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+ Colin Edwin/Porcupine Tree Marty Friedman Ahab Dynferi Amenra The Secret killing joke Rage Nucleaire Ides Of Gemini Prosperina Nine Covens Skรกlmรถld Crowned Dordeduh

Editorial... ISSUE #3 december 2012

4 - the devil F E AT U R E S : 04. The Devil 06. Colin Edwin/Porcupine Tree 08. Marty Friedman 10. Ahab 12. Dynferi 14. Amenra 16. The Secret 18. killing joke 20. Rage Nucleaire 22. Ides Of Gemini 24. Prosperina 26. Nine Covens 28. Skálmöld 30. Crowned 32. Dordeduh 34. REVIEWS 43. guest column: adrien bergand CREW... Editor: raymond westland [homenucleonics@gmail.com] senior editors: chris wright, pete ringmaster, david alexandre copy editors: pete ringmaster, noel oxford, John lasala Contributors: Chris Tippell, Chris Ward, Ian Girle, Dewie, MetalMatt Longo, Matthew Tilt, John Toolan, Tom Saunders, Brayden Bagnall, Dane Prokofiev, Chantelle Marie, Sean Palfrey, Jonathan Keane, Matt Hinch, Matt Spall, Curtis Dewar, Christine Hager, Jodi Mullen, Gilbert Potts, James Conway, Cheryl Carter, MetalMatt Longo, Kyle Harcott design: david alexandre INFO... (W) www.ghostcultmag.com General Enquiries: (@) info.ghostcultmag@gmail.com Submissions: (@) submissions.ghostcult@gmail.com

The holiday season is near as I’m writing the words of my editorial for the last Ghost Cult issue of this year. We started in October and we’ve produced three issues so far. December is also the time to reflect on the past year. Many fine releases have graced my ears this year, including the latest releases by Killing Joke, Deftones, Enslaved, Shining, Anathema, Incoming Celebral Overdrive,Lento, Metallic Taste Of Blood, Ministry and tons of others. I also feel really blessed that I have the privilege to work alongside with some of best writers I know in Ghost Cult. In 2013 we will return in force and keep on providing you, our beloved readers, with the best in cutting edge and experimental bands and artists as we did in the previous GC issues. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, including some very promising partnerships. More info on that at a later date. In this issue of Ghost Cult Magazine there are interviews with Colin Edwin from Porcupine Tree, Martin “Youth” Glover of Killing Joke and former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman tells you a lot more about his post Megadeth career in Japan. Besides that we have interviews with The Devil, Amenra, Rage Nucleaire and many more. Legendary writer/reviewer Adrien Begrand (Terrorizer,Decibel) shares his views on the metal world in his guest editorial. Of course, the album/dvd reviews section is stacked to the brim with reviews on the latest albums. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has supported Ghost Cult in any shape or form this year and I wish you all a happy Christmas and a happy New Year. See you all next year! raymond westland (editor-in-chief)

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the records that changed my life

dece m be r top 5 Raymond Westland (EDITOR) 1- Deftones - Koi No Yokan 2 - Killing Joke - XMII 3- Enslaved - Riitiir 4- Shining - Redefining Darkness 5- Kylesa - From The Vaults Part One Pete Marshall (PR Representative) 1- Deftones - Koi No Yokan 2- Strife - Witness A Rebirth 3- Havenside - Nemesis 4- Vinnie Paz - God Of The Serengeti 5- RSJ Higs - Boson EP Noel Oxford (WRITER) 1- om - conference of the birds 2- colour haze - she said 3- high on fire - de vermis mysteriis 4- wo fat - the black code 5- sleep - dopesmoker Enrique Sagarnaga (Season Of Mist US) 1- Deathspell Omega-Drought 2- Bestia Arcana - To Anabainon Ek Tes Abyssu 3- The Ascendant- The Spiritual Death EP 4- Blasphemophagher- The III Command of the Absolute Chaos 5- Dodecahedron - Self Titled John Giulio Sprich (The Euroblast Festival) 1. Monuments - Gnosis 2. Skyharbor - Blinding White Noise 3. Anal Nathrakh - Vanitas 4. The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza -Danza 4 5. Reso - Tangram .... Nicole Lassak (Catharsis Mangement & Communications ) 1. Skyharbor - Blinding White Noise 2. Agent Fresco - Long Time Listening 3. Archive - With Us Until You're Dead 4. The Interbeing - Edge Of The Obscure 5. Naive - Illuminatis Greg Hans Karlowitsch (Season Of Mist) 1- Baroness- Yellow & Green 2- Saint Vitus: Lillie: F-65 3- High on Fire: De Vermis Mysteriis 4- Torche: Harmonicraft 5- Converge: All we Love we Leave Behind Algar (Season Of Mist) 1- REVENGE - Scum.Collapse.Eradication. 2- RAGE NUCLEAIRE - Unrelenting Fucking Hatred 3- ASHENCULT - Black Flame Gnosis 4- BEHEXEN - Nightside Emanations 5- MARDUK - Serpent Sermon

J.Bennett (IDES OF GEMINI) Def Leppard – Pyromania One of the first albums I ever owned, and it’s probably the album that got me hooked on rock music forever.

Metallica – And Justice For All When this came out, it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard. It’s still my favourite Metallica album, even if you can’t hear the bass.

Danzig – How The Gods Kill This is the album that made me want to play guitar. John Christ’s playing on this record still gives me chills.

Burzum – Filosofem This is the record that got me into black metal. It’s still my favourite black metal album, and easily one of the most hypnotic records ever made.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Juju Bryan Tulao from Black Math Horseman turned me onto this record maybe five or six years ago. It completely blew my mind and changed the way I thought about the guitar. John McGeoch’s playing on this record is some of the most fluid and tasteful I’ve ever heard by anyone, anywhere.


THE D EVIL THE DEVIL “an adversary, like a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8)

One of the more enigmatic bands to emerge lately, is UK-based rock/metal outfit The Devil. Chris Ward had the opportunity to sit down with these gents. They had a friendly chat about the band’s self-titled debut album, the creative vision behind The Devil and the exposure of social media..


