Exploring The Boundaries of Heavy Music
APRIL 2014 | Issue #17
DEVIL YOU KNOW “I was definitely hiding for three years. No cell phone…no nothing. For three years I disappeared and it was great!”
Howard Jones Twilight| Anneke Van Giersbergen | Apocalyptica | The Wounded Kings | Nothing Delain | Hatriot | Carnifex | Scott Lee | Immortal Bird | R.I.P. Dave Brockie of GWAR Davide Tiso on Gospel of the Witches | Blastfest Recap | Behemoth & Cradle of Filth | The Winery Dogs | Ulver | Conan | Paul Masvidal | Chance Garnette
CREW Chief Editor Keith (Keefy) Chachkes Senior Editors Ross Baker Lynn Jordan Rei Nishimoto Content Editors Noel Oxford Pete Ringmaster Graphic Designer Maria Lei Contributors Davide Tiso, Caitlin Smith, Sean Pierre-Antoine, Lynn Smith, Omar Cordy, Dan Bond, Dan Swinhoe, John Toolan, Ian Girlie, Jodi Mullen, Christine Hager, Sannette de Groes, Jonathan Keane, Emma Quinlan, Susanne Maathuis, Hillarie Jason, Lorraine Lysen, Kaat van Doremalen, Mat Davies, Sean M. Palfrey, Meg Loyal, Matt Ford, Matthew Tilt, Laetitia Abbenes, Leticia Mooney, Chris Tippell, Sarah Worsley, Steve Tovey, Tom Saunders, James Conway, Tim Ledin, Melissa Campbell, Tiago Moreira, Gilbert Potts, Dane Prokofiev, Chris Small, Aleida La Llave, Ritchie Hanton-Rutherford, Jenna Williams, Mark Mikkelsen, Paul Quinn, Stuart Alexander Rees, Wren Leader, Evil Robb Photography, Emma Stone, TJ Fowler, Martin Harris, Adrian Wheeler, Ian Cashman, Hansel Lopez, Isabell Köster, Diogo Ferreira, Pål Lystrup, Stig Pallesen of StiPa Photography, Curtis Dunlap, Kaley Nelson
General Inquiries: Editor@ghostcultmag.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org Submissions: email@example.com Contests: firstname.lastname@example.org Online: www.Ghostcultmag.com
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I had envisioned a completely different editorial piece this month to open Ghost Cult #17. Then the proverbial roof fell in. The entire metal community got a huge kick in our collective balls and ovaries with the death of Dave Brockie a.k.a Oderous Urungus of GWAR. I don't know about you, but I have been taking it especially hard. I definitely handle death a lot differently than most people, but this one really hurts. I didn't know Dave personally, although I know people who knew the man well. I wouldn't profess to be a card carrying Bohab (if you don't know, Google it). I was a casual GWAR fan in the early days, sure. But my buddy Chris Ward back in New York was true die-hard fan. Lucky for me he turned me and all of his friends on to countless awesome bands, but especially GWAR. The GWAR lore sucked me in, deep, thanks to Chris's fandom. I learned to respect the overlords of Scumdogia and saw many GWAR shows and even photographed them once. Aside from Brockie being a popular metal and punk icon, crossover TV and social media personality, the legendary career that he put down with GWAR will live forever. I think most people loved Dave for his brilliant sense of humor. His true gift was being just Dave, the down to earth guy. I interviewed him a while back and spent some time hanging out, drinking many Heinekens with him, while trying to get my interview done with a straight face. A totally approachable guy, with zero rockstar BS. What a loss. The passing of Dave, as well as the recent passing of Selim Lemouchi has me thinking about fans, fandom and eventual the fate of our legacy bands. Several generations of recent rock and metal icons are already at or over middle age. While in some cases the music has never been stronger, a lot of these bands are breaking up, slowing down, or dying off with a quickness. The industry isn't helping sustain them either, but that gripe is for another time. My point is, support the artists you love, especially local and unsigned bands as much as possible. When a band you love comes on tour, shell out the money and make sure you go see `em. I know times are tough all over, but in some parts of the world, a concert ticket costs more than a months' pay. Don't say “next time”, because you may not get one. All this music we have is a gift, like life itself, and provides the only relief for many of us in times like these. Ghost Cult #17 features The Devil You Know, led by former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones. It is a revealing interview about the price of success, and the will to come back stronger than before. Issue #16 also includes interviews with black metal super-group Twilight, the incomparable Anneke Van Giersbergern, as well as Apocalyptica, The Wounded Kings, Nothing, Delain, Hatriot, Carnifex, New England Metal and Hardcore Festival co-founder Scott Lee, and Immortal Bird. We also have a complete review of the recent Krieg as fuck Blastfest in Norway, concert reviews like Behemoth's recent UK tour, The Winery Dogs, Apocalyptica's symphony tour. As always we would love to see your feedback, hate mail, delicious cookie recipes, and failed epic Viking love poems. Send them to us at editor@ghostcultmag. com and @GhostCultMag on Twitter. Thank you for checking us out! Keith (@Keefy) Chachkes
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TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
My Favorite Concert Memory Ever...by Paul Masvidal
FEATURED Awakenings – Howard Jones of Devil You Know
10 PAGE 12
Album Of The Month: Devil You Know - The Beauty of Destruction R.I.P. Dave Brockie of GWAR Guest Blog: Davide Tiso On Creating Gospel of The Witches INTERVIEWS
20 PAGE 24 PAGE
28 PAGE 30 PAGE 34 PAGE
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Closing A Chapter – Stavros Giannoplous of Twilight Unchrated Waters – Anneke van Giersbergen A Tribute To An Old Master – Paavo Lötjönen of Apocalyptica Knowledge of the Spirit – Steve Mills of The Wounded Kings Full Circle – Dominic ‘Nicky’ Palermo of Nothing Back To The Starts – Charlotte Wessels of Delain
The Emperor Returns – Steve “Zetro” Souza of Hatriot
Haters Gonna Hate – Scott Lee of The New England Metal & Hardcore Festival
Discovering New Elements – Shawn Cameron of Carnifex
Behavioral Science – Rae Amitay of Immortal Bird FESTIVAL REVIEW
Blastfest CONCERT REVIEWS
Behemoth/Cradle of Filth/In Solitude
The Winery Dogs/Toney Harnell
Apocalyptica/ The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
60 PAGE 62 PAGE 64 PAGE
Ulver Annke van Giersbergen Lord Dying/Vaporizer/Lunglust Immortal Birds/Obsidian Toungue/Cryostasium ALBUM REVIEWS
Collapse and Crush: Chance Garnette Talks About The Loudness War
April’s Top Five Keith Chachkes
Lord Mantis – Death Mask The Atlas Moth – Master of Blunt Hits Dark Entries - The Make Believe Taurus - No/Thing Machine Head - The Blackening Wren Leader
Writer/Reviewer Horrible Earth - Horrible Earth Beth Hart - Screamin' For My Supper Alcest - Les Voyages de L'ame Babymetal - Babymetal Kevin Hufnagel – Ashland Omar Cordy
Austrian Death Machine – Triple Brutal Death Angel – The Dream
Calls for Blood
The Haunted – Eye of the Storm (EP) The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs The Devil You Know – The
Beauty of Destruction
Emma Quinlan Writer/Reviewer The Misfits - Legacy of Brutality Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies KMFDM- Naive System Of A Down - Steal This Album Primordial - To The Nameless Dead Tiago Moreira
Writer/Reviewer Nothing - Guilty of Everything Swans - To Be Kind Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed Serpentine Path - Emanations Badbadnotgood - III
guitarist, in Miami back in the day. That was... insane! I was a huge fan of his. Similar to Pablo Casals on the cello, Segovia was that for Classical guitar. I was just floored at his mastery and interpretation of the instrument. He was effortless and I felt like I was in the presence of a master. I have often said really mastering guitar, it would take lifetimes. Especially for all the styles you could get into. For someone who has devoted their life to their instrument, mastering one style could take forever.
MY FAVORITE C O N C E R T MEMORYEVER
Keith Jarrett, for example, crosses the board from Classical to Jazz to blues. There is no competitive, element to this like â€œwhy should I even play anymoreâ€?, but it makes me want to play more. I usually want to go home and pick up my instrument. It inspires me to be a great artist. To work harder and develop more skill. Those two go down as massive, pivotal, inspired, moments for me. There are definitely some more, like some rock band ones, but those two are huge to me in terms of roots and developing style for Jazz and Classical. As told to Keith Chachkes
By Paul Masvidal
've had a handful of amazing concerts. Probably even more than that. Maybe one moment for me, and it might sound strange, but one that blew me out of the water, because I was a peak phase was when I was into Keith Jarrett, the improvisational Jazz pianist. I saw a solo piano concert he did, and I let myself just get lost in it. I probably had my eyes closed most of the time. I remember feeling a transcendent space coming from what he was doing. Like he was not even there, but he was conduit for a transformational epic energy. It was soaring through his hands and his body. Maybe Keith Jarrett would go down as the one. I saw one of Andres Segovia's last concerts, the classical
GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 5
ALBUM REVIEWS FESTIVAL REPORTS CONCERT REVIEWS INTERVIEWS
AWAKENINGS Howard Jones of Devil You Know
By Rei Nishimoto
When Howard Jones parted ways with Killswitch Engage in 2010, his departure sent waves throughout the music world due to his sudden departure. His absence throughout that time period was kept well hidden over the year.
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“What I wrote for this album is so personal. I’ve never written anything this deep before. Basically the past five years of my life, that’s what I wrote, especially if you listen to the last song on the album, 'Surprise In the Darkness', that was the last three or four years of my life.” – Howard Jones
medication. I was definitely in a place for a month. I went nuts. I’ve never told anybody that!,” he added, laughing at himself.
ut when Devolved drummer John Sankey and All Shall Perish guitarist Francesco Artusato started jamming together in 2012, they began seeking out vocalists for their then unnamed project. So how did he find himself involved? “Just through mutual friends. They sent me the demo.” “It was weird. I was definitely hiding for three years. No cell phone…no nothing. For three years I disappeared and it was great!” he said. So he found himself back with a new band and with new bandmates since his departure from Killswitch Engage in The Devil You Know. “It wasn’t like I realized it. I got the music and I met the guys. We made a demo and it kept going from there. All of a sudden ‘holy crap I’m doing this again?’ It just kinda happened. I’m in a much better place now.” The Devil You Know played their debut show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA on February 15, 2014 in front of an eager, yet curious crowd of fans who wanted to get their first look at the new band. They debuted songs from the Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast) album, which this was the first time Jones had stepped onto a stage in a few years. “I was thinking ‘oh my god…I’m doing this again. This is weird.’ That was pretty much what I was thinking. I had fun. I was trying not to think it. I didn’t think about it too much. It was definitely like ‘holy crap…I can’t believe I’m doing this again after so many years of not doing this.’ I seriously thought I was done.” Jones claims towards the end of his time in Killswitch Engage, he was battling depression and signs of bipolar, which stunted his ability to maintain his sanity. But he claims it was an issue he was dealing with and had nothing to do with his former bandmates. “Trust me. There was nothing wrong with the band. It was all me. I was nuts. I was manic depressive and bipolar and everything else. I’m sure I was driving them insane and I was going nuts. So I’m done.” So how close was he from entering the funny farm? “Oh wow. Probably when I went there…and was in one for about a month. I don’t think I ever told anyone that.” “Dude I was gone. I’m on good prescription
So he explains how bad things got towards the end of his time in Killswitch Engage. “So here’s what happened – we started writing the album that Jesse (Leach) just did. We met at Adam [Dutkiewicz]’s place and we were going over ideas.‘So let’s meet for two weeks… and let’s come back at noon tomorrow.’ And I just didn’t come back. That’s what happened. I talked to them a week later…’we should move on without you because you hate this.’ No I’ll still do the job. No big deal.‘You hate this.You don’t wanna do this anymore.’ And I was like… yeah….you’re right. That’s what happened.” “It was nothing to do with them. It had everything to do with me. I was severely depressed and very bipolar and everything else. The thought of doing another album and going on tour for another couple years…it drove me insane. I was done.” He also dealt with issues with diabetes, which also hindered his health.“That definitely happened. I was dizzy for a week. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was walking up the steps, I passed out and broke a finger as I fell down the steps. I was walking up the steps and passed out and then broke a toe when I fell down the steps. I completely passed out in my bathroom and my friend threw me into his truck and took me to the hospital. I went into a coma for three and a half days. I woke up and didn’t know my name for 48 hours. It was pretty screwed up. My short and long term memory was gone for six months to a year. Basically I watched a lot of TV and read a lot. It came back. I didn’t remember songs I did with Killswitch. It was bad. But now I’m doing very well.”
The Beauty of Destruction became an album of songs
largely about Jones’ struggles, and easily became a heavy, emotion driven record that is heard immediately. “What I wrote for this album is so personal. I’ve never written anything this deep before. Basically the past five years of my life, that’s what I wrote, especially if you listen to the last song on the album, 'Surprise In the Darkness', that was the last three or four years of my life. It’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever written. But it’s the truth. That’s my life. This album was my life.” Producer Logan Mader helped Jones sort out his ideas throughout the record. His guidance helped shape the songs on the record and creating powerful sounding songs that are felt as much as heard. GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 7
COMMON BONDS Making New Band-mates Your Friends
The Devil You Know has been penned as a ‘supergroup’, but front man Howard Jones has a fondness for his bandmates. Plus a fascination for fishing from recording with producer Logan Mader. You’re playing with a sick drummer like John Sankey. “Sankey’s awesome and he’s the weirdest dude ever. I room with him all the time. He is hysterical! Seriously he needs to stop farting.Yes I just said that!” From seeing Devil You Know in concert, you have this bond with your bassist Ryan [Wombacher]. “Ryan played in Bleeding Through forever and I played with them in Killswitch and Blood Has Been Shed. I’ve known him forever. That’s my boy…and he’s awesome! That dude is a great bass player. And he loves to fish too.” You also have this fascination with fishing. “Yup.You know why? Fishing is awesome. Now you know.” As told to Rei Nishimoto
“Logan definitely had great ideas. We really worked well together. He’s awesome. Seriously it was awesome working with the guy and then he became one of my really good friends. He basically saw I was going through and what I was writing, he got it. We would go to lunch and said ‘this is what you’ve been going through, isn’t it?’Yeah. What was awesome was we finished writing the album and went fishing. It was awesome. Logan definitely helped out. This album is personal.” “Yeah it’s basically a diary. It really is. I know it’s goofy to say that, but it really is.” Musically, between the four other players in the band – Sankey, guitarists Artusato and Roy Lev-Ari, and bassist Ryan Wombacher – they created a diverse record that brought a vast sound to the band. “Writing new stuff differently…this band doesn’t sound anything like All Shall Perish or Fear Factory or Devolved or anything like that. Of course I sound like me. Some of it sounds a little like Killswitch or Blood Has Been Shed, but I really did try to do things differently. That’s why more than half of the songs I pretty much sang. It’s a different album. We really wanted to do something different. It wasn’t like ‘we’ve gotta try to not sound like everything else.’ Let’s try to write an album we’re happy with and doesn’t sound what we’ve done before. That’s what happened.” “That’s what’s awesome. I’ve been lucky when it comes to that, like playing with the guys in Killswitch which were amazing, and then these guys who are absolutely amazing. We did the whole album ourselves and it’s been awesome. Being on stage with those guys, it was so much fun. I’m a lucky guy. That’s pretty much what I think.” So who’s the devil in the Devil You Know? “That’s all me. I came up with that. There’s times when I’m a terrible person, and that’s where it came from. I always try to be a better person but there’s times where I’m awful. So I’m the devil you know. That’s where it came from.” They recently visited the Soundwave Festival in Australia, in which people got their first taste of the band. While most fans had no idea who the band was or had heard any music, they still made a first impression that got attendees figuring out quickly who they were. “Oh they had no idea what was happening. People started recognizing me.‘Hey I know that guy! I’ve seen that guy before. That black guy looks kinda familiar.’ It was kinda like that. It was fun and weird the position we were in. We played right after Rob Zombie, and right before Avenged Sevenfold. It was very strange. It was like ‘we’re this band you don’t know…so let’s have some fun.’ And buy our record…eventually. It worked out. We had a blast and of course I made fun of people the whole time. That’s what I do. I was going to town on people. It was terrible! I was like ‘I’m the worst human being ever!’” Now it’s the Americans’ turn on the Revolver Golden Gods tour, headlined by Black Label Society.“I cannot wait. Down played Soundwave and I got to hang out with Phil a bit. That dude is amazing. I absolutely love Zakk. That dude is a great guy. And plus both bands are awesome. I can’t wait to hear Zakk do a bunch of guitar squeals. I’m stoked.”
ALBUM OF THE MONTH Formed by Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish , Francesco Artusato Project) a beast of a guitarist, fleetfooted drummer John Sankey (Devolved, Divine Heresy) and vocalist Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed), Devil You Know had all the promise of a powerhouse, and with its release Beauty of Destruction (Century Media) it delivers on all fronts. The songs are well-crafted, nicely developed and excellently executed. This actually sounds more like Divine Heresy than Killswitch Engage as it has a lot of gnat-ass tight Dino Cazares-inspired stutter riffs and relentless drumming.
B E A U T Y O F DESTRUCTION 'A New Beginning' kicks right in with pure a All Shall Perish aggression and a wall of guitars. 'My Own' makes a grand entrance with an almost Pantera-like drive, and goes into staccato rhythms with a tasty guitar lick on top and a catchy chorus. Here, Jones sounds most like the Howard we know (no pun intended) with some metalcore vocal stylings in places. 'Embracing the Torture' features some very nice drum work by Sankey and shows off Jones' range as he goes from growls to melodic chorus hook. 'For the Dead and Broken' dials it back a bit, and may be the most commercial sounding song on the release. Bringing in melodic vocals with effects, tamer guitars, and a sing-along chorus, it is reminiscent of In This Moment or Fall Out Boy (if they went Metal). 'Seven Years Alone' is very well-arranged song. The multi-layered vocals shine, but Artusato gets to flex his guitar chops quite a bit as well. This is also more on the commercial side of metal but it still hits hard. 'It's Over' is more of a straight-ahead tune that has a Sevendust-esque bent; pounding yet soulful. 'A Mind Insane' lives up to its title, a mix of tempos and mood with all members showing their strengths and then ending quietly, as if the subject broke free...or got his medication. 'Crawl from the Dark' has a sweet, almost dreamy groove in the verses while easily siding into a heavy bridge and chorus, and ending with a blistering solo by Artusato. 10 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
'The Killer' is a stuttering, creeping thing, with an almost subversive layer of acoustic guitars and a sneaky guitar riff slithering through the chorus. 'I Am The Nothing' is a song that features little hooks throughout with just enough keyboards/programming to add interest and color, and Jones really keeping the mood of the vocals in line with the subject matter. 'Shut It Down' is a showcloser, with a vocal line that begs to be shouted along with and an outro that will get folks mixing it up in the pit. Closer 'As Bright as the Darkness' is dark and cool with flanged-out guitars and vocals layered with echo. It reminded me a bit of 'Aerials' by System of a Down in flow and mood, and Jones channels a little bit of Pete Steele as well vocally which is cool as hell. The production by Logan Mader (Gojira, Divine Heresy, Soulfly) and the mix job by Chris “Zeuss” Harris provides a crisp, big, in-your-face sonic experience. Jones is in excellent vocal form, and while you can recognize the voice, there is definitely a growth and depth that is great to hear. He has clearly found a new "home" in Devil You Know, and in this reviewer's humble opinion, this release is superior to KsE's last as good as that was. Good for him...and us. – Lynn Jordan
a.k.a. Oderus Urungus of GWAR
A death in the world of metal is never easy to hear about, especially when its such a hugely impactful guy. Devastating news came down this morning that Dave Brockie of GWAR has died. Better known as his irascible alter-ego Oderus Urungus, we were hoping this was some kind of twisted hoax, which Dave would have loved, but his manager confirmed the sad truth with a message this morning:
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Jack Flanagan, manager of GWAR issued an official statement: "It is with a saddened heart, that I confirm my dear friend Dave Brockie, artist, musician, and lead singer of GWAR passed away at approximately 6:50 PM EST Sunday March 23,2014. His body was found Sunday by his band mate at his home in Richmond, VA. Richmond authorities have confirmed his death and next of kin has been notified. A full autopsy will be performed. He was 50 years old, born August 30, 1963. My main focus right now is to look after my band mates and his family. More information regarding his death shall be released as the details are confirmed."
