INTERVIEWS 34 MAYHEM 42 AGALLOCH 44 MANILLA ROAD 48 VELNIAS 50 BLOOD RED FOG 52 HELLSPIRIT 54 DIABULUS IN MUSICA 58 LANDSKAP 60 WOMAN IS THE EARTH 62 EREBUS ENTHRONED 66 AURVANDIL 68 HIGHSPIRITS 70 LEGACY OF CYNTHIA 72 KILLGASM 74 SABBATORY 78 WAXEN 80 MESSENGER 82 WHITECHAPEL 84 STYGMATA 88 MIHAI ANDREI CONTENTS 06 MOSH ‘EM ALL W/ RUI ALEXANDRE 08 MAYHEM: 30 YEARS OF DARKNESS 32 ARTWORK OF THE MONTH 40 MAYHEM RETROSPECTIVE 57 KEVIN JUNK RECOMMENDS: XII BOAR 91 HIGHLIGHT OF THE MONTH 92 REVIEWS 102 LIVE REPORTS
AGAINST MAGAZINE P.O.BOX 527 EC ALEXANDRE HERCULANO 3880 OVAR PORTUGAL WEBSITE http://www.againstmagazine.com E-MAIL firstname.lastname@example.org CHIEF EDITOR Joel Costa DESIGN Cátia Cunha Joel Costa COVER DESIGN Joel Costa WRITERS / TRANSLATORS Ana Raquel Mendes, Andreia Figueiredo, Carlos Cardoso, Cátia Cunha, Cheryl Lynn, Christine Parastatidou, David Horta, Diogo Ferreira, Eduardo Rocha, Estefânia Silva, Jaime Ferreira, Jeffrey Allee, Joel Costa, Jorge Alves, José Branco, José Matos, Jude Felton, Kevin “Junk” Kidd, Kunal Choksi, Labrini Gouma, Luís Alves, Luke Hayhurst, Mark Martins, Mike Ritchie, Miky Ruta, Mónia Camacho, Nick “Verkaim” Parastatidis, Nuno Babo, Rúben Pinho, Rui Alexandre, Rute Gonçalves, Vânia Matos PHOTOGRAPHY Vânia Matos
What’s up, Moshers? Hope my tips were somehow useful for your flourishing musical career. You gotta start somewhere! This month, we’ll talk about choosing a band name and designing your logo. Lots of important stuff, so let’s get going. Picking a band name Let’s face it: the band name is just as important as its music - sometimes, it’s better than the music. Do you think The Beatles would’ve had their massive success if they were called “Pussygrinder Slaughterhouse”? How about Metallica - would they have topped the charts if they were called “Pink Poop”? Silly, right? It’s almost common sense: band names are a statement of what the music is expected to sound. This is not to say that (apparently) ridiculous names are no-nos: people just have to be expecting its weirdness (i.e. happy grindcore band names). To a potential audience who has never heard the music, the name is the band’s only face in a considerable number of situations: when people mention its name while having a conversation, online stores, band wikis, t-shirts, album covers and compilations, e-mail subjects (to record labels, for example)… do you still think it’s something you can simply overlook? Think again! Sometimes, the name is all you’ve got, so choose wisely! What language will you use? Do you plan on sticking to your own country, playing a genre only your fellow countrymen appreciate? Well, in that case, it’s perfectly safe to use your native tongue to define your band name. There are exceptions like Meshuggah or Dimmu Borgir, who reached international success, but it’s safer to be future-proof, expect the best and use an English-based name. You’ll have the potential to reach a broader audience by using a universally familiar language. People might give me a rough time for saying this, but English is metal’s native tongue, period. To listen to metal on a different language feels like listening to Fado in Zulu. It just wasn’t meant to be. This is a purely personal point of view, and a brutally honest one, too. Adapt it to your own goals and vision! Use a great amount of common sense. Allow me to repeat myself: it’s “ok” for a grind band to be extremely graphic, while on the other hand it’s very usual for a black metal band to quote dark and religious matters. Let me test you with two cool underground bands (which you should check out right after you read this article): Nuklear Infektion and Brutal Brain Damage. One plays grind, the other plays thrash - can you guess which plays what? I’m sure you do; they picked their names wisely. You don’t have to be blatantly obvious about it, but don’t be stupid and create useless noise that will harm you in the long run. Other pieces of advice include: be careful with your initials (do you really want to play in “Cannibals Use New T-Shirts”? Spoiler: it’s “CUNTS”). Don’t make it too long or hard/weird to read, either. Check the internet exhaustively to see if the name is taken
or if there are known bands with similar names. Ask for the help of all bandmates and let it sit for a while to see if it stands the test of time. Designing your logo The approach for the logo design is 99% the same as the one used to picked the band name - common sense. It should be easy to read, unless it’s normal/mandatory to be borderline illegible (black metal; grind). This also means the logo should be easily scalable - until you become a festival headliner, your logo will be really small on the posters, trust me. If you want to make some money with your band, think of merchandising. This means that the cheapest merch will only have one solid color printed over another, so you better have a logo that works great on a single color. Extra-tip: contrast is king. White ink over black t-shirts work great in dark environments, just like black ink over white paper works great on posters. Aim for “good” before you achieve “awesome”. Logos come in two styles, mainly: typographic letterings or artistic drawings. If you don’t have the skills to design for a professional logo, you better have the money to invest in it. Trust me, people notice poorly designed logos - not only band logos, too. And while they point and laugh at your band’s logo, keep in mind they’re laughing at your band. Paying for a professional logo makes your band look professional, too, and spares you the trouble to redesign it, further down your musical path. Do you remember Sepultura’s first logo? “Ha-ha!”, lame. Guess what… they had to redesign it. If you don’t have the money to pay for a über-professional logo, there is a cheaper way to achieve a legitimate look. What do timeless logos for bands like The Doors, Nirvana, Kiss, Oasis, classic Sepultura, Megadeth, Rainbow, Motorhead, Guns N Roses, The Beatles, Ramones, Black Sabbath, AC DC, Korn… have in common? They’re all typography-based logos. This means the designers only used the main font to build the foundation for the logo, then played a bit with scale/perspective and *bam*, a logo is created! Remember, simplicity goes a long way! Less is truly more, when it comes to design. Even if you don’t like any of the bands I mentioned - hell, I don’t like all of them, either, but it’s design we’re talking about here. Your logo will be featured in tshirts, posters, backdrops, band discography… it’s a huge deal. Remember: a band is seen as whole package, and both the name and the logo play a big role in all of this. Next month, I’ll be talking about how to get gigs for your band, so keep downloading this fine magazine! ______ Rui Alexandre plays in the thrash metal outfit Terror Empire and is the creator of the alternative clothing brand Mosher. Follow him on twitter @ruiterrorempire.
he story began in 1984, when a sixteen-year-old bassist by the name of Jørn Stubberud decided to call his friend, vocalist and guitarist Øystein Aarseth, to start up a band in his rehearsal place. Drummer Kjetil Manheim was the last member to join the ranks and thus Mayhem was born, having taken up the name from the Venom song, “Mayhem with Mercy”. The band had plans to follow the musical footsteps of their heroes Venom, Slayer, Bathory and Celtic Frost, but started “more like a punk band, not playing punk, but playing Venom and
Motörhead covers” according to Stubberud (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009), before eventually beginning to write its own material. The band’s reputation began to build up even before a single song had been composed, as they tried to develop an image of a mysterious outlet that didn’t even allow for pictures to be taken of all of its members. Øystein Aarseth had the most extreme posture, claiming that he didn’t even listen to other records for thinking that everything else out there was “shit” in comparison to what Mayhem would be delivering in the future. Drummer Manheim stated that due to this and
to some “ridiculous interviews”, the band was already famous in the underground movement, and everyone was already waiting for their demo (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). After two years of continuous rehearsals and immense recording sessions, in ’86, Stubberud, Aarseth and Manheim finally had music to deliver to the world, having recorded the rough sounding “Pure Fucking Armaggedon” demo which included originals such as “Voice of a Tortured Skull”, “Carnage”, “Ghoul”, the ravishing title track and a rendition of the Venom classic “Black Metal”. Mayhem started to promote their first recording by sending nu-
merous tapes via the underground tape trading circuit, a global network that by ’86 was starting to take its first steps, and even travelled to countries like Germany and England just to get the world to notice them. Through this underground network, Mayhem had the chance to exchange their music with other soon to be famous acts from other corners of the world as Manheim stated on the Pure Fucking Mayhem documentary: “We sent a lot of rehearsal tapes back and forth all over the world and we also got tapes from a lot of different bands around… Napalm Death, Sepultura, bands just forming, looking for something unique and quite aggressive. We were not alone in trying to do something unique at the time.” Soon after “Pure Fucking Armaggedon” was released, Aarseth, which was known by “Destructor”, switched solely to the guitarist position and adopted the moniker of “Euronymous” which came from the name of the demon “Eurynomos”. At the same time, Stubberud also began to identify himself as “Necrobutcher” and by this time the band recruited Billy “Messiah” Nordheim, who became the first official Mayhem singer. In this period, the band started to develop a supposed belief in Satanism, trying to express its ideals through their sound and overall attitude. Messiah said
“What appealed to me in Satanism was the anti-authority, the idea that religious power is bad. The individual’s right to freedom.” Manheim also justified why Satanism was adopted as the band’s ideological flag: “Society preaches morality. So to find an expression that attacked the establishment, we used Satanism. To turn everything topsy, turvy. The way Satanism was written about in the media helped Mayhem a lot, but we never sacrificed kids, worshipped Satan or held rituals. That was just an image” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). Øystein Aarseth’s personality and image were also at this time very far from what they would become years later. His band mates Messiah and Manheim described him as a “blond, health oriented, very good at school and a straight A student.” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007) He worked out a lot, didn’t indulge in smoking or drinking habits and was very unsupportive of his band mates taking any kinds of drugs. A nice, quiet person with great loyalty to his family. Some of these traits were not to be maintained in the future, but above all, Aarseth always held his family in high regard. Messiah never recorded any official demo with Mayhem, but nevertheless had the privilege to play one concert with the band in April 1986 in the city
of Ski before leaving. Footage of this concert is available at various sources on YouTube. According to Manheim who did drumming duties, for him this concert was the first time that Black Metal as a form of expression was exposed on stage. The concert was “pretty bad of course…a lot of loose ends…No pig heads on that stage, but it was crosses, it was red light, it was aggression, make-up…everything… Øystein showed his ass to the audience which was classic…” (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009)
In ’87, the band recruited another singer named Sven Erik Kristiansen, who would later become known as “Maniac”. Kristiansen supposedly came to know of the band’s existence through one of his friends who designed the very first Mayhem logo the band uses until this day. Maniac remembered, “I listened to the first demo, ‘Pure Fucking Armageddon’ and thought that I could do this myself just as well” (Knut Steen, 2005). Kristiansen promptly recorded a demo in just three hours and sent it to Euronymous, who was impressed enough to ask the young vocalist to join the band, just after two weeks. By this time the band had renamed itself to “The True Mayhem”, because according to Maniac “there were other two bands that called themselves Mayhem - one in New York and anoth-
er somewhere else” and the band felt they weren’t really worthy of bearing that name (Knut Steen, 2005). Maniac’s recording debut with the band would be the now legendary “Deathcrush” EP, which at the time was a reworking of some of the band’s earliest compositions. It would mark the first proper sounding Mayhem offering, and a true testament to what they were capable of achieving in extremity. The title track “Deathcrush” would become a classic staple in many years to come in the band’s live setlist. Other songs such as “Chainsaw Gutsfuck”, “Necrolust” and Venom’s cover “Witching Hour” displayed a frantic Kristiansen singing with a possessed vocal style over Euronymous rusty guitar riffs and Manheim’s brutal percussive attack. The EP’s introductory instrumental “Silvester Anfang” was composed by Conrad Schnitzler from Tangerine Dream who gave this musical piece to Euronymous for him to use on the record. This song is still used nowadays by Mayhem as the introductory piece for each show opening (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). “We made the cover ourselves. It was supposed to be red, but came back pink. It was just 1000 copies, and we numbered It.” stated Manheim (Pure
Fucking Mayhem, 2009). There were
also misprints in the band’s members’ names, which caused Euronymous to sit down and try to correct the flaws, one vinyl at a time. Even before “Deathcrush” was released, it was already eagerly awaited as Anders “Cadaver” Odden had put it: “When [Deathcrush] came out there was already a buzz about Mayhem in the underground, and they made a big deal about wanting to do it themselves. They had no distribution, so they gave it to the people they knew. Ten copies to each, who sent the money to them, and kept a copy” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007).
The release of “Deathcrush” was the first from Euronymous’ newly created label, christened “Posercorpse Music Label”, which would be dedicated solely to the release of purist Black Metal works of art. This demo would be re-released in the future, but to get one of the 1000 original copies is extremely hard nowadays, with some of these having reached values in the order of NOK 3000 – 6000 (roughly between 363 and 727 Euros). In 2005, Maniac regretfully stated “Had I known how much they would sell for today I’d keep all 50, but unfortunately I’ve only got one left” (Knut Steen, 2005).
Maniac would also be leaving the band after the recording of this demo citing the territorial distance as the main reason for his departure at the time, though he would be maintaining regular contact with the rest of the band members throughout the years, after what seemed to be an amicable separation from the band. As he stated in 2005 when interviewed by Knut Steen: “I left Mayhem in ’88 because I was living in Rjukan at the time while the rest of the band stayed at Langhus. Back then, I wasn’t ready to move – that’s the only reason for my hiatus from the band.” Following his departure, Mayhem’s drummer for three years, Kjetil Manheim, would also leave the band. Their future replacements would help form the most notorious or infamous Mayhem line up ever, and define Black Metal history, as we know it today...
ews that Mayhem needed a replacement vocalist and drummer were quick to spread in the underground world in ’87. A 20 year old swede called Pelle Yngve Ohlin, who was by then the fronting mastermind of Sweden’s death metal act Morbid, got to know about Mayhem’s request shortly after having recorded his band’s “December Moon” demo. Metalion, the editor of Slayer Magazine, suggested this Swedish vocalist to Mayhem, as he was eager to leave his first band for feeling that Morbid wasn’t going anywhere. Necrobutcher remembered the unusual way Pelle came to enter Mayhem’s ranks on the “Once upon a Time in Norway” documentary: “[Metalion] told us of a guy called Pelle in the band Morbid. He [Pelle] sent us a package to our P.O.Box. It contained a dead mouse attached to a cross. It had started to rot. There was also a letter and a tape. The package stunk so bad, I put it in the back of my pickup truck. It had been sent through the mail. The wind blew it away but his address was on the tape. He said his band wasn’t going anywhere and we needed a vocalist. And he seemed to be a great guy.” Eventually, his demo tape impressed
the band, and Pelle Ohlin moved to Norway to officially join Mayhem in early 1988. The search for a stickman didn’t take too long as well, when a talented drummer from Trysil named Jan Axel Bloomberg decided to respond to a Mayhem advert he saw. He had already built a career by playing in local bands and thought about making the jump to Oslo, the Norwegian capital, which was only an hour drive from where he lived. As he recalled to Dmitry Basik, “I listened to their record “Deathcrush” and I liked it... Friends of mine arranged our meeting. I took my demo tape with me. So, they listened to my demo tape and the other day they called me and told me that I was in… ” Jan Axel would be known as Hellhammer, taking his name from the pre-Celtic Frost project with the same name. “I thought it was a shame that such a good name had to disappear. And “Hellhammer” sounded as a good name for a drummer” (Dmitry Basik, 1998). When talking about the initial impact he had when meeting the other Mayhem members, Hellhammer recalled that “Euronymous looked like a very pleasant guy...he was a bit strange. I came to his house: he was all dressed
in black and there was a knife hanging on his belt. I remember I thought: ‘What the hell does it mean?’” When talking about Per Ohlin, he remembered that since he was a swede, there were a lot of things he couldn’t understand and that he was “a strange guy. A very reserved person. It was impossible to discuss personal things with him” (Dmitry Basik, 1998). Hellhammer’s description of Ohlin coincided with the opinion of those who came to know him back then. He was often depicted as a calm, introverted, melancholic and depressive person who spent most of his time isolated, and someone who was hard to get to know well. Ohlin usually stated that he was not a human and didn’t belong to this world, and all of his behavior was seen by many as a result of an experience he went through as a child, when his spleen ruptured and he had to be rushed to the hospital where he was considered clinically dead for a short period of time. Although it has been documented that this was due to an ice-skating incident, Ohlin’s brother revealed in the “Blod eld död” book that he was frequently bullied at school and one of the beatings he took got out of hand, which caused the ruptured spleen. In an interview present on the “deadfrommayhem.ru”
website, we are given the account of how Ohlin lived this near-death experience and how it affected him: “Once something amusing happened to me. I had internal bleedings, and the cause could not be determined on radiographs. It continued to bleed and finally my heart had no more blood, and my veins were nearly empty of blood. Clinically seen, I was dead. At the moment, when I fell (into a door, took as I experienced later), I saw everything in a strange blue color - she was transparent, and for one moment everything was dipped into this blue, to something track-sends white and “hot” me surrounded... I later asked someone about these colors who had had many near-death experiences and much more knowledge about the “supernatural” than I had. He said I came into the first “level” of the branch ral world, which has the color blue. The terrestrial level has the color black. Afterwards comes a grey, which is very similar to the terrestrial color.
the forest in Kråkstad, by the south east of Oslo, to start the work on what would be Mayhem’s debut record. Before settling on this place, according to one of Dead’s accounts, the band had mostly been at each other’s places, in friends’ houses, other halfbroken houses and camping places, leaving Mayhem without time to rehearse and only to concentrate on replying to fan mail (Slayer Magazine #8). By the time they had settled down, the band’s reputation already preceded them and they weren’t seen as friendly neighbors to most of the locals as Hellhammer recounted: “In the beginning of the ’90s we rented an old deserted house in the forest. We needed a place for rehearsals, so we ended up in that house. It would take twenty minutes to get to the nearest shop, and we had to go by train to the nearest town. People who walked by our house, fastened their steps. They were afraid of us. And teachers from the nearby schools told children: ‘Do
mous and Dead hated it. ‘Christianity is evil’, they used to say. But I asked them: ‘Ain’t it evil what we are doing?’ I never got an answer to this question” (Dmitry Basik, 1998).
The next step in the blue is when it becomes more brightly and then it stopped with a white color, which is a stage no mortals can enter. If a mortal nature succeeds in reaching this then it is no mortal any longer and cannot return on earth anymore. To the white level – it continued with colors from which I do not know anything - only spirit and large magicians can travel there. I experienced that the white level, which I had entered without knowing it, was the dead world, and I had actually died.”
not come up to this house. The house is haunted!’ Everybody hated us, but we enjoyed it. Euronymous was busy with his label and spent all the days typing something. I played drums and Dead would lock in his room being permanently depressed” (Dmitry Basik, 1998).
that would become legendary, for a set of antics that were unheard of at the time.
After this, Ohlin developed a fascination on death and darkness, and thus he began calling himself “Dead”, the name for which he is now commonly known in the music world. When the line-up of Dead, Euronymous, Necrobutcher and Hellhammer was finally assembled, the group eventually settled in an old house in
During the time the band was rehearsing and writing new material, Hellhammer soon noticed that the mood was changing in the house and even questioned the direction that two of his band mates were heading in. “Euronymous was involved most of all. He was our teacher. (…) Soon Euronymous and Dead became even grimmer and more reserved. On the contrary, I have never been a grim person. But those two... Frankly speaking, I didn’t manage to perceive all that Satanic thing. I was attracted by a dark, sinister image, but I didn’t feel any anger for Christianity. Eurony-
During the writing process, the band’s direction began to move away from the typical “gore and splatter” approach common in most of the extreme music acts of the day, and into other subjects such as Satanism, darkness and death, mostly due to singer Ohlin’s interests. Their music was also becoming grimmer with a cold atmosphere, in the process of writing the batch of songs that would become highly influential in helping to define the Black Metal genre in the following years. When the writing was already ahead, Mayhem also began to present some of this material live. New songs such as “Funeral Fog”, “Freezing Moon”, “Buried by Time and Dust” and “Pagan Fears” started to enter the setlist in a series of concerts
The scenery for anyone who entered Mayhem gigs would be of a stage with several mutilated pig heads on spikes, and when Dead performed, during some songs he usually inflicted wounds upon himself, often cutting his arms with hunting knives and broken glass, letting the blood drip onto the audience. During a show in 1990 he slashed his arm with a broken bottle. In an interview to the “Lords of Chaos” book, Emperor drummer Faust claimed that “he [Dead] had to be taken to the hospital after the concert, but arrived late, so it was no use to give him stitches.” In some of the shows Ohlin even threw the pig heads to a few members of the audience, some of which would leave in disgust at what they saw (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). About this matter,
Necrobutcher once stated that it was something that Dead liked to do. “He had the ability to do it and the audience to do it. I think he liked to see how people reacted.” Other than these unusual and unheard of antics, according to several of his contemporaries, Dead also became the first musician to wear corpse-paint on stage, something he already did in his days with his previous band Morbid. He also had a very unorthodox policy of preparing his stage clothes for the band’s concerts as Hellhammer explained: “Before the shows, Dead used to bury his clothes into the ground so that they could start to rot and get that ‘grave’ scent. He was a ‘corpse’ on a stage. Once he even asked us to bury him in the ground - he wanted his skin to become pale” (Dmitry Basik, 1998). Ohlin also had the habit of collecting dead animals, such as crows, which he stored and carried around in plastic bags. He used to smell these birds in order to sing “with the stench of death in his nostrils”. Mayhem’s live reputation was building up in Norway and Germany, but some locals in Turkey still recently remembered this line-up’s impact, from when the band went there in
1990. They by train, and when arriving at the border, security officers threw out all the equipment. Being pissed off at what happened, the band got arrested and some of the members handcuffed. At the time of the show, the locals had cut off the power after only four songs. According to Necrobutcher, “A lot of journalists were there. When they cut the power the band was just screaming ‘Fuck You’, ‘Fuck You’”. Sometime afterwards, everyone who went on vacation to that place, which was called Izmir, still heard the locals talking about this crazy band of guys from Norway and Sweden (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). Upon returning from tour, relationships within the band were strained, particularly between Dead and Euronymous. Both members were getting on each other’s nerves and their once existing friendship was starting to deteriorate. Hellhammer recalled that one time Dead had to go to sleep in the woods because Euronymous was playing synth music which Ohlin disliked. After that Aarseth went outside with a shotgun and started shooting in the air to disturb the young swede. At the same time, Ohlin was also developing serious suicidal intentions, which were only fueled by Euronymous, much to his friends’
dislike and concern (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). According to several people, Aarseth thought that this could have fit the image that Mayhem was trying to promote. Former drummer Manheim stated on the “Once Upon a Time in Norway” documentary: “I don’t know if Øystein did it out of pure evil or if he was just fooling around.” The situation reached a boiling point on the 8 April 1991, a day that would mark the end of this legendary lineup for the worst reasons. After being left alone in the band’s house in the woods, Pelle Ohlin committed suicide. The singer first tried to cut his wrist veins with a kitchen knife before deciding to permanently end his life with a shotgun blast to his head. The shells used were a Christmas present from a friend of the band named Kristian “Varg” Vikernes, someone who would have a detrimental role in Mayhem’s history in the near future. Hellhammer was at the time at his parents’ house while Euronymous was the first to arrive at the scene, after having to enter the house through the window of Ohlin’s room, due to the fact that there was only one key to the house and Ohlin locked the main entrance from inside (deadfrommayhem.ru, 2009). There was a suicide note next
Metal scene began its obsession with all things satanic and evil”. In “Lords of Chaos”, Faust also offered his input about Ohlin and why the suicide eventually took place: “He [Dead] wasn’t a guy you could know very well. I think even the other guys in Mayhem didn’t know him very well. He was hard to get close to. (…) Honestly, I don’t think he was enjoying living in this world.”
to his body, which was transcribed in the “Blod eld död” book, and reads as follows: “Excuse the blood, but I have slit my wrists and neck. It was the intention that I would die in the woods so that it would take a few days before I was possibly found. I belong in the woods and have always done so. No one will understand the reason for this anyway. To give some semblance of an explanation I’m not a human, this is just a dream and soon I will awake. It was too cold and the blood was coagulating all the time, plus my new knife is too dull. If I don’t succeed dying to the knife I will blow all the shit out of my skull. Yet I do not know. I left all my lyrics by “Let the good times roll”— plus the rest of the money. Whoever finds it gets the fucking thing. As a last salutation may I present “Life Eternal”. Do whatever you want with the fucking thing. / Pelle. I didn’t come up with this now, but seventeen years ago.” After watching this scene, in an unusual maneuver, Aarseth went to the nearest shop and bought a disposable camera to take pictures of the suicide
scene. (deadfrommayhem.ru, 2009). Only afterwards the guitarist called the local police to give notice. Most of these photographs never saw the light of day, and only some of Aarseth’s closest friends got to see them. However, according to Kjetil Manheim, one of these pictures was later revealed: “The worst thing he did was that he sent the picture to Colombia, where they produced the album with Pelle’s dead body on the cover” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). The album Manheim referred to is the now infamously known “Dawn of the Black Hearts” live bootleg on which a performance of the band on Sarpsborg on 28 February 1990 came to be released in 1995 on a 300 copy limited edition made by Warmaster Records. At the time, Euronymous used this suicide to publicize Mayhem’s image claiming that Dead had killed himself due to the commercialization and trendy ways of death metal. The guitarist’s cold attitude was responsible for some of his friends turning their backs on him, and according to Faust on the “In the Face of Death” 2005 article by Chris Campion, Ohlin’s suicide “marked the point at which, under Euronymous’s direction, the Black
Necrobutcher recalled how Euronymous first told him about Dead’s suicide on the “In the Face of Death” article: “Øystein called me up the next day...and says, ‘Dead has done something really cool! He killed himself’. I thought, have you lost it? What do you mean cool? He says, ‘Relax, I have photos of everything’. I was in shock and grief. He was just thinking how to exploit it. So I told him, ‘OK. Don’t even fucking call me before you destroy those pictures.’” In the same article, Stubberud also offered a different take on why Euronymous reacted the way he did to Ohlin’s suicide: “I think Øystein was shocked by Dead’s suicide. And taking the photograph was the only way he could cope with it, like, ‘if I have to see this, then everybody else has to see it too.’” Though Pelle never recorded vocals in any of Mayhem’s studio albums, he has written the lyrics for half of the songs that what would enter Mayhem’s debut album. His only studio recordings with Mayhem, and the only studio capture of the lineup of Euronymous, Dead, Necrobutcher and Hellhammer are the tracks “Freezing Moon” and “Carnage”, which appeared on the CBR Records compilation album “Projections of a Stained Mind”. They represent the original direction the group would follow if this line up had gone to studio to record their debut album. The other record featuring Dead on vocals is the now legendary “Live in Leipzig”, which captured a Mayhem concert done in the Eiskeller club in Leipzig, Germany on the 26 November 1990. It was released in 1993 by the Italian label Obscure Plasma as a tribute to the fallen singer. It’s heralded as the first live Black Metal recording ever done, and at the time it opened the doors for recordings of the same type by other Norwegian Black Metal acts, who previously disdained live concerts (Metal Storm, 2004). “Live in
Leipzig” had a message from Ohlin which translated what he thought about his presence on this earth: “Jag är inte en människa. Det här är bara en dröm, och snart vaknar jag. Det var för kallt och blodet levrades hela tiden” (“I am not a human! This is just a dream and soon I will awake! It was too cold and my blood was frozen all the time!”). Pelle “Dead” Ohlin’s funeral was held at the Eastern Haninge Church on the 26 April 1991 and his body was buried at the Eastern Haninge graveyard in Stockholm. He was 22 years old. Dead’s suicide and Euronymous’s refusal to destroy those pictures prompted Necrobutcher to eventually leave the band, leaving only Euronymous and Hellhammer as the sole members of Mayhem for some time. The band would enter its darkest period ever.
Occultus, “Deathlike Silence Productions” and “Helvete”
espite the fact that one of Mayhem’s members had committed suicide, Euronymous wasted no time in trying to get the band back on its feet to record its debut album, as the death of Ohlin only seemed to motivate the guitarist to further promote the band’s image. He started switching letters with a bass player called Stian Johansen, who came to identify himself as Occultus. He was only originally intended to play bass, but later also assumed lead vocal duties, making Mayhem a trio for the recording process. At the same time, Euronymous began establishing a plan to become the most prominent figure in the Norwegian Black Metal circle by opening a record store at Schweigaards gate 56 in Oslo named “Helvete” (“Hell” in Norwegian), that would also serve as headquarters for his label, which changed its name from “Posercorpse records” to “Deathlike Silence Productions”.
