sold twice as many copies in Europe as it has here. This is common in heavy metal, but goddamn unacceptable.

Spalding, bless his heart, is more diplomatic than “Caught In A Mosh.”

“I think if that would have gotten to me, it would have gotten to me years ago,” he says about the band’s Europe-to-U.S. success. “I’m not bitter in anyway as much as I think I could have been, but it’s like, we’ve had such a fun time doing this and remained active and remained touring, and we’ve seen most the shit most people never see in their lifetime.

“It is aggravating to a level, but you know we go to Europe and suddenly people know your band and you’re playing festivals in Germany for 400 or 500 people. You can’t fucking beat that, you know?”

Bible Of The Devil’s Freedom Metal release show is December 6th (and free!) at Cobra Lounge with Midnight and Bloodcow.

DVDS, PLEASE: You don’t realize how similar most heavy metal/hard rock DVDs are until you get a whole batch of them at once. Here’s the basic rundown: You get either one complete show (Static-X in Spokane, Washington for Cannibal Killers Live, Hatebreed in Detroit for Live Dominance, and Avenged Sevenfold in Long Beach for Live In The LBC) or performances culled from numerous tour stops (Clutch/Full Fathom Five Video Field Recordings, 2007-2008 and Dimmu Borgir/The Invaluable Darkness). Then, in the case of two-DVD sets like Invaluable Darkness and Live Dominance, you get the bonus features that comprise mostly, and lamely, more live footage. Sixty minutes of Invaluable Darkness is spent on Borgir’s entire Wacken Open Air Festival set, because metal bands just can’t resist Wacken footage. To be fair, though, the rest of Darkness‘ Disc Two, where totally serious black metal dudes dump in plastic bags and recite Spinal Tap quotes, is hilarious. Not so for Live Dominance‘s second disc, filled with featurettes like “Drive To The Show,” which is actually the band’s bus driving to the show, and “Building The Stage” – a life-changing look at the road crew building the stage. Don’t forget about “Tattoo Gallery”: still frames of Hatebreed fans and their Hatebreed tats. If anyone was due for a live DVD it’s road-warrior Clutch. Full Fathom Five contains 20 songs (there’s also a CD version with 15) but zero bonus features, except Neil Fallon‘s wonderful, wonderful beard.

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I’ll lose major credibility points – if I have any – for this, but Avenged Sevenfold’s Live In The LBC is pristine. Shot in high definition, with what seems like 1,000 cameras and mixed in 5.1 surround, LBC is where every band should aim when it comes to DVD releases (the fact A7X included “Seize The Day” and “Gunslinger” instead of “Chapter Four” or either of the “I Won’t See You Tonight” songs is ridiculous, though). It also comes packaged with Diamonds In The Rough, which is unreleased material from last year’s not-so-strong self-titled album.

Still, I like Avenged Sevenfold. Fuck me, huh?

mosh@illinoisentertainer.com

– Trevor Fisher

Category: Caught In A Mosh, Columns, Monthly

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