Exploring The Boundaries of Heavy Music
March 2014 | Issue #16
CYNIC This mind of ours is our greatest source of suffering and pain in the world, but also ultimately it can be the source of our liberation Paul Masvidal
Skeletonwitch| Red Fang | Morbid Angel | Stolen Babies | In Solitude Howl | Neil Daniels | Throne of Katarsis | Sarke | Valkyrie Lamb of God film | NAMM Show| Sunn O)))) & Ulver Stone Sour | Alcest | Amon Amarth | Long Distance Calling | Chimaira
CREW Chief Editor Keith (Keefy) Chachkes Senior Editors Ross Baker Lynn Jordan Rei Nishimoto Content Editors Noel Oxford Pete Ringmaster Graphic Designer Maria Lei Contributors Raymond Westland, Caitlin Smith, Sean Pierre-Antoine, Lynn Smith, Omar Cordy, Dan Bond, Dan Swinhoe, John Toolan, Ian Girlie, Jodi Mullen, Christine Hager, Sannette de Groes, Jonathan Keane, Emma Quinlan, Susanne Maathuis, Hillarie Jason, Lorraine Lysen, Kaat van Doremalen, Mat Davies, Sean M. Palfrey, Meg Loyal, Matt Ford, Matthew Tilt, Laetitia Abbenes, Leticia Mooney, Chris Tippell, Sarah Worsley, Steve Tovey, Tom Saunders, James Conway, Tim Ledin, Melissa Campbell, Tiago Moreira, Gilbert Potts, Dane Prokofiev, Chris Small, Aleida La Llave, Ritchie Hanton-Rutherford, Jenna Williams, Mark Mikkelsen, Paul Quinn, Stuart Alexander Rees, Wren Leader, Evil Robb Photography, Emma Stone, TJ Fowler, Martin Harris, Adrian Wheeler, Ian Cashman
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his may come as a shock to some of you, but I have never really loved The Who.Yes, I am aware that guys my age (did I just type that?) are supposed to worship certain bands affiliated with the era that I came from. I rarely feel guilt these days (no gods, no masters), so please don’t take this confessional moment lightly. What the hell does this even have to do with this (digital) magazine? I always felt they were a good band with some great songs, and understood why many connected with them on a deep level. For some reason they never clicked “on” with me that way. I even recall hearing ‘Eminence Front’ for the first time and thinking, this could not possibly be the same band from ‘Baba O’ Reilly’ could it? I started thinking about that exact song after hearing GWAR cover it recently. Soon, I went back and put on the original track and I surprised that it moved me in a way that it never had before. Maybe as a kid living in my own teenage wasteland, the message and the music of the track did not resonate with me. I could say the same thing about countless acts like The Swans, some classic early death metal acts, and some other bands most deem great (I hate Journey, come at me bro), but all of whom I didn’t really “get” initially. When we share our feelings about music with others, it’s easy to dismiss those whose taste differs from yours as lacking merit. As music journalists and arbiters of taste, we at Ghost Cult try to share more than just our naked opinion, but an educated one crafted by experience and practice. The internet age has made everyone that can look up Wikipedia and the Metal Archives think they are an expert. When everyone is an expert, is anybody? I’m afraid to report that the idea that somehow your taste in music rules and everyone else’s sucks is elitist, pretty douchey, and outmoded. The art that you come into contact with when you are young, shapes your taste for the rest of your life, true. Some things you return to over and over, while other things...not so much. We hope sifting the wheat from the chaff is one of the reasons you are reading this publication. Ghost Cult Issue #16 features our interview with the band Cynic, who are artists as much as they are a band. They came from an immense pedigree musically, and helped create the template for several sub-genres of metal. They continue to evolve on their new album Kindly Bent To Free Us (Season of Mist). Issue #16 also features interviews with Skeletonwitch, Red Fang, In Solitude, Morbid Angel, Stolen Babies, Howl, Hatriot, Throne of Katarsis, noted music author Neil Daniels, and festival promoter Willem Van Malen, Valkyrie, and more. Plus concert reviews from bands such as Amon Amarth, Skeletonwitch & Enslaved, Stone Sour, Long Distance Calling, Chimaira, a review of the stunning Lamb of God documentary, a wrap up from the recent NAMM Show, album reviews and much more. As always we would love to see your feedback, hate mail, and ransom notes pasted together from cut up magazines you want to share. Send them to us at editor@ghostcultmag. com and @GhostCultMag on Twitter. Thank you for checking us out! Keith (@Keefy) Chachkes
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My Favorite Concert Memory Ever...by Andy Thomas of Black Crown Initiate
FEATURED Driven By Art,An Interview With Paul Masvidal of Cynic
10 PAGE 12
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Album of the Month: Cynic - Kindly Bent to Free Us Lamb of God - As the Palaces Burn Film NAMM Show Recap INTERVIEWS
Naturally More Extreme - Chance Garnette of Skeletonwitch
20 PAGE 24
Cosmic Heavy Thing - Red Fang’s John Sherman
28 PAGE 30 PAGE 32
Stealing the Show, Dominique Persei of Stolen Babies
PAGE PAGE PAGE PAGE PAGE
Artistic Integrity, David Vincentm of Morbid Angel
Outside Influemces, An Interview With Gottfrid Ahman
The Master Music Scribe, Author Neil Daniels
A vision for the Future, Willem Van Maele of TMR Promotions
Brothers in Arms, Valkyrie’s Jake Adams
Universal Darkness, Infamroth of Throne of Katarsis
A Darker Place, Thomas Bergli of Sarke
Alcest/ Hexvessel/ The Faun
Amon Amarth/ Enslaved/ Skeletonwitch
Stone Sour/ Pop Evil/Stolen Babies
55 PAGE 56 PAGE 58 PAGE
Senior Editor Junius - Days Of The Fallen Sun Behemoth - The Satanist Mr. Bungle - California Beastmilk - Climax Mogwai - Rave Tapes Kaat Van Doremalen
Behemoth - The Satanist Woods of Desolation - As the
Prostitute Disfigurement - From
Crotch To Crown
Carnivore - Carnivore Sublime Kampfar - Djevelmakt
Keeping it Real, Vincent Hausman of Howl
March’s Top Five
Long Distance Calling Chimaira/ iwrestledabearonce/ Oceano Protest The Hero/ TesseracT/ The Safety Fire Killswitch Engage & Trivium ALBUM REVIEWS
Sun O))) & Ulver
Collapse and Crush: Dominique Persei on Getting Back To Nature
The Plasmatics - Coup d’Etat Alice in Chains - Facelift Ghost - Opus Eponymous Ghost - If You Have Ghost Ghost - Infestissumam Dan Swinhoe
Indian Handcrafts - Civil
Disobedience For Losers
Dynahead - Chordata II Mastodon - Leviathan Sylosis - Conclusion Of An Age Floor - Floor Tim Ledin
Writer/Reviewer Russian Circles - Memorial Behemoth - The Satanist Skeletonwitch - Serpent’s Unleashed Cult of Luna - Vertikal A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step
MY FAVORITE C O N C E R T MEMORYEVER By Andy Thomas of Black Crown Initiate Steven Wilson on the
Raven that Refused to Sing tour. I don’t think I’ve Tool and Meshuggah on the Lateralus tour. For me, this was a perfect lineup. No filler; just two bands that I love.
ever seen a more dynamic band. Marco Minnemann expanded and contracted the entire band at will. Guthrie Govan is probably the best modern electric guitarist. It ruled.
Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad. Strapping Young Lad was opening for Meshuggah and touring for the SYL album. A great crowd crush with lots of booze. GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 |5
ALBUM REVIEWS FESTIVAL REPORTS CONCERT REVIEWS INTERVIEWS
ART An Interview With Paul Masvidal of Cynic
Some bands just conjure a frame of mind as much as a sound when you think of them. Just the name Cynic calls to mind a unique and bold sound the band has laid down in their storied career. Few too many bands these days challenge you mentally and spiritually, they way this band has. One of the leading lights of progressive metal and prog rock, their influence on two generations of bands is undeniable, and they are gladly back with us, making new music again. Their new album, only their third full-length, Kindly Bent To Free Us (Season of Mist) takes the listener on a mental and metaphysical sonic journey. Chatting with Ghost Cult chief editor Keith Chachkes at length about new music, the process of creating art, lyrical inspirations and many other topics is guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal. Paul casts a striking figure as a person who is more than just a creative force, but a an enlightened, modern artist who is trying to get us all on the same wavelength.
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ince Cynic's rebirth with 2008s Traced In Air (Season of Mist), the band has been slowly building up to another full-length release. From the experimental Re-Traced EP, to last year's Carbon Based Anatomy, the band is not interested in repeating itself in any way. Paul goes on to discuss at length the process the band goes through to make a new music: “This is a record that has been a long time coming. We released a couple things in-between our last full-length, and we did a lot of touring, but I think the real buckled down days were this past year. Essentially, we delivered it last summer, after the last official tour ended, which was December of 2011 for Carbon Based Anatomy. So, it's been a couple years. Maybe eighteen months since we've had this tunnel vision, delivered the record, and just trying to get it done. For me it's just another chapter in our story. It's hard for me to speak objectively about this music, because I just feel way too close to it. I'm excited about the songs. It's a great collection of material. It has everything that we were going for. It does what we wanted it to do. It took a while for us to reach that place for it. When we go into the studio there is an organic way we cultivate something, that just has to happen for us. I don't know what else to say. In terms of the art in general, it's so subjective that it is always odd for me to try and talk about it, first person.” There are bands, and then there are bands making artistic statements. Cynic certainly takes it to that level with every element of their beings. Paul of course, embodies this spirit fully, and while he is mindful of the process it takes to create this music, he doesn't do it for the accolades: “It is just one of those things, you are doing this regardless of what all of the outcomes are. At the end of the day this is really just pure in process, driven by art. The feeling that comes from making art that drives the whole thing. It's not the best sounding thing to say from a promotional standpoint. (laughs) That metaphor that goes 'it's not about the goal, it's the journey'. It's the nature of where this stuff comes from. We are all kind of in that head space. It's nice to have it be loved and shared, and I want as many people as possible to hear it, but at the end of the day, that's not what drives the process. So it feels like it's all icing, it's a nice thing, but again especially when the response is all positive, I try to avoid all research and reviews. I just get a sense of stuff occasionally from a friend, or someone that is filtering things for me, of how it's going, but this isn't going to effect what I'm doing. I just try to keep my head. I'm doing it because I love doing it, and not to get caught up in results or outcomes. Obviously there's aspirations, but it's not dictating the process or based on that.You just want it to have a healthy life. These songs, the music you write, especially to a songwriter, these songs are like your children. You want these kids to be loved, and for the world to accept them. To do something, not for some reciprocal process. It benefits us, just making the record. Really it's the idea the genuine interest in having it be appreciated. As appreciated as any
artist would want with their work to be, but again, that's not the end goal. It's just a by product.” We chatted about the perception of the band, and how much the band is debated about in the public sphere of heavy music fans. If somehow Cynic has changed too much from its earliest efforts, being measured against your past, and the sometimes unfair expectations of fans, Paul has his own feelings on this: “I mean it's funny, because it's the same attitude I have right now, the mindset I have right now, this is the same person that created Focus. They want us to to recreate a sound would have never happened had I not been this person. It contradicts the very nature of the band to try and play it safe, do something familiar, repeat a pattern, stay in a cocoon, of “we found a sound, let's just recycle it”. That goes against everything this band represented. Especially at the beginning with Focus, we were going against the grain. Everyone was offended and everyone was confused, we had a really hard time back then. It took a while for people to come around and realize there was something there. And now they want to keep you in the same place. It's the eternal dilemma that every artist goes through, that has a work that maybe it's received well. It represents a time and place, and has a sort of historical reference, and people want to keep you there. They are forgetting, we change too. We evolve. Art is not a static thing. It is alive. The very nature of Cynic is to honor that process of being open and having skill as a musician, enough to develop a voice that keeps expanding and exploring. For me anything but that, would be the death of this project. It is all about a platform for freedom and exploration. Art is not a thing, it's changing. That is how I view it. I can't imagine it any other way.” Acknowledging that we are at a zenith of popularity and relevance for progressive rock and metal, Paul took some time to reflect with us on his peers, and other bands that Cynic has inspired across several sub-genres. He remains as humble as ever and bristles at the notion that he somehow he should take a little more credit where credit is due: “It goes back to... there was an article, and this was years ago, where Meshuggah mentioned us in Rolling Stone, maybe ten tears ago. And Mikael from Opeth telling me “there would be no Opeth, if it wasn't for Cynic.” I'm not trying to take credit, but it's obvious that there was a mutual respect and admiration as colleagues. When I follow these bands that are doing well, like an Opeth or Meshuggah, or even the next generation of bands; like Between The Buried And Me, The Ocean; some of these new, experimental progressive bands that are almost post-metal hybrids, but very schooled; it's an honor. I think it was Emerson who said “the end goal of any artist is to inspire another artist.”That is really the greatest gift you have and opportunity you can give as an artist. That is the job of art, to help inspire others to make more art. If we achieved this to even a slight degree, it's pretty cool. I am in awe of that. GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 7
I never imagined it would turn out this way. I never thought about in those terms, I just wanted to make cool art. It's awesome. It's a testimony to following your gut, against all odds. Trusting your instincts. Just being a weirdo, and knowing it, and just believing okay with that. We never fit in anywhere. We were outcasts, nerdy kids, living in south Florida, who didn't belong in any particular scene. We went with whatever we were doing, and I don't know how it happened except our own stubbornness and willingness to just go off on a limb. To put everything aside and say this is what makes us feel alive. We've all had odd jobs and other things to make a living, but this is the thing fuels our existence and gives us a better sense of purpose. Against all odds, we gave this everything we had. We really have been lucky to be able to do what we love. The rest will take care of itself. The end result of this seemingly selfish endeavor helps and inspires artists to make more art. To me, what greater honor is there, really? It's pretty damn cool.” Although since reforming, Paul has clearly been leading the vision of the band, as a whole the songwriting process is a collaborative as ever between the players. The contributions of Reinert and Malone in creating the music cannot be understated either: “Since Traced In Air, we've generally stuck to the same process. I flesh out songs on an acoustic level, just like a little folk ditties. I could play them all right now. Once I am content with it, I make a demo. I make a lot of demos for the guys actually, and we filter those demos and see what they organically gravitate towards. We usually write a lot of songs. And we basically filter as we go. Usually we start off with a lot of songs and narrow it down to what sounds like an album. And this could be lots of songs, whatever I am working on, because I am writing constantly. Then we basically we curate these songs, and we generate an album based on existing material. Once we do that, we'll jam and we will flush out rhythmically the aspects and tempos to do another layer of refining and editing. Once we get past that, we cut another demo, at least two or three preproduction demos. Once we all feel like we have pushed it until we have what we going for, or a state of wholeness, since we never really feel done. (laughs) But we find out where everyone feels solid about what they are doing individually. Then we book a date and go cut a record. These things take time. The big thing with me in the context of writing for Cynic, is giving it space. I like to write, and step away and then take a look back. Tweak this and tweak that. It's like the weather. The mind changes like the weather.Your mood
changes like the weather. It's nice to reference it through those moods. If it survives what I call the “mind weather experiment”, if it survives those waves, you have something substantial. I put it through that process, even at the demo stage, before the guys even hear the songs. It a constant, on-going disassembly and assembly process, deconstructing and reconstructing on multiple levels. It's art! Trying to understand what it is, you never understand what it is. I don't know what's happening here. We are just showing up.You just make it. It's pretty abstract. We're not German about it! (laughs) There’s no manual. It's very free and messy. My studio turns into a fucking pig-stye every time I make a record. It's a mess, there's papers every where, and it looks like crap. I just get lost in it. I just held a little party at my house as just my way of saying farewell to the album, and releasing it out into the world; and one of my friends emailed me and said “so that's where you've been hiding!” I don't even realize it.You just fall off the grid because you are caught up in your process. But it's cool. What else is there to do?” (laughs)
Kindly Bent To Free Us isn't exactly a concept album, but Paul's own journey in his life certainly colors the themes that encompass his lyrics and stories. This album is not a concept album, per se. The general running theme certainly is the nature of the mind, and our relationship to it. It's mostly third person, some of it is personal and sometimes it's first person. And it's really looking at that dynamic. Essentially, this mind of ours is our greatest source of suffering and pain in the world, but also ultimately it can be the source of our liberation. It's the paradox of the mind. Like Zen Buddhism. It's just these meaningless riddles you keep asking yourself, like a mantra. Seeing beyond the intellect and beyond the ego and the self. Just a lot of that. Just looking inward and trying to make sense of what is going on. Each song is a varying degree of exploring that. They all explore the density of “who am I, and what's going on here?” A lot of the album is about learning to let go. And learning to ride the waves. It's like the metaphor of the album title, Kindly Bent To Free Us. A lot of it is from the Tao Te Jing (by Lao Su), the Chinese text, all those metaphors. Letting go, riding the waves, trees branches swaying in the wind. We must learn to bend. The stiff branches break. It's a recipe for living. Whether we like it or not. It seems like the more unwilling we are to bend, the more we suffer, that is what is going on in your mind. It is going on around you, regardless. But we are forced to bend. We change.