Helvete made an impression on passers-by by sporting a polystyrene tombstone on its window and on the interior, its black walls sported several medieval weapons, various bands’ memorabilia and picture discs (Chris Campion, 2005). As Occultus recalled, “It opened back in 1991 and it was the first of its kind in Norway. (…) We painted the walls black the very first moment, because we liked it that way. Other shops appeared in the future influenced by Helvete, made in USA and in other countries” (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). The shop became a meeting place that proved to be highly influential in the development of the Norwegian Black Metal scene, as just a few months after its opening, most of the death metal bands shifted into Black Metal, as was the case with Darkthrone who switched styles between their “Soulside Journey” debut and their second effort “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”, Thou Shalt Suffer who’ve become Emperor and Amputation which began to be known as Immortal (Daniel Ekeroth, 2009). The musicians from these acts often met in the shop’s basement to hang out together and discuss several things. As
Nocturno Culto from Darkthrone has put it: “It was a hang out in Oslo for the few people who liked this music. There were only a few of us who performed this music. That was cool. Of course there was a lot of alcohol.” It would be open to the general public, but some people could feel uncomfortable inside the store as Manheim recalled: “It was not very dangerous to enter the store, but you might not be very welcome if you tried to be a part of the inner circle” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). Øystein Aarseth was also suddenly starting to develop a particular admiration about the former Old Funeral guitarist Kristian “Varg” Vikernes’ band Burzum, and started doing everything he could to help promote and develop the project. Manheim: “Øystein really liked it [Burzum]. I can understand why he liked it. He wasn’t that fascinated by the music, but more about the project around this Kristian and the type of figure because he was a one-man-show, doing everything himself, with all these ideas about darkness and aggression” (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). Burzum was one of the bands that
Euronymous was adamant about releasing their material via his label “Deathlike Silence Productions”, which would be only dedicated to the release of albums from bands that he deemed worthy. Its first release was Sweden’s Merciless’ debut album “The Awakening”, which was followed by the reissue of Mayhem’s “Deathcrush”, and eventually Burzum’s selftitled and “Aske” records (Terrorizer #45, 1997), before launching other acts such as Abruptum, Sigh and Enslaved (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). His label helped to propel several Norwegian acts into giving their first steps to success, but in time, Euronymous would encounter some problems that would make the management of both the label and shop harder to deal with. “He planned to earn money from record sales and releases. He would earn a living and start a record company”, as Kjetil Manheim remembered. In another perspective, Anders Odden gave a different insight at how Euronymous planned to run his business on Helvete and why its model eventually didn’t work as expected: “He wanted to sell one thousand copies of a record for 100 NOK (aprox. 12 euros) per copy. The band would get 90%,
and he’d take 10%. The complete opposite of the record industry. A very idealistic vision. He didn’t understand how things worked. He couldn’t run a business. He had no clue. He had a lot of ideas but he didn’t manage to fulfill them” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). Occultus also stated that the space “was far too big and the rent was too high. That’s the reason why it never did well” (Lords Of Chaos, 2003). In spite of all the problems the guitarist would have in running his own
businesses, Øystein Aarseth was achieving his own personal agenda of becoming Black Metal’s main spokesperson and began to build a dramatic image of being the leader of this movement, influencing others around him with his ideologies of hate. During this time, Mayhem was preparing to enter the studio to record its first album, but Occultus eventually left the band due to a supposed death threat issued by Euronymous, leaving the vocal and bass spots once again vacant.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
ayhem had already previously set the title of their debut album as “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, even dating back to the days when Dead was still in the band. Translated, the title means “About the Mystery of Lord Satan”. An explanation on the expression can be found on the Heavy Latin blog: “‘Dom’ is the abbrevation of ‘dominus - lord, master’, here in the genitive form ‘domini - of the lord’. ‘Sathanas’ (correct: satanas) is the genitive form in ancient greek of the word ‘satan’” (Markheim, 2008). Before recording could commence, Euronymous and Hellhammer still needed additional session musicians to record all the songs the band had
been composing for the last five years up to 1992. Burzum’s own Varg Vikernes, who assumed the stage name “Count Grishnackh”, was drafted to play bass, while a young Hungarian singer from the band Tormentor called Attila Csihar eventually filled the vocal spot. Euronymous had already begun to correspond with Csihar back in 1991 as the singer explained: “I was asked to join Mayhem in 1991, or that was the first time that I heard from Euronymous. He reached me somehow in Hungary (…) it was pretty much like a miracle. I just got a letter from Euronymous one day. It took me two years before I was standing in front of the microphone. They had already composed some songs back then” (Quadrivium #5, 2008). Attila Csihar first met the members of Mayhem upon arriving by train on Oslo. He was greeted by Euronymous
and Vikernes who went to catch the vocalist on the train station and remembered their first encounter: “We entered the car of Varg. He had this old red Volkswagen Golf. (…) He put on some techno music. I was like ‘Wow, I like it!’ Heheh! Because I came from Plasma Pool. But it was a bit more commercial thing. Later I understood that he did it only to piss off Euronymous” (Quadrivium #5, 2008). Also around this time, Snorre “Blackthorn” Ruch joined Mayhem’s ranks as a composer and rhythm guitarist to help finish the recording of “De Mysteriis”. Though not recording any guitar tracks, according to himself, Ruch ended up writing some of the riffs on the record and even finished some of Dead’s lyrics (Agnes Sonderkrig). In respect to the songwriting credits, Vikernes once claimed in an interview done in 2005 by Chris Mitchell and
posted on his website, that Euronymous created most the album’s riffs, but Hellhammer, Necrobutcher and himself also wrote material for what became its final version. The album was recorded in the first months of 1993 at the Grieg Hall in the city of Bergen. While doing the vocals, Csihar had asked for a black room with candles to create an atmosphere for the recording of his tracks. Instead of delivering his lines in the style of his predecessor Pelle Ohlin, he opted for a more experimental direction and talking from a few years distance, he reflected on the expectations and overall quality of the record: “Spiritually, I remember the expectations were high about the ‘Mysteriis’ album. It was almost like this time: everybody was waiting for the album and there were all these surroundings. When we did the rehearsals I did it almost like Pelle did. I had a more natu-
rally Black Metal sound, like a scream. When we entered the studio I thought that I’d show the guys I can sing like this too. I was thinking, ‘Let’s see what people will think about this later’. In the beginning a lot of people were confused a bit about the vocals. It was such a new aspect. Later they got used to it, it was almost like belonging to that album. We
challenged things and I think that the ‘Mysteriis’ album was kind of ahead of its time” (Quadrivium #5, 2008). After its recording was finished, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” wouldn’t see the light of day so soon, as tragedy would fall upon the band again before its release.
End of an Era
nspired by his ideas to spread fear and evil everywhere around Norway, Euronymous’ group of associates formed what would be known as the Inner Circle. Only a few selected people from some Black Metal acts and other parties entered this group. This assembly waged a war against Christianity in Norway which led to the burning of several historical churches in the country. Euronymous claimed that this was only the beginning (Terrorizer#45, 1997), but according to numerous sources, he never participated directly in such acts, in spite of inciting them. Manheim offered an explanation on why it happened and on its consequences: “It was just people trying to gain acceptance within a strict group. Those defining this milieu didn’t burn a single church themselves. I got a lot of
calls from people who wanted to burn churches. But why did they called me? Because they wanted some sort of approval and status. It gave them status and Øystein gave them that” (Once Upon a Time in Norway, 2007). In order to gain promotion for Euronymous’s “Deathlike Silence Productions”, Varg Vikernes gave an interview to the Bergens Tidende journal, claiming he had burned down the churches. (Lords of Chaos, 2003) He later revealed on his website that the interview was mostly fake and done to gain attention for the Helvete store. Vikernes was arrested before the article was published, but later released due to the lack of conclusive evidence about his allegations. However, due to this unexpected surge of attention, Euronymous closed Helvete for fearing further police investigation.
Somewhere along this point a rivalry started between Euronymous and Vikernes, which became the result of a power struggle between the two of the main figures in the Black Metal Inner Circle. This rivalry was about to end at the night of 10 August 1993, when Vikernes and Snorre Ruch travelled from Bergen to Tøyengata in Oslo, where Euronymous lived. Apparently Aarseth had proposed a friendly meeting for the signing of a contract to Vikernes, but according to what Snorre Ruch had told him, the contract was a false pretext for torturing Vikernes to death and videotape the whole event. Feeling threatened for fearing that Euronymous had real intentions of carrying on with his plan, Vikernes decided to confront Aarseth. Vikernes arrived at approximately 3:00 AM in the morning and a fight erupted between the two musicians after Euronymous opened the door to
his apartment. The fight ended with Vikernes fatally stabbing Aarseth in the head, on the stairs outside of his apartment. Aarseth was later found with twenty-three cut wounds. Vikernes was eventually arrested nine days later in Bergen and his trial began on 2 May 1994. Vikernes claimed he had the intention of giving the signed contract back to Aarseth and tell him to “Fuck Off”, having acted on self-defense after Aarseth apparently attacked him first. He also proclaimed that most of Aarseth’s wounds were inflicted by broken glass adjacent to the scene. A few months later he was declared guilty and sentenced to serve 21 years in prison, Norway’s maximum penalty. Snorre Ruch, who accompanied Vikernes and who according to an article in Vikernes’s website was smoking outside in the time of the murder, was also convicted to serve 8 years for complicity. Over the years, most of those of knew
Euronymous claimed that the extreme image he portrayed had little in common with his true personality. Emperor’s Faust once recalled that with Aarseth “there was a lot of smoke but not so much fire” (Chris Campion, 2005) and Ihsahn said that the late guitarist’s doctrine was mostly intended “to create fear among people” and that he “tried to concentrate more on just being ‘evil’ than having a real Satanic philosophy” (Lords of Chaos, 2003). Kjetil Manheim also stated that Aarseth had become much more extreme towards his final years. “He liked telling people that they were worthless, he was the best. He was all ‘I define Black Metal. Black Metal is me!’ ... I think he was trapped in the image of Mayhem.” Manheim also added that, although the guitarist was killed, “Øystein was not a innocent person in this story. Of course no one should seriously get killed, but Øystein was not a lovable guy towards people around him, which of course can trigger a kid to do extreme things” (Pure
Fucking Mayhem, 2009). On the “Once
Upon a Time in Norway” documentary, Anders Odden also expressed his thoughts about Euronymous’ death: “I think many people felt relief once he was gone. it was suddenly history for a lot of people. One was in jail the other was dead. That was that.” Attila Csihar, by then still Mayhem’s current vocalist, expressed his shock after hearing the news on the Issue #180 of UK’s Terrorizer Magazine: “I was in Hungary, but suddenly in the summer I lost both their contacts. I tried to call the guys but no one picked up the phone. I was thinking maybe people are on vacation and I didn’t pay much attention. I think it was in the autumn when some of my friends told me, ‘Hey, you have been friends with this band called Mayhem from Norway?’ and I told them, ‘Yeah, we recorded something and we are hoping that it is going to be released soon,’ and they said, ‘Well, I just heard that the guitarist has
been murdered.’” Attila then added “I remember that first moment. I thought, ‘You are an idiot, you don’t know the fucking story, it’s not the guitarist, but it’s the ex-vocalist that died, this is bullshit,’ and he said, ‘No, I just read it in the Hungarian Metal Hammer, so check it yourself.’ (…) So I was thinking, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ I went down to the grocery store and picked up the Metal Hammer and there it was, a very small news item saying Euronymous was murdered by Varg Vikernes and I couldn’t fucking believe my eyes.” Attila thought all of the events were confusing, to say the least, when talking about the subject on the “Pure Fucking Mayhem” documentary: “It’s interesting, because when we were together, we were really ok. Varg was another kind of guy. He was younger and really intelligent, clean, sharp minded with a sharp way of thinking. Very spinning and active. At the same time he was calm too, so there were no big shoutings or argu-
ments at least at that time. So that’s why it’s a bit confusing the whole thing and what happened later. For me it was shocking new, because I didn’t expect that.” Hellhammer, now the sole remaining member of Mayhem, who went through all of its internal turmoil since the days when Pelle Ohlin was in the band, added in Terrorizer #45 that Euronymous was following a path that was keeping him even more distanced from the band and even made his band mates consider the decision to send Euronymous away: “He was concentrating more and more on his record label, and I was starting to rehearse more and more with other bands, because I need to practice a lot. He didn’t care too much about Mayhem anymore. He was burned out. He wasn’t into the band thing anymore, he was just into making money with DSP. We were even considering kicking him out of the band.”
The image Aarseth had created around himself was also reason for resentment by his former band mate: “He was a very egocentric person. He wasn’t like that at first, but he turned that way. I didn’t care too much about it to begin with, but when I saw how he was carrying on, sending out pictures of only himself or pictures that only he looked good in, that started to bug me a little.” Hellhammer also added “He tried to force his concepts onto the rest of the band. A lot was good, a lot wasn’t so good. A lot of things just fell apart when he died” (Terrorizer #45, 1997). Øystein Aarseth was buried on Ski in Norway’s Akershus County. He was 25 years of age. With only Hellhammer remaining, Mayhem would cease to exist…at least for a time…
Debut album release
n May 1994, a year after Øystein Aarseth’s death, Mayhem’s first album “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” finally saw the light of day and it was released to the public. It featured the lineup of Euronymous on guitar, Hellhammer on drums, Varg Vikernes on bass and Attila Csihar on vocals. Euronymous’ family asked Hellhammer to replace the bass tracks laid down by Vikernes. Though he promised to do this, he had no idea on how to do it and the album ended up with Vikernes’ tracks on it (Chris Campion, 2005). The cover had a picture of the Nidaros Cathedral, and its speculated that its use had other intentions behind it for promotion of the record. Anders Odden stated that there were plans for blowing up the Cathedral on the “Once Upon a Time in Norway”
documentary. Kjetil Manhem also offered some insight about this on the same documentary: “Øystein’s plans to do that were very real. He’d never have been able to get a hold of enough explosives to wreck the building. It would only have been minor damage.” Upon its release, the album was heralded, and still is nowadays, as one of Black Metal’s greatest masterpieces and is considered to have been highly influential in the development of this music genre. It reflects Mayhem’s entire creative path since its ’87-‘91 era with Dead, up until Euronymous’ death.
Reformation and Wolf’s Lair Abyss
ayhem had effectively ceased to be in 1993, but it wouldn’t remain that way for a long
period of time. At Euronymous’ funeral, former bassist Necrobutcher talked with Hellhammer about the possibility of bringing back Mayhem with a new line-up. Necrobutcher was at the time in a band called Fleshwound with one of Mayhem’s old acquaintances who hadn’t been with the band since ‘87, a certain vocalist named Sven Erik Kristiansen, but commonly known in the Mayhem lore as “Maniac” (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). In an exclusive declaration to AGAINST MAGAZINE, Necrobutcher talked about how he saw the band in the 17 months he had been absent, up until his return: “I started this band when I was 16 years old, I’ve always lived and breathed for this band. The 17 months I was out of this project, I was struck by grief when my best friend blew his brains out. So I was kind of emotionally crippled for a little bit of time and when I started to get to myself after a year, Euronymous
was killed. Then in his funeral, me and Hellhammer agreed to continue. That’s the shortest story. The longest story is that we already had the record [De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas] more or less recorded/finished. We had half of the “De Mysteriis” songs ready and we were touring around in Europe with them also. I also wrote some of those songs. I told Euronymous that after what happened [Dead’s suicide]... He didn’t grieve about it… He thought it was cool and I was very shocked about that, and he had taken photos of his dead body and shit like that. So I had to try to double bluff him to burn the photos before he called me, then he kind of stabbed me in the back and called Varg Vikernes to quickly record the album because then I was out of the way and he had full control of the band. After that point I kind of controlled the band. He fucked up obviously, I mean, it didn’t take many months in my absence and everything fucks up, several churches burned down, a couple of guys died and he got killed. I stepped back in and everything was hunky dory and has been good now for a lot of years.” Necrobutcher also added: “Everybody is saying, “when you left”… I never left anything… My best friend blew his
brains out and my other best friend took photos of his dead body and wanted to use it as promotion, so that’s what happened, it was a personal tragedy and lots of power struggles and shitty things that happened and he was talking shit about me in the media and stuff like that too. So when he got killed I was actually still pissed off on his bullshit, so that kind of helped me over the grief actually” (Against Magazine, 2014). In 1995, the band decided to continue with Maniac returning to the fold as vocalist. The only missing piece was the one member who would have to replace Euronymous as the main guitarist in Mayhem. The band began an intensive search for a new guitarist that lasted for a year before settling on the 19-year-old Rune Eriksen who came to identify himself as “Blasphemer”. Necrobutcher remembered that the young guitarist was a good fit for the band: “he was young, but had all the potential and was as crazy as us, so he fitted the crew” (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009). A few years ago Hellhammer explained the process of recruiting Rune Eriksen on the Terrorizer #45 issue: “I got in touch with this guy Blasphemer,
who I’d played with before in other bands. We started to rehearse a little bit, and everything was there. (…) We gave him free reign over the new material. He wasn’t tied to anything, he was allowed to go his own way. We corrected him if he came up with something that was way out of line, but he really worked his butt off to get his stuff. Technically I would say he’s a better guitarist than Euronymous.” But according to an interview Maniac gave to Knut Steen in 2005, the returning singer was feeling some hesitation and uncertainty about how Mayhem could continue with the new guitarist: “When the band needed a new guitarist in 1995, both I and Necrobutcher were sceptical. We didn’t know Blasphemer and we were quite anxious to see how this was going to turn out.” Upon his return, Kristiansen’s band mates were pleasantly surprised to verify that Maniac’s vocals had morphed from the howling shouts heard on the ’87 “Deathcrush” EP into a new, twisted, kind of insane evil voice. Necrobutcher had a lot of praises to say about the singer’s abilities back in day: “We didn’t practice with him much before we went into the studio. We were really tight, but
and how they managed to return to the scene: “After all the negative shit that happened we kept on, and there was some bullshit people saying, “you should quit playing” and shit like that because Øystein was killed. They’ve said that when Dead killed himself. [Some people thought that] we shouldn’t carry on, so we were like a little pissed off on that. So when we started to rehearse with Blasphemer, we just lived at the rehearsal place for three or four years basically, just rehearsing on a regular basis and he was very fuckin aggressive, and we are aggressive people to begin with. In that particular time, we were fucking pissed off, a lot of shit about us was on the papers all the time, a lot of bad mouthing, a lot of jealous people who just wanted to try to bring us down on a daily basis. So, when we had the five songs ready, we were thinking, fuck everything, we’ll just go to the studio and release this shit. We didn’t have time to wait for three more songs to do an album, because all these people think an EP is not as much worth as a full length album, which I think it’s bullshit. The album that comes out
when he came and laid down the vocal tracks, I’d never heard anything like it before. It was totally out of this world! You know what it reminds me of? ‘The Exorcist’. Like, when Linda Blair’s head spins round and she starts going ‘GRRRLAAAAABRRRLLLAAAAAWUUURRRGH! He’s a great frontman. And he has a lot of character. He’s very thin and very pale, and he’s got scars everywhere. Only one in 10,000 people can carve themselves up like that, and we’ve had two vocalists who both could. It’s pretty incredible when you think about it” (Terrorizer #45). Three years after their debut record “De Mysteriis” was released, Mayhem triumphantly returned in 1997 with
a five track EP entitled “Wolf’s Lair Abyss”. This was the first studio offering of the reformed line-up which at the time consisted of Necrobutcher, Hellhammer, Maniac and Blasphemer. It was a critical time for Mayhem, as some of the fans were highly skeptical of the validity of this new line-up without the presence of its former mentor and founding member Euronymous. Mayhem had a point to prove to the world, that they could survive all of their previous obstacles, overcome the ghosts of their former members’ tragedies and thrive creatively. On an exclusive revelation to AGAINST MAGAZINE, Necrobutcher talked about some of the hard times the band went through in this period
is the album that comes out. Five or eight songs, sixteen, doesn’t really matter…It’s a time period you capture. So we did that, [the fans] accepted the music very well, very fucking aggressive shit” (Against Magazine, 2014). Despite the fact that he’s been away from the band during the period when all the of the personnel tragedies happened, Maniac also felt the impact of all the media interest around what happened in the Mayhem camp in 1993, and due to this, Kristiansen and his band mates took a stance that would last for a long period of time, as he recalled: “It wasn’t difficult to come back (…) what was taxing was that the music was never
mentioned with one word neither in articles nor in interviews. That’s the reason why we chose not to speak to the press for many years” (Knut Steen, 2005). Though most of the music on “Wolf Lair’s Abyss” retained some of “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” spirit, it also had a more elaborate edge, and was by then a product of digital modern recording. The songwriting, which previously had been a mesh of styles between the ideas of all the members who spent some time in Mayhem, was now almost solely at the hands of Blasphemer, who was mainly in charge of the music, and Maniac, who dealt with all vocal arrangements and lyrics. This partnership would last for the following years and Maniac once reflected on how the dynamic between both composers worked: “Apart from rehearsals, recording sessions and gigs, the Mayhem members have never hung out much socially, but Blasphemer’s and my mind-set are quite similar so it has never been a problem to match the lyrics with the music.” He also elaborated that he had to find his own creative field within the band: “It was difficult to fill in for Dead, but even though he wrote fantastic lyrics I soon realized that I had to do my own thing” (Knut Steen, 2005). Mayhem still had another trial by fire for this new line-up. They hadn’t performed live in nearly seven years, since the days when Dead was in the band. They made their live return in Germany in 1997 and according to Necrobutcher, spirits were high during that time: “Coming out and starting to play again was really fuckin’ great, and this time we had something to present, something to show, so that was cool” (Against Magazine, 2014). The band kept touring Europe, and one of their concerts in Milan was
recorded for the release of the “Mediolanum Capta Est” live album that featured the “De Mysteriis” vocalist Attila Csihar, who sang a duet with Maniac as a guest on “From the Dark Past”. Mayhem’s second live album was the last record the band released before entering the new millennium, which would bring one of their most controversial and revolutionary albums ever made.
A Grand Declaration of War
fter spending another three years of writing and rehearsals, Mayhem’s second full length record “Grand Declaration of War” was released in 2000. It was Mayhem’s first conceptual effort, which
centered mainly on the themes of war and post-apocalyptic destruction and it marked a total shift in the band’s musical direction at that time. The overall style of the album featured a more progressive and avant-garde approach with a cleaner production in comparison to the cold and darkened Black Metal sound of Mayhem’s previous records. Maniac partly abandoned the distorted type of vocals sported on “Wolf’s Lair Abyss” in favor of a spoken word style, and the album even had a song that featured electronic beats such as “A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun - Part 2”, which in part reflected the fearlessness the band had in trying to tread different musical avenues. This change of direction wasn’t what most of the band’s fans expected at the time and Blasphemer was even
rejected by some fans who claimed “he wasn’t Euronymous” (Wagner, Wilson, 2010). The overall skepticism was still perpetuated by a few people who thought that Mayhem shouldn’t exist without Dead or Euronymous (Jon Kristiansen, 2011). However, regardless of what some fans thought, Eriksen would continue to be Mayhem’s guitarist and “Grand Declaration of War” was the result of the creative freedom he felt he had achieved within the band, as he previously stated: “As soon as I came into the band and we did “Wolf’s Lair Abyss”, this ‘rebellious’ thing that we have released, I started to have more input into what was happening, I blocked everything out and it helped the fact that the other guys trusted me to do it” (John Stefanis, 2008). Creating most of the record’s music pieces wasn’t exactly an easy process for Eriksen, but it paid off upon its release, as he revealed to the Ultimate Guitar website: “Actually, when I composed the Grand Declaration Of War album, which I still regard as one of my absolutely best works, at least
guitarwise, I was walking for hours a day to come up with bridges and arrangements to make everything fit perfectly. Sometimes I created 3,4 or 5 riffs that in itself could work both independently and on top of each other. I used to play with those things to create the tension and the desired ‘grand finale’” (Ryk Weston, 2008). Necrobutcher also reflected on the album’s creation and what it brought to the band on another exclusive revelation to AGAINST MAGAZINE: “We used all the negative energy into something constructive and that culminated into the ‘Grand Declaration of War’. That happened after we’ve been touring around the world. Blasphemer had gotten very inspired to do some really good composing and he came up with these great songs, which again we rehearsed in the rehearsal place for a year, and when that album came out, we were extensively touring around the world and it was like a rush the whole fucking thing. Then we got the recognition we needed to kick back a little bit and relax” (Against Magazine, 2014).
In 2001 Mayhem released their third live record set entitled “Legions” which had two different variations, “European Legions” on Europe and “U.S. Legions” on the United States. Both had different track lists with extra material from the Grand Declaration of War sessions. These records were then followed by Mayhem’s first Home Video DVD, “Live in Marseille” (Metal Storm, 2004). The band’s live performances kept some of the visual traits seen back in 1990 when Dead was still fronting the band. The stage set would be adorned with a pig head impaled on a spike and extensions of barbed wire. Maniac would usually cut himself several times leaving deep selfinflicted wounds throughout his body, which eventually led Kristiansen to leave many concerts straight to various intensive care units around the world. There were times when the frontman almost bled to death. However, after becoming a recurring habit, Maniac decided to stop doing this as a recalled in 2005: “Gradually, the audience started to expect blood dripping
gigs, and when we realised that the cutting had become a phenomenon people came to watch I quit doing it” (Knut Steen, 2005). Mayhem also made its way onto the newspapers once again, when a fan, Per Kristian Hagen, got a fractured skull after being hit with a sheep’s head during a 2003 concert. The injury, according to the band, was entirely accidental and as a means of compensation, they promised him a free ticket to the next concert (BBC News, 2003). After the Grand Declaration of War tour was over, Mayhem would enter the studio to start recording its third full-length album, in a time where the cracks were now beginning to show in the band’s armor again.
y the time the writing process went underway for what would become “Chimera”, Blasphemer had total control over Mayhem’s
creative direction and almost all of the record was written in Portugal, to where the guitarist had relocated. Both Blasphemer and Maniac were going through a period of inner turmoil, which, according to the singer, made the album’s creation “a chaotic process”. When describing their songwriting dynamic, Maniac also revealed that the duo made their ends meet, but not without its consequences: “Blasphemer was pissed off, I was pissed off and it got ugly at times. But that doesn’t mean that we disagreed – when it came to the music and how the lyrics fitted in he was always specific and we agreed all along the way. The only negative aspect of this was that we ran out of time by the end of the recording process” (Knut Steen, 2005). The creation of Chimera was also a very meticulous and long process, but something the band had to go through in order to present the best material they could, as the singer re-
vealed: “I spend a lot of time writing lyrics while it takes Blasphemer ages to write his music. Neither he nor I are interested in putting out something if we feel we have nothing to convey – in addition to this, Blasphemer is also an extreme perfectionist. He won’t stop until he’s satisfied” (Knut Steen, 2005). Necrobutcher also added his point of view about how the creative relationship between Blasphemer and Maniac was developing up to that point in the Pure Fucking Mayhem documentary: “Since everybody has been fucking with us all the time, that’s the reason why we maintain the aggressivity in the band. You can see it in other bands like Rolling Stones, where Mick Jagger and Keith Richards hate each other. And when they hated each other the most and Keith Richards did the most drugs the greatest albums came out. Same thing with Paul McCartney and John Lennon, same thing with The Police and Sting and so on.
Several stories emerged about how the singer came to leave the band, but the most common factor was the singer’s recurring alcoholism problems, which were caused by stage fright problems and an increasingly straining life on the road. A singular episode happened on what would be Maniac’s last gig, with Blasphemer having manifested his dissatisfaction at the singer’s current situation by kicking him down a through flight of stairs and slamming his head against the wall two times. According to what Necrobutcher said on the “In the Face of Death” article by Chris Campion, the guitarist had previously asked for his permission to proceed with the act. This dissatisfaction apparently grew due to the fact that Maniac was getting sloppy and forgetting his lyrics on stage, due to being inebriated most of the time.
When you have two strong individuals going to different ways and creating tension within the band, that’s when the magic comes up. Especially with an aggressive band like Mayhem”. Upon completion, “Chimera” was released on 6 April 2004. The album cover features a screenshot from the 1922 silent film “Häxan”. The band had returned to a more straightforward approach, keeping the high production values presented on their previous record, but some of the fans still contested that the band kept moving away from its primal Black Metal roots. When contemplating the work done on “Chimera” in comparison to “Grand Declaration of War”, Necrobutcher thought that “some of the songs are a little bit more mellow. It’s not that militaristic, not that aggressive maybe, but still there’s a dark evil lurking in the back. It’s a little bit more spaced out also” (Against
The band embarked once again on a world tour to promote “Chimera”, and eventually it reached Australia, on a trip that represented a high mark in the band’s already twenty year old career by that point, as Maniac remembered fondly: “We toured Australia some years ago on an invitation from the Australian Department for Culture and Arts on the basis that we represented ‘Norwegian culture at its highest level’. Naturally, it was awesome – we were welcomed everywhere” (Knut Steen, 2005).
Later on, Necrobutcher elaborated on the reasons why Maniac left the band and declared that his exit was a mutual agreement between the singer and the remaining members of Mayhem: “I would say that he wasn’t kicked out. He had a problem and that problem became bigger and bigger. In the end it was a little bit hard to realize for him, that he had a problem, but when we put it down on the knife edge and tried to sort out what we were going to do for the future and what Mayhem was going to do like in the next 6 months, he realized that he could not continue. He was not kicked out. It was more like an understanding between us that he had to leave the band” (Pure Fucking Mayhem, 2009).
Though by 2004 Mayhem had started to be recognized as high representatives of Norwegian culture in other corners of the world, Maniac wouldn’t accompany the band much further, as “Chimera” and its subsequent tour would prove to be his last period with the band.
On a startling revelation to journalist Knut Steen, only one year after his final exit from Mayhem, he revealed other reasons that also led him to quit the band: “The role as Mayhem’s front-man has been incredibly rewarding but it has also drained me physically and mentally while on tour.
When it was decided that we would increase our touring schedule in the future, it added to the list of reasons for quitting the band.” His drinking habits made Kristiansen reach an extreme point in his life, after which he decided to change the course of his future actions: “Often, I’d just be waiting for the first bar to open and then it would be the same story all over again. One day I came to my senses hanging from one arm out of a fourth floor window – it was the wake-up call I needed. I had no idea how I ended up there and that scared the shit out of me. After that incident I haven’t drunk a drop of alcohol” (Knut Steen, 2005). Nine years, three studio recordings and two live albums after he returned, Maniac once again left Mayhem. There was curiosity in the metal world about who would be his successor, but the other members of Mayhem already had their sights on another prominent figure from their past to fill the once again vacant singer spot.
