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Monster Voodoo Machine

Formed in Canada in 1991, Monster Voodoo Machine was the modern metal brainchild of Toronto musician/vocalist Adam (Doom) Sewell (brother of TNA Wrestling referee/wrestler Shane Sewell aka Shane "Glamour Boy" Sewell). M.V.M. was born of his desire to create a band to capture the wall-of-sound guitars and hardcore energy of bands like Quicksand, Black Flag and Discharge and to accent the overall sound with electronic, techno and hip hop influences. The end result was definitely not industrial, but rather sort of a sonic knife fight between Black Flag and Pop Will Eat Itself.

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Formed in Canada in 1991, Monster Voodoo Machine was the modern metal brainchild of Toronto musician/vocalist Adam (Doom) Sewell (brother of TNA Wrestling referee/wrestler Shane Sewell aka Shane "Glamour Boy" Sewell). M.V.M. was born of his desire to create a band to capture the wall-of-sound guitars and hardcore energy of bands like Quicksand, Black Flag and Discharge and to accent the overall sound with electronic, techno and hip hop influences. The end result was definitely not industrial, but rather sort of a sonic knife fight between Black Flag and Pop Will Eat Itself.

Along with original guitarist Mark Gibson, bassist Terry Landry and drummer Drew Gauley, M.V.M. very quickly established themselves within the Canadian underground music scene. Within their first 6 months of existence the band recorded 1 EP (“Burn” – released on Epidemic Records in 1992) and 1 full-length album (“Turbine” – still unreleased to this day) and film 2 promotional videos: “3 Year Plan” and “Bastard Child”. At this time the band also collaborated with techno group BTK (“Bastard Child – Techno Storm Mix”) and begin recording sessions with soul singers adding entirely new dimensions to their sound.

Over the next year the band added second guitarist Dave Rose and keyboardist Stacey Hoskin to the lineup. However, non-stop touring and often intense writing sessions led to a dramatic line-up change that saw both guitarists Gibson and Rose replaced by Jason Cuddy (previously of Mundane) and Darren Quinn. Gauley also left after many tours (later joining Cuddy’s former band Mundane). Eventually, M.V.M. were joined by drummer Dean Bentley.

In late 1993 the band recorded their second EP and major-label debut “State Voodoo/State Control” (released in 1994 for RCA Records). Produced by Paul Raven (of Killing Joke, and later Prong) the EP title was a play on the popular Discharge track "State Violence State Control". Musically however, the EP saw the band move into heavier and darker territory exploring some of the more traditional industrial-metal areas as more successful artists of the era, like White Zombie and Ministry. The EP also featured remixes from several underground producers including Danny Saber (U2).

In late January 1994 the band relocated to Chicago to record their first full length album “Suffersystem”. Produced by Critter and Howie Beno at Chicago Trax studios, the album was a wall-of-noise mix of industrial-metal (“Threat By Example”), Sabbath-influenced stoner rock (“Motionless”, “Sunspots”), hardcore (“Bastard Is As Bastard Does”) hip hop / rock (“Inside These Walls”) and techno / dance music (“Defense Mechanism”). The album also featured several guest appearances most notably Roddy Bottum (Faith No More), Leslie Rankin (Silverfish / Ruby) and Wesley Willis.

On completing the album in the late spring, the band immediately set out on what proved to be a punishing non-stop tour schedule that saw the group perform in the neighborhood of 500 shows. Tours with Carcass, Life of Agony, Skrew, Fight (Rob Halford) saw the band performing mostly to metal crowds who were both extremely receptive and occasionally hostile to the groups liberal use of electronics and drum loops.

However, it was the band’s tour with Marilyn Manson in early 1995 that really helped to give M.V.M. international momentum. The “Portrait Of An American Family Tour” lasted over 2 and half months and made headlines in every city that it rolled through[citation needed]. Both bands occasionally became subjected to death threats, bomb scares and overzealous American right wing organizations who were hellbent on stopping the tour at every turn.

While back home in Canada for a short break after the Manson tour, Suffersystem won the 1995 Juno Award for “Best Hard Rock Album Of The Year”. At this time, the band also released many singles and EPs featuring remixes by acclaimed artists as Biohazard, DJ Muggs, KMFDM and Pigface.

Several more months of touring followed with the band members all nearing exhaustion and frustration. Sewell at this time asked RCA to have the Chemical Brothers or Liam Howlett (The Prodigy) produce the next album, RCA declined asking the band instead to consider Butch Vig. Sewell, disillusioned with RCA’s (mis)understanding of the band asked to be released from their recording contract. RCA in an act of kindness obliged and the 2 parted company.

Finally in late 1995, the band members found themselves looking to move on to new things. The never-ending tours and rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows had obviously done some damage, and the band was “put on hold” for the next year.

During this time away from M.V.M. Sewell worked on electronic based music under the name def.con.sound.system. and Cuddy, Landry and Quinn formed the metal / hardcore group Semi-Auto Reflex. Keyboardist Hoskin moved to British Columbia and drummer Bentley made the rounds with several more indie rock slanted bands.

