The festival season is about to begin and in order to celebrate this Summer Edition of the GC digimag we will have a dedicated festival report section. In this issue we start with live reviews on the Neurotic Deathfest and The New England Hardcore And Metal Fest. We’ll also be at Hellfest in France and the Download festival in the UK this Summer. When you catch one of our crew members at work, say hello and have a beer with us!
CREW CHIEF editor Raymond Westland
senior editors Keith Chachkes Fabiola Santini Ross Baker Filip Vuckovic
On behalf of the Ghost Cult crew I’d like to welcome Sara Teramo aboard. She’s a very skilled professional designer and she takes over the designer’s duties from Andrew Pennington. Welcome aboard, Sara!
As with the previous digimag issues, GC Issue #9 is stuck to the brim with interviews. This time around, there are interviews with Niklas Kvarforth/Shining (SE), Suicidal Tendencies, My Dying Bride, Orphaned Land, Sevendust, Evile and many more. The review section features all the latest releases and various members from the GC crew have been at a wide array of live shows. As always, Dean Brown has unearthed another forgotten musical gem which is worth your attention. Finally, this issue also contains a midterm selection of the best albums which appeared so far this year, brought to you by the one and only Noel Oxford.
Enjoy the festival season and remember: life is just too short to spend it listening to shitty music. Ghost Cult will be back with a new whole new Issue around July 15th. See you then!
Raymond Westland Chief Editor
Pete Ringmaster Angela Davey Noel Oxford Sara Teramo
Caitlin Smith, Friso van Daalen, Mitchell Scheerder, Jason Guest, Marcus J. West, James Williams, Matt Hinch, Mat Davies, Helena Rosendahl, Sarah Worsley, Andrew Pennington, Ian Girlie, John Toolan, Chris Tippell, Sean Genovese, Matt Spall, Chris Ward, Jodi Mullen, Sean M. Palfrey, Matthew Tilt, James Conway, Jonathan Keane, Victoria Anderson, Cheryl Carter, Violet V. Reagan, Christine Hager, Dan Swinhoe, Chantelle Marie, MetalMatt Longo, Sean McGeady, Omar Cordy, Rei Nishimoto Front Cover Photo - Martin Strandberg
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ISSUE #9 CONTENTS
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
SHINING (NOR) – ONE ONE ONE 7
NIKLAS KVARFORTH/SHINING 8 SUICIDAL TENDENCIES 10 SEVENDUST 12 EVILE 14 STEVEN WILSON 16 ORPHANED LAND 18 HACRIDE 20 THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN 22 MY DYING BRIDE 24 DEMON LUNG 26 PERSEFONE 28
ALBUM REVIEWS 30 22 REVIEWS
39 TOP 5 RECORDS
40 NEW ENGLAND HARDCORE AND METAL FEST 46 NEUROTIC DEATHFEST
54 STEVEN WILSON IN LA 56 SEVENDUST IN WORCESTER MA 60 FINNTROLL IN LONDON 62 KREATOR IN LONDON
64 GC MID TERM LIST 2013 66 UNEARTHING A MONUMENT
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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
One One One S H I N I N G In d i e R ecor d in g s
Masterminding the melding of Jazz and metal has been attempted by many noisemakers but these proponents have often hailed from the metal world. Shining mainman Jørgen Munkeby has travelled a different path hailing from a trad jazz background Munkeby introduced “Black Jazz” to an unsuspecting world three years ago nailing progressive metal to free jazz and harsh electronics it was an uncompromising and experimental record which sat up and slapped the metal scene square in the face. Fast forward to present day One One One sees Shining condensing and distilling their freeform frenzy into more traditional song structures. For some this would seem like Shining has lost its edge yet what One One One succeeds in doing is compressing these rogue elements and spewing them out in controlled bursts of kinetic energy. Spanning thirty five minutes this high energy thrill ride is a seemly mesh of all Shining’s musical styles with all the indulgences stripped away leaving only the juicy succulent flesh for the listener to feast upon.The driving percussion and industrial guitars of ‘I Won’t Forget’ kick off this adrenaline ride recalling the manic rush of NIN circa Broken and ‘My Dying Drive’ pulls no punches with its stellar grooves. What makes this album so inviting is how every instrument is allowed to stand out without being smothered by the rest. The frantic saxophone
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on ‘How Your Story Ends’ ads to the song without becoming its main focus and the electronic elements are never employed at the expense of the guitars.The album title itself alludes to Munkeby’s desire to create a series of “track one’s” or “hits” and while the songs have shorter running times than the sprawling Black Jazz this is still the bold work of an extreme act hell-bent continually challenging themselves and their listeners. The corrosive saxophone grind of ‘The Hurting Game’ alone should serve as a vehement denial of the notion that Shining have become a straight metal act. Jørgen’s vocals while mostly screamed still allow for lyrics to be clearly deciphered and while the cold industrial sections complement the harsh guitars there is an organic feel to the songs. In One One One Munkeby has succeeded in balancing the fine line between indulging his renegade tendencies while simultaneously delivering his most direct and simplistic album yet. While a fine collection of music never before have Shining’s individual songs shone so brightly even when removed from the context of the album. A vital and exhilarating brand of controlled chaos bravely realised and delivered with the meticulous brilliance of a master craftsman. Words: Ross Baker
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WHEN PROZAC NO LONGER WORKS Words: Marcus J. West
There’s never a dull moment in the turbulent world of Niklas Kvarforth and Shining (SE). Ghost Cult caught up with Niklas to discuss the latest developments with his band, his other creative ventures and some rather disturbing loose ends.. Let’s start by talking about your latest live performances, from your guest appearancme at Taake’s Inferno 2013 show to delivering an awesome version of their hit ‘Nordbundet’ to headlining the first day at Ragnarök 2013. You seemed in a great shape, what were your personal highlights of both events? I am hardly in good shape but thank you. The performance with Taake was inevitable with me being in Oslo for other reasons than this godforsaken festival. However, not carrying the word “No” in my vocabulary when it comes to brothers of mine I agreed to appear. I was a bit worried about opening their set though thinking people would be very confused but in the end that bizarre idea worked out brilliantly. The Shining show was our first in months. And I believe it also was the first time we played songs from the new album as a whole band. See, I never rehearse, or rather, they don’t want me there in the rehearsalplace for obvious reasons, so some parts might have sounded a bit weird, but who cares? It was a festival for this overwhelmingly disgusting Pagan Metal Bullshit that we and Carpathian Forest for some reason were headlining. Highlights? It became very clear to me in Oslo that I was certainly not welcomed and more or less considered the great outcast by almost everyone I met or that I used to know a few years back. And that was thrilling indeed, knowing that some of the things I have done have had such an impact on these people that they can’t get me out of their head, although in most cases because they despise who I am. What was it like to play ‘For The God Below’ at Ragnarök? It is, in my opinion, one of the most distinctive tracks of your latest album, Redefining Darkness. As said, it was the first time we played this song, but the atmosphere was indeed present and it felt great to honour the prince of darkness in such a flamboyant way. Singing the verses is a bit exhausting though because of the intensity it demands. But that’s just another reason for me to start working out again. Which I honestly need. Any anticipation on additional Shining’s forthcoming live shows? Yes, I have been working on a new method of performing the whole ceremony for nearly two years now. I haven’t really reached the point where I have felt that the idea has started to fall in place before now
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but after the summer we will try to realize this rather complicated vision of mine in flesh. I will not reveal too much but can proudly say that the whole experience will be more that of a show than a mere concert. Of course maintaining the genius of our past but turning things just a little bit... More creepy. Describe the band line-up as it stands today. At this point in time of your extensive career, do you feel the need of creating certain stability within the band? As most of you should know by now, Shining are one of the most turbulent bands out there, and of course this has had its toll on the lineup. Much can be blamed on me of course, but in general the problems we’ve had are because of half-assed retards that get themselves into the game on false premises. See, when shit hits the fan, and in our case, every second or third month, people show their true faces. And I for one cannot stand having a band consisting of individuals who start running when these things occur thus I end up firing them to the left and right. Huss however, has remained the longest member of the band with his eight years of service, which is, fucking admirable. Christian might also have it in him but we have to let time be the judge of that. I would say the three of us are the core of the band today while Raikku and Euge are considered as live-members, however permanent. Stability would be great! Redefining Darkness, Shining’s 8th studio album was released in October 2012. In my opinion, and in many others’ it was one of the best release of 2012 but somewhat did not have the well deserved exposure. What is the current situation with the label? Let us just say things didn’t work out between us and the label. Now we are without contract, and honestly, we don’t put a lot of energy into deciding who we are going to work together with for the next album. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. However, this time around we’ll be extremely careful before signing anything, no matter how good the offers might be. Are you considering any solo projects at the moment or any cooperation outside Shining? I am working on a solo album and the Christmas spectacle is also starting to move in a positive direction. But as everything is still not a hundred percent set in stone I’ll try remaining silent on those projects for the time being. As for future guest-appearances I have decided to slow things down a bit while focusing on Shining. But yes, there are a few recordings set ahead but with whom will not be revealed until both
me and the other artists have agreed that the time is right to do so. You recently published the book When Prozac No Longer Helps. What is working for Niklas Kvarforth now? Oh yes, I finally did publish the “book” our fans have been waiting for since I started writing in Swedish. I did take this interest lightly though, a bit too lightly perhaps. As the first pressing is now completely sold out! Quite stunning considering I demanded them sold through our web-shop and through our web-shop only. The good thing about releasing the book, apart from letting people finally understand the lyrics on our records, is that it got me writing a lot more. Not only lyrics and “poetry” but pages and pages of complaints and praises on everything I have to endure on a daily basis. Some of it ending up in a series of columns which are being published (for the time being in French only), and might give people, not only fans of my work, a broader perspective on a thing or two. Hopefully, I’ll find reliable people in the printed media, who can publish these in other languages shortly. You are showing the world there is a lot in you to share as an artist: music, a book, and now also a documentary. How did you decide to explore this side of your creativity and what are the goals you want to reach with this project? I have always done everything that I’ve found meaningful at any given time. I have been writing music and lyrics since the day I first held a guitar. But I need to make one thing clear; the coming documentary is not something I or any other members of the band are personally involved with. We have planned a DVD release for years, but never really been satisfied with the results we were getting. But this changed when Martin Strandberg, who directed our first two videos, and I started talking about the idea of making a real documentary focusing on the social factors both inside and outside the band instead of making one trying to dissect the music and whatnot. So... I told him from the very beginning that if this movie is being made, everyone, not only members past and present, but record-labels, concert-promoters and other scum of the earth must be interviewed. And more importantly, I also demanded to never see or hear anything being caught on tape, for the purpose of presenting Shining and foremost myself in a realistic, objective way which definitely would not be possible if I had my say. Martin is a very talented guy and I believe the movie will change a lot of things, for both good and bad. Describe the way the Legions (www.shininglegions.com) are aimed at sharing the Shining universe with your fans. Legions is our way of taking back what’s rightfully ours and keeping control over every product being made blessed with our name. See, there are tons of bootleggers out there who make a profit from my art, and that’s quite frustrating, but more so the fact that some of them make designs that I find degrading and even repulsive. Things I myself would never allow to be printed. Of course, bootlegging is impossible to stop in certain parts of the world, but these really do not bother me. What bothers me is people in the west doing this just to make an easy buck. Most cases can be resolved with violence, however, some can’t. And this is our natural reaction towards these cunts! And finally it is rewarding knowing our fans get their hands on products personally approved by us and made with passion and a genuine contempt for life. What can you tell us about the Commandments you divulge via facebook? The one that caught my attention was “No.2 ∙
Disrespect Life Now”! A Commandment is known to be a spiritual guidance: for outsiders, the ones you share can be perceived a bit far-fetched. Is this your perception? Actually, you have mixed up the THE TEN COMMANDMENTS campaign with the VIOLENCE IS FASHION one. I don’t blame you though, as I don’t have access to Facebook myself but the few times I’ve seen what’s going on there it’s no wonder people get confused. See, the commandments campaign include 10 different female models, while the violence one features only males. The ten commandments are as follows: 1. Never Speak The Truth 2. Betray Your Friends 3. Deceive Your Loved Ones 4. Detest Your Fellow Man 5. Humiliate Your Mother 6. Emasculate Your Father 7. Greet Hospitality With Violence 8. Greet Love With Hate 9. Break All Laws 10. Kill Yourself In the end, something fantastic and extraordinary will come out of this, you’ll see. And yes, these are meant for spiritual guidance for our fans. Ten very easy rules to follow in order to reach the ultimate death of the individual. And shouldn’t commandments be far-fetched? It’s not easy to reach your goals, and if you already have, then why are you still checking your Facebook account? My perception or not, it doesn’t matter... These are, as said, just ten simple rules to follow if you want to reach that special place you’re always talking about when you have a little too much of the midnight wine. Why does Shining seem to target specifically young girls when advertising the band merchandising? Is that because you perceive them as being the easiest to impress? What about daring targeting a wider audience? I don’t think we do. It just happens that the female clothing is meant for females. And we are not trying to impress anyone. We are trying to make a difference. I honestly don’t see any other extreme metal band doing what we do. We had this one model who I told to wear headphones and look happy while wearing a “Shining Hates Me” shirt. People got really upset about that for some reason, and that should mean I got what I was striving for. These kids say they want to have the alternative, bullet belt wearing metal sluts with harsh makeup standing with a candle next to a tree looking grim, while in reality, all of us, dream of the beauty queen who doesn’t even know your name. And then people apparently say we’re commercial? Ha-ha. Ok. Fine. But concerning the attention this campaign gained, mostly negative, I would say we clearly made a difference. Like it or not. And do remember that the ninth commandment also speaks to the tiresome self-proclaimed arbiters that constantly preach about what is allowed within the “scene” and not, and who have about as much idea as a maggot about what the whole ethos of Black Metal is really about. You have always been known for your attention seeking behaviour and very controversial statements: don’t you think that this approach can somewhat distract you from true creativity and Shining fans from your creations? Given my pervious answer, I will come off as a hypocrite. But the truth is, I wouldn’t call what I do attention-seeking behaviour. I am just being who I am, simple as that. And just because I dare to question “authority” and obviously NOT accept disrespectful behaviour against this sick child of mine, that makes me attention-seeking? That’s really, really sad. But of course there are two sides of every coin. If I, or any other tool within the band, choose to do something or say something that upsets people, what’s wrong with that? Music lacks the element of danger and I would say we are strongly working on changing that.
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SUICIDAL TENDENCIES PLEDGE YOUR ALLEGIANCE Words: Keith Chachkes
Few bands carry the currency of respect in both the metal and hardcore worlds like the name Suicidal Tendencies. The Misfits do, as do The Cro-Mags, and that is about the end of the list. ST is back with their first full album in thirteen years, called 13. Headlining the final day of the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival VX, Ghost Cult chatted with long-time guitarist Dean Pleasants about the current tour, the new album, the new blood in the band; and how everyone you meet can influence your journey in life and music.
The new record just dropped a few weeks ago. Do you mind talking about the significance of all the different 13s in the album? The official play time is even 58:13! Oh that was that was fun! We did that with Brian Gardener. You can thank him for that. He’s been on every record you can think of from rock to Dr. Dre, to you name it. So we were mastering the record and we noticed the end of the album timing, said ‘Hey! Can we make it end on thirteen? And Brian did a little bit of magic to make that happen. So it was cool.
Welcome to New England Metal and Hardcore fest. How are you enjoying it so far? Thank you and good to see you again, great to be back here again! We got the best of both worlds mixed up in here with the metal and hardcore fest!
13 really sounds like a continuation of the thrash metal ST albums from the 1990s. How did you approach the writing? Some of these song ideas actually go back to 2002. I’m always writing a lot with Mike (Muir) in the studio. We’re always writing together. And before when Ron and Steve (Bruner) were in the band, we wrote a lot of stuff. Then as we started moving forward, we listened to a lot of Infectious Grooves and a lot of ST albums. And we asked ourselves ‘how are those two bands different?’ With the old ST, Mike Clark played his rhythms and Rocky (George) played the leads. The drummer did his thing, and Mike did his thing. Everybody wrote and played their parts. Not that it’s a formula; if someone came in with a riff, we wouldn’t throw it out. But we wrote a few songs where we really let everyone do what they do best. And that really informed the rest of the album. With Cyko Myko on the album, it’s always gonna sound a certain way. The ones that he wrote, you can tell. It sounds like his style. With me on some previous songs, people would say ‘Oh, you sound like Infectious Grooves’. And I would say that I can’t help that. That’s where I came from. But on this album I made a concerted not to use too many effects, and really strip it down. I just played meat and potatoes guitar and kept it raw.
ST is out on the road with D.R.I., Sick of it All and Waking The Dead. How has that been going? We made it here and made it here safely to the East Coast. All the bands do their thing man. We like all the bands a lot and they are all great people. Waking the Dead is Mike Clark’s new thing and this is his first run out there. We’re really excited for him and pulling for him. He’s singing lead, playing solos and the heavy rhythms. We had Madball out for a few shows, they did their thing. They are old, old friends of ours. Great guys! D .R.I.- they get down every show. And Sick of It All…it goes without saying; those guys go hard in the paint, every night! (laughs) I have been a fan of theirs from the beginning and I still have their first t-shirt when they first went on tour, and I have it with me in my suitcase. So it’s been fun, yeah!
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Personally, I always thought it was better to keep the two entities of ST and Infectious Grooves separate. But sometimes you guys mix them up together. Your playing is a lot different for both bands today, than it used to be. Thanks for that. For me, I made a really big effort. And I had to grow on that. You take things personally. And you have to do that. ST means something different to everyone. And you have to keep it in perspective. Sometimes it’s like an ego thing, but you have to put that aside and give the fans what they want. You have to do that in music, and you have to also do it in life. I asked myself what the fans really wanted and this time it was really easy. I was gonna be as raw and crazy on the guitar as I can be. Rocky had a legacy, and I have to start my legacy now. I have been on some compilations, and a song here or there, but I have never been on a full record where people can hear me play. Now I am on a full Suicidal CD. Once again you worked with Paul Northfield as the producer. Why is Paul such a natural fit for you guys? Paul and I have been friends for a long time. We first worked with Paul on Groove Family Cyko. He came in to mix. He was an amazing guy! And then we worked with him producing on Six The Hardway and Freedumb. It was a lot of thrash and punk stuff. Short of being a genius, he has worked with all the great bands: Rush, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Courtney Love, he worked a little with Marilyn Manson, and Queensrÿche, everybody. What Paul really knows how to do is take your instrument and really make it come through. There could be stacks of guitars, but if he wants to make a point come across with one, he can do it. I mean he’s cool; you can also talk to him about anything. His resume goes on like ‘Ooohh!”. What a great guy! You guys have some new blood in the band for the first time in a while. What’s that like to bring in a new guy at this level? First we usually like to give them a beating! Physically and mentally. Then… (laughs). Aww we can’t haze these new kids these days. Doesn’t that suck? I got hazed! I got the blanket party and all that stuff! I knew Nico (Santora) from before in another band he was in. He’s into all of the newer metal bands and styles. And he could also do what we can do, so we thought it would be an interesting thing, bringing him in. Once he starts studying the band, and studying Mike Clark, he felt like ‘I got it’. And following Mike Clark, man he has the machine gun right hand, and he can really put it down. One of the best. And Nico can do that too! He’s just a younger guy holding the same gun. Clark even came up to Nico recently and told him that he was glad he was in the band, and gave him his props. I know that Nico felt truly humbled by that. And even watching Mike Muir play guitar too, a lot of people don’t realize how good of a guitar player
he is. Way back on that first record, when you hear ‘Subliminal’ or ‘(I Saw Your) Mommy’, those are Mike Muir’s riffs. He wrote those songs. There are a lot of guitar lessons to be learned and everybody learns something. Finally,what inspired you to play guitar in the first place? That’s a really great and really cool question. Starting off, I played trumpet and drums in jazz band. My band leader told me as long as I could read the charts, I could switch. Later on I got signed to a record deal with my first band. We had a deal on A&M and on Interscope and I moved to California. I was doing a lot of session work, but there wasn’t enough of it for me so I started looking for a new band. When I first moved to LA, I was in a little garage band with a guy named Robert Trujillo. And then he gets into Suicidal. And then a few years later he’s working on a side project and he called me up and asked me to come down to the studio. And Mike Muir is there. And this guy is looking me up and down like he’s gonna kick my ass, or I don’t know what. You know, it was younger Mike, with the bandana and everything. And he’s like ‘can you come back tomorrow?’. I thought he hated me, but he called me on the phone, and the next day I was in. And we did this project and it became Infectious Grooves. We had just a little record deal. We were in the studio recording the first album and Mike barges in to the studio next to us and Ozzy is there recording No More Tears. And Mike gets him to sing on ‘Therapy’. Next thing you know Ozzy says I don’t care what the record label says, Mike is my friend and you guys are going to open for my tour. So my first tour was opening Ozzy Osborne, ‘The Godfather of Metal, on a hit record’. And I’m like Alice in Wonderland. I’m on tour and hanging out with Zakk Wylde! And with us you had Robert Trujillo, Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction, Mike Muir from Suicidal, and me! And I’m thinking… what the fuck? (laughs) So I put on my thinking cap. I was doing my homework day and night, burning the midnight oil on that first tour and really worked hard to get better. And then Mike invited me next to join Suicidal. And I said ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna play Rocky’s position?’ The transition wasn’t easy at first. And some people really accepted me, and some were really harsh. And Mike sat me down and gave it to me straight and said to me ‘Dean, you are gonna have to let go of Infectious, to make it work in this band’. Just the guitar and the Wah pedal and that’s it. And then people came up to me and said my soloing got better again and that was cool. So really it was up to me the whole time, to put the hard work in to get better. The guys around me helped me by being honest, and they helped put me on my journey. And of course my parents for encouraging me and even my sister, who teased me for being out of tune. Every person you bump into gives you knowledge; if you take it that way.