Hey guys. Your self-titled debut album certainly marks you out as something unique - what's The Devil all about then? The Devil music has been created to expose hidden knowledge and the conspiracies surrounding the networks of elite secret societies that control this world at the highest levels. You self-produced your debut album, no doubt to keep the vision as pure as possible? After working with several accomplished producers and engineers with previous music projects, I was never fully content with the productions we were getting. I always wanted it to sound bigger and heavier.

It just never turned out like I heard in my mind. Engineers would always say things like “you can’t have that much gain / distortion on your guitars” or “you can’t have that much reverb” etc. This was always very frustrating to me because in my opinion metal guitars are supposed to be heavy and metal productions should sound big. What was the idea behind the masks and what do they represent? It was never intended to be an image. This bands music contains some highly controversial subject matter, so from day one we knew that being masked was necessary in order to allow us to play live while keeping our identities anonymous.

Who are The Devil's main influences? We have many influences, many not even related to music such as world events, etc. Even though metal music is deeply ingrained in all of us I stopped listening to any metal while writing music for The Devil album, only because I wanted to avoid sounding like other bands and try to create something different. As your songs are instrumental, how do you know when they're complete and you've done enough? The Devil album has been 10 years in the making. Not because we couldn’t have done it a lot sooner, but for the first time we basically had unlimited studio time. This turned out to be both good and bad. For one thing, we wanted to try and create a new genre in metal while incorporating the whole


conspiracy angle. That also meant we had to actually acquire a great understanding of the subject matter. This took a lot of time to research so we didn’t really know when it would be finished, if ever. We wrote the material in the studio, rather than having everything written prior to recording. We kept going over the production, experimenting, re-tracking, re-mixing, etc. Then doing all the above again while trying a different studio. In the end the album was record in 6 different recording studios. Plus the fact we did not have set “lyrics” we basically had to select and put together a wide variety of samples in order tell the story. This proved to be much more difficult than one would think. The samples are real audio clips taken from real events. Many of these samples were not recorded in a controlled environment and needed much EQ and processors to clean up. So it was not only difficult to convey the message we wanted to get across with impact, but it was also very difficult mix two complete separate audio sources together (raw samples and over produced music) and make it sound as one.

Obviously we are not going to have that much time to deliver our next album, so the pressure is on. But I think that a good thing! Two of your songs have been licensed out to forthcoming films E.S.P. and The Fury. How did that come about? The bands representative is well connected and was able to get our music heard by studio executives and movie producers. Your videos for 'Universe' and 'Extinction Level Event' have proved popular on YouTube. Do you think there's a chance for The Devil to cross over into other media?

Right now we are preparing the sound design for the live show. It’s quite a different approach from recording the album. We are aiming to have the heaviest live sound possible while maintaining definition. We know exactly what sound we need to achieve live. We are also experimenting with some new technologies for the live show, so it should be very interesting to see this all come together. Any ideas on what direction album number two could take? The next album from The Devil will take listeners further down the rabbit hole. www.candlelightrecords.co.uk

Sure why not? I think the Internet and all these social networks make it a lot easier nowadays to get your music heard people all over the world... at the click of a button. You're planning to tour next year - what can we expect from The Devil in the flesh?

“The Devil music has been created to expose hidden knowledge and the conspiracies surrounding the networks of elite secret societies that control this world at the highest levels.”


Colin Edwin Renowned for his work with ground breaking progressive rock band Porcupine Tree, bassist Colin Edwin has filled the time within the band’s hiatus to date with a diverse and constant array of projects with other musicians and solo work. To find out more about these ventures, news from Porcupine Tree, and the man himself, Colin kindly squeezed in time to chat with Ghost Cults Ray Westland. Words: raymond westland

Hi Colin, thank you for doing this interview. Your main band, Porcupine Tree, is on hiatus for the time being. Can you tell us what’s keeping you off the streets so far? I am glad to say, plenty of things, the first was of course working on the Metallic Taste of Blood album, which came out in May this year. I also put out a solo album, "PVZ", on USB key, which was a successful experiment; I wanted to see if people would like the format, and they sold out really fast. In 2011, I worked with US ambient guitarist Jon Durant on his album "Dance of the Shadow Planets", but we got on so well, we decided to make another album as co-leaders, so after working throughout 2012, we have "Burnt Belief" coming out in December this year. In between I've had some sporadic gigs with Ex-Wise Heads, some Bass Clinics and lots of recording on different things, guest spots and collaborations (I'll mention a few here: Lo-Fi Resistance from New York, Herd of Instinct from Texas, Sound Wall Project from Italy). I've been working on an album with two fantastic female folk singers from Ukraine (Astarta/Edwin), a whole bunch of new solo material, but more song oriented with a singer this time. More recently some stuff for Tim Bowness's Slow Electric who have another album in the pipeline, and last week, I've been in Italy finishing a duo album with a drummer, but we have yet to decide on a name to work under and how best to present and release the material, lots to think about.

Extensive flavours of the richest rhythms There’s a Porcupine Tree Live DVD coming out soon, entitled Octane Twisted. What can we expect? I think Octane Twisted is a really good document of the Incident Tour. When we recorded the majority of the album's material at the show in Chicago, we were well into a lengthy tour and all feeling comfortable with the material, the crowd were great (as they often are for us in Chicago) and the energy was good all round. The album also has a few lesser played tracks, (hopefully of interest to the hardcore followers who I always hear screaming out for the obscure numbers) from the last gig of the tour at the Royal Albert Hall, which was a fantastic show, there's one of the best and most vibrant versions of Hatesong to enjoy, if I say so myself! Octane Twisted was filmed during the The Incident touring cycle. What are your fondest memories of that tour and recording the album? When we got together for our group writing sessions and it was a really productive, stimulating time, we came up with quite a lot of ideas and material very quickly, which was very gratifying. The tour was a fantastic experience; we played some really memorable shows; the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, the Mood Indigo Festival in Mumbai, the Royal Albert Hall of course and Radio City in New York. I enjoy going to new places on a tour, but what stands out is the trek across the USA and Mexico, as I got to see a few places I'd wanted to see for years; Niagara Falls, the Pyramids at Teotihuacan, and the stunning New Mexico scenery, I am a bit of tourist all things considered. Octane Twisted is the third PT live DVD, after Arriving Somewhere and Anesthetize. What’s the added value of Octane Twisted for the PT fans according to you? I might be wrong but I can't see us doing "The Incident" in its entirety again, certainly not on a regular basis anyway, so best to think of Octane Twisted as the best way to hear a good live take on it. I should point out though, the DVD is really