Dave was not just a guy in a costume making jokes about sex, mass genocide and drugs, he was a legend across two or three musical sub-genres depending on whom you talk two. GWAR's musical output can be said to be “GWAR music”, a style unto their own. Not only was he a great punk rocker with roots in the 80s DC hardcore scene, he helped turn GWAR into a metal institution for twenty-five plus years. A renaissance man via the medium of having a band, Dave was a brilliant fine artist, talented writers, hilarious satirist, visual artist, and social commentator. More than all that, he was an approachable anti-rockstar in an age of self-important tools, known to friends and fans.
photographers will tell you about the fear of getting your camera ruined by the GWAR waterworks, but the exhilaration of shooting one of their live shows was unbeatable. Lastly the worst part of this story is not just that he died, but he had so much left to give us, and we will never know. Dave's wish was for GWAR to go on someday without him. One comforting notion is that he was in a very happy place in his life, as he told Ghost Cult in an interview with Omar Cordy, just a few months ago:
Dave Brockie For those of us in the music journalism world Dave was a joy to cover. He was an effusive interview, always glad to spin out tangents and wax on topics for hours. Concert
“No matter what kind of shit life takes on your fucking head there is the strength within you to some how not only just carry but to actually turn it into a positive.” R.I.P. Dave
host Cult is honored today to bring you an exclusive message from Davide Tiso, known for his work with Ephel Duath. Davide’s current passion is the creation of his ongoing project with his muse and partner, Karyn Crisis: Gospel of the Witches. Intended to be Karyn’s long anticipated solo project, it is being crafted with heavy hitters Ross Dolan (Immolation), Danny Walker (Intronaut, Murder Construct, Exhumed) and star prog producer Jamie King (Between the Buried And Me). Davide walks us through the genesis of the project:
Davide Tiso - Gospel of The Witches “I started composing songs for Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches in 2009: it is now 5 years that I’m working on and off on this project. Karyn and I dealt with, arranged, recorded, rehearsed and lived with dozen of songs to choose from and I’m nothing short of amazed at how good the 13 lucky ones that we picked sound. Most of these tracks are literally born from bursts of inspiration. There were moments where I had to run to my desk with the guitar, turn on my laptop, record and make sure to press the save button. Most of the time, half an hour was enough. I don’t recall much about the composition process, I was probably channeling from my good star. What I have stuck in mind are the following days of arranging process: every bar in this album has been maniacally shaped and refined to sound heart shattering and intense.
Musically, I feel like the key factors of this work are sonic layers and mantra-like shapes. To me these songs are like an emotional vortex that steal you away from reality for much more than their few minutes of duration. I’m so proud and impatient to finally record this album. I wanted to offer Karyn the very best I can as a musician and band member and I feel that my dedication and obstinacy paid off big time. These songs are what Karyn Crisis proudly sounds like these days: to my ears, and as a fan, I feel like this album is going to touch the very core of who has followed her thus far in her career. Karyn is one of a kind – too challenging for many, too twisted for others. I say we are lucky to have her around the way she is.” –Davide Tiso, April 2014 To launch Gospel of Witches and bring it to the masses, the group has launched a Kickstarter. The rewards are mostly personal, unique and crafted from Karyn’s visionary brilliance. More about Gospel of the Witches: http://curranreynolds.blogspot.com/2014/03/ karyn-crisis-gospel-of-witches.html Ghost Cult will bring you further updates on this project from now until its release.
ALBUM REVIEWS FESTIVAL REPORTS CONCERT REVIEWS INTERVIEWS
CLOSING A CHAPTER Stavros Giannoplous of Twilight by Keith Chachkes
“We haven't been doing any interviews, so it's a miracle it's been getting out there at all. Europe seems to be latching on to this record, so that is good.” These are the first words Stavros Giannoplous said to me concerning the just released final album from bleak black metal super-group Twilight, III: Beneath Trident's Tomb (Century Media). I addition to Stavros, the group is made up of underground metal luminaries like Wrest (Jeff Whitehead, of Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice) Imperial (Neill Jameson) (Krieg, N.I.L.) and Sanford Parker (Corrections House, Minsk, Nachtmystium, Buried At Sea) and alt-rock legend Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving). Steve was on tour with his main band, The Atlas Moth, but took time to chat with Ghost Cult back stage at The Sinclair, in Cambridge MA. He talked about the difficulty in finishing the album, some drama going on in the band, the idea of a whether a super-group can really work in this day and age, and working with Thurston Moore. Right off the bat, he first touched on why Twilight is ending: “The reason this is the final record is with all the negative shit that's going down with Blake (Judd), 16 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
I think it's just best. Me and Jeff, Sanford and Neill are all really close friends. I have seen everyone, all but Jeff on this tour and we wanted to continue to make music. But at this point we are just mired in bullshit. Also before we started this band, before I even became involved with it there were no movies with sparkly vampirevvs (laughs). Shit's changed and it's for the best. I was in Philadelphia just 48 hours ago and we were talking about doing something else eventually, so there is always a door open to work with Neill, Jeff, and Sanford again, just not under this name. We definitely won't call it Twilight. I wouldn't say its the total end of the band, but the end of this chapter with this band. We we very adamant about cutting the ties. Especially since Blake isn't even on this last record.” Pulling no punches, Stavros gave us an inside view of the events leading up to Blake's departure from the group and the aftermath of trying to finish the record without him: He brought in a couple of songs, but once everything went down, that was it. It was two songs and they made up a very short amount of the record. We were just, not wanting to deal with this anymore. He had pulled some really
backhanded shit, and I won't go into the details. The songs he brought in, we got rid of them and made it known that this was it. He's got problems. Unfortunately at some point or another when you end up in a scenario when you are constantly getting shit on, whether it's on purpose or not, or just happenstance, it doesn't matter that someone is just fucked up. At some point or another, no matter how much you care about a person, you can't deal with them business wise. When I met Blake, he was not as nearly as fucked up as he is now. People change that way. I absolutely wish him the best, and good luck to him. We mused about the notion that by nature supergroups are not really meant to last. Stavros argued that it depends on the collection of artists in question: “Look at even Down, right? That band put on one of the best fucking records I have ever heard in my entire life to this fucking day, and what did it take, 7-8 years before they ever put out another record. It was a while. It kind of all depends on the timing, I guess. With this particular group, there isn’t a live presence to our band, nor will there never will be. So I just can't see it being in the forefront in out minds. See Imperial does stuff all the time. Sanford does production all day long, and also he has Corrections House now, which is almost like a full time band now. This is something like the flip side with a so called super-group where Corrections House can work. That is one of those things for instance for Bruce, where Yakuza and Bloodiest don't work all the time. Sanford doesn't have a full-time band. And both EyeHateGod and Neurosis tour limitedly. So these guys, that is the other side of coin of the super-group story. Like “Oh! Something like this works, because we had some free time.” Or we happen to have some free time. So for Twilight, particularly for our group, inevitably it would get longer between records, or maybe even never have another one.You never know.” Since most of the remaining members of the group live far from each other in some cases, we asked about the creative process and how the tracking was all done: “Jeff was living in Chicago at the time, so he and I wrote the bulk of the record together. Actually all the
guitar riffs that weren't Thurston's, were written by me and Jeff. And you know...we just added on top of it and added on top of it, and added on top of it. It's much different than a band that is just in one studio. Thurston came in and did his parts. We could do all kinds of looping and other crazy shit. All of the sudden someone is banging on a jug of water, which is cool. The two records that we did together, we just settled into a certain vibe. That is just how it works. That is how we write music for that band. It kind of showed. The song structures definitely vary throughout any of the Twilight records, and we were pretty loose form wise, and we definitely got experimental with the writing.” Century Media is doing a very nice, limited digipack release of the album along with other formats. We asked about the value of limited edition releases, and if other versions will be forthcoming. “The vinyl is out.You know honestly as far as I know, there will only be the digipack and the vinyl forever. Because I didn't do any more layout work than that. At the time everything was going down with Blake, Everyone was mad at each other, not particularly us at each other, but more all of us at Blake. really. And so when that started happening, everyone stopped giving a fuck. And then our relationship with the A & R guy fell apart, so I had to take control of everything business wise and then I got busy with some other business opportunities too. I really didn't have much help. And I didn't really want to take the time to put together a booklet for a record that everyone had checked out on, since everyone was so mad. So there is not going to be more a limited release than there is now, but knowing Century Media, they will keep it in print anyway.” Sometimes in the business of music the challenges come from outside of the band too, as Stavros learned: “I've always done all the business for The Atlas Moth. But this is like a machine. It's the five of us, a well-oiled machine working together, grooving together and sharing the responsibilities together. I am not running the show here by any means. We've all worked our way up together, so we know how the inner workings of the band goes. But all of the sudden when it comes to being voted in as
“With this particular group, there isn’t a live presence to our band, nor will there never will be. So I just can't see it being in the forefront in out minds.” – Stavros Giannoplous
FUCK YOU! We're from Chicago
Stavros Giannopoulos Dishes About Chicago Chicago has always been one of the cultural centers of the country, and certainly a fair share of underground bands have come out of there. Lately,“The Windy City” has been crushing it with tons of killer bands, breeding a new wave of brutal sludge, death, grindcore and of course, doom metal. We asked Chi-Town lifer Stavros Giannopoulos about what fuels the creative furnace from his hometown? “Everyone is mad that Disturbed is the biggest metal band from there? (laughs) It's a gnarly ass city! It's really cold. And then it's really muggy and disgusting. There seems to be a lot of things that happens to fuck the inhabitants there on a regular basis. It's a gross, tough city to live in. It's a little grueling, you know? So there really should be angry music coming from there. Growing up, I didn't feel like there were that many metal bands that were doing something cool. These days every new record I hear from local bands, I'm like “Holy shit, that's pretty cool!” It's not even like growing up other places, where we had the big, local Chicago band that everyone listens to. We had all sorts of nu-metal shit in the early 2000s. It's a gross, tough city to be from, and also constantly being over-shadowed by New York, so we have that little brother syndrome. So we are kind of like “Fuck off!”We have an attitude.” As told to Keith Chachkes
the guy to handle stuff, someone already had their hands in the pot mixing things up before me. So I was the guy that almost had to come in and clean it up. It was definitely a bit much for me, and I was already dealing with a ton of crap. The Atlas Moth will always be my first and foremost priority. So I was doing countless, worthless hours dealing with bullshit doing stuff for a record no one seemingly gave a fuck about. I'm really happy everything came together, and we are all really proud of it. But at the same time, under the circumstances, you can hate something! (laughs) The things that bring up memories from the record, man, that could really piss you off. But in hindsight we are all still really stoked on it now that we've gotten a little hindsight. It's been almost two years since we recorded it.” One of the real bright spots of the record was working with Moore. Not only did the mainstream media latch on to the notion of him joining the band, the band was equally intrigued about working with him. A seemingly random sequence of events led to their collaboration: “He came in for the second half of the session. We did two sessions and he came in for the second week. The Sonic Youth sound guy worked with Sanford in his studio in Chicago. He told us Thurston was really into black metal. This was around the time of the second record. And we said “Send some of this stuff to Thurston Moore and see what he thinks about it. And see if we wants to do a record with us.” And he did! (laughs) And I was like “Well I'll be damned!” (laughs) “We'd better write a brand new Twilight record!” He was incredible. He was super rad to work with. He was totally mellow and great to work with. He totally knew his black metal. It was fucking awesome to be able to write a record with that dude. And also to watch him play and get that much closer to someone with a unique style, it was awesome. He was super awesome to work with. We talked about including him for future sessions, which I would love. He is just a music library. He is fucking incredible. I don't know how that guy puts it all together in his head. He's something else man!”
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WATERS Anneke van Giersbergen Words And Photos By Susanne A. Maathuis
e were thrilled to get an interview with Anneke van Giersbergen, a lady with a voice like a bell and a personality that matches the smile that seems to permanently inhabit her face. Best known from The Gathering and collaborations with Anathema and Devin Townsend among others, she went solo in 2007. Chatting with us just before her show in 013, and a few days before she set off to the USA to be on the Progressive Nation At Sea cruise. We spoke with her of the cruise, audiences, how metal never lets you go, and of being a mother and a performing artist.
You’ve been invited to go along with Progressive Nation At Sea, a cruise, with pretty much the biggest talents in the Prog genre. How excited are you? “Totally excited, there are some really big names, and also some huge heroes of mine, who I’ve been listening to since I was little. For instance Adrian Belew and I’ve followed him since I know him, he worked with Zappa and King Crimson and I listen to all that stuff. I think he’s one of the best singers in the genre and of course best guitar players. So yeah, I’m just looking forward to watch all the shows. And I get to play myself, And it’s on a cruise and it’s good weather. So all these cool facts make me not sure what to expect. I have no idea how this is going to go, or how much fun it will be. It’s a whole different thing so I’m looking very much forward to it.” I know you’ve worked with Devin Townsend who is on the billing and you’ve worked with Anathema in the past, who are also going. Are there going to be any collaboration on the boat? “Well, officially I’m playing with Devin Townsend and I’m playing my own solo set two times. If Anathema ask me do anything of course I will, and I think Danny is going sing a few songs with me in my solo set. Cause it’s you know, old friends. It should be a logical thing to do. It’s going to be good.” Pretty much abroad, Europe and the USA, you are regarded highly, while here in the Netherlands we’re pretty much just peeking a round the corner with some thing you’ve done. Do you notice the difference? “There’s a difference in all territories I’d say. And it comes with waves. With The Gathering,
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in certain places they were bigger than I am now, and in certain places they were smaller than I am now. And also I notice differences in the audience, like in Europe I have a much younger crowd, new kids discovering the alternative genre and myself. And in the Netherlands when I’m on the television like at de Wereld draait door, there are people who discover me there. People who never listened to metal or rock before but they do like this. They’re people who listen to mainstream music but they do like alternative rock, so they like this. So you have the old Gathering fans, the new fans and the very new fans, who I call office ladies, the spunky office ladies with the red hair and who have kids.” With The Gathering you were catering to an alternative metal crowd, while with your new things, it’s not really metal anymore. Is The Gathering still looming over you or has it grown into its own thing with a separate existence? “It has grown into its own thing, but my past is always with me, because it’s part of me. I actually like that very much. I like people who listened to The Gathering in the old days and they come check me out now as well and they like the new stuff as well. I really really like that, because everyone is always in transition anyway all the time, in terms of what they listen to and what they feel like. So I am always evolving but the audience is as well. And I love The Gathering music and I love to play the songs. And sometimes I still make dark music and sometimes I make a pop album. And that’s the cool thing about being solo, I can make whatever. Whatever comes to me I can actually make happen, and that’s nice.” We’re more metal than rock oriented at Ghost Cult Magazine and there are probably plenty other metal oriented magazines that keep an eye on you from when you were in The Gathering. Metalheads don’t really let you go ever do they? “No. I made one album, In Your Room, that was quite a dry pop album, although if I listen back to it, it’s quite alternative and has quite a few dark moments. But lots people said this was quite light to their taste, yet they still come out and see my show and they still buy the album, because actually they are just curious about everything. And what greater audience can you wish for than that they are curious? And then they have their favorite album. Some people really like the pop album, or the ballad album or a bit darker. And now this one, drive, is very up tempo pop-rock. But it’s very heavy in production. I noticed people in prog think this album is so much fun. It is well
played it is good quality, it has good vocals, they all love that. But it’s all three minutes songs, so it’s not necessarily what they always listen to with the Pink Floyd stuff and the long songs. But they say it gives them high spirits and energy, so they take along the three minute songs as it gives them energy. And I have no idea when I write songs and record, which group of people will like it and who will not like it. For some reason the prog world has embraced this album. It's great!” Was it Drive or the one before that was nominated for the award in the Netherlands? “No it was the one before, Everything is Changing, and I got quite far. I actually got into the top three. Of all the albums of hugely famous artists in Holland, so I was totally surprised by it.” That’s great! You also did the title track for a Dutch movie, was that on the last album or before it? “It was actually a separate track, a cover of john legend – please baby don’t fall in love with me it is called. The director actually wanted me to sing particularly that song so I recorded it for him. It was great, to be in a movie right? Like you have the last scene and then the song starts, it’s fantastic.” So would you like to do more things like that? “I would love to! Because it’s tailor made music, this is the movie, this is how it’s supposed to be and supposed to sound and you kind of tailor make your version of in this case a cover, for this movie. And I kind of like to think like that.“OK how can we get this effect, what instruments do we need, how should I sing it? Should I sing it loud and intense or softly.” It all has to do with this particular last scene of the movie. Musicians never work like that when they make an album, it’s kind of the other way around. We just do what we feel like. Unless you make a concept album.” Apart from a musician you’re also a mother, and a touring musician as well. We’ve seen with a number of other big female fronted bands and solo artists as well that this becomes a problem.You however seem to be combining the two rather well, how do you do this? “I often wonder. I think actually every working mother has the same challenge. Because you have to divide family time and work time. As we own our own business, we can work 24 hours a day. There is always work. So we have to make a conscious choice every day. Now I’ll stop working, or start working. Now I’ll take care of the kids. On Sunday GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 21
we usually make this mathematical schedule of the rest of the week, and each week we say “how the hell are we going to do this?”. But we make it work every week, and I love the two worlds. I love being at home, but when I’m home a long time I get anxious. Then I play a lot I love to be outside and play a lot and I love to be on the move. And after a tour I go home and I love the balance between the two world. Because I know people who only tour, and don’t have a family or kids. And they get a little estranged and detached from the world. They don’t have many real friends anymore. There are bands who can totally do that, but a lot of people I see sort of become stranger, and being a mother it really grounds me. Because you have to be up at 7 and you have to make dinner. So you can’t be a diva or anything. It’s two worlds that are great together. It’s a challenge physically, because I never sleep.” Especially when you’re on tour for a longer time, because your husband, Rob, is in you band as well, how do you do this, do you take your son with you? “Sometimes, when we tour in nightliner buses in Europe. We have a buss with a bed, you you have your little habitat outside the venue. Then we take Fin, our son, with us. He gets homework from school, so he studies every day. Usually tours are not very long, maybe three weeks or so, and he comes with us. So I have Rob and Fin my son, and then I don’t really have to go home, because I have home with me. And then I’m totally happy playing and being with them it’s all I need. But there are a lot of times I’m away on my own or when I’m on the road with Rob but with out Fin. We have good people who take care of him then, but we always try to combine it. He is quite used to it as well.” Any last things you’d like to share? “I am writing new stuff, and I have no idea where it’s going. I’m always inspired right after I finish an album. I always think okay, now I’m going to go here, or there and I’m writing stuff. We’ll be touring in Europe and South America, maybe North America until the end of the year. Not everything is set in stone yet but we’re working on some tours that will be playing around the year. That’s the round we make, writing and touring.”
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Apocalyptica has been touring Europe to start 2014, recently performing their ‘Apocalyptic Symphony’ project with help from the The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. Performing the works of great classical composer Richard Wagner from last year’s Wagner Reloaded (BMG) album, as well as hits from their own twentyplus year career, the group is still finding ways to delight audiences. TJ Fowler of Ghost Cult caught up with Paavo Lötjönen before a homeland performance in Tampere, FI to discuss the tour, their last album, their ambitious new performances, and what the future holds. What follows is an except of the feature length video interview that can be found on the Ghost Cult YouTube page.