“It contradicts the very nature of the band to try and play it safe, do something familiar, repeat a pattern, stay in a cocoon, of “we found a sound, let's just recycle it” Paul Masvidal
The nature of reality is that it is your friend. It is never conspiring against you. This war is in your mind. Being alive is a precious gift. We are lucky to be here. There’s more of that, it's a state of mind. A state of gratitude. It's just what is in my head right now. That is the closest I can get to it. In and around writing and recording Cynic music, Masvidal and Reinert have spent the last few years with the Death To All tour and band, formed by Death manager/producer Eric Grief. The first iteration of the tour was an all-star cast from every lineup of the band. Last year's tour focused on the Human lineup and album. The enduring popularity of the music of Chuck Schuldiner, and Paul and Sean's tenure in the band certainly have brought some enjoyment in hearing those classic songs live and a little closure to the fans and the players from Chuck's unfortunate passing. We've done a couple of big US runs, a big city tour. Then we did a smaller tour, all the b-markets. And we've done Europe. I think we are going to do one more run this summer with a handful of big festival dates and that is it. Maybe South America and Asia too, but I'm not sure. I didn’t anticipate the reaction. Chuck's work has grown and became bigger than ever since his passing. A whole new generation of people that want to connect with it. We are doing the closest thing to it. Three of the original guys and Max (Phelps, from Cynic's live band) doing the vocals and singing. He nailed it. He feels and sounds a lot like classic Chuck. It's pretty uncanny. I've been having a good time. It's really liberating to get up there with a wireless guitar rig and play Death songs, which are fairly easy for me. It's an unorthodox thing. For me it's more of an endurance thing. Here we are... I made that record when I was 18-19, I never would have anticipated twenty plus years later, I'm touring it. Especially post- Chuck's life. The whole thing is surreal. There is a sensitivity to it.You can only take this so far.You do the work, you spread his music and share it with the world, and that's it. We'll see. That is what is going on, we're trying to enjoy it. They are quick runs. It's fun! Not a gigantic commitment, since it is not an ongoing project and there is no new music. It's fun to get out there and play this brutal death metal, since I haven't been in that head-space for a long time. I find it therapeutic and cathartic. I’m in such a different place as an artist and musician, when I do that stuff , I get a weird sense of purging. Like an intense workout or some kind of vigorous exercise. A vigorous intensity that has been really healthy for me to explore, this other side. Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
PAUL MASVIDAL on creating a children's book with
ecently Paul Masvidal was invited to work with Hollywood A-list Actor and comedian Jim Carrey as he created a children's book How Roland Rolls. The two had more in common than you could imagine as they came together to create this work: I met him a few times over the years. I have a friend John Raatz, who runs an organization called GATE, which stands for the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment. They are this massive “Visioneering” kind of organization that is basically creating a language for a certain school of entertainment in Hollywood, that involves transformational story telling. Down to where they created a curriculum, for universities. It is really poweful, transformational, spirit-focused work. People who are on the path, trying to find out who they are. The two execs in the foundation besides John, are Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle. They are the main cats. They gave the thumbs up and endorsed the whole thing. So I've met Jim in various degrees over the years at events and even in more private situations.. When John got the green light to executive to produce this book, he needed a music person and he thought of me, since I am involved with all of the GATE stuff. He gave me a call, and next thing you know I am meeting Jim and everything was groovy. It was an honor. Jim is a great spirit. He is a tremendous artist and a massively spiritually awake person. I was walking away from these sessions we did together over a month, and I was so was so inspired and fueled. We immediately bonded because of all the GATE stuff. So we had a great time making some music together and producing these songs. Just watching him do his work work everyday was amazing. Jim is a tremendous massive artist. The real deal. It was so inspiring, because he is as genuine and process driven as they get. He had so much energy and so much creativity to be around, and he is so immensely talented. I had a great time. He's really from another realm almost. He is the real deal. He's reached the height of success, but at the end of the day he is just like us: asking the greater questions, looking to find out what is happening here. He is one of the most grounded people I know. I think that is why we connected on a bigger level. We are both seekers and really interested in finding out about that, rather than just being entertainers in an industry. It was an amazing journey. I'm so grateful for it. As told to Keith Chachkes
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
KINDLY BE N T TO FREE US A
t this point in Cynic's illustrious career, it is unlikely they are going to do anything but follow their own muse. If you are living in the past, and only care about a seminal release like Focus, then you miss the point the band made with that bold musical statement, all those years ago. Granted, every band in this business is measured against their â€œbestâ€? and most popular work. Old-school fans always talk of the pedigree of the principals as members of Death, as if their development as writers should stay frozen in Carbonite forever. However, if you have followed them, you are aware of the hiatus the members took away from the band, and the phenomenal comeback that was Traced In Air. Cynic is a band free of conventions and certainly lives to satisfy their own passions, nothing more. Along the way they have influenced everyone from Opeth, to Between the Buried and Me, and even Animals As Leaders. If you care about the path of an artist, and the transformational power that art has, then this band is still one you ought to study.
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indly Bent To Free Us (Season of Mist), is a unique experience unto its own. The chemistry between Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert and Sean Malone is an undeniable combustion of deft progressive rock and metal sensibilities, with clever songcraft. Kindly Bent... is catchy, uplifting and musically intricate in ways Cynic has never been all at once before, but always were capable of. It is a mature album, written from real life experiences to pull from, and less of the angsty, strained attempts at prog mastery some of the modern bands get bogged down in. The opening sound of 'True Hallucination Speak' is a harsh, jarring screech; an alarm which is a portend of things to come. An real awakening is coming, ready or not. The ominous clean picked guitar tones that bring the track to life in a wash of tension soon reveal its gift with a swelling, modulated vocal sample. When the bass and drums come in with a climax, the track lifts off, and it totally sounds like a Cynic record ought to sound. From Reinert's syncopated beats, to Malone's bristling bass, the track, they compliment the cool riffs. Masvidal's singing, which has really become a powerful instrument in its own right. The chorus soars musically without being over the top, and the triple-tracked guitar solo is a triumph. Like a speech from Dr. Timothy Leary or Carl Sagan, some tripped out knowledge is coming your way, and it's up to you to willfully dodge it, or sit still patiently and absorb it. A great way to kick things off. The most surprising track on the album is 'The Lion's Roar', with its ebb and flow dynamics and poppy chorus. It might be a turn-off to people looking for something more brutal with their morning coffee, but it is going to be hard to ignore those toe-tapping grooves and sweet melodies for long. Next follows the title track, which is a prog-rock masterpiece of the highest order. With
heady sonics and heavy emotions, the track is a gem. The urgent interplay of the band just pulls and pushes the song in all kinds of directions, until the mellow refrain returns again and again like mantra. 'Infinite Shapes' is another chameleon-like track that undergoes a lot of changes. Fans of Masvidal's axe-work should take note of his solos, especially his synth-guitar solos on this album. They are a throwback to the likes of Alan Holdsworth, Adrian Belew, and Andy Summers and other legends from progressive music history. 'Moon Heart Sun Head' and 'Gitanjeli' are a little more on the other side of the introspective spectrum, but both have some deep moments in them. 'Moon Heart Sun Head' could be mistaken for a lost Tool song over several verses, and certainly those guys are influenced by Cynic too. Masvidal's glorious vocals sitting in the pocket are allowed to actually carry the song for a spell, quite the feat against this backdrop. 'Holy Fallout' is the finest track on this offering. Starting out with that familiar vocodertreated sound and some chiming guitars, the track grows and grows more fierce, yet stays restrained in the moment of each second. The song just comes at you in waves of mini-movements, building out slowly over almost seven minutes. A stellar guitar solo, easily one of Paul's best ever, caps things off before shape-shifting again. Also, if Cynic ever wanted to write its 'Pink Floyd' tribute part, they did so with the elongated outro. 'Endlessly Bountiful' closes out the album proper with a a lullaby of jazzy, calming notes. Kindly Bent To Free Us is a journey of the self, and towards selfawareness. This is a message more people need in their lives, looking forward, as they reflect inward. Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15|11
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
LambofGod As The Palaces Burn (film)
In the opening minutes the documentary film As The Palaces Burn, Randy Blythe’s harmless musing about the course of his life was strangely prophetic. The music that got Randy through the toughest part of his young life and certainly brought him fame and glory as an adult, almost certainly cost him his freedom. Originally intended to be a look at Lamb of God fans around the world and their connection to the music, the band was turned upside-down by Randy’s June 2012 arrest and imprisonment in the Czech Republic, for the death of a fan in 2010 that the band was unaware of. As unlikely as this turn of events was for one of the biggest bands in metal, the film is an eye-opening account into the events that unfolded from the case, Randy’s personal struggles, the effect this had on the band both from the trial, and beyond.
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irected by Don Argott (Last Days Here) and produced
by his 9.14 pictures, the film first sees the band at the start of the Resolution (Epic) album cycle a touched on the last few years of the band, and the changes brought about by Randy’s (at the time) new-found sobriety. Although certainly not alone in the partying mode, Randy’s antics when drunk, seen many times in the past in the bands DVD’s, was singled out as a derisive force. On the flip side since undergoing a change in life due to sobriety, everyone one around the band marveled at the shift in his personality. Randy himself gave a confessional account of nearly having a nervous breakdown and not knowing how to deal with a sober life, until overtime he learned to cope and live his life freely. If the film stopped right there, it would still be a surprising, candid film, that few bands, metal or not, have ever made.
Then the film shifts radically from Randy’s arrest at the airport in Prague, and his following imprisonment and eventual release. Band members like Mark Morton and Chris Adler talk at length about growing together, but often being at odds despite the common goals they share. Still, nothing will prepare you for seeing the band greet Randy at the the airport in New Jersey following his release from prison. It is a tear-inducing moment of anxiety and relief seen on screen by the band, and for the viewer. At the same time some of the grief they share only intensifies throughout Randy’s voluntary return to Prague to stand trial for manslaughter. Through it all Randy was humble, and deeply stricken by the pain of the death of the fan of his, for the victim’s family, as well as himself, even though he was innocent. He carried a heavy burden that has changed his life, even with the positive outcome of the trial.
Early in the film the the focus was on Oscar from Columbia and Pratika from India and the ways they connected to he bands’ music and a little look into the life of each fan at a LoG concert.
The film’s access inside the proceedings and preparations with Blythe’s team of lawyers and the courtroom is a revealing look at the legal systems abroad, and for those
who deride the American system of justice, I’d say we have it pretty good here. Although Randy was exonerated of all the charges, the fact remains that Daniel Nosek, a 19-year-old fan of the band died following a show, and his family must cope with the loss somehow for the rest of their life. No matter how much you support the band, the film goes to great length to express the sorrow at the loss of life by all involved, and their hope is that Daniel is not forgotten through all of this. Fans will come away from watching this film with a lot of mixed emotions about the band. To a man, the entire organization around LoG were all supportive of their front man through his ordeal. However, the band is clearly far from close friends anymore. Certainly each member, and Randy, had to reconcile the possible loss of their careers and livelihood from the case had Randy been convicted and served any length of prison sentence. It is of note that while the film is clearly sympathetic to the plight of the singer and his band, it pulls no punches of the realty of a group of
guys who have always have an uneasy alliance as friends, sober or not. Like most bands of their stature, there is a lot less of a brotherhood than the fans may want to believe. As LoG approaches middle age and veteran act status, they have grown up, and also grown apart with expanding families and other interests in their life trumping the chaos and mayhem of the killing road of metal music.
“Music is the only reason why I’m not prison (laughs) or dead, you know? I’m a dude who came from a little redneck town, and I didn’t fit in. It was horrible. Music definitely got me through it.” Randy Blythe
As The Palaces Burn is a film unlike
any other, about a unique band who went through an experience that hopefully, never happens again. Argott proves again to be a masterful story teller and the many emotional moments in the film are augmented by Mark Morton’s sparse score, full of his interesting guitar work. Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15|13
GHOST CULT The NAMM Conference RECAPS The 2014 Winter NAMM show kicks off the new year with loads of new instruments and gear the music world eagerly awaits for, while flocks of attendees from around the world come into Southern California (i.e. Anaheim, California) looking to start off the new year in a big way.
Words Rei Nishimoto Photos by Omar Cordy
or those who are not familiar with NAMM, it is the biannual instrument trade show held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. While NAMM is not open to the public and mainly for retailers and musicians, it is well documented that various people from the public as well as ‘aspiring’ musicians always find their way into the event while scoring passes in their own ways. It is also an escape from a variety of weather issues for those traveling from the Midwest and East Coast of the US, and a short trip up the 5 Freeway for Southern California residents (without the weather problems of course). Either way, NAMM is also four days of seeing musicians from every walk of life, parties sponsored by various companies, as well as non stop music performed throughout the convention center and the neighboring hotels. Or as some have called it ‘the world’s largest Guitar Center. The 2014 edition saw a number of companies scaling down their booths from past years, and some going 14|GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
a lot more basic (for NAMM standards at least). Some booths such as Dean Guitars did away with the booth models, which attracted attendees in the past, while others went for a less flashy setup. GoPro, the hi tech digital camera company made their debut at NAMM, and showed off a spinning drum kit, showing how their camera works. They were one of the new people at NAMM this year, definitely showing off how they work well with any player. The usual faces such as Charvel/Jackson Guitars, Ibanez, Fender, ESP, and Schecter Guitars all had packed rooms displaying walls of new guitar models and amplifiers in their respective areas. Each of them held artist appearances to talk about new items being released in 2014, as well as artist signings for product buyers (and lucky fans who magically scored a pass into the convention). Artists such as Mike Inez (Alice In Chains) and Dug Pinnick (Kings X/KXM) were spotted doing signings at various stops throughout the weekend, while an extensive line was spotted at the Schecter
booth for Synster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold.
were some of the faces spotted greeting fans.
Marshall does a great job giving out their shoulder bags (with a small donation for charity), while Blackstar, Bogner and Orange Amps attracted curious musicians towards new ways of turning it up to 11.
The PM time is always chock full of entertainment, with Charvel/Jackson holding their party at the Grove in Anaheim featuring Jake E Lee and Periphery. An invite only event and the room attracted the likes of music industry and musicians alike.
Ernie Ball, Dunlop and D’Addario had their usual setups and attracted steady foot traffic towards their respective booths, while pedal companies such as BOSS/Roland, Pigtronix and Majik Box were spotted with curious people trying out their new product lines. Majik Box kept busy over the weekend with signings with Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, Munky (Korn) and Vic Johnson (Sammy Hagar). Monster Cables kept their booth busy with signings with Wayne Static and performances by various R & B acts throughout the weekend. In the drum room, while battling hundreds of drummers bashing away simultaneously, artists such as Ray Luzier (Korn), Ken Schalk (Fuel/ Candiria) and Dave Lombardo (Philm/Slayer)
Orange Amps held their party at the Slidebar in Fullerton, featuring Monte Pittman. On Saturday, Schecter Guitars held their annual party at the Grove featuring Black Label Society, Kill Devil Hill and Conquering Dystopia. D’Addario String held an invite only party at the Sheraton Hotel in Anaheim featuring Monte Pittman, and Tama Drums held their own party at the Anaheim Hilton featuring Animals As Leaders and members of Anthrax doing instrumental versions of their songs. Another year of NAMM is done. Despite a scaled back year, NAMM always has something for every music fan and this year was no exception. Until 2015…. GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15|15
ALBUM REVIEWS FESTIVAL REPORTS CONCERT REVIEWS INTERVIEWS
Chance Garnette of SKELETONWITCH By Dane Prokofiev
While on-stage, Chance Garnette may be the wristspikes-wearin’, mean growler of Ohio blackened thrashers Skeletonwitch. Once off the stage, however, the man is an affable character who laughs as often as he swigs beer. During the last stop (at The Firebird, St. Louis, Missouri,) of the band’s recent North American tour, Ghost Cult contributor Dane Prokofiev spoke to Garnette about, among other topics, the meaning of black metal, the role of humor in extreme metal, and of course, cats!
he band is fresh off of their celebrated US tour as support for Amon Amarth and Enslaved. The tour sold out many stops on the tour, in a time when some tours are having a hard time filling venues. Garnette shares his feelings on the success of the run: “It was really good, we had toured with Amon Amarth before—I think it was in 2009, but I’m also 41 so my memory’s not the best [Laughs]— so we knew the guys already. We’ve been fans of Enslaved forever as well, so it’s really cool to meet those guys—and those guys are really fun. It was really good, the shows were almost all sold out [especially those in the] House of Blues type of theater. People were there and packed
16|GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
early [into the venue] every night. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better man, it was awesome.” Although the band takes their performances very seriously, they know how to kick back, cut loose, and have some fun. There was an incident during the tour when the guys trolled Ice Dale of Enslaved with hilarious shirts. Laughter just helps pass the malaise of long drives, and longer days on the road. “[Laughs] You know, at this point it’s not really about getting crazy and stupid anymore. Maybe when we first started we would try to do tour pranks. Well, Enslaved did come out in their last show to prank us. They took orange yarn and
put it in their hair like it was my brother Nate, the red-headed guy in our band, and they put pillows under their shirts, so they had a belly, and then they just walked across the stage with the big bellies and a red ponytail. So that was really funny. But just little shit like that, nothing crazy like, you know, we’re going WILD or anything. It’s a long tour, and it is our job—and it is also the best job ever—but I’m just not really into fucking around too much. I just want to do what I have to do, what I love to do, do it well, and do the best I can.You know, you get in trouble, it screws ya, and I’m just not into getting in trouble.” Musicians and music bloggers alike have blogged before that metal bands don’t earn much money from their record royalties, and that the money, instead, lies in touring and selling merch goods while on tour. We asked Garnette for his take on this topic: “Oh, absolutely, it’s true, yes.You definitely pay your rent by your merch.You know, your guarantee, or the door money you get for your show, that fee, at our level, usually is gas money and for per-diems per band member, and then it’s gone. So the money you take home, I would say, 80 – 90% is your merch money. And then you have to pay that bill back, and then you have to divide by the number of people in the band. So the big pie gets really small really fast!” Furthermore on the subject of making money Skeletonwitch (with the help of their label Prosthetic) has been one of the leaders of making cool and unique merch. They have released quite a few limited edition products lately, namely: the “Beer helmet”T-shirt and the Forever Abomination picture disc. We asked if limited edition merchandise plays a role in the success of a band? “It doesn’t make or break a band. It’s just little fun shit to do. The Forever Abomination record is out of print. I mean there are still a few trickling around in stores here and there, but is there a stockpile [of it] at Prosthetic Records or at my house? No, it’s out of print. Every one that is printed is out there. Instead of just re-printing the same thing again, [we wanted] to do something different. We haven’t done a picture disc before, and we like to do new things. The picture disc isn’t a new idea, but it’s new for Skeletonwitch. But I don’t think putting a picture disc out or bringing back an old merch design for two weeks and then killing it is necessarily mandatory for success. I mean it’s just some neat little things to do to keep the
wheels turning and to keep, er, you know, you need to super-serve your fans.You need to be there for ‘em, or they will forget about you.” One of the things that sets the band apart is the prominence of melody in Skeletonwitch’s music. It's a big reason for the success of the band to date. Not many blackened thrash bands have a knack for melody like they do. Some bands and boutique record labels don’t seem to think that melody is important to extreme metal music. We wondered if Chance had to convince them that melody is important to extreme metal, we asked how he would go about it: You know, I don’t know if I’d try to convince them. I mean, just do what you want and I’ll do what I want. I believe, for what I do, [melody] is very important. I like to write songs that are memorable, and I think melody, for us, is very important.You can walk out the door whistling or humming a Skeletonwitch song. I don’t think you can do that—[Pauses] To a Portal song? “Right, I mean I never heard someone whistling or humming to that before. [Laughs] It doesn’t make it any less relevant or better or worse or anything—it’s just a different style. I prefer the songwriting approach instead of just [writing] parts, ‘cos there’s definitely overly technical things [out there]. To me, sometimes, it’s just like,“Brutal part! Brutal part! Brutal part! Brutal part!”You know, nothing that you can remember. I mean, what’s the biggest band in the world? Iron Maiden. That shit is memorable as fuck. [Laughs]”
Serpents Unleashed not only contains great melodies, but also possesses a more black metal sound than previous records. Chance answered our charge it a conscious attempt to pay homage to the Norwegian black metal scene, or if it just came naturally to the band: “We never really set out before writing a record that “this one needs to be fresher, or this one needs to be more black metal.” It’s just where we were at that time, or where we are at any time. When Nate was demo-ing the stuff, it just came out that way. And we were all really stoked about it and we were feeling it, and we just kind of went with it. We didn’t decide to have a meeting beforehand to sit down and say, “We need to make this one more black metal” or “We need to make this one more extreme.” GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 17
I don’t think putting a picture disc out or bringing back an old merch design for two weeks and then killing it is necessarily mandatory for success. I mean it’s just some neat little things to do to keep the wheels turning and to keep, er, you know, you need to super-serve your fans.You need to be there for ‘em, or they will forget about you Chance Garnette Following the band since Beyond the Permafrost, and when I heard Serpents Unleashed after Forever Abomination, I thought it sounded kind of like old Satyricon. Perhaps to the casual listener, he or she might be thinking that they tried to pay homage to Norwegian black metal. “I mean, we love it, and I love—since you mentioned Satyricon—I love The Age of Nero. It is so catchy and memorable—like we were talking before—but you know, if you listen to Serpents Unleashed and The Age of Nero, it’s not like,“Oh, they totally copied it.” It’s not like that at all. I think it’s just kind of like what you are listening to at the time or just where you are in your head at the time, and that’s the product of what comes out. That’s the basis for it all. It was not a conscious effort.”
make black metal goofy, and that’s really not at all what it’s about, or at least, what it’s about to me. You know, like you see the shirts that say,“I like my metal like I like my coffee—black!” I mean, come on, quit making fun of it man. Or like people putting corpse paint on Santa Claus for Christmas cards.”