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Sevendust has a brand new album out called Black Out The Sun (7Bros), which harkens back to the bands earliest days. To launch the album, the band is on tour, co-headlining with their old friends in the reunited Coal Chamber, as well as other 90s holdovers Lacuna Coil and Stolen Babies. Ghost Cult chatted with vocalist/guitarist John Connolly about the new album, touring and recording, dispelling rumors and where or not the band was truly nu-metal.
How is the tour going so far?
The tour’s going good, the tours going real good. This is the second week in with the album, fourth week of the tour we got out a little bit before the record came out, so it’s been really good.
The three top bands on the bill started out around mid-1990s. What do you think that says about the longevity of this music?
It sounds like something that would happen 1998 or 99, for sure. That was kind of one of the things that intrigued us the most about it. When we got approached about the Coal Chamber thing, we thought ‘well, that kinda makes sense’. It brings everything back to where we really kinda started. We had a couple super early tours, and Coal Chamber was one of them. We were just talking about ‘Ladies Night Cambodia Tour’ here (in 1997, at the Palladium); we did the Limp Bizkit tour. We did the Coal Chamber/Powerman 5000 tour. We did the Snot tour. We did the Staind tour. Then we did Ozzfest 98, and ended up on tour with all of them. Oh, and we did the Megadeth tour. It was like summer camp, when we got there, it kinda made sense. Best case scenario: they give us a run for our money every night. Worst case scenario we’ll show `em why we’re still around twenty years later. (laughs)
Was it a conscious decision for Black Out The Sun to be a throwback sonically to the early sound of the band?
It was an unconscious thing that I think we consciously set an emotion, but didn’t realize it til after the fact. We didn’t know we were writing demos we were just making music, jamming, recording everything, doing whatever we do naturally when it came time to approach how we were gonna set up for this record, we set the first thing we are going to do is take a long break. So then by the time we hit up the studio we were charged and ready to roll. We wanted to miss it!! Sometimes you can take for granted how cool something is when you do it too much. That’s the nature of touring for us. You can get burned out real fast if you’re not careful. So I think (taking) a break was an enormous step in the right direction and the conscious decision to not write a hundred songs in the year off and show up with one hundred pieces of music it was like you know let’s just write this together. Let’s do what everybody says you’re never supposed to do. We’ve always have really good demos we have a pro tools HD rig that we take in to every rehearsal we ever go in. And I love Johnny K to death, but I would put some of the demos up against the finished product and sonically they were not that far off so for us it kinda made sense if were gonna do it, let’s just get the signal path right, and do it the first time one thing we realized as Sevendust
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we tend to overthink everything. You give us too much time, were gonna deconstruct a perfectly good song so the less time we have to outthink ourselves the better off we are. The first record was written quickly. Second one was written even faster and this record was the same way. Ironically, Seasons was probably around, it talk us a little bit longer this. The funny thing is Animosity is the album everyone compares this new one too, and that was the one we took forever to do. We spent a zillion dollars and did it in a million different studios. We did everything on that record, everybody in the business says not to do. We said this time, let’s be excited, let’s go in together and make this record. We all have stuff we tend to do. Clint has certain tendencies, I do, we all do. But we react together a certain way when we all write a song together. There is none of that demo-it is stuff with us. We always get all of that shit out of the way when everyone is in front of you. We just know we’re gonna show up, have lunch, and jam. The way we approached things back in the beginning, and that is why this album sounds like it does.
Is it easier or harder to produce your own album yourself as a band at this stage in your career?
Every record we have ever done, I have learned a lot. We have really co-produced a part of every record… but this is first one we self-produced with Clint. You know, we had to fight to even get a partial credit on those first few records with J.J. (French) and Toby (Wright), but he have always have a hand in the final product. It’s always a bittersweet thing because if the record does well, everyone pats you on the back. If it does bad, everybody is looking at you. It puts a target on your back. I think we kind of know what we are supposed to sound like. No disrespect to Jonny K, but ‘Decay’ is one of the bigger singles we’ve ever had, and that song was supposed to be on Cold Day Memory. And it was deemed by him as not good enough to be on a record. I like Sevendust with programming. I like Sevendust without it. I like Sevendust with Lajon (Witherspoon) singing over whatever music we happen to be making. Unless we do a one off like a soundtrack or collaboration, we know what we are supposed to sound like.
I found a lot of the lyrics on the new album very philosophical and wistful. Is that more akin to being older guys, or because another era of the band is turning over?
The break that we went through, it wasn’t easy. It was stressful. Two different side projects started up. The amount of energy we had to put in to dispelling rumors that we are breaking up was exhausting. I’m in the studio and my phone is blowing up, and I’m like ‘dude, it’s just a break’. Sevendust is not breaking up. So it was trying, in the fact that anytime we do something that is not Sevendust, and Sevendust is on a break, rumors are gonna fly and people are going to fill in the blanks or add the punch line in themselves. Are we gonna have 100 records? No. Are we gonna do this when we are 70? No. Or, if we are we’re gonna be sitting on stools, doing a very ‘Angel’s Son’ friendly version of it. We all want it. We all need it. Can we all do it all the time anymore? Who knows? Are we gonna make another record after this one? Sure. Is it gonna be right after this one is over, I don’t know. Right now we are on the top of the mountain, all charged up
BLACKING OUT THE SUN
Words: Keith Chachkes and ready to go. Two years from now when we have done 16 straight months of tours, Japan twice, South America, Russia, Australia twice , a bunch of festivals, and we just got back from a USO tour: we might be ready for that break again. We’ve got the original five guys that started it. If it was one or two of us and some fill-ins like a cash-grab, then it wouldn’t be cool.
I never considered the band “nu metal”. Was it helpful or hurtful to have Sevendust break when they did?
We came out at such a weird time. Everybody was wearing the really fluorescent clothes and everything. I still have the poster- “Sevendust#1 Loud Rock Band”. And I was like what the hell is ‘Loud Rock’. And then they called us ‘nu-metal’. I was like okay, I guess. It was just a different time where people tried everything else. We were like ‘hey, we’re gonna put some guitar solos on some songs, is that gonna be okay? Bands stopped playing guitar solos. From Nirvana up until numetal- that was the craze. KoЯn didn’t have guitar solos. Limp Bizkit didn’t have any. And those were some of the bands we associated with. And of course we were nu-metal in some of the press had because we had a black singer! ‘He’s a hippie! ‘He’s a rapper!’ they said. Of course we were nu-metal. And if there is one thing LJ (Lajon) can’t do, its rap. Another one they called us was ‘soul-metal’ (laughs). We had a soulful singer and we were metal! It probably helped us at the end of the day. It didn’t hurt KoЯn’s career to be the godfathers of that thing. That is the weirdest thing about our band. We played with Megadeth, Slipknot, Metallica, and Slayer multiple times. But also we played with Powerman 5000. We played with 30 Seconds to Mars. We played with Creed. We played with Saving Abel too. (laughs) There is a lot of latitude between a song like ‘Alpha and a song like ‘Angel’s Son’. We never said we wanted to be a band that appealed to everyone, because that is a total pain in the ass (laughs). We are one of the most metal, non-accessible bands on radio. Lamb of God is heavier than us and they are not on radio. We are not as heavy as they are, and we get on radio. And we seem to really piss off Creed fans! If you look at our record collection we all have Slayer and Deicide records, but we also have Night Ranger and Journey records too. Every one of us has a George Michael record in there too. It’s a signature thing with us, for us to like a lot of different music.
I know you are just starting the cycle for this album and tour, but have you any work done for the next Projected record?
I jumped into real demo mode, back in November. I was just putting stuff together, going through a bunch a stuff, piles of music really. I have piles of things to go through. I have some brutally heavy stuff, I have some acoustic stuff. And when I’m writing, I know this music will be for one band, and this other music will be for another. I went through a really weird period, where I liked everything, and it was all super heave. And Sevendust, to me, is my heavy band. I love that Projected can be heavy, but I don’t want it to be heavier than Sevendust. And I’m treading on some really tough ground here, because the demos are scary heavy. And I don’t want it to be a total pain in the ass and have to sing, or really scream, and play full time, together. There’s a lot of music ready man. A lot of cool stuff. I’m thinking maybe later this year, we can get in the studio and get this record done. The Alter Bridge guys have some touring booked and then we can go in the studio for a few days and can get that done. Projected will definitely have another new record coming out soon.
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INTERVIEWS Evile are one the premium thrash metal acts within the UK. They recently released a new album, entitled Skull, on which they show they can thrash with the best of them. Ghost Cult caught up with Ol Drake (guitars), Matt Drake (guitars/vocals), Ben Carter (drums) and Joel Graham (bass) to discuss everything Evile.
Evile Words: Marcus J. West
Every time Evile is announced to play a show in London, there is so much anticipation in the air. How do you feel about returning live to the London crowd with a new album to introduce? MD: Excited! Considering that we are so proud of it. We cannot wait for people to hear it. Skull will be released on May 27th. BC: It all feels very refreshing and positive now for us. We go on tour and we end up playing the same set-list night after night, it’s great that now that we have a new album coming out, we can start adding new songs. On this tour with Kreator, we have been adding two of the new tracks from Skull, just to see how they go live, ‘Underworld’ and ‘Head Of The Demon’. The response so far has been great. Skull is your fourth album; it must be getting hard to put together the setlist for a live show now. BC: As a matter of fact, it’s becoming more and more difficult every time we go out on tour. JG: But it’s good in a way, as it’s nice to be able to choose instead of relying on the same songs. Ideally we would play for two hours every night but we cannot. BC: It’s going to happen, sooner or later that even songs like ‘Thrasher’ may not be on the set-list because of newer songs kicking out old songs. JG: We will be playing a show in Manchester in September (Saturday, September 28th at the Manchester Academy 2) and we have asked our fans via Facebook what they want to hear. Basically it will be up to them to put together the set-list. That’s an excellent idea, your fans will feel even more part of the show. JG: Yeah and we do not have to worry about it (laughs!). Tell me about the choice of the title for the new album, Skull. JG: We did not develop the title of the album from the word “skull” in the actual sense. Without giving too much away, Skull does not refer to a skull but to something else. We wanted to let people figure it out once the album got out. MD: I think we did quite a good job with the press release because we specifically wanted it to be vague. Even visually, you must have noticed that there is nothing about a skull in the artwork. Skull it’s the end of the space: where the space ends there is a place which is full of demons. It’s about a dream that Ol had. So did you develop the whole song-writing process based on this dream? MD: Yeah, the rest of the songs came from this theme. The idea is that that they came from something hidden, that you cannot really see, like truths or motivations. It’s really not a concept, it’s explicitly a theme, and we have never done anything like this on an album before. I would say that the cover is, as a matter of fact, very different from what you have done in the past and explains the main theme of Skull in depth. BC: We have used the same artist, Eliran Kantor, that Testament used on their last album, Dark Roots Of Earth. Matt discussed with him the concept of what the album was about and the thoughts
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behind Ol’s dream. He also gave him a blank canvas to work on so that he would do what he would think was appropriate for the perception of that image. We did not get the artwork until very close to the deadline and it’s just worked. You really have to look at the cover to interpret it the right way. The more you look at it the more you understand the perspective and the deepness in it. I think it’s a very clever piece of artwork, I like the way it incorporates our logo into the depth of field. It’s completely different from what we have done before and it’s very identifiable I think. MD: And there were even more elements in the original design but we decided to strip it down to give a more sense of scale. The opening track, Underworld has a very distinctive drum part. MD: This song as an opening track is like a smack in the face, in case people were afraid we were going to go even slower than ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’. BC: This is a long intro that builds up the opening track. This time we wanted to go to the point more quickly. The tempo of ‘Underworld’ is not the fastest of the album but it’s one that will make people want to listen to the tracks that follow. The title track of the album is quite a fast, frantic song in itself and the track after that, ‘Naked Sun’ again is a very fast song that eases people into the faster tempos. Frantic is the right word to describe Skull’s title track. Why did you choose this song to represent the album? OD: I think this song has so much in it, sections and riffs that cover different fields. We wanted to do the unexpected on this track. When we got to certain parts we thought about what we would usually do
at that point and we just decided not to do that, and do something else instead. Are you planning to play it live? OD: We will, but not tonight. I can picture you Ol and Matt playing those powerful riffs together on stage. I am sure it would be really cool. From the lyric point of view Matt, did you want to recapture Ol’s dream? MD: Yes, but I did not want make it too obvious. It’s really vague, on purpose. I like people to read through the lyrics rather than being spoon-fed with meanings. Tomb offers a clear example of great vocals; it’s a very magnetic track. Was it difficult to record? MD: The heavy section was actually quite easy, but the clean vocals at the beginning took the longest to get right, I had to get quite close to the microphone which I wasn’t really used to. I was very happy about the results. Is this also a song you may be playing live? OD: Absolutely. We only ever write songs we know we can play live. We will never have an eighteen guitar symphony structure in an album. You have always shown the metal community that every Evile album is made with effort and commitment. Do you think you will attract more fans at this point in time of your career?
JG: To be honest, you cannot really rely on that. You cannot make music to please people. People like different stuff and are very vocal these days, especially with the Internet. There will always be people that do not like what you do. So it’s better to write music for ourselves. If we enjoy it, we enjoy it and hopefully other people will too. If they don’t, tough shit, we cannot really do anything about it. MD: We please ourselves first. I kind of learnt not to expect anything with the past few albums because anything that I expected to happen never did. As a whole, was the making of Skull harder than Five Serpent’s Teeth? BC: For Skull we actually went into the studio with more material than we needed. It was quite hard to leave few songs out of the nine we choose for the album. We have something like four songs that we may revisit in the future. You never really know what you are going to do in the studio until you go and do it. How does your touring schedule look like? MD: We did not tour as much as we wanted last year. JG: If the gigs come, we’ll take them. It’s as simple as that! We try to do as many shows as we can. MD: I want to look at a world map, and point where we want to play, everywhere! I would love to go and play in Japan and Australia, China. The US would also be great. BC: Basically we want to play anywhere we have not played before; hopefully Skull will put us in greater demand.
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Steven Wilson GOTHIC GHOST STORIES INTERVIEWS
Words: Keith Chachkes
Steven Wilson rightfully deserves the title of the dean of the modern progressive rock and metal world. In addition to his own groundbreaking work with his own bands such Porcupine Tree, No Man, Bass Communion, as a producer of albums by giants such as Opeth, and remastering the works of King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Caravan among other projects. Steven is out on the road supporting his third solo album The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) on Kscope Records. Chatting at length with Ghost Cult, Steven talked about the making of the new album, his creative process, production work, lyrical inspirations and his favorite Pink Floyd albums among many other topics. I know that today is the last day of the European tour. How has it been? It’s been wonderful! It’s been a quite a roller coaster ride, because when we started the tour a few weeks ago, the album was just been released. And we’ve been kind of watching the album gather momentum as we have gone across Europe. We’ve had chart positions wired into us and reviews appearing. It’s been extraordinary and seeing the reaction of the audiences to the new material has been very gratifying indeed. Part one of this tour couldn’t have gone better, really. It occurred to me that the Grace for Drowning touring lineup carried over to the recording of the new album. Would you say that the familiarity with the players helps to inspire some of the writing? It’s definitely true to say that the complexion of the album was very much influenced and dictated by the fact that I knew who I was writing for. That was a very different scenario to the first two solo records: Insurgentes and Grace for Drowning. Both of which were written in the abstract, without any idea with who would play on each song until after I’d written it. And only then did I kind of think, ‘who should play drums, who should play this, who should play that?’ This time I knew from the beginning, before I wrote a single note, exactly who was playing the material. Not only that, I knew what they were capable of; and I knew they were capable of performing at a level that I, myself could not. In a way, that was a real challenge. Here I am writing music beyond my own abilities. Way beyond my own abilities. Music that I can imagine with my mind, but normally I alone can’t realize. And this time I knew there musicians could really play anything I can throw at them. It was a really nice challenge to have, where you are trying to write music beyond your own capabilities and raise the bar for yourself creatively. And maybe the record has more of a cohesive band identity than the first two records. I’m always interested in the journey of the artist. How do feel about your work on an album that you have created when it is finally finished: Relieved? Proud? Conflicted?
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Well, that’s an interesting question. Of course if I didn’t feel proud of something, I wouldn’t consider it finished and I wouldn’t want to release it, so there is an element of pride. But there is always an element that is also, you never want to hear this music again, as long as I live! (laughs) After writing, recording, mastering, and checking the masters... unfortunately the downside of being the person that created that music is, you’re kind of over it and you can no longer relate to it in a way that the fans can. There is a bittersweet part that is a bit more technical a process by the end of the recording. I have to say, it’s true to say that anything I’ve ever released into the world, I have been incredibly very proud of at the moment I finished it. It is interesting to think about it that in my long career, this is probably the best received album, of all of the albums. I can’t think of any album that has ever had such a reaction like this one, which is wonderful. What I get asked by the press sometimes is, and I’m paraphrasing here, because they don’t all ask it quite like this: The implication is this: “so why did you decide to make a really good album this time?” (laughs) Lyrically the album feels very dark and macabre, in contrast to the music. What inspired those choices? I really was immersed a lot in what I would call classical supernatural fiction at the time I started to develop the material. I was reading a lot of short stories particularly from the earlier part of the 20th century. British writers mainly like Algernon Blackwood, MA Allen and Arthur Macken who specialized in this very understated form of Gothic, ghost stories and supernatural fiction. An American guy like this might be someone like Edgar Allen Poe. The British guys have this very different flavor to when they write. It almost has this understated, intellectual sense of dread as you go through it, and I love that! And I started to write my own stories in that tradition. And of course, at the same time I was beginning to write music for the record. As if so often is the case, the two things came together. And I thought ‘Well you know what, this would make an interesting, intellectual basis for this new record.’ And of course this is not the first time this has ever been done. The idea of short stories being the basis for an album is not completely new. But there are always fresh ways to approach these things. For me, also it was a gift in a way to present the album. When you come up with an idea like that, things become a fountain of inspiration for artwork and visuals to go with the songs. It was one of those occasions where everything seemed to come together very well conceptually. In the past I have had the chance to ask other artists what it like was to work with you as a producer. What was it like for you to bring in and work with Alan Parsons as the engineer for the album? To be honest, I didn’t really notice much what he was doing during the process. There was a good reason for that. I wanted Alan specifically to come in and engineer the album, so I could be free to produce
and musically direct the record. If you imagine a situation where I was with the band in one room, directing the musical stuff and Alan was on the other side of the glass in the control room managing the recording part, capturing everything. Because I know he’s so good, I didn’t have to oversee that side of things. I am by definition, a bit of a control freak, so it’s not always easy for me to let go of any part of the process, normally. But listen, if you hire a guy like Allan Parsons, you know that everything he does is great. I was able to release some of that control to him. So I didn’t notice exactly what he was doing. But every time I came into the control to listen to what we recorded, it sounded great, as if I did it myself! That part of the process was so easy, and I could trust that everything was going down beautifully. It must be a surreal feeling to be at the point in your career where you can work with some of the people you grew up idolizing? Absolutely! You could say that the last few years that I have been fortunate that I have gotten to work with people over the last three or four years, who are partly responsible for my musical DNA, at least partly responsible. In many respects the great compliment of all or the greatest vindication of all is that you find yourself working with your influences heroes as a peer. As a kind of peer, and finding you are respected and treated as an equal. They ask for your opinion and trust your opinion. I’ve been very fortunate to be a bridge in a way between the generation of music I grew up with and the generation of this era of music. And there aren’t too many people who can say that. There are newer artists and artists from the 70s, but I guess I have been somewhat of a connection between those two eras of artists. That’s been thrilling, of course! I can’t imagine how it must have felt to use the actual Mellotron used on King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King? That was amazing too! Well, actually that’s a very romantic way of looking at it. The reality of it is that instrument was a bastard to play! It’s fifty years old. It’s a mechanical thing that is all rusted out and seized up. It was so hard to play it. But the sound of it is extraordinary. I had to do a lot of editing and a lot of takes to get anything good out of it, but once I had it, the sound of it is great. And of course as you said, historically speaking, it’s a legendary instrument. Is there anybody you’ve yet to work with that you admire, that you would like to someday? Oh there are still so many. I have been influenced by so many great bands from different genres over the years. For me growing up there were three bands: King Crimson, Pink Floyd and the German band Tangerine Dream. They have always been a very special part of my inspirations. I would love to work with Kate Bush someday. I would love to remix some of the Floyd catalogue, that hasn’t been done yet. What I’d really love to do is work with film makers now. I’d love to work on a soundtrack, on a film score with a great script, and a great director. That would be at the top of my unfulfilled ambitions.