A TRIBUTE TO AN OLD
MASTER Paavo Lötjönen of Apocalyptica By TJ Fowler
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e met Paavo backstage and had a relaxing lengthy chat about all things Apocalyptica. We started off by discussing the current Apocalyptic Symphony tour: “We just had a show yesterday and day before yesterday with this project Apocalyptic Symphony tour which is like a special experimental project with The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. We chose the Symphony orchestra which is one of the best possible for this use in the world, I would say or least in Finland.” “It is a group of people they are all friends of ours and they are really good players like a collective like the best players from Finland and they have also played some baroque combinations before and so they are like very flexible musicians, they are classical musicians, they are many brass players, they have also played jazz music, and they are not so strictly classical. They are like a few hybrid players. This project already started a couple years ago in our minds. We have been thinking one day it would be really great to do a co-operation with Symphony orchestra, which is not cheesy. It is really like a composed arrangement so that is a synergy that works like it would be a big metal orchestra, not like a metal band and a symphony orchestra. So when you come to see the show, try to think about it as a metal orchestra on the stage.” Paavo went on to discuss the bands last few years fueling their creative passions by taking projects outside the box, in order to expand their repertoire and pursue new avenues musically than what is found in their history: “We have done for the last two years, different kinds of side projects. Apocalyptica is more known as a rock band which just plays like crazy instruments like cellos and drums and we have done lots of singing co-operations, but this time we wanted to create those instruments and those songs we have played too many times in our lives. We wanted to make new arrangements of them and create like a story line to the show. That’s our way to create new kinds of worlds and musical traits.” Next we chatted about the almost twenty year long career of the group, choosing a set list and other challenges of being a successful, veteran band: “We have played just normal, just our own songs. We love to play a couple of symphonical songs in our shows, but you can’t play only those. You've got to play 'I Don’t Care' and 'I'm Not Jesus' kind songs as well, and rock songs and party songs. But for this project we chose more like a symphonical, big line songs and it is a bit more artistical and serious kinds of music. Especially GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 25
“Apocalyptica is more known as a rock band which just plays like crazy instruments like cellos and drums and we have done lots of singing co-operations, but this time we wanted to create those instruments and those songs we have played too many times in our lives. We wanted to make new arrangements of them and create like a story line to the show. That’s our way to create new kinds of worlds and musical traits.” – Paavo Lötjönen
the first half, it is really like a big hammer.” Following this successful run of shows, the band will again revisit the full Wagner Reloadedtype of performances, with actors and dancers and a full symphony orchestra. “The last two years we have done this Wagner Reloaded (show). It is a massive ass project with 200 dancers, symphony orchestra and us. We have two shows and as you said we are going to have extra shows for the next summer. Then also, a year earlier we had one show with a Finnish soprano star, like a first class singer. A symphony orchestra and her singing and we are playing. We have a third symphony orchestra cooperation now what is happening last two years.” “It was really massive.You can find some nice video footage on YouTube or our Apocalyptica Facebook, or Apocalpytica.com.” Speaking to the ambitious nature of putting on such a spectacle, Paavo discusses the genesis of the project. “I would say Wagner Reloaded it was more the idea of Gregor Seyffert, the choreographer. It was not really our project. Of course it is a big challenge to create such a massive story and dance project. So we are really happy to do that a couple times more and there is some plans that we could even tour some with that, but you know” “The Apocalyptic Symphony what is happening today, is a bit smaller production, but it is still a massive production. So it would be easier to tour with this. Now this European tour, we play some shows in Finland, then Russia, Saint Petersburg, Moscow.”
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One of the things the group is looking forward to this summer is the bands' expected appearance at the legendary Wacken Open Air Festival: “It is a fantastic festival.You know it is a really strange thing, it is the most peaceful festival in the world. There is no problems with fighting” “It is like metal people are like a big family together and in Germany everything is working. You know Germans. Everything works and everything is taken care of. Sometimes the weather is really nice, but still it works, it would be catastrophic in Italy or Spain. But it is fantastic festival, we will be playing main stage, as headliner in the evening, for 80,000 people.” Finishing this multi-year cycle for these experimental projects, Apocalyptica has their sights set on writing and recording a new original album, expected out in 2015. “Whatever you do you will always learn something about that. I guess that is the biggest influence. Of course, now we have done this singer symphony orchestra, Wagner Reloaded with symphony orchestra, and Apocalyptica Symphony with an orchestra. So we are now thinking, now hell, we want to create like a real metal album. No orchestra and no classical twists. Back to basics, sure, at the moment that is the feeling. We are just in the start in the process in the new album. So we don’t know yet. Whatever can happen. So basically then the aim is not to create one more symphonical orchestra album. We will recap this project and you will get some video footage of this later for release as well.You never know, but it is likely to release with the album.”
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KNOWLEDGE KNOWLEDGE O O FF TT H H EE
Steve Mills comes across as affable and enthusiastic: like a best friend you haven't seen for ages. The occasional expectation of otherwise is something that narks him: "People diss doom as a bunch of Neanderthal cavemen who can't play properly and don't have two brain cells to rub together. They would be wrong. There's a big thought process in doom music, and a lot of creativity and effort in there."
here's certainly nothing dull about aptly-named The Wounded Kings, the Devon quintet Steve created in a very different guise ten years ago, and currently basking in the glory of across-theboard acclaim for their fourth and most recent album Consolamentum (Candlelight Records). After earning his spurs with future luminaries from Ramesses and Ishmael, and garnering interest as a drummer in Jus Oborn's pre-Electric Wizard incarnation Lord of Putrefaction, Steve felt it was time to branch out with his own ideas. "In 2004, I couldn't find many like-minded musicians in my area so bought an old 16-track, and recorded the vast majority of the music of the first two albums myself. I then hooked up with George (Birch, original vocalist), who at the time was a singer-songwriter with a quite unusual voice which is something I like. We had no aspirations initially other than to get a record deal and get the stuff out there - that was our sole aim, as it is with most young bands." Amazingly, that first deal took three years to appear. "No one would touch us with a barge pole for a while. Back then nobody wanted that occult feel, and you had to really put the shifts in and believe in what you were doing. Then Duncan Dinsdale - who was brilliant - saw something in us, and put our debut album out. Unfortunately 28 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
Steve Mills of The Wounded Kings By Paul Quinn
his label folded but, by then, we'd been heard and were picked up fairly quickly by IHate." As well as lamenting the slow demise of MySpace, which helped the band form a base through its formative years, Steve talks fondly with regard to An Introduction to the Black Arts, the split release with US doom monsters Cough which followed hot on the heels of second album The Shadow over Atlantis in late 2010. "None of the band's output has ever come about by design. Even the fact that each of the albums deals with one of the four natural elements wasn't conscious: it was only when my partner said one day 'D'you realise what you're doing here?' that it actually dawned on me what was happening. The weird thing is, we'd recorded our contribution to the split (the fifteenminute Curse of Chains) almost a year before it actually came out. I've been asked since if I'd ever do another split and, whereas I'd never say never, it would be hard to top it as for where we were at the time that was pretty much perfect: a work of art." It was then, however, when things began to unravel. "We got our ground-breaking Roadburn gig off the back of our debut album - back then we were a pimple on the arse of doom, and it would've really given us a boost had we not hit the floor soon after that gig. We already knew our drummer Nick
was going to emigrate, but soon after Roadburn George announced his desire to leave, as it wasn't really suiting his style. This really pulled the rug from under my feet, but thankfully everyone agreed to stay on until after we'd done a UK tour. Just before it Nick broke his arm...it was a hell of a time. Happily we're all still good mates and I've got nothing but the fondest memories of that time. But then I was back on my own again." Steve's focus never shifted, however, and after a nervy few months he was back on his feet with some new bandmates: "All of our albums were a product of where we were at the time, and the sound is what's going through my head right then. Embrace of the Narrow House (the debut album) sounds really low-key due to the lack of equipment and expertise I had at the time. By ...Shadow, I'd gained a bit more experience so the sound was a little better; then of course, by the time In the Chapel of the Black Hand (the third album) came around, we'd got a little bigger and labels were interested in putting a bit of money to the recording element. Though in a strange way, even if we had the same tools in our early days the sound wouldn't change too much as I have a style of writing which shows through in all the albums. In the early days I just had to drench everything in reverb!” To complete the four elements cycle, Steve wasn't really sure how to reflect the remaining ingredient of air within new album Consolamentum. "As we all know, air is light. But we're a bloody doom band! So I really wasn't sure how we were going to portray that property through the music". The result is an almost lazy, laconic groove filtering through this quite mesmerising release, sliding seductively alongside the trademark colossal riffs and powerful, leaden rhythms. Electrifying lead work dances and writhes in an achingly beautiful fashion, lifting the soul from the dark, incanting torch voice of Sharie Neyland. The occasionally ethereal nature takes you on a weirdly uplifting journey and is exactly what Steve desired, as he explains in a typically self-deprecating way: "I like the low-end: simple as that! I classed ...Chapel as a dense, layered, wall of sound effect, which is just what I was after as it reflected the nine circles of hell - the fire element - but I probably don't do it enough justice by saying it's a little one-dimensional. What I wanted for Consolamentum was space. Two rhythm guitars, myself and Alex (Kearney) left and right, leaving others to work their magic, such as Mike (Heath, drummer) to ease in with his own beats and fills." So does Steve invite ideas from the rest of the band, or is he the time-worn studio despot? " I'm more of a guide as I have the initial idea how I want it to sound. But at the end of the
day someone like Mike is in the band because he's a fucking great drummer, and you don't stifle somebody's creativity as that's why you want them there in the first place. Sharie, for example, believes every word she's singing, and really makes you sit up and listen. She's the only woman I know who can sing in B, and to deliver it as strikingly as she does is amazing. I bring the idea to the table, then let everyone do their thing. I'm just really happy and proud they trust and have faith in me. We've been going three years in this incarnation now, together with Al (Eliadis) on bass, and I tell you this line-up's a keeper." This shines out of the performance; the overall sound of Consolamentum showcasing five musicians right at the top of their game, all sharing in the spotlight and utilising it to amazing effect. Steve puts this down to the way they fit together: "The nice thing is, I don't feel this is a new band anymore. We just work so well together: we've been out on the road, doing loads of shows, and we've reached the point where we can second-guess each other. There's a real conviction on this album, and this is borne out in the fact that we recorded the basic tracks for the album live, and in one evening." Given the accomplished sound and frightening majesty of the album, this is a staggering achievement. So will we see this album toured around the UK and abroad? Sadly but understandably, this seems a forlorn hope. "The last UK tour we did nearly destroyed the band, and left me saddled with a heavy debt which, thankfully, the Cough split helped me out with. When on tour we've got five members' kit plus drivers, vans, fuel costs to pay out. We're not after Download-style fees, and don't want to be treated like royalty, but we have been treated more like human beings in Europe than in our own country, and tend to get what we've been promised. There are one or two exceptions to the rule - those promoters know who they are - so there will be a couple of shows on our shores. We'd really love to do more but we just can't afford to return in the state I did on the last occasion. We also need a fairly big stage - the last thing you want is Sharie's hair in your monitor!! " This is becoming a depressingly familiar tale, especially from bands trying to spread the good news from the extremities of our sceptred isle. Hopefully more home promoters will see fit to make it affordable for The Wounded Kings to play everywhere because, as their latest fantastic effort testifies, they're too bloody good to be kept a secret.
"The last UK tour we did nearly destroyed the band, and left me saddled with a heavy debt...” – Steve Mills
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t wasn’t easy to get a hold of Dominic ‘Nicky’ Palermo. If I’m not mistaken it took something like three attempts to interview the founder, guitarist and vocalist of Nothing. Well, shit happens. No big deal when you’re dealing with a dude that’s not an asshole (sometimes an asshole can be described as a rockstar, FYI). Anyway, I had the pleasure of talking with Palermo about Nothing, their debut album, Guilty of Everything (Relapse), and everything that surrounds this world where literature is as important as punk rock music, loud guitars and shit loads of reverb.
FULL CIRCLE Dominic “Nicky” Palermo of Nothing by Tiago Moreira
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“It started with me, just me, and then I putted some people together to help me record the demo [titled Poshlost]. Shortly after the demo I met Brandon [Setta, guitar and vocals] and we started to write music together and in between of what we have now and then, it’s gone through probably twenty people. But everything is really tight now. Finally, after three years, I found a couple of people that are decent human beings and fine musicians”, starts Nicky, the who founded Nothing back in 2011. Going back to those times where Nothing was just kind of an idea he continues, “Even during the days of Horror Show… I always wanted a project like this. But I was young and impatient. I didn’t have the necessary tools to build it.” Yeah, one might think that Nothing is just this band with loads of hype, created like six months ago to proceed in this music business with pure swings of luck. It isn’t the case. Sorry! Not only was hard to create this entity and find the right people but there’s even the fact of Palermo’s past experiences. Horror Show, Palermo’s previous band, a hardcore punk outfit that was described, by Deathwish (who released two Horror Show’s 7” EPs - Our Design and The Holiday) as a band that “truly lived the pain of their songs every day”. “It’s an inspiring place, nonetheless. It wasn’t a pleasant place to be but if you are able to come out of something like that you come inspired by it, for sure”, explains Palermo about his experience post-Horror Show and pre-Nothing. No matter who you are, being incarcerated will ways have a profound impact on you and put things in perspective. Palermo is no different and this period of his life helped to shape this entity that we know as being Nothing. When asked him about the impact of Emil Cioran’s book, The Trouble With Being Born, on him, Palermo went into great detail: “On Downward Years To Come [a five song EP] every song was specifically about one writer that took his own life. They’re all really relevant to me. These writers got me through some of the worst times of my life, and they have been along with me for some of the better times too. They were my only friends for a while, when I was incarcerated, and they put it all out there. There’s so much pain… Richard Brautigan and Sylvia Plath, they help me and it feels like I owe something to them. I wanted to do a record dedicated to them, pretty much“. But going back to more practical things, how much of struggle it’s for this band to write music? An obvious question for everyone that had the pleasure of listen the music and read the lyrics. “We write songs pretty consistently. Brandon doesn’t work and he just sleeps on my couch at my apartment all the time. We usually just sit around all day with our guitar in our hands constantly. We hear a riff that one of us is playing over and over again before we decide that we should take that riff and start making an actual song. It’s kind of like, when we’re ready to record it’s when we really start to digging in and we
try to turn those riffs, those ideas into songs.”
On Guilty of Everything, the debut full length of this quartet from Philadelphia, it’s almost tangible the evolution they achieved since releasing their first EP, Downward Years To Come. “Why bother creating new things if they are just a pure stagnant with no progress whatsoever? We always try to better ourselves with music”. Sure, Jeff Ziegler was an important piece on Nothing’s evolution, but the band shows an urgency of staying on the run like if someone would shoot them in the head in case they stop and get too comfortable. With the progress of this conversation we reach a turning point where things start to be a little bit clearer. It starts with an innocent question: why this title? “We were thinking about what we were doing with the record and at that time, actually before even record it… I was reading a book called “Guilty of Everything” by Herbert Huncke. Herbert Huncke is a writer, a criminal and a drug addicted living in New York. Basically is a part of the group of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, etc.”, says Palermo, talking about the group of writers known to be a part of The Beat Generation, a group of American post-World War II writers that were writing about this “culture” of the outsider (the rejection of social standards, innovations in style, experimentation with drugs, alternative sexualities, etc.). “They met all in New York and he [Huncke] really turned them on into drugs, crime and everything. That pushed them to opening up to the world, which made them like the elite writers of that generation [1950s]. I know that a lot of people don’t know about these writers. It’s nice to give a nod to what inspires you and what inspired something. Sometimes those people get hidden in the past and they never get recognized.” That explains a whole lot. First it gives the needed space to clarify why they signed with a metal label like Relapse – “We play shows with punk bands, with hardcore bands, indie rocks bands, etc. We’ve never really fit in necessarily anyway” – then allow us to ask about their use of drugs while recording Guilty of Everything.“This was not the first time that we record music while under the effect of performance enhancing drugs. Usually we use all kind of different drugs but this time around we were so heavily stuck into the studio working, like ten hours per day. We were taking adderall at the time. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the drug but it’s a prescription drug for people who have ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder]… we probably have it anyway. Basically it makes you insanely obsessed with whatever you are doing, and makes it impossible to sleep.” It seems that there’s almost an obsession with misery. All these stories and the fact of Palermo’s lyrics are so fuckin’ dark and bleak makes us wonder if he sees himself as being a nihilistic person. “No, but I have an almost kind of hatred for human life. It’s disgusting what we are, what we do and what GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17| 31
we think that we’re here to do. It’s just dark and depressing. I’m here; I’m designed to be as anybody else but even as aware as I am about all these things, I still get out of bed everyday… I don’t want to, all the time, but I’m like everyone else, you know? I’m not superior in any way. But yeah, I think about how fucking horrible we are as a race. I don’t want to bring a child into this world. It’s funny, there are children out there, at this point, that don’t even have a fuckin’ home. It’s selfish to bring another person out of like a seemingly peaceful to this place where we are basically doomed” says Palermo. But, what about these problems of today like the Edward Snowden’s case (surveillance) and the RussiaUkraine thing? “I don’t really pay attention but it’s kind of hard to miss those kind of things. I mean, it’s just something completely expected. We do the same things over and over again. Eventually this will come to an end and the world will just do a restart of sorts, you know? Everything comes full circle again. We can take all we want but there’s no stopping what is coming from us.”
Funny to see how much of Kurt Cobain is in Palermo… I mean, not only Nothing is punk as fuck, just like Nirvana, but it seems that it goes beyond when we see that Palermo shares some views that Cobain always confessed so publicly. But there’s one more thing: Nothing, just like Nirvana, loves to play live. How much of a problem is to want to destroy eardrums? The relationship between them and the sound guys must be wonderful. “It will be easier to deal with it over here [U.S.A.] than where you’re at [Europe]. I heard that over there they have like a 100 decibel limit… it’s never gonna work out. We don’t have issues with sound guys. I have issues with assholes. We work with a sound guy last night, in Birmingham, Alabama, and he was great. He was so attentive and he cared about his job. It is tough when you walk into a venue where there’s some guy that gets paid 30 dollars and doesn’t wanna be there and doesn’t care about the band… Sometimes that guy feels even offended by what the bands asks, mostly because the band is asking something that’s different. That’s an asshole, that’s not a sound guy”.
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BACK BACK TO TO THE THE STARS STARS
Charlotte Wessels of Delain by Isabell Köster
Ever since the emergence of their debut
Lucidity in 2006, has their unique blend of
catchy melodies and heavy riffs made Dutch symphonic metal outfit Delain a force to be reckoned with. Originally planned as a studio project only, nowadays they are a successful live band and about to release their fourth, highly anticipated full length studio album The Human Contradiction (Napalm Records).