“I do agree that from Permafrost to Serpents, it’s different but it also is the same.You can tell both of them are Skeletonwitch. [We’re satisfied] as long as we can keep progressing and not change crazily,‘cos I don’t think we’re ever going to just make a real hard turn and do something different. We just want to get better each time. And I do believe that Serpents.. is way better than Permafrost. I enjoy it way more.”
Road warriors that they are, Skeletonwitch is in the middle of an extensive tour cycle that will take them all over the globe this summer: “Yeah, we are going to do some European festivals in the summer. I think we are… I don’t know the dates exactly, but it looks like it’s about 20 dates— obviously not all festivals. The festivals I do think we’re confirmed for—or might not be playing—are like Brutal Assault, Bloodstock, well, you know, you have the early and late spring ones, and then you have the later summer ones, so yeah, like the August ones, we will be in Europe doing those.”
To some diehards in the scene costumes, spiky accessories, corpse paint and pyrotechnics are essential elements of a black metal band. But can a band play “black metal” if they sound black metal, but do not have any of these elements? “Sure, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to see shorts and flip-flops.You know, I don’t need to see the full regalia, but I do love to see the corpse paint and the spikes, I think it’s awesome. I love looking at that, yeah. I mean it’s part of the show and it’s part of the whole thing. So let’s just say someone is in the most brutal or I guess the most perfect black metal band in the world, but then they’re wearing shorts and flipflops? I could listen to the record, but when I see them live, I’ll be like,“Aw, man.” [Laughs]” Speaking of which, have you heard of this parody band called “The Black Satans”? Basically they make fun of black metal in a few music videos they did, and there was one particular music video in which it had a lot of footage of the band members wearing corpse paint, but in swimming trunks and dancing on a beach. “You know, that kinda bums me out. Right now, last year and this year, it seems to be in style to 18|GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
Or corpse paint on cats. [Laughs] The Purrzum shirt. [Laughs] “I don’t know Matt. I do not. But I love cats, aaand also black metal. But I don’t need to combine the two [of them], man. So yeah, I think the parody is getting out of hand, and people are watering it down, and I don’t love to see people do that."
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An Interview With Red Fang's John Sherman
COSMIC HEAVY THING
By Rei Nishimoto
The last few years have been huge for Portland rockers Red Fang. Easily one of the fastest rising riff rock bands on the music scene today, they made their impact felt immediately and fans were attracted in droves. Whales and Leeches is Red Fang’s latest opus and fans were eagerly awaiting its release. While they toured extensively behind 2011’s Murder the Mountains, they somehow found time to work on newer material and record their latest record. 20 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
rummer John Sherman explained how they managed to work on new material while very few fans noticed they were away from the scene: “We toured the last record for so long. We toured for about two years on Murder the Mountains. Somewhere into the second year of touring, we’re like ‘we need to get a new record. We can’t tour on this record forever.’ So far we haven’t been able to write on the road because we’re not a big enough band where we have a bus and a back lounge so we can break out guitars and chill out. When we tour the States, we’re in a little fucking van driving ourselves. Most of the time is spent either on the road or in a club. So we decided if we’re ever gonna write another record, we should stop touring
and just hunker down. So we stopped accepting tours and for three months, just stayed home, go to the rehearsal studio almost every single day, and pound out all the old and new ideas and make a record out of it. It’s the only time I thought being in a band was a hard job. It took a while after we finished the record for me to be able to listen to it, and not be super close to it. I am close to it, but can’t judge it. I’m pretty happy with what we came up with.” Despite the success of Murder the Mountains, Sherman felt the band neglected pressuring themselves into writing a record that topped their predecessor. Instead, they took the natural approach and just let it happen naturally. “We’re pretty evident as to lofty expectations because we don’t want to be super disappointed. We just have a good time doing what we’re doing. Right now we’re at a point where we never thought we’d be at or anywhere close to. Whatever happens to this record we’re gonna still be writing music. If people dig it and they buy it, awesome. But if they don’t, of course I’ll be like ah man…well…what’s wrong with it? I don’t have any expectations. I don’t want to expect everything is awesome and then everything sucks. I just assume everything’s gonna suck and then be stoked if everything’s awesome!” While the album title comes from a previously unreleased song, Red Fang found that this formula worked in their favor. While this method may not be the most exciting way for a band to title their records, the band found it to work well for the time being: “There’s not much of a tie really between the title and the record. Titles of songs are hard to come up with, and titles of records almost as hard to come up with, for us as band names.” “I don’t know if you ever started a band before. When you try to come up with a name for your band that’s the hardest part - that’s how it is for us with album titles. We had a list of titles that we all liked. 'Whales and Leeches' was a title of a song off our first record (2009’s Red Fang) and the last record we did (Murder The Mountains), that was the title of a song that we have had since before our first record but never recorded. So we’re like fuck it. If we’re going to be that stupid and name our last record Murder the Mountains after a song that wasn’t even on the record, let’s name the album Whales and Leeches after a song on the first record, especially because we like the name. It’s a heavy sounding name I think. Then someone asks ‘what does this name mean?’ and hopefully nobody listens to my last answer! They can make up their own minds…some kind of weird, crazy cosmic heavy thing. Maybe I should have made up a better answer for that.“ They found a wide array of fans from all of the different audiences they played in front of. From touring with Helmet and Crowbar to The Dillinger Escape Plan to taking part on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival Tour, they found new fans everywhere they hit, and did it without sticking to the typical rock audiences they were used to: “That’s a good question and a tough question
MUSICAL GLOOM In The Great
NORTHWEST As told to Rei Nishimoto
he Northeastern United States has been producing some of the better rock bands on the scene today. Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington have produced many exciting rock bands, including Red Fang. While Seattle once groomed the grunge scene in the early 1990s, Portland has joined in to offering some new blood. Drummer John Sherman shared some of his favorite bands out today. “There’s been killer rock bands and heavy bands in Portland for many years. A lot of times they might not get outside of that area. A lot of people might not know about them. But right now there’s a ton of great bands in Portland and Seattle. On the heavier side, there’s Norska and YOB, and in Seattle, you have this band Sandrider, who rules. In Bellingham, WA, there’s Federation X, who’s awesome, and Dog Shredder, and Danava, which is one of my favorites.” “If I keep listing bands, I’m forgetting really important ones so I’ll cut myself off. There’s a ton of rad bands out there now. There’s been a ton of rad bands for a long time, but right now it seems to be really happening.” He believes the rainy weather does add to the inspiration. “Maybe? What are you gonna do when it’s raining all day? Most dudes in bands work in a bar so you have plenty of time off. It’s raining all day so you go to a jam space and drink beers and rock.”
to answer, especially when we did Mayhem Festival, we all looked at each other and went ‘what the fuck man! We’re so out of place.’ We’re also in the biggest crowds we’ve ever played in front of, so why not,” Sherman said. “We’re gonna try to win them over even if they’re used to listening to screamo bands or whatever, but see what kind of reaction we could get out of our shit. We had a blast. Sometimes it’s tough and scary playing in front of an audience who you think is going to hate you. It’s also a challenge. We think we can win them over, and often we do. I’d like to think that our band is versatile enough. I have a hard time classifying ourselves so we can play with bands like Mastodon and we could also play with bands like Clutch. It doesn’t have to be super heavy but it can be. It’s whoever we’re playing with.” Much like the audiences they play with, Red Fang’s songwriting process isn’t as disciplined as one may think. Being part jam session and part structured, they found it to work well for them and creating some rather heavy rocking tunes. “It’s a total meshing of both. Some songs we labor over for months. Some of the riffs that ended up on the last record we’ve been working on for years. Some of the riffs that ended up on this record we were working on for years. Then other songs are just those spontaneous moments of just everyone hanging out at the practice space being happy and playing something and someone goes ‘what was that? Do that again.’ 22 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
Within ten minutes you have a whole song. There’s the super over thought out ones and the spontaneous ones. We tend to do both.” While Red Fang is known to rock hard, they still managed to keep fans humored with their animated videos. Comedian Fred Armisen (of Saturday Night Live and Late Night With Seth Meyers fame) made a cameo in their ‘Blood Like Cream’ video. But somehow fans find ways of discovering Red Fang and the videos did play a part in that. “I don’t know. I certainly think our videos helped spread the word a lot. It’s the normal heavy metal videos. Not that we compare ourselves to a heavy metal band. We’re a heavy rock band. The videos are funny and even if you’re not super into the music at first, you like the videos and then “oh the music’s pretty good too” hopefully. Also I think the videos helped us come across as normal, approachable guys. I think people like that.” Red Fang has ventured across the globe and has seen many audiences, they do have their favorites. “Moscow in St. Petersburg, Russia were some of the best crowds. Athens, Greece is a fantastic crowd every time. We just played Iceland for the first time. That was completely insane. That was up there with the Moscow crowd. There are good crowds everywhere. There are good crowds in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We’ve always had good crowds in Chicago. It really doesn’t matter the size of the crowd. It matters if the crowd’s into it. It’s way easier to be into it if the crowd’s into it.”
ALBUM REVIEWS FESTIVAL REPORTS CONCERT REVIEWS INTERVIEWS
ARTISTIC INTEGRITY David Vincent of Morbid Angel By Rei Nishimoto
Morbid Angel reached a major milestone as their 1993 release Covenant turned 20 years old. Being one of the bandâ€™s biggest records, they chose to perform the record in its entirety and highlight this grand moment. 24 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
and vocalist and bassist David Vincent explained how this idea came about. “It just happened to be the 20th anniversary so it seemed like a fitting time to revisit it ourselves.”
“We’ve had some of the songs from that record have been in the set over time. It’s difficult putting a set together. Once you have so many records out, then you look at some of these things and this is how it goes. Doing a themed tour like this…I know a lot of bands do it, but it almost gives you a chance to be like ‘here’s what we’re doing..’ and here’s the theme of the tour. We had additional material following the Covenant set. Some of these songs we haven’t played [in a while] and some we’ve never played. We’re having a good time.” Many of the songs from that record have not been regular songs in their set list or simply have never been played live. They spent time relearning the tunes as part of this special moment. “Everyone in the band is an accomplished musician so it was just adjusting a few things, rehearing and everyone owning their parts. Obviously Timothy (Yeung) and Thor (Anders Myhren - Destructhor) were not on that record but they’re both accomplished musicians. There were no challenges. It was just getting everything where it fits in and everyone owns it as much as any other material.” One member missing from that era is drummer Pete Sandoval, who has not performed with Morbid Angel for a few years. While some fans may have missed his lightning fast drumming to the classic tunes, Vincent summed up his thoughts on his former band mate. “Listen, I don’t cry over spilled milk. Life presents challenges and real men look at the challenges and find a way to navigate through them. Life is like a minefield.You can get caught up in one thing and blow yourself up, or you can navigate through things the best that you can. That’s the best answer I can come up with.”
Covenant was Morbid Angel’s first record that came out originally on the major label Giant Records, a thensubsidiary of Warner Brothers, which had on its roster
such acts as Kenny Rogers, Oingo Boingo and Brian Wilson. A surprise choice to sign with at the time, they found themselves with a golden opportunity unlike before, despite having no real track record for signing metal bands of any sort and especially death metal. “We had a very good team. Our manager, it was his deal. He worked on that and that was a big win. But it’s no individual that just did this. It’s not just the band. The band, the band’s management, our support crew, the label itself, the people who took the chances on us….it’s a lot of people that it takes to make some of these things happen. Somehow the stars aligned and we got an opportunity and we took it. It ended up part of the ride,” he said. Vincent recalls the time working on the Covenant record. “Reminds me how old I am! No, listen, all of these records again…everything we’ve done had its place in time. That was reflective of where we were at that time. Fond memories. That was an awful lot of opportunities that opened up for us with that record. We had some great videos. Obviously we were part of the Warner Brothers family for that and they managed to get us into… it was an admission ticket into a larger swimming pool.You don’t get life preservers but you get permission to swim in a larger pool. We’re thankful for the opportunity. We had a very good team and they were part of it.” They chose to work with producer Flemming Rasmussen on Covenant, known for his work on the Metallica records.Vincent talked about how that came about. “We talked about doing this a little different. We still recorded at Morrisound… the tracking. We thought it would be neat to bring in someone else. He hadn’t done anything quite…I mean Metallica, they’re a heavy band…they’re not Morbid Angel. I think it was interesting for him. We all had a good time. We all got along real well with him. I really enjoyed working with him. He’s a great guy.” Rasmussen had his ways of recording but generally gave the band the freedom to do things their way. But throughout the recording, he did have little things he wanted done his way in order for him to capture their sound. “He came over and was very specific about how GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 25
How Beavis And Butthead Made Morbid Angel Some Money Uh huh huh huh huh By Rei Nishimoto
Morbid Angel’s Covenant record easily became one of their biggest releases to date and one of the biggest death metal releases in history. From that album, they did a music video for ‘God of Emptiness’, which was featured on the Beavis and Butthead cartoon series on MTV. Front man David Vincent spoke about his memories of viewing his video on the series. “At the time, it was a popular program and the nature of the show…they got their jabs in. It’s just part of it. At the end, it gave us a lot of opportunities. I’m thankful.‘Beavis and Butthead are laughing at your video!’ Dude, please laugh more.You don’t take things personally. It’s a comedy show. It’s supposed to be funny. So just the fact we were included on that at all was, in the grand scheme of things, was quite an opportunity.” Instead of getting mad when his mutual friends laughed at their bits related to their video, he found a way to get even. “Oh no.‘Dude Beavis and Butthead are laughing at you!’ Every time they laugh, guess what? I get a publishing check. Please laugh more! Laugh as much as you want. I’ll give you more things to laugh about.”
he wanted the drums to be recorded. He listened to us and he went into the studio. That was his biggest thing is how to get the drums. At this time, there were no Pro Tools. This was on two inch tape. So he was very specific and was there throughout the process of the drums. He made a few suggestions but we had the rest of it down. His main concern was getting the drums down in such a way that where he didn’t have to do so much work splicing tape and making sure the takes were organized in such a way where he could do what he needed to do during the mixing process.” No one could have predicted the impact the Covenant record would have upon the death metal world and its influence it would have on future generation of musicians. 20 years later and it is still one of the more common records which has had its impact felt. “Listen, obviously everybody’s out to conquer the world. But we’re much more internal with the way we think about things. We look from within rather that look at what someone else is doing and try to follow. We’ve always paved our own way. And this was no different. But obviously we had these additional opportunities that opened up for being part of the Warner family. Big video budgets and larger touring opportunities - we were looking forward to doing the best we could pushing what we do as far as what we could push it, and retaining our identity.” “A lot of times when people get put into a certain situation, then some things about their artistic integrity change. We were bound to determine that would not be the case.” Despite the success of Covenant, Morbid Angel is arguably one of the biggest death metal bands around and continues to influence musicians of all eras. Vincent gave his thoughts on Morbid Angel’s impact on death metal. “We have our own sound. In all honesty, back in the early years, I think everybody had their own sound. Things are a lot more amalgamated and homogenized these days. When we were doing what we do, we sounded a lot different. I’m thinking about a lot of the other Florida area bands, like Chuck Schuldiner, Obituary…some of the other bands....we all sounded different. I think it’s about we did our own thing and they picked up on it.”
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STEALING the SHOW
Dominique Persei of Stolen Babies By Melissa Campbell
Stolen Babies are one of the most unique bands out there right now. They have been on tour with big names Pop Evil and Stone Sour to start off 2014. What separates them from their touring partners is the fact that they have a female vocalist, Dominique Persei, who just might be the greatest accordion player in rock music. Persei sat down with us for a rare interview. “I had more training in accordion than vocals” explains Persei. “When I was about nine I wanted to take voice lessons. I remember going to see this guy and he had his students sing for me to just show what I could do and what he did with pupils. I always had issues with anxiety and I had a panic attack. I ran out and that was my attempt at voice lessons. When I began screaming I went to see a coach just to make sure I wasn’t hurting anything.” Her other musical training experiences were less frightening: “Accordion lessons, I did take when I was about 16 or 17. I took piano lessons when I was really young, but stopped. I’ve had a history of on and off music lessons”. Part of Persei and Stolen Babies’ interesting sound may come from their wide range of influences. “When 28 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
I was younger I was influenced by Raffi the folk singer. I liked musical theater. There were certain musicals I really loved and I would make my toys put them on. I would study the Cats’ makeup and draw on their faces. I built a theater out of a cardboard box. I don’t really like rock musicals like Rent, but Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sondheim. Out of the bands that I listen to, Faith No More was a big influence. I remember seeing them when I was a kid and Babes in Toyland opened for them. They left a huge mark on me too. I wanted to play bass and I played for a while but I met Rani [Sharone] and stopped”. The group has had their share of memorable concert experiences. One of them was right after they took a hiatus. “There was a show when we started touring again two years ago in Denver and it was our first tour in a very long time. I thought
I wanted to start a song off a capella and to everyone’s surprise the audience came in and sang it with me. It was a pretty crazy moment.” Another one was on a tour with the Dillinger Escape Plan, whom drummer Gil Sharone played for at one time. “In 2008, we toured Europe with The Dillinger Escape Plan. There was a Metal Mania Festival in Poland and we headlined the second stage which was mainly the hall, but it was huge. All these people knew who we were and they were going crazy. We use to cover this Polish song which was this huge drinking song. It was an old Stolen Babies song, so we just did a little bit of it and it was the most surreal thing. They just went nuts and I swear there were people floating. Afterward I told the guys not to get used to it. You can get spoiled by that kind of thing.” Besides their accordion driven sound, Stolen Babies is known for the theatrical presence onstage. They actually got their start as a theatrical, improvisational-based troupe, from which their current band name was derived. Persei elaborates upon these crucial elements of their performances: “I never knew it was so important until tonight. I think it’s just part of what we do, and we can’t not do it. Tonight I didn’t really dress up. This is just a plain black dress, it’s cold out there, we had a rough day and the show last night got canceled. We’re sort of drained, but I never don’t put the makeup on. Tonight I felt a little bit like something’s kind of off and I think I do need to dress up. It was kind of this accidental experiment. I guess we have this inherent theatricality.” Stolen Babies very recently became a three piece with the departure of guitarist Ben Rico. It has proven to be both a beneficial and disadvantageous shift. “It’s a good thing because it is a new thing and scary. I think that’s a good thing to be always pushing boundaries for yourself.You have this energy and the audience picks up on it. The drawback is that we don’t really fit in. People go to a metal show and want to see like five dudes onstage. We have all these elements that people aren’t
“I think that’s a good thing to be always pushing boundaries for yourself.You have this energy and the audience picks up on it.” Dominique Persei
familiar with. I think it can confuse people a little bit. A good thing is that we all have to play more. Rani is starting to sing more, I’m playing percussion a bit more, and Gil is starting to play more melodic instruments like a glockenspiel. All three of us are stretching ourselves out.” Owing to the fact that the band has played with diverse acts from death metal, to hardcore, active rock, and only occasionally finding some common ground with artinspired tour mates, definitely sees them challenging audiences. Like every band, Stolen Babies has played for tougher crowds, including on this tour. “Standing on that stage and every night on this tour so far you look out into the audience like ‘Are they staring? Do they get it? Rani said he saw on Twitter or on Instagram that someone posted a picture of us like ‘What the fuck am I looking at right now?’. We get a reaction whether it’s good or bad. People will remember us, even if they hated us. It’s better than being forgettable”. Persei sees the bands uniqueness as very positive, especially in the long term. “It seems like it’s always been good and bad. I think it’s always good if you do what you do naturally. Maybe you want be a millionaire but you want to do it your way. In the end I want to feel that I expressed myself in the most honest way I could. I want to know that I put out a product that represented me.” There was a six year gap between Stolen Babies’ last two albums, leaving fans to wonder if they will see another release any time soon. “We were supposed to be working on it and didn’t plan to tour until March or April before we were offered this tour. We have new songs that were so excited to play and one of them we wanted to play on this tour, but it just didn’t work out. However, the answer is yes”.
