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BeatRoute Magazine BC Print Edition February 2018

BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise. The paper started in June 2004 and continues to provide a healthy dose of perversity while exercising rock ‘n’ roll ethics. Currently BeatRoute’s AB edition is distributed in Calgary, Edmonton (by S*A*R*G*E), Banff and Canmore. The BC edition is distributed in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. BeatRoute (AB) Mission PO 23045 Calgary, AB T2S 3A8 E. editor@beatroute.ca BeatRoute (BC) #202 – 2405 E Hastings Vancouver, BC V5K 1Y8 P. 778-888-1120

ASKING ALEXANDRIA

ASKING ALEXANDRIA ALTERNATIVE METAL GROUP THROW THEIR OLD SELVES INTO THE FIRE SLONE FOX Asking Alexandria has undoubtedly had their share of twists and turns during their decade as a band, perhaps the most notable being the departure of vocalist Danny Worsnop in 2015. Their previous album, The Black, saw singer Denis Stoff as frontman, but his reign was short-lived – Worsnop inevitably reclaimed his throne in 2017, just in time for the band’s powerful new self-titled album. The hard rock quintet offers a new style this time around, but old fans shouldn’t stress. The rowdiness that has come to be synonymous with Asking Alexandria still has its permanent place on the record. Energy falls out of every song, just as one would expect from a reunion album of this magnitude, yet the record is also laced with a unique kind of softness, if Asking Alexandria could ever be considered soft. According to lead guitarist Ben Bruce, the change in sound is obvious: the music has changed because they have changed. “Sometimes people want more music like our old stuff, but the old stuff is still there,” Bruce points out. “If that’s what you want to listen to, listen to it. I think everyone would get very bored if we just kept playing the same kind of thing over and over again.” To accompany their hard-hitting new album, Asking Alexandria also released an equally raucous music video for their opening track, “Into The Fire.” The Sin City-esque video features a series of cheerful scenes, such as Wors turning his back on his bandmates as they burn to death in a car wreck, bleed out on the road, get hit by cars and so on, all at the hands of Worsnop and his various unsafe road practices. The symbolism there is glaring. One would think filming such heavy scenes would have an emotional toll on the band, but Bruce insists that the hardest part of it was all physical. “There’s these harnesses, and they’re just lifting you around all day,” he says. “Emotionally though, I mean, it was mostly just production people yelling ‘CRY!’ Which I can do, by the way. I can cry on demand. I cry all the time. I cry when I watch movies, when I wake up, when I eat, when I ejaculate. I’m very good at it.” Even though the music video might look somber, Bruce says having Worsnop back has been nothing but positive. After a four-year absence from Vancouver, fans can expect to see some changes in the band since their last show here, but only for the best. “Just as people, we’ve all grown a lot. Cam and I were talking about it today, how four or five Asking Alexandria have evolved since reuniting with their original vocalist. years ago, we all would have been just hammered around this time, but the other day we did meet and greets and afterwards we just, like, went to bed.” The well-rested rock group kicked off the aptly named Resurrection Tour in January 2018. With such an extensive list of tour dates spanning over Photo by Sanjay Parikh continents, Asking Alexandria has returned to the scene and hit the ground running. We can only hope that this time around, it’s permanent. Asking Alexandria co-headlines the Vogue Theatre with Black Veil Brides and Crown the Empire on February 25. 22 February 2018