1996 saw the band return to action joined by Soulstorm members Nick Sagias (keyboards) and bassist Chris Harris. The band released 1000 numbered copies of “Pirate Satellite”, an "officially leaked demo" of 5 new tracks. These new songs saw the band moving away from the heavier roots and more towards a rock-meets-triphop-punk vibe. “Distanced” was the most radical departure from the band’s earlier work, but showcased a new depth to their song writing that included strings, intricate arrangements and dynamic sonic textures.

Not long after however, the band announced that they were officially breaking up, and on October 4, 1996 they played their farewell show at the Volcano Club in Kitchener, Ontario.

Less than a year later, while on tour with def.con.sound.system. in 1997, Sewell was offered a record deal by Dr. Dream Records (a subsidiary of Polygram / Mercury) who suggested that the group use the Monster Voodoo Machine name. At the time def.con.sound.system. featured Sewell, Cuddy, Sagias, Harris and occasionally Quinn and Bentley, so there was no hesitation and plans were set in motion for a new M.V.M. album.

As the group began demo’ing new material, Sewell rediscovered his love of guitar rock and made the decision to record the album without the use of samplers, keyboards and drum loops. The resulting album “Direct Reaction Now!” features several def.con.sound.system. songs reworked into a rock format (“Dragon Style”, “Every Filthy Angel”, Color My Soul Grey”) some new more hardcore influenced numbers (“Gimme A Riot”, Crossroads”) along with the distortion-laden, country-esque “Rats Eye View”. Overall though, the album is a sonic mess, underproduced and lacking the M.V.M signature sound and “vibe”. A valiant attempt, but one that misses the mark and left many old fans feeling indifferent to this new “rock” direction[citation needed].

The “Direct Reaction Now!” album was released in early 1998 just as Dr. Dream Records found themselves being shut down due to the Polygram / Universal Records merger. The band had just been invited to play the side stage on the Ozzfest Tour that year (side note: M.V.M. were the first Canadian band to participate in the annual Ozzfest Tour) and hit the road with a new level of uncertainty hanging over their heads. Joining the group for the Ozzfest tour were Mundane frontman Vitor Rebello on drums, and Nick Sagias on bass (Chris Harris had moved to guitar after Darren Quinn had left the group a month earlier).

With little hype and promotion around the album’s release, and with the band members feeling pessimistic about the future of the group, the next few months ultimately took their toll on M.V.M.

After a few short tours with Queens of the Stone Age, Sevendust and some high profile one-offs, the band played their final show in Montreal during a freezing cold blizzard on a Monday night. Only a very small audience saw M.V.M. play for the very last time.

One week later Sewell along with drummer Bentley hit the recording studio as DAMN 13. A high energy punk / metal band whose sound falls somewhere between Black Flag, The Hellacopters and Black Sabbath. The band stayed together for the next 8 years and released one critically acclaimed full-length album “Black Heart Northern Soul” (Distort, 2005) before disbanding in 2006. In late 2006 Sewell formed the Toronto dub-punk band AUTOMATIC DUB RIOT with a number of longtime childhood friends. He runs STEREO DYNAMITE RECORDINGS, a record label (The Creepshow, The Matadors, Keepin' 6) and music marketing company. As of June 2007, Sewell has started RIOT ROCK MANAGEMENT and now manages the bands Lacuna Coil (Century Media Records) and Echoes Of Eternity (Nuclear Blast Records). Most recently he has been performing with the hardcore band BASTARD CHILD DEATH CULT.

Jason Cuddy went on to play with Sagias in Soulstorm for a while before forming the Southern Rock-influenced SCUZZY. Darren Quinn played with THE DAY AFTER a hip hop / metal hybrid featuring Canadian hip hop superstar Michie Mee. However, in 2004, Cuddy and Quinn again joined forces in REDEEMER a full on metal band whose sound can be compared to Gojira, Down and The Haunted. Bentley has recently spent time rotating between ALL SYSTEMS GO!, DAMN 13 and C’MON. Hoskin is now recording electronic/ambient/breakbeat music under the name of PILGRIMOMEGA, and also working as a composer in the film and television industry.

While history may not have been so kind to the legacy of Monster Voodoo Machine, the band’s genre-bending influences can still be heard today in many of today’s metal, hardcore, hip hop and dance artists.

In June 2007 the classic SUFFERSYSTEM line-up (Sewell, Cuddy, Quinn, Landry and Bentley) made the announcement that they had been writing for a new album titled "Rise Demon Rise".

The reactivated band have so far played two shows together; Toronto on August 9, 2007 at The Funhaus where they debuted the title track from the new album ("Rise Demon Rise") and a cover of the Quicksand classic "Thorn In My Side" (a video of the Quicksand cover is available on Youtube and Myspace).

The second was a one-off show at The Hard Luck Bar on June 13, 2010 in Toronto with Cleanse Your Demons and Nice Cat as a dedication to their friend SAM "I AM" Hatzopoulos who died on May 11, 2010 at the age of 43. « hide

Similar Bands: Black Flag, Pop Will Eat Itself, Quicksand, Ministry, White Zombie

Suffersystem
1994

3.8
4 Votes

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