Attila, Order and Chaos
uring the time Maniac was in the band, Necrobutcher had been keeping regular contact with “De Mysteriis” vocalist Attila Csihar for some years. Recognizing that things could have gone in the wrong direction with Kristiansen, the bassist already had a backup plan that consisted on an agreement with Csihar that, if anything would happen to Maniac, Attila would return to the fold as lead singer for Mayhem as stated on the Pure Fucking Mayhem documentary. In the same piece, Attila also revealed that he had indeed been talking to Necrobutcher in the years before Maniac’s exit: “I was in contact with Mayhem since ‘98, especially with Necrobutcher and we already kind of agreed if anything happens I would be the first to be asked to join back in. It was an unforeseen thing, nobody could tell when it could happen, so I said ‘yeah’. Mayhem is a part of my life. Once I belonged to them…I still feel in the family, because all the time we kept a good relationship.” Eventually, after Maniac left Mayhem, in 2005 Csihar was officially reinstated and announced once again as vocalist for the band.
Though the death of Euronymous would mark the end point for his first stint in Mayhem, Attila Csihar was highly active developing his “resume” in the years up to his return, having done work with bands such as Aborym, Plasma Pool, Korog, Keep of Kalessin and Sunn O))) (Les Eternelles, 2007). Other than his musical work, Attila also performed as “Caiaphas” in the Jesus Christ Superstar play in his home country of Hungary and became an electric engineer, occasionally doing private tutoring in the fields of mathematics and physics. The band launched a string of live performances to complete the touring cycle for “Chimera” and to present Csihar to live audiences around the world. Just a short time after Maniac exited the band, he went to see them live with Csihar filling in for his former spot and recounted the experience on the 2005 interview to Knut Steen: “I saw a Mayhem-gig at Hamar recently, and it was a true out-of-body experience. I haven’t seen Mayhem as an audience member since 1988, so it was pretty emotional at the same time as it was good to see that the band performed so well with Attila.” He also made clear that there were no hard feelings between him and his for-
mer bandmates: “I shook their hands afterwards.” However, it wouldn’t be too long before Mayhem were once again in the eyes of the media after an infamous concert at the “Gates of Metal” festival in Hultsfred, Sweden, back in 2006, when Attila appeared wearing a pig head, with the band surrounded by parts of different animals on stage (Blabbermouth, 2006). This concert caused some stir among a few people which prompted Attila to explain that he is a vegetarian and that there was a symbolism behind that performance: “We wish to reflect society (…) Everyone who eats meat becomes fatter and fatter and slowly but surely turns into a pig”. Some time before these events, upon reuniting with Mayhem, Csihar immediately discussed the artistic direction of the next record with Blasphemer and both came to the conclusion that they wanted to follow a more dark, obscure and chaotic path in the future. As Csihar had been the vocalist on Mayhem’s legendary “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas “, there was a natural expectation from fans that Mayhem could be returning to their debut album’s sound and spirit; however, back in the day, Blasphemer revealed that his and Attila’s creative inten-
tions were different for what would become “Ordo ad Chao”: “We both knew from the very beginning that we were not going to do another ‘De Mysteriis’, seeing as this album was recorded back in the ‘90s and there was no point in trying to recreate a similar atmosphere. Attila was also very young when that album was recorded and has created many different things since then. So, I told him from the very beginning that I knew what people were expecting but that they were not going to get it, mainly because I am really keen on retaining my integrity as an artist, and he totally agreed with me” (John Stefanis, 2008) The writing and recording process for Mayhem’s fourth full length was a strenuous affair for everyone involved, not in the sense that band relations were going through a hard phase, but
because of all the energy that was being generated in the sessions, which left the musicians drained as Attila once explained: “we’re almost bleeding when we come out of the studio. I think it’s much better to stand up and fight or shout at each other every day—we don’t do that but let’s put it in an extreme way—it’s still better to speak out the problems into the eye of the other than to hold it in and one day go and stab someone in the back. If you’re playing this kind of music on this level, you will see that it’s not a joke anymore. We are really playing on the edge of some kind of madness.” However, even going through this moment, Attila showed that the band still kept affairs controlled with discipline: “We are trying to control ourselves. It’s healthy that we have these arguments. Then the band can still keep on and go ahead. (…) All in all, people have great respect for each other” (Quadrivium #5, 2008).
Blasphemer also gave an insight on how the creation process for “Ordo ad Chao” was affecting the band on an interview to the “Get Ready to Rock” website: “Attila was drinking a lot at the time because we all felt really depressed after each rehearsal when we had to go home. When you have to deal with sounds that are not ‘suited’ to you, the result really affects you - music really affects you in that respect. You understand, of course, the ‘reaction’ that happens when our music meets with the natural flow of things - we all became slightly depressed, having a really hard time to cope with things. You almost felt the presence of a ‘black cloud’ - one that was approaching further down towards you” (John Stefanis, 2008).
gave to the Ultimate Guitar website: “for “Ordo” I wanted everything to sound like shit, more or less. No joke. I wanted a really disturbing and muddy sound, totally opposite of “Chimera” and especially “Grand Declaration of War”, which both are very sterile, cold and clear sounding. I wanted to do the opposite of that and also to turn my way of thinking towards the album. Both in riffing and arrangements. (…) I wanted it to sound raw. Even if I did a mistake on “OAC” I probably wouldn’t have changed it. Actually, I know a few mistakes that’s on there, but they sounded so cruel that I just let them be, Very much improvised indeed. However, it’s important to know that I’ve spent a great deal of time on the music composing it, as I do on every album” (Ryk Weston, 2008).
After two years of writing, recording and rehearsals, “Ordo ad Chao”
A few months after its release, “Ordo
was released on 23 April 2007. It was again another revolutionary album that displayed a totally different musical registry from its predecessors. The production was raw and muddy, with a great emphasis on a bottomend bass heavy sound, and the drums weren’t equalized. The structure and arrangement of the songs were highly unorthodox and simultaneously complex. It was seen as one of Mayhem’s best albums so far and peaked at number 12 in the Norwegian music chart, the band’s highest charting position ever. The sound of “Ordo ad Chao” was reason for fan discussion during the following years. It took two years for Blasphemer to create the “most sick, intense and bad (as in good) riffs possible” (Frostkamp, 2008) and his intentions about what he aimed to achieve as the main driving force behind the album’s music and sound were clear in a statement the guitarist
ad Chao” won a Spellemannprisen award from one of Norway’s most famous music award ceremonies, for the Best Metal Album of 2007. Necrobutcher accepted the award, but recently revealed what he truly felt about that accolade to AGAINST MAGAZINE: “I was thinking that this recognition should have been given to us when ‘De Mysteriis’ came out in ‘94, or when ‘Grand Declaration of War’ came out, which was a fucking masterpiece, and then give this to us now…it’s a little bit like calling me afterwards and saying ‘Ok…sorry, we didn’t recognize you before, but…’. That’s how I felt you know? This didn’t help us shit now…It could maybe have meant something 15 years ago, but now? Who the fuck cares? I don’t care…Now it’s too late” (Against Magazine, 2014). The cycling tour that followed for the promotion of “Ordo ad Chao” presented some more “over the top”
shows to fans all over the world, as Mayhem seemed to constantly break boundaries and reinvent their stage posture through the exquisite behavior of vocalist Csihar who used to impersonate a different character for almost each concert the band gave. Blasphemer described some of the aliases Csihar assumed during that tour: “In Israel, Attila came on stage dressed as a German officer, holding a Globe and candles looking like a deranged dominator/dictator, in St. Petersburg he dressed up as Rasputin, in Athens he was portrayed as a mad Philosopher, wearing a huge upside down cross featuring Christ as a reptile. The worst of all, though, was in Bordeaux France when, after a really fucked up day, Attila decided to get on stage dressed up as Bugs Bunny…” (John Stefanis, 2008). The tour for “Ordo ad Chao” wasn’t even finished when, once again, another bombshell was dropped in the Mayhem world, and one that no one but the band members could have seen coming…
n April 2008, a year after “Ordo ad Chao” was released, Rune Eriksen, who had been Mayhem’s guitarist and the musical architect of their resurgence for 13 years, announced that he would be leaving the band. Despite being satisfied with all of what he achieved in the band, the guitarist reached the conclusion that he had to move forward. After taking the decision, he wrote the following statement: “The main reason behind this conclusion lies in the fact that I simply don’t see any future for me in the band anymore, at least not a future I’d like to participate in over the coming years. I’ve been playing my part in the band now for more than 13 years already, having composed, produced and released several albums with great vision, dedication and craftsmanship, to arrive at this crossroad of opposites. Sooner or later, all things come to an end, and in my case, this circle is complete. For some of you this might not come as the biggest surprise, as I’ve clearly stated in several interviews that I was not sure what the next step would be.
These “hints” were partly rooted in the fact that our latest album fulfilled all of the expectations, visions and aspects of negativity that I felt I wanted to express with this band, and also, of similar importance, that I felt tired of both the touring aspects, amidst its turbulence and personal differences, and also my role in the band” (Brave Words, 2008). When reflecting upon the guitarist’s exit, Necrobutcher confided his view on why Blasphemer left Mayhem to AGAINST MAGAZINE: “We were doing a lot of drugs and alcohol, so of course, the years on the road started taking their toll, and then we started to get into this kind of negative spiral because we are negative, aggressive people, we play this negative, aggressive music…So we are in the middle of the whole fucking thing and we went into this very dark place. When the ‘Ordo ad Chao’ album was released Blasphemer had come to an end of that way of writing music. You know… where to go from there? It seemed like there was no possible way. There was nowhere to go. That was it, in that way of writing music and he actually told me that he quit Mayhem, quit the whole fucking thing, and he didn’t want to write any aggressive music. He didn’t even want to write metal music anymore. That’s how heavy he landed on that. Obviously, now that he plays in Aura Noir and all his other bands, he’s back, you know? But it was like…where to go from there? He didn’t see that, I didn’t see that, so maybe it was probably the right decision for him, because
otherwise then you would start to copy yourself, and that’s just a sad thing, and you don’t see artists just doing that, that would be stupid” (Against Magazine, 2014). Eriksen still continued to perform with Mayhem for a series of shows after having made his intention to leave the band known to the world. He would go on continuing to record and perform with other bands in the future such as Portugal’s Ava Inferi, the death metal oriented Nader Sadek project with exMorbid Angel frontman Steve Tucker and the multicultural heavy metal ensemble Twilight of the Gods with former Cradle of Filth drummer Nick Barker. Mayhem would continue to make music and perform live with a new line up. Despite having been through several tragedies and complications with former band members that would have made lesser bands give up, each barrier is always transposed as the band continues to march forward, still making music and constantly redefining the Black Metal boundaries that they themselves helped define. If someone claims that the band only gains attention from their past, Necrobutcher has shared the truest of statements to AGAINST MAGAZINE which will promptly refute such allegations: “Nobody can fucking come and say that we live from some stuff that happened to us 20 years ago. We live for the albums we recorded and released 20 years after that.” Their next release after “Ordo ad Chao” will prove just that...
visit our website to check our references: http://againstmagazine.com/mayhem-references/
The “New” Mayhem Even before Mayhem could think about recording new music, the first step the band took in the path of delivering “Esoteric Warfare” to the world came in the search of a replacement for a former and highly influential band member that took some time, as Jørn Stubberud, aka “Necrobutcher”, revealed: “It’s been some years since our last album, “Ordo ad Chao”, that was released in 2007, and due to the fact that our songwriter then for 13 years, Blasphemer left the band, we had, not only to find a new guitarist, but somebody that could write some music for Mayhem, and so the process took some years…” The search for a new guitarist wasn’t an immediate process, as Mayhem changed from a four to a five-piece
ensemble when testing out future replacements for Rune Eriksen. The band first recruited guitarists Silmaeth and Morfeus in 2008 to fulfill a string of live performances and to simultaneously check if these guitarists could write music for Mayhem’s next record. However, they also had their sights on other possible contributors who could fill in for the vacant guitarist spot. Necrobutcher recalled the process: “Both of these guitarists were involved at some time, Silmaeth, a French guitarist and Morfeus, Norwegian guitarist, and we also have listened and tried out others. Two American guitarists, a couple of other Norwegian, Alex Colin-Toucquaine from the French band Aggressor, and we also looked at external, previous Mayhem members for material for the new album.”
As it turns out, one of these previous members was Snorre “Blackthorn” Ruch of Thorns, who had been in Mayhem in the “De Mysteriis” days and even helped to write some of the material that ended up on the band’s legendary debut. Necrobutcher confirmed this, when asked if the band had talked to Ruch to enter Mayhem’s ranks, and even opened the possibility for further collaborations: “We were looking for associated [people] from Mayhem to write music. Yes, it is true. I was talking to him about it. I went to his house and we had a discussion about it. Who knows in the future, maybe he’ll write something for us in the future (…) Mayhem, we don’t have any restrictions on ourselves, we can do anything we want. That’s why we talked to Snorre. Snorre is a good friend of ours, always has been, so he was a natural guy to talk to in the time
we didn’t have any songwriter…Maybe for the future…nothing is certain or sure about the future.” To find a replacement for Blasphemer however, wasn’t as easy as just showing up and demonstrating that one could play all of the band’s songs and write some new material. Mayhem eventually settled upon a new guitarist duo comprised of ex-Cradle of Filth brit Charles Hedger and Morten Iversen, a Norwegian musician with an impressive resumé and most commonly known by his stage name “Teloch”, from his previous stints in several acts such as Nidingr, NunFuckRitual, The Konsortium and Umoral. Necrobutcher mentioned how they came to settle upon this new line-up back in 2011: “It turns out that it takes some time to find out if you’re the right man for the job. We can’t find out before you go on tour with these people and before they present their music and stuff to us. Silmaeth and Morfeus, we did tours with them, and then they presented their material. We tried to encourage them to write something but it wasn’t really what we were looking for, so we changed them with Teloch and Charles
Hedger.” When mentioning Charles Hedger as a live guitarist for Mayhem, Necrobutcher promptly assumed that his position in the band wasn’t merely on those terms: “Charles, he is a Mayhem member, he is not a live guitarist in that way.” Teloch, an integral part of Mayhem as of the current day, has explained to Against Magazine how he eventually came to be one of the band’s new guitarists: “ We started talking about it briefly in 2008/9. At the time I had to turn them down cause I was hired to do a Gorgoroth tour plus some festivals with them, so there was no time to get into the Mayhem material. The second time they asked me I was free, luckily. I had known Hellhammer for some time, he helped me with the drums on the Nidingr album “Wolf-father” and we hung out very often to get fucked up. It was Hellhammer that pushed to get me into the band, guess he saw the potential of whatever the fuck it was.” As Mayhem’s new songwriter, when asked if he felt that Blasphemer could have been a tough act to follow, Teloch said “Not really, I wasn’t stressed
cause I figured out early that there was no point of trying to top that guy, if you know what I mean. He is the best at what he does, period. He does his thing and I do my thing.” However, the guitarist added that he was only preoccupied with having to learn all the tricks from Blasphemer’s past repertoire in Mayhem: “My only concern was playing his damn songs right. I’m not a big fan of practicing with my guitar, but since I had to learn his shit, I had to spend “some” hours getting it right. I think I´m pretty close now.” Landing a job in a band so highly revered and influential as Mayhem isn’t something that can happen every day, and it’s a job that certainly isn’t suited for a lot of musicians, for all of its highly demanding requests. Reflecting on how he feels about being part of the legacy of Mayhem, Teloch said “Of course it’s strange for me, since Mayhem with “Mysteriis” was the band that got me into black metal in the first place.” Though Mayhem was highly influential for the guitarist, as a casual musician, he never suspected that one day he would land the guitarist’s job: “I have never had any plans of playing in well-known bands,
to me music has always been a hobby, and it still is kinda. I have just always gone with the flow, and it has always taken me places I didn’t foresee. It all started when I did guitar teching in Gorgoroth as a favor to Tormentor, I really didn’t want to do it, but I thought, fuck it, let’s see what happens. Soon after that, I played guitars in Gorgoroth, and 1349 followed a couple of years later, then back to Gorgoroth, God Seed and then finally Mayhem, plus of course the odd side projects I fell into on the way, and still do.”
“Esoteric” Songwriting Naturally, the songwriting process for “Esoteric Warfare” assumed a different dynamic within the band, as Blasphemer had previously written most of Mayhem’s music. “The thing that
happened this time is that we were open for anybody to write music.” as Necrobutcher explained. However, after months of going back and forth with several ideas being developed by the majority of its members, Mayhem eventually settled upon Teloch as the main songwriter for “Esoteric Warfare”, on what seemed to be a natural process for the band’s bassist: “Charles wrote a couple of songs, even I wrote a song for this album, when Teloch managed to present ten good songs, and it was more natural to just go with that, because maybe it would be too much different directions in one album.” When developing on this subject, Necrobutcher also opened the possibility that one of other current members of Mayhem could be writing the music in the future: “maybe there’s a time for that in the new album, who knows… maybe Charles [Hedger] will write the new album,
who knows? Teloch has been in this band for four years now. [It was] two, three years before he could come up with anything good. We actually were in the studio the last year to record the album, we recorded six, seven songs and we threw everything in the garbage because it wasn’t good enough. Then he got really inspired to write new material this time [and] it was good, good enough. It was more like what Mayhem should sound like. That’s how Teloch came to write this album now. It’s not like everybody was given roles, this is what happened this time.” The first take of what would become “Esoteric Warfare” was to be inspired in one of Mayhem’s past works, as a kind of continuity and revamping of its original sound, but soon afterwards, Teloch would enter a different creative path as the guitarist explained: “First I wanted to go back to the
old days and make a updated album in the vein of “Mysteriis”. And we tried it out actually also, to a certain degree. We went down to Budapest for a month, rehearsing and recorded some songs. But when I listened to it, it just felt fucking wrong, hence I scrapped seven, eight songs and started over.” The Norwegian guitarist also revealed he went through an inner turmoil, as he felt he wanted to pay tribute to the work of Mayhem’s previous two guitarists, also in order to maintain the band’s signature sound intact. However, soon afterwards, Teloch felt the need to start imprinting his own identity into what would be the final set of songs on “Esoteric Warfare”: “Of course, I had to kind of try to honor both Blasphemer’s and Euronymous’ work, so I had them in mind throughout the process, at least for the first half of the album. Also the other three guys in the band had completely different visions/ideas of how this album should be. At first I listened to them, but at the end I just said “fuck it”, I do it like I want instead. The first half of the album is songs made by these “ideas” I had in my head from Blasphemer, Euronymous, Hellhammer, Attila and Necro. So it got slightly paranoid, on the second half of the album you can hear something is happening and the album takes a
new turn, that’s when I was thinking, “ fuck them”. It payed off I think. It also helped the album a great deal, because when you listen to it, you start with a certain kind of feeling, but as the album plays, the atmosphere changes, and the feeling that you end up with is a different feeling than the one you started with.” “Esoteric Warfare” also marks Attila Csihar’s third full length effort as the lead singer with Mayhem. His immediately identifiable operatic singing style carried on from “Ordo ad Chao” into the album’s ten new songs. If the music was almost entirely created by Teloch, all of the album’s lyrical direction and themes were the work of Csihar as Necrobutcher explained: “It was Attila Csihar who wrote the lyrics for this album. It deals with his interests mainly, what is on his mind, what his interests are and deals with those things in depth.” He then added that “Esoteric Warfare” ranges on a variety of subjects through Attila’s delivery: “Experimental warfare, parallel worlds, the great mysteries in lives, challenging physics, mind control research… things like this. This is what the lyrics deal with. His [Attila] inspirations refer to a lot of films and books and articles that have been published.” Teloch also developed
on his songwriting collaboration with Attila: “For the music writing, there wasn’t much working together, but we worked close together to get the vocals right. I already had a vision on how the vocals should be on the songs, and on most of the songs I also made a vocal sketch for him to try out. We worked on that a bit. The lyrics is all him, I had nothing to contribute on that.”
Recording and Artwork According to past interviews given by Blasphemer and Attila Csihar, Mayhem’s previous record “Ordo ad Chao” was not an easy record to produce, with the overall atmosphere in the studio having reached intense points during its recording. Recounting how the recording experience for “Esoteric Warfare” went in comparison to “Ordo ad Chao”, Necrobutcher revealed that “It was exactly the same. It was the same studio. The only thing that changed was that we learned something from the process, what not to do and what to do. So we altered some of the things… I don’t really want to go to the details, not to offend anyone, I would rather say that we’ve learned something from the
last thing, that we changed out (…) This has to do with the production, the sound of the record. “Ordo ad Chao” had a very special production that could only fit that album. That sound would not be right for this album. Other than that it was more or less the same thing.” The bassist also referred that the album was done in more than one location. ”Some of it was recorded in a home studio, Teloch’s own home studio, some was recorded in Attila’s home studio, (…) and the rest was recorded in Knut Magne Valle’s studios, that’s the guitarist of Arcturus, he has a studio we used the last time on “Ordo ad Chao”. The cover for “Esoteric Warfare” presents a truly stunning drawing which was designed by Polish artist Zbigniew M. Bielak, and it possesses a very unique graphic character, which will make it instantly recognizable in the years to follow. When discussing the artwork, Necrobutcher remembered how Mayhem came to work with Bielak for the new cover: “We were looking for different people to create the cover of the album, and we actually started to collaborate with one of our old partners for this cover and then, the stuff we were presented, we felt it wasn’t right for this album, so we don’t know who came up with him, who contacted [the artist] who did the cover, I’m not sure if we contacted him [Bielak], or if he contacted us. I think he contacted us and had some ideas, and we said “Fuck Yeah”, he’s a great artist, so we gave him the job. I think he made the last Ghost album.” Necrobutcher’s assumption was correct. Before Mayhem and besides Ghost, Bielak also created other meticulous covers for reputed artists such as Watain, Vader and Absu.
Musical Essence “Esoteric Warfare” captures the es-
sence of a band that keeps on redefining Black Metal music, but one which also doesn’t forget its roots. When questioned about how he would describe the overall sound of the new record to the legions of fans who’ve been waiting for something new from the Norwegians in the last seven years, Stubberud shared that “it’s in good old Mayhem spirit, [in our] way of speaking, our way of thinking and our way expressing ourselves musically.” He then added that “this record is the same as every other Mayhem album, we waited until we feel that we have good material to present and sometimes it takes some years. And since it’s a new songwriter also, it has taken us to a bit of different place, but it’s an aggressive, negative [effort], and dealing with the same type of elements that made up Mayhem. (…) It’s a new brick in the Mayhem wall.” Necrobutcher also expressed his wish to start the promotion of this record: “We’re also looking forward to present some of this music live to our fans. Looking forward to do that.”
30 Years and the Future Last but not least, since Mayhem has taken a few years between releases, it became inevitable to make the question of whether the band’s album/ tour cycle would be shorter from now on, and if Mayhem’s fans would be seeing some more material in the next few years. Necrobutcher was pretty clear on that: “No. [laughs] I’m very careful, you know? I’ve always been very optimistic, but now I’ve learned my lesson and now when the new material comes, it will take its natural time. Sooner than before? Maybe… who knows? But we are not so very concerned about that right now. The thing is that it’s a milestone to release an album after seven years.”
He concluded by reflecting upon the band’s future and its touring plans for their 30th anniversary this year and 2015: “The other thing is that we have a 30th anniversary this year, so it’s a great thing to include some new songs from the new album on the 30th anniversary world tour that we are half way in now. Which means that we did Asia, Australia, South America now, and we divided Europe into three [legs], and we’ll do the first now in May, then we go to the US and then we come back in the fall to do three more weeks in Europe. We’re going to do Norway before Christmas and then in January we’ll do the last leg of Europe for another three weeks. So altogether we’re going to be on the road nine weeks in Europe.” With thirty years having gone by, Mayhem’s legacy still lives on, but they aren’t simply another nostalgia act. With a strong new record, the band continues to spread havoc and delivering incredibly visual and memorable live performances to all audiences around the world. They are still redefining black metal, even a long time after having been in its own inception, and there is no doubt, judging by all of their path up so far, that they will continue to do so. Let the Mayhem continue! Mayhem’s “Esoteric Warfare” will come out on June 6 in Europe and on June 10 in North America via Season of Mist.
/10 Mayhem’s first serious studio recording “Deathcrush” consisted mainly of a
Deathcrush (EP, 1987)
reworking of several demo songs the band had written from their beginnings in ’84 up to ’87. The band’s initial style was more of a mix between death and black metal, and they’ve shown to be noticeably influenced by bands like Venom, Celtic Frost and Bathory throughout their frantic and brutally raw delivery of classics like “Deathcrush”, “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” and “Pure Fucking Armaggedon”. Euronymous’ buzz saw riffs, Necrobutcher’s distorted bass, Manheim’s uncontrolled pounding surges and Maniac’s howling screams, altogether in unison made the band sound like an untamed beast and ready to burst into total chaos at any moment on the EP. It was heavier than most of what was being done at the time, and it can be heard as an early attempt at pushing the limits of what extreme music was back in the day. It was Mayhem’s presentation to the world, and even if most of the playing might be considered sloppy and still far from the black metal style the band would adopt, it’s precisely that sloppiness allied with an extreme sense of musical brutality that gives “Deathcrush” its own unique character.
/10 The record that made Mayhem known to the world, and one of black metal’s
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (LP, 1994)
most influential masterpieces. “De Mysteriis” is the culmination of all the work developed by Mayhem since its beginning up to ’94, including creative inputs from members such as Dead, Necrobutcher and Snorre Ruch, and with its music being performed by the legendary line up of Euronymous on guitar, Varg Vikernes on bass, Hellhammer on drums and Attila Csihar on vocals. From the relentless “Funeral Fog” opener, through the chilling “Freezing Moon”, going through the imposing rhythms of “From the Dark Past” and finishing with the malevolent majesty of “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, the whole record paints a dark cloud over the horizon, representing the sound of death. Even today it’s undeniable that “De Mysteriis” possesses an eerie and frightening atmosphere which almost makes the listener feel as just as uncomfortable as he might feel delighted with its evil drenched melodies and riffs. Though Black Metal has evolved since its release, “De Mysteriis” is without any doubt a legendary and influential record and its music will last forever.
/10 “Wolf’s Lair Abyss” is more than just a simple black metal EP. It’s a statement
Wolf’s Lair Abyss (EP, 1997)
from a band which had unleashed all of its inner anger and turmoil due to its past tragedies in these five songs. It followed the musical ethos of “De Mysteriis” but somehow it feels and sounds more incisive, ravishing and brutal than the band’s first album. The inclusion of 19 year old guitarist Rune Eriksen in the band also gave another technical and quasi-progressive edge to Mayhem, which started to manifest itself in this EP, but would only fully develop on their next offering. Songs like “The Vortex Void of Inhumanity”, “Fall of Seraphs” and the punishing “Ancient Skin” are all of them exercises in the kind of sophisticated brutality that only Mayhem could deliver, and represented a clear warning for what the new line-up of Maniac, Blasphemer, Necrobutcher and Hellhammer could be bringing in the future.
/10 Although many consider it to be the most controversial effort in Mayhem’s
Grand Declaration of War (LP, 2000)
career, “Grand Declaration of War” is the record that swept the rug from under everyone’s feet in the black metal world. When most of the band’s fans were hoping for another “De Mysteriis” or even another “Wolf’s Lair Abyss”, Mayhem surprised everyone by delivering a clean sounding album with high production values, which can almost be interpreted as the first true mix between the progressive and black metal worlds. The technical prowess of Blasphemer’s guitar work and the breathtaking precision of Hellhammer’s drum work are genuinely amazing, as songs like “In the Lies Where Upon You Lay”, “A Time to Die”, “Crystalized Pain in Deconstruction” and “To Daimonion” clearly demonstrate. Although most of the songs represent some of Mayhem’s best work, “Declaration” is sometimes overrun by inconsistency, with tracks of spoken word passages, electronic beats or pure silence, which one might understand were efforts in trying something new and groundbreaking by the time. Other than that, the years have shown that where it is truly good, “Grand Declaration of War” still stands the test of time ‘til today.
/10 Whereas “Grand Declaration of War” showed all of Blasphemer’s technical
Chimera (LP, 2004)
prowess, “Chimera”, an album which was practically his creation from start to finish, continued on the same path of its predecessor, but with a more cohesive songwriting approach. It can be considered Mayhem’s most technically challenging album of their career. There are no flaws whatsoever in the guitar work of Blasphemer, as he laid down a great deal of memorable and technically astonishing riffs one after the other over songs like “Whore”, “Dark Night of the Soul”, “My Death” or “Chimera”. All of the band is playing with the precision of a Swiss watch and, although it would be his last album with the band, Maniac left his signature imprinted through a frantic, agonized and possessed singing style. The songs have a greater emphasis on structure and melody, marking an even greater departure from the band’s original raw style. “Chimera” would be a career mark for Mayhem, in the sense that it would be the last time the band would sport such a clean sounding and highly technical approach to their songwriting.