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ront lady Charlotte Wessels charmingly reveals the idea behind the mysterious title. “The name is actually taken from one of my favourite books. It’s a trilogy called Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler, and it is a post-apocalypse story. It’s kind of sci-fi, which is funny, cause I never really took to sci-fi before, so this is the first time where I really appreciated it. Basically they introduce the human contradiction, as a theory which explains why humanity didn’t last. According to the book, the contradiction is that as a species we are both intelligent and hierarchic. The fact is though that successful intelligent life forms are not hierarchic, because this hierarchic thing makes for this ‘us versus the others-mentality’, which makes us rank things by random qualities.” In the last couple of years Charlotte has been especially interested in the whole idea of otherness, both on an artistic as well as on an academic level. “This topic was of course already very present in our previous record. With The Human Contradiction we actually continue this idea lyrically. There are many songs
“I have definitely become more political myself. In the past we had some discussions about this in the band, because first and foremost we are making music and just want people to have a good time when they come to our shows and rather forget about their problems than take more home with them.” – Charlotte Wessels
which are about otherness in one way or another.” The topics Delain address in their songs seem to have become much more diverse and rooted in current social and political happenings than at the start of their career. Charlotte agrees with that.“I have definitely become more political myself. In the past we had some discussions about this in the band, because first and foremost we are making music and just want people to have a good time when they come to our shows and rather forget about their problems than take more home with them. So there is no agenda behind our music, I simply write about what’s on my mind by default.” Nevertheless,The Human Contradiction contains some songs whose lyrics are quite complex. For example the song 'Tell Me, Mechanist', tells the captivating story of a dispute between the philosophers Descartes and Voltaire. Charlotte is still fascinated by the subject. “In the 17th century you had this philosopher and scientist called René Descartes. He was very famous and had a lot of ideas where he was really ahead of his time and one of his ideas was that all things on this earth are made up of small mechanic parts, like a clock. This was quite a smart remark, because of course they hadn’t discovered DNA yet, or atoms and his idea that the world was made up of smaller parts is kind of were science went later. But his statement had a lot of negative implications also, because he claimed that humans are the only ones with a God granted soul. So basically he said if you hurt animals, you cut them open, and they scream, this is just the spring that you have touched that is attached to screaming, it’s not that they actually feel pain, cause humans are the only ones that feel pain. And this was very convenient, because it was the time when they started to really get interested in human anatomy and they opened up
animals to see how the heart works, how the lungs work, when they were still alive so they could see the blood flow et cetera. People who still believe in this mechanistic world view today are called mechanists. Then Voltaire, another philosopher, replied to Descartes theory by saying, and this is actually were I shamelessly stole my lyrics from, Voltaire said: ‘You cut open this animal and you see in him exactly the same veins of feeling as in yourself, tell me, mechanist, did nature arrange all the springs of feeling in him in order not to feel?’ And I thought this was so beautiful. However, I’m very much aware that this song especially is kind of more abstract and hard to get when you do not know the theory behind it. Of course the lyrics in the chorus go ‘If we could go back to the stars, we would see we are not that far apart’, if you don’t know that it’s talking about evolution and stuff, then it could just as well be a love song, which I really like about it.” Charlotte is a real animal lover and has recently made some significant changes with regards to her lifestyle. “I’ve become a vegetarian recently and I’m cutting back on my entire animal intake. I cannot call myself vegan yet, because I have to cheat still a little bit too much, and the actual vegans will become upset. So this is one of the recent changes I’ve made and I try to make our house eco-proof. I live in a house from the 1600, which means that we have only one layer of glass everywhere and basically for years we thought that is okay, but we are heating so much that it is not in line anymore with the ideals that my partner and I have.” However, she doesn’t want to impose her own values on other people in any way. “Everybody should decide GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 35
Charlotte Wessels Chases Twin Dreams
It's tough to imagine balancing the rigours of academia and the life of a professional musician, but for the time being Charlotte Wessels is doing both. Pursuing her master’s degree in Gender studies the last few years, while meeting the demands of Delain's touring and recording schedule have not been easy, especially when Charlotte quest in higher learning is tougher than your average master's candidate. She further discusses her thesis work: “I looked into the abusing of animals which is called ‘speciesism’. I described speciesism in line with sexism and racism and all the other –isms which are there. Because in fact when it comes to animals, we have a lot of reasons for treating animals differently than humans and a lot of them are very valid, but when it comes down to it, the only thing that is a separation when we for example decide who do we kill and who do we not kill, is species, and species doesn’t say anything about intelligence or the ability to feel. It is about otherness in the way that with speciesism, as well as with sexism or with racism, we discriminate on the basis of a random quality, and in this case the quality is species.” The bright vocalist recalls the last phase of her studies as completely nerve-racking. “The deadline of my thesis and the deadline of the album were only a week apart, which of course made everything extra stressful and at one point I felt like I was about to die,” admits Charlotte with a sigh. “In the midst of it all, I talked to my thesis supervisor and told her ‘I think I’m not going to make it’. And I knew that there was this arrangement that if you get a grade which is too low, you get a month to repair it. So I directly asked her: ‘Can’t you just give me the low grade right away, so I can have an extra month?’ And she answered: ‘This is a strange question, people don’t usually ask for low grades.You have to hand something in that looks at least half-decent.’ So I thought to myself: ‘I will do as much as possible within the time that I have, but it’s probably going to be bad anyway.’ And then I handed in this version which I thought would be a draft and which I thought I would have another month to repair, and suddenly I got 7.5 out of 10 for it. So given the crazy time frame, I’m pretty happy with the result.” As told to Isabell Köster
for themselves what they want to do. When I talk about these matters in our songs, I just want to address things I care about, but never suggest that I know all the answers. Whenever you make big changes in your life, you really have to believe in them yourself. I will never say ‘you should do this or that’ that is simply not my style.” The talented musician has just completed her master’s degree in Gender studies and is now standing at a crossroads in her life. “I was doing my studies and Delain, and now I don’t know what I will end up doing in the future, so this really isn’t the right time to ask me about it, because now of course I fall into this black hole,” she says jokingly. Then adds:“Actually Delain is becoming more and more of a full time job, so the next year is really going to decide whether I can do this full time or whether I have to do something next to it.” Asked about the writing and recording process of the output, Charlotte has a lot to convey. “We always write the songs with, what we like to call the ‘Delain writing team’. It consists of keyboarder Martijn, me and Guus Eikens. Guus Eikens is actually not in our live band, but he has been involved with Delain from the very beginning, so he feels like a band member to us. The rest of the work on The Human Contradiction was very different from our previous album, because for our last release we were involved with three different labels. First it was Roadrunner, then it was Warner Brothers and we were moved to another office on top of that. After that it was the label which actually released the album, so we had a lot of people involved, a lot of opinions involved. So that’s why at this point, we thought that we are just going to make music by ourselves and are only going to include other people when we really need to. As a result, this is undeniably an album were we took matters into our own hands again and purely relied on ourselves for both the writing of the songs and also the production. Martijn was back as a producer which he had done for Lucidity and April Rain as well and I think that has created a very creative and free atmosphere within the band.”
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THE EMPEROR RETURNS Steve Zetro Souza of Hatriot By Keith Chachkes
atriot has been a fast riser musically. In less than four years the band has cut their teeth touring, released an excellent EP, and a full length in 2013 Heroes of Origin. Coming right back with their new album Dawn of the new Centurion (Massacre), Steve told Ghost Cult about the difference between the two albums: “I think that Heroes of Origin was kind of a quick killer. The songs were very intense. I like to explain that it was like putting a fist up to your face, keeping it there and not letting it go until the album was over. And then when the album was done, it was like a breath of fresh air. Dawn of the New Centurion is more like a stealth killer. It's still brutal and fast. If you know any history, the Romans were the ultimate warriors, and Roman soldiers were the ultimate warriors; and they were called the Centurions. So we are the new Centurions. So we blew your faces apart with Heroes of Origin, but 38 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
Steve 'Zetro' Souza is living metal history. A fixture in the Bay Area Thrash scene for 35 years, he played a pivotal role in that era coming about to be one of the most dominant forces in metal music history. As the front man of Legacy, the forerunner to Testament, he laid the foundation that band in its early days that led to their future success. As the second front man of Exodus (from 1986-1993, 2002 -2004) he not only helped cement their status at thrash kings, and even helped jolt the band back to life with the excellent Tempo of the Damned in 2004. In addition to some other bands (Tenet, Dublin Death Patrol), Steve has fronted Hatriot which continues his own journey in music, continuing the tradition he helped put down long ago.
with Dawn of the New Centurions; now we are the stealth killers. We are silent, but just as deadly.” Steve has always been a strong lyricist, able to keep heady concepts and verbose lines sound smooth. Upon listening to the new album, we couldn't help but notice a few politically charged tracks such as 'From My Cold Dead Hand', 'Superkillafragsadisticactsaresoatrocious' (the title might make you chuckle, but the song is sick), and ''World Funeral', we though we heard a loose theme in these songs. Steve dismissed talk of a concept album, or even overly political motivations for his songs: “You are the second person in two days to ask me that! I don't write in concepts at all. I don't write like that. I write what intrigues me. A lot of them are social and political themes, although not necessarily about what they mean to me.You are clearly talking about 'From My Cold Dead Hand'
which opens the record. I'm not even a gun owner, nor have I ever shot a gun, and I'm not a hunter, but I believe in The Second Amendment. So I believe in freedom. With the internet you get that good information, but also not we have internet predators, which we never had before. Like all things, you get good and bad. With guns it's a life ender there, or at least a game changer definitely. So for people like Ted Nugent, who I mention at the end of the song, who are hunters, avid hunters and have been their entire life, who preach safety and the gun rights laws. I watch his show, Spirit of the Wild, and I love it! Just because it's Ted, I like to see it, and he's always talking about gun safety, and gun laws, and to be aware of that. Now I grew up in California, but to people who grew up in Wisconsin, when your son turns 10, you go buy him a shotgun and you go hunting. So for all those people, I would never change any of the laws that were implemented at the start of this country. That is basically what that is all about.” “Just like 'Weapons of Class Destruction' on the last record, it's things that intrigue me socially and politically. Things that I am socially aware of, but neither for nor against, just interested in them. I think it happens that way, not purposely. There are always things I write about in that respect. Obviously the Pussy Riot thing was very intriguing to me. That song itself is about world leaders who have the power to run their countries with tyranny, and eventually they end up with a violent ending and eventually they get ruined. That's what the word 'Superkillafragsadisticactsaresoatrocious' in the song is about (the song has an ending chant calling to “free Pussy Riot”). I think Putin, and they way they are looked at in Russia, I think that is the same way subtlety almost the same thing, but the way people look at free speech. We are in 2014 and there is so much social media with everyone has a camera and a microphone is everywhere. I don't think it should ever be regressed or oppressed. It should always be out front. To put three girls in jail, for something malicious... I think it was much more malicious act, more than just something just illegal. And to make such a big case against them and a warranting a big trial, and all this media attention, to make a large statement in a world so free now. And the anti-gay laws and the things that country is still stuck in. Even though Pussy Riot is now free,“Free Pussy Riot” stands forever. It doesn't just mean “Free Pussy Riot”. It means free anything directly that has to do with that sort of thing. When we go to other countries, and I do interviews all around the world. I talk to
everyone, and believe me, the United States is still, by far, the leader of freedom and the way of life.” We discuss with Steve the noticeable improvement on Dawn of the new Centurion from their earlier material. The songs are more adventurous and and the band overall sounds a lot tighter. Steve credits this to his enforcement of a strong band work ethic, and some new blood in the lineup too: “Like you said, it's the maturation process. Basically, these kids that I have thrown into this world, who are all really great players in their own right, even my sons who have grown up around this. They see Chuck Billy and Gary Holt as dad's friends. Phil Demmel, and guys like that are dad's friends. They don't see those guys how other people see those guys. They are not easily conned-out on that. They know what it takes to do this. They are reminded of this all the time and they know how to do it this time. Plus we have a system down. To let you in on something: we already have two new songs written for the next record. This record is not even out yet, and we have two new songs written for the next Hatriot album. So I think with the youth in the band, to keep it going, and my direction we can keep it going. I gave you one album twelve months ago. And I'm giving you a new just one a year later. Bands don't really do that anymore. It seems like there are so many years between releases and I don't know why. I don't know why it takes bands so long to put out new music these days. For us, we work every week. Whether it's writing, or rehearsing for a tour, working on the live set, that's how you keep a tight band. And they realize this works. We are a real tight machine now, because we play all the time. It's the only way I know. It's how I learned it. When I was in Legacy, we practiced every night of the week. That's just how we got there. That's all we cared about. I try to make these guys realize that to do records, to get go to Europe, to do interviews; this is all a plus and you have to be very, very thankful and appreciate it. It doesn't come to everybody. I don't ever let them lose sight of that ever.” One source of pride for Steve is that both his sons, Cody (bass) and Nick (drums) are both in his band now. Neither of them had anything handed to them, both earning their spot through a grueling process of woodshedding, and auditioning to win the jobs outright. He talked about how his sons got interested in playing music, and eventually became skilled enough to pass muster: “I remember being in Exodus for the second stint, during Tempo of the Damned. And I remember hanging out with Jack Gibson. Jack was in the
“It seems like there are so many years between releases and I don't know why. I don't know why it takes bands so long to put out new music these days. For us, we work every week. Whether it's writing, or rehearsing for a tour, working on the live set, that's how you keep a tight band.” – Steve Zetro Souza of Hatriot
MEMORIES Steve “Zetro” Souza gets Alex Skolnick to join Legacy:
As with any scene, the history of Bay Area Thrash is made up of many myths and stories. Books such as Murder in the Front Row (Bazillion Points) and Alex Skolnick's autobiography Geek To Guitar Hero (Louder Education Press) share these many stories in pictures and words. Alex's book recounts how he joined Legacy (which famously became Testament) and Zetro's involvement. We asked Steve for his recollection of meeting Alex's parents for the first time: “It's funny, but I had to talk them into letting Alex in to trying out. I had to ask his mother if he could try out for the band, because Alex was just 15. I remember the dinner I went to dinner with his father. Alex's father was a very influential sociology teacher at Cal Berkeley. When Rodney King was beaten in the 90s, Alex's father was the guy the media all talked to, since he is one of the foremost authorities on that subject, because he wrote a book on police behavior. He's at NYU now, but he was at Cal Berkeley then. I remember his family was very intellectual. I didn't come from that background, my dad was an old-school biker and he ruled with the iron fist! (laughs) Alex told us we had to ask his parents and I said “What do you mean? We have to ask their permission? Just tell them you are joining the band!” And he said “It doesn't work like that.You have to ask them first.” As told to Keith Chachkes
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middle of changing endorsements at that time. Cody just had an old bass in the house he was just banging around on. So I bought this ESP custom bass from Jack and I brought it home, and here you go Cody, there it is. And my son taught himself to play. My son Cody, especially my oldest, is really smart and he basically looked up on the internet and taught himself how to play bass. My sons being younger were really into newer bands, like Slipknot. And as it turns out, those guys were big Exodus fans, so we got to meet them. And my son got to meet Joey Jordison, see him play and he was like “That's what I want to do!” And he knows all these guys: like John Tempesta would come to my house for dinner, and he's friends with Dave McClain. He knows all these guys.You know, real heavy hitters who do this for a living. So I bought him a drum kit and he continued to play it. I remember coming out to the garage and I told him you need to get better if you want to be as good as your idols like Joey and those guys, you have to get better.You need to practice harder. And he took that on. And we had another drummer in Hatriot who wanted to play in other projects, so his departure was inevitable. Nick kept saying “Dad I can do it! Dad I can do it!” And I was like uh, “sure no problem.” He practiced really hard and he learned all the songs. Actually, Andy Galleon, the original Death Angel drummer was going to try out, and I told Nick,“These other guys want your job!” So I made him audition, and I was really tough on him, because my other son was in the band, and I didn't want to show favoritism. So he came in and I was really skeptical. He went in there and he nailed every one of those songs. For three nights he went in there with four other guys watching his every move. I didn't even tell him he got it for a month. He just fit in and he was the best one for us. Now he is a really strong link for the band, and he an Kosta (Varvatakis, guitar) have a writing process that they do together.” “Tonight's rehearsal includes our cover songs and some Exodus songs. For our tour in South America in May, we were asked to play extra Exodus songs. And we said okay we would. So we are playing six Exodus songs. They range from stuff that they don't do anymore: songs like 'Chemi-kill', 'Til Death Do Us Part', 'Faster Than You'll Ever Live To Be'. We are also doing 'Toxic Waltz' and it has to be down tonight. We don't show up and run through the set first, we learn that song we need to know and nothing else. So when I sent them all a reminder by email or text messages, I told them to make sure they know 'Toxic Waltz' and when I say have it down tonight at rehearsal, they know I mean it. They need to come in knowing it. And I am known as “The Emperor” so when I say I mean it, I mean it. And I really mean it! I told them I want it done. I know how lazy bands can be.You have to work, work, work, work to get it done. I will call my manager at 5:30 in the morning and say “Hey, we we have to do this, this, this, and this.” I just rattle off shit, and I get straight to the point. I don't have any other hobbies. This is what I do. This is all I do. That's all I'll ever do. And next year, you will get another new record.” We asked Steve how is two grown sons also balance being in the band with their father, seeing some possible pitfalls as well as obvious benefits: “They are both very smart. They know what to do and they know what I did, because you can read all about it from our history. As anyone who knows us, we (Exodus) weren't the greatest ones in the land. We were the baddy baddies... all the sex drugs and rock and roll. Those things were underlined on the sign on our (Exodus) tour bus door. They live on their own in an apartment. They both make a good living and have good
jobs. One son is in the union for refrigeration. He makes almost as much as I do and I am a union foreman for a construction company, and have been for 20 years. I've been doing that since we got spit out from Capital 20 years ago. The business is all they have. Everyone does something in the band, everybody works. Practice nights are work nights and everybody works. Band guys, management, everybody. That's the way I do it. I don't stand for no-shows. And I'm the boss. That's why we changed a member since our last record. Miguel (Esparza) is not in the band anymore, in case you noticed, that we have a new guitarist Justin Cole. Miguel did not like to work like I work. And you need to show up when I say you need to be there. And if you don't want to be, you will be gone. I've been in many bands. I have been kicked out of many bands, and I have quit many bands. Big bands! So I know what it takes to do this. It takes a full effort from everyone. And being young, you have to put every ounce of effort into doing this to make it what you want to do. I talked to Nicolas today and I said what are you going to do tonight, and he said “I am going to the studio to work on my parts and practice more.” I told him “That is good.You are the drummer.You need more practice, and you need to get better. If you want to be like your boy Joey and you buddy Jason Bittner, and all of your heroes, and guys you are friends with and do this, you have to do the work.”You can't be sitting around, it's your job. And they all do put the work in.” “We have shows booked mainly in California and Nevada right now. In May we go to South America. June is going to be pretty light for us. In July we have some stuff in the states and then we are doing Europe for three or four weeks. And then back to the states again for some one-off stuff. And we have a US tour booked with a band called Gamma Bomb. And Onslaught. So it's Hatriot, Gamma Bomb and Onslaught this fall. I think in October. And
in the meantime, we're going to write new songs and keep busy. We did some other recordings, 'Last Act of Defiance' from Fabulous Disaster we re-recorded that. And we re-recorded 'Reign of Terror' from the Legacy demo. So those will be released throughout the year. And the B-side to the record is 'Midnight Maniacs' by Krokus. It wasn't even my idea. I don't write the riffs or come up with the music. People say to me “Zetro, when you write, this really sounds like Exodus and Testament when you write.” But I don't write these rhythms. I just do the vocals to them. If you hear my vocals, you know it's gonna sound like Exodus or Testament, and it would be good for a song like one from Krokus. And Kosta out guitarist, writes everything. I came into rehearsal and he was playing that riff to 'Midnight Maniacs'. He was doing it for a long time actually. He said Zetro, we're gonna do this song for the B-Side. And he held me to it! I think it came out really really great.
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NEW ELEMENTS Shawn Cameron of Carnifex By Dane Prokofiev
Drummer Shawn Cameron is a professional ravager of drum kits, his punishing blastbeats forming the rhythmic bedrock of San Diego deathcore band Carnifexâ€™s music. However, the 35-year-old Californian entered the percussive realm fairly late, only picking up the drumsticks when he was 17.