If there is a Pink Floyd album I’d love to hear some of your 5.1 production work on, it would be the soundtrack stuff like Obscured by Clouds or More. I love those records! Love those records! I would love to do Ummagumma. Those really early experimental records, for me, are probably are my favourites. Albums like Ummagumma, Meddle or Atom Heart Mother. Sometimes they are really overlooked, but for me that was really when they were the most magical. Some of those records are scary! Those records when they were really searching for their sound, they were experimental and great. For me, a song like ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’, the version on Ummagumma, that is my favorite Floyd recording. There is an atmosphere to that music, which they obviously developed and refined later on and made some extraordinary records, but the early years when they were more experimental and improvisational, was much more magical to me. If you will permit me one question about Storm Corrosion: I believe you have said in the past that album formed the end of a trilogy for you. Of course you and Mikael Åkerfeldt will work together again on projects, but will we hear another Storm Corrosion album some day? I don’t know. I think the likelihood that we will do something together again is very strong. More than anything we are great friends. When we get together we tend to drink wine and make music! (laughs). Whether it will be another Storm Corrosion album or not, I don’t know. I’m so very happy to have you ask me about that record. It wasn’t the easiest thing to release into the world because we were so pleased with it, we didn’t want to release it to have be knocked down. We knew it was going to be very divisive. Some people might find it very difficult to get into. We knew some people were going to knock it down, but there were also a lot of people who embraced it and really accepted it. We were so pleased with it; we almost didn’t want to put it out. It is definitely one of the pivotal albums of my career. I know Mikael feels the same, I think it will be rediscovered in 100 years. It almost exists for me out side of time. It doesn’t sound like anything now. It doesn’t sound like anything before. Would we do another record quite like that, I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m sure we will work together again. You begin a tour of the United States in a few weeks. What can the fans expect from the show this go around? Well you know I’ve tried to make the show quite an experience. We have films and video screens; we have a surround sound system. These are things you can find if you go to see U2 or Roger Waters in an arena, but not used to seeing or hearing at this level, at these smaller clubs. I’ve tried to do within the realms of my budget, to make something really memorable visually and musically. I also think I have probably the best band on the planet right now. My band are extraordinary, the musicianship from the guys in the band. It’s kind of everything really. We are trying to create something unforgettable. So that is what we are bringing to America.
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Orphaned Land INTERVIEWS
BROTHERHOOD AND COMMON SENSE
Words: Raymond Westland
There are many bands in metal that rely heavily on a whole range of gimmicks in order to get noticed, but there are only a few who genuinely have something to say. Orphaned Land is one of those bands. With their message of unity, hope and transcending religious and political differences, they have earned a substantial fan base in the Middle East that goes beyond any political, ethnic and religious boundaries. Frontman and singer Kobi Farhi shares with Ghost Clt his considerable insights on the band’s latest album, the source of the ongoing Israeli-Arabic conflict that tears his homeland apart and his fiery wish for more common sense and humanity in the Middle East.
Compared to your previous work, the songs on ‘All Is One’ are shorter and much more stripped down. How come?
Orphaned Land has been around for 22 years and we still sing and write about the same topics as when we began with the band. Nothing has really changed over the years, besides the fact that we’ve gained a strong following from Arab countries which is a rare but beautiful thing, but musically speaking it was time for a change. I felt it was time to make our music a little more direct and accessible, so people will sooner close our music in their hearts, after seeing the artwork, hearing the music and reading our lyrics. We’ve already we can do complex music with our previous album, so we wanted to do something more streamlined. I wouldn’t say easylistening, but more accessible. You can find it in everything. The lyrics are more direct, the songs are shorter and on 99% of the song material I use my clean vocals exclusively. It was all part of the plan to make our message clearer and more focused.
So is the album a concious effort to bring the band’s message of hope and unity to a wider audience?
Yes, definitely. We didn’t write the album to be radio friendly or to be more commercial, but we really want to reach a wider audience with our message. If people like our more complex stuff, they can always listen to our old albums. That being said, I think there’s a certain complexity to ‘All Is One’, despite its shorter and more direct nature. It doesn’t matter what kind of music we write, it will always be very layered. We worked with Jens Bogren on the album. One of the songs he had to work on 162 different channels while mixing the album. He thought he would be working on a mellower and easier album, haha. It’s the way it is. Our music will always be layered and full of details. This is what we are.
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What are the songs about?
The cover and album title represent a sort of utopian idea of unity of all the different religions being in harmony with each other. It’s a really euphoric picture in a way. The thing that is going on in the songs and the lyrics is the complete opposite of that utopian idea. If the front cover is a sort of dream, some wishfull thinking if you like, the songs reflect the tragic reality we live in. It’s a big contradiction. Some people think when they see the cover that Orphaned Land is pro-religion and that we preach that people should go to church on Sunday or that we sing about peace and love. That’s not really the case. It’s very important for me to stress that from the beginning. ‘Brother’ is a very special song. It’s probably the greatest ballad we’ve ever written. It’s mainly dealing with the ongoing Isareli – Arab conflict. When you go back to the source it’s probably originated from the sons of Abraham in the Bible. He had two sons, namely Ishmael and Isaac. In the Middle East all Arabs consider themselves the sons of Ishmael and all the Jews consider themselves the sons of Isaac. It’s considered a fact and all Arab and Jewish living is based on that. Once you understand that you’ll notice that Jews and Arabs have forgotten that they’re actually historically brothers. The conflict began in the story that Ishmael and Isaac are brothers from another mother and that their mothers started to fight about it. That’s probably the source of the conflict. Without taking into consideration who’s guilty because of the conflict still exists I’ve decided to write a song from the perspective of an older son of Isaac to all my Arab brothers, the sons of Ishmael, to come first and say sorry and to ask for forgiveness. It’s very touching ballad. It’s what I think about Arabs. We are historically brothers. We’re so much alike, our languages come from the same source, and we share the same names, although they have different pronounciations, but we are brothers in all means possible. When you put politics and religion aside, we are brothers. That’s what the song is about, a message from Isaac to Ishmael.
You mentionted earlier that ‘All Is One’ is mixed by Jens Bogren. The previous album is mixed by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). What are the biggest differences in the way they approached
Orphaned Land’s music?
It’s a very tough question, because as a band we produce ourselves mostly. We really know what we want along the way and we have a very strong opinion on how we want things to be. Both Jens and Steven took our cues and mixed the respective albums in the way they thought it would sound best. Both are geniuses in their own way. Jens is more a studio magician knowing how to get the perfect sound, while Steven knows how to get the best results, but he’s more of a musician than a producer. Steven would have come up with a brilliant musical idea and Jens would come up with the perfect sound. On the next album it would be best to work with them both, haha.
Some of your fans nominated Orphaned Land for the Noble Peace Prize. How did that make you feel?
It was a rather flattering and embarrassing experience for us to be honest. It’s flattering to see that our fans appreciate what we do, reward you and want the world to acknowledge your efforts and deeds. It’s heartening to know that your fans are there for you and care about you. It’s also a little embarrassing, because I don’t see myself on the same list as Al Gore or Barack Obama or any other politician in general. We are musicians and I think music is above politics. We’re not making music because we want to earn prizes. If we would receive a prize I wouldn’t refuse to go, but I would rather replace the money and the fame for more common sense and humanity in the Middle East. I would switch it right away. All the honor, respect and dignity that comes along with such a prize doesn’t make for a better country or a better region to back to, so I could write less tragic songs and write more happy party songs. Peace, humanity and more common sense is what I really want for for our country and region. If I would get the Nobel Prize would that change anything in the region? I don’t know. I prefer change in the Middle East above anything else.
You manage to unite fans regardless of any religious, ethnic or political background. What’s your secret? I think it’s a combination of a few things. It’s a combination of great and unique music together with very pure and sincere lyrics that come straight from the heart. Add to that we use motives from all the cultures in the Middle East. We’re using motives not just from Judaism, but also from Arabic religions and Christianity and we use that with metal music, which is the complete opposite to religion or anything else. That combination and the fact that we don’t take any sides, despite the political content in nearly all our songs, enables us to stand at a very central point where we can bring people in from all sides. A right-wing guy from the Israeli settlements can be a fan of Orphaned Land and a very radical Muslim guy from Iran can be a fan of the band as well. They’re the complete opposite from each other politically speaking, but they can still enjoy our music. I think that’s the great achievement of Orphaned Land.
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Hacride TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS
Words: Raymond Westland to Sam’s departure during the recording process, it’s been a rather hectic environment for making music but as the saying goes all great discoveries come out of chaos! More seriously I think no matter how hectic the whole experience was it definitely gave a feeling of urgency to the music.
Hacride landed a deal with Indie Recordings recently, what was that like?
French progressive/post metal outfit Hacride went through a period of trials and tribulations, including a couple of line-up changes. However, they came out on top and with a brilliant new album, entitled Back to Where You’ve Never Been, under their belt. Vocalist Luis Roux shares with Ghost Cult the band’s plans for world domination.
The new album is a much more song and groove-orientated effort compared to Lazarus. What brought this change around? I think it is due to a mix of different factors. First of all integrating Flo on the drums definitely pushed the songs towards a groove oriented dynamic. When you play with this kind of drummer it just feels like it’s bound to happen this way! Secondly Adrien still composes all the music in the band and he wanted this new record to be simple and efficient. Hacride often had complicated structures but this time it feels like the riffs are still pretty tricky but the songs have more classical/traditional structures. Playing music is like telling a story and sometimes it just better to get straight to the point!
How did the writing and recording sessions for the new album go? What were you guys aiming for? It is a very personal record. Adrien had a son during the writing process and maybe that’s what made some of the songs so poignant. Besides you can totally hear the lullaby kind of feeling on a couple of tracks as if he was playing for his kid. I think this record is fuelled with strong emotions and that’s what makes it so intense. From Mike
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Indie is a very professional label and working with these guys is just great. I think it will give us a more international exposure and a wider access to distribution. Being on a well-known label like Indie is kind of like a quality stamp I guess and so maybe more people will check us out. We’ll see, it’s still a bit early to talk about this since the album is not out yet. It’s really cool to be signed amongst all these great Norwegian bands though! I’m such a big Enslaved and 1349 fan, our music has nothing to do with these bands but it’s still pretty fucking cool! Besides they have signed Cult of Luna recently and I think it’s really cool that they have this new interest in progressive music.
You guys are also a part of Klonosphere. Can you explain what that exactly is and what they do?
In a purely technical sense Klonosphere is like a label or promotional team. They do communication, promotion and release albums on their own via distributors. Then on a more human level I see Klonosphere as a group of people that share interest in musical exploration. Klone and Trepalium share a long history of friendship with Hacride. I have been friends with Trepalium for almost ten years now and I think we share a common philosophy of life. Naturally the fact that we all come from the same area, which is the west region of France has something to do with it, but it’s more than just this. I think Klone, Trepalium and Hacride are the kinds of bands that need to push experimentation further. We all started with extreme metal material but we have designed our own musical paths.
What will 2013 yield for Hacride?
I hope 2013 will be a year of extreme touring in and outside of France! We might also work on an EP but nothing’s certain yet. The truth is that I love making music with Hacride and there was so much creativity during the recording sessions that we want to push the collaboration even further.
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INTERVIEWS PARTY SMASHERS AND ARTISTIC FREEDOM Words: Raymond Westland
WHEN IT COMES TO GENRE-BENDING AND PUSHING CREATIVE ENVELOPES, FEW DO IT BETTER THAN THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. THE BAND IS ABOUT TO RELEASE THEIR LATEST ALBUM, ENTITLED ONE OF US IS THE KILLER. GHOST CULT CAUGHT UP WITH GUITARIST BEN WEINMAN TO DISCUSS DEP’S UPCOMING ALBUM, HIS ADMIRATION FOR MIKE PATTON AND MR BUNGLE AND THE FINE ART OF MAINTAINING ONE’S SANITY ON THE ROAD.
One Of Us Is The Killer seems rather more song- and grooveorientated than your usual fare, certainly compared to older DEP material. What’s your opinion on this?
Maybe you’re right about that. This time we wanted to write material that we’re not comfortable with. It had be to be a challenge in order to keep things fresh and interesting for us. We used rhythms that are not natural for us, but at the same time the material sounded surprisingly groovy, like you said.
The most interesting part is the musical evolution you’ve made from Calculating Infinity to the present day.
That’s also true, and over the years we really started paying attention to song writing, culminating on Option Paralysis and One Of Us Is The Killer. Many people still think that Calculating Infinity is our most advanced record, because it sounds so chaotic and unpredictable. The real challenge for us is to incorporate all our different influences in our music and make it fluid. That’s difficult at times because of all the different rhythms and time signatures we use, in combination with certain sounds we want to use. The real challenge is to maintain that chaotic side of us and concentrating on writing real songs at the same time.
So how do you actually pull that off? What’s your secret?
There isn’t a secret really. This is what we set out to do from day one. When we started there was a whole range of different bands who started experimenting with different sounds and genres. Hardcore bands were fiddling around with jazz ideas and other bands were looking at other influences, just so they could set themselves apart from their contemporaries. They put all those different influences in one big melting pot and created something new. That’s exactly how we started. Movies, books, everything can be a source of inspiration for us. Even stuff we don’t like can inspire us to write new music.
When listening to One Of Us Is The Killer two names keep popping up in my head, namely Mike Patton and Mr Bungle..
Good! Mr Bungle and Mike Patton are a huge inspiration for our music. Listening to Mr Bungle taught me to be open minded to almost anything and use it as inspiration. Total artistic freedom is very important for us as a band. We toured with Mr Bungle in our early days on their California tour and Mike Patton kind of took us under his wing. His working ethic and attitude were inspirational for us.
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What’s the general theme of One Of Us Is The Killer?
One Of Us Is The Killer is more or less a concept album, because all the music and lyrics come from pretty much the same place this time around. A lot of the theme has do with how, as you get older you stop pointing your finger at everyone else for your frustrations and difficulties and you start looking more inward, realising that you’re responsible for your own happiness and relationships in this world. That’s the central theme that most of the songs and the lyrics revolve around.
So how this does tie in with the the album title?
We chose the title of one of the songs on the album, which is about the difficulties of maintaining relationships, especially for people in an active band like us. That’s always a major challenge. That also goes for the relationships within the band. Constant instability can be
DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN a threat, especially in the relationship between Greg (Puciato) and I. We’re so dependent on each other, especially in the creative aspect, but we’re also such different people. Maintaining such a relationship is a constant battle, even when you don’t realise it.
How do you manage to keep such an intense working relationship going between you and Greg after all these years?
We fuel each other creatively, but the honest answer is not spending too much time together. We live two completely different lives and we both live in different parts of the country. At the same time we have certain things in common that nobody can share except us.
How was the recording process for the new record in comparison to previous experiences?
It went pretty smooth. With every new record we pay more attention to details; like the demoing process for instance. Technological advances enables us to try different things. Especially with this record, we spent a lot of time on small details within the song before we entered the studio. A lot of that was done in my own studio back home. We also experimented a lot in the studio and all those happy little accidents you can hear back on the record.
The new DEP record is the second release on Party Smasher Inc, your own imprint. What triggered you guys to go completely independent?
We wanted to down our own thing really. One thing I’ve learned in the music industry is that there’s no right or wrong way of doing this, especially considering the shape it is in now. Compared to the old days there are way more avenues to distribute your music and it started making us think about new possibilities without being tied a record label telling us what is right or what is wrong. It’s been a very interesting ride so far and we’re working with many different partners all over the world. In Europe we work with BMG and it’s kind of funny to actually go their office to hire them to do stuff for you instead of the other way around. It gives a whole new perspective on things, haha.
So what did you learn along the way business-wise?
It’s very rewarding to keep your finger in every detail of the entire process, but at the same time you have to have a keen sense of what your strengths and weaknesses are. One thing I’ve learned is that time spent being creative is more rewarding than time spent doing secretary work, haha. Over the years I was the guy who did almost everything in terms of running the band; from printing flyers and telling people to come to our show to renting buses and booking plane tickets, pretty much every aspect of the business. For me it was very beneficial to hire someone who could take care of that, so that I can concentrate on what I’m best at, namely being a musician.
Do you have any plans into turning Party Smasher into a full-flegded label or services company for other bands?
It won’t be anything like a label in the traditional sense of the word, but we certainly have plans to release side projects via our imprint and perhaps albums from a couple of our friends. Perhaps one day we’ll expand into a management company in general. At the moment the focus is entirely on Dillinger though.
DEP shows are known for their intensity and ferocity. How do you guys manage to keep such a level of energy up during an entire tour?
That’s a very good question and I don’t really know. I’m currently looking at a list of a few hundred tour dates on my desk and honestly it’s quite overwhelming. The truth is that we don’t know other ways to play our show. The minute we get on stage we keep on going until we’re completely physically exhausted. That’s just the way we do it at a Dillinger show. There’s no other way.
Finally, with such a lengthy tour schedule how do you keep yourself in shape both physically and mentally?
I try to eat healthy food and some of the other band members are into yoga. We try to take some days off every now and then and watch other bands. I like to do physical exercise as well, so when I get the chance I’ll go outside the tour bus and do a couple of push ups. Sometimes that’s really difficult because you’re so exhausted. The truth is that there’s no real answer for it, because we haven’t figured it out yet. Even I’m still surprised we’re able to do it, haha.
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My Dying Bride
My Dying Bride is generally seen as one of the godfathers of the UK doom/death metal movement in the early nineties.They’re still going strong despite several line-up changes over the years. Recently the band released an EP, containing leftover songs from the A Map of All Our Failures sessions. Ghost Cult caught up with singer and frontman Aaron Stainthorpe to discuss the new MDB release, Aaron’s dabblings with poetry and the recent adjustments within the band.
The Manuscript E.P. contains the song with a Swedish title ‘Var Gud Over Er’. What inspired this song and why the Swedish title? It means “Our God over Yours” and concerns the vicious attempt by religious fanatics to convert a fictitious town I placed in Scandinavia, to their own beliefs, which as you would expect, goes horribly wrong. It features some very aggressive vocals as befits a bloody battle over which holy path to follow. And the Swedish title lends itself well to the subject matter and also offers a little mystery to non-Swedish speaking folk. Traditionally, My Dying Bride have used many foreign language titles and this adds to that colourful collection.
One thing your lyrics succeed in doing is combining aggression with vulnerability. Take ‘The Barghest O’Whitby’
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for example. The vicious beast is feared by many but he himself is actually lonely and isolated. What inspires the creation of these great characters? Telling tales is what song writers do and it’s always worth looking at a subject from an unusual angle as it adds something new to the story. There are many beasts in folklore of which all are spoken about from the village’s/humans’ point of view but I decided to create my own script taken from the viewpoint of the dark menace and the emotion it endures which is never normally known.
Have you ever considered becoming an author? Maybe you could produce a companion novel to an album in the future? I’m not sure I could write a book but I do enjoy writing short stories and am actually working on putting all my literature into one volume, including all the lyrics for My Dying Bride along with notes and information on song meanings. It’s a project for the future though and won’t come out for a few years yet.
How do you decide wither a lyric requires a spoken section, clean singing or growling? It all depends on what the character is enduring. Death metal vocals,
METAL’S POETIC EDGE
because of their aggressive nature, naturally give a heightened sense of anger/revenge & hatred and can be very effective when paired with brutal riffing and pounding drums. And of course, the flip side would be the whispering, which conveys sadness and loneliness but also menace too so can be used to draw the listener down what looks like a safe passage only to cut them off with a burst of unexpected horror.
In the last two years you’ve released Evinta, The Barghest O’Whitby, A Map Of All Our Failures and now The Manuscript. What has prompted you to be so prolific as of late? I can’t pinpoint any single reason only to say that we simply have a wealth of idea’s gushing from a cornucopia right now and are even thinking about the next LP which we may even record later in 2013. I feel that when you have the juices of creation babbling up inside you, it’s only natural to let them come forth. Perhaps there is something in the water in Yorkshire that is moving us to compose so frequently.
