Mongrel – Evolution

MONGREL - Evolution - front cover - scaled

Towards the end of last year US punk metallers Mongrel released the single Snakes to provide a very appetising taster for their next EP whilst simultaneously reconfirming themselves as unique and passionate provocateurs of antagonistic punk rock and dirty metal. The band now unleashes that highly anticipated Evolution EP, a release which surely places them on the precipice of a well-deserved intensive world spread spotlight. Sealing a spot on an impending cover mounted CD of the renowned Terrorizer magazine as well, The Boston quartet are poised to make the next big step in recognition. It is an ascent their releases have threatened to spark for the past couple of years but it is easy to feel and expect that Evolution will be the potent fuse that achieves the breakthrough.

Formed in 2003 by guitarist Adam Savage, Mongrel has earned themselves the reputation of one of the hardest working and increasingly acclaimed bands in the underground of metal and punk rock. Each one of their releases has thrust the band on another lofty step though it was the addition of vocalist Jessica Sierra in 2010 where things truly clicked into place and the arguably dormant fire in their already impressive sound and presence erupted. From The New Breed of Old School EP of that year through the following Declamation EP in 2011, there was a new potency and venom on the grooves, hooks, and rhythms which core Mongrels’ invention. Alongside these successes the band live has earned a reputation most bands could only dream of, their sharing of stages with the likes of GWAR, Korn, Otep, Sepultura, Prong, Halestorm, Wednesday13, Fu Manchu, Dizzy Reed, Misfits FEAR, Blitzkid, Trashlight Vision, Michale Graves, Mindset X and hordes more garnering tides of fans and recognition. The Reclamation album of 2012 saw the band ascend to new heights in songwriting and imagination which now Evolution pushes further forward. Recorded with Jim Foster (POD, Nullset, Sully Erna), mixed by Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Evanescence, Godsmack), and mastered by Howie Weinberg, (Metallica, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pantera), the EP is a stirring anthemic brawl which is as contagious and addictive as it is raw and lyrically uncompromising.

Snakes opens things up and as soon as the initial controlled blaze of guitar from Savage hits the ears there is a sense of impending infection which is soon confirmed by the crisp beats of drummer Mike Hogan and even more so by the riveting vocals of Sierra. With the pulsating bass groan from Michael Ariza added to the mix, the song is rapidly into a potent stride heading towards its virulently compelling chorus. The band takes little time in enslaving the imagination, treating it further with a seamless drift into a smouldering sultry passage with emotive guitar rubs and a glow to the voice of Sierra, a lady who seems to own ears, thoughts, and songs whether she is roaring with antagonism or seducing like a temptress. Building up its energy and passions throughout the lighter flight, the song creates a dramatic crescendo of a finale which leaves appetite licking lips and emotions looking at a lustful hunger.

Mongrel have a certain distinct sound which never deceives its source but within that the band with Evolution seems to be exploring their punk side this time around, the first song giving a major hint which the following Oxygen Mask elaborates on within a still heavily insatiable metal toxicity. An acidic groove hits ears first, though rhythms and a great gritty bassline is courting its coaxing. Pulled together by the commanding vocals, the track twists through a predatory intensity and gait, Savage spearing the air with metallic vines of sonic bait. Persistently turning with singular moments for the bass and guitars to flirt with ears, the song recalls essences of Siouxsie and the Banshees, certainly if they had embraced metal. Imposing but respectfully forceful the track backs up the immense start easily even if without matching its heady heights.

That first plateau is equalled by Consumed; a deliciously abrasive enticement of caustic hooks and senses burrowing grooves. Guitars worm under the skin within seconds with rhythms swinging punches soon after, the combination a hungry platform for the dark hearted bass sounds and rich vocals to colour their canvas. Unleashing a swagger to match the almost brutal energy, the song stomps with epidemic irresistibility, those spiteful grooves especially inescapable whilst sonic hues sculpted by Savage in an engrossing solo provide further rigorous colour to the outstanding incitement.