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‘Dark Days’ and some of the keys for ‘Condemned to Decay.’ But for the most part, on this new album, I wrote most of the symphonic stuff.”
rummer Shawn Cameron is a professional ravager of drum kits, his punishing blast-beats forming the rhythmic bedrock of San Diego deathcore band Carnifex’s music. However, the 35-yearold Californian entered the percussive realm fairly late, only picking up the drumsticks when he was 17. By the time Cameron started jamming with somebody, he was 21. And that somebody was his older brother Ryan Cameron, then 23. “We used to play covers in the garage, a lot of covers,” said Cameron, who grew up in Orange County, California.“We played Incubus and ‘90s rock stuff [such as] Creed.” Apart from starting out as an appreciator of mainstream rock, the full-time drummer also has a history with Classical music. He laughed as he recalled playing the baritone horn during seventh grade. “It looks like a tuba, except a lot smaller. I started playing it ‘cause I was really small and I could barely hold the tuba—it’s huge.” Cameron then started learning to play the piano when he was 15. But he hated practicing on it, and that was when his foray into rock music began. “My brother started learning guitar, so I started to learn to play guitar. But I just had a twitchy foot, so I eventually started playing drums, and we started playing in a band together.” Despite his short-lived affair with the piano, Cameron’s interest in keyboard melodies has intensified in recent years. In 2013, he formed symphonic metal band Unicorn Death with his wife Diana Jasso. Additionally, Classically-influenced keyboard melodies started appearing in Carnifex’s output from 2011 onwards, as evidently heard in Until I Feel Nothing (2011) and Die without Hope (2014). The band hired Ashley Jurgemeyer (ex-Cradle of Filth, ex-Abigail Williams) to write all the keyboard melodies for the former, and Cassie Morris (Unicorn Death) to do the same for two tracks from the latter. “We’ve always wanted to do [the symphonic] kind of stuff, but mostly, the reason is because we’ve gotten better at pre-production, writing and recording the albums. We hired Cassie Morris from Unicorn Death, and she wrote the keys for
Cameron’s “symphonic stuff” is of the ambient variety, composed digitally on a computer. It would sound perfectly at home in the film score of a psychological thriller. But this is not surprising, considering that he is a fan of film music composer John Williams. However, Cameron is “not a Classical buff at all.” According to him, he just likes listening to Classical music in general. If he had to choose between playing the drums and programming the synthesizer on a computer, he would pick the drums. “I definitely feel drums are more necessary. (laughs). The synthesizer stuff is more of the icing on the cake.You know, that’s something we’ve been able to add to this last couple of albums because we’ve polished the core of the music: the guitars, the vocals, and the drums. So we can add in a new element and bring out a brand new feeling.” Between the keyboard and drums, Cameron thinks that the former portrays emotion a lot better than the latter. He feels that the job of the drums is to accent whatever emotion the keyboard is conjuring. “You know, the right drumbeat really does matter if you’re trying to portray a certain emotion.You could either make or break that whole emotion, like a melody could sound really sorrowful or really aggressive depending on what you do with the drums, so [the keyboard and drums] work together.” Easily their strongest effort to date, Die without Hope sounds like a record that American melodic death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder could have produced. The only distinguishing traits that give away its Carnifex origin are vocalist Scott Lewis' deep growls and the band’s penchant for heart-stopping breakdowns. Deathcore did not originally contain Classicallyinfluenced keyboard melodies. So Carnifex’s recent dip into the refined waters of Classical music seem to have blurred the line separating symphonic deathcore from melodic death metal containing many breakdowns. But Cameron thinks that Carnifex has achieved no such thing. “First of all, I think that deathcore is just a subgenre of death metal, so it’s just a different type of death metal. So I mean you could say it’s both: It’s an evolved [form of] deathcore, and it’s also just melodic death metal with breakdowns.” GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 43
“You know, the right drumbeat really does matter if you’re trying to portray a certain emotion. You could either make or break that whole emotion, like a melody could sound really sorrowful or really aggressive depending on what you do with the drums...” – Shawn Cameron
On the topic of breakdowns, Cameron expressed some regret over how the band abused the musical technique when writing their Victory Records debut The Diseased and the Poisoned in 2008. “We like melodic death metal, and we like to be able to use breakdowns to make it heavier, but you know, they shouldn’t be overused. If you overuse them, they are not as heavy, and [I think] we overused them on The Diseased and the Poisoned. They were way overused.” “We had about a month to write that album, so we kinda used breakdowns as a crutch. But we’ve grown from that. We’ve learned from that experience. On Hell Chose Me, the record right after The Diseased and the Poisoned, you could definitely tell that we grew a lot from that first experience.” The sonic brutality and speed of deathcore might make the sub-genre as a whole seem chaotic and hence, sound like noise. Cameron, however, would only classify some piece of music as noise if it were not organized. And he
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thinks their music actually has some sort of underlying structure beneath all that overwhelming aural elements. “The thing about our music is that it’s very organized, it’s very precise. If it’s not structured, if it’s just random, that’s noise. I mean, some music may sound like noise to others, but that’s just ‘cause you don’t understand it.” He gives a vivid simile to illustrate his point that people who hear deathcore as noise simply do not understand it. “It’s like the difference between Chinese and English. If you don’t speak Chinese, [to you] it’s just gibberish. Until you understand it, it doesn’t make sense. When I listen to a death metal band, I can pretty much understand the lyrics.” Taking a jab at popular music, Cameron finished his explanation with a hilarious observation. “People who don’t listen to death metal, they can’t understand the lyrics. But! They can understand the lyrics to a rap song, and I have no idea what the hell [the rappers] are saying when I listen to it.”
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H AT E Scott Lee of The New England Metal & Hardcore Festival
nce again it is time for the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. The sixteenth edition of the fest looks to be a great group of the finest death metal, black metal, hardcore, grindcore, crust punk, thrash, metalcore, tech death, prog and power metal like few weekend long events in America can match. Held at the Worcester Palladium on two stages, it's always a fun time and a great place to discover new bands and meet your heroes. Among the headline acts this year are Behemoth, Iced Earth, Nile, All That Remains, Goatwhore, Nails, Whitechapel, Bleeding Through, Darkest Hour, Broken Hope, Carnifex, Unearth, 1349, Inquisition, Sam Black Church, and many more. We caught up with the festival co-founder Scott Lee to discuss the 2014 incarnation of the fest. 46 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
by Keith Chachkes
We jumped into our conversation touching on the history of the fest and some of the surprising names on the bill: “Sweet Sixteen! I think it's pretty cool. I'm really excited about! Thursday is going to be a regular door, so it's going to feel like a regular show, just earlier doors. Doors are at five, so we just want to ease people into the madness! I'm really proud of this lineup with All That Remains, Emmure, the last east coast appearance of Bleeding Through, Gideon, Kublai Khan, and Oceano. Darkest Hour was just added. Broken Hope and Wilson was just added. It's a bunch of cool bands. It's kind of like you go out to drink: you have little base, and some snacks, and then you start chugging!” “I just try to put on the best festival I can. I try to make the fans happy. I try to make everybody happy, but you can't please everybody. The haters are gonna hate, but probably about 50% of the haters are still going to come. It's going to be great.” Scott took out the time to single out how proud he is to have Behemoth on this year's lineup, as part of the inclusion of the Metal Alliance tour: “Behemoth is one of the best bands in extreme heavy music today. They are on a huge comeback. He (Adam “Nergal” Darski) beat leukemia and that is hard as shit! Back in the early days of the earth they would build monuments to to a guy like that and I think somebody should today. That band is incredible, and they are great people too. They tried to take him out and he said “Fuck no! I gonna keep making music.”That band is sick! I think people are just jealous of him because he is trying to make something of himself. Back the guy, you know what I mean? Just because lyrics or beliefs of some nature, people are still human. He's not hurting anyone. He is not committing murder, he’s not committing hate crimes. He's making a name for himself and he's repping Poland hard man, so back the motherfucker!” All though a lot of spring tours in the US now plan their routing around Metalfest weekend, Scott makes sure to stay true to his roots and book the second stage, dominated by hardcore bands, first. “I book that first. The second stage gets booked first and everything else comes into play afterwards. I look at other festivals like This Is Hardcore and other hardcore festivals and see what's going on, and who is doing what. And by the way, did you see that This is Hardcore lineup? Oh my god! That is sick! I saw that and I hit up Joe Hardcore and sent a screen shot of the lineup and wrote “I quit!” (laughs) That is the best lineup I've ever seen in my life and I've been doing this for 22 years. Burt for our second stage we take the best of the best for hardcore, grindcore, that type of style. Nails, All Out War, Twitching Tongues, Ramallah, Reign Supreme, and you put them all on
one show it's gonna be sick! It's gonna be a party.” Having been long time supporters and attendees of the fest, we have seen the sponsors and partners list grow over time. “Tama and Ibanez are our big sponsors. Tama is actually going to give away the back-line drumset to a lucky fan that buys a ticket.You buy a ticket for the fest, your name goes into a raffle to win the drum-set that has been played by all of these bands. It's like a $5000 drum-set You could go home with this on Saturday! All from Tama.” Since Scott and the company he works for, Mass Concerts books major acts, we asked his opinion of the recent Mayhem Festival lineup announcement. “Mayhem fest is a different animal than we are. It's a larger animal than we are. We are like a pitbull and they are like a fucking lion. That's different. That's the best analogy I can come up with. Looking at everything, their lineup has to put butts in the seats. That lineup has to get people out of the parking lot. Do I think that lineup sucks? No I don't. I'm gonna to attend. You are not going to make everybody happy. Do I think it's the strongest lineup ever? It's a good lineup. I think it's pretty cool personally. More people want to see death metal, and some people want to see Asking Alexandria, and some people want to see Killswitch Engage.You are not going to make everybody happy. But they are going to get thousands and thousands of people to go.” The Fest also puts on a showcase at the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, TX as a way to bring up and coming bands to a great audience. The event this year was headlined by Veil of Maya and Comeback Kid. Scott gave us an account of the festival, including the harrowing car accident that happened: “I was literally four blocks away from that accident. And I was like “Fuck!” I have to say the Austin Police handled that awesomely, and the people of Austin, what I saw of them, were awesome. It was tragic and sad, but it doesn't reflect on the festival. I hope it doesn't leave a bad mark on the festival. I mean I live in Holyoke Massachusetts, and people do stupid shit here all the time. It's just some fucking asshole who wants to be a rapper, go got in his car and killed people and hurt people. I hope it doesn't put a black cloud over this. But the police did a great job. And the whole festival kept going strong. There were some memorial services and everything. As far as our showcase, it was there,m it was sold out and it was awesome. Dude, you know something? Where are you going to go where Lady Gaga gets pukes on someone, or gets puked on by someone? It was like a 12 foot burrito machine! It was great! awesome. House shows happen! I love house shows, they are great! I recommend everybody going to it.”
“I just try to put on the best festival I can. I try to make the fans happy. I try to make everybody happy, but you can't please everybody. The haters are gonna hate, but probably about 50% of the haters are still going to come. It's going to be great.” - Scott Lee
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BEHAVIORAL S C I E N C E Rae Amitay of Immortal Bird by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
mmortal Bird may come from Chicago, but to listen to them you might think they looked out their back window and lay witness to a misty, frozen fjord. Playing a strain of modern black and death metal with other style elements mixed in, combined with striking production values heard too little from this scene they are making an impact. Having played mainly around Chicago, their did a brief US tour this winter to support their debut EP Akrasia (Closed Casket Recordings). We caught up with front woman & group mastermind Rae Amitay after their tour stop in Worcester, MA for an interview.
How is the tour going? “The tour is going great! I’m really happy with how everything’s been playing out. We’re really getting into the swing of things now, and I’ve gotten to see a lot of friends.” How do you feel about the response the EP has gotten so far? “ It’s been pretty amazing, and I feel really good about it.You never know how people are going to react, especially to a brand new band with no point of reference, so receiving such overwhelmingly positive feedback is a relief of sorts. I’m sure we’ll get a scathing review at some point, but ideally there will be some sort of constructive criticism hidden amidst the evisceration! I’m glad people are finding something to connect with in our music.” 48 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
What is concept behind Akrasia? “It’s not a concept album exactly, but most of the lyrics deal with the emotional repercussions of acting against one’s better judgment. That’s what ‘akrasia’ is – weakness of will – so a lot of the music explores that side of human behavior.” Did you develop the concept and the lyrics, or the music first? “The music came first. Then as I was writing lyrics I started noticing some common themes, and ‘akrasia’ seemed to be the perfect word to describe the overarching message.” Did you always envision being the front woman for this project and did you have any reservations about doing it? “I always knew I’d record the vocals for Immortal
Bird, but I wasn’t sure about it ever becoming a live project until later on in the writing process. I had a few reservations, because I didn’t want us to get pigeonholed by the whole ‘female-fronted’ thing. I hate even mentioning it, honestly, because it’s so irrelevant to everything this band is about. It can be frustrating, and at times I thought I didn’t want to go through the hassle of explaining that ‘female-fronted’ is not a genre tag. Aside from a few lazy write-ups that felt compelled to repeatedly mention my gender/appearance while writing about our music, I have very few complaints.” You had a dream team of metal production gods working with you on this album. How did you get connected with Jeff Ziolo, Kurt Ballou and Brad Boatright? “Jeff came recommended to us by our live drummer, Garry Naples (November's Doom/Without Waves). He was a pleasure to work with and he put in a ton of hours to make sure we had a product we felt strongly about. I’d always wanted to work with Kurt and Brad, and they’re a dynamic duo of mixing/mastering, so I just went ahead and asked! I’m grateful that they took us on. I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll be working with them. Their body of work is incredible, and I still have moments where I’m incredulous that Immortal Bird’s debut EP was placed in such gifted hands. Having personnel of that caliber involved really sets the bar high for our next record!” Garry Naples is on the road with you playing drums. Other than the Chicago connection, how did Garry come into the project? “Garry is a good friend of mine, and he plays drums for damn near everyone in Chicago. I’d seen him play with a bunch of different bands, and it was clear to me that he could breathe new life into our material playing it live. It’s also quite beneficial to our dynamic that he and John Picillo (bass) are in another band together called Without Waves. They’ve been a rhythm section for almost a decade, and it shows. They’re completely locked in with one another, and it’s an incredibly important variable that brings our performances to a higher level.” This is a return of sorts for you, coming back to the Boston area fronting your own band, as opposed to playing with others. Does this bring up any emotions for you? “Only good ones! In the past, I’ve been a hired gun. It’s an entirely different set of emotions to be on the road with a band that I created. Seeing so many friends tonight means more than I can say. Even though I live in Chicago now, this feels like ‘home’ to me.” Aside from Immortal Bird most people associate you with Thrawsunblat. What is going on in that camp? “Thrawsunblat is alive and well! We’re currently writing and plotting for our third full-length. That’s all I can say for now,
but yeah, there is a bunch going on!” One thing that really stands out about you the most is your talent. The novelty of women leading black and death metal bands is well over, but that doesn't mean there aren't idiots out there. Have you had to deal with any knuckle heads so far in your career? “Oh, of course! People haven’t been nasty so much as they’ve been rude, haha. Guys have come up to me and said,“I thought your band was gonna suck because you’re a girl, but you were actually really good.” I think that’s meant as a weird backhanded sexist compliment, but moments like that make me hope that the person in question is not planning on reproducing. There was also a guy who suggested “less screaming and less clothing.”That was more blatantly knuckle-headed, and I suggested “less speaking and less breathing”. He wasn’t amused.” Outside of music what are some of your hobbies you wish you had more time for?” Frolicking with puppies. Seriously. I would love to have a dog, but with my lofty touring goals, it’s not going to be possible for a few years at least. I also wish I had more time for non-music writing. I get so preoccupied working on new songs that I don’t really have a ton of time to jot down words.
“I didn’t want us to get pigeonholed by the whole ‘female-fronted’ thing. I hate even mentioning it, honestly, because it’s so irrelevant to everything this band is about. It can be frustrating, and at times I thought I didn’t want to go through the hassle of explaining that ‘female-fronted’ is not a genre tag.” – Ray Amitay
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Words: Pål Lystrup Photos: Stig Pallesen of StiPa Photography
Live from Bergen Norway
he first year of Blastfest marked the beginning of a somewhat risky adventure, at least for mainman and festival promoter, Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen, a guy you might already know as front man of the Norwegian death metal band Blood Red Throne. He gave everything to get this up and going, and to secure Bergen a replacement for the much missed Hole In The Sky Festival, that unfortunately called it the day back in 2011, after twelve years of catering to Bergen’s metal needs. OK, so we did get Beyond The Gates already the year after, but they had downsized and focused on “underground” acts like Nocturnal Breed, MGLA, Nifelheim, Aeternus and the likes of them. So the gap, the segment of in between bands like these and Slayer, was really not catered to in terms of a festival. Up stepped Yngve, risking both his car and his apartment in the process.Yngve is a guy who thinks in what psychologist Kahneman has coined “System 1” thinking; he is indeed fast, instinctive and emotional, praise Satan for that!
I arrived just as the very first band of the festival played the last minutes of their set, thus Tantara was missed, except for that one single song, a couple of minutes of pure thrash metal. However, that was not the case with Finnish black metallers Woland, recently signed on Indie recordings. The two bands would preferably have switched places though, because Woland were a generic black metal trio, most memorable for their vocalist not just taking off his shirt, but also for him doing Fabio poses. Being remembered for poses is hardly krieg, right? The next band on stage was Lakei, which is Norwegian for ‘footman’. They set the bar a lot higher with their perfectly executed take on the sludgier and groovier form of metal. They’re also a local band, and really stick out in a scene mostly made up of extreme metal acts, in a city maybe most famous for black metal bands like Gorgoroth, Taake, Enslaved, Immortal and Burzum. Next up was the German thrashers of Fatal Embrace, and boy was this fatality! The lead guitarist seemed to have picked up his playing skills mainly through viewing the Abbath guitar lessons on YouTube over and over, which needless to say made for a subpar performance. And when the vocalist boastfully declared “We destroy this house tonight - this is ‘Another rotten lie’“, I simply couldn’t help but giggle a little to myself. Said vocalist, as pointed out by some other attendees, could probably do good from a little cardio exercise too, since his face became all red already halfway into the first song. There was a lot of heavy breathing, and very little musical 50 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
Top:Koldbrann Left: Marduk
From Left: Koldbrann, Der Weg Einer Freiheit
material of interest to be heard from Fatal Embrace. Fellow Germans, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, were the next band on stage, and boy were they something else. Perfectly executed black metal, good sound and a lot of people left looking to buy their music in the wake of their performance. Sadly they didn’t seem to have brought anything for sale. Although, one must question what black metal has evolved into in later years, when you have a band looking as if they just came from a seminar in C++ programming, even wearing some beach loafers on stage. The aesthetical aspect seems to be more and more neglected, which might very well work out on an album, not so much so in a live setting. Koldbrann on the other hand; they adhere to the old school black metal aesthetics, full corpse paint and all. That being said, the vocalist had an eerily similar style to that of Batman sidekick Robin. He still came across as far more dominant and commandeering than the vocalists earlier in the evening, and the band churned out really good versions of songs like 'Drammen', 'Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott', 'Djevelens Treskeverk', and finished off beautifully with their cover of 'Russian Vodka'. Then came Myrkskog, for the first time ever gracing Bergen with their presence, and with Nils “Dominator” Fjellstöm behind the kit for the occasion. And speaking of this guy; what the fuck does he do to manage to play at such infernal speeds!? The same goes for some of the guitarwork of Sechtdamon (which you might know from Morbid Angel by now). Boy can these guys play! They raced through songs like 'Discipline Misanthropy', 'A Poignant Scenario Of Horror', 'Domain Of The Superior', 'Deathmachine' and 'Utter Human Murder', all flawlessly executed. However a chaotic sound production probably made sure one had to know the material beforehand to really enjoy the show. The last
band before headliner Shining were the veterans of Aura Noir. And one thing is always certain about this band, and that is the certainty of getting a superb performance. Blastfest got a run-through of a set filled with classics, like 'Blood Unity', 'Sons Of Hades', 'Mirage', 'Released Damnation', 'Condor', 'Black Metal Jaw' and 'Hell’s Fire'. Sadly the band had to walk off stage before they were through with their set, but we all know that might happen at a festival. So there was no 'Conqueror', sadly enough. Also, at some point during their set they had to play with only one bass drum, which Apollyon referred to as “just like at the circus”. Speaking of circus … the final headlining act this first night was Sweden’s Shining. Seemingly people implicitly agree with me on the fact that Aura Noir should have been headlining, because the crowd was much thinner during the main headliner this night. we got the usual stuff, like spitting blood and drinking whiskey and whatnot, and the usual suicidal lullabies. And they are somewhat lullabies these days, as it feels more and more like the band has outplayed its role, at least to those having already passed through their teenage angst phase.