Vincent Hausman of Howl
One of the best bands in recent memory, Howl is a band, despite some critical success and fan respect, is still a bit under the radar. They may not be top of mind to some when you talk about the major American metal bands, but they certainly deserve you attention with their abrasive blend of sludge, doom and other influences. Following up their full length debut Full of Hell in, the band released Bloodlines (Relapse) almost a year ago. Vincent (Vince) Hausman chatted with Ghost Cult about the maturation process of this brutal band, and glimpse of what Howl is capable of next.
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ut for almost a year now, Bloodlines marked some slight changes in the writing tenor of the band who rode the wave of Full of Hell's doom and crust leanings: “We wanted to challenge ourselves musically and lyrically. We wanted a more aggressive record. We wanted a more modern sound as well, since we didn't want to make the same album twice. I think another difference was that we wanted to approach the song writing a little more differently. We tried to give songs more individual character or atmospheres or flavors, as opposed to just piling on riffs. Which I think that worked great for Full of Hell, and there is definitely something to that. But we wanted to make the sound of Bloodlines a little bit more distinct from each other. Overall a more aggressive heavy metal record, as opposed to just a doom/ sludge record. That was the big difference, in terms of approach, intent and purpose on Bloodlines.” “Ultimately we're a band, that doesn't over analyze things too much. We're not trying to make a classic rock, or too going experimental either. We are a metal band. We wanted to write metal record and we wanted to write a metal record when we did Full of Hell, too. We always want to hear a certain consistency
“I can't write about unicorns and goats. That doesn't really do it for me. When you read the lyrics back from Bloodlines, it will be a reaction to a lot about what is going on in the world” Vincent Hausman and have a definite “Howl sound”, even as the band may continue to develop and evolve.” Some of the development from the album came from the lineup changes that brought new song writing chemistry: “It's great to be working with Josh (Durocher-Jones), who joined us for the writing of Bloodlines, especially in the lead department. I think his contributions added a lot of texture and variety to the record. Most of all his style of working helped us stay on task a little bit better, when we were in the basement of our drummers house, in our pjs, essentially writing the record. (laughs) Maybe I shouldn't have said that, but they were really metal pj’s. (laughs)” Although at times Hausman has put down his axe just to scream on a song or two in his career, he has transitioned to smoothly to full-time front man now. “We're touring now where with me just doing vocals, and we brought on our buddy Jonathan (Hall) in to play second guitar. What we discovered in the writing of Bloodlines, the vocals are more varied, there's a lot more of them, and they're all over the place in terms of style. So in order for me to do them justice live, we decided that it would be more effective to focus on the vocals and just be the front man. We wanted to make sure the musical chops get what they deserve too. I wrote a lot of the material and I will continue to do that. But I am also at a point in my career where I am ready to welcome some outside influences, and collaborating with other people. So bringing Josh and Jonathan in has been a key step in doing that. I feel like I will come into my own, like never before in terms of the vocal duties. We can put on a hell of a show, and this is the best lineup yet from the band. The other dudes in the band are great musicians and great performers too. It's been really fun.”
be, how to dress, and how to feel. I didn’t like being told what to do, how they were going to define my sexuality for me. So I found a community of people, and an outlet musically that I connected with. When it's my turn to write the lyrics, I like to keep it real too. I can't write about unicorns and goats. That doesn't really do it for me. When you read the lyrics back from Bloodlines, it will be a reaction to a lot about what is going on in the world.” “One example is there will always be the hypocrisy of organized religious institutions. For example people, like the catholic church, who always preached morality and from a doctrine of fear, telling people who they can and can't love. All the while, shielding each other from being prosecuted for pedophilia. That's really fucked up world that we live in a word like that. That is kind of the stuff you will find backing my lyrics as well.” While it's not an obvious influence on the band, the legendary Providence underground music and art scene definitely played a part in the evolution of the character of the band, at least in subtle ways. “I don't know if you can hear it in our music, because Howl is not very artsy, or experimental. Obviously, Providence has a thriving experimental art scene. It's been great to play with vast array of bands that do different shit. It's been a hotbed for music and performers for years, so it's kind of underrated. On the other hand, it's been a well-kept secret in New England for years, so that's cool too. Our bass player Jesse is playing in a black metal project called Sire, and that's a band to keep an eye on.” Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
One of the biggest changes from album to album, that point to the growth of this band is the move into new lyrical terrain for Hausman: “There is some personal shit in there, but I also leave things for people to interpret for themselves and find meaning. I got an email the other day from this guy, even though we are beer drinkers, this guy was struggling to overcome addiction and got inspiration and help from our lyrics, and from the album which I thought was really awesome. That is not necarilly what I wrote about, but it's cool that he was able to interpret and extract from that, to find a meaning. So I really welcome that. At the same time, heavy metal for me, hasn't been so much about fantasy, about wizards and dragons. It's cool it that's your thing, but it's not for me. I got into heavy metal because I was pissed off and and didn't understand a lot of things. I didn't like people telling me how to GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 31
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Gottfrid Åhman of In Solitude By Richie Hanton-Rutherford
Rising Swedish true metal stars In Solitude hit London’s Kentish Town Forum in February with unlikely tour mates Behemoth and Cradle Of Filth, pushing their muscular, melodic brand of classic heavy metal to an audience mostly there to see face-painted men in leather skirts bellowing about Satan. Ghost Cult found bassist Gottfrid Åhman at the back of their tour bus with a gin and tonic to talk about their new album Sister (Metal Blade), perceived trends and their place on an otherwise exclusively death and black metal bill.
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our earlier material very much took its cues from Mercyful Fate, but Sister seems to draw on a broader collection of influences – is that a deliberate choice, or a more natural development? “I think it’s very natural… when we did the first album we were 16 or 18, you know – we had just learned how to make a rock song. We grew up together playing Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath – those bands taught us how to play our instruments. It’s very natural that when you sit down to write a song, it will sound like them. I think moving on from that, as we have on Sister, is a natural thing, and a thing that comes… maybe not with age, but with knowing how to play your instruments, how to express your true self.” When you and other like-minded bands started to emerge in the late 2000’s, you were perceived by journalists as being part of a retro heavy metal trend. How do you feel about this? “At the time we were very annoyed – I think all of the bands who were seen as part of that were. I’ve been talking about this with Enforcer and Portrait, and everyone hated it. I think everyone started to play that kind of music, maybe not consciously, but because there was a lack of bands playing the kind of music that we grew up with. It’s a natural thing, to sound like the bands that you grew up with and loved. It wasn’t a trend, it was just that people with similar influences were getting their albums out around the same time. I really feel like the trend is coming now - in 2007, there were only three four bands doing this in Sweden, you know, but now you have lots of demo bands trying to take part in what they’ve been told is a scene.” “It was the same way with black metal – in the early 90s every one talked about the black metal trend, but you didn’t get the trend until years later, when millions of shitty bands turned up.” As a genre, classic heavy metal is in its fourth decade, and yet continues to find fans and musicians amongst young people. Where do you think that lasting appeal comes from? “Because it’s just great music. People will always discover the great music, however old. I bought this Velvet Underground box set the other day – younger people have been picking up on Velvet Underground pretty much every ten years, purely because of the quality of the music – it’s the same with Mercyful Fate, they’re just one of the best bands ever, you know? It’s natural that people will keep trying to sound like them. Back in 97 and 98 we felt a real hunger for it – no-one was really sounding like that or talking about those groups. When we were 15 or 16 and picked up on it, we were really provoked by that – why aren’t people talking about these bands?”
Do you think the perception of being ‘underground’ has anything to do with that? “Definitely not. I think Mercyful Fate should stand alongside The Beatles. I never think in terms of underground or mainstream – I think it’s an unnecessary argument, it doesn’t say anything about what the music is about. Of course, I cared about that when I was younger… all underground movements are important when it comes to exposing young people to culture, making them part of something, but when it comes to writing music it’s completely foolish to think in those terms” The general consensus among fans and reviewers seems to be that Sister is more Gothic than your earlier material. How do you feel about that? “Everyone uses that word! I think it’s funny, because I don’t really know what Gothic music is, to be honest. I know that people namedrop Sisters Of Mercy, who I’ve never heard... I fucking love Danzig, so that reference is not so surprising. But yes, this Gothic thing is hard to adjust to. I think something new happens and people always have to blame something… now they blame the Gothic music scene. I don’t really know what makes In Solitude more gothic than Black Sabbath or The Stooges. Not wanting to speak for others, but personally I found the material on Sister to have more of a romantic, even a seductive feel, compared the more straightforward heavy metal feel of your earlier material. “It’s funny that you should say that… when we did this album we talked a lot about this. After it was finished, we thought it had a much harder attitude, you know, that it was a lot more in your face – the drum sound is a lot more natural and hard, and also the guitars. Most metal productions, to me, aren’t very extreme, or very hard. All those bands using lots of distortion – that only makes the guitars sound smooth. What makes a guitar sound really hard is playing it clean without lots of distortion, then you can really hear it smash. With Sister, we all listened to it after the production was finished, and our response was just… fuck! This is so hard-sounding!” “It is a really hard soundscape, much harder than
The World, The Flesh, The Devil, for example –
which I think is a much more romantic album in a way. The arrangements are more like classical, whereas with Sister I find it more morbid. I think also our previous albums haven’t been that personal, so it was easier to connect them with other metal bands. Now something different happens, and I think people have hooked onto
“I think Mercyful Fate should stand alongside The Beatles. I never think in terms of underground or mainstream – I think it’s an unnecessary argument, it doesn’t say anything about what the music is about”
this idea that we’re more Gothic now… probably one person said that and others picked up on it.” “A lot of people are name-dropping stuff that they think have been influences to us, and I have always really hated name-dropping, that you have to describe a band by reference to others. I do think that comparing bands to bands is just really pointless. In bad reviews of the album, people write “I don’t like that they’ve been influenced by this, they’re too into Sisters of Mercy” – it’s like, what the fuck? I’ve never even heard them! They’re just saying stuff that’s not true.” Do you feel this may be attributed to many metal fans and journalists not really having a lot of experience of music beyond metal? That they may be bewildered by outside influences? “I don’t know if people maybe get provoked by it, or if they just don’t get it. I try not to read reviews, but of course you do… most of them seem to be saying that it’s good, so that’s great. You don’t want to complain… I hate complaining. I’m glad that people seem to be enjoying it, but I find the whole Gothic thing really strange.” This is probably a question you’ve been asked
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before on this tour, but you don’t seem like the most natural choice for this bill. Do you see yourselves as the odd-ones-out on this package? “No, that’s a new question! It’s also true, and I totally agree. Of course you don’t want to sound like an asshole, you know, but it’s like… I can admire stuff that Behemoth or Inquisition are doing, but of course musically we don’t have a lot in common with them, and this tour is really not an obvious thing for us to do. To be honest it came a little out of desperation, we really wanted to do something while the album was fresh, Nergal asked us and I really respect and like him, so it was like,“okay, why not?” “The really good thing is that we have the opportunity to play to hundreds of people every night who’ve probably never heard of us. Of course it’s safe to go out and play to people who already know you, so this feels like risky business, but I think it’s really healthy to take that kind of risk, and at the moment I’m really enjoying it. Of course I’m really looking forward to going out headlining, playing for our die-hard fans, that’s always the most rewarding thing… but hopefully we’ll win some more fans this trip!”
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ASTER USIC SCRIBE An Interview With Neil Daniels
As author of the Rock N’ Roll Sinners Volumes, Merseyside’s Neil Daniels has penned tomes on many Household names of rock and metal. From Bon Jovi to Metallica to Pantera and UFO, Daniels has produced a collection of material many a scribe would be proud of. “I’ve never properly called myself a music journalist” Neil proclaims, in what you have to feel might be under selling himself a little. “I’m just a fan who writers about his favourite music. I started writing for websites like musicOMH and some obscure ones before I began contributing to Fireworks, a fantastic magazine run by serious rock enthusiasts that I wrote for until 2013 when I decided to concentrate my full attention on books. I also began contributing to Powerplay around that time and later penned some bits for Big Cheese, Record Collector, Rock Sound and several rock websites.” In full, my reviews, articles and interviews on rock music and pop culture have been published in The Guardian, Classic Rock Presents AOR, Classic Rock Presents Let It Rock, Rock Sound, Record Collector, Big Cheese, Powerplay, Fireworks, Media Magazine, Rocktopia.co.uk, Get Ready To Rock.com, Lucemfero.com,musicOMH. com, www.GhostCultMag.com, Drowned In Sound.com, BBCNewsOnline.co.uk, Carling.com, Unbarred.co.uk and Planet Sound on Channel 4’s Teletext service. I concentrate on books now to be honest. I don’t really do journalism anymore.”
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self-published author, Daniels work has greatly been aided by the use of Createspace, an online tool that allows you to distribute your work via outlets like Amazon. It is clearly something Neil has benefited from. “The great thing about Createspace is that anybody can use it. It is free and after a few tries very easy to use. I looked to Dave Thompson for advice as he had churned out a few Createspace books in between his commercial ones and he offered a lot of advice and tips. I thought the first two books that I did, AOR Chronicles and Rock & Metal Chronicles, came out quite well but I’ve done about 10 more since then and they definitely look and feel better and I’ve started to insert images too. My latest books are called Bang Your Head – Heavy Metal Shots and Get Your Rock On – Melodic Rock Shots. In the age of digital printing, more of these print on demand companies are cropping up but Createspace is probably the best. I even reprinted my first four PDO books (through AuthorsOnline, initially) through Createspace and renamed them, so Rock N Roll Mercenaries became Hard Rock Rebels – Talking With Rock Stars and the All Pens Blazing books became Rock N Roll Sinners. They’re all sold on Amazon.” Daniels clearly loves the freedom self-publishing his work has given him. A lifelong fan of rock and metal Neil’s enthusiasm for that music and literature has only grown over the years. It is greatly endearing to hear how fondly he recalls how this love affair began. “When I first became a rock fan it was because of Meat Loaf, Queen and Bryan Adams and I’m still a fan of theirs. My tastes go from AOR to hard rock, hair metal, prog, thrash and speed to the heaviest of the heavy. I also love blues and singer songwriters. Some of my favourite bands include Motorhead, Judas Priest, Queen, Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Journey. Author-wise I love the way Clive Barker builds suspense and guys like Arthur C. Clarke. I get to combine my two greatest loves which is all I have ever wanted.” The existence of Social Media has clearly made its mark on literature in the way it has with the music industry. E-Books and Kindles’ have made it far easier for people to enjoy literature on the move to help them unwind or distract them for their boring commute. Neil has successfully marketed his work online yet he has felt the sting of keyboard warriors who use sites such as Amazon to voice their feedback on his work. While Neil has taken a lot positives from people engaging with his work he no longer gives much credibility to some of the opinions expressed about his work. “They only bother me if their opinions are unfounded because sometimes it’s obvious they haven’t read the book. Amazon reviews make me laugh sometimes because some of those people have agendas but no, to be honest, they do not bother me so much anymore. Of course, it’s great knowing people like your work though and it is nice to get good feedback.You learn how to do something new with each book and improve your skills.” Promoting his work via Social Media has clearly done more harm than good. Passionate about growing his
brand, Daniels admits it is a necessary evil in today’s marketplace. “It’s hard work and very time consuming – I mean, I have a Facebook account and a Facebook Page plus Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn an a Wordpress Blog plus a new website that’s being built. It is great to get in touch with so many folks, though, but it does take time. I’m still not sure how much of an impact it all has on book sales and marketing but publishers will tell you otherwise. 50 could like a link about your book but they’re not all gonna buy it. I’m gonna kick off 2014 with a new website and brand – ‘Neil Daniels Books – Quality Books On Rock & Metal Music And Pop Culture’ – and incorporate that into all my social media accounts, and see what happens. It’s my main aim for the year as well as to get out more books, first with Neal Schon and then ZZ Top.” All pens blazing, Neil has forged ahead with a slew of new projects planned for 2014. With so many compelling artists in rock and metal, how does Neil decide if an artist is worthy of writing about and what does he have up his sleeve for us next? “Sometimes it’s the publisher’s idea and they come to me with an idea but other times I go to them with a proposal. To be honest, though, most of the time it is the publishers idea. A band has to be popular and have a loyal fanbase but what one publisher says is trendy another says is old hat. Everyone has different ideas of what could work. It is a nightmare getting your ideas commissioned through. It takes a very long time especially in this market. I’ve written works on Judas Priest, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC/ DC, Pantera, Linkin Park and You Me At Six. I’ve got books out on Iron maiden (first four albums), Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and ZZ Top but my first book of the year is on Journey guitarist Neal Schon. I’ve also had a stack of Createspace titles out featuring dozens upon dozens of reviews and interviews. I’m looking forward to getting the Schon book out because I think he’s such a good yet underrated guitarist.” Certainly, 2014 will be another busy year for Mr. Daniels. 2014 is all about building his brand and expanding his readership. “I’m gonna concentrate on the Neil Daniels Books brand and get the new website up and running and incorporate the ‘Neil Daniels books – Quality Books On Rock & Metal Music And Pop Culture’ into all my social media accounts etc and get it recognised but on the book front I’ve got the Neal Schon and ZZ Top books are out now Iron Maiden in March and Bon Jovi in May approximately There will be others too, but those are the key titles so far. Keep checking neildanielsbooks.wordpress.com for info and updates.” Prolific and highly driven though he may be, Neil remains humble about his achievements, preferring to focus on the future never resting on his laurels. “If I could change every book I would…but I’m glad to have a body of work that I’m proud of and to have foreign editions of some of the titles. It’s pretty cool.” Ross Baker GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 37
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UNIVERSAL DARKNESS An Interview With Infamroth of Throne of Katarsis
o some bands, true black metal is a musical style, to some it's fashionable and temporary, but to others in the scene, this is purely a way of life. For them there is nothing else than making art for art, and Satan’s sake. There is a near devout attendance to detail and purpose with bands like this, who may take themselves a touch seriously, but anything less would be considered false. Norway's Throne of Katarsis live this with their every fiber of their very being. Coming off of the very strong The Three Transcendental Keys (Candlelight) album last year Ghost Cult caught up with Infamroth, to discuss the high ideals behind the music they make.