Best Revenge has the hard task to follow the triumph which it does with a rawer hostile punk enticement, the bass finding a carnivorous throat to its presence and the guitar a combative attitude to its riffs and squalling flames. Once again though it is caged by great controlled rhythm work by Hogan and led by the expressive might of Sierra. The track is not as immediate as others on Evolution but emerges as another pinnacle with punk nostrils flaring and metallic muscles challenging.

The release is concluded with another sizeable success with the riotously catchy Over And Over. An addiction forging bassline sparks ears first before riffs and rhythms cascade upon the lure to build a rampant canter of punk rock. Hooks and grooves from both stringed antagonists grip with a constant temptation whilst Sierra swings syllables and intent into their barbed scenery with the expected but never under-appreciated skill and passion she brews. It is an exhilarating conclusion to a tremendous encounter, leaving ears, thoughts, and passions bursting with greed for more.

Guiding their sound to a side step in many ways from that taking Reclamation to such heights, Evolution stands side by side with its predecessor’s undoubted success and quality, though with a heart for well-crafted punk rock if pushed the EP shades it. What is clear for all though is that Mongrel just goes from strength to strength whilst evolving with a constant flair and voraciously appetising enterprise. It really is about time the band was known worldwide and Evolution might just be the trigger.

Evolution is available on iTunes on May 20th and via all major online retailers and streaming services from June 3rd with physical copies available through Mongrel, Unable Records and Amazon.

http://www.MongrelBand.com

http://mongrel.bandcamp.com

9.5/10

RingMaster 16/05/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Interview with Adam Savage of Mongrel

Hard work and fighting spirit, not to mention determination, has been a trade mark alongside their outstanding punk/metal sounds of US band Mongrel, a quartet which has thrilled and ignited passions through their dynamic live shows and equally impactful releases. Shows with major rock names such as Misfits, Korn, Otep, Sepultura, Mindless Self Indulgence, Wednesday13, and Prong to name just a few has brought the band to the fore of attention for masses of fans, as well as their albums and EPs, but there has been plenty of obstacles to overcome at the same time. With the release of their excellent new album Reclamation, a definite contender for album of the year, Mongrel have emerged again as one of the most impressive rock n roll bands around. The band has been a permanent feature of The Reputation radio Show and Bone Orchard podcast for many years so we just had to grab some time of guitarist and band founder Adam Savage to find out about the band, their album, and their new refreshing onslaught on rock music.

Hi Adam and many thanks for taking time out to chat with us.

My pleasure!

It is probably fair to say the last few years has been a battle for the band so how does it feel to finally be unleashing your new album in a stable and powerful situation, band wise and support wise with the label?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt great!! It’s definitely been a struggle the last few years for sure, and fighting to get this album done and released has been a huge amount of time, stress, energy, frustration, etc since the initial start of the process over 3 1/2 years ago. Not to say there wasn’t good stuff going on and lots of fun these last 2 years but finally putting this album out and being able to do so with a great team of people both in and around the band (label, publicist, radio promotion, etc) feels great!! It’s a huge relief and certainly really exciting to see where things will go now.

Before we get in to certain aspects of that time can you give for newcomers to Mongrel some early background to the band, its beginnings and early successes?

Sure, I started the band in 2003 with our original singer after pulling the plug and imploding my prior band. We went through a lot of early transitions of band members and within 6 months I was the only survivor of the original line-up but we found new people and carried on. We eventually found some longer term members, put out our 1st full length album in 2006 which was then picked up by Screaming Ferret Wreckords/ Locomotive Records and re-released in 2008. In 2009 we put out another EP in association with Screaming Ferret. After some revamping of the band (new drummer and now a female singer) we released “The New Breed of Old School” EP in September 2010, “Declamation” EP in May 2011, and now the “Reclamation” album on September 25th 2012 on THC-X.   Some of the early successes were getting to play at CBGB’s before they closed, tours with Blitzkid, Trashlight Vision, and FEAR; getting called “the hardest working band in Boston” in Metal Edge, some really cool sponsorships; playing with bands like the Misfits, Otep, Korn, Prong, etc. Getting played on Sirius/XM and Music Choice; and seeing support from people around the world from us has always been amazing to me.