/10 As it started to become habit, Mayhem once again surprised the metal world
Ordo ad Chao (LP, 2007)
upon the release of “Ordo ad Chao”. If “Chimera” had been the pinnacle of what Mayhem would record in terms of a clean sounding production, “Ordo” represented the total opposite with the most distorted, muddy and raw sound ever recorded by the band. The songs’ overall structure is totally unorthodox, being built upon several variations and time changes, with some of the most, and there are no better words for this...sick, dirty and demented riffs which possess, along with returning singer Attila Csihar’s vocals, a kind of inhuman and alien character to them. “Ordo ad Chao” is a work of highly complex songwriting but without extreme concern with perfect execution and sound quality, and due to this it manifests itself as a musical paradox that truly showed the genius of Blasphemer as a musician and what he could achieve. “Wall of Water”, “Great Work of Ages”, “Illuminate Eliminate” and “Anti” are some of the great songs that can be found on this beautifully twisted and dark masterpiece. A truly original album like this might never appear in the future, ever again.
The review to Mayhem’s fifth LP “Esoteric Warfare” can be seen on page 88 on the “Reviews” section.
hat’s the relation between the serpent and the sphere? Macroverse vs microverse. Can we call “The Serpent & The Sphere” a conceptual album? I’m asking it because of tracks like “(Serpens Caput)” and “(Serpens Cauda)” which open and close the album, excluding “Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation” which is really the opening song. There is a red thread and a continual theme but it is no more a “concept album” than our previous efforts. Each album has a consistent tone, theme, and visual hue that ties everything together. Agalloch’s lyrics deal with nature and death, but it seems the new album goes further. Is this album the one which deals the more with the cosmos and metaphysics? The cosmos and metaphysics are the fundamental elements of nature. So you can say our lyrics still deal with nature and death but this time from a completely different angle. And I got the feeling this album is also the softer from your discography? Do you feel the same? Fuck no. This album is actually one of the heaviest and most atmospherically dense albums we have made. Agalloch’s lyrics were always important, but this time I felt the music itself has more importance and impact in the flowing of the record. Am I doing a correct analysis? No. Lyrics are always as important as everything else. This album is no different. Usually, Agalloch release EPs after full-lengths… Is there any EP in the making or at least in mind? No.
Agalloch have some neo-folk moments in the whole discography and I know you’re a fan of bands such as Allerseelen – you’ve even played together, right? How those kinds of bands influence you or help you in order to write for Agalloch? Maybe 12-13 years ago but it is not an influence on anything current. I tend to stay away from other musical influences these days and hardly ever listen to anything that could be considered “similar” to what we do. I do have a lot of respect for Allerseelen and we have toured with them but again their style is a universe apart from ours. The band is almost 20 years old, with awesome releases and a quite steady lineup. Do you feel Agalloch are a respected and iconic band in present days? Sometimes perhaps I feel we might be respected and maybe even influential but other times it feels like we are more hated than anything. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. If we like what we are doing then that is the most important thing. We aren’t interested in participating in any popularity contest. Those people who understand our eccentric methods and stylistic shifts will follow what we do. Those who wish we were something we aren’t will move on. This is, of course, as it should be...
hank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Congratulations on the rerelease of “Mystification”. After over 30 years of career and more than 15 albums, what’s it like to look back and see all of your work? t brings lots of things to mind when I think about the catalog that I have put out and the history of the band. It’s been a long and very hard road at times. For the most part I look back at it all in awe. It sometimes amazes me that with all the events that happened over the last 35 years I still managed to keep Manilla Road active. When I think of where Manilla Road came from (mid west of nowhere) and the fact that we were just a bunch of Kansas cowboys with no real connection to the metal world I am more than pleased with our accomplishments. It is all definitive proof to me that if you strive hard enough for your dreams that they can come true. I have not become filthy rich from it all but when looking back I do feel pretty successful about my music career. Are there differences between working on an album in the beginning of your career and now? Do you feel more secure in your abilities and songwriting skills, or is there any kind of struggle to create more memorable tracks after having written so many? There are really huge differences in how I approach the writing of the music now compared to the early days of the band. At first I wrote music to poems that I created. I always write the music first now. I found that writing lyrics to melodies was a better way to make the theme of the song sound
like the music itself. We used to just jam out and songs would manifest out of those jams sometimes. Nowadays I pretty much write all the songs in the studio myself before any of the other band members even get to hear them. My 2nd Engineer (Derek Dr. Doom Brubaker) actually gets to hear the songs as I write them before any of the other guys do. We still rearrange the songs’ contents a bit sometimes after they hear them and get ideas that are cool. But since our drummer (Neudi) lives in Germany and the rest of us still live in the US we don’t get to just hang out together all the time working on the music. With Neudi the first time he ever plays any of the new songs for an album is when he comes to Midgard Sound Labs here in Kansas to record the drum parts for the album. Another thing that is greatly different from the old days is that we recorded in other peoples’ studios. We paid shit loads of money over the years recording in studios in California, Memphis and Kansas. Now I own my own studio (Midgard Sound Labs) and I can take my time at working on the projects and wait for the inspiration to hit me instead of being on the clock and always worrying about how much money we are spending. One of the really big deals to me over the years has been to keep Manilla Road in control of the music and owning my own studio has really helped me keep that control in our hands. Manilla Road have stayed true to a classic heavy metal sound over the years, with some experiments here and there. How do you perceive the state of heavy metal in today’s younger bands? It seems that I am seeing a trend back
to the older classic sounds of heavy metal in the newer bands these days. I’m pretty sure that everyone had their fill of grind core metal with no guitar solos and nothing but intense screaming going on. Not saying I don’t like that sometimes but it seemed to be the only thing out in the market for a bit. It appears that all styles of metal are acceptable now and I see young bands popping up all over the place reviving the more classic approach to metal. I think the overall metal market is growing again and will always be a force to be reckoned with. Have you ever thought about some recent bands that you would like to play with? If so, why and what attracts you to them? I have actually been able to play with lots of bands that I wanted to share the stage with more than I ever thought I would. I would not mind getting a chance to play with Axecuter since I was a guest on their remake of Heavy Metal To The World. They are a great band and I’m sure we would have a great time playing with them. I have recently been introduced to a young band called Cauldron that is really good also and I think they would be fun to share the stage with. There are always other bands I would love to play with, both old and new. I don’t think about it a lot though because every year I get to play with bands that I have never met before or have not even heard of. So I get introduced to what is new out there just by being on tour and that’s a bonus for me. “Mystification” can be considered classic heavy metal. During its remastering did you ever think to make it more modern? Was there a
deliberate attempt to keep it “classic” or is that not an issue for you guys as a band? The original production was done at Al Green’s studio in Memphis, Tennessee. This was in 1987 so just the fact that it was recorded in the mid ‘80s makes it a classic production sound. Paul Zaleski was the main engineer who had worked with the likes of ZZ Top and so some of the production style of that album came from him as well. I don’t think we have ever deliberately done an album thinking that we were trying to make it sound like classic or retro production. We just always go for what we think sounds best for the material that we are working on. It’s more of a feel thing for us I think. I think the main train of thought for the Mystification album was heavy and eerie sounding. I remember telling Zaleski, when we first started talking about the approach to the album, that I wanted a wall of sound but it had to be dark and menacing to go along with the thematic content of the album which half of the project was based on Edgar Allen Poe stories or poems. “Mystification” maintains that classic Manilla Road raw heavy metal sound. Is that due to the equipment used during remastering? Did you go for a analog setup, or did Manilla Road turn towards a more digital setting? Digital recording studios in 1987 were not really even out there yet. There maybe were a few but I’m sure they were still at a very experimental stage at that time. So there really was not a choice between working in a digital studio or a analog one. I almost always use Marshall amps to record with and I’m sure that is where a lot of the guitar classic sound comes from. My Marshall head has been modified for me several times so that the sound of that amp is quite unique compared to any other. Even now I still like to use many vintage mics in my studio to get the kind of sounds that I prefer. But it is not really an attempt to remain classic as much as it is that I just like the sound of those specific microphones. Mystification was recorded on a 16 track 2 inch tape deck. The first real digital stuff that we ever attempted was using digital drums on the “Courts of Chaos” album but the whole of the project was still recorded on a 24 track analog
tape deck. It was not until 2000 and the recording of Atlantis Rising that we recorded completely in a digital format. If you had to choose a moment from the recording sessions that really made you think this was going to be a great album, what would it be? Oh I think I have had that moment happen during the recording of every album for at least a song or two. But the thought was “this will be a great song”. It was not until “The Deluge” that I had the feeling in the studio that it was going to be a great album. “The Deluge” was the first album that we did that I felt we were delivering the total package. I love all the songs from that project still and it just always felt like we were in the middle of recording something really great the whole time we were in the studio. Now if you are talking about “Mystification” on its own then I think it was when I was already done with my guitar tracks and all the other guys had finished their tracks as well. I was just starting to sing the vocal tracks and my voice seemed to be in perfect shape for the task. I remember we just started with what was going to be the first track on the album (“Masque of the Red Death”). My thought after singing the first few lines for a line check and leveling was that I was about to embark on singing a really great album. I don’t think we had any more than 3 takes on any song on the entire album for my vocal parts. The whole time I was singing the songs, I was hearing the whole of the project for the first time (because the vocals were the last thing we were putting down on the recording). It was then that I was sure that we had conceived a great album. That same feeling has come to me again and again with other projects that we have done in the past. “Gates of Fire” was another album that I felt we were recording a great album through the entire project. “Mysterium” felt that way to me also and right now I am positive that the project that I have just finished mixing for the band is the very best that we have ever done. So I am in the midst of the feeling you speak of at this very moment. Manilla Road has been through a lot of labels in the past. What have you learned in all these years
from the business? How has it been working with Shadow Kingdom Records? What I have learned from all the past is to watch your back ha ha ha. Shadow Kingdom has been great to work with and so has Golden Core/Zyx Music. Let’s face it, labels will come and go all the time. It’s just that some labels don’t ever figure out how to make it all work and be profitable for them. It’s not an easy job, especially nowadays with all the free download BS going on. It is incredibly hard to make money in the recording industry right now. But it is not impossible. The biggest lesson that I really learned over the years is to not give up. If you believe in your art then just keep pushing and doing what you do. If it is really good then eventually someone will stand up and take notice and start telling the rest of the world about you. The other thing I have learned is to not forget where you came from or how you got to where you are. If it weren’t for our diehard fans we would not be where we are today. We owe our fans and friends everything when it comes to our success. If you get to the point where you forget that and become a diva then you are no longer a true artist. I have met many musicians that think they are bigger than life itself and have forgotten that it is the people that come to the shows and buy the music that matter most and that it is those fans that are keeping metal alive and not us. Yea, we help a bit by making the music but it’s the metal head that really keeps metal alive. As recent members, have Joshua Castillo and Neudi made a contribution in the re-release of “Mystification”? And how will they be involved in the future of Manilla Road? Well since neither one of them was on that album I would have to say no, they did not really contribute anything to “Mystification” as an album, but they do a damn good job of playing the shit live with me and Hellroadie. And of course they both were important parts of doing the “Mysterium” album and the one we just finished. Not mentioning a title yet but soon. As long as both of them stay in the band then they will be involved in the creation of any other projects that we do in the future. And there will be many more projects in the future. If
there is one thing that the past has taught the metal world it would be that Manilla Road does not just fade away or give up. Manilla Road will be alive and kicking as long as I am alive and there are fans out there that want to hear and see the band. “Crystal Logic”, “The Deluge” and even “Spiral Castle” are what I personally consider some of your greatest works. Where is “Mystification” among these works? And how are its songs placed live? That’s a good question because to me “Mystification” was a great album song wise and but not necessarily performance or production wise. We recorded and mixed the whole album in about a week. This was due to traveling to Memphis and only having so much money for a recording budget. I felt that our performances could have been better on that album. And the production was not nearly as good as what I had thought we would get by going to a big studio in a music hub city like Memphis and working with renowned engineers. It just did not add up to the total package for me even though I thought the songs were great and I was really pleased with the vocals. It did not sell very well for
us when it first came out but since it was remixed and re-released on Sentinel Steel Records some years back it soared with the sales. As a matter of fact the owner of Sentinel Steel Records informed me that it was the best selling album that he ever had on his label and it was a re-issue and not a brand new release. As for tracks from that album being in our live sets, they always have been. “Mystification” has become one of the fan favorite albums over the last several years and we usually do several songs from that project in our live shows. Songs like “Masque of the Red Death”, “Haunted Palace”, “Up From The Crypt”, “Death by the Hammer” and “Mystification” always pop up in our shows and will continue too. What does the future hold for Manilla Road? “Mystification” has been out for quite some time; how have the fans and media reacted to it? Like I said at first the album was not that well received but now days it appears to be a classic in the minds and hearts of our fans. And it seems that the media is much more positive about it now than it used to be when it first came out. As for what the fu-
ture holds for Manilla Road, we just finished mixing the next MR album which will be out this year. We will be touring the world again and going to many places we have never been before and you can keep up on that at our website www.manillaroad.net. So it is still onward and upward for Manilla Road. Before I go though I would like to add a special thanks to you for doing this interview and a really big thanks to all our fans for their undying support and faith in the band. It has been my honor to keep playing music with Manilla Road and it is all possible because of you. Thank you and blessed be to all.
he first topic of our conversation is, of course, the deluxe reissue of your debut album “Sovereign Nocturnal” by the german label Eisenwald. Why have you decided put out to the record again? “Sovereign Nocturnal” has seen several incarnations over the past few years. Since we have chosen not to work with larger labels in the past none of these incarnations were terribly elaborate or released in large quantities. As is the nature of smaller numbers the previous editions were quickly distributed to their ends.
Although the numbers have been exhausted, I believe fully in the music from “Sovereign Nocturnal” and would like to further spread the flame of this vision. For this reason, when Eisenwald approached us about re-releasing Sovereign Nocturnal, we were very much onboard with the notion. This partnership allowed for us to create the ‘final’ edition of the album complete with design and vision I had imagined with the first inception of the album. I feel that in this rendition “Sovereign Nocturnal” can continue to be spread in the most proper fashion.
In what aspects was the album reworked? The only aspect of the album that has been ‘reworked’ is the artwork and presentation. Due to the smaller budgets associated with smaller and self releases we were never truly able to give “Sovereign Nocturnal” proper treatment. With this current edition I took the time with my close friend, Adam Watts, to conjure imagery relevant to the songs and album. Under meticulous curation from Eisenwald, we were able to manifest these visions in true form with no compromise due to financial limita-
tions allowing the album to stand as intended. In 2008, when the record came out, you had other formation. Why did changed your line-up? The dynamics of a group such as ours are very fickle and require proper synergy for the unit to function. We are not a studio project nor are we a musical entity functioning as a business venture. The inner workings of Velnias require a very specific chemistry for every aspect from the song-writing to live performance; those involved must truly live for this vision. For this reason, sometimes difficult choices must be made regarding members to maintain a healthy and potent energy within the group. Every change in our core has been a choice made to keep the entity strong and moving forward. As it stands, I feel that Velnias is the most stable it has ever been. Six years after this recording, what has changed for Velnias as a band? The most obvious change would be the aforementioned change in members which has lead to a better overall focus. Involvement with this project has proven to be quite a journey. Every action we take yields some new idea, vision or outlook that shapes the way we approach our craft. The further we delve into this journey, the more we learn about ourselves as a creative entity. I feel this brings the more subtle changes within our operating unit and the way we go about creating our art. As we wander further down this creative path we become less and less concerned with how we are perceived or where the journey takes us. Your second effort, “RuneEater”, sounds like an evolution of the first. Do you consider “Sovereign Nocturnal” some sort of matrix
of the sound the band wants to develop? I do not feel that there is any conscious development. There is nothing we are trying to do with this group save express the creative ether we have tapped into. The music we write is simply what comes naturally, I feel no reason to bend or force it into some preconceived notion of where I feel we should be going. If the music we write captures the places and sentiments of my own life’s journey then it is exactly as it should be. That being said, everything one does is an evolution. One can only move forward. This music is simply the progression of my own existence. For those who still don’t know the band, how would you present it? Oppressive Rocky-Mountain Dirge. Channeling of the greater forces in this world and the reflection of our own flame against these elements. Though we are rooted heavily in funeral doom and black metal, I do not believe there is a genre to fit our vision. We go where our inspiration takes us. Currently, you are finishing an European tour. What are your impressions so far? This is our third European venture to date. Touring here is a completely different endeavour than what we have found compared to our countless ventures through the United States. Though these lands are physically distant from our home, things are becoming more comfortable. We are seeing some of the same faces and gaining some recognition over here. I should hope to make many returns to Europe in the future. There is still much ground to cover. What can people expect from your live performance? Is it the best
way to enjoy the songs? I definitely believe that the live setting is the best way to experience our music. The records are the essence of our music captured, but the live performance of the songs is the music in its purest form and the best way to receive the raw energy of our art. As performances go, we approach our live appearances in a rather simple manner. We do not believe in theatrics or over-playing elements of what we do. We are not entertainers, but instead curators of our art. When we play live our focus is fully on our music and bringing it to life in the space we occupy. I should hope that through our own focus and catharsis that we draw the listener into our vision and take them somewhere with us. Are you working on new material? What are Velnias’ plans for the future? We are indeed working on new material. We are currently focusing on writing and hope to have enough music written to record another album sometime in 2015. Aside from the album, we shall hope to connect with some good touring ventures and continue forth in typical fashion. I hope to make several more journeys to Europe in the coming years as well as Asia and South America, but we shall see what fate brings our way.
t’s been two years since the release of your sophomore album “Harvest”. What does “On Death’s Wings” brings new? The biggest difference is probably on the songwriting. The songs flow better, so to speak. There are some line-up changes too but nothing too drastic. Overall, the style remains the same when compared to earlier releases and the riffs are as adamantine as always.
are easier to get a hold to. The shortest song is about 5 minutes so they aren’t exactly short though, but when compared to earlier releases there is a clear difference. I am sill extremely satisfied with Harvest but of course there are things I’d do differently now. I think it’s the same thing with every artist. You can always find better ways of execution after you have had the time to distance yourself from the work at hand.
“On Death’s Wings” is going to be released now but it was recorded during 2008 and 2008 with some additional recordings taking place between 2012 and 2014. Could you elaborate on this? Have you had any difficulties throughout this time? Nothing too exciting about that. I recorded the drums and guitars in summer 2008 and Desolate’s bass and Shoo’s guitar solos were recorded during 2008 & 2009. I had some trouble writing the lyrics so I didn’t record the vocals until late 2012 and re-recorded them in part in early 2014. Partially this delay was also because of the smaller releases during the years and Harvest too. Writing the lyrics is always the hardest part of a song to finish as I find the lyrics to be an important part of the whole and I don’t feel comfortable singing lyrics I’m not happy with.
What makes you to approach Blood Red Fog with such intensity and emotion? It’s hard to say really. I am a melancholic person so it’s only natural that the sound is like that also. I make honest music without trying to sound like any other band or consciously trying to be unique. I channel my inner world through the music so I think that might be one reason for the intensity etc.
Some claimed the songs in “Harvest” were a bit repetitive but in my opinion those doomy elements were one of the key points of the album as it wasn’t repetitive in a boring kind of way and for some reason it was what you need to create a perfect atmosphere and consume the listener with the fire. “On Death’s Wings” seems to follow a different path. Would you consider this a new approach to your music or nothing is different? The new album is different, yes. The riffs and the atmosphere are as always but the songs flow better as I mentioned earlier. I have evolved as a songwriter and there is no unnecessary repetition on the songs. The songs are much shorter also so they
You invited Shoo to record solos for the songs “Black Hole Soul” and “As Lightning From Heaven”. How would you describe your relationship and how important is him for Blood Red Fog’s work? We have known each other for almost ten years and been connected with different musical projects. He was irreplaceable in making Harvest. He played drums and guitar solos on it, wrote half of the lyrics, sang the clean vocals and recorded and mixed the album. He also played live guitars for a few gigs and still does clean vocals on stage. Nowadays we are also on a same traditional doom band called John the Baptist, a name you’d do well to remember. I play drums and he sings. We are about to record our debut release in the coming summer.
What made you sign to Saturnal Records after releasing two EP’s and one full-length with Saturnian Productions? Saturnal Records is more or less a continuation to Saturnian Productions so it was quite natural choice to make. Also the deal they proposed and the plans they have for promotion etc. are very good so I was very happy to sign with them.
The Finnish music scene is growing day after day with new talents coming in all the time. What can you tell us about the Finnish Black Metal scene and how do you compare it with the scene from your neighbors Norway and Sweden? Unfortunately I’m not too familiar with the scene nowadays and I only know a handful of new demo bands (Uhrimalja, Rienaus, Araqiel and Kuilu come to mind first). About the other scenes I know even less but I think that each of the countries do have their distinctive sound. Finnish bands tend to be more mid-tempo and melodic, whereas Norwegian and Swedish bands sound more ominous and dissonant. Of course these are but shallow generalizations and there are myriad of different sounding bands in every country. What are you doing currently to promote your new album? Will you play live sometime in the future? Yes, we will be playing some gigs after the album is out. First gig is a release party with Hellspirit whose album is out the same time as ours. This will happen 6.6. in Tampere. In fall we are doing a mini tour together with Russian Blackdeath. We are also planning on doing a minitour abroad around the same time but that is still uncertain. Other than interviews and gigs, we’ll leave the promotion to the label. What are your other plans for 2014? Hopefully we’ll be able to finish recording our fourth full length and a split ep. There should be a split coming out this year to which I recorded BRF’s side already in 2006.
our long-anticipated debut full-length “Dawn Under Curse” is finally here after some setbacks. Since it was recorded in 2012, can you look at this album the same way you did back then? What do you feel now that is going to be finally released? Eld: Setbacks, there were more than one indeed..! During recordings and then with label searching. Still after the crawling through mud, we can say that we got what we wanted. Sounds for the record were created as such what we wished, recording process with Wicked Ischanius brought even primitive handmade gong on the record. The mixing was done by just the right person for it and after Necromorbus mastering... what else to say? H-H: There were first some disasters during recordings, like we lost some guitar tracks because some fucking
computer error, it took two days to record them again (luckily we got Wicked Ischanius, he has a long fuse). Mixing and Mastering processes were the only ones without shit. Then came this label-issue and it felt like we´ve been doing everything as well as possible, but still it’s raining shit to your face and there’s nothing you can do... This record was supposed to be released by No Sign Of Life which ceased its activities before “Dawn Under Curse” was released. What was the general feeling of the band when you knew that the release wasn’t going to happen? Eld: No Sign of Life did really great things during its existence with the label and distro. A big ´Thank you´ still goes to Johnny & Tero. Let´s hope that KRK will rise its head again and that there´s gonna be more events like Black Flames of Blasphemy and
Hammer Open They brought a lot of killer bands to Finland and for such a small country as Finland, there was people coming from around the world to see the events all the way to the centre of Helsinki. The actual name of the full-lenght, “Dawn Under Curse”, describes really well the fact that this group has been a long mournpath to walk since its beginning. Of course it was a big disapointment that the record release date was again delayed. Especially after such hype from us and the people with whom we worked togehter with last spring. Anyway... Here we are. H-H: Even there were problems with No sign of life, I believe it weren´t their fault at all. Sometimes it’s just impossible to handle such things if your company is going through some shit. Still, they tried, and believed that our full-lenght was going to be
success. Personally, I´m not angry or anything to Johnny & Tero. I just hope that they will get on their feet again and bring some killer bands to Finland.
metal... well, you can hear the result. As Eld said, Bathory is the greatest influence for all of us but personally I think that Primordial has also influenced our sound in the past years.
What impact did this have on Hellspirit? Eld: Setbacks brought us all to where we are now. We´re really pleased with the enthusiasm from Saturnal Records, Santtu, Juho & Arseny... The guys really do a fair and great work with our things and now we had the first gig abroad at Satanburg III. St. Petersburg was a great place to visit. We are really grateful for them.
And what about the band’s lyrical content? Where do you seek inspiration from and is there any main theme present in this new album? Eld: “Dawn Under Curse” has an old school stamp on it. Main themes in the lyrics of Dethrone & Heinrich are war, blasphemy and anger in its several forms... A good thing to remember when listening to “Dawn Under Curse” is that the last song was already released on the second demo of the band (2006). Blood & Metal ends the album and at the same time, a page and era in this band´s history. Let´s hope there´s something in this release to be found by both the old and the new listeners.
“Dawn Under Curse” delivers Raw Black Metal with solid roots in Thrash and Heavy Metal. How did you came up with your musical style and which bands would you cite as influences? Eld: I remember the time when I met Dethrone about 10 years ago and he was the only one from the current line-up of the band. I´ve seen Hellspirit´s first live act back in 2005 (from the frontline [laughs]). Back then, as a listener, I saw the band having influences from Mortuary Drape & Nifelheim. Demo times are demo times and sooner or later every band hopefully finds its own path to follow. Through the new material you can hear our own. I think all of us hails to Bathory as a strong infulence. Dethrone especially is really into Primordial. Old names such as Darkthrone and Burzum are and will always be an influence too. At least as a drummer I think my ‘groove´ is doomed by Norway... H.H: You can hear from Dethrone´s guitar leads that heavy metal is his thing. He likes to do catchy guitar leads which sound like old-school heavy metal. Combined with black
Since you had your debut ready since 2012, have you worked on new material in the meantime? Can we expect a new release from Hellspirit anytime soon? Eld: In Russia we played two new songs, when the time is right there is gonna be something new coming in the form of an EP... I already have something for the artwork ready. In the meantime, let´s wait for the first full-lenght album to see daylight, eh? H.H: Full-lenght is out of question, but some MCD or 7” EP would be nice in the near future. Have you always been into metal or do you also listen to other music genres outside the metal spectrum? Eld: Hellspirit will be playing this week at Helsinki on Pre-Steelfest club. On June 6th we have a gig at Tampere With Blood Red Fog and on the next
day me & MSA are heading to Kaavi Blues 2014 to watch Erja Lyytinen. The variety of music styles in my shelf is big: from black and doom to old psychedelic & progressive rock and really obscure noise tapes. Everybody has an interest for different musical styles among the more brutal and cold side of its expressing. H.H: That’s true, I could say that our musical taste covers almost everyhting but mainsteam shit and rap. Eld: ... I still think you should make a rap solo album! What else can we expect from Hellspirit in 2014? Eld: We’ll release our debut fulllenght and you can expect a few live shows as band really wishes to get abroad again soon. St. Petersburg was a great experience indeed. We like to play live, so hopefully new raging shows are coming. Always great to go to new places and play with these guys. It is a real joy to play with them!
nteresting name for a band. Deeper than the immediate meaning. How did you come up with it? Diabulus in Musica is a Latin medieval word which means ‘the devil in music’. It was like that as they called the triton or the interval of the augmented fourth. The medieval ear was used to hearing perfect fourths and perfect fifths. The augmented fourth, being half-way between these two most common intervals, was about the worst discord imaginable. That’s why they thought that the devil was inside the triton. As Early Music is my favourite style in classical and actually is what I usually sing (apart from the band), I chose this name. It was perfect for us not only because of the meaning it has to me, but also because it sounds a bit dark, as our music sometimes. We like this ‘dark romantic aesthetic’ as well as Early Music, so we thought Diabulus in Musica was the name that fit us the best. Also, because of the duality it represents: the “diabulus” would represent the dark side of our music and “musica” the melodic/classical or sweet one. Our music is full of contrasts, they are necessary for us to express different feelings, so again, this name was perfect! The change in the band’s line up had any impact in the music’s identity? Not really. We started to write the new songs a few weeks after the guys left. I would say that inspiration came due to this fact. When the new members joined, the writing process had already started and besides, we had some live shows at that time, so we preferred them to focus on learning the new songs, that’s why they didn’t took part on the compositions, apart from a couple of riff structures. For me, this is our most personal and mature album so far and 100% Diabulus in Musica. Gorka and me were the founders and main composers in the band and this time we worked alone, so I would say the conception and pure essence of the band is more present now than never before. How did Alexey Kolygin and David
Carrica enter the band? We knew both from the local scene and they were the first ones we thought about because they are awesome musicians and we get along very well with each other. They have other projects so we weren’t sure if they would be able to join. We were so happy when they accepted! Besides, they really love what we do and this motivation is really important for a good chemistry. You feel a bit influenced by a certain medieval sound? Sure! Gorka and me come from the classical field, but I’m specially interested in Early Music. As I explained before, that’s why I chose the name for the band. I also studied some courses about historical singing and I’m involved in some Early Music ensembles and chamber choirs too. The feminine and masculine voices on tracks like “From the Embers”, allows variations in the moods inside the music. Was that what you seek? We always play with duality. Life and human beings in general are full of contradictions. For me the music is the best way of self expression and this duality is the best way to express different and sometimes contradictory feelings too. We are not always in the same mood, neither is our music. I conceive the album as a travel through feelings, that’s why it is full of contrasts and so eclectic. Wanna say something about the participation of Ailyn Giménez? Sure! It has been great work with her! The song where Ailyn is singing is called “Furia de Libertad”. When I composed this song I knew the lyrics were going to be in Spanish as the song talks about the Spanish situation nowadays. The song is dedicated to all the victims of the political and economical crisis (and also crisis of values) in our country. I immediately though about Ailyn to sing it with me because we became friends and we both are from Spain. She is a great professional, very kind and humble. Besides, we have different voices that
complement each other very well, so I asked her if she would like to take part in this song. She likes a lot the band, so she immediately accepted and I was very happy to have her beautiful and sweet voice in one of our tracks! “Furia de Liberdad” has a beginning that sounds like old movies. Know what I’m talking about? Really? I have no idea, but sounds good! Haha! I was just thinking about giving the song certain epic Spanish flavour. The opera/rock scent that we find in many tracks its part of a certain concept? We always like to conceive the albums like a kind of soundtrack, that’s the reason of that opera rock scent. Even if “Argia” is not exactly a concept album because it doesn’t tell a story, the lyrics are all related to personal experiences that I have lived this last year, so they are somehow connected. In short, this album would be a kind of trip through deep feelings and personal believes and experiences. “Eternal Breeze” is, in a way, almost pop in the beginning. Also noticed that? Well, it is a ballad, so I suppose that’s why it can sound a bit like pop. I’m not that much into pop, so I don’t know. Anyway, I avoid to think about genres. As I said, our music is always eclectic and I think genres sometimes can limit creativity. When we write a song we never think if it’s going to sound too heavy, too poppy or too folk, we just do what we feel in that moment regardless the tags. We don’t like to put any boundaries when creating music, we just love music in all its spectrum as long as it’s well done or transmits something special. Drums are very supportive of the emotions flowing in the music you present in “Argia”. Agree? Absolutely! The rhythm section gives a punch and strength that it is absolutely necessary for our concept. Apart from the “normal” drums, we also recorded with different acoustic percussion instruments.