You have former Akercocke and current Voices drummer David Gray working with you for live shows and your old drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels playing with you in the
Words: Ross Baker
studio. Do you see this arrangement still being manageable with David’s commitments to Voices?
David is no longer with us which is a pity as he was not only an accomplished musician but a wonderful bloke. The relationship we had with both drummers worked well for a couple of years but we now have Dan Mullins back with us so that has added stability to the unit once more and we hope to record with the little fucker on the next LP.
You and Andrew run the business side of the band. How important has it been for you to manage yourselves and retain that control? It’s very important to us, after all, who know the band best? Sometimes the business side of things can take the shine off the creative side but we’ve leant to deal with that over the years. More bands should manage themselves – it’s fun!
What’s next following your festival dates this year?
We are poking around with new ideas for new songs and we may even be able to squeeze the recording of the next full length album in this year, but if not, we’ll take our time and it can come together when it’s ready, but we’re busy and that’s just how I like it.
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FROM THE LUNGS OF DEMONS Words: Matt Hinch
From the wastelands of Las Vegas comes doom quartet Demon Lung and their debut album The Hundreth Name. Drummer Jeremy Brenton and vocalist Shanda Fredrik Spoke (as a singular voice) with Ghost Cult’s Matt Hinch in depth about the the album, how the band came together and the Vegas scene. Behold the words from the lungs of demons.
Demon Lung has only been together for a couple years. Can you tell us how the band came together? Phil [Burns, guitar] and Jeremy [Brenton, drums] grew up in the same area in Indiana and had a horror/doom band there. Jeremy moved out to Vegas and met Pat [Warren, bass] who happened to be from the same area in Louisville. They had a southern/stoner rock band for a while and met Shanda [Fredrick, vocals] in the Vegas scene singing in another band. Phil eventually moved out to Vegas and we started writing together in 2009/2010 just trying to figure out what we could do.
Are there any other films you could see Demon Lung shaping an album around?
We’ve always found inspiration in films because we are horror superfans. On the EP, we had songs about Pet Cemetery, Prince of Darkness, and Hellraiser II. Jeremy has been trying to sell us on a concept about Enemy Mine “from the Drac perspective” for years. That’s definitely not happening haha, but we don’t have anything planned. To be honest, we have been bouncing around an original story for the next one. But until it’s completely fleshed out we are not sure yet.
The album was produced by the great Billy Anderson. What do you feel he brought to the table that other producers may not have?
We have been banking ideas and riffs for this album since before the EP was done. So we probably seem more prolific than we actually are. We knew we wanted to do this concept for our first record on a label, so when we got signed we immediately started piecing the album together. We spent about 4 months demoing and working out all the details writing and re-writing up until the day we left for the studio.
Billy is probably most known for making super noisy and gnarly records, but he has a huge diverse resume with some drastic sonic differences. We didn’t just want a glorified engineer to capture what we had already demoed on better equipment. We wanted someone to be involved as much as possible, and he was very into doing that. He knows how to take the feedback and “dirt” that other producers would do their best to get rid of and make it part of the song, and he’s the best in the world at that. He indulged every idea that we had and added tons of his own on top of it. For as many albums as he’s done, he’s still not jaded to the creative process. He’s an absolute force behind the console, and his enthusiasm is infectious. He was our definite first choice and it’s still surreal that we got to work with him.
How you feel you’ve progressed as a band between the EP and the full-length?
As I stated in my review, Demon Lung is one badass band name. Is there a specific place it came from?
The Hundredth Name is more or less a tribute to the film Warlock. What is it about the film that inspired you to use it as the basis of the album?
Tom Bates’ artwork on the album is stunning. How did the collaboration with him play out?
In the short time you’ve been together you’ve released the Pareidolia EP last year, and The Hundredth Name this year. To what do you attribute your ability to work so quickly?
We were still figuring out our sound on the EP. Parts of those songs were written back in 2009 when we first started jamming, so when we got down to the real writing for the new one, we were a full 3 years removed from those original sessions. We feel that we have now found our sound and Billy Anderson really helped us get them on the record sounding even better than we thought.
The story is fucking awesome! When we were first talking about it, whenever we told anyone they would either immediately start laughing or go “holy shit that’s badass!” The movie itself has some 80s cheese elements, but the story is so cool. It’s one of those films that doesn’t get a lot of credit and we think that it should.
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We used to have a roommate that would get this insane demonic cough after a rough night of partying. He would lie on the floor and do this inhuman cough that was like Glen Benton’s double-tracked vocals. We called it the “demon cough”. One night we were jamming some Electric Wizard and we changed it to the “demon lung”. Not long after that we were naming the band and it came up… seemed to work so we went with it!
We actually went through 3 different covers/artists before Darren [Toms] at Candlelight recommended Tom. We sent him the story, lyrics, and rough mixes and with the first sketch we were like THAT’S IT! He saved our asses too because we were over the deadline at that point, so thanks Tom!
I don’t imagine you’ve been able to quit your day jobs yet. Do you feel like what you do for a living has any effect on what you bring to the band? Yeah, if we did not have day jobs we would be homeless. Last year alone we recorded our own EP, pressed and released it ourselves, paid for a video, merch, and tons of other stuff. All of this eventually led to us getting noticed and signed to a label of course, but without the day jobs we wouldn’t have been able to pay for all of that in the first place. But no, our day jobs have nothing to do with music.
Your being from Vegas kind of surprised me. Is there a metal scene hiding out there in the desert?
It’s small, but it’s growing. A few years ago it was abysmal. Vegas tends to be a bit behind the times, especially when it comes to metal. There is a history though with bands like Goatlord and Doom Snake Cult. They had a doom scene here back in the late 80s! Some of those dudes are now in a band called Spun in Darkness and they are a great band. The good news is that there are a lot of kids that are coming up now with some insanely good stuff. I think everyone got sick and tired of talking about how the scene sucks here and are doing something about it. All kinds of different bands from power, thrash, death, and black metal. And not just generic shit, these kids are good.
It’s awesome to see. We played with a band a few weeks ago called Orbitron that closed their show with a spot-on cover of ANGRA – CARRY ON! A bunch of like 18-19 year old kids shredding some Angra, it was insane.
You seem to be fairly on top of the social media game. How important do you think that is for bands these days?
It’s cool because you get to interact with people instantly. We were kind of slow at first because we didn’t think it was that important. None of us would probably even have a Facebook account if it wasn’t for the band. Facebook is definitely the medium of choice at the moment for people to stay informed on bands and shows, so we try to use it as much as we can.
Most of your tour dates so far have been fairly close to home. Any plans on taking your show a little further afield? We have a little mini-tour with Castle in a few weeks that will take us up to the Bay area and down to Arizona. We are currently booking the first two weeks of July to go as far as Seattle and down the west coast. Because of the day jobs, it’s a bit difficult for all of us to take a month off and tour right now. We are hoping to do something big toward the end of the year, either going all the way across the states or over to Europe. It all depends on what will work the best.
Thanks so much for making the time for us and best of luck with everything! Thank you! The review that you gave us really means a lot, we truly appreciate it.
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PURE PROG-GASM POWER
Words: Helena Rosendahl
Hailing from the mountainous European microstate of Andorra—a territory more famous for its heavy snow than heavy metal—Persefone are a juxtaposition of meat-headed sonic brutality and lush, hypnotic soundscapes. Think The Ocean Collective meets Enslaved, with instrumentals intricate enough to make Stravinsky salivate. After supporting Obituary in 2010 and Leprous at the end of 2012, these majestic musos have now issued their fourth album entitled Spiritual Migration. Keyboardist/vocalist Moe Espinosa is more than happy to answer a couple of questions.
It’s obvious when listening to your albums that you strive to better yourselves with each release. As a band your sound could never be described as formulaic, but what was your vision for Spiritual Migration, and could you talk us through your own creative migration as a band?
For us, the band is a way to express ourselves. We start a “blank paper” every two or three years, so to speak, which we can fill in as we need or feel. As a consequence, we take every album as if it was a jewel. In a way it is, considering the kind of music we set out to do. When we first did Truth Inside the Shades, we were young guys, with a lot to learn. With Core we were more ambitious with what the album structure means. We can say that it was our first approach to prog metal, but still we had a lot to learn. With Shin-ken, it wasn’t that different. We decided to work on that concept, samurai and their way of living, their philosophy, because it was something we really were living in our own lives. This business is a hard business and we have learnt a lot the hard way. More than once we have been thinking about quitting but in the end, as we say in ‘Fall to Rise’, “fall seven times and rise an eighth to become a warrior”. And that’s exactly how we felt. With Spiritual Migration we wanted to give a message. The message of what we are really living in our lives. What we have learnt and how we did it. There’s a lot to be said in just 70 minutes, and we have tried our best to make it work. Now it’s people’s choice to decide if they like it or not. Still we will continue writing on our “blank paper” about us, what we feel or what we need to say.
Seasoned producer Jacob Hansen was involved with your album and mixed it at Hansen Studios in Denmark. What was his contribution to the process and how did it compare to working with his older brother Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Pretty Maids, Rage) on your previous album, Shinken?
Both Jacob and Tommy are great professionals, and great guys! We are so freaking happy with Shin-ken and Spiritual Migration. The thing is that now we are two or three years older than when we mixed Shin-ken with Tommy, and our skills have developed, same as our knowledge on how to record an album. Tommy gave us professional guidance to make the album sound as we wanted for that time. In this case, with Jacob, we wanted a bigger, more massive sound. And he succeeded, of course! We were really blown away by our first listen
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to his mix, and now we are loving the result. This is, undoubtedly, the best sound we have been able to achieve up to this time, even though that looks like a cliché! Haha!
The artwork for Spiritual Migration was created by Travis Smith, responsible for classic album covers for such bands as Iced Earth, Opeth and Katatonia. What was it like working with such an iconic figure?
A dream? Dude, I can remember myself the first day I saw Blackwater Park’s cover art. I was with Carlos and we both agreed that someday, anyhow, we would have a cover with Travis Smith. We admired him for a long time, and you know what? Some months ago, we were trying to contact Travis, and suddenly a mail from him arrived in my mailbox. You know, “Travis Smith - Subject: blah blah blah”. That’s the dream coming true! Funny thing is that later, we realised working with him has been a learning process, discovering how to work with such a renowned artist. He makes things work out and forces the musician to understand how to express a musical idea as a visual one, which is not an easy task at all! After a lot speaking, he started drawing and we were simply amazed with his work. The rest was asking him to do what he knows best. You can check the result. For us, it’s another dream that has come true.
At the end of 2012 you took part in the European Progressive Assault tour co-supporting Norwegian headliners Leprous, alongside the Swedish Loch Vostok and Norwegians Ørkenkjøtt (translation, Desert Meat). How did it go?
Outstanding! We met Leprous and Ørkenkjøtt guys for the first time, but we already knew Loch Vostok for a long time. We have been sharing management for almost 10 years, and we have always know about each other’s releases. In a way, we always wanted to go on tour with them, for some reason, and finally it happened. We have spent some of our greatest time as a band being on tour and we have made a lot of friends. And about the tour itself, it was crazy! You know, some shows were amazing, some others weren’t that good. We had problems in Serbia and we had to cancel the show. But we also came back to some cities we love, and discovered that we have fans in places we never would have thought we could! Touring is amazing.
In this current wave of boundary pushing prog metal, do you feel a sense of camaraderie with your European brothers?
Fashion changes, and it happens with music. There’s music that suddenly everyone is listening to and after a couple years, everything goes to another point. But in a way, I think that prog music, being rock or metal, is not that trendy. You need to work a lot as a musician to do a prog album and maybe that’s why in a way, this kind of music remains in style while others simply decay. So yes, I think that prog metal in Europe is riding high again on the wave, and it will stay there.
For such a small country like Andorra, you’re quite a musical curiosity. Are there any aspects of Andorran culture that you think have shaped your distinctive sound?
Don’t get me wrong. We love Andorra! This is such a beautiful place to live in. It’s a secure country where you can drive five minutes and be in the middle of the woods or 20 and be up a mountain to see an outstanding view. But the country has not shaped us musically; we are mostly influenced by everything we listen to, that is mainly rock/ metal and soundtracks. Besides, Carlos and I are from Spain, and I can’t say that Spanish culture has shaped our music style in anyway.
With such a wealth of genre-pushing bands out there, how do you react to claims that metal is a creatively dying movement and how important do you think creative migration/growth is to an artist today?
It’s not necessary today that every musician must be aware of the musical wave in his time. There were a lot of classical composers that weren’t prepared to evolve with the music that their time was developing. If you listen to Stravinsky, as an example, you can hear music that was ahead of what his contemporary composers and partners were doing at that moment. The same is happening right now. Carlos Lozano, our composer/guitar player, is a good example of a musician always keeping track of where music is going, and you can check it in our own music. From every record to the next, Persefone has added new ingredients to its music, and so it always will...
Spiritual Migration is over 70 minutes long, quite an epic offering. With the current downloading trends, where people are tempted to pick and choose their songs rather than listen to albums, how should people approach your music to do it justice? I should say: ‘Give it a chance’. We know that we are not a one-listen band. You know, you listen to some band’s singles and instantly you
have them on your mp3 player running on repeat. I think this is not happening with Persefone, at least not that fast. If you love music, you have to take a while to listen the songs, to figure out what is happening. I would do a couple or even three listens, and then focus on the songs that you have enjoyed most. That’s the way I would listen to Persefone as a spectator.
With such a complex sound, what is your approach to live shows and what can your fans expect from a Persefone gig?
In the point we are at as a band, we aren’t used to playing headlining shows, so we have a very limited time to play, mostly 40 minutes. Being a band with 10 minute songs, we have to pick very carefully what we are playing and most of the time we decide to go for brutality, because it’s funnier! Of course, we would like to play a show where we play ‘Seed’ from Core for 20 minutes, and then swap to ‘Kusanagi’, and then go to ‘Spiritual Migration’, relaxing after that with ‘The Water Book’ and going back to brutal with ‘Shin-ken Part 1’; but that set would be over 40 minutes, and it’s only four songs! It’s a difficult task to prepare a set list for Persefone. But if you know there’s a song with a huge breakdown, you can expect that in our live performance! (Grins)
And finally, with an album released just a few months into 2013, what does the future hold for Persefone? And could a tour bring you back to the shores of the UK?
Our future is always uncertain and if we talk about music business, it gets even more so. We are doing our best to give proper promotion to the album, and to be able to make another step, at least as good as we did with Shin-ken. First we are going to play some summer festivals and after that we will focus on a fall tour, crossing fingers to make it happen. Of course, UK is always a great place to go and play! Lots of friends and fans there! (Grins)
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ALBUM REVIEWS ALICE IN CHAINS
THE DEVIL PUT DINOSAURS HERE EMI Words: Violet V. Reagen Alice in Chains was among the biggest band to emerge from the grunge scene, combining metal, blues, rock and roll, with an alternativerock edge. The group’s dark, bitter songs, with references to drug addiction and death, captivated the displaced adolescents, inserting the band somewhere between Metallica’s head bangers and Nirvana’s ominous hymns. After the tragic death of Layne Staley in 2002, it left AIC not knowing the future of their iconic band. Audiences relished in the music and the hole he had left in the grunge scene. That is until 2005, when William DuVall joined Alice in Chains as lead singer during the band’s reunion concerts and talk of a new AIC album had begun to
fester. Then in 2009 the rumors were put to rest when the band announced they would be releasing the long-awaited Black Gives Way to Blue. After much success and fans praise, the band stepped back into the studio in 2011 to create and release there 2013 album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. The fist track ‘Hollow’ throws you right into the deep end of the pool, the doom distorted guitars and hypnotic plucking mixed with the highs and lows of intense vocal structure, leave barley enough room to breathe. The chorus hits with crashing symbols and melodic riff while layering true metal squealing solos that pull you down into the euphoric journey. ‘Pretty Done’ in one word, relatable, the sludgy guitars and haunting melodies, lay a path for those who basically don’t care what people think of them. ‘Stone’ is metal infused grunge at its best, with DuValls vocals, he drags you trough the mud of his disgust and filth. Shoving your face into
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the realm of his reality. The guitar riffs and solos are vile; the layering is so precise and powerful. The way this band can project its pain upon the listener is astounding. ‘Voices’ has a different approach with the acoustic strumming and high energy but the hooks and impact are achieved by the staple tempo shifts and twists, Smashing symbols and melodic melancholy. Bringing a little Foo Fighters influence to the mix. ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’ - “The devil put dinosaurs here / Jesus don’t like a queer / The devil put dinosaurs here / No problem with faith / Just fear,” There are two things you never want to get into a conversation or argument about: politics and religion. But why the fuck not, I love a piece like this, spark a fire and see who comes running. The music is psychedelic fuel for the fire. Even though AIC is known and loved for their murky gloom, songs like ‘Lab Monkey’, ‘Low Ceiling’ and ‘Breath on a Window’ offer the perfect change of pace needed mid-album with catchier, faster-paced proxy. ‘Phantom Limb’ wakes you up, heavy chugging guitars and DuValls wails saturated in dark doom haunt you. To me this is the only really heavy track on this album. ‘Choke’ is a subdued anthem of emotion, sacrifice and truth, I think it’s a ideal end song. There is something to be said about the tortured artist. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here lacks the depth of pain and embracement of the underground scene AIC once had. The album however does offer the listener a somewhat experience of high and lows. Sludgy guitars, dark lyrics and haunting melodies, still keep the essence and nostalgia you will find comfort in. I found myself waiting to hear something heavier, loud, abrasive, but for the most part in a whole it just seems to plod along at almost the same pace leaving a bit to be desired. That being said, this is 2013 and whatever direction AIC decides to take the band, I’m sure the fans will embrace them, they are singing to a new generation on minions and change is inevitable.
BLOOD DRIVE Words: Angela Davey It’s been an eventful six years for North Carolina natives ASG, following being dropped from label Volcom they were forced to self release 2007 album Win Us Over. Fast forward to 2013 and the future is now much brighter; their
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modern rock sound has been appreciated and picked up by Relapse Records and they are now celebrating the release of their fourth full length Blood Drive. ASG have provided the soundtrack to many a skate video, due to their powerful brand of gallop metal that gets adrenaline pumping whether you like it or not. Whilst Win Us Over packed full of aggression and intensity, Blood Drive takes a mellower approach with meditative guitar tones and soothing melodies. It could be argued that the band have matured in their approach to music and that their newer, chilled out sound is a progression from the million miles a minute sound they previously possessed. However, the quartet have somehow managed to turn themselves down from 11 all the way to zero – they sound so gentle that they fail to make any lasting impression and highlights on this latest opus are few and far between. In attempting to evolve, these guys have sacrificed their
ability to pack a punch with their music. Straddling a line between groove-laden stoner rock and pop sensibility is a skill that has always come with ease to this band and this is one core element that they have not relinquished their grasp on; despite inarguably falling into the ‘metal’ category, ASG remain completely accessible and have a vibe that even your dear, old mum would appreciate. After the industry putting the boot in and them managing to bounce back so victoriously, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect an audio middle finger, proving that they’re stronger than ever. What ASG have produced instead is a polite “Hello, we’re back...hope that’s alright”. More energy is needed to make sure they aren’t forgotten quicker than the time it takes to listen to this record!
ASH BORER BLOODLANDS GILEAD MEDIA
Words: Angela Davey Barely having had time to recover from the chilling 2012 full length Cold of Ages, Californians Ash Borer are back with another EP of monstrous proportions – two tracks that clock in at over 15 minutes apiece, this EP would rival most studio albums. Both songs are raw and atmospheric, however ‘Oblivion’s Spring’ incorporates a morose post rock guitar loop, that repeats itself throughout the entire track. ‘Dirge/Purgation’ is heavy on the drone and feels slower compared to its predecessor, even becoming sluggish in places. Whilst Ash Borer are fast, brutal and totally uncompromising black metal, what makes them stand out, especially on this EP, is their ability to pull from the influences of other genres in order to enhance their sound. The inclusion
of post rock elements, finely intertwined with drone, whilst occasionally wandering into doom territory make Ash Borer completely abstract. Their music creates a sense of unease, that can be utterly terrifying, however, beauty can be found in discomfort and it seems that this five piece revel in just that.