You have played with many of the major names in rock and metal as you just referred to; did that bring any direct positive impact and openings for the band outside of your home state other than making your Resume look rather special?

Hah hah. Well a good resume doesn’t hurt but yeah, it definitely helped get our name out, and it got us into some places in other markets for sure.

2010 saw the departure of your long time vocalist and drummer, obviously a major setback for any band, but how did it affect you as people and your determination to keep fighting as a band?

It was a setback in the sense that we had actually just finished up a new album (mixed/mastered/etc) at that time which was then promptly scrapped. But in all honesty it was actually the best thing possible for me as a person and for the band. Tensions in the band were horrible and negativity was continually getting worse. It wasn’t at all fun anymore dealing with it.  So as odd as it may sound, I was far less stressed out when it was myself and Rev (our former bassist) left in the band than I had been for a good number of months with a full line-up. I was then even more determined to rebuild, regroup, and re-record the album and to make the band better than ever. It was definitely a blessing in disguise for sure!

After trying a few vocalists I believe as you kept gigging as a band throughout the period and you called on your friend Jessica Sierra to fill in some dates. We know she was a great presence and vocalist back from her days with Affliction and may I say even more impressive now fronting Mongrel, but as initially it was for just a few shows to help out why did you look at a female vocalist for such an initially planned brief moment in the band’s life, or was there a secret plan at work? 🙂

I wish I could take credit for some super diabolical master plan in that regard but essentially we’d been auditioning male singers, we got a new full time male singer (Scott Campbell, ex-Graveyard BBQ), but due to other issues in his life it didn’t work out and he had to drop out. We had 3 days notice to cover a show we had booked months prior in Boston and the only singer I could think of who’d potentially be ready in 3 days like that was Jessica….she did it, and she did a great job with the situation and continued covering shows… lo-and-behold she sounded great on the tunes, we were having a lot of fun again and she threw her name in the hat to audition for the band (and yes, she insisted on going through the formal audition process despite having done like 6-8 shows with us at that point). It was just too perfect and worked too well for it not to go forward like that.

At what point did you make the decision to make her a permanent member and I assume there was no persuasion needed to convince her?

Shortly after her “audition” we made her official at a show we did in her hometown right around her birthday (early August 2010) actually so it worked out pretty cool like that. Other than promising her that we would eventually get her a pony for the tour bus Dethklok reference> it didn’t take a lot of persuasion.

We know what we feel she offers the band which has brought a new strength to your sound but what for you has she brought which has helped evolve and shape your music now?

Jess brings a whole lot of personality and fun to the band as well as a new sense of melodicism and aggression (she’s gotten even fiercer since she came back from her hiatus!), plus having a female singer brings a different level of meaning to some of the songs (for example, the kind of sultry melodic singing she brought to “Zombies of War” on the new album to me brought a layer of meaning cause of how they try to sell the military as sexy and glamorous in order to recruit people).

Drummer Dave Kazukiewicz joined just before Jessica, and most recently bassist Micah Maltais joined the band as replacement for the departing Rev. How did you come across the guys and can you give a word about the legend which is Rev?

Dave was actually introduced to us by his girlfriend who was a fan of the band and it worked out perfectly at the time (he’s actually just recently been replaced by new drummer Mike Hogan as Dave stepped down in order to focus on his painting and his band Polluted Remains). Micah we knew from shows we played over the last few years with his band Tell It To The Dead. Micah was a big fan of the band and we always had a great time hanging out with him when we’d do shows together so it was really cool cause he had so much enthusiasm about the songs and getting into the band since he was a fan first.  As for Rev, he’s a hell of a bassist and a fun person to have around. Very witty and a very unique character (in a good way). Definitely not a bad word to say about “responsible rockstar #1” – he’s currently playing in several projects but primarily in a band called The Evil Streaks (female fronted surf-garage-rock-horror punk) and in a Rob Zombie tribute band called American Hellbilly.