The Three Transcendental Keys takes on a very different structure to your previous albums – rather than having multiple 3-5 minute long songs, you’ve opted for three very long tracks instead. What inspired this structure? If you shall be able to sink deep into the black haze of the astral Darkness it’s much more effective to build up the atmosphere over time. When I had the vision of the album the theme, it became very natural to do it like this, to really lose track of time and space, just being elsewhere when listening. The inspiration lies within the material itself when it comes to the lengths of the tracks, and what feelings we we want to convey. That being said, we’ve usually had quite long songs on our previous albums as well, so this is nothing new to us. The exception must be our 38 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
last album, Ved Graven, were we had a bit shorter songs, still not short in common sense though. The themes of the album are extremely esoteric – what is it about the occult and supernatural that interests you? For this album it was the ability to transcend I had in mind. These keys are the communication between the inner Darkness, which personally constantly seems to reach new depths, and the universal Darkness, or utter Darkness if you will. Being able to transcend has in my experience often been triggered by certain soundscapes combined with the utter most deep concentration, which again is why I decided to make this album; to reach the nothingness and the dominant Darkness, seeing a glimpse of eternity. I have divided the passages into three Keys, which shall
“I have a huge confidence in what we do, and I have no problem bragging about it, but to connect it to any terms like “traditional Norwegian Black Metal” is irrelevant to me” Infamroth
open different spaces beyond time and blood, three paths to the Utter Darkness. One can perhaps easily laugh at such statements, but if you fully allow yourself on a mental basis to use the keys, the gates shall open, you just have to dare to let go of all. As the lyrical aspect is quite abstract, one can only get the full experience through combining this with the musical arrangements. The audio part is the main source to the experience, the words are more of guidelines to keep the focus in the right direction. There are a specific meaning behind every line, and it would take me hours to get through the lyrics with you. Perhaps it’s also better to keep it open, and let the listener or reader to see the path as it lies for him or her. But keeping a very distant view or angle might be the correct way of seeing it all, as this is definitely not earthly, this is way bigger in all aspects. When seeing it all from distant certain distant angles, I can even find myself dead already. I went through loads of theories and facts concerning what I felt were relevant for the topic of this album, and many of them are incorporated in the lyrics, that being dark matter, dark energy, black holes, different stars, times before the big bang, before and after life, string theories, metaphysical aspects, quantum physics, duality and non-duality, and the list goes on.. Still it’s an important factor to leave such knowledge behind when entering the next levels, which I’ve also taken into account when writing these lyrics as the knowledge may guide you, but also blind you. I wanted a fundamental base packed with all these small hints, then the words guides you beyond the laws of flesh.
When starting to write a new album I never look back, or forward for that matter, it’s not about comparing albums, or setting out the direction. It lies on a much deeper level than that. I have no clue how the next album will turn out, but as we always build atmospheres from our inner voids I doubt we’ll step away from that part. Do you feel that you’re ambassadors for the traditional Norwegian black metal sound? I have a huge confidence in what we do, and I have no problem bragging about it, but to connect it to any terms like “traditional Norwegian Black Metal” is irrelevant to me. What’s your view of black metal in the 21st century? Pretty much the same, just more. Some interesting bands with the right agenda have appeared in the underground, and then there’s countless unworthy releases, piles of shit, being released on a regular basis. Do you think you’ll ever officially release Blodslakt? Yes, I actually think so. I’m still fond of the recordings, so there’s a possibility we’ll release it some time in the future. Perhaps. Raymond Westland
Gehenna have a lot of upcoming live dates – does this mean that Throne of Katarsis will be put on the back burner for a while? No, there will be no compromises when it comes to this. For me and Vardalv, Throne Of Katarsis always comes first, and we’ll just use session members if necessary. When can we expect to see some live dates for this album? We had an approx 20 days European tour which got canceled, and we haven’t been able to organize a new tour yet, unfortunately. This record is quite slow and atmospheric in places, is that a style you’re planning to stick with? GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 39
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A VISION For The
FUTURE Willem Van Maele of TMR Promotions
The festival season is coming again in a few months, it is time to suit up and booze up and enjoy a quite big range of bands while jumping around or either lay around passed out on the grass. Whatever you are in to, a lot of people that are into the metal genres, love to go to festivals. If you take a stroll around Facebook you sporadic see people post about the line-up, the ambiance of the festivals or you see people talk about how much they want the festival season to begin. And right at the beginning of this season we all love. Right in the middle of the Burundian regions of Belgium the Tongeren Metal Fest is one of the festivals kicking off the season. Mostly you see the interviews with the bands that play on the festivals, but not this time. We are going to talk with one of the founders of Tongeren Metal Fest, Willem van Maele. At just 20 years old he is a pretty young lad from Leuven (Belgium) and he started to book for bands four years ago in local bars. Now he works for TMR Promotions, and booking bands like Asphyx, Carach Angren, Impaled Nazarene, Izegrem and the list goes on. We think this is one of the examples of a young person that wants to fight for the metal scene, and started to book shows because attending to concerts didnâ€™t seem like enough effort. And as you see, with hard work you can achieve something great. 40 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
NOISIV A ehT roF
ERUTUF eleaM naV melliW snoitomorP RMT fo
ell hello Willem! Now that you've organized Tongeren Metalfest, it seems like the very first edition already is going to be a really good one. How do you feel about this? As always it’s an exciting process.“All beginnings are difficult”; I think that festivals depend on a loyal fan base just as much as bands do, so it’s really thrilling to try and convert our potential audience into ticket buyers. I think we managed to present a great line-up for the ‘first’ edition of the festival. I’m writing ‘first’ because de VELINX has been organizing metal concerts for quite some time now. They’re one of the only cultural centers (subsidized ‘clubs’ brought to life to bring culture to a local audience) whose got the balls to organize events like this and that’s why I respect them a lot. In my opinion, some sort of quota system that requires cultural centers to give attention to (extreme) sub-genres could be interesting. Not all taxpayers listen to singersongwriters. But that’s another discussion.
Absolutely not. When I was younger (am I allowed to say that already?), I wanted to do everything on my own and I honestly believed that that would result in the best possible outcome; it didn’t. I find that working with other people is a very timeconsuming and mentally heavy ‘task’, but once the synergy starts flowing you can really feel the difference. It might have been possible to do this all on my own, but I don’t want that anymore.
Is it possible that a lot of venues and promoters think that metal isn’t quite the underdog it used to be? In my opinion metal should stay the underdog, as the non-conformist attitude is what attracts a lot of people. What’s strange is that a lot of venues have no problem booking critical non-mainstream art forms like jazz and blues but metal seems a more difficult boundary to cross. I can only talk about the situation in Belgium though, as I have the feeling that in The Netherlands and Germany, for example, a lot of beautiful venues are booking and promoting metal. South America, Indonesia and Asia are really up and coming, and it’s exciting to see these new territories welcoming metal.
How did you get the idea to organize the Tongeren Metalfest? It wasn’t my idea, really. I’m finishing my three years college degree in Music Management and for that I had to come up with a graduation project. I work for the booking agency TMR Music Promotions and through that company we booked the amazing band Gama Bomb at ‘Metaal Paaskabaal’, Tongeren Metal Fest’s predecessor. I stayed in touch with the organization with whom I still work together to this day and they asked me if I wanted to be part of the festival itself. This was the perfect opportunity for me and it became my graduation project as well. So yeah, if Ghost Cult Magazine won’t do enough promotion, I’m not graduating this year.
Do you do all of this by yourself? I assume that these kind of projects take a lot of time.
In your opinion, is it more important to have a team that are all on the same page, or a team that sees things from really different angles? Neither of them. I think in a team trust is the most important factor. Someone needs to be responsible for the bookings, someone else for the administration and so on.You have to be sure that everyone takes up responsibility for their task and that it will be executed properly. If you’re not dividing tasks you’ll waste a lot of precious time on over-thinking and in the end nothing will happen.
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Haha well, I think you are going to graduate with this kind of project if you see the time you did put in it. Do you recommend for people that want to start in the booking world, to start a college in Music Management? No, I suggest to people already organizing festivals to study Music Management. It’s not a course you just ‘try’, it’s a life objective, or it isn’t. I really believe finding your life’s purpose is the most important thing there is and that the only way to achieve that is by hard work. I sincerely doubt that with only this degree in Music Management you’ll succeed in the business; but as always I could be wrong on this. Do you have a particular message you want to spread with this festival? Not really. The music business is tough and to be honest I’m not the person to state that passion is my only driving force. Music plays a very big role in my life, but I have other interests as well like reading and getting drunk in clubs. I think I’ve heard more hip-hop in 2014 than metal. So no, no life lessons to be learned at Tongeren Metal Fest, only to be forgotten after spending too much time at the bar. Yep! Without a bar you don’t have a good festival. In your eyes, what makes your perfect festival? That’s easy: good music, good food and nice people. I don’t need a giant Ferris wheel or wrestling dwarves to enjoy my time at a festival. By the way, how did you select the bands that are playing on Tongeren Metalfest? I chose these bands first most because of their great music and secondly because of their ability to sell tickets.Yes, the amount of bands is ridiculously huge, but let’s be honest: nearly everyone can pick up a guitar these days and write a couple of
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decent sounding riffs. Creating demand and a long lasting career on the other hand, that’s something different. If you’re good, the promoters will come to you. If they aren’t doing that, you’re either doing something wrong or the next Van Gogh. In what vision is Tongeren Metalfest different from all of the other festivals? I think that for our visitors we’ve managed to create a great relationship between quality and price. But we’re also trying to provide our bands with a great back-line, superb catering and so on. In my opinion there are way too many amateurs ‘organizing’ shows: if you’re not going to do it properly, then don’t. I’m really ashamed when I visit metal-shows sometimes, but if everyone keeps putting up with it, nothing is going to change. Where do you hope to be when the festival is done and you are suffering from a heavy aftermath of heavy drinking? Most importantly I hope that I’m happy with the outcome of the festival myself, I’m doing this as a volunteer so I’m less concerned about other people’s opinion but I think everything’s going to turn out alright. As a conclusion, do you have any final thoughts to share? Chase your dreams, always question authority and buy your Tongeren Metal Fest ticket! Tickets for Tongeren Metal Fest are available at www.TongerenMetalFest.be Kaat Van Doremalen
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Originally envisioned as a one man project, and brought to life by a team of who's who names in black metal, (Nocturno Culto, Steinar Gundersen, Cyrus, Sarke, Asgeir Mickelson, Anders Hunstad) Sarke formed in 2009. After a series of increasingly impressive album, the band has delivered their magnum opus in Aruagint (Metal Blade/ Indie Recordings). Ghost Cult scribe Caitlin Smith caught up with mastermind Thomas Bergli, a.k.a. Sarke himself, to discuss the new album, the evolution of the group into a full band and much more.
ou’ve got a very different sound. Can you take us through some of the inspirations on the album? We do our own thing always. That’s why its difficult to compare us to other bands. I am inspired by a lot of bands from black,death,speed and doom metal to rock. I am also inspired by paintings and dark lyrics. What is the meaning behind the name Aruagint? Aruagint is a self-made word and for me it means a pathway, door, gate into a darker place. Are there any lyrical themes running through this album? No, its a different story to each text. In the lyrics we deal with dark fantasy, horror, crazy people and fiction. The cover art is really minimalistic, but at the same 44 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
A DARKER PLACE An Interview with Sarke
time haunting. Can you tell us a little about it? All covers we have are very basic. Pure and raw. I like the new cover and layout. Asgeir deals with all the layout and he found a creative soul that has done the drawing for this album. Did you have a set idea musically for this album or is it something that evolved naturally between all the band members? We all make the songs by ourselves. For this new album, I did eight and Asgeir one. Asgeir has been in total control over his own songs. My idea was to go back to the first album again, but also to keep the best from the second album. Try to keep the Sarke style, but also to evolve and be better in everything. You say that Aruagint is recorded in an ‘old fashioned way.’ Can you tell us a little about this? We use a lot of old guitars, amps, boxes from
the 70s and even the 60s. We don’t copy riffs or use trigger on the drums and stuff like that. I want the sound and feeling like you are at a Sarke rehearsal. For me if things are to perfect it can be a bit boring. Maybe hard for some people to understand that, but that’s the way I feel. Sarke also started out as a one-man project. Why did you decide to bring other members in on the project? We have had two albums and you have started playing live shows since then. What made you change your mind? My first idea was just to record a solo album. The album did well and both people and the record company was asking for live shows. I agreed and had to put a live line-up together. After some shows the record company wanted me to release a new album. I didn’t want a new solo album, so I used my live line-up to be a band, so we could
record the new album as a band. That also worked out good, so now we have a third album out. So many members of the band have been in pioneering bands previously, and you have obviously tried to create something different with this album. Some people say that the metal scene has never been more stagnant. What is your opinion on this? I always have my own vision how I want the music to sound. I never try to copy the sound of other bands. With Sarke we always do our own thing and own sound. It's not many bands that sounds like Sarke. I don’t know if the scene has stagnated or not, I don’t follow the scene that much to have an opinion. Caitlin Smith
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IN ARMS Jake Adams of Valkyrie
Being in a band can be a tough gig. Especially so when one of the members is in a very popular band. Known better as the original band project of Pete Adams of Baroness, since 2002 Valkyrie has put out two solid releases along with some over the years and the occasional regional tour, or festival in their home state of Virginia. Still, this quality outfit should be bigger by now, and is a must listen for fans of Red Fang and High On Fire, proto-metal, doom, and throwback heavy metal lovers. Ghost Cult scribe Dan Swinhoe caught up with guitarist/ vocalist Jake Adams, Pete's brother, to give us an update about the progress of this group, the status of their next album, and the current state of the band. 46 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
ow do the dynamics of the band work? Is it your band and your rules, or more of a democracy? It’s definitely democratic. The reason we are playing with these guys is because we know they have a lot to offer as far as ideas and sheer talent to each song that we write. That being said, usually me or my brother (Pete) come up with the bulk of the riffs and song ideas and Alan (bass) and Warren (drums) will definitely bring a lot to add to that. Most of the basic riffs I write, and Pete often adds harmonies and brings in ideas to get me “out of the box.”The dynamics of song writing work well, as long as Pete and I know what we are doing on guitars – so we spend a lot of time outside of whole-band practices getting our leads and harmonies together.
Graveyard etc- do you think people are looking back to the early days of rock/metal more? Oh yeah, definitely – there is definitely a resurgence in heavy metal and older rock for sure. We are definitely part of that, but I can’t think of too many bands doing what we are doing. First off, we don’t employ any occult themes or satanic shtick, which tends to define a lot of bands in the hard rock scene, also we lean more to late seventies hard rock than the earlier blues based stuff. Also the vibe of our music tends to be more positive than a lot of bands in the doom scene – throw in clean vocals, harmonized leads, and you start to narrow down the list of bands doing what we are doing. I wouldn’t say we don’t fit it, but our sound tends to stand apart from most of the bands we play with.
What's it like being in a band with family? Easier or harder to work with? It is definitely easier because we don’t have to think so hard about everything, things just flow naturally because we have such a history playing and being together. There are times where we tend to push each others’ buttons and it makes for some awkward van rides because Warren and Alan don’t want to pick sides. But Pete and I are quick to work through things usually.
Which bands are you a fan of nowadays? Favourite albums of 2012/3? I wish I could say I was a fan of more new bands, not much is really doing it for me these days. There are some friends’ bands worth mentioning : Inter Arma, Earthling, who are doing great things. I stick to the classics like Priest, Sabbath, Maiden, Wishbone Ash, Camel, Skynyrd, old Scorpions, old Whitesnake, Rainbow, stuff like that. We all listen to different stuff, for instance Alan listens to a lot more death metal and thrashy stuff than I do regularly.
When people siblings in the same band, there's often talk of some sort of psychic chemistry that makes them a better unit- what's your take on this? I would definitely agree – often we hear something at the same time and both start taking the song in a certain direction.. it definitely makes things a lot smoother. How do you and your brother's playing/ songwriting styles differ? Well, what I tend to play as far as solos tends to be more thought out, but less spontaneous. Pete’s soloing is like capturing lightning in a bottle – he never plays the same solo twice, he tends to “feel” things out more than myself. Do you feel you fit into any sort of scene at all? There's been a bit of a resurgence of classic-style rock in the last few years- Witchcraft, The Sword,
What happened to the band since the release of Man With Two Visions? Well, a lot. My wife and I have had two kids, we have a new bass player ( Alan). Pete joined Baroness and has been touring a ton, and I have started a career in teaching. We have been slowly but surely working on the third record, which is finally getting close to finished. You're a teacher now, do the students know about Valkyrie? Do they like? Yeah, I usually tell them about it- you always get a select few that actually go check it out online and a always have a few that are pretty into it. But as you can imagine, not too many 13 year-olds are going to gravitate to traditional doomy hard rock . How did Pete joining Baroness affect the band?