NAPALM RECORDS Words: Jason Guest Yep, that’s occult spelt with two k’s. I know. They’re evil. They must be. And face it, Atrocity need to prove their mettle after producing not one but two shitty albums of pop covers. Those songs were bad enough already without some death metal band with a keyboard and a drummer that’s evidently
bored by the songs (watch the video to their cover of ‘The Sun Never Shines On TV’; they could have sat a mannequin behind the kit and nobody would have known) inexplicably prolonging their life. At least Six feet Under choose metal songs to disgrace themselves with. 2010’s After The Storm did little to restore the band to former glories. Okay, so they’re a band with ambition, but it’s been a while since it’s been achieved. And so appears Okkult, its intriguing album cover not-so-subtly hinting at what we should expect; esoteria, mysticism, erotica, and magic await us no doubt. It comes as no surprise that a dramatic intro lures us into Okkult’s promise of many a mystery. And then, of course, the death metal erupts in a barrage of trem-picked riffs and hyperblasted drums before the groove kicks in and Atrocity whisk us away in an irrepressible onslaught of brutality. With keyboards and choral vocals accentuating the esoteric, the
dark promise of the album cover comes to life and we are subsumed in its darkly magical and deathly splendour. Not a bad start, but then comes the abhorrently titled ‘Death By Metal’ (really?). While not as bad as it’s moniker suggest, the brutal level that’s been established so far is tainted by that very refrain. So far, so Eurovision. With the intro to ‘March Of The Undying’, the album begins to sound a little carnivalesque, pantomime even. ‘Haunted By Demons’ opens, like most of the tracks here, with a haunting intro. Thus begins an album of track after track of pretty standard and therefore ineffectual simple-to-the point-of-tedium riffs and fairly unimaginative lead breaks. While the string-scratching in the main riff of ‘Murder Blood Assassination’ attempts to bring a new dimension to the deathly grooves, the grim and gruesome side of the album is overshadowed by the pompous production. In terms of structure, this holds little in the way of surprise. Time and again, the chorus
appears exactly where you don’t want them too; they are exactly at the point where the tracks get interesting and provide an opening for development. But no, with such promise in their hands, they let it go and fall back into the tried-and-tested-and-oh-so-tedious. On the surface this is brutal and grand, its mighty edifices towering over the little people down below whom it could crush with one mighty stomp. But that’s all there is to it, surface. This album is all production, all inflated, vacuous bombast. It’s got the industrial mass of Rammstein without the body; it’s got the technicality of death metal but none of the brute force; and it bears the grandeur of gothic but lacks the substance to make it a truly moving experience. These guys have been at it for almost thirty years and it’s disappointing to find them taking such an ambitious idea in such a disappointing direction.
BLACK TUSK TEND NO WOUNDS
Words: Caitlin Smith The Devil went down to Georgia, and Georgia spat out Black Tusk. Riding alongside the likes of Kylesa and Baroness, they are rapidly making a name for themselves with their own brand of ‘swamp metal.’ Their latest offering of Tend No Wounds is no different: dirty and downright disgusting rock n’ roll record, all infused with a heavy dose of southern sludge. It’s hard to miss the bands obvious punk roots here, with barked vocals rising abrasively within the mix. The real focus of the songs however is not on vocals but in the backing. The talent with this band lies in their ability to create a full sound using only three members, and their bluesy guitar and gritty distortion containing a real groove that propels you from start to finish. Opening the EP with ‘A Cold Embrace,’ we
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ALBUM REVIEWS are greeted by chaotic guitar riff that slowly descends into sludge, bringing with it a relentless push rapidly towards the next song. The intro however promised more than the album really provided. An odd mix between brilliance, with ‘The Weak And The Wise’ churning out catchy riffs and ‘In Days Of Woe’ providing a great stoner classic, and filler, they flicker between the repetitive and the extraordinary. Although still embracing their signature sound with this EP, there is a sense that even the faster songs are much less urgent than their previous releases. The band has played a little on the safe side with this record, and with that there hasn’t been much room for anything to truly break any real ground. Despite this, it’s still a great record with such a strong sense of nostalgia running through it we should really be pulling it out of a dusty tape box than throwing it on CD.
releases have been less than inspiring, a metal by numbers approach to song writing. The addition of Bolt’s vocal talents however has raised the bar for this album, hauling it out of the old school and squaring it solidly in the modern day. The band has obviously worked hard to create a flow through the album, with each song alternating between full-on instrumental assault and groove-laden riffs, and although effective, does begin to feel like the songs are written to a template. Choosing to self-title this album is a bold move by the band, making a statement that this is the signature sound, and the album more than deserves this title. It is a brutal and unrelenting kick in the stomach from start to finish. Perhaps it isn’t breaking any major ground musically, but for anyone after a tome to tradition that isn’t just another Cannibal Corpse copycat, this album will break your neck every time.
BLOOD RED THRONE
Words: Caitlin Smith
Words: MetalMatt Longo
Firmly rooted in the old ways, this death metal quintet has always remained dedicated to keeping alive the traditional sound. Since their conception fifteen years ago, Blood Red Throne has been nothing short of prolific, releasing an album every other year since their debut Monument Of Death in 2001. This year is no exception with the offering up of their self-titled seventh studio album. A demonic screech from Bolt hurdles us headlong into opening song ‘Soulseller’, revealing from the start that this is no ordinary release from the band. Having always teetered on the edge of generic, their previous
When I was a kid, it seemed like everything I owned was made in Taiwan — toys, clothes, electronics… you name it. And it seems odd that China has, for now, ostensibly superseded Taiwan, since both countries use “China” in their name, and things have gotten mixed up a few times during the 20th century. Chthonic, on the other hand, are not mixed up. They refuse to forget their homeland’s bloody past, utilizing horrific incidents during mankind’s currently-monikered “Century of Warfare” as source material. Couple that with their amazing humanitarian work, and you have a band who walks as well as they talk.
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Chthonic have kept the same lineup since Seediq Bale dropped in 2005, and though their ethos has remained, the band has also adapted since Spinefarm started backing them in 2009. First, both of their logos were redesigned, then they wisely ceased wearing corpsepaint reminiscent of Scandanavian black metal brethren, and instead opted for the self-proclaimed “ghostpaint”, culled from Taoist legend. A few years ago, when interviewing vocalist/ frontman/erhu player Freddy Lim, he revealed that the accompanying stories struck him as interesting but were not dogmatically believed; the same goes for the spells scrawled on the Left Face of Maradau. Rather, the focus of Chthonic has been, like their name, bound not only to this earth but rooted on a deeper level, remembering the sacrifice of recent ancestors — often a literal living hell. Bú-Tik again revisits the 228 Massacre first referenced on Mirror of Retribution, only instead of a fictional frame story that references reallife incidents, their latest effort delves further into the genocide, yet still find glimmers of hope in what the band calls “righteous violence and justifiable defense”. Songs like ‘Defenders Of Bú-Tik Palace’ demonstrate (especially in the accompanying video) the nobility of resistance to oppression, even in the face of insurmountable odds and likely death. The symphonic majesty is still present, with keyboardist CJ Kao adding tasteful touches, commanding reflexive reactions to both warm and chill your ears; both ‘Arising Armament’ and ‘Undying Rearmament’ give a Morriconeesque atmosphere to the proceedings, as tireless drummer Dani Wang maintains a strong backbone with Doris Yeh’s somewhatburied bass (although her growls are always welcome). Excellent riffing, solos, and incorporation of the erhu decorate ‘Supreme Pain For The Tyrant’ with a crowd-ready battle cry of “Let me stand up like the Taiwanese / Only justice will you bring you peace”. ‘Sail Into The Sunset’s Fire’ surprised me with its maritime swing versus blackened blasts, and then AGAIN with the sweet solo — apparently, Jesse Liu just decided to get wicked catchy with brilliant effect, because he is not afraid to add lovely little flourishes throughout this album. This sound may have something to do with Rickard Bengtsson, who also produced their last album Takasago Army, thus understanding Chthonic from past experience. Or perhaps since this is the first album since concluding the ‘Souls Reposed’ trilogy of the last three albums, the group felt energized enough to
try new things (like shoot the aforementioned high-flying, high-concept martial arts flick as lead single). The overall mix is well-balanced, so you can hear the subtle touches while still feeling fully engulfed in sonics. Freddy enunciates better than ever, and placement of his erhu is superb. Bú-Tik evidences Chthonic’s undying love and loyalty to their homeland — particularly its warriors for social justice — to whom they continue to act as a willing channel.
SIX DAY RUN EKTRO RECORDS Words: Dan Swinhoe Every year in New York City, people gather at Corona Park, and take part in a tradition over
140 years old. Called The Self-Transcendence Six Day Race, they run around a one-mile paved track, as many times as they can, night and day, for six days. If that sounds like your idea of personal hell, but you’d like to watch other people do it, Mika Taanila’s short film, Six Day Run, might be up your street. Finnish experimental rockers Circle have provided the soundtrack, and it’s exhausting. Made up of six instrumental tracks, or days, they each cover about five minutes and have their own distinct identities. ‘Day One’ is the indie rocker, ‘Day Two’ the industrial beat, Days Three and Four the jazz and desert rock days. What they all have in common is the relentless drums beats. The drums open each song, and loop continuously. The band cover a range of styles, and concept is undoubtedly avant-garde prog at its core. The minimalism of each song is built slowly in layers. Starting with the pounding drums, then
adding simple guitar and bass loops gradually, building the intensity, often inviting waves of synth and ambient sounds accompany the march. The whole experience can be quite hypnotising and disorientating. The beat may stay the same but it’s very easy to get lost within it all, latching on to the electronic beats and xylophone of ‘Day Six’ or the pop and reverb of ‘Day One’s guitar loops. Whatever you get lost in, the drums are always there, running constantly. It can be hard to evaluate film soundtracks without the context of the accompanying film, but the relentlessness of the songs replicate the feel of a marathon perfectly, and the density that the layers and layers of loops create leaves you feeling fatigued by its end. Though Six Day Run is an interesting listen, but lacks enough replay value to be anything more than a curio.
DARK BUDDHA RISING DAKHMANDAL SVART RECORDS Words: Angela Davey The fifth studio album from Finnish drone trio Dark Buddha Rising is intense, psychedelic and laden with doom. You won’t listen to this record as much as you will experience it; it’s a challenging voyage to set sail on, but is richly rewarding for those willing to commit from start to finish. Each track is named with a mere letter which, when put together, roughly spells out the album title Dakhmandal(DKHMNL). ‘K’ is punishingly heavy, borrowing ride cymbal abuse from the mighty Bongripper and combining ritualistic, haunting vocals that create an enormous sense of unease and
dread. An iron will is needed to make it to the end of this record, as it will hammer away at your resolve and make you question your very existence. There is nothing remotely beautiful or relaxing about the sounds emitted from these guys; this is pure musical heroin that will show you the end of the world, whilst cradling your head in its lap. From start to finish DBR succeed in taking the listener on a bad acid trip; this is evil in audio format.
THE HUNDRETH NAME CANDLELIGHT RECORDS Words: Matt Hinch The bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada have spawned a dark debut in The Hundredth Name by doom quartet Demon Lung. (And I just have to say, if Demon Lung isn’t the coolest fucking band name you’ve heard in a coon’s age, I don’t know what is.) The Hundredth Name is a concept album based on the film Warlock. Specifically the story follows the Son of Satan reassembling the Devil’s Bible, thus allowing the name of God to be spoken in reverse, undoing creation. Heavy stuff. Following traditional doom stylings, Demon Lung lays it on thick with monstrous tone and mighty riffs. Guitarist Phil Burns and bassist Patrick Warren play with such force you’d think they’d break the strings with every note. Drummer Jeremy Brenton is no less committed, keeping (slow) time and shaking foundations with a thunderous kick drum. Narrating the 53 magnificent minutes is Shanda Fredrick. Remember that name. Mixing Royal Thunder’s Mlny Parsonz and Kittie’s Morgan Lander (singing not screaming), Fredrick’s voice has depth and control that grabs the listener by the soul, locking your attention to her words. Single ‘Eyes of Zamiel’ while not the lead track, explains the plot as well as giving the listener a feel for Demon Lung. One can hear and feel the doom in the slow, pounding riffs as well as the galloping ones. Producer Billy Anderson did an excellent job of ensuring the songs sound absolutely huge without resorting to pure volume. The results are songs that are ungodly heavy while exuding the warmth of the band’s desert locale. ‘Decade Twice Over a Day’ is a dynamic tune with bonecrushing weight, quieter moments and eerie Hammond organs. The half-whispered incantation on ‘Heathen Child’ is so convincing
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ALBUM REVIEWS you’ll get shivers. It’s also one track in which the listener can hear the influence (intended or not) of Electric Wizard and sludge forefathers Crowbar in huge tone and riffs punctuated by guitar squeals. Bookended by the longest and most epic tracks ‘Binding of the Witch’ and ‘Incantation (The Hundredth Name)’ this album is nothing short of devastating. The riffs have enough gravity to alter planetary orbits. Notes hang on the strings like so much congealed blood only to be thrown off when the band kicks into high(er) gear. Demon Lung wrap the listener in thick atmosphere like swirling smoke, transporting the experience beyond the superficial. For a band that’s only been around since 2011, Demon Lung have already mastered the arts of doom and gloom providing the listener with an escape from the ordinary. Incredible tone, monster riffs, superb song writing and magnificent vocals should have Demon Lung and The Hundredth Name on the
are as refined as each track is moving. An intelligent and emotive album, Enochian Theory, with their lush orchestration, a broad palette of synth sounds, and a curious fragility permeating the ornate compositions, have proved themselves, again, masters of finesse. With the tempos barely shifting into the high gears, Enochian Theory’s dynamic control comes to the fore with the intensity levels instead being utilised to convey the band’s musical and conceptual diversity. That said, the Life… And All It Entails does become monotonous from time to time and so as the album proceeds, it begs for either a faster tempo to kick in with or an impassioned riff that would bring a bit of turmoil to the otherwise safely paced aesthetic. At times – and all too often – it feels as of the band are clinging to the safety barrier and unwilling to submit themselves completely to life and its utterly incomprehensible unpredictability and so there’s a certain complacency
O’Malley (Sunn 0)))), Atsuo (Boris), Michio Kurihara (Ghost) and Bill Herzog (Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter) is going to inspire not only an instantaneous following from fans of avant-garde metal, but also very high expectations. Thankfully though the collective skill and musicianship on display here means that Ensemble Pearl doesn’t disappoint, though it may come as a big shock to some. The cast list would be a lot of people’s ideal supergroup for a very slow, heavy and psychedelic tinged rock/metal project. And yes some of those elements are present, but the end result is much more sublime in its scope. Blending elements of doom, avant-garde, psychedelic, folk, classical and ambient music the album always feels as though it is going through a metamorphosis from subdued ambience into discordant bliss. As natural sounds fade into instruments and haunting, droning electronics swirl through the various compositions the atmosphere maintains a
lips of doom fans and metal fans in general for a long time to come. To say The Hundredth Name is a modern doom masterpiece is nothing short of the truth.
that pervades the album and renders it frustratingly lacking. Intelligent in design and accomplished in terms of musicianship, other than the heavy ‘For Your Glory, Great Deceiver’, this is too light to be as moving as is promised by the opening three tracks. But Enochian Theory’s ambition can’t be faulted and they’ve done an impressive job of attempting to render the many facets of this absurd existence against a sophisticated prog rock backdrop.
hypnotic hold on the listener. The overlap with Sunn 0))) and Boris will be noticeable to long-time fans of the bands, but it really is more down to the musician’s personal stylistic preferences that stand out rather than a simple Frankenstein’s monster. O’Malley’s steely guitar tone is ever-present but at much lower decibels that we are used to, giving it a sweeter and more appealing sound. While Atsuo’s drumming is altogether more reserved and patient than to be expected, but alongside Herzog’s bass creates a tense backbone to the songs. The opening track ‘Ghost Parade’ is a nice and doomy piece that slowly changes from something quite simple with the bass and drums keeping time, to something more intriguing as the guitars create ambient textures over each other. ‘Painting On A Corpse’ gets more complex in its approach and slowly flickers and burns away as the delay runs its course before being overwhelmed with noisy feedback. ‘Wray’ is more of a
ENOCHIAN THEORY LIFE…AND ALL IT ENTAILS MASCOT RECORDS Words: Jason Guest Well, the album title may be a bit naff but it’s that kind of ambitious, self-indulgent pretentiousness that such a title connotes that makes Enochian Theory’s latest album a compelling listen. As with their previous releases, Encohian Theory’s success lies in their confident approach to exploration and creation of music that gives little authority to the bounds of genre or style. Always multi-faceted and multi-layered, the song structures are of elaborate design and intricately intertwined lines whose nuances
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ENSEMBLE PEARL ENSEMBLE PEARL DRAG CITY Words: Sean M. Palfrey Immediately Ensemble Pearl’s self-titled debut has a lot to live up to. A project consisting of luminaries such as Stephen
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traditional ambient track with its hanging glass harps and creaking strings creating an airy and almost oriental atmosphere. The twelveminute long ‘Island Epiphany’ walks a similar path to ‘Painting On A Corpse’, sees the guitars really cut loose as Atsuo and Herzog provide an unwavering rhythm. ‘Giant’ is a more discordant style of ambient which sees the various droning elements grating and feeding back on each other for a very spooky and moody piece. The album’s closer ‘Sexy Angle’ is a near twenty-minute-long monster of a track that is not dissimilar to the first two songs on the album with its slow plodding pace, but it benefits greatly from numerous ambient embellishments for a very haunting closer. Ensemble Pearl will not be many people’s cup of tea. It is a little repetitive and very hard going with some long track lengths present. However if you’re a fan of the musicians or ambientinfused avant-garde then this first offering is simply a must have.
orientated material like ‘Head Of The Demon’ and ‘What You Become’. In the form of ‘Tomb’ there’s even room for a semi-ballad. It acts as a welcome reprieve where the listener can catch his/her breath. These gents certainly know how to hold their instruments. Especially the tasteful guitar work by Matt and Ol Drake turns Skull into genuine ear candy. Famed knob twister Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Samael, Lock Up) took care of the production chores. He gave Skull a clear, yet heavy sound. I can’t say that Evile scores a lot of points when it comes down to originality, but they pull it off with style and tons of passion. Skull is a solid and thoroughly enjoyable thrash metal album. Well done!
Words: Sean M. Palfrey
Hebosagil may be the angriest-sounding band in Finland right now. Their third album, Lähtö, is 26 minutes of pure abrasive punk sludge. Over all too quickly, it’s the dirty rock and roll album for a drunken brawl. The five-piece, made up of vocalist Tatu Junno, Remi Rousselle & Antti Karjalainen on guitars, bassist Oskari Kähkönen and Pete Miettunen on Drums, channel Hardcore punk through the swampy grime of acts such as Superjoint Ritual and EyeHateGod. The noise these guys create is frantic, unhinged. Swinging from dirty, grimy stoner riffs to all out furious punk shredding. From opener ‘Ei ole mitään mihin palata’ to closer ‘Juippi’, frontman Junno’s vocals often take center-stage. Though speaking in his native Finnish, his gravelly barks suite the chaos the rest of the band creates, the rage is on show
UK-based Evile is one of the leading exponents within the so-called revival thrash metal movement. The band formed back in 2004 and with three critically acclaimed albums under their belt they’re slicing themselves a nice piece of the action. Let’s see what Skull, their latest record, has to offer. It has to be said that Evile acquits themselves well on Skull. Thirty years of thrash metal history get expertly moulded into excellent song material by Ol Drake and his musical companions. There’s plenty of variation to be found on the album. Fast-paced scorchers like ‘Underworld’, ‘The Naked Sun’ and ‘Outsider’ work in perfect tandem with more groove
JERUSALEM IN MY HEART MO7IT AL-MO7IT
Words: Dan Swinhoe
Words: Raymond Westland
for all to hear. It’s hard not to enjoy Hebosagil. The album is full of short sharp shocks to they system, each one brimming with whiplash-inducing riffs. One of the later highlights, ‘Valmis Mihin Vaan’, opens with a hypnotically headbanging before letting loose and shifting up the gears for some extra aggression. But despite how noise some and abrasive the music is, it retains the rock and roll quality that makes it fun. In many ways, Hebosagil are Finland’s answer to Orange Goblin; plenty of dirty rock grooves, gravelly vocalist, and it all sounds great fun. At 26 minutes, Lähtö doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. It arrives, makes a lot of noise, and leaves. A brilliant dose of grimy, jagged rock and roll.