a bonus item; we thought that Anesthetize would be a really hard thing to top. This has a very different look and feel; it's meant as a companion to the audio, and unlikely to be a standalone DVD. Steve Wilson stated that he’s certainly committed to write and record with Porcupine Tree again, but that he needs to find some fresh musical angles again. How do you see things? Porcupine Tree has always been about moving on, the music is never static and has changed a lot over the time we've been together, we've never been a band to repeat ourselves, so I imagine the next album will be another development. Also, with all the touring it had been pretty intense for years, I spent more time with the other guys and crew than I did with my own family, so I value the break in all honesty. I think we make a pretty strong team, musically and personally, probably because we're all very different as people, and when the time comes I am confident we will be able to build on what we've done before and come up with something special. Let’s talk a bit about your other projects. Earlier this year you released a record with Metallic Taste Of Blood, featuring Eraldo Bernocchi (Obake), Balazs Pandi (Merzbow/Obake) and Jamie Saft (John Zorn). What can you tell us about this project and how did you become involved? Eraldo and I kicked off the whole thing together, we basically met and corresponded over the internet, he had contacted me when he saw that I had his album "Parched" on my playlist, something I discovered whilst trawling around looking for some interesting music to listen to. Eventually we met up and decided to work together. I had been listening over the years to various albums of his, everything from "Charged" to very dark stuff like his band Sigillum S to ambient albums with the likes of Harold Budd and also Somma, which is a collaboration with some Tibetan monks. I knew it would be great to work with someone so open and with such a wide range of interests, but it was a bit of a step into the unknown, which I was well up for actually.


I made it over to his place in Tuscany with a load of little sketched out bass and drum grooves and we worked on them together, creating some loose structures, adding parts and developing them together. Eraldo had the notion to use Balazs as a drummer, who I didn't know, but I thought he would be a great choice, based on some things Eraldo played me. Balazs then suggested we get Jamie Saft on keyboards. I was knocked when I heard the first things Jamie did with the material. I had no preconceptions, but the way everything came together felt natural and was also very inspiring to me.

What are the characteristics of a good bass player and which are bassists you particularly like and admire?

My initial input was a lot of the rhythmic bassline ideas, some electronics, and later, sharing the production decisions with Eraldo, but I'd say that we all contributed pretty equally to the end result, with everyone discussing the mixes at length. Things are very open with MTOB, and we developed the material together, any other one individual being different would have made for a very different result. I guess that's how I see a true collaboration should be, everyone interacting and reacting together.

For me the most important aspects are having an appropriate tone and an awareness of time and being conscious of both the space, and the bigger picture in the music you are playing, also knowing when to shut up! I am naturally drawn to listen to more minimal players, like Robbie Shakespeare, Holger Czukay and Family Man for instance, I also love Me'shell N'Degeocello, her stuff though varied, always feels great to me. However, there's so many others too, not all of them minimalists; I enjoy Hellmut Hattler's precise and funky pick style, Percy Jones and his unique abstract fretless and of course the late Mick Karn for his unique fretless, it really worked in all sorts of contexts, despite being very, very unconventional. I made a point in my clinics of playing a few really, really simple basslines to illustrate what the bass needs to do a lot of the time, filling the bottom end and being supportive, something that with the right judgement, you can still do with character and feeling, and it's really what a lot of ensemble situations need. I guess judgement gets better with mileage and experience.

How does your role within Metallic Taste Of Blood differ from the one you have in Porcupine Tree?

When you start working on new material, how do you approach this? Do you need to be in a special headspace for instance?

Musically and sonically, Porcupine Tree is quite dense, with lots layers of guitars and keyboards and so forth, so I have to be quite careful about how I fill the low end space. Metallic Taste of Blood has more open structures and sonic space, as well as a more sustained, intense atmosphere a lot of the time, so I played more aggressively and used more effects than I would with Porcupine Tree.

No special headspace really, I'm just working on different things pretty much all the time. For me creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets and the more confident you can be in your decisions. Often I do sort of "research and development" sessions, where I try and come up with a load of chord sequences or bassline ideas and drum grooves, not for anything specific, but just to have a little bank of things I can develop, or find a home for at a later date.

What did you contribute to the MTOB album?

Is there any change MOTB is going to tour and will there be a second album any time soon? We've just confirmed a show at the Assemetry Festival in Wroclaw, Poland next year, hopefully more to follow. I think the material will translate really well in a live setting. We haven't yet discussed doing another album, but I am sure we'll do more, it's been very well received and I think it has a lot of future potential. You’re active in several different projects and bands, including PT, Metallic Taste Of Blood and Ex-Wiseheads, in which you cover a wide spectrum of different musical styles, including (freestyle) jazz, ambient, progressive rock/metal and avant-garde music. Which of these styles do you enjoy playing the most and which one defines you best as a musician? In truth it's not really in my nature to have favourites, so really I like variety, and as far as playing bass goes, for me it's about the state of mind when everything is going well, and interacting and responding to various people and situations. Different people bring out various aspects of my bass playing and musicality and that's really interesting to me, as I like to be surprised. I am not so sure it's always a good thing to be identified with a particular style. Rather like a lot of actors, I wouldn't want to be pigeonholed, so I'm open for all sorts of circumstances. You’re widely celebrated and recognised for your musical and technical prowess.

