Unearth have been slogging it out on the metal scene for 15 years now and have proven themselves to be real stayers, helping to remind folks that seven-string guitars can be used for more than just open-string chugging and showing that you can combine the punishing groove of Pantera with the melodic sense of Sweden’s Gothenberg sound and the power of traditional metal, all filtered through an aggressive metalcore lens. New album Watchers of Rule (3Wise) is a consistently brutal chunk of metal by anyone’s standards. But this far into Unearth’s career, it’s almost exhilarating to hear them continuing to release vital albums full of songs that are destined to live on in the setlist. I caught up with guitarist Buz McGrath right after the album’s release.
Want to win a copy of the album? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Unearth’ in the subject line and I’ll draw five winners! Australia only.
Let’s start with the guitar stuff. What did you use on this album?
We used a Rhodes amp. I don’t know what it is. And I think we used one of Ken’s old custom Ibanez RGs that won the shoot-out. Usually what happens is we go through a stack of about 15 guitars and we record the same piece of music, the same riff, with each guitar, and you go through and listen to which guitar is sounding the best with what you’ve got, and that one won. It was between that one and, Ken had a custom three-pickup Ibanez Iceman with EMGs in it. That thing weighed a fucking tonne but it sounded sick. But the other one just beat it out by a little bit. We recorded with a Kemper via DI, and then [producer] Mark Lewis took it back to his studio and re-amped it through various amps, which I wasn’t a part of the process for. He would send me mixes with different amps and I’d say ‘this one sounds good.’ So I never even saw the amp. It’s a real weird way of doing it but it worked out good. Continue reading
Periphery, Roadrunner Records Australia and I Heart Guitar present the official Australian premiere of the video for “Ragnarok” from Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal, filmed by Jeff Holcomb during Summer Slaughter 2013.
Directed by Jeff Holcomb.
Used with permission with thanks to Roadrunner Records Australia and Periphery.
Okay, this sounds like a Groucho Marx gag, but… “I love a good delay pedal. And the Boss Tera Echo is nothing like a good delay pedal.” I know, I know, but hear me out: the doesn’t claim to be a delay pedal in the traditional sense. It’s not going to usurp Boss’s much-loved DD series of delay stompboxes, for instance. I say this because in all the online chatter I’ve seen about this pedal, the general view is “Oh, another Boss delay pedal? Cool …I like Boss delay pedals,” without any deeper understanding of what this pedal is designed to do. But this thing really goes beyond traditional delay, to the point of avoiding it all together. Don’t think of it as ‘another cool Boss delay,’ but rather as ‘another cool Boss pedal innovation.’ Continue reading
As a seven – and now eight – string guitarist, I’m fully aware that the needs of an extra-stringer are different to those of someone who plays a sixer. You have to have clarity on the low string(s), because what’s the point of having an extra string if it’s virtually inaudible? And you need the rest of the guitar to still sound right, because what’s the point of having the regular six strings if their tone is going to be sacrificed in honour of that one low string? To date most seven and eight-string pickups have been expanded versions of existing pickup models, but Seymour Duncan’s new Pegasus, Sentient and Nazgul pickups are designed from the ground up to cater to the needs of seven and eight-string players. That’s right: there’s no six-string version of any of these pickups. Continue reading
It’s about time we seven and eight stringers had some more passive humbuckers designed just for us! There are relatively few ‘extra string’ pickups out there that aren’t based on existing models, but that’s starting to change now that the guitar world really seems to be accepting 7 and 8-strings as part of the musical landscape. Seymour Duncan has launched three 7/8 pickups this year, the Nazgul, the Pegasus and the Sentient. You can hear the Sentient (along with the Nazgul) in this video featuring Keith Merrow and Ola Englund: Continue reading
WOW! NAMM kicks off to a big, big start with this behemoth, the Ibanez RG9 9-string. Now, it’s only a prototype at this stage, but Ibanez hopes to make it a production model and to have them on the streets in the fourth quarter of 2013. Just in time for Christmas, you guys! I really hope that pans out. Of course it depends on if there’s interest from attendees and dealers at NAMM, but as far as I’ve seen, the response has been pretty huge.