Mo7it Al-Mo7it from Jerusalem In My Heart is a surprising and very enjoyable experience. Led by Montreal-based Radwan Ghazi Moumneh the album fuses contemporary electronics with traditional Arabic music. And despite being in existence for eight years now, the core trio are only now committing their work to an album format having preferred highly artistic public performances for the majority of their existence. There never seems to be a set formula to this album with some of the songs purely a capella, some more electronic and others featuring more traditional instruments in non-traditional arrangements. The end result is a gentle merging of styles and cultures into a form that becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Songs like ‘Koll lil-mali7ati fi al-khimar al-aswadi’ ,’Yudaghdegh al-ra3ey wala al-ghanam’ and ‘Amanem ‘ are the most completely constructed songs on the album blending electronics (and
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GhOST CULT 35 Immediately Ensemble Pearl’s
ALBUM REVIEWS traditional instruments in the latter’s case) and Arabic vocals in three very distinct ways. While ‘3andalib al-furat’, ‘Ya dam3et el-ein 3’ and ‘Ko7l el-ein, 3oumian el-ein ‘ are based more around traditional instrumentation without vocals. The band’s style is perhaps best summed up by the cryptic style of the track list that uses colloquial or “mobile” Arabic which substitutes numbers for words rather than traditional text or a purely anglicised font. The effect is both enchanting and unsettling as the beauty of the traditional instruments is counterbalanced by the colder and somewhat harsher electronic elements. When combined with the prayer-like vocals the whole atmosphere becomes darker yet so compelling. The re-occurring sound of bird song ties the whole album together as it creates a sense of journey, moving from open spaces into closed ones and back again. The production and mixing do vary in its effects giving each song a unique flavour. Rather than having a certain sound for the album some tracks are cleaner and others a lot dirtier in style. This may annoy some people with its inconsistency, however it really emphasises the emotional heart of the songs to a greater degree while also creating a sense of uncertainty at what is coming next. The mixing of Arabic and Western styles isn’t really all that new by any stretch of the imagination. However Jerusalem In My Heart still manage to create something that really stands out and challenges the listener.
Ihsahn, and the very involvement of Vegard Tveitan (plus his wife Heidi, who is also the sister of keyboard/vocalist Einar Solberg) has helped project this band to greater heights. 2011’s Bilateral was fairly gonzo without being straight goofypants, and considering its dramatic departure from their ambitious 2009 debut Tall Poppy Syndrome, it’s no surprise that the ever-simply-titled Coal is again that much different. Coal starts with a strangely jarring march, but it’s soon clear the skeleton will be fleshed out, and nearly every unearthed element is welcome — like the multi-part a capella vocal harmonies throughout ‘Foe’ — an indicator that Leprous have clearly expanded their compositional potential. So as not to favor form over fervor, ‘Chronic’ brings the brutal balance back in check; and once the following title track is squeezed hard enough, it too unleashes deadly shredding diamonds. Then ‘The Cloak’ just envelops in gorgeousness
a lively midsection to keep things moving, and Ihsahn returns with guest vocals for ‘Contaminate Me’, which also features a gentle layer of classical violin, and a spazzedout, possibly ad-libbed conclusion. Overall, there’s less additional players on Coal, but what results is a deeper, more introspective version of Leprous — a logical pendulum swing from the meticulous madness of their sophomore set. All quibbles can become assets when dealing with groups like Leprous. These young Norwegian visionaries display purposeful progression and remain relatable while they persistently evolve. Having consistently set and surmounted daunting bars so early in their career, serious further exploration must still be in store. native Finnish, his gravelly barks suite the chaos the rest of the band creates, the rage is on show
as Solberg’s clean throat takes center stage, imploring “Will you cry tomorrow reflecting on yesterday’s action / Cry tomorrow draining your satisfaction” — a curious choice as first video too, as it’s more accessible and less overtly metallic, yet still plumbs the darkness. In the first of three ‘Side B’ songs to venture into 9-minute territory, ‘The Valley’ interweaves angular, staccato rhythms within a fuzzy whirlpool of feedback and the most memorable vocal melodies on Coal, rounded out by an excellent syncopated performance from bassist Rein Blomquist and drummer Tobias Andersen. Vocals soar to even greater heights approximately three minutes into ‘Salt’, although the song abruptly ends with a few seconds of what seems like in-studio noise. For a band so outwardly concerned with precision, it’s odd that Leprous would tarnish their luster, but it could be there for an as-yet-undetermined function. Everything means something. The nearly 10-minute sprawl of ‘Echo’ finds
INSIDEOUT Words: MetalMatt Longo I don’t care who you are — start managing people, and prepare for a bag of dicks. They may blossom from you, they may sprout from elsewhere, but trust me… bag of dicks. Probably because no one likes to be told what to do, and despite any pre-existing relationship, things get strained — which is perhaps why Leprous grows adventurous when released from the reign(rein?) of Vegard “Ihshan” Tveitan. This is not to suggest potential dissolution nor unhappy work conditions (after all, I’m not on tour with these folks), but it’s easy to imagine how one might feel a greater personal investment in their own creation. Actually, maybe I got a bit overzealous with that opening bit. Leprous has made staggering advances since their 2010 recruitment tour with
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LIVE IN MUNICH SEASON OF MIST Words:Jason Guest
With Live In Munich, Misery Index have bestowed upon us little more than the opportunity to recreate the Misery Index gig experience in our very own homes. So, after setting up an ersatz venue in the biggest room in your house and inviting a bunch of predominantly male death metal maniacs to your place, you can press play and proceed to smash the shit out of your much-loved abode. That is, of course, unless you happen to find yourself standing behind the guy that’s taller than everyone else. Nope? Just me then… Anyway, for those unfamiliar with the codes of an extreme metal gig, vocalist Jason Netherton’s between-song banter will ensure
that this experience reaches its full potential. He does have a way with words so it’s perhaps best to explore his, erm, “poetic” penchant. So for instance, when he insists that we “keep this shit going!” between opening tracks ‘Sleeping Giants’ and ‘The Carrion Call’ he’s using a metaphor. What he means is that the band will be maintaining the show’s rapid momentum throughout the set and you are duty-bound to keep up. Got it? Okay, good, because later, just before ‘The Great Depression’, he repeats this imperative once more, this time affixing the vulgar noun, “motherfucker”. This does not mean – and I want to be absolutely clear on this – that you have to fuck your mother… well, unless you want to. Live and let live and all that. With ‘The 7th Cavalry’s imperative to “Headbang your god damn face off!” and that he wants to see “everybody fucking headbanging” to the “fucking ripper” ‘The Illuminaught’, I think by know it’s fairly clear that we shouldn’t take everything he says literally. So when he bellows “Let’s get this circle pit going motherfucker, old school style. I wanna see this fucking place erupt. No more fucking standing around, no more free fucking passes,” you should be on the same wavelength. But let’s not mistake his aggressive idiolect as evidence that he is completely disturbed because he can be polite too. With closing track ‘Traitors’, he begins with an open and honest statement about his desire to “see everyone in the fucking room screaming along with this one,” and quickly follows it with a courteous request, asking “Can you do that for me?” A consummate and considerate showman I think you’ll agree. Misery Index usually take three years between full length filling the gaps with EPs or splits, so we’re due another release pretty soon. A live DVD could have been an option, but who’d pay the asking price for a thirty minute show? With Heirs to Thievery released in 2010, this is a gap filler, not necessarily a bad one, but most will happily wait for the next studio album…
ORPHANED LAND ALL IS ONE
CENTURY MEDIA Words: Raymond Westland Orphaned Land are seen by many as Israel’s premier metal outfit, and rightfully so. Albums like Mabool (2004) and The Never Ending Way Of ORWarriOR (2010) are mandatory purchases for any serious fan of forward thinking and adventurous metal. Especially the latter record established the band as a force to
be reckoned with. Enter All Is One, Orphaned Land’s latest release. The Never Ending Way Of OrWarriOR is arguably the band’s most complex and elaborate release to date. Long and drawnout compositions full of progressive twists and turns dominate the album. But All Is One is quite a different animal. Orphaned Land’s trademark lush Asian orchestration and atmosphere are still very much intact. However, most of the songs are shorter and more compact, in very much the same way Mastodon simplified and refined their musical formula on The Hunter. Vocalist Kobi Farhi mostly utilises his clean singing voice. Only ‘Fail’ contains some growls and screams. I do of course miss the intricacy and complexity of the previous album. However, All Is One is a fantastic record in its own right. Tracks like ‘The Simple Man’ and ‘Brother’
are some of the finest songs the band has ever written; and ‘Freedom’, ‘Let The Truce Be Known’ and ‘Children’ still possess a very strong progressive undercurrent. All Is One is a very elegant album, thanks to the wonderfully balanced song material, the graceful arrangements and the tasteful guitar work by Yosi Sassi. This album really takes its listener through the sand, the ruins and the blood-stained history of the Holy Land. The album is produced by the band and Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Paradise Lost), giving All Is One its crisp yet heavy sound. This is very different record compared to its illustrious predecessor, but it still managed to captivate my imagination. It’s a grower, so it will take several sessions before the record really sets in. However, once All Is One gets under your skin you’ll realise you’re in for the musical trip of a lifetime. Heartily recommended.
THE SUN WILL RISE SOON ON THE FALSE AND THE FAIR THE END RECORDS Words: Chris Tippell Pushmen supposedly take their name from Japanese used service of ‘Pushmen’; people employed to help cram passengers into crowded trains. An apt (intentionally?) moniker considering the range of influences that they have crowbarred into their sound; and also at just how uncomfortable and overcrowded they sound as a result. Overall this mostly draws from the likes of Neurosis and early Mastodon in its raw and sludgy tone, with the odd hints of dynamic shifts (askin to Dillinger Escape Plan) and some nods to hardcore, whilst vocally it shows
a very abrasive, shouted style. The album is at its best when it focuses more on the straight up sludge trail, where although tried and tested is where it is most clear. Elsewhere it does begin to sound a little too messy and inaudible. Vocally this draws a lot of comparisons to a lot of hardcore alumni, in its ferocious and fast paced nature and in such a band would prove very formidable. Likewise, here where they fit they are a strong point; but all too often they just don’t flow completely with the music being played. Sun Will Rise Soon...attempts to be a very ambitious undergoing with the sheer amount of influences at play, and at times it seems to work very well; but all too often the end result is a bit overly chaotic and cluttered. When it is more streamlined, interestingly is when it works best and feels comfortable; like the uncrowded carriage.
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ALBUM REVIEWS TESSERACT ALTERED STATE CENTURY MEDIA Words: Ross Baker Since debut album One was released to much critical acclaim prog metal pioneers TesseracT have been dogged with the departure of not one but two lead vocalists. While such adversity would have broken manly lesser acts, the Milton Keynes act picked themselves up and following the departure of American singer Elliot Coleman came across young Brighton based frontman Ashe O’Hara. The move has proved a shrewd one as O’Hara’s voice has a wealth of emotion and power that belies his cherub like appearance. Following up such a resound praised record especially after such crippling circumstances TesseracT have refocused with a new album
that retains the technically and emotional depth which made the debut so essential. Boldly hinged around the concept of ‘”The Law Of Conservation” which states energy is transferred between the four states of matter, mind, reality and energy the stabbing polyrthymic structures remain but with a greater emphasis upon melodic hooks. Altered State disowns any screaming vocals which were present on the debut which the band felt they need “in order to fit into the scene”. It’s a bold move but one that paid off well. Ashe’s delicate haunting notes more than match the unmistakable impression Dan Tompkins left on One with numbers like ‘Of Matter – Retrospect’ showing an emotional range rarely felt within the myopic scope of the average metal band. Familiar complex rhythms and patterns are present but the emphasis has shifted towards a more mature and reflective direction. O’Hara’s performance is simply stunning. First single ‘Nocturne’ is brimming with passion and
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sincerity. His angelic tones reaching for the heavens while the swirling mass of guitars churn malevolently beneath him. Considering the impact One had upon British metal TesseracT could be forgiven for resting upon their laurels yet Altered State expands their vision adding bold new elements. The elegant jazz saxophone on ‘Calabi-Yau’ is curveball and ‘Exile’ breaks new ground with some delicate acoustic chords further enhancing the reflective mood of the song. A couple of tracks standout from the pack but Altered State” is best experienced as a whole piece. Distilling and focusing all their frustrations into creating a record which transcends the boundaries of the subgenre they found themselves a part of TesseracT have become the benchmark for progressive acts the world over.
THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT TETRAGRAMMATON
SEASON OF MIST Words: Matt Hinch A little research indicates that “Tetragrammaton” is a four-letter transliteration meaning “God” essentially. So for Dutch entity The Monolith Deathcult (TMDC from here on in) to name their latest hour of death metal destruction after such a concept must mean the content within spreads it influence over all creation. While perhaps not as omnipotent as “god”, Tetragrammaton is worthy of a certain degree of reverence. TMDC is Sjoerd Visch (drums), Michiel Dekker (guitar, vocals), Carsten Altena (keys, samples), Robin Kok (vocals, bass) and Ivo Hilgenkamp (guitars). This quintet lays down a punishing brand of death metal littered with a number of quirks moving it beyond the realm of “typical”. Samples, synths, strings, horns and keyboards add a measure of
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substance to the sound, making it larger than it may appear. Opener ‘God Amongst Insects’ sets the scene with brutal death metal riffage, destructive drums, dramatic solos and guttural vocals. All that, plus the orchestral touches found throughout. It’s here we’re also introduced to the thematic elements present in the form of struggle. References to Unicron and energons lead the listener to the conclusion that it is indeed Optimus Prime, or rather Orion Pax (do your research) narrating at various intervals. But not every track follows a storyline based on the greater Transformers universe. ‘Human Wave Attack’, ‘Qasr’ and ‘Asimlu!!’ speak about conflict new and old in the Middle East, both from the defensive and offensive point of view. In these places, the orchestral accompaniment meshes with Middle Eastern melodies. ‘Drugs, Thugs, and Machetes’ takes on the Rwandan genocide with tribal beats, Soulfly-like groove and chants of “Black power! Hutu power!” Ominous synths resonate on the track like a curse descending amidst blistering solos. And there’s even an MLK Jr. sample! What’s more, ‘Todesnact von Stammheim’ is sung entirely in German. Regardless of language, “Communism” is universally understood. TMDC is all over the map! In pulling from other genres, TMDC are not afraid to break the mould of what’s considered proper in a genre as mired in tradition as death metal. It’s refreshing to hear those technobeats and hard-techno screams, orchestral flourishes and narration. Tetragrammaton is modern in terms of speed and brutality but those other aspects give it a sense of agelessness. Although TMDC covers some serious history, it’s not all serious business. One must admit that some of the story lines outside the documented conflicts are far reaching, but that’s all part of the appeal. Go read some other press and see how much of a juxtaposition there is between the way TMDC present themselves and a track like ‘Human Wave Attack’. Oh, and there’s some dead space at the end of ‘Asimlu!!’ but keep listening. It’s hilarious.
SUPERNATURAL CAT Words: Matt Hinch Before I’d even heard a note from Zolle I read online somewhere someone downing
the band, saying they were a joke and their label, Supernatural Cat, and the member of (the almighty) Ufomammut who guests on the album should be ashamed of their involvement. To whomever that was, you couldn’t be more wrong, brother. The self-titled debut from this Italian duo might be a little off the beaten path but that path less traveled makes for some mighty fine hiking! Zolle consists of the duo of guitarist Marcello Lan and percussionist Stefano. It should be noted as well that Ufomammut’s Urlo and Quasiviri’s Roberto Rizzo contribute synth depth to the proceedings. Not that this two-piece unit needed any help constructing a massive sound. Lan’s tone has some serious crunch thanks so some vintage equipment, and Stefano effects feral carnage on his kit. Zolle basically go where they want, and all without the aid of vocals. That’s right, one less frill to worry about on their quest for sonic destruction. Off-kilter riffs are the base of the
hypnotic with some cool noise and added instrumentation to close it out. I can’t remember who was bad mouthing this release or maybe I just dreamt it, but I can’t find anything on Zolle worthy of denigration. Fantastic percussion, stellar riffs with absolutely mammoth tone and a keen sense of timing makes Zolle an album that’s incredibly infectious. The lack of vocals may turn some folks off but those people have no sense of adventure anyway.
Ghost Cult Top 5 Raymond Westland CHIEF EDITOR
1. Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here 2. Palms – Palms 3. Revocation – Revocation 4. Shining (NOR) – One One One 5. Hacride – Back To Where You’ve Never Been
Matt Hinch CONTRIBUTOR
1. Clutch - Earth Rocker 2. Anciients - Heart of Oak 3. Batillus - Concrete Sustain 4. VHOL - Vhol 5. Demon Lung - The Hundredth Name
Chris Ward CONTRIBUTOR
album but it’s not without an incredible sense of groove. Stefano’s got that locked down allowing the guitars and synths to wander and fold back on themselves through heavy repetition within its short song lengths. Avoiding the trap set by some other instrumental outfits, Zolle keep the majority of tracks well under the three minute mark choosing instead to pound the listener with whichever killer riff that song has to offer then moving on before attention is lost. ‘Heavy Letam’s marching cadence, the forward-moving skronk of ‘Wetellah’, ‘Trynchatowak’s pulsing elasticity and the urgency of ‘Leequame’ are just a few of the dynamic elements making up and engaging 28 minutes of madness. As stated, the synths that appear periodically give Zolle another tool with which to construct their not-so-ordinary machine. At 7:40, ‘Moongitruce’ seems like a veritable epic when compared to the succinct tunes that precede it but bears no less impact than the hammer blows on the rest of the album. There’s plenty of movement within the track. It’s smooth and
1. Cathedral - The Last Spire 2. Victor Griffin’s In-Graved - S/T 3. Spiritual Beggars - Earth Blues 4. Clutch - Earth Rocker 5. Saxon – Sacrifice
Dan Swinhoe CONTRIBUTOR
1. Warbeast- Destroy 2. Clutch- Earth Rocker 3. Dynahead- Chordata I 4. Grayceon- Pearl & The End Of Days 5. Intronaut- Habitual Levitations
Ross Baker SENIOR EDITOR
1. Ghost - Infestissumam 2. Alice In Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here 3. Tesseract - Altered State 4. Audrey Horne - Youngblood 5. Shining - One One One
Cheryl Carter CONTRIBUTOR
1. Clutch - Earth Rocker 2. Anciients - Heart of Oak 3. Batillus - Concrete Sustain 4. VHOL - Vhol 5. Demon Lung - The Hundredth Name
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PEN ZAAL O
L U J O 14
STEN) 9:30 1 VICEKO G R E N S . AANVA S €14,00 (EXCL T TICKE
VEEMARKTSTRAAT 44 TILBURG
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DIUM O P P O P RG TILBU
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Day One
New England Hardcore and Metal Festival XV
The Palladium, Worcester MA
April 19 - 21, 2013 Photos and text: Keith Chachkes
The fifteenth annual The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival came along at just the right time this year. Concerts are often a needed respite from whatever is ailing your life at the moment. Even though fans had come for the event from all over the world, Boston and the entire state of Massachusetts had been having a rough week. Earlier in the week, the Boston Marathon bombings occurred at the hands of some piss poor excuses for terrorists. The night before the show the city of Boston was in lock down as the manhunt tightened. All the roads were closed in or out of some parts of the state, but the show was never in doubt. Although I was stressed out and we got a very late start on the road, we made it and it wasn’t a total loss on the day. My trusty spies at the show told me early bands such as Code Orange Kids, Vygr, Holy Grail and Black Breath were all apparently terrific, even though I missed them. Ugh. Lucky for me, at least I caught some of Shadows Fall’s brief set. The Friday portion of the fest included the lineup from The Metal Alliance Tour and those bands were really stacked talent-wise. The seemed really on their game in front of the home town crowd. They played a short but heavy set with songs like ‘Destroyer of Senses’ and ‘The Power of I and I’. Brian Fair made a great jab at himself announcing the impending birth of his daughter; and saying the tip jar/beer fund was now being re-named the diaper fund! Municipal Waste followed and the crowd seemed even more pumped for them to play, seeing as they have toured this area regularly for years. They blasted through their neo-thrash hits very quickly, but it was a fun set with tons of constant surfers, divers and mosh maniacs. Exodus was the next course in the thrash metal meal of the day and they crushed it, hard. They played a great set with some of their recent killer tunes and a lot of classics. Gary Holt was in all of his glory, just shredding his ass off and smiling as always. There are few people in metal who have as much fun performing as he does, and he is my favorite artist to photograph too. The circle pits for tunes like ‘Fabulous Disaster’, ‘Toxic Waltz’ and the wall of death for ‘Strike of the Beast’ provided some of the best pit action all weekend. The problem with a festival is you just can’t see every band possible when trying to shoot bands at one stage, see other bands on the other stage, coordinate interviews, talk to scene folks, PR reps and get your drink on too. I wound up missing Trap Them (boo!) and Every Time I Die, although the latter was no big whoop to me. I enjoy the band live, but had just seen them recently and their fans for the most part looked miserable all day during the other bands. Next came Hatebreed on the main stage and they put on quite a show. Even if they are not your thing musically, there is no denying Jamey Jasta and crew have a ton of feel good/aggro energy to share. Being from the state right next door, all Hatebreed shows in this venue feel like a hometown crowd, and they killed it. The entire floor was jumping and screaming the words to the many catchy choruses the band is known for. Of course, as it was the entire weekend, the photo pit was a total clusterfuck, but we worked out a nice system by this point in the night.