You’re active in the music industry for almost an eternity. What are the biggest changes you witnessed over the years and where do you think things are heading with the music industry? It's become quite a confusing landscape. The biggest changes of course have been the downsizing and consolidation of all the major labels, and the availability of music, for anyone anywhere, for free most of the time, and often with minimal, if any, compensation for the artists. I have to say that Porcupine Tree definitely had the benefit of the old major label system. We toured and built up an audience, especially in America, at a great financial loss for quite a few years, I don't think any label would be able to underwrite that sort of thing now, so for all its faults the old system did work in some ways, labels had an interest developing acts to have a future.I am also aware that a lot of Porcupine Tree's audience came to us via the internet, through people filesharing and downloading stuff, but we have been able to follow up and build on that interest. I don't know how that would work for a younger or unsigned band now, they must struggle to have the resources to go and play to the people that discover them. People who say things like, "Oh well, quit moaning, you just need to tour more".....I wonder how many of them have any idea how draining and financially risky a business touring often can be, even on a small level. People cleverer than me have no idea where things are headed, so I wouldn't like to predict anything, I just hope that culture in gen-

eral can flourish. More and more artists and bands sells their music directly to their fanbase via platforms like Bandcamp, thus bypassing record labels altogether. Do you think this is the way forward for bands and musicians to at least have some sort of income? I am not so sure about Bandcamp and its ilk, it has its place, but musicians need the support of labels, publicists and the other music industry workers in order to be able to just concentrate on making music. Being on a label can also still be a really good thing. For instance, I am glad that Metallic Taste of Blood has such great label mates on Rarenoise, all artists whose work I really respect and enjoy. In that sense, a label is kind of like a filter, bringing artists together and creating a catalogue identity, think of Motown in the old days, Factory in the late 1970's or Warp more recently for instance. I also think a lot of people miss the fact that some of the people that work at, or own their own labels, are real music lovers. Giacomo Bruzzo at Rarenoise, Charles Beterams at Tonefloat and my "Burnt Belief" partner Jon Durant, who has his own Alchemy label, are all label people I know who are also massive music fans, far from the evil, stupid businessmen that label execs are sometimes portrayed as, and they want to be involved and promote the artists they believe in. You made musical contributions to many different records. What do you consider to be your proudest musical achievement and why? I am really not the sort of person to have favourites; I like variety, so it's hard to pick one moment to crow about. Also, and I hope this doesn't sound glib, but I put my best efforts into anything I do, whether it's a guest spot, my contributions to a Porcupine Tree album or my own thing. I am very proud of what Porcupine Tree have achieved and my part in that, but, if I really had to pick out a couple of things for anyone unfamiliar, I'd choose Ex-Wise Heads "Celestial Disclosure" as I think it really shows a highly developed statement of what Geoff and I are about, and The Metallic Taste of Blood album because to me it has a really unique, original and strong identity. Time for the last question. What is next in terms of touring, other musical ventures and Porcupine Tree? My next thing is to finish off the next Ex-Wise Heads album with Geoff Leigh; we've been working in it for long enough! I've really enjoyed playing live as a duo with Geoff recently, but it would be great to expand the line-up and do more gigs, we'll see... I am hoping Metallic Taste of Blood will get more shows for 2013; I aim to finish off the Astarta/Edwin album and my next solo album, and find a way to present that live too. As far as Porcupine Tree goes, we have no firm plans at the moment.


my ass off, as if I was in their band and the vocalist had a day off.


Living The Japanese Dream Words: Raymond Westland

Hi Marty, thank you for doing this interview. Can you start by giving a quick rundown of your current activities and ventures, please? Thank you. I just finished a European solo tour, and now I'm promoting a sick new album I produced called Metal Clone X, which comes out in Japan in a few weeks. This week I have a one-off show at the Yokohama Arena coming up with a friend named Revo, and there are a couple TV shows I do. Tokyo Jukebox Vols. 1 & 2 are about to be rereleased in Europe and North America via Prosthetic Records. Both albums feature your interpretations of J-pop and J-rock songs. Can you tell us something about the selection process of those songs?

I picked songs that I love and songs that everyone in Japan knows very well—songs that have left strong impressions on people. I also made sure they were songs that I could really make my guitar sing with. To what extent did you stick to the original versions versus venturing out on your own, and can you give any specific examples, please? For the most part, I completely sonically destroyed the originals arrangement-wise, but I made sure that the melody was equally as recognizable as on the original. The only time I was close to the original was on ‘Tsume Tsume Tsume’. I loved Maximum the Hormone’s version, so I kept their arrangement while my guitar took on the personality of the vocalist—I basically just played

What are the most poignant differences between J-pop/J-rock compared to their Western counterparts, according to you, and how do they affect or influence you as a musician? J-pop is less about American Idol-style vocal power or rapping skills or rap messages, and more about sweet melodies, unique arrangements, and futuristic soundscapes. It’s a matter of taste, but so many jpop songs and artists get me excited. In an interview, you once said that it’s easier for you to write and play a technically challenging piece of music than it is to compose a straightforward pop song. Care to explain? Sure! It is easy to string together a bunch of difficult passages and things that are challenging and call it a song. To make a straightforward pop song that is actually good—good enough to make a normal person say, ‘I like that song’—takes much more thought, pop sensibilities, and convincing artistic abilities. It is a completely different animal that has nothing to do with difficult chops, and everything to do with being a creator of music. Difficult guitar licks are lots of fun, but a monkey can practise difficult phrases and eventually string a bunch together, but that is not necessarily music that many others will get off on. After you left Megadeth you relocated to Japan where you embarked on a very successful solo career. Forgive me using this cliché, but you’re literally big in Japan.


How do you deal with your celebrity status? Does it put any pressure on you on whatever venture you’re involved with? Huge pressure, because many people here know me only from TV, so if I release something new, it may be the first thing they ever hear of mine. It’s like starting from zero and winning over fans one at a time. I like that pressure, though. It keeps my music fresh. As a musician, you’re involved in a broad spectrum of different projects, ranging from creating music for soundtracks and video games, touring with some the biggest Japanese pop stars, appearing in TV shows and movies, to releasing solo albums under your own name. Which aspect do you enjoy the most, and which do you find most inspiring? I enjoy making my music the most, but I find the TV most inspiring, just because even after doing some 600 TV shows, it is still so left field for me, so oddball that I just love the fresh life experience I get from it. It takes tons of work and preparation, so it makes doing music seem so easy and relaxed by comparison sometimes. There’s a whole new generation of guitar shredders now, like Misha Mansoor (Periphery), Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) and Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore). Which of those guitar players do you find interesting/refreshing and more importantly, why?

I never heard of this debate, but it sounds like a pretty stupid discussion. There is no reason to debate music, and nothing is better than anything else. ‘Better’ cannot be defined, so why bother? I would rather listen to gorilla farts through a flanger than the most talented opera singer in the world. But that’s just me, just my taste. I like Coke, you like Pepsi. Debating music or art in any way is the stupidest waste of time. However, for some reason, most guitarists, for the first year or so that they play guitar, spend a lot of time debating who is better than whom. I did it too. You’ve lived in Japan for years now, you speak the language fluently, and you’re married to a Japanese lady, but what are the things about Japan, its people and the culture that never cease to amaze you? I’m not married, but Japan’s current popular music, food, language, work ethic, manners, overall safety, and the sheer ratio of gorgeous girls per capita never cease to impress me.