It has Lace Deathbar humbuckers (with coil splits): very high-definition, punchy-sounding pickups that are great for djent. It’s a 28″-scale instrument, tuned (low to high) C#, F#, B, E, A, D, G, B, E and the playability is amazing. Note that the bridge is a fully tooled-up piece rather than something assembled out of a few pieces, which is how Ibanez dipped their toe in the water with the initial 8-string prototypes, and as Rich at Ibanez Rules says, they wouldn’t have spent the beans on developing this part if they didn’t plan to do something with it.
Seymour Duncan and Strictly 7 join forces for “The Strictly F#%$#@% Awesome Keith Merrow Signature Guitar Giveaway”
Strictly 7 Guitars recently announced the addition of the Spectral Keith Merrow Signature Guitar to its growing line of 7 and 8 string guitars. This guitar features the Seymour Duncan SH-8 Invader – a humbucker that has a well-earned reputation as one of the most aggressive passive pickups ever. To celebrate the launch of this new guitar, Seymour Duncan and Strictly 7 have joined forces to launch “The Strictly F#%$#@% Awesome Keith Merrow Signature Guitar Giveaway” Between August 20th and September 3rd, everyone in the world will have a chance to enter to win this guitar.
Enter to win the guitar here: http://bit.ly/PozviC
The Spectral Signature Series Merrow is built to the following specs:
Cobra 7 string
Reverse inline headstock
Northern Ash body wings
5 piece flamed maple and walnut neck
26 jumbo stainless steel frets
Black Sperzel tuners
Black original Floyd Rose bridge
3 way switch
Infinity Grey with full black binding finish throughout
Street Price: $2090 with Hipshot bridge or $2290 with Floyd Rose
Just stumbled across this video on YouTube of the fine folks from England’s Jaden Rose Guitars capering at the NAMM Show (including some great shreddage by Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders). These guys make incredible guitars that are especially shred and djent-friendly. Six-strings, seven-strings, eight-strings, fixed bridge, Floyd Rose, extended scale, multi-scale, exotic woods, DiMarzio pickups, ridiculously comfortable necks… want!
We all know about djent by now – the metal genre named after a specific guitar tone that sounds like ‘djent djent djent’ – but you need only to look at the wah wah pedal to know that guitarists have long been hip to the joys of onomatopoeia. We also talk about ‘jangle,’ ‘crunch,’ ‘chug’ and ‘chunk,’ all words that sound like the things they’re describing. But I think we should go further. I think there should be an onomatopoeia for every sound a guitar makes. So here are a few suggestions.
It’s the sound of a wah wah being used to hover loosely around a specific frequency rather than rocked back and forth to its extremes. It’s almost impossible to make this kind of sound without also making the appropriate mouth shapes. Joe Satriani is the master of this. Check out the video for “Summer Song” for proof, especially throughout the solo that starts at 1:55.
The pickslide deserves its own name. Sure, ‘pickslide’ is how you achieve the sound, but it’s not what the sound is. If that was how we were going to name guitar stuff, you might as well call the wah wah the ‘foot move’ pedal, or call fingertapping …finger …tapping. Oh. Okay, well I guess we need to come up with a new name for fingertapping too. In the meantime, there are some great kiwws in “Rocket” by Def Leppard.
A downtuned open string, hit at a strategic time, and maybe picked a little too hard or with too light a string gauge for the tuning, so the note kind of drifts into tune after starting a little bit sharp. LIke at :05 in Mastodon’s “Oblivion.” “Dude, that riff’s kinda killer but it’d be really killer if you threw in a goong.
“Wakka,” “Wikka,” “Chikka,” “Kooka”
You can achieve a pretty wide range of sounds from a muted clean guitar and a wah wah pedal, but most of them hinge on a “Ka” sound at the end. You can hear a whole smorgasbord of them, a grand buffet of muted clean wah work, in Trey Spruance’s playing during the intro of Faith No More’s “Evidence.”
Got any more?