There is definitely a resurgence in heavy metal and older rock for sure. We are definitely part of that, but I can’t think of too many bands doing what we are doing Jake Adams
Well, Pete’s schedule tends to be very busy with Baroness so often times it gets hard to plan for gigs. But Pete’s skills have improved a lot since he plays so often with Baroness and he has brought a new perspective to Valkyrie as far as songwriting is concerned, some new ideas that playing with Baroness has given him. The first time I heard about the band was the Man of Two Visions re-release on Meteor City, and aside from the quality music the Baroness connection was one of the things that piqued my interest- Do you think the association has been good for the band? I think so, wherever Baroness goes, Pete can continue to be an ambassador for Valkyrie – and some people have definitely found out about Valkyrie from Baroness. Likewise- is it tiring at all having that association? Not really, real fans and genuine music critics “get it,” and can see the relationship between the bands. I have no problem being associated with them, their approach is totally unique, they are one of the most entertaining and talented live acts around. I’m proud of what they have done, because we grew up playing music together, so their success makes me happy. No worries. Baroness & Valkyrie are very different bands, but do you ever hear anything in Pete's playing on the Blue record or Yellow/Green that reminds you of Valkyrie? Have you actually heard the record? Oh yeah, I am quite familiar with all their stuff. Yes, definitely, you can hear Pete’s playing on the records he was a part of. He has a distinct tone he achieves with the fretting hand that stands out from time to time. Listen to the solo on “Horse called Golgotha” and you will see what I mean. Can you talk me through your experience of the crash Pete had while on tour with Baroness? I was in Honduras, I think it was the day before school was set to start at the private school where I was teaching. I stopped by my apartment for lunch and I happened to look on Facebook, where I saw something about a bus crash. My heart sank and quickly called home for more info. Luckily by that point my brother had called my dad and let him know that he was ok. I was still really concerned for everyone else of course – it is miracle that they came out as well as they did considering the scope of the crash. How the split with Earthling come
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about? Please with the results? Earthling is from the same place ( Harrisonburg, Va) that Valkyrie has considered its “hometown” for a while. They are good friends of ours; a while back the main songwriter/vocalist for Earthling, Alan, joined us on bass. So we are closely connected. It was a logical thing to do, since they were our “brothers in metal” in Harrisonburg – plus they are amazing! We are pleased with the results, it sounds great, and the original 1000 that were pressed are pretty much gone and Tension Head is toying with the idea of a reissue. What stage are you at with the new album? Can you provide any details? [Album title/ track names/release date/anything?] We know what tracks will be on the album, we are just demo-ing the material right now and tweaking it all out, refining it. Probably 8 tracks. No other info yet. How are you going to release the new album? Self-release/ via a label | online/vinyl etc... We haven’t decided yet, but we will probably keep it low-key as far as labels- we aren’t going to be touring constantly anytime soon so we don’t really need a big label to support us right now. Something smaller, where we can maintain a larger share of the proceeds would suit us better. Meteorcity Records still has our cds and records for sale; Tension Head Records has the recent Mountain Stomp 7”. Dan Swinhoe
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AlcestLive/At Hexvessel / The Fauns: Islington Assembly Hall, London UK A
nticipation is palpable inside the magnificent art Deco interior of the Islington Assembly hall. The grandeur and opulence of this listed building seem fitting for the inaugural performance of material from the controversial new album Shelter from Alcest, which has seen Neige and his colleagues dispense the metallic aspects of the band’s sound and embracing a collage of dreamy indie rock. Prior to the unveiling of the new material, enter Bristol quintet The Fauns who enter the fray with a sound centred around the breathy vocals of Alison Garner. While the majority of their set is, a delicate and enchanting experience there remains the odd moment of mediocre indie pop. New album Lights has seen them grow from their humble beginnings. Its lush electronica meshed with atmospheric chords to provide a seductive backdrop of haunting ambience. Hexvessel's magical, majestic prog folk is truly awesome. Drifting from the atmospheric epic of 'Woods To Conjure' into the doom folk dirge of 'No Holier Temple', they are truly unstoppable. Vocalist Matt “Kvolst” McNerney has a truly astounding voice and the combination of shimmering guitars and elegant trumpet allows the smoky atmospheric of this Anglo Finnish outfit to whisk you out into an enchanted wilderness. Ending with a seductive rendition of Yoko Ono's 'Woman Of Salem' the venue has truly been bewitched by their pagan magic. For many following such an otherworldly display would be née on impossible.Yet in the case of 50 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
Stéphane “Neige” Paut and company, putting on a clinic of ethereal beauty is all in a day’s work. New opus “Shelter” may have stripped away any residual metal influences Alcest previously had, yet tonight's performance is delivered with utter conviction and an air of confidence only gaining from sticking wholeheartedly to your creative muse. Opening with new single 'Opale', Neige and company seem immediately comfortable and clearly unconcerned with the audience response. As it stands the band, choose to strike a delicate balance between their new direction and the older material. Paut sports a beaming smile throughout much of the performance, yet no one could accuse him of turning in a half-hearted performance. When 'Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles' rears its head Neige delivers the harsh vocal parts with gusto and vigour despite his apparent tiredness for composing them and 'Autre Temps' is greeted like a long lost lover with the hall taking up the soaring chorus vocal. A perfectly balanced mix of material sees Neige and company seduce and soothe with the odd flurry of blasts and harsh textures of old thrown in. Bravely soldiering forward Alcest elect to conclude the evening with the spinetingly 'Délivrance' Credit must certainly go to the open-minded nature of tonight's audience but also to the bravery and integrity of the headliner for following their hearts while remembering how their fans supported them. Words: Ross Baker Photos: Ian Cashman
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Amon Amarth Live At House of Blues, Boston MA / Enslaved /Skeletonwitch B
y the end of this year, I will be looking back at all of the great shows that have come around in the year 2014. I can guarantee that the evening of February 1st, at the House of Blues Boston will certainly be one of the first I touch upon. On this evening, the Boston crowd was treated with stand out acts: Skeletonwitch, the almighty Enslaved, and one of the biggest metal bands out there today, Amon Amarth. By the end of this show, I was dehydrated, tired, broke, but oh so very happy with the beating my body, specifically my ears, had taken. To start off the show with a bang was Ohio’s own black/ thrash five-piece, Skeletonwitch. Personally, I knew with an open slot, and a new album out, we would probably see a good selection of newer material. About half of the set was of new material, but boy did they pick out the best tracks! My favorites out of the new tracks were 'I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)' , 'Beneath Dead Leaves', and the ever epic, 'Burned From Bone.' The Boston audience was also treated to some older tunes such as the classic, 'Beyond the Permafrost', 'Crushed Beyond Dust' , and the closer, 'Within My Blood.' Even with a shortened set having to be the opening act, Skeletonwitch provided proof as to why they are one of my favorite bands today and they should be yours as well! Just when some thought it was safe to go grab a quick beer or hit the merchandise tables, Enslaved was 52 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
quickly set up and ready to go. As Enslaved was walking out to the stage with their intro sample playing, I heard someone behind me say something to the effect of “oh yeah I looked up this band, they are boring.” Let’s just say after the next 45 minutes, they had quite a different opinion of the legendary Enslaved. Of course with such long, wonderfully created songs, you don’t quite get a lot of songs from such a “short” set. Enslaved was able to play six songs for us that night and quite honestly, save one song I still am dying to see performed live, I really can’t complain at their selection! Enslaved’s newest release, RIITIIR, was quite the spectacle after it became available and still grows on me to this day. We fortunately got to hear two very good tracks off of the album. The feverish Boston head-bangers got 'Death in the Eyes of Dawn' to open up the set and then got the album-titled song, 'RIITIIR' halfway through the set. Even if there were only two newer tracks played, this gave room for some previous favorites like 'Ethica Odini' and the usual closing song, 'Isa.' It was also a treat to hear an absolute classic, 'Allfaðr Oðinn' from the year 1993 (which very well may be older than a portion of the fans in attendance)! Overall, Enslaved has proven the test of time and I do not see them slowing down by not even the smallest of margins. I did get a chance to mention to keyboardist/clean vocalist, Herbrand, over a beer down the street that the next time Enslaved makes
their way through Massachusetts that we must hear the amazing single, 'Roots of the Mountain.' He seemed to agree with my plea. As if there is any doubt that I would make it to the next Enslaved tour, but this moment certainly cements it. Finally, it was time for the Swedish Viking Metal Titans, Amon Amarth to make their way to the stage and literally bring us to the might feasting halls of Valhalla to speak of the many tales in Norse Mythology. Before we get into the amazing set that was, I have a slight tale of my own regarding Amon Amarth and Enslaved earlier that day. It quickly became shared throughout the internet that on the very day this tour had come through Boston, that a few members from Amon Amarth and Enslaved were seen at the Boston Bruins hockey game in the newly created, special edition Amon Amarth Hockey Jerseys! These have been on sale throughout the tour and of course, I had to get one. Now back to the show. Starting off the night was the newly made music video song from Amon Amarthâ€™s latest album, 'Father of the Wolf.' During this intro, Johan Hegg (vocals) had come out wearing his recently obtained Boston Bruins/Loui Eriksson jersey which led to a huge pop to kick off the set! Since this was the headlining tour for the new Amon Amarth album entitled Deceiver of the Gods, all in attendance were very excited to hear the new material live and did the five Vikings from Sweden ever deliver. Some tracks included 'Shape Shifter' , the
album title 'Deceiver of the Gods' , 'We Shall Destroy' , and 'Warriors of the North.' Personally I was hoping for 'Under Siege' but it was not meant to be. Amon Amarth had made up for this ever so small discretion by playing classics like 'Death in Fire' , 'Free Will Sacrifice', 'Destroyer of the Universe', and 'The Last Stand of Frej'. Just when it appeared Amon Amarth was going to set sail back to Scandinavia after the single 'War of the Gods', they returned for a two song encore to ensure even the greediest of the Bostonians at the House of Blues last night went home happy. The encore consisted of the huge single, 'Twilight of the Thunder God' and then wrapped up the night with the sing-a-long 'The Pursuit of Vikings'. Something about that last songâ€™s opening riff just really gets everyone fired up and it gets me every time I have the pleasure of seeing this band play. Overall, this tour was exactly as I was hoping for. Getting to meet the bands afterwards and enjoy a beer with Herbrand was just icing on the cake after what a great show and overall experience I got to share with some close friends. In all honesty, I wish House of Blues had canceled their rave night that evening so all three bands could have played longer sets or maybe even had a local opener start the show off. At this point, however, I am just being greedy at what was already an early candidate for Show of the Year. Words: Tim Ledin Photos: Hillarie Jason Photography GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 53
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Stone Sour / Pop Evil / Stolen Babies Live At House of Blues
lthough it has nearly been a year since their last album release, Stone Sour visited fans in Boston on January 22nd. They brought the post-grunge Pop Evil, and eccentric Stolen Babies with them. The diverse lineup worked well and the audience was in for a night of great music. Many fans braved single digit temperatures to be at the House of Blues when the doors opened. This allowed openers Stolen Babies played to a large audience. Their latest album was 2012’s Naught and they are currently working on a follow up. The group has recently become a three piece, but the loss did not hinder their performance. Their usual strangeness was present in songs such as ‘Spill’. Lead singer and accordion player Dominique Persei commanded attention with her surprising vocal range and sense of style. Their set may have flown by but viewers were left with either feelings of awe or confusion long after the members left the stage. Presumably not many had seen a band with an accordion playing such a large role at a rock show before. Rockers Pop Evil took to the stage with the place nearly packed. They seemed a bit out of place since many of their songs are played in arena and sports related settings, but the audience was enthusiastic nonetheless. The band’s overall sound is best described by their own name: mostly a radio friendly pop sound but with a tinge of heaviness. Their latest album was 2013’s Onyx. Singer Leigh Kakaty’s vocals are comparable to that of Scott Stapp or Chad Kroeger, for the uninitiated.
The group kept the energy going throughout their set by playing anthems such as ‘Last Man Standing’. At one point they even did a brief and cheesy cover of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. The venue was finally full and waiting in anticipation before Stone Sour hit the stage. Fans went crazy as soon as Corey Taylor came out. The band began by playing ‘The House of Gold & Bones’, appropriate since it is the name of their two part release, double-album which they completed last April. A wide range of their material was played including some of their biggest songs: ‘Inhale’, ‘Through Glass’, and ‘Bother’. The only cover they did was Alice in Chains ‘Nutshell’. Anyone who has ever seen Taylor’s other and more recognized band, Slipknot, can tell Stone Sour’s live presence is far more toned down. The show focuses mostly on Taylor which is a shame since the band is comprised of talented musicians including Jim Root, who is also from Slipknot. For some songs, it was just Taylor on an acoustic guitar. The encore consisted of two songs, ‘Gone Sovereign’ and ‘Absolute Zero’. Although the show may have left something to be desired in terms of presentation, it was nice to see a different side of Taylor. Here’s hoping he will come back to Boston after the next Slipknot album is released. Words by Melissa Campbell Photos by Evil Robb Photography
Long Distance Calling Live At 013 in Tiburg, NL
onight we had a special treat, post-rock rising stars Long Distance Calling are played a full evening show in 013. No opener, just 2 hours of ambient complex bliss. On their last album, the formerly instrumental band decided to get vocals involved, and this led to some speculation on part of the live shows. Many fans were concerned the instrumental epochs the band was known for would be shoved aside by the new tunes with vocals. The new vocalist also made us very curious to see how he performed. It’s one thing to sound good on record, but live is a completely different set of playing cards.
The first thing we noticed when the band started playing is they didn’t have their vocalist in a prominent place up front. He’s hidden behind the keys, synths and computer elements, with the guitars on the front of the stage. Another thing we were quite happy about is the mix of songs of the set. Instead of focusing on their newer work from their last album, they provided a good mix of older, instrumental songs, flowing seamlessly into newer songs with vocal elements. The two hour show was in two parts, with a short intermezzo between the first and second hour. The first part relied more on a little more edgy and up tempo set, with vocals coming in at different intervals. In the second set they mellowed out more and it felt more like a lengthy jam, where they wove several numbers together, including a brand new song. Vocalist, Martin Fischer, also got a somewhat bigger role to play in the second set. His vocal timbre fits well into the music and reminds a little of Brian Molko from Placebo and Alice in Chains original vocalist, Layne Staley. Where I can listen to this band for ever, it’s not for everyone and I can see how the use of almost the same chord schemes and tonalities can become a little dull. The music is more rhythm driven in it’s variations at times. These elements do mean they can seamlessly weave their music together, pulling the listener deeper and deeper into the world they sketch, almost becoming hypnotic. All in all, a very good gig and definitely a band worth looking out for. Set List: Into the Black Wide Open Inside The Flood The Figrin D'an Boogie Sundown Highway Timebends Black Paper Planes
How The Gods Kill (Danzig cover) Jungfernflug (Unknown) (new song) Ductus (with extended middle section) The Man Within Arecibo (Long Distance Calling) Metulsky Curse Revisited Encore: Apparitions Words and photos by Susanne A. Maathuis GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 55
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Live At The Palladium Worcester MA
ompared with last year when I had already started January off with five shows in three weeks, 2014 started rather quiet. These days as Ghost Cult's chief editor, I simply don't get out as much as I used to. So you know I wouldn't brave the (over-hyped) Polar Vortex conditions and hazardous roads for just any show, but I did for Chimaira. It has been well documented that a lot of other bands would have quit in the face of adversity ten times over after what these guys have been through. Still, what keeps me interested as a journalist and earns my respect as a fan is their dedication to take every negative and turn it into a positive, and in the most hostile way conceivable musically. So with a planned set list “Celebrating the Chaos” of their career, and on the strength of another tour supporting the excellent Crown of Phantoms (eOne) release, I was all in for this. With my buddy and photog for the night Chris Small in tow, we got the the Palladium early in time to get in and mingle with some of our local metal brethren. Beers and Happy New Year's greetings out of the way and we were ready to get hopping. Starting things off was Reflections, who played a pretty typical bunch of screamy deathcore. I was immediately shocked by how bored to tears they looked on this, the first night of the tour. Their emotionless faces, except for the front man James Foster, put me off in a big way. They have enough potential musically for me to say I will give them another shot down the road. Second openers Fit For An Autopsy could not be more different in how they set it off from their first notes. I have seen these guys grow steadily more and more impressive over time and they are definitely coming into their own. Straddling the tech-death/ traditional death metal horse with an occasionally fierce 56 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
breakdown, it was hard not to be amped up for every second of their set. See this is what an opening band should do, be a cool warmup act, and provide a hint of what is to come the rest of the night. Oceano is one of those bands for me, that it really depends on the day or the show how I feel about them. They have made some killer songs and there is no denying their ability to pump up a crowd and throw down in the death metal/deathcore style.You could also single out their fans in the house on this night by who looked like they were their to punch people, and not really there to watch the show. I'd feel bad about per-judging some of these pit ninjas, but for the most part, I was proven right by the end of their set when about 25% of the crowd left. On the plus side, Oceano is over that entire we're quitting/we're back phase and they are just out for blood right now. Front man Adam Warren was all over that tiny stage, imploring the crowd to get violent and trying to drum up their energy. Based on the crowd response during 'Contagion', that energy was high. Warren also had some compelling things to say about being a hungry band with a new record out (Depths on Earache), that not a lot of people know about. Iwrestledabearonce is in a good place in the penultimate spot in the line-up on this tour. They confound and anger the battle-vest wearing set with their wry sense of humour and mashing-up of sub genres. I think most people fall into two camps:“iwabo are assholes” or “iwabo are brilliant geniuses”. Seeing all of the day glow shirts, booty shorts, and tons of core kids, outside opinion doesn't matter tonight as the band came out and crushed it. Playing a short (for them) set of their hits plus a few recent tracks from Late For Nothing (Century
Media), the band made the odd choice of having some of their typical production value from their headline set. Strobe lights and amp covers/banners seem a little out of place on the tiny stage when no one else had them, but it is part of their schtick I guess. Courtney LaPlant has really risen to the challenges of coming into a popular band and replacing a popular singer and killed it on every level. Her stage persona makes for the perfect master of ceremonies, and she slays all the material in case you still had doubts. Closing with 'Tatses Like Kevin Bacon' is a reminder why this band made it in the first place. These guys are still growing I think it will be exciting to see where they take it next. The front line gear was removed for a very simple set up as the remaining crowd filled in the front of the stage. I watched from a perch in the balcony, in relative safety, mindful of the the many brutal Chimaira mosh pits I have been tossed around in. The changeover was quick as the fans were ready for the final music of the night to ring out. The band took the stage and immediately launched into 'Cleansation' and it was pure bedlam in the pit. The band was tight as usual, and as usual on the side of the pit was a group of Eli Werstler worshipers. Watching Eli shred and abuse his guitar is worth the price of admission alone, and he has absolutely carried the mantle of great guitar work in the band. Of course Mark Hunter is front and center in the midst of the chaos. He is always focused, connecting with the crowd and really seems to enjoy his job with an evil relish. The set list was carefully crafted showing the greatness of the bands history, as well as the recent albums too. Sean Z helps take the music to another level with his terrific backing vocals. People forget sometimes that Sean fronted his own, worthy band in Daath not too long ago. Like a well-oiled machine the band cut through the set list of hits and deep cuts. Mark smiled and cracked jokes between songs, and then menaced and scowled appropriately to the material such as 'Crown of Phantoms', 'Pure Hatred', and 'Power Trip'. Simple, Brutal, and tight describes the relentless performance, more akin to a boxing champion than a metal band. 'The Dehumanizing Process' for years was a great choice as a set opener, but here towards the end of the night it proves the strength and talent of the band. I finally shed my fear and ran down to the floor to Eli's side of the stage, of course, to finish out the night. Not quite an encore, but more like an extended ending 'Resurrection' would have been a fine choice to end the set. However, the band stayed on stage to play the song that is their new video, 'Wrapped In Violence'. Proving how strong their last album as with this bruising cut, and hearing everyone left in the venue screaming their lungs out, was killer. What a way to start what promises to be a great year of concerts. Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes Photos: By CWS Photography
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Protest The Hero / TesseracT / The Safety Fire
Live At Sheffield Corporation