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY A WYLDE AND UNEXPECTED CONVERSATION WITH ICONIC METAL AXEMAN JOHNNY PAPAN Zakk Wylde is considered one of the most influential guitarists in the history of modern music. His heavy tones mixed with unimaginable lead solos earned him guitar duties for metal-icon Ozzy Osbourne in 1988, during the Ozzman’s prime. Wylde is the axeman behind some of metal’s most memorable riffs, marking his debut on Ozzy’s No Rest for the Wicked at the young age of 21. Now 51, Wylde has been the frontman for Black Label Society over the last two decades. “Hellooo thereee,” a withering voice elongates upon answering the phone. Wylde has disguised his vocal tonality to match that of the type of creepy old man who would try to lead you from a dark alleyway into his van for candy, similar to Herbert from Family Guy. After a brief, confused pause, I ask Wylde how his day was going. I was not prepared for Wylde’s inner jokester. “Very good!” he responds. “We’re doing the South Carolina chapter of the almighty Black Label tour. Getting ready for a big, fat Festivus miracle tonight! I am very excited. I just finished shaving my legs and my anal bleach appointment is coming up in about an hour and a half. The first one was already done and it was perfect, so I said ‘let’s just do it again!’ Second anal bleach of the day, I’m just that kind of guy.” Black Label Society is touring in support of their newest release, Grimmest Hits, which was dropped earlier this year. Though the title may seem as such, this is not a greatest hits record. The album was recorded over 20 days in Wylde’s home studio, the Black Vatican. “The record company was like, ‘Are there any hits on this record?’” he says. “I said ‘No. It’s rather bleak and rather grim.’ That’s why I went with Grimmest Hits. You see, in order to have greatest hits album you need to have one special ingredient: good songs. We don’t have any of those.” Grimmest Hits, despite Wylde’s exaggerated claims, contains all the classic stylings that brought him to the pit: thrashy riffs, ripping solos, and heavy tones, with a couple piano-laden mellow tunes sprinkled in. Wylde admits that he wasn’t trying to explore anything new on the record, opting to continue thematic trends from throughout his career, much of which was also spent drinking booze and partying. As of 2009, Wylde is no longer on the liquor. “It’s not that I’m completely sober,” Wylde chuckles. “I shifted from alcohol and moved on to paint kits and glue. Glue and paint kits are less filling; they aren’t that high in calories. They’re good for the abs and the vascularity.” Many of Wylde’s craziest road stories are featured in his book Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination. “If you ask anyone in a band or who’s been a part of the music business, they’ll tell you the comedy that comes along with it is a gift that keeps on giving,” he says. “You figure that when you get out of high school, you don’t have to deal with this crap anymore. But then you realize that life is one giant version of high school, except more silly and ridiculous. You either laugh at it or you’ll just be crying profusely. Then you write a book about it.” Black Label Society headlines the Commodore Ballroom on February 14. Zakk Wylde Gives Us More Than His Grimmest Hits. Photo by Justin Reich ENSLAVED CYCLING BETWEEN HEAVINESS AND HARMONY BRENDAN REID Photo by Christian Misje Enslaved know transformation is a huge part of one’s man journey. Enslaved has never been a band to shy away from esoteric concepts. On E, their latest work, the group delves deeper than ever into themes of arcane lore, the bonds we have with nature, and our identities. Each song on E is part of a grand narrative, an interpretation of the human experience that can only be described in varying, ever-changing forms, much like the music itself. The melding of heavier moments with haunting and beautiful melodies is a reflection of our natural essence. Lead songwriter Ivar Bjørnson penned the compositions in an appropriately organic fashion. “A lot of the songwriting has to do with feeling,” Bjørnson explains. “They are interpretations of dreams and stories that don’t necessarily fit together in a narrative way.” “Storm Son,” the album’s opening track, demonstrates this structure. Bjørnson describes the song as a tableau of man’s relationship with the natural world. As you listen, it floats between mythical ideas and our simple struggle to survive in a harsh, unyielding environment. The lyrics focus heavily on the runic character “Hagalaz,” which stands for “hailstone” or “severe weather.” It’s a call to overcome the challenges that life throws our way. “People often forget that nature is a dangerous place,” offers Bjørnson. “There are predators at night and the forest floor is lined with death. But it is this death and decay that allows for the growth of beautiful things.” We are a part of the flow of nature, no matter how much we try and overcome it. Bjørnson laments the way we destroy nature, along with the fear and discomfort this unconsciously brings us. Despite the pessimism in the air, Bjørnson sees hope on the horizon. Much like the themes of life, death, destruction, and rebirth explored through the track “Axis Of The Worlds,” he believes our disconnection from natural reverence is just one part of an ever-changing cycle. “Shifts are always occurring. We have taken a step away from the mythological, but you can feel that things are beginning to swing the other way.” Transformation is a huge part of man’s journey, and the emotions of this universal experience are captured most poignantly in “Sacred Horse.” The track examines man’s taming of horses while telling the story of Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse. This act embodies E, or the Ehwaz rune, which is emblematic of trust, harmony, and loyalty, and celebrates our ability to work with nature and evolve. It reminds us that even though nature can be terrifying and challenging, we still need it to survive, both physically and mentally. “Through the horse, we were able to commune and connect with nature on a much more personal level,” says Bjørnson. “That feeling resides within us still.” Enslaved will be playing the Rickshaw Theatre on March 5. February 2018 23

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