DAY 2 The second day of the festival had us all relocate to the bigger venue at USF Verftet, placed right on the waterside, which makes for a really good and picturesque setting for a metal festival. In a somewhat smart move, the organizers had put Taake up as the opening act of the day. This probably had more people showing up than what is usual as early as 6PM. The band showcasing a new drummer, and Hoest also having adopted a new stage persona in recent times, made this somewhat fresh, even to us locals. He has gone from the more antisocial GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 51
approach to the more introverted and mysterious approach of the hooded character based heavily on the skull figure that has been part of Taake for the last ten years or so. When thinking about it, he has taken the part he played in Helheim’s 'Dualitet og Ulver' video and made it part of the Taake show. As usual he also has great fun doing the misheard lyrics thing, where he both says different stuff than on record, but also changes the lyrics completely at some points. So one gets an extra treat if one listens closely - and is fluent enough in Norwegian. After having churned out 'Bjoergvin IV', 'Doedkvad I', and 'Umenneske', Hoest laconically states some humorous, although somewhat sarcastic stuff in Norwegian, before they continue with 'Norbundet', Hoest being able to chug down an entire bottle of red wine during their somewhat short set. Right after Taake it’s time for fellow Bergensian band Sahg, playing in the smaller venue upstairs. They do indeed play in front of a much smaller audience, but the some three hundred people present are served a fireworks of musicianship, good songs and stage presence. Front man Olav even cockily stating:“I will do this in Norwegian, but the lyrics will be in English, so you can all sing along, like you planned to.” And we are presented with all the hits: 'Firechild', 'Godless Faith', 'Pyromancer' etc. Going from these two great performances and into Tiamat was actually a bit disappointing. To point that out; I love Tiamat, but seeing them on such a big stage, this apathetic … It was extremely disappointing in terms of
actually somewhat more entertaining, before they seemed to have grown satisfied with recording material of a fixed template. They do an OK performance, and one can enjoy songs like 'Christraping Black Metal', 'Burn My Coffin' and 'Materialized In Stone', but it never gets to be awfully exciting, at least not to spoiled Norwegians.
Left to Right: TAAKE Triptykon atmosphere. Sure, it got better when they played the classics like 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Cain' and 'Whatever That Hurts', but this is nothing like the performance they put on in Oslo during Inferno some years back. Maybe it was simply too early and too bright lighting in the venue for this? After the slow interlude that was Tiamat, I ran upstairs to catch some of Exumer. They were quite brilliantly summed up by one of my friends: “This is like the works team version of Slayer.” And that really seems sufficient when it comes to Exumer. Marduk never gets boring, right? Well, they are the epitome of generic black metal at times, and this time they were even late on stage. Let that be said, their old material is 52 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
The late onstage appearance of Marduk also made me miss almost all of Ragnarok, that I only caught thanking the audience before going off stage. Well, at least the next band up was the mighty Triptykon, fronted by living legend Tom G Warrior of Celtic Frost fame. Seeing as the band starts off with 'Procreation Of The Wicked', it really can’t go wrong, can it now? Well, since they play all the Celtic Frost classics as if they were funeral doom, they indeed can. 'Circle Of The Tyrants' is epic stuff, but not at a halting tempo. Triptykon needs to understand that Celtic Frost and Triptykon are different things, and that the old Celtic Frost material is supposed to be up-tempo. At least it helps to walk upstairs and catch an actual doom band,a band that is supposed to play at a doomy tempo. Swallow The Sun have arrived all the way from Finland to play thirty five minutes of epic and gloomy doom. However, as
they found out, things don’t always turn out the way one wants them to. The airline Norwegian managed to lose their equipment somehow, so they were forced to borrow instruments from other bands. This didn’t affect their performance at all, and they did a mighty fine job., if I’m to say so. Main headliner this Friday was Hypocrisy, actually playing their first show in Bergen ever, which seems even more amazing considering the fact that they have a Norwegian drummer in their ranks, Horgh (Immortal), and have had him in the fold for ages now. As with Triptykon, the sound seems a bit low in volume, and it never really turns into the mighty onslaught one would imagine a band such as Hypocrisy would be able to put on. At least I had my first ever experience of 'Roswell 47' in a live setting, which surely counts for something.
Something quite the opposite is to be said of Anaal Nathrakh that were headlining the small stage, the Studio stage. They did of course have the festivals crappiest sound, hands down. It was almost completely indecipherable actually. Yet, somehow they managed to pull off one of the better performances. There were people pulled on stage, some girl with dreads crowd surfing through most of their set, and a crazy moshpit going on. Dave Hunt, their vocalist, was also funny and misanthropic as usual, and it helps having songs like 'Do Not Speak', 'Forging Towards The Sunset' and 'Between Shit And Piss We Are Born' in any set list.
DAY 3 On the last day of Blastfest, festival boss Yngve had once again made a smart move. He had Wardruna open, and once again the crowd was much bigger than what one would expect at such an early hour. Wardruna are also extremely professional, if quite far removed from what one would consider metal. Although, they do have both Kvitrafn and Gaahl in their lineup, so the selling points in terms of metal are very much present. However, folk music, or the likes thereof, will in my mind never have anything to do at a metal festival, but to each his own, I guess. This became a day were I simply wasn’t able to run around and catch all the bands, but I did manage to catch most of them, and I did catch the first band at the Studio stage, which was Communic.You know, that band with members formerly in Scariot, that kinda sound like the Norwegian version of Nevermore? Well, they certainly do, and they certainly sport some technical abilities. Just like the opening act the night before, Sahg, they did their very best to get the audience started, and I think they really did a good job, at least from what I could observe. At the main stage prime blasphemers Carpathian Forest were ready for a auditory attack. They certainly didn’t hold back, kicking off the show with 'The Frostbitten Woodlands Of NorGHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 53
warts of the death metal genre, Vader. I have seen them a couple of times before, and every single time they have been really impressive. Somehow that didn’t seem to be the case this time around. I can’t really put my finger on it, but something just seemed off about them. Maybe it was the volume levels again, just like with Hypocrisy. It just seemed a little tame and polished. Belphegor suffered from the same thing as Enthroned, although with Belphegor I actually got a short glimpse of them, but there was just too big a crowd to get a proper look. Back down at the main stage, My Dying Bride were ready for their third ever appearance in Bergen. They started off a bit slow with 'Kneel Till Doomsday', 'The Raven And The Rose' and a song which I never get why is included in their set, seeing it as it is one of their weaker ones, 'Like Gods Of The Sun'. Then again, after that, things really picked up, and they ended their set with a cavalcade of 'Turn Loose The Swans', 'She Is The Dark' and 'The Dreadful Hours', leaving me, paradoxically enough, with a big smile, in a euphoric trance-like state, and well on my way into blackout drunkenness.
way', which is one hell of a groovy song. Then came one classic after the other. Drummer for the occasion was Jonathan A. Perez, who usually plays with Sirenia. He was able to pull off filling the drum chair as a replacement for Kobro. The more alarming thing was a Nattefrost in front that seemed to have lost his ability to scream properly. All growls and snarls and whatnot only seemed like a mixture between half-heartedness and an actual problem with his voice. Maybe the former being a result of the latter? Well, we were given convincing versions of songs like 'Suicide Song', 'Knokkelmann' and 'Mask Of The Slave', so no one was complaining. Insidious Disease is one strange band. They have some really generic material, but are made up of people from Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child, Morgoth, Napalm Death etc. For the occasion they also seemed to have recruited the former Blood Red Throne drummer Emil Wiksten, currently hammering down the nails for Swedish Aeon. I mean, there’s certainly nothing really holding this band back except for some really generic material. No eyebrows were raised. Speaking of … back down at the main stage Aborted were on stage, and that is something completely different altogether. They certainly know both how to craft interesting material, put on a good and energetic show, and really raise hell. Too bad the room was only halfway filled with people as they went on stage. Maybe technical and brutal death metal par excellence was just too much for the audience mainly comprised of Scandinavians? I simply have no idea why people didn’t show up for one of the highlights of the festival - maybe not on paper, but their actual performance was flawless! Having missed out on Enthroned, I got ready for stal54 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
And remember good people of the world: next year (1921th of February 2015) Yngve is doing things even bigger, with three full days at this year’s main venue. Also, where else do you get to stumble into King Ov Hell, Infernus, Abbath, Demonaz, Gerhard of Einherjer, Grutle of Enslaved and a whole host of other cult names casually hanging out in the bar? Actually, after helping Yngve move some stock and the backline just earlier today, getting a little insight into the things that are planned for the next edition:
GET YOUR TICKETS NOW! My Dying Bride
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Behemoth / Cradle of Filth / In SolitudeLive /At TheInquisition Forum, London UK
icking off a long evening with a double-shot of generic but competent black metal, Svarttjern and Inquisition inspire a healthy response from early attendees, despite support-band sound and a lack of engaging stage presence. The former bring more of a DM touch to their songs, while the latter’s uncanny Immortal impression and two members draw the most attention. In Solitude know they’re on the wrong bill, but they launch into their first track of atmospheric classic heavy metal with total enthusiasm. A muddy, over-loud sound robs them of some subtlety and grace, and this was never their audience, but their professionalism and energy wins them some new fans. Watch out for them headlining their own shows. Playing to a large audience of hard-core fans, one time British black metal royalty Cradle Of Filth take to the stage like headliners. For a brief time tonight it’s possible to overlook the last decade of overlong, unspectacular “come-back” albums and ironic mugging, as they thunder gloriously through a set-list of old classics and a few newer favourites as if everyone in the venue had come to see them. The pit is filled with people screaming every word and greeting old classics with the kind of howling you’d expect for a headliner, and the band remind us how good they truly were before hype and backlash got in the way. As surprise encore 'Funeral In Carpathia' crashes to a close they leave the stage to many fans still shouting for more, and my inner 18-year-old finally stops grinning. Thank you, Dani – those long years of goth clubs and Never Mind The Buzzcocks appearances were hard to bear, but we’ll always have Paris. Or Kentish Town. You know a band are big beyond usual metal terms when a literally-packed-to-bursting Forum explodes into excited cheers 56 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
every time a roadie picks up a mic-stand. After a long and unusually well-received soundcheck, Behemoth take the stage to a level of theatrics and professionalism that make their peers look like pub bands. Trading in their leather man-skirts for a tribal-paint-andleathers style that makes them look like a pack of Chaos Beastmen, the band dominate the elaborately decorated stage with movements so precise and commanding that you suspect theyâ€™ve rehearsed them. Musically theyâ€™re even more precise, a stunning sound supporting a mercilessly tight, martial delivery of songs from their new album The Satanist (Metal Blade) alongside older classics. Behemoth are a band that have never entirely worked for me on record, their albums polished but a little superficial, but live it makes sense. Nergal is a genuinely masterful front-man, leading the band and the audience with an absolutely commanding performance of pure Metal arrogance, but between songs displaying a more human side, talking about his joy to have survived his recent health scares. Shining through their stern stage-manner and martial theatrics is genuine enjoyment and pleasure, and they communicate this to the fans â€“ the packed audience go crazy, welcoming every track like a classic, and if their material still lacks a certain depth, absolutely no-one here cares.
Set List: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer Conquer All Decade of Therion As Above So Below Slaves Shall Serve Christians to the Lions Driven by the Five-Winged Star The Satanist Ov Fire and the Void Alas, Lord Is Upon Me Furor Divinus At the Left Hand ov God Chant for Eschaton 2000 Encore: O Father O Satan O Sun Words: Ritchie Hanton-Rutherford Photos: Ian Cashman GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 57
tarting off their current tour with not one, but two New York City shows, The Winery Dogs backed up their bite with a huge bark. Their brand of hard rock is so full of energy you couldn’t help but get drawn into the hype Opening the night was an acoustic set from Tony Harnell of TNT and his guitarist Virus, of Device fame. They belted out songs from his solo career as well as Westworld. Singer Rachel Lorin joined them for the final three songs of the set including a cover of the Nazareth song 'Love Hurts'. Tony did reveal there will be some TNT shows in the US to mark their upcoming anniversary. The Winery Dogs fans are surprisingly vocal. For a band with only one album there was a sing along for almost every song. From opening songs 'Elevate' and 'We are One' the crowd nearly eclipsed the bands harmonies. Maybe it has something to do with the musicians themselves being killer players. It was a pick-less night between the bass behemoth of Billy Sheehan and singer/guitarist, Richie Kotzen they both displayed insane finger playing. Seeing a bassist in rock without a pick is normal, but for a guitarist, rare. During 'Six Feet Deeper', they leaped into part of Jimi Hendrix staple 'Hey Joe' before diving head first into a dizzying drum solo by the mighty Mike Portnoy. Following that up, Billy blurring goodness filled 'The Other Side'. With only an hours worth of material on their debut album, they treated the crowd to a brand new song. As they were wrapping up they went into my personal favorite, 'The Dying'. It is one of those great, moody songs can stay on repeat forever.
The Winery Dogs /Tony Harnell Live At BB Kings, NY
They returned to the stage for the encore, a massive rocking rendition of The Four Tops, 'Reach Out (I'll be There)'. Before closing the night off they Richie made his way over to the church organ for rendition of “Regret”. Instead of lighters, there were cell phone lights shining as the ballad carried on. To wrap up the first night of a two night stand, they knocked out 'Shy Boy' by Sheehan's old band Talas. The Winery Dogs are a rocking groove machine of fun that I'd encourage anyone to check out when they hit your area. Set List:
Elevate Criminal We are One Time Machine Damaged Six Feet Deeper Drum Solo The Other Side Bass Solo You Saved Me Not Hopeless
I’m No Angel Untitled New Song The Dying Desire Encore: Reach Out (I'll Be There) (The Four Top cover) Regret Shy Boy (Talas cover) Words and Photos by Omar Cordy
Apocalyptica / The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra Live At Tampere-talo, Tampere, Finland I remember hearing about Apocalyptica back in the mid-90’s when everyone thought Metallica could do no wrong and that an orchestra/cello group had paid Metallica to cover their songs. I was thinking, yeah… ok. (I will keep my opinion of Metallica out of this for the sake objectivity). Soon after the news of the Metallica/cello crossover I forgot all about Apocalyptica as in Tennessee, you don’t really have access to a lot of cello metal bands. Fast forward 20 years, and I am now living in Finland and was given an opportunity to interview Apocalyptica and photograph them for their ‘Wagner Reloaded’ show. As I said earlier, I never kept up with the band over the years much like I never did with Metallica, who Apocalyptica by their own admission, would not be where they are today without doing those covers. So career wise Apocalyptica hit the right time cover the Metallica songs when that band was riding high. But for me I had no idea what their other material or compositions really sounded like and if they could stand on their own. So seeing them live was going to be a new experience for me as I was going in blind. As for the venue, Tampere-talo was a great place for the band to play in, as it is specially set up for performances just like this and as a result the sound put forth sounded great and very professional. The venue itself is very pristine and elegant while also being minimalistic in its décor. This night Apocalyptica were performing with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra instead of just cellos, recreating a lot of Wagner’s classical pieces in a more metal tradition. The show was split up in two parts with an intermission halfway through. The first
half of the show seemed to be a set list that was more bombastic, aggressive and something that should make a lot of metal heads very proud. The band sounded very sharp, the orchestra was spot on and of course it was very theatrical with a great light show. The band really sounded great here and showed that they could play aggressive, hard music but still sound grounded in the classical music. When the band stopped for intermission the audience was allowed to go out in the waiting areas of the concert hall and purchase beverages and snacks while they waited for the second half of the show. As the second half began, it was a very slow and emotional arrangement. This seemed to mark the trend for what the second half would be, a more slow and moody type set. In my opinion I thought Apocalyptica really showed off their musical talent in playing these instrumentals as they really helped capture a more emotional theme in what was being played. Great job here.
Words and photos by TJ Fowler
UlverLive At 013 Tilburg, NL
he show we have planned for tonight was meant to have an opener. Meant to, mind you. For some mysterious reason there is none, and only the Norwegian Ulver will play after a very lengthy period between the doors opening and the show starting. The great hall of the 013 venue is separated into two parts: below seats are put in for the seated part of the show, and on the balcony are standing places. With Ulver you’re never sure what kind of a set you will get and when the vocalist and electronics man step up to a big square block with effects, to start the show we’re thrilled. The visuals start with an old man in a bed and a crow flying over him as an almost religious sort of heavenly, yet eerie mix of sounds fill the room. After a while the percussionist joins in dropping chains on drums and even whipping them dramatically over a huge gong set beside him. Then after a few minutes the whole band joins in and the atmosphere explodes into a much more intense thing. Throughout the show the visuals stay incredibly captivating, the low lighting on the band itself helping you focus on the different visual stories being told. These images really manage to add a new depth layer to the emotional message of the music. The set seems to be mostly newer work, with more vocals involved and hardly any traces of the bands black metal roots. The sound is balanced surprisingly heavy yet not loud, Conversation of people a few feet away can still be heard, which is surprising. Sadly the strong voice of vocalist Kristoffer Rygg sometimes skips and wobbles a bit on the high ends and the vocal lines seem a bit disjointed from the music in general, like someone improvising over an instrumental piece, instead of vocals written for said piece of music. This doesn’t bother the crowd though, who are clearly enjoying themselves so much that by the encore a good deal of the people on the seated area get up and start dancing in front of the stage, much to the baffled appreciation of the band. It was a wonderful gig and night out to remember. Words and Photos by Susanne Maathuis
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AnnekeLiveVan Giersbergen At 013, Tilburg NL E
stablishing her beautiful voice with The Gathering in the nineties and noughties, Anneke van Giersbergen went solo to be able to spend more time with her family. She has collaborated with Devin Townsend and Anathema, among others. Having seen the lady with the crystal clear voice before last year in a solo acoustic set, I’m looking forward to seeing her perform with her full band this time. The gig is sold out to capacity and a decent local and very loyal following arrives so early there is a significant line outside the greenroom of the 013 venue. Before Anneke takes the stage Kinkobra are to warm up the anticipating crowd. This dutch rockband had been working on it’s career with two albums under their belt and a “working your ass off” mentality. The first things we notice is the heavy sauce of 90s rock. Flashes of Skunk Anasie, the dutch Kane and U2 all change and mix in the sound. Personally I find the vocalists vocal style somewhat grating after a while, as he skips between registers a little much, but since he drowns in the mix, especially in his higher registers, or the louder parts of the music, it doesn’t bother to much. The most enjoyable parts to me are definitely the general show, though it suffers a little as they’re all 5 cramped on the front of the stage. It’s obvious they wish to move more than they can. Also the bass and drums are nicely done, which really moves the whole show along. It’s an opener that makes me feel like a teenager again, but I'm not sure how many of the older crowd in tonight can appreciate these youngsters making the music of their youth. And then after a brief changeover it’s time for Anneke herself to take the stage. First the band emerges and an intro is played. From the corner of the room I’m standing 62 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
I can see the door to the side of the stage and see Anneke herself compose herself before she gets on stage. The butterflies and joy are visible on her face, and as she walks out on stage she is just a complete natural. The show moves fluently from big rock songs, active and happy power anthems to eventually a darker tone and even a few acoustic solo songs. The set is speckled with some older work from the Gathering, in a new coat of varnish. That Anneke’s voice is impeccable is something I don’t need to express more, and tonight is no exception. Her charming and disarming banter between songs is well timed and never too long. The chemistry of the band as a whole is itself wonderful, especially the harmonies with their key player.