arly door times for gigs inevitably result in the first support being missed and that's what happened to my viewing of Intervals, as I arrived to a venue looking surprisingly sparse in numbers. The Safety Fire was an interesting proposition adorned in white shirts and looking rather posh to me as they hit the knowledgeable audience with a progressive set of math structured rock and metal with songs like 'Glass Crush' and 'Old Souls' showcasing some versatile guitar playing and vocal adeptness. There was a pleasant charisma to this bands music though at times it felt like each member was playing something totally different to the rest of the band, though it still meshed nicely together. Seemingly from nowhere people arrived and filled the front of the stage ready for Tesseract, this UK outfits' reputation has garnered exponentially though this was my first time seeing the band live. Unfamiliarity with a bands material produces anticipation and an air of nervousness, making the adrenalin kick in, hoping for something special and Tesseract didn't disappoint as their mammoth sound erupted from the venues PA like the sound of a freight train going past your window. The down-tuned aural thuggery whilst not fast was ultra heavy, creating an impenetrable wall of sonic thunder from the bass and drums. Very few song titles were announced during their 45 minute set which saw vocalist Ashe bellow his way through
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the riff infested djent swamp but also add some deft clean tones occasionally to the set. 'Of Matter - Proxy' was a beast as a shoeless Amos Williams on bass strummed, plucked and gouged deep caverns of dense and rich bass work throughout this song and the set as a whole. The straight ahead death metal aspects of the bands set were enough to set the pit off randomly making 'Of Energy - Singularity' seem that much more violence even though their whole performance had an atmosphere of sophistication through the playing ability of all the guys on stage. Arriving on stage five minutes earlier than planned, yes a headliner starting early, Protest The Hero must have had a premonition considering the bass issues Arif had about four songs in, but more on that later. I caught this Canadian band some years back on one of the 'Never Say Die' tours that also had Parkway Drive, Unearth, Architects, Despised Icon, Whitechapel and Carnifex on the bill. With everyone taking about four steps forward as they started the Canadians flew on stage and bombarded the listener with their unique brand of riff saturated rock and metal that opened with 'Underbite' from last year's Volition (Razor & Tie) album. Immediately the energy was amplified on stage from this bunch of Canuck crazies as the riffs, hook and melodies honed in on the senses with surgical precision. 'Hair-Trigger' followed in similar fashion with Rody working the audience superbly. The guys
voice is unbelievable, his tone and range were faultless throughout and added to that his stage charisma and banter make him the perfect front man and many would-be and so called established people fronting rock and metal bands could learn a lot from him. As the band went into 'Clarity' and ripped through it bass problems ensued though I think only the band realised, meaning that Rody had an extended period of banter with the crowd which he unduly did, with much laughter including a session called â€œHunk Of The Dayâ€? where he picked some dude from the crowd he thought was a hunk, brought him on stage and gave him a beer. Bass problems resolved produced a round of applause and straight into 'The Dissentience' with some outlandish guitar work covering multiple genres flailing the audience and creating a small but reasonable pit for some energy to be expended. 'Bury The Hatchet' from the band's debut was followed
by 'Mist' from the last album and the seamless flow from each song to the next was excellent. With each between song break giving Rody more opportunity to demonstrate his stand up routine I was thrilled to get 'C'est La Vie', a tune steeped in death metal in places but no less absorbingly catchy with riffs being flung far and wide. Early doors means curfews for venues like this and the bands performance had soon hit its finale point with 'Tilting Against Windmills' being a demonstration in guitar wizardry and vocal acrobatics. The other acts were good on this tour, but no match for Protest The Hero, and I suspect massive things await this band very soon. Words: Martin Harris Photos: Adrian Wheeler
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Killswitch Engage & Trivium Live At 02 Academy Manchester
raffic is an inconvenient thing when you’re doing anything but when you’ve got somewhere to be, it always seems to take the biscuit that little bit more. Unfortunately, this was the situation that occurred as this guy made their way to the Manchester Academy and as such, the first and second acts of the night, Battlecross and Miss May I, were not seen through these writers’ eyes. Luckily a friend with usually excellent taste was on hand to witness the Ohioan five-piece and her review, so elegantly put, was “f-ing awesome,” so lets go with that. Trivium, however, was thankfully a different story and one that starts with yours truly actually getting to observe some live music in action. Having witnessed these boys before in a fashion that brought words such as lacklustre and tedious to mind, it was with surprising but blisteringly excellent style that the Floridian metallers went about their set, showing how far they’ve come in recent years. As for the rest of the room’s reactions, they too seemed to be more than happy with the performance in front of them, ‘Down From The Sky,’ ‘A Gun To The Head Of Trepidation’ and ‘Shogun’ being of particular vocal highlights amongst the mostly blurry-eyed fans. The music however wasn’t the only thing we were treated too. Smoke bursts and lighting effects to rival the Olympics brought another entertaining if not blinding dimension to their show, an element that always appears to come to the stage when this four-piece is in town. Ending the show with the an excellent rendition of ‘Pull Harder on the Strings Of Your Martyr,’ Trivium left the stage having shot many a proverbial bullet to any trepidations that I or others may have had concerning their live prowess. 60
For the main act, or seemingly most popular act in the Academy anyway, it was their turn to bring the noise and this time the room tinged with so much drunken and sober (ahem) enthusiasm that it even the most cynical of spectators would have been hard pushed not to be swept up in it. Coming out to ‘Eye Of The Tiger,’ Killswitch Engage (KSE) leapt on to the stage, their leader Jesse Leach brimming with confidence and front man swagger. Launching into ‘A Bid Farewell,’ the crowd wasted no time joining in with the verbal festivities, word for word being sung back to the quintet. As for the makers of the music, chugging beer on stage, encouraging female viewers to expose their breasts when on friends shoulders and generally having fun were just a few things in the KSE repertoire, showing to those who could see the love they have for what they do. Musically it was as tight and as brilliant as we’ve come to expect from KSE, but it was lead man Jesse who, for me anyway, really stole the show. Screaming or singing, Jesse’s vocal performance was excellent no matter which way he was vocalising it, and having being disappointed by the Howard Jones departure before, it’s safe to say I am no longer (we still love you Howard!). An wonderful set and fantastic show by the KSE boys, the Massachusetts five-piece brought tracks such as ‘The End Of Heartache,’ ‘My Last Serenade’ and closing number ‘My Curse’ to a new level of awesome, one that they managed to bring throughout and one they will undoubtedly continue to do as long as their metal-core hearts beat on. Words: Emma Quinlan Photos: Emma Stone
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Sunn O))) & Ulver Terrestrials (EP)
Few albums in the past few years could have generated the hype that has surrounded Terrestrials (Southern Lord). When a pairing with such pedigree as drone lords Sunn O))) and Norwegian experimental band Ulver come together to create a collaboration it’s hard not to expect an album of monolithic proportions. While this would often leave albums buckling under overbearing expectations, Terrestrials transcends the hype. This is not just the amalgamation of the two different ideas and artists but a story told through a melding of brilliant minds. Sunn O)))’s dark chasmic wall of noise is given new life by Ulver’s more poignant atmospheric flourishes that together lead the listener through a vast and dark soundscape. Coming in at just three songs and thirty-six minutes long, there is no space for waste on this album, every lingering note is considered, every flutter from a trumpet or tremolo string section precisely placed. Each song explores different elements; ‘Let there be Light’ gently builds to devastating crescendo that runs down the spine, while ‘Western Horn’ opens out the low end with horns to enact ancient rites and resurfaces old gods. It is ‘Eternal Return’ though that is the real masterpiece in Terrestrials, scaling both the icy heights with shimmers that scatter over cavernous bass in a way that echoes rises and falls the Earth itself. The album unfolds slowly, lazy notes that enclose worlds of sound that can only be excavated through endless listening. This is not the simple mantra of catchy music laying out their wares on the first listen, but an investment that rewards the listener with every replay.-Caitlin Smith GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 63
Crystal Viper Possession
Crystal Viper may not be new to the heavy metal scene as they have played multiple European festivals and extensive touring but they are a welcome addition. Fans of heavy metal fashion will recognize that Marta Gabriel is also involved with heavy metal through her popular clothing line, Thunderball Clothing. The band has created an engaging album that also features vocalists from other bands such as Jag Panzer and Desaster. Possession begins with a very dramatic and operatic opening, ‘Zeta Reticuli’. While it is only 55 seconds long, it prepares the listener for a diverse and fun musical journey. It instantly leads into the crushing riff of ‘Voices in My Head’. The track sounds much like an Iron Maiden one and Gabriel sings it like a female version of Bruce Dickinson. It is a trend that holds throughout the album. ‘Fight Evil With Evil’ is the track which features Harry Conklin known for his work with Jag Panzer among other bands. His presence only makes the song better and assists Gabriel and the band in the story they are trying to tell rather than overshadowing them. This is a lot easier in theory than in practice and indicates that Crystal Viper are capable of holding their own in the world of heavy metal. ‘Why Can’t You Listen’ is where the theme of the album seems to come through the clearest. Much like the album suggests, the album is based around a concept that there is a young girl going on journey filled with struggles against evil. I won’t give too much away, but it is less cheesy than it sounds. It is at this part that the main character finds her voice. ‘Prophet of the End’ is a great closer where guitarist Andy Wave shows that he can do more than just shred. Up until this point, his riffs were slowly getting more repetitive. Thankfully he has a few tricks up his sleeve that make for an ending that neatly ties the story and leaves the album on a similarly epic note that it started on.-Melissa Campbell 64 |GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
Black Space Riders D: REI
Hailing from Münster, Germany, Black Space Riders are a quintet and self-proclaimed purveyors of space-rock. D: REI (BSR Records) is the group's third album, and at 80 minutes, is more of a polished stoner prog epic than a simple rock album. The band is made up of Je (lead vocals, guitars), Seb (Also lead vocals), Sli (guitars), Saq (bass), and Crip (drums, vocals), and as with any releasing a prog album, there's a concept. Each letter represents a different sequence of the album: D – Defiance, R – Ruins, E – Escape, I – Beyond, but there's very little else tying the whole thing together; the music on offer swings from dirty Queens Of The Stone Age groove ('Letter To Young Ones') and melancholic doom ('Major Tom Waits') all the way to a stoner's take on Nine Inch Nails industrial ('Give Gravitation To The People') and quiet prog melodies ('I see'). Musically and vocally this album is all over the place, which is good if you like to be kept guessing, but it means there's a general lack of cohesion. The fact there's two lead vocalists only adds to the confusion; one song you're given Orange Goblin-esque barks, the next a deep baritone more suited to a goth rock, and it's often the vocals which are the biggest turn off. That being said, there's plenty of impressive musicianship; massive riffs are delivered in spades, and despite there being a few too many average ones, there are some very impressive moments. 'Major Tom Waits', 'Space Angel (Memitim)' and album closer 'The Everlasting Circle of Infinity' are all enjoyable slabs of stoner rock. Overall, D: REI is a mixed bag. Covering pretty much the entire spectrum of Sabbath-worshiping music, there are plenty of really enjoyable moments. But there's also plenty of chaff in between and the whole thing could do with being about half an hour shorter.-Dan Swinhoe
Revered by No-One, Feared by All Ingested's Revered by No-One, Feared by All (Siege of Amida Records) is much more than just an EP in a “young” (a decade if you count their previous incarnation as Age of Suffering) Manchester based band’s discography. This is the moment where Ingested needs to prove that they are doing it right. If in 2009 they hit the nail in the head with their debut full length, Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering, two years after they hit their head with the fuckin’
Band dynamics, however strong, can usually only last so long on tour before tempers flare, the claustrophobia and hard sleeping surfaces become unbearable and everyone's just too under showered to care about anyone's feelings. A break is necessary for the sanity of everyone involved; those forced to interact with these musical artists, stripped from the occasional comfort of the familiar or a loved one. OvO however, have taken their relationship out on that limb, in harms way of all the odds to create what seems to be the ideal balance, if you analyze how much this minimalist extreme metal band have tour. Over 700 gigs later, they're plan to start this project in efforts to say closer together seems to have worked after touring apart with separate acts for a while. Having release material consistently since 2001, their latest album, Abisso, (Super Natural Cat Records), creates a consistent vibe that can be felt throughout the album. With absolutely no vocal effects, the wide range of growls, snarled and demonic shrieking keeps the listener at least interested, if not, thoroughly impressed.
now…not) they would come out sounding a bit like OvO. 'Harmonia Macrocosmica' is a good example of how this band can be both disturbing and confusingly beautiful at the same time. A compliment to the first track on the album, it also shares a similar style, which is an interesting idea to present on an album I suppose, though I think they would have been more effective as an EP. For noise-rock enthusiasts and those looking to break metal down to it's core, Abisso is worth an ear. OvO are seriously passionate to what they do and that sort of effort speaks volumes of them as musicians, in their effort to bring their music to the people in its live form. They're on tour till April so check them out if they're in a city near you.-Christine Hager
Electronics twinkle and spark like a kaleidoscope of butterflies. Broken and disjointed, yet so beautiful, once glance away might leave you a vacant visual captor. Stefania Pendretti slices through electric guitar palpitations, banshee-esque in her shrill projection as Bruno Dorella drum beats progress in militaristic order, hitting strong and precise with each motion, on the first track 'Harmonia Microcosmica'. Venturing deeper into Abisso, 'A Dream Within A Dream' is a mixture of instrumentals that could have well suited a Dario Argento film. A crippling space odyssey of synthetic manipulation and haunting resonance. Layered shrieks and growling vocals roll in and over themselves, crashing out into a blood splattering spread of projectile bleed. 'Aeneis' maintains the noise rock ascetic with very crisp, industrial drum hits. If Melt-Banana were kidnapped, horribly tortured and mutilated in Italy (because apparently you can get away with that there,
nail when they released their 2011 follow-up, The Surreption. From a solid brutal death metal/slam album in 2009 they jump to a mediocre in deathcore album in 2011. What now? It seems that the answer to that question comes from the EP. With this new record the band seems to have an urgency of redirect their focus and the result is a mixture between their brutal death/slam with some pieces of deathcore that is delivered throughout these four tracks that are filled with crushing-grooving riffs, a more sparse dynamic rhythm-wise and vocals that roam between the most brutal guttural and the deathcore groovy approach. Revered by No-One, Feared by All is far from being an utterly amazing piece but it’s solid and proves that the band can learn from their mistakes. Now we just need to pay some attention because their next record can be, easily, fuckin’ MASSIVE! -Tiago Moreira GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 65
When it comes to modern bands who play with a distinctively vintage metal style, there are two distinct types. There are those who tap into that near magic and illusive quality that makes the early greats the inspirations they are, yet still sound fresh and of this age at the same time. Then there are the ones who sound simply dated and should have been put to bed long ago. Arizona’s Benedictum certainly fall into the latter camp. It is quite staggering that Benedictum have continued as long as they have, considering how cliché ridden their fourth album Obey (Frontiers Records) is. From the (attempted at least) tension building intro, through each individual song, Obey simply shows no originality of its own, nor does it fill you with any of the adrenaline that heavy metal should do. Each riff sounds tiresome, no song stands out above more than complete tedium, and as big as Veronica Freeman’s voice is, it doesn’t have that commanding quality or unbridled sense of emotion that such a presence should have by any means. Obey sounds embarrassingly outdated and ancient, in a way that really shouldn’t exist in this day and age. Seriously the likes of Grand Magus and Triaxis have taken from such classic heavy metal periods yet have still sounded timeless and relevant; Benedictum just sound like they are from a time forgotten. Obey, quite simply, is a lifeless album that should buried with the dinosaurs.-Chris Tippell
It's been a long time coming, but Thou have finally seen fit to awaken from their slumber and crush us with a new full-length record. Heathen (Gilead Media) is indeed, crushing. At 74 minutes in length, one might fear that it would get monotonous, or that it might drag. On the contrary, Heathen is varied and compelling for the entire runtime, and arguably the length of the record adds to the overwhelming power of the album. Album opener, 'Free Will' is the longest song on the album, and the best (which is no easy judgement to make on a record of such quality). This might be the quintessential Thou song. A combination of feedback, chunky riffs, pounding drums and tortured vocals create an unnervingly heavy start to the album. But eventually, a melody bursts forth and it's almost triumphant, accompanied by vocals that sound more empowering than they do tortured. It sounds like one of those moments where, if this were a hardcore show, people would be climbing over each other to grab the mic for themselves. Melody doesn't mean that Thou have gone soft though, the riffs here are as weighty as ever. One of the most impressive things about Heathen is that on the whole, the longest songs are the best. The longer song lengths and longer album length mean that Heathen sounds very organic, as Thou move seamlessly from one idea or riff to the next. The progressions all feel very 66 |GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
natural, but changes in pace keep the listener guessing. 'Into the Marshlands' is a particularly good example of this. The album is also peppered with interludes, such as the wonderfully titled 'Take Off Your Skin and Dance in Your Bones', allowing the listener some time to breathe in amongst what is otherwise a fairly relentless album. Whilst it is undeniably dynamic, it isn't exactly an easy listen, making the interludes very welcome, like shelter from a storm. Another album highlight would be 'At the Foot of Mount Driskill', which initially sounds almost like a funeral doom song. Whereas the melody on 'Free Will' sounded triumphant, the melody here is absolutely heartbreaking. As the melody gives way to a life-ending chug, accompanied by howls of “WE ARE NOTHING”, it is impossible not to feel an emotional connection to the music. Dauntingly long albums can
Eye of Solitude Imperial Triumphant
Making New York an evil[ler] and dark[er] place since 2005, Imperial Triumphant play a style of dark, swirling black metal that calls to mind the similarly twisted Dodecahedron, which already is a good sign, because Dodecahedron is pretty damn rad. I’m not too familiar with other bands in this style aside from perhaps Deathspell Omega, who I would describe as sounding ‘angular’ due to their heavy reliance on discord, dissonance, and generally non-standard musical phrasing that can grate uncomfortably against the ear, though it can vary strongly depending on how it is performed. I would place Imperial Triumphant in the same category as Dodecahedron, in that they capture the correct atmosphere and heavy-dizzying dynamic well in the two songs given, properly entitled 'Sodom' and 'Gomorrah', because I suppose the Biblical wellspring of influence will never run dry as long as monotheistic values are dominant in society. While both pieces are interesting in their own right, I would say that 'Gomorrah' is the one that really warrants attention, as it plays with mind-bending psychedelia, blasting blasphemy, ambient horrorscapes, and not to mention, a killer headbang rhythm at the beginning, with a hurts-just-right sort of atonality on the guitars that allow the blackness to shine through paradoxically. In essence, Imperial Triumphant is not putting forth an entirely unique sound, but the way it is played with will certainly earn them some kind of following, particularly among those who find the nihilistic, cavernous bellows of bands like Antediluvian to be the ideal soundtrack for those lonesome Friday nights with Pazuzu. With just enough filth to create the closed-in atmosphere of being smothered by the elephant on the art, yet clean enough to render the various effects and the nuances of the drumming down to its well-controlled double bass, you end up with a black hole of jagged chords, chunky precision drums, and vocals that seem to come from the belly of a fearsome chimærical beast, all totaling up to one tasty extreme metal outing that’s sure to scare your mother.-Sean Pierre-Antoine
Canto: The division of long poetry, principally used to divide epics. Canto III (Kaotoxin Records) by London based death-doom band Eye of Solitude is the third chapter for the band. Once again returning to open the gates of hell this is not a fun album to listen to, but a serious tome to torment and tragedy. Breaking up the songs by Acts, everything about the surrounding of this album is prelude to a tragedy in sonic form. Eye of Solitude is not a band that can be hurried, like their previous album Sui Caedere, this unfolds slowly, revealing itself over sixty-six agonizing minutes. Being based on Dante’s Inferno, although not specifically the third canto, it bases its story on Dante’s descent through the circles of hell. There is a real honesty behind the performance though that can be lost in so many concept albums. There is no doubting the artists really identified with this story, the music bleeds pain; every note drips in agony, every scream is audible torment. The music switches between long slow atmospheric chords with spoken word and aggressive blast beats and tremolo picking. This is an album all about contrast, emptiness punctuated with violent attacks. The biggest change in this record from previous releases is the extended spoken sections. Sections of the album contain readings from Inferno set over drawn out chords from keyboardist Pedro. While vocalist Dan Neagoe is more subdued during spoken sections, guest vocalists Anton Rosa’s monologues are more theatrical and dramatic, and while both are moving performances, Rosa’s screams of agony over the solo in Act VI: The pathway has been lost are particularly breathtaking. Canto III was made to be listened to as a whole. Like starting a story in the middle it doesn’t make that much sense broken into pieces and consumed separately, every song builds and crafts the continuation of the journey through the album. The path through Canto III can best be described by Dante himself,‘Abandon hope, all you who enter here.’-Caitlin Smith
sometimes lose their impact, alienating the listener (Swans' otherwise excellent The Seer comes to mind), but this certainly isn't a problem with Heathen. It might be a lot to take in on a first listen, but it is totally worth your time. This is an album that gets more rewarding every time. There is a lot of detail to explore in the music as well as the lyrics, which seem to be philosophically minded. Heathen sounds like a storm manifest as a piece of music, as devastating as it is awe-inspiring. Whatever you do, don't sleep on this.-Tom Saunders GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 67
Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies
Earth Air Spirit Fire Water
(Editor's note: As we went to press with this issue, we had only just learned of the tragic passing of Selim Lemouchi. We send our condolences out to his friends and family) Many were surprised when Dutch Occult rockers The Devil's Blood decided to call it quits. But life goes on, and guitarist Selim Lemouchi is back with a new band and a new album in tow.