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Finally, it was time for Anthrax to take over. On this night they played the entire Among The Living album. They actually used their original backdrop from the 1980s and it was so old and thin, you could see the brick wall behind the stage. Still, there was something cool about this and better than anything ‘new and vintage’ used instead. After the intro music, Scott Ian jammed the familiar intro chords to ‘Among the Living’ and the crowd cheered. The band sounded sick and it was great to see and hear Charlie Benante behind the kit, as he had been missing some shows lately with an injury issue. Joey Belladonna has not only returned to form as the Anthrax front man, but is actually the star of the show now, which may not have been the case back in the day. His range was insane and he seemed to get stronger as the night wore on. The band blasted through the first batch of songs from Among… really wowing the crowd with the rarely heard live ‘A Skeleton In The Closet’. Then the band did something else cool, which was to break up the album into parts with other songs in between. I haven’t really heard another band do this with a set list yet, and I thought it was a refreshing change. After a fast run through of ‘March of the S.O.D.’ the band played their lone song of the night from Worship Music ; ‘In The End’. Following that up was a fun take on T.N.T. From the recent release, Anthems. The crowd seemed to love it and Joey was killer. Filling in on lead guitar and performing double duty for the fest and the tour was Jon Donais of Shadows Fall. He nailed that solo and all the lead work all night long. After Madhouse, with another ridiculously high wailing scream from Joey, the band returned to more old-school cuts like the massive hit ‘Indians’ and the underrated ‘One World’. They skipped ‘A.D.I./ Horror of it All’ (perhaps due to the festival times), but made up for it with Charlie’s drum solo, which then led into ‘I’m the Man’. It was the first time I’d heard this gem in a long time and it was pretty cool. So basically, the set list was Among The Living and a bunch of covers. I was totally fine with that. Great to see the band performing so strong, and changing things up a bit more now than before.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Day Two
New England Hardcore and Metal Festival XV
The Palladium, Worcester MA
April 19 - 21, 2013 Photos and text: Keith Chachkes
Day two of Metalfest was a lot more sedate and I was prepared for a long grind of a day filled with good bands and great fans and friends! I managed to get into the venue early enough to catch more of the early action. Bands like Fit For An Autopsy, East Beast and Glass Cloud, kept the surprisingly big early afternoon crowd entertained, be it death core, d-beat or proggy djent sounds coming from either the smaller, second stage or the main room. T_r hit the main stage next and the size of the crowd made me think they should have been playing later in the day. The problem with some of these intersecting package tours is that you don’t want to just have them play one package and then the next, because then you might not expose fans to other types of bands. At the same time T_r has the kind of elements that make them appeal to many kinds of metal fans. After they were done I ran around outside doing some band interviews and getting ready for some small stage action. Battlecross played upstairs at the same time as The Contortionist (who had Mike Lessard from Last Chance to Reason filling in) and I chose Battlecross since I have seen the former band a lot more times. As I crowded to the front of the stage as I did in my younger days, I knew I was going to be sorry and sore tomorrow. When the bands started to play the front just erupted with furious moshers and even crowdsurfers and divers off the time stage. Battlecross played a fully kickass set, with songs like the popular ‘Push, Pull, Destroy’ and ‘Kaleb’. They were joined by Kevin Talley on drums, and they sounded tight as if he’d been playing with them for a long time, not merely a fill in. Their next record drops in July and these guys are worth getting excited about. Upping the ante considerably was Goatwhore, who also were miscast on the side stage. No matter to them, they just set up their gear and unleashed their own brand of hellish sound on the crowd. With little talking and just blazing through song after song, Goatwhore played the best, most tight and harsh set I’ve ever witnessed on this second stage. That includes hundreds of bands I’ve seen at this venue over the years. They played a cool mix of old and new, but still burned through ‘Apocalyptic Havoc’ like the world was about to end. And it almost felt like it did. Meanwhile downstairs as The Contortionist finished their set and Within The Ruins soon followed, the fest hit a slight lull for me. Sure, bands like WtR, After The Burial and Born of Osiris played they hearts out to a packed house, but I think my energy was fleeting. AtB is still the best band of that trifecta, having grown the most sonically between last few releases. I caught the beginning of Ensiferum’s folkthrash-battle metal, before heading to the parking lot to interview Goatwhore. I also poked my head in and heard some of Terror’s second stage finale which sounded pissed as fuck, which made sense with all of the sweaty and bruised bodies passing me in the doorway.
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Then it was time for the final stand of the long day into night’s musical journey. Katatonia has toured the US a lot the last few years, mostly as the opener for Opeth. Katatonia surprised me and delighted their fans by changing up their set slightly and really contrasting the somber doomy songs with some up-tempo numbers. They did close with fan favorites ‘July’, ‘Dead Letters’, and ‘Forsaker’ and no one complained about that. As amazing as The Dillinger Escape Plan is, I don’t sit around and listen to them all the time. Rather, I appreciate them a lot, spin their new albums quite a bit when they drop, and relish seeing them live. The live setting is where I think they translate the best what they are trying to get across. They may have been an odd choice to stick in between the two Swedish giants, but it made for an interesting change of pace at least. I was photographing them for the second time, and they just absolutely terrified me again. Normally I just fear the security guards (who did a stellar job as always), but I always fear an injury from these guys. As expected they nearly broke themselves and the stage apart with their insane antics and terrific playing. The abuse they put themselves through, especially guitarist Ben Weinman and singer Greg Puciato and their gear borders on excessive and freakish, but I understand the artistic element to their game. I certainly do not envy their roadcrew. The crowd seemed totally spent when they were done. Just when you thought it was going to be chillaxed prog-metal time, that sneaky Mikael Akerfeldt and Opeth had something else in mind. Sure, some of the fans split and still others headed for the balcony to rest. But Opeth would have none of that resting bullshit. After an opening number of ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ from Heritage, the band unleashed a set of mostly brutal-era Opeth. If you had complained about the progressive rock and mellotron soaked jams of the last few years, this was the show you should have been at. Perfection level renditions of classics such as ‘White Cluster’, ‘Hope Leaves’, ‘Atonement’ and more had fans losing their shit. For a guy who grew bored with growling vocals, Akerfeldt’s performance was spot on, and devastating. I have often felt that watching a Opeth show is like reading a great book: it is food for your mind and soul. Sure, there were still the left turns such as ‘Häxprocess’ or an unplugged version of ‘Demon of the Fall’, that before playing it Akerfeldt joked, a fan told him hearing it ‘made him cry’. But the night belonged to Opeth and their fans, even those you that turned up their nose at them just last year. This was a stellar end to Day Two, and really the entire weekend’s highlight performance. The only thing close to this much cool, was the epic after parties with bands, industry folks and fans at the local bars and hotel rooms that went into the wee hours. Lots of carousing and shenanigans was had by all.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Day Three
New England Hardcore and Metal Festival XV
The Palladium, Worcester MA
April 19 - 21, 2013 Photos and text: Keith Chachkes
Day Three of the Metalfest is traditionally mostly the hardcore bands day to rule the roost. The early champions of knuckle breaking, head bashing music were bands such as Brick By Brick and The Greenery. Beyond the Shore was the first main stage band I saw and there were a solid metalcore band able to pass muster with the fans able to get up early. The band that really had me excited was Waking The Dead which features ex-Suicidal Tendencies axe-man Mike Clark. As a first time front man, Mike was holding down the rhythms, shredding all the solos and also singing lead vocals too. In addition to playing some ST rarities such as ‘Master of No Mercy” they of course did ‘Waking The Dead’. Joined by Devin Pahl on Bass and Rob Woods on drums, the band played a nice set of crossover anthems. There was even a small circle pit that opened up at one point during the old No Mercy song, ‘Widespread Bloodshed’. I’ll be looking forward to their debut album coming out this fall. While the hardcore kids duked it out upstairs to the strains of Turnstile, Thick As Blood and Sworn In, I ducked outside catch some air, do some interviews and eat some pretty good/gross festival food. Coming back downstairs I caught bits of Legion and I Declare War who were solid, but nothing special to my ears. Even though everyone was packing the little room to see back to back sets from head-breakers in Remembering Never and soon to be disbanding Trapped Under Ice, I chose to sit out and catch one of the few real death metal bands of the weekend, Job For A Cowboy. And make no mistake, JFAC has graduated to a full fledged death metal band, from their mere beginnings as a young tech death band just out of high school. Oh, they still bring the technical flash, but they are so much better now since releasing last years’ ‘Demonocracy’ album. The especially stood out this weekend with a lack of traditional death metal bands. They were customarily sick as always, and immediately put to shame some of the lamer bands who had come on right before them. It’s no small thing that crossover thrash institution D.R.I. is still out touring the globe and slaying audiences. The legendary band that basically spawned their own sub-genre of metal has had their share of ups and downs, most notably guitarist Spike Cassidy’s battles with colon cancer. They are a band that continues to operate outside of the mainstream, never quite making that next new album to cash in with, and they stopped making videos when they were still good. D.R.I. chugs along like that the little engine that thrashed. Every show by the band is a greatest hits set, and when you see them play for an hour, you can still name a bunch of great songs they didn’t have time for. Tonight the band ran through many great jams like ‘Couch Slouch’, ‘Suit and Tie Guy’, ‘Violent Pacification’, ‘Thashard’, ‘Madman’, ‘Slumlord’, ‘Five Year Plan’ and so many more. Great work guys!
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FESTIVAL REO massachusetts AMAZI NYHC veterans Sick of It All were up next and I’m not sure the Boston area crowd was prepared what what was coming next. SOIA always brings the fire live and they are active and intense as performers as their sound is. Even though they weren’t the first to do it, I was always mad people gave them shit back in the day for adding the melodies to their rough riffs. The songs have still stood the test of time such as ‘It’s Clobberin Time’, ‘Step Down’, and ‘Straight Ahead’. Lou, Pete, Craig and Armand may not be The Beatles, but they make on helluva fearsome foursome. Their live show puts to shame many other bands half their age. The crowd could barely keep up with the band. It was cool to see a lot of people just moshing righteously for these last few bands, with a lot less dickish, tough guy, invisible ninja bullshit pit fighting I’m used to these days.
At long last, a massive Suicidal Tendencies banner overlapped the NEMHCFXV banner than hung all weekend. The stage seemed kind of sparse to me, save for the enormous drum riser, even for a headliner of ST’s stature. I was really pleased to see people stuck around for the end of the weekend, and there were clearly more ST fans, by a merch count alone, than any other band represented. Opening with the incomparable anthem ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’, the band was on fire and as strong as I’d ever seen them. Cyco Mike Muir scampered all over the stage like a hyperactive kid and did his thing as always. Dean Pleasants shredded his tail off like I’d never seen him before. He was always baddass, but he has been on some next level stuff , blazing solos the last few years. Joining him on guitar in place of Mike Clark now is Nico Santora, who also proved he could hang with the best over on his side of the stage. After rocking through “Institutionalized” the band played a new song off of their recent album 13 (Suicidal Records), ‘Show Some Love...Tear It Down’, which fit right in with the best material from their back catalog. But the fans want to hear the old gems too like the great gang vocals of ‘War Inside My head’, the grooves of ‘Subliminal’ (with a massive modern breakdown for the ending), ‘Send Me Your Money’, ‘Possessed to Skate’ and many more. Bassist Tim ‘Rawbiz’ Williams and drummer Eric Moore might be one of the best rhythm sections I’ve ever seen, capable of holding it down or veering off into funky territories unknown. One great thing about this set to me was that it was strictly an ST show, and the band is leaving the Infectious Grooves songs out of the set. Ultimately it is Mike who ties it all together: singing, screaming, pontificating and philosophizing between songs like the master Sherpa of hardcore. The real twist of the night was the brilliant version of “How Will I laugh Tomorrow’, which the band hasn’t played live in nearly two decades. Many tough dudes in the pit were wiping away tears, even if they might deny it now. I know I got choked up myself. It was pretty damn amazing. Coming out for the encore, the band invited the entire floor it seemed on to the stage for ‘Pledge Your Allegiance’. Mike was the maestro from the top of the drum riser. What a fun and cathartic way to close out the weekend and the festival.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Neurotic Deathfest 013 Tilburg NL, May 3 - 5, 2013 Text: Cult Friso van Daalen and Mitchell Scheerder Photos: Suzanne Maathuis
Every avid fan of death metal drools with pleasure when Neurotic Deathfest comes to town again. The event started out as the Rotterdam Deathfest, but from 2006 on, it became the Neurotic Deathfest. Each year the line-up becomes better. This is reflected in the amount of foreign visitors coming to Tilburg to be a part of the biggest indoor death metal festival in Europe. On behalf of Ghost Cult Friso van Daalen (FD) and Mitchell Scheerder (MS) were on the scene to report...
Death To All
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Hordes of metal fans made their way towards the 013 venue. By the time we entered, Danish death metal outfit Iniquity was already playing on the main stage. The heyday of these Danes was back in the 90s, but they got caught up in the backwash when the death metal scene collapsed. Last year they got back together again. The band’s rather simplistic death metal hasn’t aged really well and their rather static show doesn’t help to get the audience going. (FD) Next up to the main stage are Decapitated from Poland. It’s a small miracle they’re still around, considering the horrific accident they had some years ago. The band is on fire and the audience are really appreciative of songs like ‘Pest’ and ‘Carnival Is Forever’. The impressive light show help to push things to the next level. They close their 40-minute set with the mighty ‘Day 69’, leaving the crowd utterly satisfied. (FD) I’ve never heard of Morbid Saint before, but they sure managed to impress me with their energetic live set. Just like Decapitated, they’re out for blood. In their entire career, the band only released one album, which they played at rapid fire pace. Songs like ‘Damien’, ‘Crying For Death’ and ‘Scars’ were the highlights of their set. The band’s energy caused the audience to go nuts with a lot of violent moshpits as a result. Impressive. (MS) Recently Devoured released a new album and their setlist consisted of a variety songs spanning the band’s complete discography. Despite singer Ruben Rosas’ best efforts to get the crowd going, the response was minimal. Only ‘Fed To The Pigs’ and ‘Babykillers’ went over well. The band played a solid show, but it was just not that memorable. (FD) Friday’s absolute highpoint was Death To All, a musical tribute to Chuck Schuldiner and the various incarnations of Death. Chuck may be no longer among us, but his music is certainly not forgotten. Several (ex) members of Death played a best-of show, sending the crew into an absolute frenzy with songs like ‘Leprosy’, ‘Suicide Machine’, ‘Zero Tolerance’ and ‘Pull The Plug’. This is probably the closest thing to a real Death show we’ll ever get, and I’m sure Chuck would have been proud of this. RIP. (FD) For some reason, the performance by German prog death metal outfit Obscura was something of an anticlimax. The band gave it their all, but the crowd didn’t give an inch. Perhaps they were still exhausted from the previous Death To All show. Perhaps it was the location, the amount of beer or something else, but the Obscura show simply fizzled out. (FD)
I Z A M A
Death To All
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTSS Neurotic Deathfest 013 Tilburg NL, May 3 - 5, 2013 Text: Cult Friso van Daalen and Mitchell Scheerder Photos: Suzanne Maathuis
In true Carcass style, Spanish gore/grind outfit Haemorrhage went all medical on the audience. Blood and gore were all around. Their over-the-top live show combined with some sick humor was a true sight to behold. The singer’s dog imitations were spot on and he really managed to captivate the audience with his comical stage antics. A very entertaining show indeed. (FM) We decided to check out the third stage, which was the smallest stage at NDM. Israeli thrash metal outfit Hammercult provided the perfect sonic backdrop to wake us up from our slumber. After a day of frenetic death metal it was nicely refreshing to hear some clean cut thrash metal again. The band’s collective enthusiasm proved to be contagious and especially ‘We Are Hammercult’ was met with public approval. These guys certainly deserved to be on one of the bigger stages. (MS) When it comes down to horror, gore and death metal few do it better than Necrophagia. They played on the main stage, but despite their solid show I got the feeling something was lacking. Perhaps it was still a little too early for the band or perhaps I needed more coffee. (FD). One of the first highlights on Saturday was Pig Destroyer, the kings of maddening experimental grindcore. With only one drummer, one singer and one guitarist with a big arsenal of weird sounds and noises they really managed to bring the roof down. In true grind fashion they played 30 songs in just 40 minutes leaving the audience utterly exhausted. Pig Destroyer don’t take themselves too seriously. Quite a healthy attitude within the extreme metal scene if you ask me. (FD) Immolation were one of the true great bands on the bill today. The band played on the main stage and the place was utterly packed. They just released a new album, in the form of Kingdom Of Conspiracy. Material off that record plus a surplus of classic Immolation tracks brought the whole venue to fever pitch. Some of the songs they played included ‘Hate’s Plague’, ‘Swarm Of Terror’, ‘Father You’re Not A Father’ and ‘A Spectacle Of Lies’. Despite the somewhat static nature of their show they really managed to blow me away. (MS) The Repulsion show was rather awkward. With only one album under their belt (released back in 1989), the band received an hour’s worth of playing time. The fact this is their first performance outside the United States didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. With good reason, because the singer forgot to sing into his microphone on a couple of ocassions and the sloppy guitar work didn’t help to improve the quality of the show either. Their no-frills music didn’t give me goosebumps. After 40 minutes Repulsion simply stopped playing and left the stage without any encore whatsoever. Definitely one of the lesser performances so far. (MS)
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FGNIZA the Netherlands
The music of Cock & Ball Torture is something of an acquired taste. Their name doesn’t bode too well for my nether regions and neither does their music. The crowd went berserk during their set, but for me it was a convenient excuse to leave the room and look for a good spot from which to witness today’s main spectacle...(FD) Today’s headliner are recently reactivated grindcore and extreme metal pioneers Carcass. The band absolutely lived up to their headliner status as the place was absolutely packed. As a grand opening gesture, the crowd got a taste of Carcass TV, a short presentation of some rather disturbing imagery. Despite a little technical hiccup the show started exactly on time with ‘Inpropagation’. The perfect sound and lavish lightshow gave classics like ‘Corporal Jigsore Quandry’ and ‘Exhume To Consume’ additional grandeur. Singer/bassist Jeff Walker gave the new Dutch king a two fingered salute by showing some nasty STD pictures on the big screen. Well, why not. The band closed their set with a spendid rendition of ‘Heartwork’. The perfect closer of the second day at Neurotic Deathfest. (FD)
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Neurotic Deathfest 013 Tilburg NL, May 3 - 5, 2013 Text: Cult Friso van Daalen and Mitchell Scheerder Photos: Suzanne Maathuis
The boundaries of good taste were severely tested by Dutch grindcore merchants Cliteater. The band’s most impressive asset is their vocalist Joost who doesn’t need any special effects to create his inhuman growls and pig squeals. What followed was 30 minutes of grindcore hysteria full of brutal moshpits, sick jokes and unintelligible song announcements. From what I could tell the band played ‘Slimming Party At Kelly’s’ and ‘Oh She’s Eleven’ off their latest album. (MS) We decided to watch one of the bands on the third stage again and this time we had the pleasure to see Finnish death/thrash metal band Re-Armed play. The band played really tight and I was really impressed with the quality of their music. There weren’t many people around, but these Finns still managed to get a small moshpit going. It’s only too bad that smaller and talented bands like Re-Armed get completely overlooked at a big event like Neurotic Deathfest. Hopefully I’ll catch them another time under more favourable conditions. (FD) Malignant Tumour brings us crust punk of the highest—or lowest— order. These Czechs are all about providing straight forward D-beat without any technical frolics whatsoever. The crowd loves them and the intimate nature of the smallest hall in the 013 provides enough opportunity for some savage public participation. The absolute
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FESTIVAL REO the G Netherlands
Cryptopsy highlight was the massive moshpit on ‘Saddam Hussein Is Rock And Roll’. Malignant Tumour isn’t exactly the most innovative or genre bending bands around, but they surely know how to have a good time on stage. (MS) Marudergrind puts the grind into grindcore. I’d expected to see three maniacs diving headlong in the audience, but that wasn’t to be. Despite being only three people, they managed to make quite a racket. One half of the public adored them and the other half didn’t know what to make of them. After 30 minutes they suddenly quit playing, despite the alloted 40 minutes playing time. It’s one of those typical grindcore quirks, I guess. (MS) After an absence of several years Canadian technical death metal outfit Cryptopsy returned to the scene with arguably one of the best comeback albums of last year. Cryptopsy live are sadly not so exciting. The song material came across as one big blur of technical breaks, manic guitar riffs and odd time signatures. The grunts of singer Matt McGachy were hardly audible and that didn’t help things either. The band played a varied set which included tracks from their entire discography. Again, the static nature of their performance didn’t push the entertainment value up. (FD) Cattle Decapitation is the perfect closing act for the second stage. These guys know how to work a crowd and singer/maniac Travis Ryan knows how to bring things to a frenzy. The allotted 40 minutes are total death/grind bliss. The sound was a little off here and there, but from what I could tell they played ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’ and ‘Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat’. Definitely one of the more memorable performances I’ve seen at this year’s edition of Neurotic Deathfest. (MS) Swedish death metal ensemble Unleashed were the closing act of this evening. By now a lot of people had left the venue, but that didn’t dampen their spirits at all. The band played all their ‘hits’, including ‘Minvinter Blod’, ‘The Longships Are Coming’ and the ultimate death metal hymn in the form of ‘Death Metal Victory’. Many of their songs are quite alike, but that didn’t bother the audience at all. There was lots of interaction between the band and the public and everyone had a great time. Lots of headbanging and savage moshpits later, Neurotic Deathfest was closed in style. (FD) Neurotic Deathfest remains a Mecca for every ardent fan of extreme metal. The whole event was professionally organised and we didn’t notice any sort of violence or any other problems. Until next year!