Dave Mustaine and Megadeth stories with our readers, please? There were probably more interesting stories before I joined the band. We got along great, had fun making people’s ears bleed, and worked our asses off together for 10 years. Bonus question: What are the top 5 albums that really changed your life? Kiss – Alive The Ramones – It’s Alive Elvis Presley – Elvis 56 Aya Matsuura’s – T.W.O. Garbage – Garbage Bonus answer: Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet Thank you for time! Thank you for your good Qs! http://martyfriedman.com

Finally, can you share some of your best

There are wonderful guys like the guys you mention, and many more that I don't know of, for sure. My good friend Keshav Dhar who worked with me on Tokyo Jukebox 2 creates some truly inspiring music with his unique and intense rhythmic guitar playing. What is your stance in the ongoing technique versus feel debate?

There is no reason to debate music, and nothing is better than anything else. ‘Better’ cannot be defined, so why bother?



Delving Deep with Ahab’s Cornelius Althammer In the wake of Ahab's latest catch, The Giant, the band find themselves steering farther into uncharted waters, beyond the seas of doom. Chris Ward exchanged words with the band's helmsman drummer, Cornelius Althammer, before the briny deep beckoned them on, rowing doomwards, ever doomwards.... words: chris ward

Can you give me a little bit of a history on the band? How did you come up with your take on doom?

Was it a book you were familiar with already, or did you have to do a bit of reviewing?

Droste and Hector founded Ahab in 2004 as a project. They recorded some stuff, and when this was done, they came up with the idea of using ‘Moby Dick’ as a draft for the lyrics. ‘Nautic Doom’ was born by a joke. When a request for live shows arose, they decided to form a band of it. I have been a member since 2006, and our bass player, Stephan, joined us in 2008.

No, before Hector came up with the idea to use Poe´s work as the lyrical background for the new album, we were not familiar with that book. So all of us read it to make sure that this one is worthy to succeed Moby Dick.

Your albums all deal with nautical disasters and tales of death at sea, such as Moby Dick and the crew of the doomed Essex whaler; who’s idea was it to base your latest album, The Giant, around Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket?

Your sound is often described as ‘funeral doom’, although to be fair, you do sound pretty unique within that field, when compared to other bands. What influences—apart from the literary one—did you bring to this album? And who would you say your main influences as a band are?

Well, of course it is no longer pure funeral doom we play. Everyone can hear that. In my opinion, only our demo was in that style. Already our first album, The Call of the Wretched Sea, was not true funeral doom anymore. I guess you can find influences from many musical styles we like in The Giant: classical doom, funeral doom, psychedelic rock, postcore, some death metal also. Everything you listen to has some influence on what you create. Of course, you can find parts which sound like Mastodon, Fever Ray, or Skitsystem, for example. But composing is not about taking a piece of this band and a piece of that one and putting them in a row. Influence is something deeper than copying riffs. Maybe except for the end of the song ‘Deliverance’, which totally sounds like Warning/40 Watt Sun to my ears...haha. Some of our favourite bands are Yob, Omega Massif, Crippled Black Phoenix, Reverend Bizarre, Graveyard, Entombed, Victims, Warning, Porcupine Tree, and Electric Wizard. All of them (with the exception of Warning as, I mentioned above), not very Ahab-ish, right? How does the creation process work within Ahab?


It works in different ways. Some ideas arise by jamming, some at home. Same with composing. Some songs just flow out of us in the rehearsal space, some are put together at home. Some parts are heavily influenced by literature, which means you read something that lifts you into a special mood and then take guitar and just play. The nature of your songs almost begs the listener to go and check out the stories on which they are based. Would you consider writing your own story and releasing an album to accompany it, sort of expanding on what a band like Fear Factory does with their concepts? This is a question which can´t be answered easily. If we run out of literature that fits, we´ll maybe have to invent our own story/stories someday. But at present I can´t imagine this. What are your live plans for touring this album? Any elaborate stage productions to accompany the expansive songs?

We played a tour with our friends Ophis and Esoteric this year in May/June. We played the Summer Breeze festival again and will headline Doom Over London in November. There are plans for another short tour in the beginning of 2013 and some gigs are already confirmed for the upcoming year. Just check www.ahab-doom.de to be kept up to date. Jokingly, we continuously talk about stage productions which are exaggerated far over the top. Ships, dead whales, playing under water, and so on. But seriously, there won´t be more than us four on stage with—hopefully—great sound and light.

Germany isn’t known for having a big doom metal genre. How come? And what are the other bands to watch out for?

The Giant is your first album for Napalm Records. Why did you choose that label, and what have they done so far to promote your new album?

As I mentioned, Doom Over London is next. And there are plans for a project, but I can´t talk about it yet. Nothing decided, nothing scheduled so far.

Sorry, but this is not true. All of our albums so far were released via Napalm. But they did very well to promote The Giant. They did the common things like advertisements in mags and sending out promotional copies for reviews, but in an assiduous way.

Maybe Germany doesn´t have the classics. I don´t know why. But bands like Omega Massif, Obelyskkh, B.Son or Wight definitely do not have to hide from international comparison, in my opinion. Time for the final question: What is next in terms of touring and other projects?

www.ahab-doom.de “The Giant” is out now on Napalm Records

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Music With A Deeper Meaning wORDS: Cheryl Carter

Iceland has a flourishing metal scene. The latest albums by Solstafir, Dynferi, Kontinuum and Skamold can easily hold their own against anything coming out from Europe and North America. Ghost Cult’s Cheryl Carter caught up with the gents from Dynferi. They had a friendly chat about the so-called “Iceland-sound”, the current state of the black metal scene and the deeper meaning behind the band’s music. How has your surroundings and experiences influenced your music and in turn the way you go about writing and recording? The environment you live in will always have an impact on you and what you do, whether you like it or not. People who live in big cities tend to have a different view on life than people in the country. Neither of us grew up in Reykjavík and we have both always been very much in touch with nature. I remember it was very shocking when I first heard that there are people that have never been outside their home city and never truly experienced real nature.