The crowd this evening is mixed in ages and backgrounds, some are clearly previous Gathering fans, some are younger people taking their first steps into alternative rock and others are more of a spunky middle aged variety. The crowd clearly enjoy the show, and even the occasional wanderer who came to see the show if thoroughly convinced. The only pity is that a small clique of young people who clearly came with the first band end up in the back of the room goofing with the member of Kinkobra. But this minor nuisance cannot kill the pleasure that is hearing Anneke sing, with her deep timbre in her lower registers and the crystal clear bell sound of her high registers. The music itself is touching and very emotional, the only thing missing was some songs of Anneke’s children's project De Beer die Geen Beer was (The Bear Who Wasn’t a Bear), but it’s a minor thing I only noticed because the songs touched me at her 2013 acoustic show. If you can catch Anneke on her tours the rest of the year, it’s sincerely recommended. Words and Photos by Susanne A. Maathuis
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Lord Dying Live At Oâ€™Briens Pub, / Vaporizer Allston MA / Lunglust T
hankfully for the majority of shows I have been to this year, the brutal winter weather has been no match for the brutal live music scene. Although O'Brien's barely holds 100 people, the joint was sold out on this frigid, windy night. The placed was packed and people were keeping warm with a pint or three for this Friday night. Lots of local luminaries were out in force, naturally. One of the cooler people in the scene is Michelle Dugan, who makes gorgeous screen print posters and other kinds of design work for local and national bands. Nice to even see some of the hipster metal elite of Boston, supporting a local artist, as I saw several people leave with their own posters. O'Brien's is one of those places that is really small, but feels homey and cool to take in a show. Low lights, cold brews, decent sound, and good metal playing in between bands is always a recipe for a fun time. Sadly I missed seeing The Modern Voice while BS-ing with the door guy about getting in, which bummed me out a bit. Luckily for me Lunglust was coming on next. One of the best up-and-coming bands of the Boston scene, Lungust is the kind of band you never want to miss, with their brutal, crusty hardcore influenced metal. They have yet to let me down. Front man Jeffrey Sykes spits venom on the mic with his manic performance and spent most of the set in the crowd in front of the stage. With a lineup is now bolstered by the rhythm 64 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
section from The Proselyte, they are super tight now and better than before. They have a new record coming out this year, so we will be keeping an ear out for that too. Definitely a group you want to listen to when your usual KEN Mode or Trap Them fix runs out. Vaporizer, hailing from Vermont, is a band I had heard a lot about, but never had seen live until tonight. They seemed to had the stage presence of ten guys with their ton of gear, packing onto the stage that is small for a four piece band, let alone five. They played an amalgam of doomy sludge with cool, weird occasional flourishes of proggyness, thanks to the vocalist Dan getting down on bended knee to make love/hate to his synthesizer. The crowd was definitely into these guys and they performed well,. Some of their tunes meander on a bit for my taste with some extras codas as the culprit. However, they definitely have the goods talent-wise. From what I could tell, the majority of their songs are about weed and mysticism, weed mysticism, and did I mention songs about weed? They had a lot of confidence as a unit too. So many bands look like they don't care, so it's cool (and sad) that bands that give a shit about performing live these days make themselves stand out a lot. Lord Dying set up their own gear with a quick-fast, like the tireless professional road dogs that they are. Out on the road supporting their release Summon The Faithless
(Relapse) which has seen them open up regularly for their hometown Portland bromein in Red Fang on several tours, as well as many other bands in just a few years time. Tearing into a short set of songs from that release, the crowd was hella into it and many were singing along which was cool to hear. The band rocks out with none of the pretense of some of their stoner rock loving brethren, which makes them heavier and cooler than most. I also noticed their live versions of their songs are a lot tougher sounding, making me think their next album is going to be a real killer if they can capture this live feeling with these new songs. They played their jams like 'Dream of Mercy', 'What is Not....Is” and 'Greed Is Your Horse” to the loud approval of the crowd. In addition to their massively heavy title track, they also played a new song, that I missed the name of, but it was balls out hard. When they announced their closer 'In a Frightful State of Gnawed Dismemberment', there was an audible groan from the fans, as well as the usual “one more song” chant. Nonetheless, these workman like dudes, came, conquered and left as quick as they came in. Well done! Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes Photos: Echoes In The Well
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Immortal Bird / Obsidian Toungue / Cryostasium / Grue Live At Ralphâ€™s Rock Diner, Worcester MA oston is well known for a bar where everybody knows your name. Worcester has a bar where not everyone knows you, but everyone knows if you are there, you probably love metal. Except one guy in a suit and tie, there with his date. I think they showed up by accident. Anycase, Metal Thursdays' at Ralph's Rock Diner is a local institution as an semi-intimate place to catch a show, and one I have partaken in too few times, living closer to Boston proper myself. Still, it was worth the trek out there to see a ton of cool friends (and some of the Ghost Cult crew such as Wren Leader and Hillarie Jason) to see Chicago's Immortal Bird and some other killer bands as such a cool place.
Grue opened up the night with their evil sounding, mystery laden black metal set. Setting the mood just right, with a two-man affair, monks cloaks, and eerie sounds. From the start they barely spoke to the crowd, and just bludgeoned all in attendance with their songs; that's how you do it right, folks! Precise beats dropped and blasts fell and shifted with interesting, uncomfortable tempo changes. The articulate rasp of the vocalist could rot the hearts of the kvltist of man, or woman. The guitars went back and forth from melodious and really 66 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
catchy, to a sickening crust. Their songs were varied and their writing was much more mature than I expected, making me beam. Absolutely terrific, I became an instant fan. This is clearly a band on the rise in USBM circles, and I need to catch up on their new album Casualty of the Psychic Wars (Eternal Death Records), like yesterday. Cryostasium was next and they are an interesting prospect, at first. They have a lot of releases out under this moniker, have been around over 15 years. Their combination of Neurosis sludge, avant-garde noise, and post-metal, post-hardcore heaviness is usually right up my alley. Unfortunately, even pulling in all of those influences together, requires a certain mastery these guys seem to lack. They were a little all over the place stylistically, and as a result some of the songs went from experimental to nonsensical quickly. Still, I liked where they fit in on this bill and I gave them every chance to win me over. Then at the end of the set the front man ragged out his band mates on the mic for continuing to play, after he thought the set should have ended. A total non-pro move. No excuses, just lameness. I was glad they were done at this point.
Immortal Bird went on third on this bill and the crowd was sufficiently amped. Front woman Rae Amitay (Thrawsunblat) attended nearby Berklee College of Music, so this show had a homecoming vibe of sorts. As the band began playing, I spied Rae off-stage, psyching herself up for what was to come, and readying for battle. When she finally jumped on the mic, the gruesome voice that sprang from her came from a truly primal place. Playing their harrowing songs full of equal parts blacked doom-grind and terror-inspiring death metal, the band pummeled away at their short, tight set. The songs came off of their excellent new EP Akrasia (Closed Casket Recordings), and the set had no filler, no jokes, and no covers. None were needed as it was straight to business. Rae prowled the stage, at times in-between vocal lines, looking pensive and calm; later giving way to more anguished expressions, and screams. She has a very clear growling voice and shows off cool technique for the lowest lows; never rushing herself or running out of air. The band was killer, highlighted by the the crushing style of touring drummer Gary Naples (November's Doom) in place of Rae herself, who played drums on the album. Bassist John Picillo's killer tone and deft lines held it down, while touring guitarist Ryan Buchart of Trials filled in admirably as well. Whether it was rabid riffs of 'Ashen Scabland' or the gruff bombast of 'The Pseudoscientist', this band slays live. As the outro of the latter track heard Naples bash away with abandon on some of the best power grooves I've heard in an age or two, I couldn't come away more impressed. Obsidian Tongue has almost become a black metal
institution in these parts. Their brand of painstakingly crafted psychedelic influenced black metal has seen them become a fixture in the local scene and has garnered them fans in the underground USBM scene far and wide. Not only did they open for Agalloch when they played here, John Haughm made a guest appearance on their last album! That shows the kind of talent these guys have and why they deserve your respect. It's takes a Sherpa-like patience to absorb their music, but that is also its reward. Guitarist/vocalist Brendan James Hayter and drummer Greg Murphy have a flair for the dramatic, but they can be heavy as hell too. Like a mosaic, their songs come together a piece at a time, creating a whole, only understood when its all over. Triumphant is another word I would use for this bands music too, as all kinds of feelings come to in the course of a set. 'Into The Heart of Night' is still my favorite song by the band, with its many changes and twists. Folk, black metal, thrash, doom, and even some slight power metal influences can be heard in about 10 minutes time. The thing is, with the long, complex structures, the songs somehow stay fresh and never feel over-wrought. At times vocally Hayter will remind you of Heri Joenson of TĂ˝r or his former band mate, the late David Gold from Woods of Ypres with his dynamic baritone voice contrasting his shrieks and howls. Murphy is an unbelievable drummer, who matches Hayter musically and emotionally with his drums. Their hour long set closed out the long night of metal in style. Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes Photos: Hillarie Jason Photography
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ALBUM REVIEWS Nothing
Guilty Of Everything “I was listening some radio show and they were talking about how there’s no good new music and they were referencing lots of random sort of MTV things and… It seemed so obvious that that these were just people who didn’t either know where to look or weren’t willing to put the effort.” That’s what Andee, co-owner of Aquarius Records, said on Kenneth Thomas’ Blood, Sweat, Vinyl. DIY in the 21st Century. An amazing documentary movie that everyone should watch. Now, let’s think about what Andee said and apply it the band Nothing. The “MTV things” is a good way to start because one of the things that every listener will notice, or so I hope, is that Nothing is, at the core, a punk band full of dark ambiance, delivered by the music and Domenic Palermo’s lyrics. If you go back to the early 90s you will find a band that jumped into the mainstream, with the help of MTV, and had some of Nothing’s characteristics, or the other way around if that’s so fuckin’ important to you… Yeah, I’m talking about fuckin’ Nirvana. The other 68 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
thing interesting about Andee’s words is the “where to look” thing. Well, Guilty of Everything, Nothing’s debut album, was released by Relapse Records (a metal label).Yeah, it’s probably a weird match and you didn’t see that shit coming. Well, let’s think again. Everything has a turning point, it doesn’t matter if we hate changes or not… It will eventually happen. Right now we’re seeing a fuckin’ turning point. Deafheaven’s Sunbather, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Death Grips’ The Money Store, and Nothing's Guilty of Everything, these are some of the records that are putting an end to the limits that we know. I mean, they were not the firsts to stretch the boundaries but they are definitely, because they are what we know now, the ones to put the boundaries on the moon. We can even look at Nothing’s own history. They released their stuff in an indie rock label, in a punk label and now in a metal label. There’s no stopping this shit: eclecticism is our next stop. Nothing’s debut album is, indeed, another important landmark
on the music business. Just like Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing....., etc - No, I’m not saying that that is better or it will make the same exact impact… Fuck off! That being said, let’s jump into Nothing’s world. The band, which if from Philadelphia, was formed in 2011 by Palermo (guitars/vocals) after some complicated moments and the break-up of his band, the hardcore outfit Horror Show. From their demo, Poshlost, to this album (don’t forget about their two EPs, Suns and Lovers and Downward Years To Come) the evolution is remarkable. Starting off with 'Hymn To The Pillory', where the first moments of melancholy are attacked with loud and noisey guitars, to 'B&E' (a track that was re-recorded, since it was present on their demo), that seems to use a type of crescendo that is always limited (I’m aware of the weirdness of this statement, thank you). There’s no stopping or dull moments in here. Brandon Setta (guitars/
vocals), that joined the band after the demo, was indeed a turning point for Nothing. Looking at the cover you might think they have surrender in this bleak and dark world. Well, it doesn’t seem like that. The high levels of energy are a constant throughout these ten tracks. Jesu, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins, Slowdive can be influences, but they don’t restrain Nothing’s freedom, not even for one second. Probably the diversity and cutting edge style that I’m talking about will not making sense at first.You just need to pay attention and let the repeat button do his job. In the end I can promise you this: the music and lyrics on Guilty of Everything will make a huge impact on you.You will not explore Nothing’s music, you will explore yourself.“Spent summers in a well watching pale moons disappear. Alone.” Haven’t we all? – Tiago Moreira
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III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb Twilight has released a stunning effort in III: Beneath Trident's Tomb; but that's the good news. The bad news is it is also their last release.
III: Beneath Trident's Tomb (Century Media) is a
grand swan song of noisy, yet tasty and sludgy riffs, in a raw wall of sound courtesy of producer/guitarist/ keyboardist Sanford Parker (Minsk, Corrections House). This is further enhanced by the addition of a guitarist who is known for making musical noise an art form - Thurston Moore - yes, of Sonic Youth. It may seem to be an odd pairing, but it does work, and it should. Sonic Youth carved their niche as avant-garde musicians with little regard for things such as standard tunings and playing it safe, and Twilight is cut from the same cloth...albeit the darker, more tattered edge of it. Moore is but another notch in the belt of a band that has culled quite a roster of musicians over its 14-year existence. The lineup for this final release is rounded out by vocalist N. Imperial (Krieg), co-founder/ drummer/bassist/vocalist Wrest (Leviathan), guitarist/ vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos (The Atlas Moth/ Chrome Waves). Their performances are as good as expected, but this record overall appears to be a cross between their 2005 self-titled release with its aggression and Black Metal lo-fi trappings, and their 2010 release Monument to Time End's gaze-y leanings.
‘Lungs’ opens the record with Black Metal screams through Parker's atmospheric production and grinding riffage. ‘Oh Wretched Son’ is dissonant and driving, successfully combining Noise Rock with Death Metal. ‘Swarming Funeral Mass’ is a doomy affair, starting off sparse but later filling up like an angry well complete with metallic banging effects and dual screams. ‘Seek No Shelter Fevered Ones’ also starts of quiet but very quickly rears up into a powerful beast of a mid-tempo song. ‘A Flood of Eyes’ reminds me very much of Neurosis overall, which is never a bad thing, then it cranks up the Thrash, brings in the barreling doublebass and then brings it down to a mid-tempo trot, resulting in a very cool musical ride. ‘Below Lights’
closes out the record, starting out as a creepy industrial song, and ending as a very creepy Industrial/Death Metal hybrid that would the perfect soundtrack to the kind of nightmare that wakes you up in the middle of the night and prevents you from going back to sleep. There is not a lot of speed on this record, but what it lacks in speed and blast beats it more than makes up for it in sheer intensity. There is a weight to this record that is palpable, and practically visual. It is very easy to allow your mind to go to very dark places as this insidious soundtrack blares itself into the cracks of your subconscious. Sonically broad, cold and uncomfortable, calling it Black Metal is not completely accurate. Other Metal genres snake in and out, such as doom, thrash and death. "Experimental" is a word that I do not like to use because it implies a hesitation or an uncertainty. That is not the feeling I get from listening to this record. It is a carefully crafted slab of Metal that is intended to be powerful and unsettling, and it succeeds at both. To get the best idea of what you are in for, picture Tombs at its bleakest, or Neurosis Nat its angriest.
A dark ominous fuzz ushers in ‘Crown of Talons’, opening track of the highly anticipated Blood Eagle (Napalm Records), the second full-length album from Liverpool’s (UK) much vaunted Conan. Drawling and sprawling it gradually stretches into a repetitive and hypnotic, simple riff and chanted vocal, like a dragon stirring from a thousand year slumber, an effect which takes two songs and 17 minutes to reach the state of awakening. Doom is the new black and Blood Eagle is the measured heaviness of simple barbaric riffs played in the
Co-founder Blake Judd (Nachtmystium) appears to have been involved with the writing and development of this record, but left prior to its release. Perhaps this ended a band whose existence was as unpredictable and shrouded in mystery as the music itself. It may never be clear whether Twilight was a black metal supergroup, a kult collaboration, a label-commissioned project or the madness of one man with friends who understood it. Whatever they were, they leave as an enigma with a righteous stain of sound to mark their departure into the ether. –Lynn Jordan
lowest of low tunings, and is like a torture approach; your cranium slowly caved in by casual, regular swings of a sock full of wet sand, rather than a quick, brutal bludgeoning. Eventually it knocks you down, then knocks you out, then smashes through the bone. Just as you think ‘Crown…’ is going to step up and give you a battering 9 minutes in, it stops, and the dragon closes one eye and sighs before ‘Total Conquest’ begins the process again at a pedestrian pace. But all this means is that when it does explode at the intro of track four ‘Gravity Chasm’ into the ‘Children of the Grave’ style pay-off, it’s like tantric orgasm, and the waiting and pulling back from the brink is made worthwhile. Conan walk a fine line between monotony and hypnoticrepetition, nothing strays far from the central point
of sluggish groove and trancey sludge. The vocals are just a touch too monotone for my own tastes, but host a cleverly crafted album dynamic that builds to a central pairing of the Helmet-y ‘Foehammer’ and the more uptempo ‘Gravity Chasm’ before the dragon, fresh from the kill of the prey, returns to its lair to settle back into the lush low-tones and a skull crushing heaviness that can’t be argued with from closing duo ‘Horns For Teeth’ and ‘Altar of Grief’. Conan may not be versatile, but they evoke atmosphere, dark groove and pure fuzzy, heavy, oh so heavy, doom. – Steve Tovey
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Metal, in general, is as vital today as it has in the 80s. Sure, the impact of one record today is not as considerable, but nonetheless vital. Every year we see artists coming with art that makes our hair stand up on the back of our neck, and the impact of such grandiose pieces of art that don’t affect only the metal scene but other scenes as well. Lately it has been the black metal the genre getting “all” the recognition, winning fans like Marissa Nadler, Chelsea Wolfe or even the legendary Thurston Moore (a member of the supergroup Twilight for their final album). Metal as a whole is vital. Period. But there’s always the underdog thing when comes to metal. In this case death metal is big underdog. Just like a bud of mine said a few years ago: “These are some of the most brilliant times for death metal. Unfortunately we will need 20 years to take proper notice”. Sonne Adam’s Transformation, Teitanblood’s Seven Chalices, Ævangelist’s De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis, Portal’s Swarth, Mitochondrion’s Parasignosis, and many more. Brilliant records that were released just in the last five years. Impressive? Told ya. Let’s add another name to our little list: Artificial Brain’s debut album, Labyrinth Constellation. That’s right, the band formed by Revocation’s guitarist Dan Gargiulo and ex-Biolich vocalist Will Smith has released a monster of an album. Technical death metal with sci-fi themes, a description that doesn’t covers, not even for a moment, all the greatness of this album and the music contained in it. Well, technical death metal – let’s just say technical musical in general - tends to be a dangerous game where wankers are the kings and boredom is the only color of a shitty painting. Not this time. The most impressive thing is to hear and feel how well-thought this album is. How every detail is folded into a single unit making the album coherent and, at the same time, diversified. With an oldschool approach the quintet from New York “reworks” the death metal offering dissonance through uncanny atmospheres, tremendous moments of abrasiveness and an album that breath with all the dynamics presented. The melody and weird atmosphere created by the guitar while the madness of death metal is on full mode is probably the biggest highlight of this album. Songs like 'Absorbing Black Ignition', where that contrast is for the first time evident, and Worm Harvester, where the band shifts gears without losing any sense of purpose or brilliance, are some of the moments that standout in an album that will make the year of any extreme metal fan. Brilliant, utterly amazing, breath taking and challenging from the first to the last second. – Tiago Moreira
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DARKENTRIES The Make Believe
There is a famous saying that theorizes that most bands have their entire life to write their first album. Whatever pulls together a group of musicians with similar influences and compels them to create new music, is often easy to pinpoint. Usually it is the love and appreciation of a genre or a group of beloved similar bands that form the germ of a notion that guides the birthing process of art. While some opt for more approachable fare, others are seeking a path towards something, likely and answer to a question within themselves. Darkentries is one such band whose blackened post-metal influences are clearly discernible on the surface, but peeling away the layers reveals the quality of a group with a unique language of their own.