Details increase the music’s quality? I think so, they are the final “makeup”. The songs have to first be attractive by themselves, but arrangements play a very important role to make the song more interesting. I love to work on little details, even if sometimes in the mix some of them get lost, but it is normal when you play with so many elements. That’s why I think it is so important to give space to each section only when it is needed. This “Argia” shows a lot of diversity. Was that what you were aiming? It is not exactly a deliberated decision. Our music has always been eclectic and this characteristic has been increasing through the years. This diversity comes because we don’t listen or like only a style of music, we have many influences and all of them help to achieve certain mood. The music that helps me to express all those feelings must be different, from rage
to happiness, sadness, tenderness, withdrawal... What I search when I’m listening to music is that it takes me to a different dimension, I search for different emotions, different places, dreams, images... So I try to do the same when I write music, it has to make me dream and hopefully others too. The alternation between soft songs and hard songs is meant to create surprise and increase the impact on the listener? Mainly to create different moods, yes. But as I said before it is not something we thought deliberately before, it is simply that we need these kind of contrasts to express something. It is due to the conception we have of an album being a bit like a soundtrack. How is the Spanish metal scene these days? To be honest, I rarely listen to Spanish music (except for Early Music, which is really good). I don’t listen to the radio neither because I don’t like the kind of
mainstream music it is usually played here, which is mostly Spanish pop. Regarding metal music, as you can imagine is not the most popular style in Spain (I guess the same happens in the rest of the world... ) and Spanish metal-heads still like better the ‘old school’ national heavy metal, sung in Spanish. Nevertheless, there is a rising new metal scene, although these bands aren’t well-known generally.
irst of all, I know the band witnessed more than a few miss interpretations regarding their name, so if you never heard of them before, it’s pronounced “Twelve Boar”. They hail from Aldershot, Hampshire, UK and ever since I stumbled upon them back in 2011 I couldn’t stop wondering how come this magnificent trio is still unsigned. XII Boar has taken all the good stuff out of Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Clutch to name but a few, ultimately developing a pretty unique combination of southern rock, sludge, doom and stoner. They started out with an EP called “XII” (January, 23, 2011) – rough, sludgy and dirty Rock ‘n’ Roll man, I think Assjack, Clutch and EyeHateGod fans would definitely dig it! “Train Wreck” is the intro song and if you’re guessing the title tells the whole story about this track, you’re goddamn right! Same thing with the third act, which is “Sludge”- great jam, no vocals. “Beg, Borrow, Steal” will blow your guts with a tremendous south-
ern fried blues dose, while “S.K.O.L” will prove to be a monstrous wrecking ball of a song - bulldozing heavy riffs, groovy rhythm, fine bass lines and an earth shaking piece of drumming .
literally bring the Doom. This is the darkest song ever to be released by XII Boar and if I was to make another bold statement, I’d say that it has one of the most captivating solos I’ve ever heard.
Still in January, but 2012, XII Boar released another mind blowing four piece EP, “Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof”. This is when I became a big time fan. The EP begins with my all-time favorite track from the band, “Smokin’ Bones”. Once again, the sharp and heavy riffs, masterminded tempo changes and harsh vocals will crush your eardrums but what I truly love about this song is the outro, the last 40 seconds or so. And I’ll stand by this statement for the rest of my life: without any sort of doubt “Smokin’ Bones” has the most explosive and amazing outro in all music history! Every time I hear it, my veins are filled with raw energy that makes me go apeshit. “Hellspeed Viper” and “Slamhound” put up another great display of hammering grooves, whereas “Triclops”, the last track, will
XII Boar stated that they would be releasing their first full length later this year, but instead of letting their fans wait too long, they unleashed another monster, the single “Truck Stop Baby”, available on vinyl by the way. As they would say: “not bad for a band who literally do all the hard work in the house.” So far XII Boar have independently recorded and produced all their stuff and I strongly believe that these three dudes deserve way more than what they currently receive from the scene. I believe they got more than what it needs to make it - a bad ass attitude, creative song writing and a shitload of talent. [Kevin “Junk” Kidd]
ow does a traditional doom metal/rock band like Landskap ends featuring an extreme label like Iron Bonehead Productions? From the very beginning we decided that releasing “I” on CD would be a pointless task in this day and age, so once the production of the album was finished, we decided to release the album for free on Bandcamp. We however thought it would be great if the album would get a vinyl release with special artwork, so we got in touch with a few labels we believed were releasing quality records. The reactions were great and Iron Bonehead came up with some great things, it didn’t take us long to decide we’d do “I” with them. All the band members are involved in other projects. How did you come together to give birth to Landskap? To cut a long and boring story short, both George (guitars) and I (Fred, bass) moved from our native countries to London in 2012 and wanted to start a new band. We didn’t know each other but got in touch via some adverts, met up in a pub, had a few beers and a week later we were jamming. We had very similar musical taste and it just went from there. I knew Paul (drums) from when I was jamming with Fen, Kostas from when I used to play with Pantheist and Jake (vocals) being “a friend of the family”, so we ended up doing this thing we call Landskap today. And why a Swedish name for an English band? Neither a Swedish name nor an (entirely) English band. I’m afraid. OK, we live in England, but we’ve got two
Greeks, a Belgian and two Brits in the band. Landskap is West Flemish for ‘scenery’, the dialect of the area I originate from. We chose that name because it sounded great. It’s not certain that a band starts with demos or EPs, but why charging with a full-length in the very beginning? Why not if you can? What’s the difference between a demo and an album these days? Bands release songs in whatever format they like these days, and the term demo, EP or album is losing it’s meaning a bit. We could’ve called this release whatever we wanted, but we believe it was worth the title of an album. I’ve heard “I” over and over and I came away impressed by the catchy simplicity. Did you really want to keep it simple and direct? The answer lies in the process. The reason that it sounds so direct is because the skeleton of the tracks was recorded live in the studio in one afternoon. That way we managed to capture this straight-forward, kind of jammy feel of the tracks. We started the recordings having no idea of what the length of each song would be. We improvised a lot and added some extra layers afterwards resulting in what you can hear now. We didn’t choose for a particular approach, we just followed our hearts. The instrumental “To Harvest The Storm”, on side B, is great! How can an European band create such desert soundscape? In UK is raining all the time… The concept of this song comes from a Greek proverb that says “He who plants wind, will harvest storms”. So,
to us it is more the visualization of an emotion than the description of a landscape. I don’t think we have a typical British sound nor a desert sound, but I agree that the musical passion of two highly Mediterranean Greeks added some heat to our cold northern hearts. However, the side A is very traditional, reminding me of some Black Sabbath, for instance. In the same album, you mixed doom and psychedelic, right? Was it your intention all the time? We all come from very different musical backgrounds, but we all share the same passion for 70’s music. Classic, heavy blues, doom, progressive, krautrock, psychedelic rock; all are branches of the magnificent late 60’s, early 70’s rock tree. Our only intention was to let ourselves free to climb up that tree and improvise, inspired by the sounds of its leaves. After releasing this beautiful debut, what do you have in mind for Landskap? The official release date for the vinyl is 15th of May. We are going to do a couple of gigs in London in the coming months and hopefully we are going to record new material by the end of the summer.
hat was the overall feeling of the band once you listened to the end result of “This Place That Contains My Spirit”, especially when this was an album that took you three years to write? We were excited and relieved. We had a lot of material written, and chose what to use and what to leave out. It was a kind of exhausting process since it was our first big experiment
in recording and mixing ourselves. We were happy with the outcome considering what equipment we had to work with. It is important to us to capture a specific atmosphere every time we record, which we feel was accomplished through TPTCMS even with a low budget. What’s the meaning of the album title for you and what should it mean to your listeners?
It refers to those places in the world where people feel spiritually connected. For us, it is the Black Hills of South Dakota. Your song titles sound way different than the actual music. This balance between the alluring track titles and the ravishing desolation of your Black Metal sound was on purpose? Much like our band name, we don’t
feel the need to always use dark titles and imagery. The music should speak for itself. We write about what we feel, what we know, and we are inspired by: much of which is beautiful, serene, and quiet. Not always aggressive and dark. Who’s guilty for the overall music style of Woman Is The Earth? Everything that we write is a completely collective process. We collaborate on everything we do. We all come from different musical backgrounds but have always had an interest in metal and in strange, dark, and emotional music. After playing together for a couple of years, the music style kind of just clicked and became what it is now. How is the typical songwriting process? Is there any primary songwriter or do you work as a team? As I mentioned earlier, there is no single person responsible for writing our songs. Typically one of us will have a riff or an idea to bring to practice and the three of us build and elaborate on that idea. We spend a lot of time writing songs, building a simple structure for them and adding textures and layers over time. Songs are often started more by “feel” or a kind of jam format rather than spending too much time on specific signatures and structures right away. Can you explain the themes and general feelings behind the album? What were your intentions back when you were writing this record? The general theme of the album is basically homage to old rituals and spirituality- about what connects cultures with their surroundings. For us it is a celebration of the Black Hills. Our intentions when writing the album were simply to record songs that were very important to the three of us. We
hadn’t intended on the album being distributed outside of our city. We did a small local release of the album and left it at that initially. Someone from one of our shows put the album online and it generated some interest around the world. Since then we have done multiple re-pressings and now Eisenwald will properly release it. You seem the kind of band that lives to write music. How passionate are you with your own music and where does this passion comes from? Our main passion is definitely in writing music. We love to play live and tour a little bit here and there, but we really feel the best when we are writing and creating together. The passion mostly comes from our un-ending desire to create and evolve our sound. We also all come from musical families. We grew up around music and have a lot of support. What can an instrument like an Ocarina add to a record like “This Place That Contains My Spirit”? Do you feel this is an integral element of Woman Is The Earth’s sound? Specifically, the ocarina, or synths, or acoustic guitars are not integral to any specific song or album. The idea of experimentation and using different sounds and layers is absolutely integral to our sound though. We will continue to experiment with different instruments, effects, and sounds all the time. Would you say you have broken any boundaries with this release? And how high is the bar set not only for yourselves but for the other bands coming next? We don’t feel the album was particularly groundbreaking. It was an important album for us in developing our sound and emotions musically. It was a good feeling for us that something we made in our basement with
no budget at all was appreciated by other people. It’s a good reminder for us that a band doesn’t need a huge budget or studio to create something worthwhile to someone. We definitely set the bar high for ourselves. We are always changing and experimenting with our sound and want everything we release to have a unique sound and feel to it. We don’t really have much interest in making the same albums over and over, so that sets a high bar for us personally. As far as bands coming after us… we don’t think too much about what other bands may or may not be doing. Haha it is really cool to think that there may be bands out there influenced by us someday, but it’s good to focus on your own project and not worry about the ‘scene’ or anything too much. What’s next for you? Well, we are really excited for Eisenwald’s re-release of “This Place That Contains My Spirit”. We also just released a new album called “Depths” on Init Records. We will now spend time writing for our next album. We finished writing “Depths” well over a year ago and have material that we will spend the next year or so working with to record and release a new album hopefully in 2015. We will play some shows and do some limited touring in the winter of 2014.
o you feel the brand new “Temple Under Hell” is a stronger statement than the debut album? Yes, of course we feel this way. We are always aiming to strengthen our vision as time moves forward and with this album we feel we have done so. Our debut full length “Night’s Black Angel” came from its own place in its own time; entrenched in Saturnine darkness, howling supplications unto the great challenger of all things. With “Temple Under Hell”, we were guided by the intent to direct this howling inward – inspired by the crepuscular transit witnessed every evening and morning and by the long darkness in between.
How do you, as Erebus Enthroned, describe a temple under hell? Is it something ethereal or do you have the desire to really build it? Without a doubt, it is an ethereal and introspective idea. It should be understood that this notion of hell is the natural, final extension of existence. Chaos’ reprise is not in dragging the world back into its primal’ grasp but forwards and down into the turmoil of evolution and perpetual death and birth. The “Temple Under Hell” represents the formless, nameless and incendiary force which feeds everything around us, lying beneath as the foundation and the fertile roots of existence – with no sense of restriction, justice or morality. The temple in this sense is that obscured state,
when the chatter of creation is finally silenced and the introspective soul is momentarily released, expanding into potentiality and oblivion. This is just how we pay tribute to, and convey a silhouetted sense of immersion from the edge of that indescribable place of light and darkness. Sacrifice, transformation and illumination. In what ways can we inhale those characteristics delivered in this album? Listen to the music, read the lyrics and contemplate the reality behind the language and artistic forms used therein. There are myriad ways for people to interpret “Temple Under Hell”, which is fine enough as no two roads to hell are the same. This was
never written as a concept album but there is a simple truth inherent; that without sacrifice there can be no evolution. The roots of classic black metal are visible, but you also put some modern ritualistic soundscapes. This is where the mundane darkness meets the esoteric pursuit? With this album we intended to paint a vivid picture through sound and word of the undertaking of a sinister journey, it is one that of course requires sacrifice in order to transform, evolve and become enlightened through the trials and ordeals. As befits the nature of our music some ritualistic elements are present and besides employing vibrational chant into the vocal style these lay very minimally within the album’s sound. The magickal aspects of the album really lurk between the hidden lines and
don’t display themselves overtly. The esoteric pursuit, as you mentioned, is what is expressed in a poetic way through the album and while music is only an artistic platform, the darkness sought and expressed is far from mundane. Let’s talk about the artwork… I see a gateway from where light is expanding and a creature is reluctant to accept it. Can you explain the concept? It is good that you are using your intuition and imagination to interpret this artwork, as far as the painting itself is concerned the concept can be rather amorphous and malleable. When working with Denis Forkas Kostromitin to construct “Temple Under Hell”’s artwork, both parties existed on two different yet synchronously connected wavelengths. Besides discussing the general tone and theme of the al-
bum we had no involvement in the conceptual creation of the painting and it is this process we feel has born a unique and genuine work of art stemming from the creative regions of a very unique and genuine person. The artwork is inspired by the theme inherent in the album, that being a descent and spiritual transformation through the ecstasy and horrors of the underworld. On Denis’ part it is also inspired by ‘Visio Tngdali’, a medieval tale with common theme and inspiration to Dante’s Inferno. While this text was tapped for his own artistic study in spiritual alchemy, his choice absolutely reflects our own initial visions for the album in composition and intent. Are you influenced by the European scene? I can see some Watain in you – and take this as a compliment.
As has been said before, we never set out to be consciously influenced by other bands. That is not to say that we aren’t, though, because as musicians and appreciators of music there will always be a subconscious sphere of influence. This furnace is fed on many things; be they Satanic Black Metal, psychadelia or even symphonic and classical compositions. Whatever stimulates the heart’s fire. Consciously, we are inspired only by our ideas, visions and perspectives; by the shadowy aspects of creativity and by unique forces within the Universe such as Death, Chaos and Change. If you want to project any other band’s influence onto us, sure – I could probably name a handful of better candidates, but they’re largely irrelevant here. Honestly in our world (and in the world at large), Erebus Enthroned is Erebus Enthroned and has its own pure definition and identity.
Black Metal from Australia is truly rising! Do you think it’s possible that Australia can become an important place to implement the black metal belief? Who knows? I don’t really care to be honest. In this country there exist a handful of strong bands with fiery potency, creating great art and doing their own thing. Some people say that due to our disconnection from the world Australian bands aren’t that original. I say, this type of music is about raw passion and honesty. In terms of performance, the isolation of the country does however create a situation very different to the rest of the world – in that it takes a lot of dedication and work in order to overcome the prohibitive ceiling that is geographic isolation. Personally I am neither here nor there on your idea of Australia becoming some kind of new Black Metal hub, something
like that would be counterintuitive to the art regardless of its sense of self importance. That sort of commodification represents poison and chains to expression; after all they will always be more ferocious in some kind of isolation. That ‘black metal belief’ you mentioned; these beliefs underpinning this music exist beyond the imagined borders of nations or the vague limits of aeons – they prevail in importance through every time and every place.
fter several demos and splits between 2007 and 2010, Aurvandil have released two fulllengths: “Yearning”, in 2011, and the brand new “Thrones”. Are you happy with the path the band has taken? The first steps on this thulean passage were hesitant and stumbling but there is no discarding or relishing the past. “Yearning” was a necessary step to sublimate the youth, “Thrones” was another to bury it. I found some differences between both albums as “Thrones” is more mournful and cold. Was it your intention to take it to a deep new level of sorrow and glacial solitude? While “Yearning” songs heralded from different mind-sets, “Thrones” was conceived as a coherent body of work, channelling bitterness to sharpen our steel and burn our illusions. Why do you call the new four tracks hymns of Iron and Ice? We have entered eschatological times, the age of Reckoning. As such we herald Fimbulwinter, through four anthems of Iron and Ice to cleanse the Earth of wickedness, false idols and occult designs. Can you share with us some of the most important points you tell in your lyrics? We evoke ancient values to fight against a self-devouring, rotting modern world, we hearken to the heathen past to rid Europe of the Abrahamic plagues. We
mourn the passing of honour and glory, yet we rejoice in beholding the implacable cyclic law. I feel that the using of acoustic guitars in the album is like an initiatory rite. Was it the purpose? What are you preparing us for? These crystalline and solitary notes are indeed introductions for the mind to be focused and wary of the hailstorms to come. In a more pragmatic fashion, it might foretell of a future entirely acoustic work… Commenced with “Ferd” followed by “Yearning”, is “Thrones” some kind of a journey ending in the pursuit of the northern heritage? Can you talk about the different stages? “Ferd” was the actual beholding of the Seven Towers, the misanthropic isolation amidst northern purity. “Yearning” (written before the aforementioned) was a naïve and higher craving for this very journey. With “Thrones” the journey ends as we hail the End, at one with Nature. Do you feel Aurvandil’s music is your personal ultimate path to reach the hyperborean purity? Aurvandil was most certainly the key to this passage shrouded in fog. The veil lifts and now different trails appear. In the northern mythology, Aurvandil was a giant carried by Thor in a basket. Why this creature to be the banner of your project?
I found the name while reading the “Skáldskaparmál” in “Snorres Edda”. Choosing this name was a careless decision based on the musicality of the name, as well as the Romantic figure of the Morning Star, “Eosphorus” being the first tentative name of the band. In the end I entirely forsook the promethean nature of it, to return to Élivágar. Oddly enough, the VIII century Old English poem “Crist” reveals Aurvandil as John the Baptist, the morning star foreshadowing the coming of Christ; I won’t dissert on the amusing fact that a Luciferian light should announce the Messiah’s arrival (that’s one for messianic Talmudists to enjoy, to the dismay of clueless “Satanists” and Christians alike), but Jean-Baptiste is indeed my first name, an amusing and strange coincidences as Wyrd alone can wreak.
ongratulations on your third studio album! Which differences can we find on “You Are Here” (if any) when compared to your previous two records? Thank you very much. I think the new album is a bit sharper than before, less smooth, perhaps closer to our live sound in this regard. I love extreme music but sometimes it feels great to listen to High Spirits after spending one entire day around black metal and its intense atmosphere. Where does your energy comes from? We want to give our audience the same feeling we get from our favorite records, that feeling of companionship and exhilaration. And this feeling comes from all types of heavy metal and hard rock music. There are no limits to our inspiration. In your press statement one can read that you’re one of the hottest new bands in metal. Do you classify your own project that way? What’s the position you’d like to achieve in the worldwide metal scene with High Spirits and what does it take to get you there? Well, we have never claimed to be a “metal” band. We prefer the term “high-energy rock”. Of course this term could include heavy metal, and that’s ok. The terminology is not important. At the start, all I wanted was to explore a new creative space for myself, and I accomplished this through the initial songwriting and demo stages of the band. Then we wanted to try our luck as a live band, and we found that there was far more demand than we expected. I think the timing was in our favor. Now we just want to keep up a good pace where we are answering that demand but also not getting burned-out from working too much. We are very happy with our progress as a band and proud of what we have achieved together with the support of our fans and label partners. This album is extremely detailed and the truth is that you have
written and recorded this album by yourself! How big of a genius are you? Haha and how would you describe your writing and recording sessions? I don’t know if it’s genius or stupid to work this way. It’s quite intense, really, and it seems to never end. But it is part of the High Spirits “formula” for me to work alone on the albums, and related to what we talked about above, we don’t really see the need to change anything with our work style. It’s a compromise doing the albums this way. For example, I am not much of a guitar player, so there is a lot of frustration at times, but I think in the end it helps to strengthen the songs. The detail is not only present in your song structures but also in your lyrics. Can you explain which themes have you approached on this album and what does inspire you to write? I wanted to move away from the heartbreakers since “One Last Chance” and “If I’m Gone” from the ‘2013’ demos were still fresh, but I also tried to let things happen naturally. I’m not trying to force anything into a place where it doesn’t fit. So we ended up with a few heartbreak songs but also I think the solitude of my work environment also found its way into the lyrics. I think the biggest inspiration however was High Spirits itself, just the experience of being in this band and all of the wonderful surprises along the way. This album also contains a revamped version of the band’s signature song “High Spirits” which was originally recorded with a drum machine. Why have you decided to re-record it and what’s the balance you make between these two versions? CHRIS: It’s one of our more popular songs for sure, so I felt it would be nice to have an updated version. The original version from 2009 has some power and charm, but it’s also quite raw and as you mentioned has a drum machine. It’s not a professional recording, in other words. I’m sure some people will always prefer it any-
way, and some people will prefer the new version. At least now there is a choice, ha! Despite working alone on your music, you have a complete lineup to join you on the road. How have you chose the perfect musicians to play your songs and how much of a input do you let them take as far as playing your stuff live concerns? It happened quite accidentally. There were no intentions to play live at the beginning. Then a promoter in Chicago asked if we would play a gig he was organizing. For anyone else, I might have said “no”, but because of the good history with this promoter, we agreed to try it. I built the lineup from friends and we learned the songs more or less exactly as they were on the recordings. Today, it’s still the same lineup, and we still take the same approach with the songs. There is a bit of give-and-take with certain aspects such as guitar harmonies, and maybe extending a few sections for a bit of audience participation, but there is never any tension or disagreement amongst us. We share the same focus when it comes to entertaining the audience. What does the future hold for High Spirits? We want to play in as many places as we can, but without changing our music, lineup, or organization. I think we have a good thing going right now, and we don’t want to jeopardize that by trying to move too fast or taking on more than we can handle. We will take it one step at a time and continue to be very grateful for everything we have experienced.
our debut record “Renaissance” is just out and it represents a clear evolution compared to the Voyage EP (2011). How would you describe Legacy of Cynthia’s sound in the present day? Our current sound is a merger that encompasses multiple quadrants, whether at musical level or about the concept of the songs that we’re composing. Sometimes we start from an idea instead of a guitar riff to create a song. In addition, the feedback we’ve had on “Renaissance” indicates us that our sound presents itself as a refreshing and different alternative from what is actually done in the metal music scene, not only in Portugal but also outside our borders. Our evolution is also due to the fact that the current lineup is now more cohesive and, perhaps, more technique than any other we’ve had and that turns out to be reflected in our writing process. The band changed its formation, with Peter now assuming all the vocal duties. What made Legacy of Cynthia change the two male vocalists format, which prevailed since your root band Prison Flag? Changes are natural things. Life is full of surprises and presents us challenges every single day, so, instead of overthinking about it, we choose to reinvent ourselves. We are proud of our past but
eager with what the future holds. The record has some special guests. Who are they? Carina Leitão owns one of the best female voices we know and we’ve already met her a few years ago. At the time we recorded “Renaissance” she was rehearsing and had previously recorded and worked with Caesar at Fingerprint Music Studio, with her former band, Sinmattic, so easily it became clear to us that Carina could add something more to the song “The Silence”; we made her the invitation and she agreed immediately. We are delighted to have her voice in our record because it resulted in full. She is now recording vocals for Disney Movies soundtracks, which says enough about her talent. Pedro Rodrigues played in that same band with Carina and, when we had the idea to add some keyboard and piano lines to “Bystander”, his name popped up in our heads instantly. He accepted our invitation without any reservations, and, because he is a super talented musician, he recorded everything at the first take. What are the lyrical themes focused on “Renaissance”? Can you explain the album title and the artwork? We show you where to look but not what to see. Morality, mortality and spirituality are a few of the seeds planted
on the “Renaissance” soil The artwork is based on the record title. The face that appears in “Renaissance” cover is a variation of the entity known as Green Man. You can find the Green Man in many cultures from many ages around the world, and it’s often related to natural vegetative deities. It is primarily interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of growth each spring. For us the Green Man is a model that can be like a symbol to the band’s stage at the present moment. Besides the lyrical themes, “Renaissance” for us represents the renewal that Legacy Of Cynthia has been trough, covering all the processes we’ve done to reach this stage - culminating with the album release. Your sound is a melting pot of diverse Metal styles, which is a real indication of eclectic musical tastes. What is playing on your mp3 these days? We are musicians with different musical tastes and that shines through our work. We all hear different things, although we like many bands in common. To give you an idea, one of us can be listening to Cult Of Luna and other maybe is listening to Soundgarden, another one maybe listens to the latest Behemoth record, and other’s digging old My Dying Bride classics, to give you just a few examples. One thing we have in common is that we
are persons with an open mind for new sounds and not restrict ourselves to just one music style, although we hear a lot of Metal. The band started out in 2010 in Sintra. How has it been evolving your composition process since then? In the early days it was a tough job, because is not easy to find talented and committed musicians with availability for a new project. Fortunately, we were very persistent and over the years we found the path that we want to pursue. From the very beginning we wanted to leave the doors open to creativity, not restricting ourselves to a very defined style - because if we did that, then maybe it wasn’t possible to approach other soundscapes. We write our songs with that in mind, not closing doors to anything. Obviously, we noticed a big evolution and a greater cohesion in this new record, the songs have more hooks, are more dynamic and have more weight - but we think they all preserve the identity we build since the beginning of the band. One of the positive differences is that Renaissance was recorded in our bass player studio, Fingerprint, where we also rehearse, so we had more time to discuss ideas, filing more edges and try a lot of different things. And, in the end, the album sound as we had envisioned it. How was the recording, mixing and mastering process? What was the most challenging to do? The overall process was really just a pleasure, as all sessions were finished with barbecues, wine and beers. By having our own place everything went just as smooth as it gets, even though we had to make a few stops along the way as Caesar had other clients booked in. I do honestly think that those pauses were just as important as it allowed for the changes that were being made to sink in or, on the other hand, to get deleted. Summing up, Caesar was the producer who took all the work from start to finish. All I can say is that he is just about true passion and soul, always aiming to capture that magical moment and to drive everyone to free their minds and express themselves. The most challenging thing to do was to find the “tone” of the record, and as well as being our debut album, the “tone” of the band. Nowadays it is very
easy to fall into the “preset, digital, auto tune, grid, trigger” thing. And, honestly, even though that type of process may work for many people, we wanted to be true to ourselves, so what you ear in the record is what the band sounds like live. It sure takes much longer than just dial in presets and quantize midi drums, but, then again, that wouldn’t be what we had in mind. Our goal was to get a “human” record, made by five people in a room putting music together, just like it was made in the old days, with the less of editing the better. Basically: analog forever. About all the mixing and mastering tips, you will have to ask Caesar himself; I’m quite sure he would love to chat a bit about it. The record came out in March and it was self-released. Why? The initial idea, before we start the album recording, was to release it in 2013. But, at the end of the year, we felt that the album wasn’t ready. And, since it was our debut album, we didn’t want to rush anything. It took us a little longer to hone various details and we are very pleased with the final result.We defined March as the ideal month to launch a record called “Renaissance” because it is also the time of year when there are more changes in nature; the arrival of spring also offer us a message of rebirth, representing that cycle of growth we’ve talked about. It turns out to be all connected with the concept of the record itself. About why we self-released it… well… when we had the first rough mix of “Renaissance”, we’ve talked with several record companies, and, even though we have several compliments, we haven’t received the feedback that we were looking for. With the current record sales crisis, labels aren’t betting so much on new bands and we accept that with ease, but that wouldn’t be a factor that withdraw us the ambition to release the record and try to reach as many people as possible - knowing that only on our own it will be a more difficult thing to achieve, but we never gave up a good fight. “Ressaissance” was released digitally but also has a limited edition in digipack. Do you think both formats are still essential, despite our conjuncture? In the current days we live in and with the exponential growth of internet use,
not only on computers but also on mobile phones and tablets, it became evident to us that we should have “Renaissance” available for online purchase and, at an extremely affordable price, through our Facebook and Bandcamp pages. But in order to promote the work and the band’s name, we also provide a free full stream of the entire record. The digipack edition has also become a priority to match all those who are a little more old school and like to have the work in the physical format. There too, we bet on a ridiculously cheap price (only 5€) to cope with the strong crisis in our country, which is affecting the entire population. The two formats end up complementing each other, although the prices are very cheap. Both the digital version and the digipack have phenomenal quality. How will you promote the record? Do you have any plans to play live? Promoting “Renaissance” is, like everything else, a job that we do on our own, in the attempt to get the album exposed to as many people as possible. Whether through specialized media interviews - such as Against Magazine, whom we have to thank this opportunity and the awesome job you’re doing -, as in radio programs and other media, with the hope of receiving a positive feedback about our work. Then there is the tour scheduling, also done by ourselves. We already have several confirmed dates: “Renaissance Release Party”- 3 May in Lisbon at LX Factory, 23 May at Side B in Benavente, 21 June at MetalPoint in Porto. And we are about to announce some more dates as soon they are confirmed, both in Portugal and Spain. If you like what you ear, hit us up, we are well up for more and more gigs. The best way to be aware of all our tour dates, or simply to contact us, is to pay a visit to our Facebook page where you can find all this information and much more.
ongratulations on your new record, “A Stab in the Heart of Christ”. Can you elaborate on the album title? Thanks! Our music is a weapon against organized religions, mainly Christianity as that is the prevailing parasitic dogma plaguing our country. But since god and Jesus Christ aren’t real and are merely a concept implanted into people’s brains at an impressionable age there is no real physical way to fight god. The real way to fight religion is to turn people away from this concept. One great tool that has been successful in doing this throughout the years in unholy black and death metal. We are one of the many warriors fighting this aural attack on god. We are a stab in the heart of Christ. What about the lyrics? What has inspired you to create such filthy and fury lyrical contents? Well in the early incarnations of this band we were just perverts addicted
violence and sex so our lyrical content was very simple and reflected that; killing Christians, fucking whores. But as I grew older so did my contempt for the human race and now I write more about the extermination of this worthless species. But I still tend to dabble in the old subject matter as well because after all, I still love violence and am a pervert.
to any conventions of the aforementioned styles. How would you describe your approach to music and what was necessary to do to find your own sound and push it to the limit? We mainly just try to rip off all the black, death and grind bands we’re into and it comes out sounding nothing like them and we just roll with it.