We don‘t have to worry about not experiencing nature here in Iceland. When we were recording our debut Dynfari in December 2010 we were recording in this rehearsal space which was sort of underground and it was so freezing that Árni had a cold for months! (Árni Zoega is the genius who handled the sound on that album from start to finish and also did a great job mastering Sem Skugginn.) Our fingers were stiff from the cold which may have influenced the guitar recordings. Sem Skugginn was also recorded during winter and it may subconsciously have influenced the record in some way. The darkness that engulfs the island during winter also has the ability to change you. It is not surprising that many people become depressed over the winter months... when the sun won‘t rise until 10-11 am in the morning and then it‘s dark again before dinnertime. Surely that affects our music in one way or another. What is the significance of the samples used on Sem Skugginn? Short answer: considerable. The nature sounds in Hjartmyrkvi and Sem Skugginn II are supposed to evoke the feeling of the atmosphere that we are trying to create within the album‘s story or concept. The movie samples in Glötun and Svartir Himnar have different roles. The spoken 1984 samples in Glötun serve as an introduction to the album‘s concept while the sample in Svartir Himnar is more of an atmospheric one.

As Sem Skugginn is your second record, how did you approach the pressure, if any, of moving on from your debut and growing as musicians and writers? We did not experience any kind of pressure. We are so fortunate that writing comes naturally to us. We write a lot of music that never sees the light of day. Sem Skugginn‘s music was already fully written around the time when Dynfari was released in the summer of 2011. In fact, some songs like Glötun were written even before some of the songs on Dynfari, so there is no logical progression when looking at in what order the songs are written. We already have material for a third and even fourth album. What is the thrust of Sem Skugginn? And how does it fit in to Dynfari moving forward? The concept of Sem Skugginn is humanity‘s decline and human depravity when it comes to how humanity is but a brief “moment” (“Augnablik”) in the “eternity” (“Eilífð”) that is the age of the universe. It is a fairly different concept than on the first album, which is much rather in the form of one man‘s story than handling the matters of the whole of humanity. As some may have noticed, we work a lot with contrasts or antonyms in both music and artwork, contrasting light and dark, loud and quiet, melancholy and hope (as with Dynfari‘s songs “Von” – “Hope” and “Vonleysi” – “Hopelessness”).

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“Sem Skugginn” can be directly translated to “As the Shadow” and refers to how humanity lives “as the shadow” of what it could be or once was. The next album might handle some even more unfathomable subject.. The songs that show most progression in our opinion are Stillt and Eilífð. The very last song that we wrote for Sem Skugginn was Augnablik. We believe the new songs we have in store show even more progression. Many people think there's something like an Iceland-sound in metal going on. What's your stance? Although we can‘t quite put our finger on it, there is definitely something unique about Icelandic metal music. Because of our small population of about 320,000 people, the rate of interesting metal bands per capita is exceptionally high. What has been changing recently is that so many bands are getting signed. Just in the past few years we have seen a boom in record deals made by Icelandic metal bands. Apart from the so-called post-metal Dynfari and Kontinuum play, many death metal bands are getting deserved attention, including Ophidian I, Angist, Beneath and Severed Crotch. It seems Sólstafir have paved the way for Icelandic bands to march into the spotlight that we think this small, tight-knit, hard-working scene here truly deserves. But the world has only scratched the surface yet. I could namedrop more than a dozen unsigned bands that easily deserve more publicity. I recommend doing some research. What are your feelings on the current black metal scene? Do you see yourselves as outsiders to what's happening within the genre at the moment or do you feel a part of the community? The black metal scene appears rather torn. There are people who want progress, something new and different; exploring what musical soundscapes black metal can really create. But then there are people who seem stuck in defining things: what is black metal and what is not black metal. We do not see that as the real issue. Although strongly influenced by black metal, we are not trying to be anything that we are not. Black metal is merely a label convenient to describe some aspects of our music. Although we don‘t believe we have released any groundbreaking compositions (yet), we will continue to search and explore what is possible with the tools that we have. And that‘s just great. Would it not be wonderful to discover music that transcends musical labels, challenging you as to what you are supposed to call it, be it black metal or not? To answer your question, we feel that we are part of a part of the community, so to speak. The real question is who are the outsiders?

What is the music scene like at home? Would Dynfari make it to other shores in the future? The music scene in Iceland is thriving as usual. Still, to be honest to facts, our music does not appeal to a large audience. Even within the metal community, not everyone gets or appreciates what we are putting forth. And that‘s okay. What makes society interesting is people‘s different opinions and views on things. We don‘t make music to appeal to an audience. We make music for our own sake. And if people like it and appreciate what we‘re getting at, that‘s great. If not, that‘s great too. As for conquering other shores, we would love to go abroad and share our music live with a completely different audience. In Iceland, we are usually playing for pretty much the same people whenever we play live. Playing for a different audience every night sounds like a rather surreal and absurd idea to us, so experiencing it would be very interesting indeed. What we would need for it to happen is the right offer at the right time. As you know, we are only two core members in Dynfari. To have enough hands for all the instruments needed for performing the songs live we rely on guest musicians. What would you like to see happen next, for the band and personally? Is music a full-time prospect or do you write/record/play around other commitments? 

growing commitment for us lately, evolving from a simple hobby to something more ever since we started thinking about it more seriously and especially since we got signed to Aural/Code666. As for other commitments, I (Jóhann Örn) am studying at university to become a mathematics teacher while working at a dairy product factory during the summer. Another “commitment” that takes up a considerable amount of my time is a chronic autoimmune disease that I will most probably battle for the rest of my life. Jón Emil recently began studying percussion instrumentation at music school but was previously employed at a general contractor. Dynfari is and has always been our main focus but now we have had to put all side-projects on hold to concentrate fully on Dynfari. Dynfari‘s next step, after the release concert of Sem Skugginn, is the recording of the third album. We have not made plans after that as we will have to see what life has to offer us as a band, but we have more material that we would like to put forth on a fourth album. Given the right opportunity, we would love to go abroad and play live where demand offers. The future will never be 100% certain but we hope to release the third album in 2013. What happens after that, time will tell. As of now, we see Dynfari as a long-term project and do not expect to back out of it anytime soon. We are only just beginning and, as the man said: you ain‘t seen nothing yet! www.facebook.com/Dynfari

It is more than difficult to live off music alone. It‘s practically impossible, especially when making music that does not exactly sell millions of copies. Music has been a

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amenra Creating one of this year’s darkest yet invigoratingly provocative albums in Mass V, Amenra once again stretch and confront the senses and thoughts with their sludge/hardcore expanses into the darkest pain and discovering its evolution into a positive resolution. To find out more about the impressive album as well as the premise to the sound and heart of the band, Ghost Cult’s Matt Hinch had the opportunity to talk with Amenra vocalist Colin van Eeckhout.