Would you say Rev leaving was a bigger jolt than anything before, just for personal feelings?

Yeah, I was personally more bummed about Rev leaving than the others before him cause he is such a good guy to have around and it was a bummer we wouldn’t get to see him/hang out as often but he put a lot into the band over the years and was such a class act (even recording 2 EPs and an album with us knowing he was going to be stepping down so as to make sure we didn’t get sidelined again with this album). He seems really happy with what he’s doing musically these days and will on occasion do a guest spot with us so it’s all good. Thankfully we have a great group of people with us still though and Micah has worked out great for us, not necessarily filling Rev’s shoes but bringing an equally cool pair of his own to the party if you know what I mean.

Let’s come to the main reason we grabbed you, your new album Reclamation. A mighty, rampaging, and thrilling release which dare we say is your best yet by far? There must have been a real buzz brewing as the songs and release came together for you?

Thank you! I definitely agree that this is the best release yet for us. Part of the frustration with the delays and sidelines over the last few years has been that I truly believe in these songs and felt that they had to be recorded and released properly come hell or high water. It’s great to see in the really early reviews we’ve gotten for it (your own included) that other people really are connecting with the songs too. It’s definitely been exciting seeing it all coming together finally and who knows, maybe the timing is finally “right”, the stars aligned, etc and this was the time it was right for it to come out. Who am I to argue that is so, we’re just super excited that it’s all finally happening.

Did the songs find their first breath around the time of the Declamation EP of last year or were recorded later? I ask as the EP feels like a lead in to the album, a teaser of what was to come.

So you did catch that. Well played Ringmaster! Yeah, we actually recorded all 17 tracks at the same time. Our then management consultant (and later label boss, Thom Hazaert) suggested splitting it into an EP and a full album. So we figured out what we thought made for the best full album and what songs worked best as the EP and “Declamation” and “Reclamation” were born. The similar names and artwork were definitely intentional since the EP was meant as both a teaser for the full length album and as a companion piece to it. Originally we expected to release “Reclamation” much sooner after the EP but when we found out that Jessica needed to step down it got put on hold again until her return this past spring.

How long did the album take to record, one senses you are a band which is explosive in all aspects and just gets down to it and to the point in all aspects.

We recorded it (and Declamation simultaneously) over the span of 2 months I believe (we were playing shows and such still as well) and then mixing/mastering/etc was another couple months span or so. We definitely don’t screw around in the studio though. We’re not a band who goes into the studio to write songs while the clock is ticking and we know we’re not there to slack so things definitely do get done pretty quickly when the time comes to hit the studio.

Tell us about the writing process within Mongrel.

Historically I’ve been the main songwriter in the band. Typically I’d have lyrics and the basic outline of the song and bring it in and we’d jam on it then decide if it needs anything else, if it works, etc. With the new line up though, I expect we’ll have some more collaboration on the next album as both Jessica and Micah have been songwriters in their prior bands and will be able to contribute the next time around.

The album is released through THC: X, but I gather there was plenty of hard work and again battles behind the album, in getting it to this point (though not within the band), certainly with labels and things?

When Jessica came back and we were going to start figuring out the release plans for Reclamation, I had approached our on again/off again management consultant about putting it out through his label. After some discussion we worked it out and then it was time to set a release date and get the game plan in order. so definitely work was taking place and since then in the getting the full team together, coordinating, etc but Thom (Hazaert) and I have been talking for years now so that process was actually pretty smooth.

It is so hard to pick out favourite tracks, everyone a blistering slice of essential punk/metal/rock n roll. Twist our arm and maybe we would pump, today, for Pseudocide, C and a Half, Crucifiction and Revisionist. Is there any moment, song, or element of the album which gives you the deepest glow personally inside?