The artwork is fantastic and the colours and shades convey this heavy and unbearable atmosphere. Who’s responsible for such a great achievement? That would be none other than the amazing Rafael Tavares from Brazil. I’ve had this concept in my head for many years and I was afraid when it finally was created I would be disappointed as I have built it up in my head for so long, but he nailed it!
The guitar and the drums sound insane! Can you walk us through the writing and recording sessions for this album? We rehearse the songs for months and months and months until we can play them good enough to record. Then we go to the studio and (hopefully) get it down in a couple takes and the engineer polishes it off. The recording studio we go to is right next to our rehearsal room so it makes recording and re-doing takes at that studio very convenient. After the album is recorded we then pretty much stop
You play a fusion of Black Metal with grindcore, however we can easily tell that you’re not locked
practicing and unlearn most of what we wrote then we have to scramble to re-learn it weeks or days before our shows. How did this partnership with Moribund came about? Where you already fans of the label’s previous releases? Definitely. In fact they are our absolute favorite label who has put out some of our all time favorite releases. They were our number 1 choice of a label we wanted to end up on and we are proud to say that goal has finally been accomplished. I have been in contact with them for many years through being a customer and doing trades with them so they were already aware of us. Our debut album got released on UW Records (a newer label formed from a split off from Negativity Records who we have worked with in the past) and Moribund got their hands on it and liked everything about it and offered to put out our follow ups. So we didn’t even have to come begging to
them, but we were planning on it. With such a strong atmosphere and fast songs, how do your live shows look like? Do you have the same intensity? And most importantly, has anyone died in the moshpit yet? Haha It depends where we’re playing, if we play locally or at places where most the people are already familiar with us then people go crazy. We give the crowd bibles to tear up and they usually leave the venue in shambles. If we are playing for a newer crowd or opening up for a more well known band then crowds can be hit or miss. People either think we’re the sickest thing they’ve ever seen or they despise us. Purposely calling the city we’re playing in the wrong name or referring to it as a dump doesn’t really help our cause much though as far as getting new fans goes, nor does saying things like “we are only playing this show because we wanted to get in for free” or “the best thing about being here in *insert city*
is that in a few hours we will be leaving *insert same city*” What are your plans for the rest of this year? We got our CD release show in our hometown at the end of May then we’re playing a big 3 day outdoor camping fest with Nunslaughter and Inquisition out in a northern California forest called Festum Carnis in early June (for more info on that fest go to www.festumcarnis.com). After that I don’t know.
ongratulations on your debut record. It has speed and there’s so much tension on it… how did you come up with this sound? Was it something premeditated or just happened? Thank you. Well, the whole idea behind Sabbatory was to play songs in the same vein as the old ‘80s and ‘90s bands without trying too hard to sound like something specific. We have a ton of different influences and I think they are all stand out. I’m not saying you have reinventing the wheel with “Endless Asphyxiating Gloom” but you certainly proved that the book of Death Metal isn’t fully written yet and it is still possible to come up with a couple of fresh chapters and new twists. What are the other Death Metal bands doing wrong and most importantly, what are you doing differently? There are a lot of great death and black metal bands out there. The thing about playing death/black metal these days, for me, is to sound less of like a throwback and sounding more like just a continuation of the genre. We take influences from lots of bands but I wouldn’t say we try and sound like one specific band. You’re bringing the Death Metal intensity and the riffing from the ‘90s, while keeping a fresh and updated production. Who’s re-
sponsible for such a great sound? And can you tell us how were the recording sessions for this record? Our drummer, Dan Ryckman recorded the record. We set up at Marshal’s house in the summer of 2013 and tracked everything. All I can remember about the recording sessions are about 4 or 5 cases of Corona!
record you have listened to that made you say: “That’s what I want to do!”? ‘Pleasure to Kill’ by Kreator and ‘In the Sign of Evil’ by Sodom. Those were the two that made me want to play evil shit. Of course the classics by Bathory, Venom and Hellhammer, too. All the 80s shit!
It is also possible to notice a few Thrash and Punk elements here. Which bands would you cite as a direct influence to Sabbatory’s sound? Well, our main influences are black/ death bands of the old days. Cancer, Unleashed and Asphyx are definitely big influences on our sound. Of course the originators in the 80s and some punk/hardcore as well. We all have different shit in our record collections.
What can you tell us about the current Canadian Death Metal scene? What’s happening there? Truthfully, I’m not even all too sure. Canada is weird because all of the major cities are so spread apart. It’s hard to network here. I know there are a couple cool bands east and west of us. It seems like all the sick shit is happening on the west coast in the states!
You’re on the right track to make of “Endless Asphyxiating Gloom” one of the albums of the year. How far do you plan to go with Sabbatory and what are your feelings towards this debut album? Do you see it as a future classic? We’re all happy with the record and the reactions it’s gotten so far. It definitely sounds like a first album... It has its charm, for sure. We have new material which is more mature but still carries the same feeling. I think our next album will carry a little more weight with death metal fans. What was the first Death Metal
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Supporting our album! Gonna try and play as many shows outside of our city as possible and keep working on new material.
axen’s debut was released in 2006, which means it was probably recorded almost a decade ago. What motivated this return, if we can call it that way? I honestly didn’t think there would be a second Waxen record because that specific feeling wasn’t around. I can’t just say “hey, time to make a really dark record”- it has to be real. Lots of emotions were boiling to the surface and reluctantly I knew “it’s time”. After so much time, how was the feeling of composing again for this project and what would you say to be the biggest difference between the two albums? The first album was full of anger and grief but I composed and wrote and re-wrote the songs for a few months, every nuance had to be perfect on “Fumaroth”. “Agios” was just pure hate spilling out furiously and is much more violent, if there was a mistake I didn’t care, the emotion had to be captured on the spot. How were the recording sessions for this new record? It sounds very natural and primitive and if it wasn’t for the drums I would say you really tried to stay as much organic as possible… I went with the bare basics for this album. A fostex portable 4 track, guitars plugged straight in and overdriven with the recording unit itself. Vocals through broken earphones. I liked the production on Genocide Kommando’s album as well as Satanic Warmaster’s “Carelian Satanist Madness” so I attempted something similar production wise. While listening to this record, I forgot I was listening to a Black
Metal record and I say this because it’s like you don’t give a shit on how Black Metal is supposed to sound and you just go for what you feel is right. Do you agree with this? Plus, does this have anything to do with your Progressive and Death Metal roots? Yeah, there’s no formula. I always looked at Black Metal as an anything goes metal genre, you’ve got so many types. From the nuclear symphonics of Parnassus, the spaced out prog of Sigh, the devil may care barbarics of Black Witchery, the crushing metal of Grand Belial’s Key, the suicidal death metal inspired Ohtar, the murder metal of Primigenium and pure dark ambient evil of Profanum. So you are correct, the appealing thing about BM is there are no restrictions except the obvious. I hear Voivod and King Crimson in some of the new album...even Jimmy Page at the end of “With Hatred Be Destroyed”. Why do you work alone? Is this the only way to guarantee an album will sound exactly how you want it to sound? Yes, working alone is very beneficial. The vision is not compromised and I don’t have to deal with anyone’s personal issues. Also, where I live, Sheridan, Wyoming... I have no musical equals, no peers. Even if I did, no one takes extreme music of this nature as serious as I do. How seriously will you take Waxen? Can we expect more regular releases from now on? I never say never because I didn’t think there would be a follow up to the debut after so many years past. Waxen is an important outlet though and releasing that bottled up negativity is probably wiser to do on a more consistent
basis than once a decade. So I would think Waxen is here for awhile. How did the partnership with Moribund came about? It was dumb luck and perfect timing. I’ve been good friends with Odin for a long time and when vocalist Jeff Gruslin needed a serious overhaul for Godless Rising, Jeff contacted me and for a time I was “the band” Godless Rising (Trumpet of Triumph). That’s when regular contact with Odin started. In 2013 I had released an instrumental album called “Static Warfare” and contacted Odin to see if he would like some copies for his catalog, which he did. I mentioned I was in the early stages of Waxen demos to him and that was that. Much to my suprise. Moribund is a very busy label but he grabbed Waxen and got it out there fast! I am very fortunate to be with this esteemed label. What’s next for Waxen? It’s hard to say. With this music you never know. Black Metal is a very important music to me and when those old familiar feelings set in again, which they will, Waxen will be back. Musically it will be dark... but what kind of sound that darkness will have is hard to know. Just like the drastic differences between the debut and “Agios Holokauston”.
hank you for taking the time to do this interview. You have presented yourselves a “musical troupe” instead of a band. Why did you choose that description? Khaled: I guess a “troupe” conveys a bunch of artists who travel around… I wrote that initially to take the piss out of the fact that, although we live in London, the five of us couldn’t be further away from each other, geographically speaking - so we have to travel quite a distance just to play together! From what I could gather, it seems that the band took off almost instantly, but that is rarely the case with most bands. How was the formation process with Messenger? Were there any battles fought in order to get the “troupe” together? Gomez: We got together in my studio
(Orgone Studios) for a month and that’s how the band and “Illusory Blues” were born. This was over two years ago. Khaled came as a client who wanted to record some ideas he had worked on by himself and with Barnaby. I offered to play drums. I arranged some of the ideas they had and we also wrote some songs together in the studio. Halfway through the recording process we were excited about the way things were going and decided to make a band out of it. Daniel and James joined us later. We played the album to a few people and the feedback was very positive. I had previously produced and engineered a few records for Svart Records so there was a connection. It was Mat from Hexvessel who suggested sending the album to them and they really liked it, so here we are. There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes actually!
Khaled: I’d actually been playing with both Dan and James for years, with a big focus on this ethereal, spacey sound. We’d jam for hours, but rarely write anything conventionally structured; more so we would experiment with sounds on guitars and synthesizers and effects pedals and creating atmosphere/ ambience. After meeting Barnaby, who I’d also been playing with for a while (mainly on acoustic), I decided one day to go into the studio for a month, with a couple of songs I’d written already, a couple of ideas me and Barnaby had arranged, and a head full of ideas and a willingness to experiment born form years of “basement sessions”. Gomez seemed like a logical choice to produce; his CV is stellar and he is a killer musician as well as a tech-head. The creative impulse and chemistry between us
was staggering; we ended up writing, arranging and recording most of the album spontaneously, save two or three songs I’d written before. But even those changed shape after Gomez got his hands on them. “Totally unafraid to mix it up” is in your description. Folk, Prog, Americana. What attracted you as a band towards these sounds? Gomez: The three of us have very broad musical tastes and we just play what we like and what sounds good to us at the time. We don’t really write with any genres or bands in mind. Khaled is very into psychedelic/prog/rock from the ‘70s, Barnaby I’d say really likes folk/ singer/songwriter stuff, I’m personally really into ‘70s prog, contemporary classical music, but I also listen to a lot of ‘80s and ‘90s thrash, black and death metal. We all listen to a lot of stuff really. Is there a story or concept behind “Illusory Blues” or is it just great music for the sake of it? Khaled: Definitely. Without going into too much detail… I was in a pretty bad way following a series of unfortunate events that had bad implications on my work, my relationships and my health. Playing music was a way for me to resolve internal conflicts within myself as a result of this, to heal myself and to alter my perspective with regards to these aforementioned “complications”. “Illusory blues” literally means “imaginary”; i.e. relating to sadness; understanding that it is transient; suffering is impermanent. Or figuratively, “illusory” means “ethereal”, which conveys one aspect of our sound; the other part, “blues”, I guess is the dawn of what we call “rock” music; whether heavy, jazzy, progressive… It’s absolutely human and organic. So that’s why we came up with it; it’s a mantra for not giving in or giving up, and for accepting life, death, and all the other perpetual cycles around us.
The artwork for your album is great, with a very psychedelic vibe to it. What can you tell us about it? Khaled: The artwork was done by our friend Signalstarr. I think he did a wonderful job of conveying the organic, natural world and the archaic, mystical “alternate” world that co-exist side by side. It’s a very striking piece by a very talented artist who is really “in tune” with nature. Kristoffer Rygg from Ulver had only good things to say about Messenger. What does it mean for you guys to receive praise from such a credible member of the music world? Gomez: I’ve worked a lot with Ulver, and me and Kris have become good friends. For me it means a lot as he’s not only a very talented musician who knows a lot about music, but also a very honest person. I’d love to get him to do some guest vocals for the next album! Khaled: I’ve never met him, but I am long-time fan since “Perdition City”, and having wanted to record with Gomez primarily because of his work with them and Mothlite, it’s unbelievable that someone of that emotional depth and musical complexity can relate to our music and sing its praises. That’s a dream come true! In “Illusory Blues” there are a lot of details that remind fans and critics of works by Mikael Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson. Would you like to name an influence that people wouldn’t automatically get? Gomez: To keep it simple I generally say we’re a cross between Led Zeppelin/ Pink Floyd with Radiohead/Jeff Buckley. That’s for “Illusory Blues”. The next album could sound completely different. On a different note, we never thought we were going to be tagged as a “prog” band… It’s a strange genre these days. There are a lot of “prog” bands I really don’t like. You know, bands of music nerds writing super technical stuff. We’re not into that at all. “Prog” for us
is more bands like King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pink Floyd, Yes, (early) Genesis, Gentle Giant etc... Not stuff like Steve Vai and Dream Theater etc. I don’t think we sound like any of these bands. As far as I know (I think) we write “songs”. Svart Records has a very eclectic selection of bands. Messenger is among bands like Beastmilk, High Priest of Saturn, Jess and the Ancient Ones and even Oranssi Pazuzu. Do you feel any kind of pressure to succeed by being in such company? How has it been working with Svart Records? Gomez: Not at all. We’re very different to all these bands and I’m personally very happy about that. I don’t think there’s much point in putting a record out on a label and think about if you’re going to be more “successful” than other bands in their roster. We just do what we do and we’re humbled about how well received our debut album has been. I have a very good relationship with Tomi at Svart and I’m very happy to be part of the Svart family. What does the future hold for Messenger? What are your plans? Gomez: We’re going on tour with Katatonia around Europe in May. We have a few festivals coming up too. After that I think we’ll start writing a new album.
ell us about your upcoming album “Our Endless War”, what were the inspirations behind it? ”Our Endless War” is probably one of our most emotional albums along with diversity from older releases. We really didn’t have a direction to begin with when we started writing or an inspiration. We simply sit down with what we have, start throwing it together, making skeletons of songs, and then the inspiration comes afterwards. It’s hard to sit down and be 110% inspired when you have no idea where anything is going. This album started getting us pumped when the songs began to take more of a concrete shape because there were a lot of hooks and moments in the songs that had never ending possibilities. What are the themes lyrically speak-
ing? There’s not just one theme for this album. Every song has a different flavor musically and lyrically. If there were to be one unifying theme that can somewhat tie the songs together lyrically it’s “The most hateful way possible to say humanity itself fallen into ruin and stupidity all on its own…and it doesn’t care.” What are the new turns musically speaking? The music on this album is somewhat of a combination of all our previous albums. We tried to keep the Whitechapel sound while not letting anything restrain us from trying different approaches. The genre that we’re pigeonholed into has such a sterile profile that it just gets old over time…so we just do whatever we want.
How has the song-writing evolved since your first demo? Well, back then we wrote everything as a whole while we all jammed together in the same room. I think that’s a big part of what our music is missing nowa-days but the way we have to write now is a bit different. Since all of us live in different places now the only time we get together in the same room with our instruments that isn’t a show is for practice. For the past 3 albums or so, we’ve all started just writing and recording our own demos/songs at home and emailing them to each other. When it comes time to start writing for an album, we take everything we individually have, throw it in a pot, and start sifting through it to find grounds to work off of. Is there an official video being re-
leased? Not anytime soon. The money for music videos comes out of our pockets and lets be honest, a band doesn’t really benefit from music videos. MTV doesn’t exactly air music videos anymore. Vidoes wind up getting played on youtube a lot for advertisement and that’s really it. So, why pay all the money and put the effort into a video when you can just do a lyric video anyways? Now, if we could afford to make a really kick ass video that brought the image WE wanted to life and benefit from it that would be awesome. People don’t realize how much they really cost to do a GOOD music video and that’s why all these metal bands have the same format. They’re always in a warehouse with cheesy lighting and sub-par camera shots. Needless to say, a video isn’t our #1 priority right now. We’re not made of money and we’re tired of looking mediocre. In “The Saw Is The Law” there’s a Meshuggah-y feeling to it. What are your favourite bands? Do you enjoy new bands or are you more oldschool? I really don’t like the “favorite band question” because there’s just too many to name. For what I enjoy, I really do like a lot new and old bands. I find myself coming back to older records a lot but every now and again there will be a new band that’s really damn good as well. I’m not biased, I just like GOOD music. CD, Vinyl, MP3, what are your favourite formats, are you avid collectors of music? I still collect CD’s and Vinyls but not religiously. If there’s something I randomly find on the road that I would like to have, I’ll usually grab it. I’m not biased to how I listen to them, though. MP3′s are extremely convenient which is why they’re the leading way people listen to music today. Now, I will say I’m a snob
for sound quality so I refuse to do low bit rate MP3’s or stream music via pandora, spotify, etc…it sounds like shit. You have raised an impressive amount to produce a DVD, congratulations. What can we expect from it, and do you have a release date in mind? Thank you. There’s no concrete release date as of it. As for what to expect from it, I honestly couldn’t begin to tell you. We have a whole lot of footage we’ve collected over the years and are constantly recording every time we’re on the road. I’d say it’ll be a lot of live footage, life on the road footage, and behind the scenes footage as well. We’re extremely boring people so hopefully everyone won’t fall asleep within the first 20 minutes of the DVD. You are and have been touring extensively, how is life on the road for you? By now we’re used to it. We know how to make it work and live around the people that we have to see day in and day out. The more we do this and the older I get, the more I dislike traveling, though. I still LOVE playing shows and that will never grow old in my eyes, but I’m just to the point where I don’t like everything in between. It’d be different if we stayed in every place we went for a couple of days because then I would have time to see everything. The fact is, we’re there for less than 1 day and the majority of it is spent working. How does the crowd affect your performance? Well, the crowd is the reason we do what we do for a living. To say I don’t feed off a crowd that’s having a good time at one of our shows would be a lie. I love looking out and seeing everyone having a good time. The bad part is, I can’t wear my glasses on stage so half of the time I can’t see them anyways. What are your plans after the
North-American Tour? We have one (tour) scheduled with DevilDriver coming up in May. Tour dates are posted everywhere on the internet. What’s the best concert you’ve seen recently? I hardly ever make it out to concerts anymore but the last memorable one I really enjoyed was Gojira. They absolutely floored me live. Such a good band. For our guitarists readers, can you give us a tab to practice playing at the speed of light? Well, here’s the thing that all up and coming guitar players need to understand that I can’t stress enough. You don’t HAVE to play at the speed of light, you don’t HAVE to shred, you don’t HAVE to play what everyone says you have to in order to be a good guitarist. This is the idea that seems to floating around constantly these days and what everyone needs to realize is that all of that will come in time IF YOU WANT IT. Just write from your gut first…learn to harness that then everything will follow afterwards. With that being said, go learn something fun. Whether it’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” at 250 BPM or a minute-long old Misfts song…just have fun.
hen did you first started to play music and what were your ambitions back
then? I have actually been a musician from childhood. Classical Piano at age five and singing from birth. Writing songs from the age of 8 etc. As a child and teen I sang in Church as a Soloist and then it evolved into singing in rock bands. Once exposed to heavy metal music and Ronnie Dio, I was hooked on being a metal singer / musician and songwriter. As a child performing was only to perform and enjoying the process and get used to being on a stage but as I became an adult musician I
realized it was a business and the goals changed. They became first of all to be a great songwriter and singer/ musician. Record some music and tour. I of course, planned to be successful at it but money or fame was never the reason I played music. I was born for what I do and I am blessed to have been doing it from a very young age. Have you accomplished everything you wanted in the beginning? What’s left for Stygmata? Well, I can say I have accomplished a ton of what I started out desiring and in some ways the events in my life have exceeded some of the things
I expected to turn up. However, for STYGMATA this is really just a jump off point. This band and solo CD was a transitional band to get me from my original New Jersey / Arizona band, JARRA (Lion Music) and into a new band for the “second act” of my career so to speak. That in itself was a massive amount of work musically and emotionally as we were together for a long time, newly signed to a European Label and ending that original band was stressful. So STYGMATA was spontaneous combustion that was formed from the death of the original line up. To me, a new killer CD is what is necessary for STYGMATA to move
up the metal ladder a bit more and I plan to do that with this new CD. I still want to get back out on the road a bit to work out the new songs and get back in touch with the fans but I will be writing on the road as well so I can keep energy into a new CD. Your last record was released in 2008. What took you so long to decide to release something new? Can you talk us through the last 6 years so we can have some sense of perspective? Surely. First of all I have been in bands since High School with never a break in all that time and if you want a career in music for life it appears that life itself will give you some self time to regroup. For me what was going on after I left JARRA (Lion Music) and found the new members to record Bleed and actually get the CD completed was a chain of events that have been a wild ride for the last few years. I had just left Arizona alone as I ended my relationship with Lion Music and left the Bleed studio band and moved to Austin, TX to build a recording studio and a new house here. I released Bleed while moving to Texas. The CD actually did great and charted Top 10 and Top 20 on the metal charts and is still in rotation on lots of metal radio along with the title track, Bleed having a real spooky Video. The Bleed video also took a very long time with a series of set backs that were so bizarre it would take up another whole interview to talk about it. That was a HUGE block of time but well worth it. The attention and success of the CD also got me a lot of connections in Austin. So, from about 2009 - early 2012 I did a side project here in Austin. I co-created a project and co-wrote a bunch of songs with an Austin musician releasing those songs under another project named RKM for which the songs were being written for tv and film soundtracks. That led me to working
on some instrumentals as well for the same type of work. So between another metal / rock project and working very hard behind the scenes with getting my music into tv and film it brings me here right now to be ready to make a new STYGMATA CD. During this time also were some heavy personal losses in my family and also members of my band family. All of the deaths came back to back one after another and some private and alone time was also needed for me to grieve all of them. I had lost many loved ones In a very short time. You’re now working on your next record “Next Victim”. What can we expect from it and when will it be out? Well, I am always going to be a melodic heavy metal (elements of power metal) singer and songwriter so I most times ..not all times...haha.....do not depart from the path for which I am assigned. However, I seem to be evolving into heavier territory with each new song so I would say....expect classic heavy metal but maybe a little more aggressive in the attack. I am classically trained so I tend to always write melodically and that does not change I noticed with myself but I also feel like I have more aggression in me now than in prior bands. I know myself and I know my perfectionism can keep me in studios very long but I would like to have a new CD out no later than early 2015 ...so about a year which is actually fast for me! Can you elaborate on the album title? Why have you made this choice? Oh I was thinking about a new title for a long time and it really just came to me as I was pondering the way my career has gone. From my first gig to now and there seems to be a theme where I enter these new higher cycles of vibrations and better things keep
showing up and bigger things keep showing up and the career gets better and better. My expansion, so to speak. So often in my career I have been underestimated until I perform live and it is always a great feeling to raise your metal sword up and win over new fans......so in a way it is like a Triumph to be making another STYGMATA record! You’re contracting new members to record “Next Victim” and also to play live. Due to this change, how different will be the new album when compared to 2008’s “Bleed”? Would you say that will affect the song writing dynamic in any way? Yes, well when I moved to Texas the Bleed studio band obviously could not all relocate for whatever reasons and so now I am actually contracting for a permanent band to come out of the new touring band. People that I can stay around and work with longer if possible. After you tour with people you get to know them pretty well and so if it works out I plan to keep the band in tact for ongoing projects. Since I do all the writing that will be unaffected unless of course the new line up is able to co write together successfully. That is something I would just LOVE to do to see what can come out of me writing with others in STYGMATA. I think it would be great and be a way to evolve in a newer way. So I am excited about what is to come right now and open creatively to all talent in the band. I never wanted to be a solo artist at all. I left JARRA for reasons of musical differences and egos out of control but it was not my first choice. I would completely love to have a monogamous new band again. Are you confident that you will find the right persons for the job? Yes. For a few reasons actually. I have a large group of metal musicians
around me that are amazing players. There are new and younger metal musicians on the up and coming which is great to have new blood now coming in and metal is bigger than ever in my opinion. It is just a matter of finding the right marriage of energies. And I am patient when it comes to finding the right people and writing the best songs etc. I actually cannot wait to announce the new line up! How much touring will you do to promote the new release? Any anticipation on the upcoming shows? Since I am pretty itchy to get out I would really love to play for the next 12 -18 months ...longer if we can get the new CD done during that time as well. I would like to focus on some of the Festivals of course in the USA and in Europe so we can try to touch all the fans in all the areas. So I am already mentally getting ready to travel lots again. And it would be great to get the new songs worked out in a live setting. Long as there are shows....I plan to be out and about metalizing them. Band must be killer! Cannot serve wine before it’s time so I really need the band to be tight before I take them out. However, it will happen. How do you evaluate the current Power Metal scene and what’s your opinion on today’s Metal? Which recent bands do you listen to? Oh I guess I think maybe metal is lacking new younger power metal bands for now but I feel that will change. In a way there are so many sub genres of heavy metal it is hard to see where
things are actually going so to me it feels things are a bit lost and trendy which is a drag for metal at the moment. Going off in so many directions. However, always the cream will rise to the top and maybe we will see more of the melodic power metal bands coming to the front again. I miss the melodies and the dual guitar attacks and solos as well as real singing and songwriting. I would like to expand on that by saying I tend to like what is actually good and intense regardless of the sub genre. I love Primal Fear for being power metal veterans but I love Children of Bodem as well as Lamb of God for their aggression and melody. For me if it is real and heart- felt ..it is good. I am still into the pioneers like Accept, Scorpions, Priest, Dio and Maiden as well. They are the real reasons I play metal. How do you compare the role played by social media and the internet in general nowadays to back when you released “Bleed”? How important is the internet for Stygmata? Even since our first deal in 2000 things have changed in a big way. We didn’t down load yet or really even myspace music. Today the Internet is the easiest and fastest way to get your music heard and sold. I am on itunes and all the down load stores with all my CDs so it is very important. I would like to stress though that it does not take the place of the live shows and being in front of the fans. I see bands social networking non stop trying to get the most friends and likes and all that. That is all good and it helps to
get your information out there. But for me there is nothing like being on tour and playing for the fans. So as much as the itunes and the facebooking pages are great..they do not take the place of a kick ass band playing live. I have always seen in my career that greater things happen when you are out performing to a live audience. Things seem to come easier to you when you are in that vibe. I love it....I love the live experience the most. What are your plans for this year? To recap the plans are basically to secure the new touring line up......the fans have asked if I will be performing music from both incarnations on the road and that is a yes. I will be performing music from Test of Faith (JARRA - Lion Music) as well as the Bleed CD (KRG) and maybe throwing in some of the new stuff here and there...and get out on the road at least doing some warm up dates in AZ and TX with a focus on Festivals and good opening spots on some bigger shows. I plan to start pre production at my home studio laying down the basic tracks for the new CD and will continue to be working on songs for music and film pitching...That should be a good start...
n how many music projects are you currently involved in? I am currently involved in three active musical projects: Breathelast (vocals), which is ground zero, mainly because it’s the one project I invest most of my time and resources in, The Boy Who Cried Wolf (vocals) and Bloodway (bass guitar). I’m also involved in a series of other projects, home managed. Being the front man in Breathelast and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, I presume you’re responsible for writing the lyrics as well. What kind of themes do you focus on in the two bands? I am mostly responsible for the lyrics only in Breathelast, in The Boy Who Cried Wolf our guitarist, Bogdan, is the main lyricist and vocal composer. In both bands, when I am involved in my part of the wordings, I usually go with bits and pieces of my day to day thoughts that surprise me suddenly, being inspired from an action, a day dreaming or simply a personal downfall. The difference between Breathelast and TbWcW is that Bogdan is very fleshy & raw in description, also very biblical at times, while I, in Breathelast, follow the different waves of one’s own appreciation of passing times and events, trying to keep a log of this elapsed time in my own form and vocal arbitrage. What about your role in Bloodway? Playing bass was my first connection with music, I was extremely glad to be able to perform alongside such cool artists like Alex “Para” Ghita (drums) & Costin Chioreanu (guitars/vocals). I mean, they’re professional in every way and Costin seems to have this super power to write hit songs and create a proper environment for the project to expand musically. I think I am part of a very cool trio that does some very awesome music. Let’s talk a bit about your “ground zero”, which is Breathelast. By comparing the band’s debut self-titled EP and the material from the recently released split EP with Cap De
Craniu, “Split It Out”, do you believe there are any aspects in which Breathelast evolved? Vocals and riffs have been drastically changed to fit our new growth and I think that for our supporters, the evolution is distinctive and clear. For us is just a glimpse of what we can actually do, being constrained by time, family and job. Breathelast is a band that finally settled in it’s own deserved balance, after almost four years of activity and as a conclusion to all this time spent in over 60 live shows and 2 studio records and several music videos, we have decided to take it a bit easier, because our efforts, ideas, money and evolution will be laid to waste. Basically, we will try to have better shows or no shows at all. “Better” is a solid constant that holds in it’s definition the agreement of being paid (at all or decent), having decent sound on stage every time and being able to put on the kind of show you know will be appreciated. Of course all of this remains just conversation until the blatant proof of it all. We are hooked on music, therefore we will try. Time will be our single and most cruel judge. Last year, The Boy Who Cried Wolf debuted with the “Bad Time Stories” album and a music video for the acclaimed single “It’s Just a Rebel, Sir!” Is there any new stuff we could expect from the band this year? TbWcW is preparing the terrain for a new record. The record’s name will be BELLICOSE. We recently launched our newest video, for “Inverted Queen”, a powerful song of lust and conquest over one’s weaknesses. As a very active and a very well experienced figure of the Romanian underground scene, what are your thoughts about the public’s commitment, unity among bands and the fairness level expressed by the promoters and venues? I do believe that a band, no matter how good it is or how much they have to offer, unless there is a person with some managerial skills and some kick ass attitude towards the organizers, it’s just a filler band. That is the “magic”
of the local scene, which pretty much doesn’t exist. The only “scene” I recognize is the combined and honest efforts of the bands I had the opportunity to know. These efforts, sincere and musically oriented, without the bullshit that often comes with playing in a band, is the only healthy path to a DIY community, for which I hold only respect. Finally, the million dollar question: How do you manage to split your time and energy in so many directions – personal life and the three bands previously mentioned? Well, that’s the dark pit of someone else supporting my actions and dreams, consequently putting themselves last, in between my absent minded self, while contemplating music and it’s local finite possibilities, and my duties for my family. I can only say that I am the luckiest man on earth only because Uana, my wife, recognizes my dependency on music and respects it, because she feels I’ve found my freedom and my calling. She has been so patient and not doubtful about my actions, sacrifice that gets overlooked at times but that’s the beauty about doing this the balanced way , the beauty about music performed all heart out, it makes you a better being. My mother and my wife are the ones who encourage my involvement in music. If at times it created distance between my real life and my music afterglows, now it perfectly balances the two, due to experience and the need to perform just as passionately in my point of origin band, my family. Even more, actually! A semi solid schedule and determined band members constitute the second part of the working machinery that is my musical endeavor.