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LIVE REVIEWS LOS ANGELES A T L A L I V E , MAY 10
CA, CLUB NOKIA Words: Rei Nishimoto, Photos: Simona Bezdekova
It was quite clear that whatever platform Steven Wilson uses to perform his music, there is an audience who is there to listen to it. Tonight’s show was an indication of that, as playing his solo material under his own name instead of the Porcupine Tree moniker made no difference and the packed Club Nokia audience showed their eagerness at such high levels. His live band includes guitarist Guthrie Govan, woodwind/reed multi-instrumentalist Theo Travis, keyboardist Adam Holzman, bassist/stick player/background vocalist Nick Beggs and drummer Chad Wackerman. Wilson kept talking about Wackerman’s absence on the tour, returning that night for the show and playing the set list off of memory. Each member had their moment to shine, as their role within the live show and the songs individually made them stand out, and their interaction with Wilson worked so well the crowd went nuts after each tune. Travis, Beggs and Wackerman each got to perform pieces that allowed them to jam out a bit more than usual, and shined while doing so. His set list consisted of all of the songs from his most recent album The Raven That Refused To Sing (Kscope), along with selections from past albums such as ‘Deform To Form a Star’ (from Grace For Drowning’s First Disc) and ‘Harmony Korine’ (from Insurgentes). Wilson told a story behind many of the songs from the set list, which enhanced the selections for the evening. He also told a hilarious story about going against his personal rule about not reading reviews of his works on Amazon, since one reviewer mentioned an alleged connection to JRR Tolkien to Wilson’s works, and drove him mad. At the end of the evening, Wilson returned with an encore of Porcupine Tree’s ‘Radioactive Toy’ and Storm Corrosion’s ‘Ljudet Innan,’ which caught the crowd by surprise. Not expecting songs from other projects within his solo set, he included those two songs in to make the excellent evening even better.
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LIVE REVIEWS WORCESTER MA T H E P A L L A D I U M APRIL 16TH
Words: Keith Chachkes, Photos: Echoes In The Well
I know a lot of people out there scoff at the notion that there was a time before the internet and music downloading existed, but this era did actually happen. Before technology made instant experts of everyone, music got churned out by labels and fans gravitated to whatever captured them. We have actually reached a mark in our current time when fans are feeling nostalgic about some these bands, with the higher quality ones are still around and kicking. Thus, you can understand the demand for this bill, from which the two co-headliners one toured constantly from 1996-1999. Opening up the festivities on this evening was Stolen Babies. They offer a mad cap performance that is alternately jazzy, progressive and occasionally, really brutal. Front woman Dominique Persi is a fabulous singer: one part carnival barker, one part chanteuses. She is a tour-DE-force live and on record, and baddass on the accordion too. The venue’s proximity to Boston added some interest for the openers, since the city being a mecca of sorts for music geeks, had fans in the house of Gil and Rani Sharone in particular. However, the band is now strong enough an act to operate on their own merits and not just a curiosity of talents alone. They blasted through a set of their material from their 2012 album Naught and the crowd seemed to especially dig ‘Splatter’ and ‘Mousefood’. They are worth checking out! I have had an uneasy relationship with Lacuna Coil. They were always a decent band capable of some solid, if not commercial metal songs. But, I’ve felt as soon as they got popular, they fell into the pressure trap of needing to keep pace with sales. Some of their live shows, while entertaining, bordered on snooze inducing. This was especially true of the last few tours I had seen of them, with few variances in tempo or style in the set list. It’s not that I was expecting John Zorn to show up, but throws us bone will you? Well, on this night I was pleasantly surprised that the band seemed to have a competitive fire to their performance I’d not seen in a long time. Their set was surprisingly void of some of their hits, making way for some deeper cuts and several impassioned performances. Their many fans in the house on this night seemed to appreciate this nod to them, and I didn’t hear any complaints about the rare sonic detours. As usual vocalists Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia traded strong verses in all the songs, and at times were drowned out by the crowd singing back to them. The Coal Chamber reunion was more than a mere curiosity, and one the most fans in the house were clamoring for. I give Dez Fafara a lot credit for never turning his back on his roots or early image, despite his successes with Devildriver. Also, it was kind of funny to see some of the neo-pop metal goths of 1998, still wearing their stockings on their arms and overdoing
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Sevendust Coal Chamber Lacuna Coil Stolen Babies
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LIVE REVIEWS WORCESTER MA T H E P A L L A D I U M the under eye black look on this night. ‘Loco’ hit the PA, and the crowd was really pumped up and into it. And why shouldn’t they be? Coal Chamber was a lot of fun back in the day, especially live. The entire floor exploded into a furious pit for ‘Loco’ and the slower ‘Big Truck’. Dez bounced all over the stage, jumping up and down on platforms to scan the crowd who followed is every word. The only problem with playing your two biggest songs early is the air kind of goes out of your balloon a bit. I was especially psyched to see Meegs Rascon hadn’t lost any of his great playing ability or flair for the dramatic over the years. He was killer, as was Mikey “Bug” Cox on drums. Bassist Chela Rhea Harper did a solid job in place of other former CC bassists who were apparently not invited back. The band went a bit long to me with a thirteen song set, but did well with songs like ‘Not Living’, ‘Dark Days’ and the rollicking finale ‘Sway’. The band did an overall fine job representing themselves tonight and if they are ever going to make new music, their audience is surely interested. Sevendust closed on this night here in Massachusetts, where they have had a loyal fan base since the early days. Armed with a new record, Black Out The Sun, I was pumped up to hear what they would play. Interestingly enough, I spied two of my pals from the local scene, Tommy and Steve who are often at every metal show. Usually, they are at all the most brutal metal shows in our area, but both were here tonight mainly to see Sevendust. They had nothing but high praise of the band, and scoffed at the notion that they were too commercially popular to be without high merit from all metalheads. That was good enough for me. Having the strongest run up to a new album in the bands’ history, be it sales, singles charts or press props certainly didn’t hurt the box office. The packed crowd saw the band come on the intro of lead single ‘Decay’ and they just ripped shit up from the get go. As usual, the band put on their trademark high-energy live show, with few bells and whistles aside from some interesting smoke effects and “big room” lighting. Sevendust comes out and just whips ass on the hordes of bands that stand around and look at their hands while they play. They make it a point to really try to connect with the audience, which I like. Singer LaJon Witherspoon maybe short in stature, but his voice is humongous. He switches back and forth between soulful and rage mode like few else in the business. Guitarists Clint Lowery and John Connolly sang as often too, but added a lot of guttural growls and screams too, as does drummer Morgan Rose. Radio hits like ‘Praise’ and ‘Denial’ came early in the night, were played sharply and then dispensed in favor of some deeper slices from the 7D catalog. A new song, like the brutal ‘Til Death’ has the heavy groove sound of the first few releases from the band. Classics like ‘Waffle’, ‘Bitch’ and ‘Black’ were choice ones to hear, since the band doesn’t often play that many cuts from way back anymore. For the encore they closed out the night with ‘Splinter’ and the epic ‘Face To Face’, with an extended jammed out ending. As the final notes played out, Rose just let it all loose on the drums, crushing the outro, and launching sticks out into the crowd to end the night.
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LIVE REVIEWS LONDON THE UNDERWORLD MAY 13TH Words: Marcus J. West, Photos: Fabiola Santini
Is there any folk metal act going right now as compelling as Finntroll? This is a band that, besides being defined by six impressive albums (the latter, Bloodsvept has just been released), they also remain one of the most reliably live forces around. After a feeble attempt from German Killfloor Mechanic to be the first crowd warmer for the evening, having Keep Of Kalessin as round two makes it all more bracing. The Norwegian metal squad, now downsized to three members due to the departure of vocalist Torbjørn “Thebon” Schei, does not disappoint. With guitarist Arnt “Obsidian C.” Grønbech in the newly acquired role of leadsinger, the set takes off with The Awakening, a neat way to win over the Underworld contingent obliterating fans with relentlessly guttural riffs and snarls. A solid performance, but tonight could only be about one band, as from the second Mordminnen kick-starts and Finntroll Frontman Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns stomps on stage in his retro uniform, all vibes goes straight into fifth gear. His vocals are as dominant as they are flawless in strength and definition. The finest cut and title-track of the new album sounds immensely thriving and confirms how strong their latest material is, busting out folk tales tainted by obscure and hidden forces. The two blistering rendition of ‘Nattfödd��� and ‘En Mäktig Här’ that follow fuel the audience without a hitch, thanks to guitarist Samuli “Skrymer” Ponsimaa powerful and beautifully crafted riffing. Finntroll erupt and hammer away with ‘Skogsdotter’ and ‘Solsagan’, two scorching tracks that swell their gnarled performance and exude power and glory. The Underworld belongs to the trolls tonight, there is no doubt: they leave the crowd dazed and utterly spellbound.
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LIVE REVIEWS LONDON H M V F O R U M APRIL 28TH
Words: Marcus J. West, Photos: Fabiola Santini
Kicking things off for this most awaited thrash parade at the London HMV Forum are British live force Evile. As frontman Matt Drake ignites the set with ‘Infected Nation’ and ‘Eternal Empire’, the squad from Huddersfield proceed to unleash a blistering and intense thrash assault. Their forthcoming (fourth) album Skull is about to be released to the ravening Evile fans; the band effortlessly wins over the crowd with their brand new Underworld thanks to its solid structure and savvy riffmanship. Guitarist and frontman’s bother Ol Drake brings his best guitar duelling with Evile’s magnum opus ‘Cult’, offering a hearty dose of signature destruction. The response from the crowd is as scorching as it is overpowering. Evile did a grand job as usual. German trash titans Kreator are next as the most wanted headliner. The anticipation for their show detonates in an uncontrollable and frenzied cheer as they take off with ‘Phantom Antichrist’. There is plenty of lights and pyro reminding of their imposing stage presence that has never failed throughout three glorious decades. Kreator’s face ripping thrash reaches its pick this evening with ‘Voices Of The Dead’, fast and brooding as hell. Mille Petrozza’s vocals are powered by skills and distinctness for the whole awe-inspiring set-list. Finnish guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö proves he can rival some of the best thrashers out there, with his über fast riffs and captivating poise. The state of the art drumming delivered by Jürgen “Ventor” Reil seems to destroy the venue with the heady, brutally incessant notes of ‘Death To The World’ and ‘Pleasure To Kill’, much to the delight of the die hard fans. Kreator as ever, London salutes you.
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Words: Noel Oxford Words: Noel Oxford It’s 2013 everybody. Twenty-thirteen! There’s every chance you’re reading this on a plastic postage stamp that can magically pull data out of thin air, or a laptop so slender you could mop up a piss-puddle with it. It’s officially the science-fiction future. We’ve got robot warplanes and electric cars and cybernetic limbs and a surveillance state and everything! Of course, heavy metal still seems stuck in the previous decade—or even further back. Just look at the tentpole releases so far this year, by bands like Black Sabbath, Megadeth and Queens of the Stone Age. All pale shadows of former glories. Fortunately, that isn’t the whole picture. We convened a faculty meeting here at Ghost Cult Technical College to take stock of the current cohort’s academic achievements. Here’s how the REAL class of 2013 is shaping up.
5. Ghost - Infestissumam Sonet Records
Despite the current vogue for retro-inflected ‘occult rock’, much of which seems practically identical on first glance, Ghost manage to rise above. By combining their sacrilegious organdrenched riffs and lush damned-choir underpinnings with a smooth-edged melodic slickness, the idiosyncratic brood of Papa Emeritus II have crafted a quirky, moreish second album. There’s a lot of elaborate presentation to get past before you really grasp what makes Ghost worth your time. Gorgeous 1960s choral-pop harmonic thickness combines so perfectly with a laid-back gothic doom metal edge, you have to believe it’s all been done before. But perhaps not quite like this.
4. Clutch - Earth Rocker Weathermaker Music
I was never really sold on Clutch, to be honest. That’s probably been my loss, since they’re well-known as one of the most dependable outfits in rock. I think that was just it, though; dependability doesn’t really excite me. But this might be the album to change my outlook, not that you care what I think. Despite initial misgivings about the title track—it reminds me fondly of Electric 6’s ‘Gay Bar’—I’ve found myself returning to it again and again. These are the sort of songs you have car accidents to, great big solid thumping no-fuss stone rock boogies, full of chantalong choruses, elaborate musicianship and down-to-earth lyrical values. Also, dig that god damned drumming, would you. Tunes like ‘Mr Freedom’, ‘Book, Saddle and Go’ or ‘Oh, Isabella’ could well have you hollering your throat hoarse.
3.Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury Candlelight Records
The third album from this Irish trio is a mechanised slab of oil-soured industrial noise armoured with bolted-on plates of blackest post-metal, to form a metaphor so horrible I can’t bear to continue with it. I couldn’t honestly call this album my cup of tea, but I can certainly see the appeal. This is agile music, drawing power from all over the genre map, possessed of a direction, and firmly in command of itself. Brutal growling clatter gives way by turns to funereal plods, sparse electronic voices, ambient drones and doomy rain-soaked riffing. Altar of Plagues offer a record of density and challenge that yet manages to retain its immediacy by keeping its runtime under tight control. This is the album you put on the iPod when you’re being zipped into a bodybag after a tragic gun massacre.
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2013 MID-SEMESTER REVIEW 2.Cathedral The Last Spire -
Rise Above/Metal Blade
If only more bands had the dignity to bow out at the top of their game, eh? Just imagine all the shit joke records and shambolic live performances we’d have been spared. Instead, we have Metallica. Wisely, Cathedral have avoided the self-parody trap, and kicked out one heck of a swan song to boot. You need only look to the first entry on this list to glean a sense of the influence they’ve had, so it was appropriate that The Last Spire cleaved close to the trickling pace and rough edges of their doomiest, most classic works. Yet it manages to fold in the lessons of Cathedral’s past attempts to blend 70s prog and hard rock with their particular brand of salvaged doom. Passages of headsdown angry plod are lent unexpected dynamic and textural shifts as a consequence. Talk about showing the kids how it’s done. As exits go, you couldn’t really hope for a better one.
1. Cult of Luna Vertikal -
This is it, then. The best record of the year so far, as chosen by Ghost Cult’s ever-expanding roster of good-looking word-manglers. Sweden’s answer to Neurosis have here crafted a set of crushing, bark-throated songs so effective that we’ve had no choice but to say they’re the best, and so have won heavy metal. We can all stop and go home now. Smearing one’s work across a broad palette of influences seems to be the key to critical darlinghood nowadays, as this list would aptly demonstrate. Cult of Luna are no exception to the rule. The airy snarling and dismal sludge are here layered with not only the usual breaks of thudding post-rock reflection, but also strata of stainless-steel synths and dutty wobble bass, coalescing into a stunning, coherent expression of future dread.An album whose deadof-winter release was timed to perfection, in other words. A tour of the highlights would take you via the yawning robotic march of ‘Synchronicity’, the space-borne aggression of ‘I: The Weapon’, and the bare scaffolding of ‘Mute Departure’, a song which constructs itself out of nothing before your very ears. This January release—Ghost Cult’s album of that month—has made it through the first half of 2013, and seen off all-comers. Which only leaves the question of where it will rank come the end of the year. Though to be honest, Vertikal has left me wondering if society will even make it that far.If we’re all still here by then, I’ll let you know.
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UNEARTHING A MONUMENT
For ‘Revisiting a Monument VI’, Dean Brown dodges asteroids, traverses the white water deep and survives temperatures of a 100 degrees to bring you Kyuss’s 1994 classic, Welcome To Sky Valley The sun-blasted desert jams of Kyuss had reached far beyond the American state of California by the time it came to recording its third full-length, Welcome To Sky Valley. The band’s second album, 1992’s “Blues for the Red Sun”, had taken Kyuss away from its infamous desert gigs as praise began to fall upon the Palm Desert four-piece. The colossal riffs courtesy of a young Josh Homme, the huge lowend and swinging grooves of Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork, and the Southern drawl of vocalist John Garcia really found focus on “Blues for the Red Sun”. The song-writing displayed maturity yet retained the looseness inherent to the band’s sound, and the hooks, both vocally and musically, were above and beyond anything heard on Kyuss’s debut, “Wretch”. By playing his guitar through a bass cabinet, Homme’s Iommic riffs had a deep resonance live, and the relationship Kyuss fostered with “Blues...” producer and guru Chris Goss (Masters Of Reality) helped turn those riffs into discernible songs. It was a important achievement in terms of exposure not only for Kyuss but for the bands that were now being ridiculously labelled “stoner rock” in an attempt by the media to pigeon hole groups that were sonically similar. In 1992, bassist Nick Oliveri was fired from Kyuss; a scene which would repeat itself a number of years down the line in Queens of the Stone Age. In his place came The Obsessed’s bassist Scott Reeder, whose calm demeanour stood in direction contradiction to Oliveri’s unhinged antics. The year 1993 brought further instability, as founding member Brank Bjork left the band after recording drums for the follow up to “Blues...” because of the dreaded “personal and creative problems” and Kyuss’s label, Dali Record, ran into financial difficulties and crumbled. Seeing the potential, the major label Elektra Records swooped in and snapped up Kyuss. And, as 1993 drew to a close, the band had risen to the esteemed role of opening support to Metallica on the thrash titan’s tour of Australia, while its third album—which had been also recorded by Chris Goss—sat in the can. Because of all of the instability, it took until 1994 for Kyuss to release what was now its major label debut—and boy was it worth the wait. A lucid psychedelic influence seeped into the heaving, blues rock, and the song-writing skills acquired on “Blues...” were taken to the next level on the band’s self-titled third studio release, which would be forever known as “Welcome to Sky Valley” because of its iconic cover art. Huge comparisons were drawn to Black Sabbath’s classic period; a comparison that began during Kyuss’s early rumblings and, amazingly, has been dismissed by Homme as being an influence to this day. But to deny such is inconceivable, as the sheer force of the riffs, the rhythmic heft of the bass and drums, and the album’s considered pacing, reflected a Sabbathian spectre in the burning desert sand. But just as important as that, the band members soaked in as much inspiration from their environment. The mountainous terrains and arid climate of California inspired Kyuss as significantly as the grey, industrial fug that hung over Birmingham cloaked Sabbath. The panoramic yet dense and syrupy grooves of ‘Gardenia’; the up-tempo growl of ‘100 Degrees’; the scorching blues of ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’; and the blissfully acoustic ‘Space Cadet’; were homogenous to Kyuss’s stifling surroundings, and the variation in feel made for the most well-rounded album of the band’s existence. But not only that, Kyuss also had its biggest hit with the sinister undertow of “Demon Cleaner”, and the monumental ‘Whitewater’—which closed “Welcome to Sky Valley”—stood as the band’s crowning achievement: a supreme lesson
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WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY in quiet/loud dynamics with a riff surge as untameable as the name laid upon it. Kyuss could not surpass the three movements of “Welcome to Sky Valley” with its 1995 follow-up “... And the Circus Leaves Town”, and the band broke up within three months of its release. Post-Kyuss, Homme reunited with Oliveri for Queens of the Stone Age, a band that took the Kyuss formula to greater commercial heights, while the other members went on to feature in bands such as Unida, Hermano, Fu Manchu and Slo Burn. In 2010, Garcia, Oliveri and Bjork came together under the moniker “Kyuss Lives!” to play shows and festivals; much to the delight of Kyuss fans young and old. But the drama continued as Homme, who was backed by Reeder, filed a federal lawsuit on grounds of copyright infringement which resulted in the court granting an order preventing the former members from recording new/live material under the name “Kyuss Lives!”. The tale of Kyuss is a dramatic one that begs to be explored in greater depth, but, in reality, thoughts of the bitter fall-outs and legal action fade anytime needle licks wax and that opening riff from ‘Gardenia’ surges out of the speakers. Whether Homme chooses to admit it or not, Kyuss lives in every spin of “Welcome to Sky Valley”.
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IF YO U L IKE D THI S MAG
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