Honestly it’s really hard to say, I’m really happy with all of them personally…. I dig Tarnished Halo and Zombies of War a lot cause I think they kind of branch out style wise a bit, Revisionist like you said cause of the story/message of the song, No Gods No Masters is kind of our anthem… like you said, it probably varies day to day here too.

Mongrel is a band which has never not been flat out gigging, so one assumes there is a feast of dates coming up to support the album?

Yeah, we’ve been doing a run of cd release party shows and we’re playing the Rock & Shock Festival (rockandshock.com) with the Misfits, Shadows Fall, God Forbid, and Vision of Disorder in Worcester MA on October 12th which we’re psyched for, we’ll even be at the convention all that weekend where they’ve got stars like Danny Trejo, the guy who played Dante in Clerks, Bill Mosley, Sid Haig, Peter Criss, Dee Snider, etc all doing meet and greets and such. It’s gonna be amazing!

Where do you get the deepest pleasure as a band, live or in the creating and studio times?

At the core we’re a live band. That’s what we do all of this for is that thrill and energy of getting on stage and connecting with people. Obviously we get excited about creating new music, and while perhaps more tedious at times the studio is exciting too but it’s that time on stage that is truly what it’s all about.

Listening to the album one senses a freedom to the band again, is that how it feels and what is on the horizon for us from the band?

Can’t agree more! It’s fun, it’s exciting for us, having Jess back with the band, and the enthusiasm we have going right now is awesome. We’re hoping to work on writing towards the next EP or album over the winter when the show schedule slows down a bit just cause of the unpredictability weather wise it’s incredibly frustrating getting a show snowed out or something so we’ll prolly keep a lighter show schedule but spend more time writing over the winter months. I’d like to see a second video from the album happen as well so hopefully that will fall into place as well. We’re also working on releasing the album in the UK as well later this fall (physical CDs, not just iTunes since it’s already on there and Amazon, etc)…. a lot will depend on how things take off and play out with the new album though. Fingers are definitely crossed though!

Lastly tell us about the new video for Bored To Death, the first song on the album.

We did the new video with Red13Media, who happen to also be the people we recorded the new album with and who did our photo shoot as well. They really “get” us there and have a good sense of what we’re about and work well with us so it’s very low stress and a lot of fun working with them. The video itself was shot in one day at a couple of locations, and in our traditional “keep it in the family” way of doing things, actually features 2 people who at different times covered some shows on vocals for us (Blu Jess and Scott Campbell) so it was a cool family reunion type thing doing the video. The response on YouTube for the video has been really cool to see with over 2,000 views in just about a week so far. It’s been awesome and we’ve definitely seen the impact at shows where people who don’t have the album yet since it JUST came out, are already singing along with that tune which is the greatest feeling as a performer. If any of the readers haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZiczkduf2E&feature=share&list=UU2JwNRa_Sc4-OktF5-CiU-w (or below)

Thanks for talking with us, really appreciate it and good luck with the album…any final words?

My pleasure! Thank you for all the support, the great review of the album on your site, and for really doing your homework on these questions!! You rock!!  If people want to hit us up directly they can reach us at http://www.mongrelband.com  and http://www.facebook.com/mongrelofficial  or http://www.twitter.com and I hope everyone will check out the new album Reclamation on iTunes, Amazon, etc.   Thanks again!!! –

Read the review of Reclamation @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/mongrel-reclamation/

RingMaster Review 02/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mongrel: Reclamation

For those aware of US band Mongrel, it is wide knowledge that they are one of the most exciting and accomplished underground rock n roll bands around, and have been since forming in 2003. For those still to discover their addict forming blend of punk rock and metal now is the time to feel their bite as they release new album Reclamation, a collection of songs which will have fans and newcomers reeling from its might and infectious brilliance.