CRADLE OF FILTH Total Fucking Darkness 2LP Mordgrimm
After two decades from the original releasing of the “Total Fucking Darkness” demo, Cradle Of Filth, alongside Mordgrimm label, are re-launching that infamous work that preceded the iconic “Principle Of Evil Made Flesh” (1994). However, this re-issue isn’t all and only about “Total Fucking Darkness” as we have a long lost song opening this opus: “Spattered In Faeces” – the surviving song from the “Goetia” sessions, the album that
supposed to be Cradle’s debut. Back in the early 1990s, there were some funding problems and the original tapes were sadly erased; only that track survived and twenty years later Cradle Of Filth gives it a new and glorious birth. “Splattered In Faeces” may has an initial death metal driving due to the little time that separate the first death metal demos in 1992 and the debut album in 1994, but as the song goes on the melodic and beautiful, yet rudimentary, orchestrations start to appear – that’s a song that would fit easily in the first three full-
lengths. Next, follow the tracks that originated this re-issue as we have a yet-to-be-polisheddiamond titled “The Black Goddess Rises” with guttural vocals led by Dani Filth contrasting with the atmosphere Cradle Of Filth delivered in those years. Said that, nothing is well settled because even in 1993 I dare to say Cradle Of Filth were still trying to find their true identity as we have an almost straight death metal song, titled “Unbridled At Dusk”, full of fast and full-bodied guitar riffs. Instead of variations between atmospheric
moments and melodic black metal passages like we have in “Dusk… And Her Embrace”, “Total Fucking Darkness” is more aggressive regarding soundscape changes. “The Raping Of Faith” track is a true example of that characteristic and we can divide the song in two distinct works: I’d put the engaging sounds exhaled by the keyboards in “Dusk… And Her Embrace” and the violent expectoration sneezed by the guitars in “Invoking The Unclean” demo (1992). The second vinyl features some items that are worth to be part of every collector. “Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diavoli)” and “Séance And Mandrake” are unreleased tracks that would be featuring in the lost “Goetia” album. Benjamin Ryan, brother of the guitar player Paul Ryan, wasn’t forgot and Cradle Of Filth gave him the condign space in this reissue as we have a magical and enigmatic track played by the keyboardist, titled “Hekate Enthroned”. Listening to this is like to be putted in a time machine and travel back to the early 1990s, even if the songs have a soft new outfit injected by the well-known engineer Tim Turan (who has worked with bands such as Emperor). On the other hand, and I as said before, “Total Fucking Darkness”, version 2014, is a unique item to be gallantly showed in every shelf and to be spoiled in every sound equipment in your room. [Diogo Ferreira]
AVATAR Hail The Apocalypse
AZYLYA Sweet Cerebral Destruction
BELOW Across The Dark River
BLOOD AND SUN White Storms Fall
/10 Avatar takes an
interesting route with their newest effort. What I had loved from the previous album was the maniacal and twisted aspect that was fused within the music. This is gone, however, and replaced with a more melodic and accessible approach. Melodic death metal is more prevalent here as well, deriving a lot of the sound from the Gothenburg style. The title track gives you a broad idea of what to expect yet be prepared for some curve balls. I was pretty disappointed at first, but with further listens and a closer ear, what this release lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in energy. [Jeffrey Allee]
MAYHEM Esoteric Warfare Season Of Mist
/10 This is, without
any doubts, one of the most eagerly awaited records of the last years. There was some skepticism on how Mayhem would be able to continue without Blasphemer, but everyone who might listen to “Esoteric Warfare” will find that
/10 The first time
I’ve listened to “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” by Azylya, I sense this heavy and depressive atmosphere which fits like a glove in their dark, strong music and here’s why: the band tells the story of a young girl who was abused by her father and later abandoned her in an asylum to avoid scandal. Now, I have never been in a place like this but one can imagine how insane and terrifying that must be. With “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” you’re a hostage of Azylya’s own world and if it wasn’t for the beautiful and appeasing voice of JamieLee Smit, my guess is you would barely survive to this great sonic attack from this promising Gothic Metal band. [Joel Costa]
Morten “Teloch” Iversen seems to have the creative and technical ability to carry Mayhem’s torch into the future. What’s immediately noticeable is that the ex-Gorgorth guitarist seems to understand what elements make sense on the songwriting process for Mayhem, having effectively bridged Blasphemer’s sense of song structuring with Euronymous’ chord arrangement style. This is especially noticeable on the album’s first half, which starts on a highly destructive tone with crushing numbers like “Watchers”, “Psywar” or the machine gun blasting “Trinity” where Hellhammer’s drumming reaches insane intensity levels. The second half of “Esoteric” maintains Teloch’s style crossing ethos, but it possesses a clearly different atmosphere, on which the guitarist’s own influence came to the forefront. Tracks
/10 When I think of
Swedish bands what comes to mind are fast and technical bands like Dark Tranquillity or In flames, for example. This is a Doom Metal band and their sound can be defined as a cross between Candlemass and later day Dio, without the technology imaginary. As many other Swedish bands the sound is fantastic and the production is excellent, even more so for such a young band, which was formed in 2012. Not a classic by any means but still a very solid effort from a band that like Ghost or In Solitude can easily find its niche in the metal world. [Nuno Babo]
like “VI.Sec”, “Throne of Time” and “Aion Suntelia” marked a shift from the album’s opening blazing brutality into more of a darker ambience, where the songs end up unpredictably unraveling upon an ensemble of chilling, dark and obscure riffs. Overall, “Esoteric Warfare” might not be as twisted as its predecessor “Ordo ad Chao”, but it’s a well-thought and masterfully executed record which main-
/10 What Storms Fall is
no where near that of a metal album, but it’s message could be depicted differently. Purely acoustic (including string instruments), this album doesn’t seek to hit hard and fast, but instead let beauty and emotion sink in as time passes. Strong, bellowing vocals provide the backbone, unlike that of drums in many other projects, with the guitar providing the rhythm. The melody is brought out from the beautifully played violin, cellos, and surprisingly a hammered dulcimer which brings out a monumental amount of folk influence. If you’re looking for some music with elegance and ground, White Storms Fall is the go to for you. [Jeffrey Allee]
tained the high quality standards of Mayhem’s past releases and simultaneously redefined what can be perceived as “Progressive Black Metal”. Other than that, “Esoteric Warfare” might just be one of the best releases of the year and definitely a strong indicator that this new line-up might have another masterpiece to present in the near future. [Luís Alves]
BLOOD RED FOG On Death’s Wings
/10 “Harvest”, the previous
album from this Finnish Black Metal outfit had a running time of 44 minutes divided into four songs, which already says a lot about this band. Some didn’t appreciate the fact that Blood Red Fog were so repetitive in their songs... My take on this? It was brilliant! But now they’re back with their third full-length entitled “On Death’s Wings” and it couldn’t be different. Well, not that different as the band kept their consistency and authenticity but as far as variety in their song structure goes, this one marks a new chapter in the Blood Red Fog’s career. The vocals sound like a ghost trapped in a haunted house telling his laments, and all this is accompanied by a beautiful sound which carries some Folk elements making of “On Death’s Wings” an extremely wellwritten Black Metal album and one of the best of 2014! [Joel Costa!]
/10 Most of the times a
Neo Prog Band tries too hard to have a classic or vintage sound, like Opeth or tries too hard to be technical, like for example Dream Theater. These Norwegians can effortlessly incorporate their main influences, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson and Caravan in their sound without becoming tiresome or tedious. Record in a Jam like environment in their own studio, it seems like every song is intertwined in a weave of guitar, drums, bass and keyboards. Highly recommended for Neo Prog fans that are searching for a band that doesn’t try too hard to be anything else than what they already are, a band that incorporates their influences in a contemporary sound with ease. [Nuno Babo]
AGALLOCH The Serpent & The Sphere Eisenwald
/10 Agalloch are
around us for almost twenty years, but have never hit the masses possibly due to their shadowy posture. Nevertheless, they are an important and iconic living
record that is easy to get into with very little surprises. This doesn’t affect the replay value at all, as this release contains interesting elements of hardcore punk fused into extreme metal that comes across almost like a black and death metal record. The pacing is one of the more interesting elements, with blazing fast drum rhythms that get the adrenaline pumping to powerful, doom-esque guitar sections that drags your face onto the ground. If you’re more into the direct approach style of metal that relies on different influences to keep it interesting, this one is for you. Sometimes getting straight to the point is a good thing. [Jeffrey Allee]
You will not have a free ride in this life. If you want to go around in style you must buy the ticket! This is a lesson that Sweden’s Deathdestruction (a band that features some members from Evergrey in their lineup) have learned the hard way. Because if you think life hasn’t been sweet to you and often strikes you with bad luck, wait to hear these guys story! Abandoned by their manager when they were about to hit the road with In Flames and with a lot of tension within the band, they have managed to go around that and create “II”, a powerful album that lives and breathes Groove Metal while sounding a bit grungy sometimes. There’s a lot of aggression on it and their songwriting was taken to a whole new level when compared to their self-titled debut. Deathdestruction shows here that they have arised from the ashes stronger than ever and the future sounds very, very promising!
band and everything they create turns into gold. The newest “The Serpent & The Sphere” is no exception concerning the art of doing magnificent music. The neo-folk passages with the using of an acoustic guitar are present like never before in several song parts and more evident in tracks like “(Serpens Caput)” and “(Serpens Cauda)” working as intro and outro, respectively. Even if I think this album is their softer one, there are some Agalloch typical moments of aggressiveness in “The Astral Dialogue” contrasting a final mellow passage in “Dark Matter Gods”. Solos are also something Agalloch didn’t forget as we have an emotive and lined one in “Celestial Effigy”. A post-rock soundscape
can be heard in “Vales Beyond Dimension” due to the echoed lead guitar followed by a condemned musical feeling in the last part of the song – this type of approach isn’t new in Agalloch, but it never been so vivid like now. Recalling the past, the twelve minute instrumental “Plateau Of The Ages” reminds me of the fantastic “Ashes Against The Grain”, released in 2006, because of the sad and catching melody once again delivered by the lead guitar. As a final analysis, John Haughm’s voice is one of Agalloch’s trademark and it keeps recognizable at the very first words sang by him. Agalloch are here to stay! Another record is out and, of course, worth to listen to! [Diogo Ferreira]
/10 Pantheist is a
DECEMBRE NOIR A Discouraged Believer
EREBUS ENTHRONED Temple Under Hell
HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY Aokigahara
HELLSPIRIT Dawn Under Curse
W.T.C.Productions / Seance Records
Art Of Propaganda
/10 Woah. This is
definitely a word I would use to describe this opus. Sheer beauty and charisma resides here, complete with the destructive pacing of death metal and the climactic moments found within doom metal. With the element of death metal to pace it, this album doesn’t knuckle drag like similar albums (although I’m a big fan of that style of doom as well) and becomes pretty important with keeping listeners interested. The weighty guitar, graceful melodies placed overhead, and depressing yet volcanic vocals bring a lot of surprises to the table as well. I’d have to say that this is one of the few doom albums I’ve heard this year that I’ll keep up in high regard. [Jeffrey Allee]
/10 Hailing from the
bottom of the world, Australia, Erebus Enthroned release the second full-length, “Temple Under Hell”. Inspired by the Swedish black metal including visible similarities with Dissection and Watain, Erebus Enthroned proves the new album can transmit a stronger message than the debut. With “Sorathick Pentecost”, the band emanates the modern ritualistic black metal featuring bells and mid-pace preparatory passages which will erupt violently. Every song is played in a very tight and consisting manner with hellish and enlightening guitar riffs like in “Crucible Of Vitriol” and “Void Wind” – that’s where I think Erebus Enthroned are a step further than the northern European scene. “Temple Under Hell” is a black mass leaving no salvation to the fragile minds. [Diogo Ferreira]
ARKONA Yav Napalm Records
/10 Arkona (or
Аркона, for the purists) is a band unknown to few. Their own brand of rowdy, burly –and very Slavic- Pagan Folk Metal earned its rightfully deserved place among the ears of headbangers world-wide.
/10 While not
making music that’s particularly original within the (sub)genre, Harakiri for the Sky’s music still stands out as very well-written, melancholic, and filled with a sense of nostalgic beauty. This Austrian duo managed to create an album that feels “new” within an arguably saturated subgenre, without deviating from its rules. They play the game, and they play it flawlessly, with 9 (10 on the vinyl) tracks of a dynamic, layered sound with a depth that keeps it interesting during multiple listens, and varied song-structures that grip your interest from start to finish. The riffs are crunchy and catchy and the vocals very well suited to the instrumentals. Definitely recommended. [David Horta]
The band’s sound has shown small changes over the years, of course, but “Yav”, their 7th full-length, is perhaps their more… distinct album to date, and maybe not for all the right reasons. One of the very first things we notice in the album is its very heavy ambiance and atmosphere. We are all aware that Arkona aren’t a band that necessarily skimps on atmosphere, but this album feels much more dense and heavy than usual. While the band’s music definitely has its somber and serious moments, the usual cheery or light-hearted moments you find sprinkled around in earlier albums seem to be missing here. The music feels mostly slower, darker, and even some Blackgaze
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/10 Formed in
Kuopio, Finland, Hellspirit have altered their lineup very drastically during the first years of existence, causing some mutations in their sound which evoluted from a straightforward thrash-oriented Black Metal to a more epic and war-like Black Metal one, maintaining their Thrash roots alive. “Dawn Under Curse” was already supposed to be out there since 2012 but their record label ceased all activities before the debut was released, leaving Hellspirit - which were already one of the most prominents bands from Finland - unsigned. Now, it sees the day of light via Saturnal Records and justice can be done! It’s speedy, epic and intense and its only sin is the production which could sound a lot better. Can’t wait to hear what’s coming next! [Joel Costa]
or Depressive Black Metal influences seem to be strongly present, particularly on track 4, and near the end of the album. This is not a bad album. But it feels like a bad Arkona album. A less attentive listener, hearing one of its tracks out of context could have difficulty pinpointing the band it was by, due to how different and “out there” some of these tracks sound. I think experimenting and trying to branch out a band’s sound is a commendable thing. But it is a fine line to walk, for we risk drifting too far away from the band’s identity, and producing something maybe a bit too alien. [David Horta]
HIGH SPIRITS You Are Here High Roller Records
/10 Nowadays many
bands try to emulate Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin albeit the seventies sound, in what is designated as Stoner Rock, or Retro Doom if you prefer. It’s not every day that you hear a band (just on guy really) paying tribute to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, to a time when Saxon, Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard (the early Leppard) ruled the airwaves and many Heavy Metal fan’s hearts. Simple, infectious and direct as more bands should probably sound, this is an interesting record for the nostalgic and also to the people who want to discover the legacy of one the most important styles in Heavy Metal. [Nuno Babo]
KILLGASM A Stab in the Heart of Christ
Giant Electric Pia
IQ The Road of Bones
/10 Over 30 years since
their inception, and regardless of never being able to break out the prog rock niche into the mainstream, on their 11th studio album, IQ are one more example of a late period prog collective which managed to age really well. Consisting of five lengthy compositions, “The Road of Bones” displays the British quintet at the top of their compositional skills. Far are the the late 80s, where the band awkwardly aimed at commercial success. Here they are proudly back to their roots, indulging in intricate and complex song structures and expert musicianship, with an album somewhat comparable to Marillion’s highly accomplished last effort, “Sounds That Can’t Be Made”. Definetely, a highlight for their fine career... [Jaime Ferreira]
AURVANDIL Thrones Eisenwald
/10 Founded back in
2006, Aurvandil have released only demos, splits and one EP between 2007-2010. The first steps into the fulllengths were done with “Yearning”, in 2011, and now I declare Aurvandil are a serious confir-
/10 “A Stab In The
Heart Of Christ” is more than what the title expresses: it is also a punch in the face... a real good one! This Californian trio is back with another hate-filled record and their mixture between Grindcore and Black Metal sounds like someone is pissing in your ears but you’re so fucked up that you actually enjoy it! Weird, right? I know. Here, the music and the artwork are the perfect couple as you’ll probably find the music the same way as my mother will find the artwork: repulsive! We couldn’t ask for a better production, some songs are very short while others postpone the pig slaughter, making of this record a varied and well-balanced one. I wonder if the drummer takes some vitamins?! [Joel Costa]
mation within the atmospheric black metal sub-genre because of the brand new “Thrones”. Including four magical hymns of Iron and Ice, “Thrones” is able to take our body and soul into the gelid northern landscapes in order to reach the hyperborean purity. The using of melodic and slow acoustic guitars in the album kick off with “For Whom Burnest Thou” is like a ritualistic moment which is preparing us for this immaculate journey that will transcend us unto glacial rivers and misty mountains. These two environments I just described are personified by heavy and long hypnotic guitar riffs that are beautifully transfigured as cold breezes running in our veins. However, that’s not the only work done with guitars as we have some melodic lead
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/10 This English band
is releasing the debut “I” and it premeditates that they can be a project to have in count during the infinite future. Landskap incarnate the traditional European doom metal/rock with the “A Nameless Fool” track which includes slow and mourning guitar riffs. The melodic and clean vocals helped by some echoes create a psychedelic atmosphere that can make us levitate. But if the side A is more European, on side B there’s a song called “To Harvest The Storm” that puts us in a desert forgetting they are from a rainy country – that’s how a band can reach high grounds, creating different soundscapes without betraying the genre. When searching for doom bands, don’t forget to play Landskap. [Diogo Ferreira]
passages that can be seen as black/post metal performances, like in “The Harvest Of Betrayal” or “Ingen Lindring”. “Summon The Storms” may be seen as the epic peak with its almost twenty minutes running time where all Aurvandil characteristics and aesthetics are blended. It’s genial and certainly created through hard work. The frozen and harsh vocals are heard all along the album; sometimes a little far, but I interpreted this feature as being in an ample landscape. I dare to say I haven’t heard such good straight atmospheric black metal album since the day I bought Walknut’s “Graveforests And Their Shadows”. “Thrones” is marvelous, iconic, intriguing and devoted to the cause. [Diogo Ferreira]
LEGACY OF CYNTHIA Renaissance
NEIGE ET NOIRCEUR Gouffre Onirique et Abîmes...