Earth Air Spirit Fire Water (Vรกn Records) is Selim's debut under his new moniker, following the well-received Mens Animus Corpus EP. Selim's Enemies seems to be a rag tag group featuring Robby Geerings on guitar, four drummers, and Selim's sister and former DB cohort Farida Lemouchi among their numbers. The record is both very different from Selim's work in The Devil's Blood, but not completely alien. There's still a strong 70s rock vibe as well as Farida's imposing vocal presence on a couple of tracks, although Selim takes main vocal duties. But on the whole it's far more expansive musically, dropping the occult for a more spaced-out & psychedelic tone. And the songs run for a lot longer - there are only five tracks, but they average around ten minutes apiece. Opener 'Chiaroscuro' begins with a preacher's monologue of fire & brimstone before making way for a spacey hypnotizing chords and repeating rhythmic
drumming. Vacant, haunted vocals with a Bowieesque twang juxtapose Farida's recognizably deep wail. There's a lot going on throughout the ten minutes - although it's very slow, it's intense and layered. 'Next Stop, Universe B' is more upbeat, and at only three minutes, the closest thing this album has to a single, with Swimmy vocals sit atop a driving beat and reverberated chords. Although this is definitely a prog album, it's never overdone or overblown. Instead of overbearing complexity and hundreds of ideas thrown in, we're given a few simple ones that are jammed out and explored. Album closer 'Molasses' probably the highlight and a good example of this. Opening with a crunching
The Fateful Dark
Savage Messiah may hint at anti-commercialism, but this British four-piece are in danger of becoming metal icons themselves. Beginning life in 2007, this band has gone from strength to strength, rapidly gaining recognition in the underground scene. Now only a mere two years after the release of Plague of Conscience, they return to unleash their third studio album on the world, The Fateful Dark (Earache Records). Right from the outset, this album is a constant and savage attack of pure power infused thrash, with a strong dose of good old classic heavy metal thrown in for good measure. With every album this band seem to be raising the stakes, and this latest release is no exception. Where Plague of 68 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
repeating bass line and layers of cyber-sounding synth before letting the return of Farida take centre stage and build the song from the ground up. The song build slowly in layers over it's 13-minute length, adding layers of guitars and impressive solos for a strong finish and a strong sense of curiosity as to where Selim goes with the next album. Overall Earth Air Spirit Fire Water comes across as very simple but effective, and manages stays of the right side of self-indulgent. It's not a particularly easy listen, and not one listen to on repeat. But is still impressive, challenging and rewarding album for fans willing to put the time in.-Dan Swinhoe
Omotai Fresh Hell
Houston’s Omotai is a sludge metal mammoth, which on paper sounds fan-freakin’-tastic. That is, if you enjoy your sludge metal at mammoth pace for an entire album. With overtones of a simplified Harvey Milk, a rudimentary Doomriders, and even waxing Mercyful Fate at times —check 'Throats Of Snakes' for the best example of some King Diamond-esque piping—, you’d think it’d be an engaging listen
Conscience had one or two standout songs, The Fateful Dark discards anything that could be excused as filler
for a constant ten-track assault, each song strong enough to hold its own. The album flits between genres, from the opening track 'Iconocaust' that throws us into a frantic clamor of thrash riffs, to 'Hellblazer' and 'Cross of Babylon' that show off some serious power metal posturing with their epic chorus lines. Even ballad 'Live As One Already Dead' has its merits, stripping back a lot of the guitar work and showing off the vocal progression David Silver has made since beginning the band. Making a thrash album with such furious riffing can leave bands sounding clumsy, but The Fateful Dark shows these guys are tighter than ever, pulling it off without even the slightest hint of hardship. Crafted into a true beast of an album: mature, concise but with a distinct touch of chaos threatening with every riff and solo, a definite essential in any heavy metal CD collection.-Caitlin Smith
at least. Despite these influences from promising sources. It is with heavy heart, however, that I must say that Fresh Hell (The Treaty Oak Collective / The Path Less Traveled ) turns out to be anything but. Blame it on The Sword, Red Fang, Baroness and similar bands, but I’m just not into that whole sludgemeets-hard rock style that seems to be invading your local bar venue on a bi-weekly basis. It certainly has the heaviness to warrant the genre tag and potentially the ability to open for EyeHateGod as local support, but the appeal ends with repetition. Fresh Hell begins rotting as early as halfway through the first track 'Get Your Dead Straight', with its riffs scarcely stirring more than an inch further than what would make it truly interesting. The hardcore influence of the tracks 'Laser Addict' and 'Back Office' make my ears perk up, if only because they’re not inane lumbering workouts that test patience rather than inspire listening. I feel as though the phrase 'heard it all before' applies woefully well to all seven songs here; from the Cave In piracy to the country fried grooves of Mastodon, it’s all sounding like the product of their influences rather than the promised Fresh Hell. There is some promise, yes, but overall it’s too easy to ignore amid a sea of similar sounding bands who have done the same better.-Sean Pierre-Antoine
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From All Purity Given main man Will Lindsay’s pedigree playing in the likes of blackened tree worshippers Wolves in the Throne Room and sadly curtailed doom miscreants Middian, it’s unsurprising that Indian, the Chicago, Illinois quartet he has fronted for the past few years are a devastatingly heavy proposition. Like the bastard child of apocalyptic doom titans Thou and Rwake, but with an added helping of abrasive power electronics to make things just that bit more unpalatable, Indian may be too hard to swallow for many. Their fifth album From All Purity (Relapse Records) is undoubtedly their heaviest and most unpleasant yet, and for those already acquainted with their unique brand of sonic punishment, it can’t come quickly enough. Over the course of 39 harrowing minutes, Indian attempt to batter the listener into submission with a ceaseless barrage of spiky sludge riffs that aren’t afraid to repeat themselves to make their point well and truly felt, percussion that hits as hard as a drunken preacher taking his belt to a cowering sinner, horrible harsh droning noises that sound like a possessed radio broadcasting live from Chernobyl, and all topped off with Lindsay’s throatshredding howls and screeches. Tracks like ‘Rape’ are aptly named for that’s precisely what they do to your eardrums while the monolithic crawl of ‘Directional’
Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra
Fuck Off Get Free We Pour The Light On Everything
70 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
is like being dragged to the rack beneath an iron grey sky before all the hope is crushed out of your body. This gruelling treatment is maintained throughout the entirety of From All Purity with the sadistic riffs of ‘Rhetoric of No’ particularly standing out. However the caustic noise torture of ‘Clarify’ is where things get truly horrific and may have even the hardiest of listeners reaching for the off switch. A triumph in nastiness and one of the most punishing albums you’re likely to endure this year, if at all.-James Conway
A healthy disdain for authority and a willingness to go against the grain has long been the modus operandi of Canadian mavericks Efrin Menuck, Sophie Trudeau and Thierry Amar. As members of mysterious outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor this publicity shy collective have always adopted a resistance to the pressures of the media. Giving interviews only as a collective group and refusing many opportunities to promote themselves their whole career has been delivered on their own terms.
Within Temptation Hydra
Four listens. That’s all it took for nearly every song to stick in the brain, earworms wriggling around, squirming to the front of the consciousness and replaying chorus after verse after chorus after guitarline. Four listens to go from “Yeah, this is alright” to sporting a big grin on my chops and belting out (awful tone-deaf) sing-a-longs to each track in my car. Hydra (BMG) is the third release in the 10 years since Within Temptation shot to everyone’s attention with the symphonic metal masterpiece of Silent Force. Not as “metal” as Silent Force, nor as gothic as The Heart of Everything, Hydra sits as a more as bedsister to 2011’s excellent The Unforgiving, which showcased a more uptempo, heavy rock bent. With the exception of ‘And We Run’ (featuring Xzibit, which it’s fair to say is no ‘Bring The Noize’), Within Temptation bring the house down with a selection of great songs.Yes, actual songs. Really, really good ones. While the band themselves have promoted this as a diverse album, don’t be fooled, Hydra sits very comfortable inside the WT oeuvre, but what it does do is showcase the various sides of the band, each song focusing on one facet of their style, showing that they can do breathy William Orbit type pop (‘Edge of the World’), midtempo stomp ‘Let It Burn’ and melancholy and sincere (the excellent ‘The Whole World Is Watching’, featuring the distinctive David Pirner of Soul Asylum). But where Within
Thee Sliver Mount Zion, whither it be with the Memorial Orchestra or Tra La La Band suffixes, have followed a similar non conformist ethos yet their orchestral folk punk has always been far more anthemic and direct than GYBE's (Constellation Records) clandestine, nocturnal emissions. This seventh record bursts out of the starting blocks in a very Sliver Mount... fashion, with a big group vocal over a tense back-beat and angular discordant guitars and strings. The child's voice that introduces Fuck Off... turns out to be a harbinger of things to come with many vocal lines effectively simplistic. The underlying theme here seems to be the question of what sort of a world will be future generations inherit.
Temptation really excel is when they let themselves go, and succumb to the joy of rocking out. ‘Silver Moonlight’ and ‘Roses’ are a great mid-album grin-prompting pairing, all fist-pumping and huge chorusing, while the album highlight ‘Paradise (What About Us)’ sees Sharon den Adel trading lines with Tarja Turunen. Sonically Hydra is incredible; a superb vibrant production by long-term WT producer Daniel Gibson that screams “huge” while balancing the mix of vulnerability and power, and den Adel is in great form. But ultimately the star of the show is a raft of infectious, well-written songs. Hydra is packed full of anthems, and will stand tall as one of the most enjoyable albums of the year.-Steve Tovey
utter anguish. The Trudeau sung 'Little Ones' Run' is a sinister lullaby which would not have felt out of place during one of the flashback childhood scenes in the recent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian epic 'The Road'. Likewise 'Take Away These Early Grave Blues' contains the sarcastic put down “Let them sing or pretty songs” full of sneering punk vitriol. Menuck can rest assured his anti-establishment brand of rebellion will indeed be heard for many years to come. For all its warnings of a crueller world to come such invention, complexity and an unquenchable thirst for challenging the ideals of self appointed judges will leave a compelling legacy for this trailblazing act.-ROSS BAKER
The cathartic journey of 'Austerity Blues' sees Menuck howling in desperation “Let my son, live long enough, to see the mountain torn down” knowing that such events will never occur before he himself shuffles off this mortal coil. The apocalyptic tone of much of the lyrics is tempered by moments of wistful well wishing juxtaposed with GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 |71
Suffering in Solitude A Place Apart
Post-black. Haunting, effective soundscapes littered with mellow, icicle-shattering chords. As with other branches of this oft histrionic genre however, there are myriad instrumental offerings which, for those of us who like to hear the plaintive, diseased roar of unadulterated anguish, can veer toward mundanity. This debut long-player from Californian tortured souls Suffering in Solitude is no different.
A Place Apart (Domestic Genocide Records),
released as the last post sounded over 2013, has been four years in the making, and that there's much beauty and violence within it is beyond dispute. The occasionally mournful ‘Inside Out’ evokes lonely winter streets, while the hissing, more uptempo crash of ‘Entrance’ isn't without its pensive moments and emits the kind of swelling, aching melodies that pierce the soul. Each fresh encounter with this beguiling set does indeed reveal more that will inspire and elicit wistful memories in every listener, and where Christopher A's harrowing scream is employed, such as the sprawling, shimmering riff and blastbeat-
The Kennedy Veil Trinity Of Falsehood
If you know anything about life, you’ve found out that first impressions can be entirely misleading. One of your best friends may be a person that you would normally dismiss at first glance, one of your favourite bands may have had to grow on you over time; you get the drift. My first impression of Sacramento’s The Kennedy Veil, with their artwork looking astoundingly like fellow Californians The Faceless’ seminal modern tech-death opus Planetary Duality and the ‘wtf’ factor of their name (seriously, what the hell is a Kennedy Veil?), I thought,“Brace yourself for a soulless storm of metal modernity”, and thus braced accordingly. I’m proud to report to you, dear reader, that The Kennedy Veil doesn’t suck! Yes, while the vocals are fairly derivative modern death-metal semideathcore, and the production hearkens to similarly artworked acts such as Abysmal Dawn, or similarly talented up and coming artists such as Azure 72 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
infused ‘Exit (Time Lost)’, agony envelops the constantly fluctuating pace. The blend of the two styles can rarely have seen a more accurate depiction of its definition. The eponymous track sees the bitter yet plaintive ragings of Touché Amore lie with the stark harmonies of Tides From Nebula and the frostbitten atmospherics of Darkthrone as the perfect ménage-a-trois. For all the furious howls however, there's something missing: an intermittent lack of intensity throwing more shapes toward a schizophrenic breakdown than a paean to heart-breaking loss. As a result an element of pretension occasionally infects the set, with the nefarious rasping rattle oozing over the initial Britpop style jangling of closer ‘Placed Apart’ conveying more contrivance than true emotion. Overall, however, this is a pleasing listen; a likely contender for raids by BBC trailer makers and Scandinavian dramas for its stirring, sometimes moving interludes. With six tracks stretched over less than half an hour, it doesn't outstay its welcome either. For those of us who like to feel others' pain as well as our own whilst indulging in a tune, there's definite promise in the offing from these guys. -Paul Quinn
Emote, this particular group of Californians manages to present their main saving grace in the length of their songs. As you’ll see if you check the times, no track exceeds 4 minutes, making this album just over a halfhour long workout of well-produced and, if not entirely original, at least competent technical death metal. It’s hard to highlight particular tracks on such a work, as my ear for this sort of tech death isn’t as sharp as it once was, but overall I would say it’s engaging —not to mention, short— enough to warrant a few listens, even though it’s essentially worship of that technical yet accessible death metal practiced by Behemoth or Immolation, though with a sci-fi edge. Lyricism focuses, of course, on those tried, true, and tired themes of war and death. What are the odds? In the end, it’s an inoffensive outing, but overall not terribly remarkable either. From the cover art down to every blastbeat and riff, it lacks individuality, and yet you’ll find yourself enjoying it because, hey, why the hell not? It’s metal enough, and played skillfully enough, so they get a pass. -Sean Pierre-Antoine
Malevolence Reign Of Suffering
Malevolence presents themselves as being one of UK’s fastest rising crossover bands and by that they mean:“the hype around our band made us go up a few stair steps and that was translated to loads of pressure for our debut full length”. Being that the “circus” surrounding the release of Reign Of Suffering (Siege of Amida Records), their debut album, there was an expectation and important question that needed to be asked: will the album justify all the hype? The answer for that question is… No! The quintet from Sheffield is far from being what we were expecting. These eight tracks, with 35 minutes of pure groove and technicality, are, for the most part, just a simple emulation of their influences with little hints of hope, because of the evident talent that they carry and offer. Showing mad love for bands like Hatebreed, Lamb of God, Terror and At The Gates, the band made a record that’s an amalgam of their most direct influences, ruling out the possibility of Malevolence having a sound that truly stands out of the crowd. Even their most compelling and exciting track, the seven minutes epic that’s ‘Turn To Stone’, has other bands names written all over the place. This time we can talk about Pantera and Down. Basically with Reign of Suffering we have a band with talent that’s trying to find the character that will be essential if they want to be the leaders of the metal-hardcore-crossover genre. They need time to mature, that’s for sure. -Tiago Moreira
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Days Of the Fallen Sun (EP)
Since bursting onto the scene with their bold and beautiful 2009 release The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist, Bostonites Junius have carved a niche of bleak romanticism, which has deservedly attracted many admirers. Like the subversive writer from which their moniker is derived, the music on Days Of The Fallen Sun (Prosthetic) comes from the darkest recesses of the psyche yet is served with enchanting melodies that marry noise rock with an inherent pop sensibility. The immediate difference in this latest work is how the voice of Joseph E. Martinez has been pushed to the forefront of the music. Martinez has always been a clever lyricist and storyteller but there is a new confidence about vocals. 'A Day Dark With Night' sums this up beautifully 74
Immortal Bird Akrasia (EP)
Distinctly disturbing and beautifully harsh are words that best describe Chicago's blackened death metal upstarts Immortal Bird. Although their debut release has a scant four songs on it, the songs take the listener on an icy veined adventure to the soul. Running the gamut from classic black metal tropes, to modern tech death writing skills, a touch of thrash and some other impressive musical avenues too.
with Martinez delivering the line “We’re all fearless” with heart rendering passion. 'Battle In The Sky' is ominous, reverb drenched melodrama. A sensuous journey delivered with such intensity where every line sounds like Martinez would gladly tear his beating heart from his chest and lay it at your feet. Will Benoit’s production allows every shimmering effect and tone to stand out. Martinez intense lyrics have drawn comparisons with that of Morissey's, but his vocal delivery is far deeper in tone. Ambient passages allow you to immerse yourself completely in the atmosphere and mood of this record. Delicate ambience building to post rock like crescendos yet their sprawling repetition would be better suited to a full-length affair. “Days…” is a life affirming journey of desperation and triumph taking in delicate introspection juxtaposed with searing heaviness in both mood and tonality. The real master-stroke is left until last as 'Forgiving The Cleansing Meteor' is unleashed built on a foundation of gothic soundscapes, delicate chords that builds to an elating climax. It is this track where Martinez unleashes the eerie mantra,“We are the dreams of God/ We are the lights that follow/ We embrace the dark/We are the light we are the fire”. It is a haunting couplet, which embeds itself in your consciousness long after the album draws to a close. Moments of ecstatic bliss penetrate this brooding collection of exquisite material. Roll on the next album!-Ross Baker
Masterminded by vocalist/drummer Rae Amitay (Thrawsunblat), she co-wrote all of the songs on guitar too, showing off her versatility in stepping out from behind her drum throne. Many times with projects like these, you get the impression the music is a foil for a singular vision, but the tight recording and strong performances of guitarist Evan Berry (Wilderun, Replacire) and bassist John Picillo sound like a true band. The production team of Jeff Ziolo, Kurt Ballou mixing at Godcity Studios, and mastering by Brad Boatright definitely eschews the no-fi tactics of most of the genre. The first track 'Spitting Teeth' exemplifies this approach with an unsettling guitar riff which gives way to a maelstrom of beats and screams. There are some great riffs and exciting tempo changes in this track that might be lost with lesser production values. 'Ashen Scabland' is just a hellish track. It definitely has an ebb and flow to it, with some mellower parts blunting the caustic slam of the thunderous drums. Fittingly the lyrics are equally as rough as the track, perfectly melding thoughts of regret and rage as much as the music does. 'Akractic Seminar' might almost be classified as avantgarde- blackened thrash and doom. The song kind of sneaks up on you with a discomforting tone.You get lulled by some discordant guitar work and a slight bit of clean singing, before getting your ears and your ass stomped in again. 'The Pseudoscientist' not only brings back the lyrical intellect, but being the shortest track on Akrasia, it has a sick urgency to it. The harrowing scream of pain at the halfway mark will curdle the blood of the toughest kvlt brood. The first flight of Immortal Bird is a bleak, but pleasing one. -Keith (Keefy) Chachkes GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 75
ollapse & rush
Dominique Persei of Stolen Babies Editor’s Note: As often as we can we here at Ghost Cult, we like to bring you guest editorials, unique stories, and mini-topic interviews from people in the world of heavy music. Band members and musicians with varying interests to share, delving deep into influences outside the musical, industry honchos breaking down what the numbers mean, or perhaps a music journalist with a new perspective. This month Dominique Persei of Stolen Babies tells us how she decompresses from band life. “I enjoy being in the forest as much as possible. I live in Oakland so the last thing I do before I leave for LA to go on tour is go to the forest. The first thing I do when I come back is go to the forest. I used to be a freelance makeup artist, but right now I really want to get away from that. I love the craft of it, but it’s so superficial. I want it to be my own little private thing, so I turned down the offer to do tutorials as a way to promote the band.”
As told to Melissa Campbell 76 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15
Cynic, Skeletonwitch, Red Fang, Morbid Angel, Stolen Babies, In Solitude, Howl, Neil Daniels, Throne of Katarsis, ,Valkyrie, Sarke, Willem V...