Reclamation emerges from what basically has been four years of turmoil for the band through line-up, studio, and studio disruptions. From early on right through to now the Boston, Massachusetts quartet has established a permanent place in the hearts of growing multitudes from their releases and sharing of stages alongside the likes of Misfits (multiple times), Gwar, Korn, Otep, Sepultura, Mindless Self Indulgence, Prong, Fu Manchu, Psychostick, Wednesday13, Dizzy Reed (Gn’R), and Piggy D (Rob Zombie) to name just a few, alongside their own tours and shows. It was the departure of their long term vocalist and drummer in 2010 which dropped one of the biggest obstacles in the way of and to slow down the rampaging charge of Mongrel. Dave Kazukiewicz was soon enlisted to bang the skins but a vocalist was less easy a solution to find. Another male singer was brought in as they searched long and hard but that was a short lived answer. Still gigging as is the Mongrel way, they called on their friend Jessica Sierra from the band Affliction to cover some shows with eventually the temporary arrangement becoming, to our pleasure, permanent.

Now a powerful and stable unit of band founder Adam Savage, bassist Rev, Sierra and Kazukiewicz, the quartet set about re-recording tracks from the releases which had thrilled in the early days, debut album Fear, Lies & Propaganda of 2006 and the Revenge EP three years later.. These tracks came out upon the excellent The New Breed of Old School EP. To those who had grown with the band it was a surprising but mighty evolution from what came before, the vocals of Sierra bringing a tighter grip and quality to the sound which only impressed. 2010 saw the band enter the studio once more to record a further step forward with the Declamation EP and most impressive of all this the Reclamation album. Of course a battle ensued to get it released as is the life of independent bands (as well as the more recent departure from the band of Rev to be replaced by Micah Maltais) but now the album is here released through THC Music imprint THC: X, and ready to snarl and take chunks out of all lucky enough to ensnare it.

The album slaps the ear around from the start with Bored To Death, a feisty slice of anthemic punk rock. It is easy to digest and irresistible, straight forward rock n roll brought with fiery riffs, thumping beats, and the intimidating tones of Sierra, her voice a beckoning tease and attitude snapping aural harpy. It is a powerful and energetic start soon ramped up by the following Pseudocide and Fuck Off And Die. The first just burns the senses from its first note and leaves one smouldering in glee by its end. Ramones meets The Distillers; the track is a punk explosion which scorches the senses to near orgasmic pleasure. The second song prowls and snarls with a ravenous intensity, its heart and Sierra ready to pounce and rip its victim apart whilst the metal driven riffs scythe their way through the ear with caustic power.  Another song leaving one breathless it adds to a high octane start.

One almost expects things to drop level wise at some point as with most releases but this is not like most albums and with the likes of the prowling Zombies Of War with Sierra giving Brode Dalle a run for her money in a delivery of melodic snarling, The More I Bleed with its corrosive guitar abrasions, and the Otep tinged Tarnished Halo, igniting deeper and fuller pleasures, there is no chance of any lost of levels.

     Reclamation is a masterclass in punk rock/metal from first note to last but some tracks simply exhaust the passions such their towering quality. C and a Half is one such song, a sonic addition of rampaging riffs and riotous chorus assaults with the guys backing up Sierra perfectly, spite dripping from every note and syllable. The groove magnet Crucifiction alongside the delicious melody drenched Revisionist, easily rival in their diverse and imaginative ways to continue the immense satisfaction and clear variety on show within the combative cloak of sound. As with all songs they are openly contagious, rippling with hooks and grooves and outstanding vocal spreads from Sierra to fire up heart and passion.

The blistering tempest which is Stillborn Saviour, the ferocious Wake Up, and a reworking of an old song from their first album in No Gods No Masters, end what is easily one of the best albums this year, not only in punk rock or metal but across all genres. Reclamation is sheer excellence whilst Mongrel are at their strongest t ever and still one of the leading underground rock bands, though now with this album one expects their elevation to the big metal table to be imminent.

http://www.mongrelband.com/

RingMaster 18/09/2012

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