NUX VOMICA Nux Vomica
/10 Although this is the
debut album from this Portuguese quintet, “Renaissance” confirms the potential of the band hailing from Sintra has to explore in the fusion heavy and progressive textures. Punchy, melodic and melancholic at the same time, the ten compositions in the record transpire also a maturation of the composition and technical skills. Now with only one male vocalist, Peter Miller, the band has more freedom to explore new ground and find their own identity. The production, signed by their bass player Caeser Craveiro at his own studio, is also very full and clinical, accentuating the powerful hooks and different atmospheres. Despite being released in a digital format, the record is also available in a limited edition digipack. [José Branco]
/10 These ambient black
metal titans release their fourth full length album to the masses and I’m not sure anyone is prepared for it. The name of this project perfectly depicts the style of music they play, snow and blackness. With darkness as the backbone, black metal fans will definitely enjoy, as the music contains raw and abrasive vocals, driving drum rhythms, and an overall sense of dread cast overhead. What really has me drawn into this record is the use of ambient/atmospheric elements that place itself on top of the music, like a blanket of snow (see what I did there?). This is pure majesty. [Jeffrey Allee]
MANILLA ROAD Mystification Shadow Kingdom Records
/10 Few bands have
such a great back catalogue like Manilla Road. Formed in 1977, it’s weird how they never got bigger. Still, even if they never did rise to the pantheon of heavy/thrash, they were able to gather a dedicated
/10 Honestly, this album
is pretty weird. The vocals really threw me off when I first gave this a listen (and still do to an extent), giving off an awkward tribal take on the neofolk sub-genre, which is described as cave wave by some. Hard to explain unless you give it a listen for yourself, which I can say is something you should do. Despite the first impressions, I gotta say that I enjoy it. The music is hypnotizing, with a repetitive streak that accentuates with the vocalist well but is able to keep the pace going forward. If you’re looking for a different style of neofolk, look no further. [Jeffrey Allee]
cult of followers to their ranks. When Manilla Road released “Mystification” (their 6th album) in 1987 they already were in their 10th year, had released the legendary “Deluge”, and were attempting what always seems impossible: to create an album that could exist outside the shadow of “Deluge”. Looking back, we can now admire Manilla Road for their ability to adapt. “Mystification” was the first album in which the band infused Thrash Metal. It would prove to be a wise decision: it was the next step in the history of a Heavy Metal institution, and where “Deluge” had achieved perfection in the genre, “Mystification” needed to be more aggressive. The new album contained faster riffs, more aggressive vocals
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/10 At first, some may
think there isn’t too much to talk about a release than contains only three songs. But when it comes to extreme music you’re not allowed to be skeptical if you truly want to experience something really freakin’ awesome. And with Nux Vomica’s self-titled LP it’s definitely the case! No wonder Relapse Records chose to release it, this album breathes darkness and despair. It will offer you over 40 minutes of dirty ‘n’ angry crust which eventually will turn towards a more slowly but dreary realm; you’ll know what I mean once you hit the very first song “Sanity is for the Passive”, whereas moving forward with “Reeling” and finally “Choked on the Roots” you’ll experience a little more sensitive melodic parts. [KEvin “Junk” Kidd]
and tighter drumming. Thrash had been injected into Manilla Road’s DNA. They still kept that epic ambience, but they were able to bring about a strength not seen before. The 2nd track “Spirits Of The Dead” has that old school atmospheric thrash intro that we know and love, soulful warrior vocals with heavy riffs and technical solos. “Children Of The Night” has a different formula: fast riffs and marvelous slow shredding in the solos. This reissue is a perfect example of early heavy/ thrash. It shows that “Mystification” not only stands the test of time, but it also still influences many bands of the thrash revival scene. A must have for fans of the genre. [Carlos Cardoso]
PET THE PREACHER The Cave & the Sunlight Napalm Records
/10 Nowadays, it seems
that stoner rock albums are released almost every month, and one can easily grow tired of the genre, which is unfair to musicians who actually manage to create something interesting and exciting… Pet the Preacher are an example. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, they are still relatively unknown, but have just released their sophomore album, influenced by the likes of Kyuss and Clutch. They explore many different ideas, from melodic and spacey songs (“The Cave”) to heavier, riff-oriented tunes (some of them very long, like the almost nine-minute song “The Web”). Christian Hede Madsen’s voice (at times reminiscent of Layne Staley) is a highlight of this dirty and psychedelic rock and roll journey, making an already awesome record even better. [Jorge Alves]
PYRRHON The Mother Of Virtues
SABBATORY Endless Asphyxiating Gloom
Unspeakable Axe Records
as an introspective look into the human condition, including the conditions that are mentioned within the album title itself. Upon the first few listens, I found the guitars and drum sections to be the most energetic out of the entire work, with melodies and drive taking place throughout most of the track list. In contrast, you’ll find the vocals to be more desolate and disjointed from the rest of the group. Interestingly enough, this works out pretty well as I find it to be a great demonstration of the record’s concept. “Heroes Are Welcome” and “Reinvention” provide a great starting point for those who are just about to get into the record and the band as well. Overall, I feel October File created an interesting concept, but I’m not
sure if they went as far as they could. Some more instrumental experimentation would have done nicely, especially if they take a lot of influences from so many genres. They bring along a breath of fresh air to the metal realm but the further you travel, the more monotonous it seems. Luckily, a few tracks like “The Water” and “Elation” keep it somewhat interesting. If you’re looking for a different perspective or a decently crafted experimentation of sound, you can definitely give this one a go. Just be prepared to take some breaks. [Jeffrey Allee]
PILGRIM II: Void Worship
/10 The raw ‘80s
style recording/production we heard on “Forsaken Man” was more than appropriate to the imaginary of this duo and gave them the crucial “punch” that bands like Saint Vitus made famous. It was urgent to amend some aspects in the recording process, like the overbearing drums, but the retro loudness was essential. These aspects were revised in the debut album but “II: Void Worship” fails to excite much, maybe because four out of the eight tracks are instrumental, maybe because they are slower than ever or maybe because the songs fail to torment us until the end of time. Nevertheless, Pilgrim stands as one of the core heirs of the traditional doom metal scene and for that we should give them credit. [Estefânia Silva]
The Application of Loneliness (…) Candlelight
/10 Probably one of
the most surprisingly underrated releases so far this year, October File takes the elements of post-rock, post punk, metal, and industrial music to a whole new level. Their newest effort can be described
/10 Bands that take
the progressive and technical aspect of metal to even more experimental levels will automatically receive a gold star in my book, death metal especially. At the core, death metal is pretty simplistic but fierce, but in the hands of Pyrrhon death metal receives a whole new persona with mindbending twists and turns of guitars and unsettling atmosphere contained within the vocals. Death isn’t the game being played here, instead you’re gambling against the loss of your mind and sanity. You don’t want to take this record lightly as it won’t do the same for you. A monumental release. [Jeffrey Allee]
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/10 This is the
perfect soundtrack for someone looking for problems. Life isn’t going the way you wanted and you feel like killing someone? Wait no longer: listen to “Endless Asphyxiating Gloom”, the debut album from Canadian Death metallers Sabbatory and you’ll be ready to build a name for yourself in your town. Seriously! “Being, Thy Eternal Perplexor” should be played everytime there’s a fight! The production sounds raw and dirty but with so much aggressiveness and intensity who will care about it? This is not your average Death Metal band and if you’re looking for something fresh, give Sabbatory a try. A very solid debut! [Joel Costa]
THANTIFAXATH Sacred White Noise
TUSMÖRKE Riset Bak Speilet
VANHELGD Relics Of Sulphur Salvation
/10 With only one EP
(2011) and the brand new debut “Sacred White Noise”, the faceless and nameless Canadian band Thantifaxath are already a case of success as one of the most occult and weird projects within the black metal underground. Every single song is fantastically disturbing, but among the dissonant and upand-down riffs there are some spasms of melody like in “Where I End and the Hemlock Begins”. The use of string instruments in “Eternally Falling” makes the album even more tenebrous, morbid and mentally corrupted – what an atmosphere! The experimental side with kind of schizophrenic passages delivered by the insane guitarist is the extreme point of trying to lock us in a void dimension. Beware if you have epilepsy! [Diogo Ferreira]
/10 If you were to
wake up in the middle of a forest, in medieval garments, being followed by a strange creature with goat legs and human torso, carrying a magical flute while proclaiming that the trees are alive and you are their brother, there is only one band that could provide the appropriate soundtrack: Tusmørke, a neo-prog rock band with songs in Norwegian as well as English. Soft flutes, ethereal voices and gentle guitars that drink from the fountain of Jethro Tull and Amon Düül are what make up this strange ensemble of sounds that will make you believe you are an Ent, forever roaming the dark forests of some lost realm. [Carlos Cardoso]
VANHELGA Längtan Art Of Propaganda
/10 The third studio
album of the black metallers Vanhelga (Desecrate in English) was out in the end of April via Art of Propaganda. After two successful full-lengths, the Swedish band continues with Längtan,
/10 Wanting some
soul-crushing and majestic death/doom metal? Look no further. Vainaja fuse the earthshaking elements of doom and the abrasive and evil aspects of death metal, creating a magnificent display of gloomy grandeur. Surprisingly enough, the songs aren’t too long on this one, keeping things interesting for those that are too impatient. The atmosphere is top notch as well, with daunting auras that hover over the music periodically as well as on their own. Vainaja stand out above most of the crowd with their approach to this record. I know I’ll be playing this frequently throughout the year and maybe you will too. [Jeffrey Allee]
a release that you will probably find both interesting and weird, as they experimented a lot -and believe me- it worked. Here, the rawness and intensity of black metal mixes with the misanthropic influences from Lifelover and avant-garde Ved Buens Ende, delivering 12 songs of pure madness. Like in most songs of the album, we find diversity, from the opening Svartsint ömhet (free translation for Black-Minded Tenderness) to Låt snön falla (let snow fall). In one aspect, the tunes can be slender and tame, almost calming. Yet in another prospect it can be claustrophobic and abyssal, thick and tight due to the compositions the artists have created. As we reach the end of the album, the closing track happens to be also the longest
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/10 Relics of Sulphur
Salvation comes off as a regular, run of the mill death metal album. However, it ends up categorizing itself as a surprising death metal release that incorporates black metal elements, spanning on both sides of the spectrum of the sub-genre. The “demonic” presence located within the vocals and overall feel of the album bring about an interesting layer that helps separate itself off from the crowd, making it an interesting listen. I feel that many folks will enjoy this, but I’m a little wary of the lasting effect it will have in the long run. For some, it may not hit as hard as other releases have so far in the year. [Jeffrey Allee]
one of Längtan. Exploderande känslostorm (Exploding Emotional Storm) is exactly as the title describes: a storm of various emotions/thoughts coming to life, like a madman whispers to the listener’s ear. Pay attention when listening, once will not be enough as there are plenty of well-structured elements: occasional spoken parts, solos, plus keyboard addendum. Those who are into this sound, will love it and it will surely gain a place in their playlist. All in all, this is a bountiful offering of contast, juxtaposed influences and oppositions of inspiration for a black metal band, and elements which weld in a good way. Definitely something not to be missed from your collection. [Labrini Gouma]
VELNIAS Sovereign Nocturnal Eisenwald
/10 Despite only
being on their second album, this american act accepted the challenge proposed by the german label Eisenwald to re-release their majestic debut record, in a definitive edition, with a full reworked artwork. Their music is mighty ambitious, consisting of three long pieces. The sorrowful and immersive nature endures. Black and Doom Metal epic riffs wave through in a very emotional, almost improvising and crude approach, joined with some contemplative acoustic bits. The compositions deal with the primordial forces of nature, in similar ways like Agalloch, Ulver and Opeth used to do. “Sovereign Nocturnal” is a manifest of the spectrum of what you can expect of Velnias’ creations. As a proof of that evolution, check out also 2010’s “RuneEater”. [José Branco]
This Place That Contains My Spirit
ZOLDIER NOIZ Regression Process
Unspeakable Axe Records
WAXEN Agios Holokauston
/10 Waxen’s “Agios
Holokauston” marks the return of Metal veteran and scene legend Toby Knapp (Onward, Toby Knapp band, Godless Rising). Toby, who handles all instruments, put aside all the Black Metal guidelines, focused in his own vision and came up with something unique that will make you forget that you’re actually listening to Black Metal. Did I mentioned that he also shreds like no one? The guitar is all over the place - and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing - and there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening along its 35 minute of running-time. The only bad thing about it is the drumming which doesn’t sound organic at all and sometimes it seems there’s someone haunting a fly with a machine gun right next to you. Overall, it’s a decent album from this visionary oneman-band. [Joel Costa]
WE ARE THE DAMNED Doomvirate Lifeforce
/10 Three years after
their last full-length, “Holy Beast”, We Are the Damned return with even more violence. Although short, this record is a great mix of grindcore and doom with some hardcore influences,
WOMAN IS THE EARTH
/10 “This Place That
Contains My Spirit” is the result of three years of intensive writing. All this dedication resulted in an exceptional and impressive album, with the fast-paced element and the aggressive black metal riffs walking hand in hand with atmospheric, naturalistic and sometimes electronic soundscapes. I understand this isn’t for everyone and just like a complex book, it will be hard to interpret it, but once you let its rich and layered atmosphere take control, you’ll understand that you can find beauty in loneliness and you will not want to leave. If you’re a fan of the Wolves In The Throne Room records, then this one is for you! A future classic of the Cascadian Black Metal genre. [Joel Costa]
consistent and killer, giving you a really cool listening experience throughout the full 30 minutes. Enhanced by the two orchestral ‘’intros’’ in the first and last tracks that add a certain atmosphere to the entire album, the record itself is very energetic and, at the same time, envolving. Driving dark harmonies, and a growling bass that sits nicely with the guitars in the mid-range. And as if the grindcore influence wasn’t already heavily present, the entire release is flowing with stuff that reminds you of Rotten Sound or Black Breath. It’s a skull crushing record, providing the brutality that the Lisbon collective has made us familiar with, but at the same
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/10 Hailing from
Montpellier, France, this three figure Thrash Metal called Zoldier Noiz has stayed under the radar and kept it low profile ever since their inception, back in 1999 and it took them ten long years to release their debut album. “Regression Process” is their second record, a pretty decent material that holds dearly to the essence of old school Thrash Metal – harsh shredding, pounding drumming and rough vocals. I have to admit, it’s not that easy to find a band that can still deliver the ol’ type of Thrash, while Zoldier Noiz might not be one of the greatest examples, it’s still a band that made a satisfying job with the album. [Diogo Ferreira]
time brings something new to the table, that will certainly please both newer and older fans. The band have been a bit ‘’missing’’ from the radar, but this album makes up for it. With a few live shows already lined up, they are back in what appears to be a full force, and they are ready to kick your ass at any given opportunity without any mercy. [Ana Raquel Mendes]
To a packed Newport Music Hall on Sunday April 6th, the Decibel Magazine www.facebook.com/decibelmagazine Tour slammed into Columbus bringing its youngest screamers Noisem www. facebook.com/NoisemBaltimore , the growling sands of Tibet from Gorguts www.facebook.com/GorgutsOfficial, the dark horror themed, violent intentions of the Black Dahlia Murder www.facebook. com/theblackdahliamurderofficial and the graphic godfathers of gore, grindcore and Surgical Steel, Carcass www.facebook. com/OfficialCarcass. New kids, Noisem delivered an opening set of non-stop, psychopathically cathartic tunes that they couldn’t stop moving to. A sonic noise whiplash ensued with perpetual movement as they cranked out songs from their Agony Defined CD. Their sound is death/thrash metal with an old school Sepultura vibe. Vocalist Tyler played the straight jacket escapee berserker well, thrashing the stage harder with each tune. Vertebrae rattlers Rotten Remains and Split from the Inside Out pummel until they’re down. Tyler leaped off stage taking the cardio dance to the photo pit, getting in the crowds face, frantic in performance possession, trapped in a spiritual shaman war dance, sweating/ screaming out his demons with every head-bang and growl.
Gorguts made their Columbus return, in much nicer weather, bringing their set to a mesmerized crowd in awe of Tibet’s heavy history. Starting with the fast-slow mix of pulverizing guitar work/drums and haunting interludes of Le Toit Du Monde, the highest level on the planet is the home to many sights, stories and mysteries. An Ocean of Wisdom wastes no time ramming its guitar neck’s down your throat viciously with no apologies, removing at two minutes, slowing down the tempo before reinsertion. Even in death the 13th Dalai Lama gave clues pointing to his successor. Forgotten Arrows, inspired by the words of Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard, makes a melodic death metal tune sound as happy as it can be. Title track Colored Sands aka the wheel of time, gives peace and healing to all things starting with its single, simplistic, alluring but foreboding plucked notes turning up the charged tempo with some addictive body moving chug. The heavy metallic voice of ancient wisdom churned and shredded out of a guitar. They finished with the guitar screeching, wrapped around your neck screaming and squeezing title track from their ground breaking record, Obscura. Beautifully grim guitar notes tapped into your head like an automatic staple gun. Luc Lemay gave a shout out to everyone he saw back in December.
Black Dahlia Murder starts with a signed sealed and delivered screaming sadistic apology/confession of the unknown sadist who took the young starlet, giving her immortality through death becoming a true crime legend. In Hell She Waits for You, with a sawed off torso and some mean karma. We go to commit our own atrocities, feeding the nocturnal beast within as we look up, teeth sharpen, eyes turn to dark scarlet rage and hairs rise up as the Lycan bloodlust takes over, reflecting the glow of the Moonlight Equilibrium. Now, a salty sea’s tale from the Everblack, told by the battle worn, rusted vessel of the damned, hunted by its bloody history. God seemed to be MIA tonight, as our Beloved Absentee searches for a reason for our worship and penitence. A war torn case of historical Statutory Ape, leaves a world’s dignity destroyed and violated. From the horrors of war, to the horrors of 1980’s comic book adaptations of terror. Meteors bring the green along with beasts in crates and cheating spouses on a day at the beach. Mankind’s karmatic destruction comes with insatiable appetite, a sick and twisted dismembering fetish of pain giving pleasure. What part of you don’t you like? Most of what moves, Phantom Limb Masturbation, climax at separation. What a Horrible Night to be among the
cursed walking dead, conjured back to un-life by the dark one, cannibalizing the living, swallowing souls for the grave. I Will Return, from this ice cubed crypt, a cryonically frozen man. Splatter death metal, gore-grind, pioneers of melodic death metal, whatever toe tag you want to hang they’re the autopsy room’s house band and metal masters of the morgue churning out a gross use of lyrical misconduct and bringing noises out of guitars that bring back the dead. A career made from sick symphonies, necromancy and art collages of death. The howling guitars of their birth year, 1985 sang out from the autopsy slab as they appeared ready to perform nonanesthetic open heart-work on anyone ready and willing. The spinal-connected hands of peace opened and Buried Dreams began…welcome! It’s been a long time Columbus! Are you ready to rock? When Jeff Walker says it, it’s not a cliché, it means you’re about to get your innards scrambled. Walker’s cheery opening belies the dark macabre manifesto of twisted talent buried inside the devils delivery with humor in a British accent, as dual video screens broadcast the evening’s voyeur visage. They pull out the wrapped plastic (decades before Dexter) and body bags early with Incarnate Solvent Abuse. We got the night’s first taste of the newest tools of the trade with a Congealed
Clot of Blood frozen on the Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System, causalities of the blood lust and pink mist. Time to estimate the rotting layers then mass calculate the body stock pile on Carnal Forge. We take another un-sanitized stab into cold flesh with Surgical Steel on Noncompliance then continue the heart games without emotion on No Love Lost. Walker throws a few bottles of clear liquid embalming fluid from the tap to the crowd. ‘Don’t throw them back or we’ll see you’. We enter the Dark Granulating human churning machine with its Satanic charm and numeral mystery. A three era dose of heavy ether was next starting with a fresh mourning cup of Wake Up and Smell the Carcass with the slow bluesy grind of Edge of Darkness. The frantic beat and guitars crunching bone on This Mortal Coil and the air tight sealed winds of ancient death blow within masking the dead’s ancient whispers as they Reek of Putrefaction trapped in a permanent death/murder montage. In true British humor, Carcass style, Walker mentions one of their guitarists is legitimately quite ill but he’s a trooper this evening. ‘It’d be cooler if he threw up on stage, it’d have much more appeal.’ It’s, Unfit for Human Consumption; indeed, even for a cannibal’s holocaust or a grave-robber’s Gein. A creepy closeddoor craving left off the coroner’s report. Walker joked that anyone who’d never Words & Photography: Mike Ritchie www.facebook.com/mike.ritchie.338 Black Dahlia Murder Setlist courtesy of Kelli Malella and Max Mobarry of Crucifixation www.facebook.com/Crucifixation
seen them might think all the songs are on the new record, or maybe this one’s from 1987. They crank out the uncomfortable instrumental Genital Grinder then feast on the Pyosisified rotting remains, a meal too vile for even Hannibal to digest. Walker also mentioned, tongue in cheek, that during their ‘secret recording sessions’ for the comeback Black Dahlia Murder tried to steal their drummer but Jeff put his foot down pointing ‘No no, girlfriend.’ It’s the graveyard dinner bell and the dead are spoiled but ready for the feast. Exhume to Consume is on the menu, way past expiration is how they’ll have you. Captive Bolt Pistol’s a trigger stop to the working mind. Corporal Jigsore Quandary, a mutilated, massacre of human debris, the rotting anatomical puzzle sewn back in piece. They go ‘a bit’ more commercial as Walker announces some tunes from the Swansong era asking that all doors be closed and locked so no one can run and leave. We Keep on Rotting in the Free World under that bright shining Black Star. Ruptured in Purulence is our final tale of sickness before the crowd pleasing works of art are painted black in magniloquence ending with a taste of the Carneous Cacoffiny
It was a night of old school thrash metal globalization with a little taste of power courtesy of Germany, Brazil, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. Ohio’s local caliber began with the band formally known as The Harrowing from Missouri. Germany brought us Sodom and that night Cincinnati brought us Gomorrah www.facebook.com/metalgomorrah. They started in 2011 by Colton Deem and brother’s Cody and Mitch Pegg, relocating to Cincinnati in early 2012 in hopes of becoming a part of a larger music scene. Opening with EP title track To The Depths, they play most of their debut EP cranking out some old school technical death thrash metal with a throwback to the early 90’s scene with some Death influence. Colton Deem’s vocals are yelled/ screamed but fairly clean. The technical precession of Tribulations and the guitar medley thrash forward presence of the Tempest are followed by the slow monster stomp of the mighty Colossus. They finish, feeling the heat from the dragons breathe with EP closer Beneath The Falling Sun. Fade to Oblivion www.facebook.com/ fadetooblivion from Columbus bring a uniquely inspired data driven, computerized, conceptual design to their sound forsaking a drummer for modern technology. According to bassist/singer David Merriman (the short haired, most ‘rela-
tively’ clean cut of the group) the laptop gets all the chicks and enjoys long walks on the beach. An interesting approach for a metal band to upload half their show as they go and in case of an outage or power surge, Merriman says the show can and will go on through a cell phone. They start, and by the power of Thor’s hammer, it was time to throw-down with the Slaughter, bringing the hungry crows soaring above waiting for the scavenger hunt. Impending Doom blends black metal vocals, power metal/thrash playing and swords and sorcery in a landscape that could’ve been built from any Dio/ Manowar album. Traitor tells the sordid tale of betrayal as a deadly, life changing pact is made on The Forge. Title track Of Death and Vengeance finishes the story overlooking the mighty battlefield. The record was a mix of local community feedback, what they liked and a search for a sound identity. Science and metal don’t often mix but the band has educated ears in that area. It’s also a fantasy concept record about an average man forced to fight a war not his own then returns to his home to see carnage, vowing revenge. With music and story intertwined we feel the peaks and valleys of the character through the words and music, then decide if there’s a happy ending. www.fadetooblivion.com Cleveland’s bastards of noise and aggres-
sion Vindicator www.facebook.com/vindicatormetal made their first trip to the Alrosa opening with a Global Warning introduction. The crimson plated red knight rides his scarlet draped steer as The Gears of Fate crank, turn and spin orchestrating the oncoming end. The Fatal Infection thrashes out with punk fused speed and Suicidal Tendencies themed vocals and attitude. We slowly slip into the chair like a serpent as Lilith straddles us as we are ravenously Sleeping With Evil. We get an Outbreak of Metal getting old school thrashy releasing the Dog Beneath the Skin and a dose of loud, heavy Humanarchy. We close stalking with horror movie intent to the orphanage, oh yes, there will be terror. Widow www.facebook.com/widowtheband have been warriors of underground metal scene since 2000, releasing four albums, performing countless shows including Kansas City Power Metal Festival, Rocklahoma, Sword Brothers Festival IX, Up the Hammers, and Steel Assassins Festival. They’ve performed in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia and are continuous road dogs, playing/touring with many of the greats artists like Saxon, Queensryche, Cauldron, Skull Fist, White Wizzard, Icarus Witch, Grim Reaper, Raven, Destruction, Krisiun and more!
Their music explores the neo-classical side of heavy metal taking influence from their own experiences and groups like King Diamond, Crimson Glory, Warlord, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Yngwie Malmsteen. Metal Hammer named them one of the leaders of the “New Wave of Traditional Metal” and is recognized as a band at the front of the melodic metal uprising. They’ve finished their new release entitled Life’s Blood available now on Pure Steel Records. The first and only clean sung vocals of the night came from North Carolina’s power trio. They played a classical blend of sorcery and knights of the round metal table riding on their new record Life’s Blood. Singer/bassist, hair whirling enthusiast John E. Wooten IV (yep, there’s been four of them) brings an entertaining element of humorous energy and excitement with ferocious facials of a complementary Spinal Tappish nature, without getting stuck in a stage pod. We start the journey past the evening dusk as we Take Hold of the Night with the power of metal waving goodbye to Lady Twilight. An American Werewolf in Raleigh is loose on the Carolina Moore and only Widow’s music can drive it away with guitar riffage help from the Iron Maiden. The Nightlife brings weird tendencies out of its inhabitants, Beware of the Night. They finish going back to the first record and the Angel of Sin. www.widowusa.com They are Krisiun www.facebook.com/krisiun.official and they’re from Brazil. Alex Carmago brings the Cavalera blackenedvoiced death metal Brazilian brutality of Krisiun to Columbus with a speaker vibrating roar. The three brothers brought their blast beat extreme metal symphony of violence and sound to the Villa, starting with the Apocalyptic Revelation’s Kings of
Killing and the chaos of the underworld is unveiled. The brutal march and fire beat, ground and pound tempo of Combustion Inferno represents the Southern Storm and the blunt cruel devastation of war. The floor pit opened with one friendly push and shove. The Will to Potency is blast beated with chugger charged groove and riffage with thunder bass and drums and the frenetic lighting fingers of guitar Moyses Kolesne. Playing with coyotes, snakes and bones in the hell-hot quiet desolation of the desert can bring out the defiance in anyone. A bit of technical difficulty briefly halted the worship. Carmago seized the opportunity to thank everyone for coming out and supporting underground metal then Max Kolesneg delivered an eardrum pounding on the drums. Vicious Wrath tells the ominous tale of the serpent’s gaze, with shredding high peaked guitar shrieks accompanying its sudden strike with pit worthy adulation. They’ve brought the Descending Abomination and the guitars yell and weave their tormented story with them. The Blood of Lions pours from the stage as the unrelenting paced Ravager plots his plan of attack under the darkened ground of Eden. They finish with some Ominous Bloodshed. Alex thanked the crowd again saying it was a true honor playing on stage with Dimebag in spirit. We have the Big Four of thrash metal, overseas Destruction’s www.facebook. com/destruction alongside Kreator and Sodom are the three kings of Teutonic thrash metal and credited as bringing the beginning elements of black metal. Led by the towering Schmier, they brought the thrash, German style. The Antichrist opens the show as we Thrash Till Death the way any self-respecting metal head worth his horns would want to go out in a metal revolution. We Words: Mike Ritchie www.facebook.com/mike.ritchie.338 Photography: Samantha Stewart Photography www.facebook.com/SamanthaStewartPhotography
get our first taste of the newest Spiritual Genocide; mass media covers the carnage as our souls die. Schmier spreads his arms wide as Christ was Nailed to the Cross, a sign of centuries of blood-shed in the name of ‘holy’ causes. We visit the mideighties and the seduction of the Mad Butchers hook and meat. A great lover, if you wanna end up in pieces under his freezer cover. We go back a few years to the Day of Reckoning and get trained and brain drained to kill with the Armageddonizer. First time they played in Ohio was ’89 with the Cro-Mags, Schmier mentions. It’s a double dose of mid-eighties Eternal Devastation with a visit to the morally corrupt, outcasts and normal societies Eternal Ban of them. We’re always the victims of this moral system. Self-torture of the mental, physical style is a Life Without Sense and a Release from Agony and the nightmares that chase you awake. We pay homage to the life sucking, sin/ skin shedding sultry Carnivore. She dances and lashes at your feet with a hot silver tongued serpent’s deceit. The money flies as you feed her need. Backdoor sexual deviance encouraged, they’ve got your money, the butcher’s knife appears, time to bleed and get bloody. Ohio, we need a f’n mosh pit, this is a thrash metal show! Hate is our fuel, the destruction of the world will rule. The old school black metal tint of Tormentor harkens back to the old school days, children shouldn’t play with dead things. They went all the way back to the early demos on Total Disaster, Bestial Invasion and Invincible Force as the early days of darkness brought the dark lords arrival. They end with the Butcher Strikes Back playing devotion to all those who believed in and supported 30 years of Destruction.
And there we were, in the rainy Bergen of Norway to attend the newest three-day extreme metal event, Blastfest. This was the very first year this festival opened its doors to host fans from all over Europe, and those who didn’t make it –believe me- missed a chance to see most of your favorite bands. Check some, out of the 31 in the billing: Shining, Taake, Belphegor, Wardruna, Valkyrja, Marduk… But let’s have a closer look day by day. Starting the first night in Garage, Norwegian Tantara with Finnish Woland were the opening bands for the night, while Lakei and Fatal Embrace warmed up the audience in the best way. Der Weg Einer Freiheit from Germany hit the stage right after and I must say it was a blast. A band I was longing to see since they released Vertigo, was Koldbrann who gave a kick-ass show, and their fellows Myrkskog followed. It should have been about midnight when Aura Noir appeared on Garage’s stage, making the crowd moshing like hell in songs such as Conqueror, Black Thrash Attack, and our favorite bird: Condor. Last band for the evening, the Swedish Shining with Niklas Kvarforth fully committed on his duties, giving –as always- a stunning performance. Hoest from Taake joined him for a song plus the band did a cover on Sweet Child O’ Mine from Guns ‘n’ Roses. We were sent to sleep with pain in our necks while two more days were left. The second day’s schedule included preshow exhibitions of graphic designer Kim Holm and famous photographer Peter Beste, 4 extra bands were added, but also included a different, bigger venue with two stages. At 2pm doors opened and Dominanz appeared, with Hellish Outcast to follow and both Norwegian bands delivered a great show. Valkyrja, a “young” band that represents in a perfect way how the Swedish black metal should be, were the headline act on the stage of Garage. After a 15-minute-walk we found ourselves settled in front Røkeriet stage at USF Verftet, longing for Taake. Hoest this time appeared in a cloak and for almost 40’ minutes we heard songs as the opening Nattestid Ser Porten Vid Part I, Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik and Umen-
neske. Sahg followed on Studio stage and Tiamat appeared right after. As Exumer broke their necks in the 40’ minute appearance, Marduk opened their show with Serpent Sermon hailing the upcoming chaos. Black metallers Ragnarok and doom/death metallers Swallow the Sun followed while Triptykon members hit the Røkeriet stage for about an hour. As we reached midnight, Hypocrisy opened their one-hour set with End of Disclosure, while Fire in the Sky, War-Path and The Final Chapter hit our ears one after another, to reach encores with Roswell 47, Adjusting the Sun and Eraser. Last but not least, the bringers of Armageddon Anaal Nathrakh came from UK to close this night in the best way. Last day of the festival, and still there were tons of great bands to see. Again the day started early in Apollon bar with Dayal Patterson, presenting his new book entitled Black Metal: The Evolution of the Cult (those who consider yourselves as black metallers run and buy it, you won’t regret it!). Up next, Einar Selvik, mastermind of Wardruna and ex-Gorgoroth member showed us how traditional Norwegian music instruments are made. Pretty interesting! A few meters away, Viking folk metallers Glittertind (the name comes from the 2nd highest mountain of Norway) performed in Hulen, and then in Garage Morbid Vomit and Sterbhaus were the opening bands for the last day. Diabolical followed, and I hadn’t seen this band before. They played both old and new songs, with emphasis on their new album “Neogenesis” and if they pass by from your city don’t miss the chance to headbang under Swedish death metal tunes. Again, walking in the rain to reach USF Verftet but we didn’t care; as soon as Warduna hit the stage, the crowd was silent. No mobile ringtones, not even a whisper. Everyone was seduced by the grandeur and the spirituality of this band. Each song had its own beauty, and the people in the crowd awarded the band with their warmest applause. Einar announced their last song Helvegen (The way to Hell): “This is a song honoring the Dead, those who lived Words & Photography: Labrini Gouma
before us…” The rest is mere details, this was my personal favorite band not only for that day, but for the whole festival. It was heavy metallers’ time, Communic, to appear and two floors below Carpathian Forest followed, with Nattefrost waving us ostentatiously the upside cross. Insidious Desease with Marc Grewe of Morgoth in vox gave a good show and up next black metallers Enthroned performed with nearly no lights, creating a majestic atmosphere. Meanwhile, Aborted’s frontman Sven urged the crowd to form circle pits and all I can say is… F#ck Hipsters! Polish artillery Vader were next in the line. Piotr aka Peter with the rest band delivered the songs to the maximum, and judging from audience’s reaction, there’s no doubt they’re coming back in Norway soon. On Studio stage the skeleton microphones were set, ready to welcome Belphegor once again. Having seen this band before, I knew exactly what to wait; and indeed, they did not disappoint us. Last act and definitely not to be missed on the Røkeriet stage, My Dying Bride. The first notes of Kneel Till Doomsday were heard and Aaron Stainthorpe appeared on stage. The Raven and the Rose, To Remain Tombless and The Dreadful Hours to follow, are just some tracks in their one-hour set during their amazing performance. Studio stage welcomed Obscura, the last band for that night and the closing band for the festival. WOW. We didn’t even realize how 3 days passed. Three days full of music, beers and rain (yes, from top to toes wet, every fckin day). But it was ABSOLUTELY worth it! Even if it was the first edition of the festival, even there were many venues, there were maps, timetables and many volunteers to help visitors and give instructions. For the billing I have nothing to say, and bands were very accurate in times too. Can’t wait for the next one! Best moment: Many, but the set of Wardruna really blew my mind. Worst moment: Rain and expensive beer, but this is Norway- I can live with that!
It was on the nights of March 28th and 29th that the XI edition of Moita Metal Fest took place, featuring a promising lineup (as always) and offering to the audience several nuances of an extreme appanage sound and very eclectic at the same time. The party was started by Sangue Lusitano; 3 young kids with a promising Lusitanian Progressive sound, which were followed by the intense Death Metal act from Bleeding Display who immediatly imposed their strength on all the moshers, featuring some covers from Slayer and Cannibal Corpse in their setlist. The Quartet Of Woah didn’t let down and brought the good old Rock, warming the night for Switchtense which, as they’re very familiar within the crowd, speed up the entire pit with stage divings marking the commitment of the crowd. The hosts presented us with a solid performance. The night ended with the return of the Spanish thrashers Angelus Apatrida who saw Switchtense’s vocalist return to the
stage to smash the audience with the ideal Thrash Metal dose, setting up the crowd for the next journey. The following day saw the powerful female voice from Burn Damage, followed by Kapitalistas Podridão and their portuguese Death Metal, opening for the fresh act Diabolical Mental State. The pace was slowed and Tales For The Unspoken hit the stage, calming down the ones who were waiting for one of the most anticipated acts of the night Equaleft, which presented their debut full-length “Adapt And Survive”, to be released on May. With Miguel Inglês’ voice, they tore the night down with the sound quality and presence that they’ve been accustoming the fans with. My Enchantment were next and this band which is around for a decade now offered their usual dark melodic Metal, followed by a pause for dinner. The feast was reopened by the booming performance of thrashers Gates Of Words: Vânia Matos Photography: Vânia Matos
Hell which will play in the next edition of Vagos Open Air. Viralata were the band that followed, infecting the crowd with their neverending Punk energy and paying tribute to the late Ribas with the homonymous song from Censurados. Spanish outfit Scent Of Death changed the atmosphere with their Brutal Death Metal warming up for Primal Attack, which took advantage of the great reception of their crowd to record a DVD. Veterans Trinta & Um brought Punk back didn’t stayed behing the previous acts, confirming the long and mystique experience of their reformed lineup, despite their three year hiatus. The night ends with celebration, with the traditional quality from Folk Metallers Gwydion, which invaded the resistants from this great marathon, with the power and the will already known by us and inviting the crowd to party again! We’ll have more next year and we’ll be there!