Finding light through pain Words: Matt Hinch

Your music doesn't strike me as necessarily "religious". Why name your album "Mass"? (as well as Rituals, Sermons, and Prayers which also are in your catalogue) Our music is religion to us, but not religion as it is conceived in modern society. Call it Spiritual if you will. It is by far what we hang onto when necessary. It is what keeps us standing in times of need; it is what gives us Hope and energy to move on. It is the hand on our shoulder when we're on our knees.

A mass was in its origin meant to be a moment of self-reflection. It was the time of the week, where you dig deep within yourself, and analyse what is keeping you up at night, what's keeping you busy, worried. By use of biblical stories and metaphors the preacher, tried to present one answers to the questions he was asking himself. That's exactly what our albums are to us, a period in time where we hold still, and look within us. Ask ourselves, where to from there...we try and translate all of our questions into music, and look for answers, or our truth. Whereas songs individually can be seen as

prayers, music thrown into the air, addressed to someone or something that cannot be seen, a demand for help. Like smoke. it disappears into thin air. People need something to believe in, in order to stay sane. Be it themselves, or something they create for their own. You obviously hold certain veneration for the Sun or the light the Sun represents, but your lyrics are so dark and painful. How do you tie the two together? I have the impression you don't see it yet.

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As soon as you dig deeper into our music, you can see further than the wall of 'darkness'. The Sobriety and Pain, we are attracted to. We start off with them. And focus on all the pain and hurt we have ever encountered in our lives. Then we start to bend and mould it into the Light. It is our way of taking something negative, and changing it into something more positive, something that feels like Hope, whereas the origin was Despair. It’s about bundling forces and fighting that darkness, and fighting ourselves through it into the Light. It's about Loss, and coming together again. It's about Grief, and trying to share it. I understand catharsis through music, but doesn't reliving that pain keep you from moving on? Focussing and reliving those painful moments in our existence is hard, but rewarding. We force ourselves to focus on the things within us that someone else would try to run away from as far as possible. We chose the opposite direction. We throw ourselves in headfirst. And for us it helps us to move on, it helps us to see life and its true value, its worth. Life is a beautiful moment in time, full of adversity that we all individually and in due time have to encounter. Our focus on Pain, allows us to be reborn every time again. After every live show, we can see life in its true glory again. I strongly believe that every human, needs a certain blow to the head from time to time in terms of adversity. in order to see the beauty in the small things in Life. Things you take for granted after a while. But happiness lies with small things, split seconds sometimes... It by all means doesn't keep us from moving on, I'd say the other way round. But on the other hand it seems to me to be the hard way. It's hard to dig deep every concert night again, you have to start by channelling all those dark and negative feelings, it's not a natural thing to do. Sometimes it weighs on a human being you can say. You have to go deep at first, to be able to come out. Amenra is more than just a band isn't it? Apparently it is. :) It has become a way to look at life. Your style being the way it is, what kind of energy is there when you play live, both from you and from the crowd? It depends on shifts from one into another. There is no standard energy that is present

at every gig. One thing that is for sure is that we give it our 200% Otherwise it's not worth even trying. We have to. At times you feel invincible, larger than life, stronger than anything. Life at full force, and split seconds after that you feel a Solitude that has no comparison. The Live shows that make most sense to us, and how we describe them is "Live concerts, where we felt 'it' was there", Shows where you are allowed to completely lose yourself into. All of us are there together on stage, yet we're all simultaneously alone, standing there in some sort of void, where nothing and everything comes together. As for the crowd you'd have to ask 'the crowd' I cannot answer for them, I have never seen an AMENRA concert in my life. If someone hears your album or sees your performance, what do you hope they take away from that experience? Recognition. I hope they are able to renew their faith in Life and themselves. I hope they are able to bundle all the energy left within them, and dive into life again, with a heart wide open and eyes locked onto the future. I want them to find their answers. I would like to see them with a warm heart. Mass V was produced by the legendary Billy Anderson. How do you feel his involvement benefited your sound? Billy was able to uplift the whole soundwise, he made us a bigger and better band, more worldly maybe. It was the first time for us to record with an outsider. So at times it was hard to try and explain to each other exactly what was meant. But after a while we had found our mutual pace and went on from there. He has certainly singlehandedly helped us create our best sounding album up to this day. This album has (yet another) new bassist. How did incorporating a new member affect the writing process? Our former bass player Maarten left the band, at the beginning of MASS V's writing process. To incorporate a new member into the writing process of yet another AMENRA album, was by far one of the hardest things ever. That's why I myself also played bass in the first stages of the V process. Up until a certain point where Levy, started to feel comfortable and was able to incorporate his ideas in the music.

I can imagine it has to be really weird or hard even to join an already existing force, with its own ways and unwritten laws. I am really happy Levy quickly found his place within our circle. I can only assume artwork plays an integral part in Amenra. What can you tell us about the art for Mass V? As the music we this time focused on minimalism and reality. It had to be real. We had to find the images which at least were perfect to represent one, what this album sounded like, and two what we stand for. In November last year we travelled through Europe and Northern France mostly, to look for the perfect setting. We were drawn towards bunkers and worn concrete structures from the Great War. The respect that they imply is of a serious nature. The symbolic meaning also draws us in. Once built for protection, their seemingly indestructible constructions were erected in no time, only to find their true strength later on years later. The now worn bunkers, eroded, blown and blasted to pieces either by bombs, bullets or even sand show us that nothing is forever in this place, nothing is eternal. We found the site of bunkers in a small city called Wissant in France where we stayed for a couple of days, with our friends and photographers. Slept on one of them so the tide could take us in, we took the picture from the sea at dawn. I am pretty sure I will never forget our time spent there. There is a balance between the water in the artwork, and the fire and brimstone in the lyrics. It all has to even out. This is your first album for Neurot. How influential has Neurosis been, if at all? Very, if not maybe the most important when it comes to their music and approach to it. I feel that they are the only band I have ever encountered who see their art as more than music. The seriousness draws me in. I strongly believe that the medium of music is one of the strongest artistic and emotional weapons around and therefor you have to treat it with respect. Use it in terms of its true worth and value. Thanks for your time and for releasing a stellar album! May the Light shine upon you. Likewise. www.churchofra.com