The Make Believe (Retro Futurist) opens with a sleepily plucked guitar, quite harmless and unassuming. 'TV Fuzz' has an odd quality of dread in it, before it even really starts. Some delay effects and fingers sliding across strings pull you in for a closer examination, before knocking your block off with a bomb blast of heaviness. Clashing, dirge-like chords and pounding beats crush, while Hampton Dodd's harsh vocals swarm your ears. It's nice to see a young band
Kings of Metal XXIV
There are no two ways about it, Manowar were responsible for some of the best pure Heavy Metal albums ever released. Take away the posturing and the loincloths (actually, keep the loincloths on… ) and this was a band whose first six albums (and number seven is pretty mighty, too) stand more than the test of time, but take their place at the head of the great hall of Metal Valhalla. And the original Kings of Metal is the sound of an army of immortals at their peak, raging on ‘Wheels of Fire’, anthemic on the title-track, majestic on ‘Heart of Steel’, epic on ‘Blood of the Kings’, and all of the above on ‘Hail And Kill’. It’s certainly up there with their best, and the best that power/trad/classic (choose your poison of genre-tag) has ever offered. The original Kings of Metal scores a mighty Ten Thor’s Hammers! Kings of Metal XXIV (Magic Circle), however, is the Greedo shooting first, of albums. In every aspect, this comes up the weaker. The tracklisting pointlessly changed; the titles of the songs pointlessly changed; the production is WORSE than the 26 year old
version (in every way - the guitar tone is flat and lifeless, the lead tone is annoying, the bass farts, the drums sound like biscuit tins, the volume is severely lacking and the keyboards sound like “My Casio Choir” has parped inexcusably in places); Brian Blessed turns ‘The Warriors Prayer’ into a farce; Karl Logan had yet to show himself worthy of following in Ross The Boss’ footprints and embarrasses himself further still - his re-workings of solos are pitiful; there’s a pointless extra verse listing all of Eastern Europe shoehorned into ‘Blood of the Kings’ AND DOESN’T EVEN FIT! There are about 73 versions of ‘Heart of Steel’ out there, an epic battle-weary emotive track that stirs the heart and spirits, yet here reduced to a lumpen, unevocative and pointless phone-in. Meanwhile, while the 1988 version of the bass solo showcased Joey De Maio’s technical ability, the 2014 take (with the click track inexcusably left in!) just shows how far up his own arse he’s crawled. The only person to emerge from this fetid disgrace of a re-release with any semblance of credibility is Eric Adams, criminally overlooked and worthy of being feted in the same breath as and seen on a par with Dickinson, Dio and Halford, but even the great Adams has had more triumphant and better days (oh yes, the 1988 version). Do yourselves every favour, and buy the original of this album. Despite what you think you may think of Manowar it is pure metal gold. This re-recording, on the other hand, is a money-grabbing, tired, in and un credible attempt to paper over the cracks of a creative force that is long since spent. Manowar are now the path-crowders, and should be ejected from their own hall.– Steve ‘Manowarrior’ Tovey
with an unshakeable patience of masters. Like a mantra, repeating riffs and laconic rhythms make a statement to introduce you to Darkentries, and what a statement it is. 'Honey Eater' takes the direct approach with angular, grinding riff that just blasts. Heavy riffs in the finest tradition of the disciples Neurosis, Rwake and Hull hammer home their pain, clearly coming from a despondent place. 'I'm Tired of Being Awake' changes things up considerably, with a more insistent tempo and some frosty blastbeats. There is even a minidrum solo! A discordant artful chime is heard in some of the guitar work, crafting a cloud of noise that adds to the track. '1200-S' has a horror movie quality about it, with the terror just lurking around the corner, the horrifying swell of evil about to take you out. 'Feedback Funeral' is the aptly titled closer. Building into a maelstrom of riffage, this song is a doom and sludge masterpiece that has its roots in the swamps and woods of their South Carolina home. – Keith (Keefy) Chachkes GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 73
Norweigian proggers Gazpacho have for a long time now been one of our world’s most consistently intriguing and underrated gems, fusing the minimalist near sombre tones of Radiohead with subtle electronics and folk like instrumentation. They also have a penchant for macabre tales about the paranormal and the mystic, so the true story of a book found in a Prague apartment in which the author tells of his search for The Demon is tailor made Gazpacho fodder. Which is where their latest opus, Demon, comes in. Lyrically, Demon is a piece which both takes in the point of view of the book’s author and that of an outsider reflecting on the protagonist’s mental conditioning. Despite the understandably morose lyrical subject matter, musically Demon shows a warmth and safety in some of its more delicate parts. Throughout the albums four pieces however it shifts from such through to almost Black Sabbath levels of heavy, accompanied by excerpts of vintage film reminiscent music and crackled vocal passages the likes of which you’d picture emitting from a classic pre- Second World War wireless radio. Each song in turn continuously swerves in its dynamic; only the shorter track 'The Wizard Of Altai Mountain' maintaining its consistent, folk driven pattern. Those already familiar with this remarkable of bands already know the beauty and serenity that Gazpacho are capable of in their music and the diversity at their hand, but Demon shows an even darker and more powerful side than before and is possible their most sinister of works yet still encapsulates that feel of splendour that they are renowned for. Demon is a modern masterpiece which should find its way in to the collection of anyone who has an affinity with progressive music.–Chris Tippell
Originally released on tape in 2011, Ormgård are rereleasing the Ormblot demo on CD, via Forever Plagued Records. Ormblot was praised a lot within the black metal underground scene and the band itself was hysterically compared with black metal monsters such as Emperor. Including three ambient songs and three black metal songs, the entire work is so 1990s that’s hard to think it’s only three years old. The ambient songs instantly put me somewhere between 1993 and 1995 when great projects like Mortiis or Satyr’s Wongraven were born. Of course, Ormgård don’t deliver ambient songs with forty minutes, but the ancient essence is so there: it’s slow and cold with dark ruined corridors on sight. The title-track profoundly embraced me with its very slow pace and with its compassed bells tolling that I even jumped on my chair when the ‘Hugsad’ track begun with the frozen and hostile guitar riffs. Ormgård hails from Sweden, a country that has a well settled and modern black metal movement, but the band’s sound is so Germanic featuring fast yet melodic riffs combined with a wall of simple orchestrations that reach our ears through the keyboards. However, there is another characteristic that easily leads me to Finland because of the high-pitched vocals which may remind me a whole bunch of black metal acts. The gelid landscapes are brought by songs like ‘Av Svartkonst & Fördärv’ which is the most demonic one in the demo. Telling a story about sorcery, Orm goes far and mixes the concept with the evilness of demons, being Satan the center of it all. In sum, it’s hard for me to say this is really an iconic item.Yes, it’s worthy to listen, especially because of the ambient tracks and because of the 1990s spirit – now and then I still check the date and I figure out it’s a 2011 demo. Nowadays, I don’t really know what Orm wants to do with Ormgård, but according to the 2012 album, titled ////\, it seems black metal isn’t a priority as we have a dark ambient full-length.–Diogo Ferreira 74 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
The Human Contradiction
The quintet displays great attention to detail, the rhythm section of Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (bass) and Sander Zoer (drums) lays a firm foundation for Timo Somers passionate fretwork, which lends Delain’s sound a very energetic vibe. Moreover, the band has paid particular attention to the vocals, which are a lot more varied then on previous releases. On the one hand that is surely due to Charlotte Wessels diverse vocals, which are as sweet as they are powerful and manage to draw you in completely. Over the last years, the chanteuse’s voice has become considerably more distinct and expressive, making her much more mature as a vocalist and resulting in her best performance as yet.
Dutch symphonic metal five piece Delain have just released their highly anticipated fourth full-length output, which lyrically continues the well-received We Are The Others (2012). The more generic gothic metal of the early days has been replaced by a distinctive sound, which inclines more towards symphonic metal and is heavier, more melodic and more original than ever before in the career of the formation.
The Wounded Kings Consolamentum
Given that every single doom metal band around owes their very existence to Black Sabbath, the band that started this whole heavy metal malarkey, it’s unsurprising that the scene is full to saturation point, with bands struggling to either out-heavy each other or playing up an ‘occult’ image long past its sell-by-date. Thankfully Dartmoor five-piece The Wounded Kings have no such worries when it comes to standing out, so powerful and masterly is the vein of doom captured on fourth full-length Consolamentum (Candlelight Records), a record of simple yet spellbinding pleasures. Favouring lengthy yet subtly evolving guitar
On the other hand it’s down to the versatile input of the assembled guest musicians. Most prominent amongst them, certainly Nightwish’s Marco Hietala, whose intense voice forms a stark contrast to Charlotte’s more endearing tones and who provides the two songs he sings in (My Body Is A Battleground, Sing To Me), with a rougher edge. A further highlight on the record are George Oosthoek’s powerful grunts in the philosophical 'Tell Me, Mechanist' and last but not least the impressive growls of Alyssia White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist), in the highly symphonic but at the same time rather heavy, 'The Tragedy Of The Commons', which are a true delight for every metal head.
The Human Contradiction contains nine carefully crafted and
evocative compositions, which strikingly display all of Delain’s trademarks, energetic riffing, catchy melodies and arresting female vocals, but also present some fresh elements. With keyboarder and mastermind Martijn Westerholt (ex-Within Temptation) back in the producer’s chair, the band has managed to fashion their best release to date, making you want to hit the repeat button over and over again.– Isabell Köster
workouts that never lapse into repetitive dirge territory, The Wounded Kings go about working their dark, smoky magic with grim elegance, building pressure and crucially, good old-fashioned song-writing that makes the prospect of skipping ahead null and void. Opening track Gnosis tips the scales at thirteen minutes but feels like three, as the guitars of Steve Mills and Alex Kearney claim your mind and reap your soul. Equally good are the sinister refrains of Lost Bride, shorter in length but equally devastating. As she did on previous outing Chapel of the Black Hand, vocalist Sharie Neyland proves herself to be utterly untouchable when it comes to quavering, haunting tones that could charm the skin off a toad’s back. Combined with the aforementioned guitars, pounding percussion, flourishes of Hammond and a living breathing atmosphere that places the listener right there in Baskerville Hall in witch-haunted Dartmoor as candles burn, the wind shrieks and the demonic Hound howls somewhere out there in the cursed night. Simply put, The Wounded Kings are the quintessential English doom band and it’s going to take a very fine effort to better Consolamentum when assessing any future heavy records that happen to be played very slowly. Magical stuff. – James Conway
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Back From Beyond It has been 23 years since Rick Rozz and Terry Butler last released anything of note under the banner of Massacre, and that two decades plus hiatus has allowed their debut From Beyond to achieve the legendary status its Bay Area-meets-Death quality deserves, a great collection of straight down the line death metal songs that set the tone for literally millions of bands to follow. With such an iconic release in their catalogue, but with years of less than stellar activity individually, expectations for Back From Beyond (Century Media) are mixed. The first thing that strikes is the powerful production as guitars barrel out of the traps (once the pointless intro has meandered on by) into ‘As We Wait To Die’. New vocalist Ed Webb does a decent enough job, sounding like (the heavier of) Burton C. Bell (‘s voices), but lacking the distinctive and charismatic tones of non-returnee Kam Lee. While Massacre always leant to the thrashy, (pre-Chaos AD) Sepultura end of American Death Metal, it’s interesting to see how 76 | GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17
much groove and chug metal is in their newer sound; ‘Hunters Blood’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Lamb of God album. That isn’t to say the trademark Massacre DM has been abandoned, as ‘Ascension of the Deceased’ throwsback like a Thursday, ‘Shield Of The Son’ thrash-snaps the neck, while ‘Evil Within’ and ‘Beast With Vengeance’ pay homage to Chuck. Sticking resolutely in the mid-tempo and to a simple but effective riffing style with only the odd venture out of their stomping ground, Back From Beyond settles into a pattern of mixing late 90’s groove with old school Death Metal riffing. In the main, with each track in isolation, it works to good effect, but as a whole due to a lack of dynamics and colour, no track to rival a ‘Cryptic Realms’ and an overly long running order (14 tracks!? You have to be amazing to stay interesting for 14 tracks!) Back From Beyond is an enjoyable, solid yet unspectacular return. Nothing to rival From Beyond but serves as a better follow up than (the-Massacre-album-thatshall-not-be-named). – Steve Tovey
Dedicated to bringing to life the music of The Process Church of the Final Judgement, an obscure 70s religious movement that preached the necessity of worshipping evil as well as good to obtain spiritual balance, Sabbath Assembly is the vision of drummer Dave “Xtian” Nuss and vocalist Jamie Myers. Performing original Process Church hymns as well as their own interpretations, the duo have faced accusations of being a novelty act that is the only logical conclusion of the current occult rock trend but they don’t appear to care one jot, as third release Quaternity (Svart Records) proudly declares. The first thing that becomes apparent is that Myers has one of the most captivating and ethereal voices this side of Diamanda Galas as her otherworldly and sensual tones bathe you in golden light on opening track 'Let Us Who Mystically Represent...' which sets the scene nicely, aided by some haunting organ notes. The eerie acoustic folk of 'Jehovah on Death' features some captivating dual male/ female vocals along with refined and dreamlike cello and strings and if you close your eyes, you’re right there in the congregation feeling the love of the Church wash over you in all its transcendental glory. Well not quite, but it’s a strong effort. 'The Burning Cross of Christ' is easily the finest song on Quaternity, a powerful and evocative folk number that allows Myers to sing passionately and without restriction. However it’s quite a light number and it’s not until the treble-heavy tones of 'I, Satan' that the darker side of Sabbath Assembly is revealed and the teachings of the band take on a more tangible meaning. Unfortunately the goodwill generated is then tarnished by the eighteen minute long pretension fest that is 'The Four Horseman' which simply feels like a long and tedious afternoon in church
rather than anything spiritually uplifting. Not metal in the slightest, but truly a genuine piece of outsider music, Quaternity is an intriguing example of something that shouldn’t work at all but somehow does. Whether they have God or the Devil to thank for that remains unexplained. – James Conway
Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Not long ago, I once had nothing positive to say of Colombia’s Inquisition, who are now based in sleepless Seattle. Upon first hearing ‘Those of the Night’, I was admittedly turned off by the aesthetic of it all; croaking that reminded me of Popeye with throat cancer, the overly fuzzy and plodding guitars, and drumming I can barely remember, it must have been so unremarkable. They got better. Hop on over to the next paragraph and maybe you’ll find an explanation as to why Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist) hasn’t ended up in the archive hell of the Department of Redundancy Department. This outfit has predictably got limitations to overcome musically when tasked with writing inspired black metal that is listenable, unique, and not far too clean, being a two-man band in a modern land of imitation. The trick here is not Satan, but rather inventiveness. While they’re in a similar place musically to (insert album with blue cover), this is by no means something to hold against it. Front man Dagon’s vocals are still that eldritch semi-amphibious rasp with some cavernous bellows sprinkled throughout, though with reverb to give the atmosphere of colloquy with Azathoth himself, it sounds palatable to the ear rather than chisels at your patience. Guitar lines: slowly unfolding, melodic fractal riffs not unlike specimens of modern black metal, but may, when needed, join with cannonading drums to besiege fabulous hyaline castles in the cosmos of fabled multiverse. Inquisition make no pretense of being avant-garde wizards; they find a good sound and go with it. End of story. Or album? The sound in this case is best exemplified by the intense yet subtle balance of melody and bestiality, but not in the shagging sheep way. The opening minute of ‘Joined By Dark Matter Repelled By Dark Energy’, for
instance: starting as a gently rushing river of galloping drums accompanied by guitar waxing poetically sensible before the swirling waterfall of blastbeats kick in and reminds you that this isn’t your dad’s normal ear-pleasing rock’n’roll, though he could appreciate some of the harmonies. The only true downside I can find is that the tracks do follow a (well-written) formula, with ‘When Darkness Is Lord And Death’ sounding scarily like the track I just yammered about. The fact that “dark” or some variant of it is in three different songs should tell you all you need to know. Don’t get me started on this piece’s title itself, eh? In closing, I liked this album, and you might too. For every three oddly cheery sounding bands under the tag “melodic black metal”, there’s a group like Vinterland, Sacramentum, or Inquisition that doesn’t like sunshine. Good night. – Sean Pierre-Antoine
GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #15 | 77
Ritual Exhumation (EP)
The tolling of the bell calls out to the disciples of metal to join this unholy sonic experience as once more we make a sacrifice of the living to join the realm of the dead. Known as the garden of England, Kent may not seem the usual breeding ground for such homage to blood, booze and brutality, but underneath the tranquil exterior lies Monumentomb, a four-piece death metal band hailing from Maidstone. Appearing on the scene with their debut album Ritual Exhumation, they have unleashed a record of pure chaotic fury. Digging up the old sound, their music pays homage to the Swedish scene with definite hints of Entombed and Grave coursing throughout each song. At a mere 30 minutes long, this is a short, sharp attack on the senses. Opening with the call of church bells, it is a deceptively calm intro that launches up straight through into title track 'Ritual Exhumation'. From there on out the album is unrelenting in its frantic clawing from beginning to end, with every instrument barely holding itself in place with its inexhaustible aggressive energy. It is only during 'Perpetual Execution' Torment that the listener is given the briefest interlude with the arrival of backing vocals that perfectly counterpoint Braidwood’s gutturals. Monumentomb are showing they mean serious business here with razor sharp riffs, piercing solos and great production quality. Although it can lean slightly on the repetitive side at points, there’s no doubting Ritual Exhumation could challenge many of the newest release by the big names in death metal. This is pure, old school death metal at its very finest. – Caitlin Smith
The gardens of Doom have never been more fertile than in England’s gray and fetid lands in 2014. Conan and The Wounded Kings may head the pack with two of the best releases of the first quarter, but shuffling like battle-jacket clad Walkers, are a host of low-end, funereal paced dirtbags, headed by Brighton’s Sea Bastard. With a guitar tone drenched in silt and dirt, the very elements of sludge, straining against the constraints of amplification turned to maximum, a crushing chord stab fighting feedback begins this extreme doom assault over a tempo that if a heart rate would mean near-death. Vocalist Monty spits turgid death metal growls before settling into his more trademark feral tones. And so Scabrous (Mosh Tunage) has begun, resplendent in bleak, violent, extreme doom. Good doom works through being slab-heavy and repetitious, luring you into a zone. Great doom works through being slab-heavy and hypnotically repetitious, instilling a barren feeling of hopelessness over a drawn-out time period, where the first 13 minutes feels like 4, and this is opener, the excellent ‘Nokken’, which then explodes unexpectedly in a massive chugging riff-frenzy, leaving you pummelled and bloodied until it’s 17 minute girth has unfurled. ‘Nightmares of the Monolith’ follows in, bringing things back to a graveyard tempo and an early Peaceville UK doom feel, Oli Irongiant wrenching dark riffs and chords from the neck of his guitar, maintaining an ominous atmosphere before bringing things down to a twisted sludge. ‘Door Sniffer’ serves as a perfect lead-in to the megalithic 20 minute closer ‘Metamorphic Possession’, both enhanced by prominent bass-work from Steve Patton, the former espousing more traditional Cathedral (Forest of Equilibrium) tones, the latter a sprawling, horrific epic of endurance. Sea Bastard are too vile to appeal to the hipster, which is to their credit and hopefully won’t stunt their progression as this is a sickness that deserves to spread. At times channelling Iron Monkey, at others Celtic Frost’s Monotheist through a heroin filter, at all times vitally and vibrantly intensely heavy British Doom, Sea Bastard are not an easy listen for the extreme doom newcomer, but for the initiated Scabrous is a beautifully sickeningly dark and filthy album.– Steve Tovey GHOST CULT MAGAZINE #17 | 79
ollapse & rush
ditor’s Note: As often as we can we here at Ghost Cult, we like to bring you guest editorials, unique stories, and minitopic interviews from people in the world of heavy music. Band members and musicians with varying interests to share, delving deep into influence outside the musical, industry honchos breaking down what the numbers mean, or perhaps a music journalist with a new perspective. In Dane Prokofiev's recent interview with Skeletonwitch, he tackled the concept of the “Loudness War”. For those uninitiated, the term is used by bloggers, audiophiles, and other professional music appreciators to refer to the trend of extreme metal bands trying to one-up one another by seeing who can produce the loudest-sounding record. You may not be aware of it, but it is actually prevalent in a lot of extreme metal music production today. Much to Chance Garnette's bemusement, he wasn't familiar with the term when asked about it. However, he does have distinct ideas about the sound of Skeletonwitch albums, not bowing to the opinions of idiots on the interwebs, and metal album production in general. Do you think a dynamic audio production, as heard in Gorguts and Burzum albums, would serve Skeletonwitch’s music well? You know, on Serpents (Unleashed), it’s the only time when the audio production really was, to me, perfect for the record. I’d like to hear it maybe, and see if someone could remix it and go, “Here’s the Gorguts remix,” or “Here’s the Burzum remix.”Yeah, sure, I’d love to hear it, but off the top of my head… you know, this
I LOVE IT LoUD Chance Garnette Talks About The Loudness War is kind of new, I didn’t even know this term existed—I’m not really online that much or pay too much attention to what… I guess there’s just so many shit-talkers.You know, I used to always be on the metal news sites and I’m just like,“Ah, damn, these kids are just shit-talkers.” Back to the production, I think what suits Skeletonwitch best is a little more raw, a little more real. Not crazy polished, over-produced. I don’t really think triggered drums and straight digital, no real amps with mics, just straight line-in guitar and triple-track vocals would suit us very well at all. I think it needs to sound organic and real, and really represent what we do onstage, because bottom line, what we do on-stage is the true Skeletonwitch.” As told to Dan Prokofiev
Featuring Devil You Know, plus Twilight, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Apocalyptica, The Wounded Kings, Nothing, Delain, Steve “Zetro" Souza of H...
Published on Apr 23, 2014
Featuring Devil You Know, plus Twilight, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Apocalyptica, The Wounded Kings, Nothing, Delain, Steve “Zetro" Souza of H...