A lot has happened since I Heart Guitar last interviewed Misha Mansoor. In the space of a mere year, the djent movement – of which Mansoor’s band Periphery is a central focus – has gone from metal curiosity to fully-fledged phenomenon. The Icarus Lives! Ep has further solidified Mansoor’s reputation as one of the most technically gifted metal guitarists of his generation, yet he maintains an open dialog with fans, continuing to post video and audio of random jammage – new gear, Nyan cat, the list goes on. Periphery are heading to Australia in July for the League Of Extraordinary Djentlemen tour with Tesseract, and I Heart Guitar caught up with Misha to talk about what’s happened in the past year.
Hi! We’ve talked before, haven’t we?
Yes we have, about a year ago.
Yeah! I Heart Guitar! I remember that.
Yeah, cool! So the Melbourne stop of your Aussie tour has recently been upgraded to a bigger venue because ticket sales were so good.
Yeah! That was very unexpected. I don’t know how that happened. I don’t know who we paid off to make that happen! But that is more than a pleasant surprise. Australia was one of the most fun tours – it was like a vacation to us. I don’t know what it is, but everyone was so nice and welcoming. And I’m not just saying that. Australians are like some of the nicest people we’ve ever met. It was a treat, and having some of the love come right back to us was really awesome. So seeing that the shows sold out so fast was like icing on the cake for us.
Everyone seems to know who you are and about the whole djent movement now. How are you coping with that? Does it mess with your head? Do you try not to think about it?
I try not to think about it. This whole djent movement thing is very funny and silly to me because it’s appearing out of nowhere, almost parallel to what we’re doing. I think people don’t realise that we’ve just been doing what we’ve been doing. It wasn’t cool to be playing this style of music for the majority of the time that we’ve been writing and playing the music that we do, and we write and play the music that we do because it’s the only thing that we know how to do. It’s just going for it. It’s not like we sat down one day and said “I’m gonna start a new fad or something.” It wasn’t like that at all, it was just doing what we were doing. So it’s just interesting to see how that all happens. It is very surreal. And we focus on it a bit, like we named our tour the League Of Extraordinary Djentlemen. We don’t take it all too seriously, and it’s not all that relevant to me in day to day life or anything. It just is what it is, y’know?
Periphery are heading back to Australia (home of I Heart Guitar and some of the most deadly creatures you ever heard of) with their ‘The League Of Extraordinary Djentlement’ tour with Tesseract, courtesy of Soundwave Touring. More info on the tour here. Check out my interview with Periphery’s Misha Mansoor from May 2010 here.
The League of Extraordinary Djentlemen tour
In just a few short years, PERIPHERY have blazed a trail of originality that has sent a shockwave throughout the metal world.
Exploring the complex uncharacteristic rhythms and technical precision of math rock with the brutality of progressive metal PERIPHERY have defied the boundaries of conventionality. Breathing life into the metal scene, Absolutepunk.net proclaims “From beginning to end, Periphery’s self titled debut is a wonder to behold, and will inspire modern metal for the next decade” paving the way for PERIPHERY‘s meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the metal world.
This July sees PERIPHERY heading to Australia as part of the ‘The League of Extraordinary Djentlemen’ tour and joining the bill are fellow metallers TESSERACT. Embracing their experimental and prog sensibility garnered with a reputation for delivering jaw-dropping live performances has seen them catapulted into the forefront of the metal movement. Their debut album ‘One’, whilst intense, deep and complicated is incredibly transcendent and melodic and “It’s hard to find fault with an album this complete…powerful stuff!” – Rock Sound
PERIPHERY and TESSERACT will be hitting Australia for three extraordinary intimate performances this July.
TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY 17 JUNE, 9AM
FRIDAY 29 JULY
BRISBANE, THE ZOO – 18+
www.oztix.com.au & Outlets
SATURDAY 30 JULY
SYDNEY, THE ANNANDALE – 18+
SUNDAY 31 JULY
MELBOURNE, NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB – 18+
www.northcotesocialclub.com, 9486 1677
& Corner Box Office (57 Swan St, Richmond)