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th e s ecret

The Secret Is Out: Agnus Dei Is No Lamb Words: Matt Hinch

Nearly a decade since their cacophonous debut, Italian dark metal genre-fusers The Secret have released their fourth full-fledged album of mounting angst and fury. Agnus Dei builds on the strengths of the band’s past and still refuses to settle into any one category. Matt Hinch tracked down the band’s not-so-secret guitarist, Michael Bertoldini, to find out just why that is. Your new album, Agnus Dei, is generating a lot of buzz. How do you feel it compares to Solve et Coagula? I think this album continues what we started with Solve et Coagula, but it's more diverse and focused. There are more songs and we

tried to give the record different dynamics. We added more details, and while Solve et Coagula makes the most sense when listened to in its entirety, I think that the songs on Agnus Dei are stronger and stand up by themselves. This is your second album working with Kurt Ballou. What made you choose him to produce the first time? And why did you use him again? Kurt Ballou is a very talented musician and engineer. We had a chance to meet him at a show and talked about working together. I like his vision of heavy music; he wants his records to sound like real bands playing and not like a computer. Often bands that play fast music have an artificial sound that we don't like, but Kurt is really good at giving his records clarity without losing the natural vibe. He's a very smart person, and working with him the first time had been a great experience. We learned a lot from him, so going back there again was been the most natural choice for us. Your label, Southern Lord, has been moving in a more hardcore-oriented direction recently. Is that what attracted you there, or were you pursued as part of that movement?

When we signed with Southern Lord, they weren't really putting out that much metal/hardcore-oriented stuff. I think they’d only put out Black Breath and Nails back then, so it's been a very nice surprise to find out they were interested in working with us. I've always loved Southern Lord releases, and I followed them, so joining their roster has been absolutely great for us. Agnus Dei is a very angry-sounding album. What's got you so riled up? Humanity relentlessly devouring itself and everything that surrounds us. Your sound fuses crust, hardcore, black metal and even doom. Is that a deliberate attempt to stand out or just a natural result of your influences? Standing out at any cost is not the main goal with this band. We definitely want to have a personal and recognizable sound but we want to write songs that we think are good. My style of playing has been definitely influenced by black metal, crust, grind, hardcore, and many other kinds of music, but we don't write our music thinking about mixing a black metal riff with an hardcore drum beat or anything like that. We try to write music that sounds aggressive and dark to us and our record is the result.

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‘Agnus Dei’, translates to ‘Lamb of God’. How does that tie into the concepts/themes of the album? Between 2011 and 2012 we were really fascinated with the role of sacrifice in our culture, and that's what we are exploring with this record. We've always been taught that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us all, committing the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Countries send their children to die at wars, sacrificed for their nation. We grew up learning that we all owe something to someone; our God, our country, our parents. We learn that we all have to pay somehow. Are you worried that some of your message will get lost due to the fact that most of the lyrics are a little less than clean? We don't really have a message, we're just expressing ourselves by creating something that makes us feel good and we all have our own way doing it. I don't think it's essential to know every detail about lyrics or the album in general, I think that some obscurity is fascinating and enhances the vibe of our music. It's been almost 10 years since your debut was released. How has your approach to songwriting changed since then, if at all?

Growing up definitely helped us understand what we want to sound like and how to obtain what we want from our music. I don't think there is any connection between what The Secret is now and what we were when we started; the band was completely different back then. We progressively stripped down our music of unnecessary parts and went for more traditional song structures mainly based on guitar riffs. You're touring Europe with Converge, Touché Amoré and A Storm of Light. That's a very diverse and high profile mix of bands, How do you feel you fit onto the bill with your sound? Every band on the tour sounds very different from each other, and that can be a good thing because it can get boring to watch four bands with the same approach. I'm not very familiar with Touché Amoré and A Storm Of Light, but all the bands have a very personal approach to heavy music which makes the tour more interesting. We played on a similar tour last year with Kvelertak, Toxic Holocaust, Doomriders, and Wolves Like Us, and it worked out perfectly.

We still haven't played many news songs live, and we're working on our set list as we speak. So far, I've been really enjoying playing the mid-tempo songs on the new album (‘Post Mortem Nihil Est’ and ‘Vermin of Dust’); it has a little bit of a different approach on guitar compared to the other songs we have. Thanks for your time, and kick some ass on tour! www.facebook.com/pages/TheSecret/95794903277

Agnus Dei is out now on Southern Lord Records

Which song off the new album are you most excited about playing live?

“We've always been taught that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us all, committing the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Countries send their children to die at wars, sacrificed for their nation.” ghost cult magazine | 17

killing joke

T he I n te nsit y O f Youth No matter how many years you’re active as a reviewer and interviewer, there are always bands that give you a fuzzy feeling when given the opportunity to do an interview with them. For me, Killing Joke is such a band. I had the chance to sit down with bassist and producer Martin “Youth” Glover. He turned out to be a very down-to-earth and friendly guy who was more than happy to answer my questions about the latest Killing Joke album, the different ideologies and political views within the band, and gave some very interesting insights into his work as a producer.

But at some point you’ll have to meet somewhere in the middle in order to get some things done. How does that work within the band?

The new Killing Joke album, MMXII, is all about polar shifts, preaching the end time, message and everything in between. I know Jaz Coleman is full of that, but how do you see things from your perspective?

I also read that you guys recorded like 25 songs, but only ten or eleven made the final cut, depending which version of MMXII you have. What happened to the rest?

It’s mainly Jaz and Big Paul (drummer) who are into that, because they handle the lyrics. I also contributed a little here and there, but not much. I do share a lot of Jaz’s visions and views on the world, but Killing Joke is made up of four very different people with their own characters and own views on politics and society. With the lyrical content on the album, we share our shared views on what’s going on in the world today.

In several interviews, Jaz Coleman also stated that making MMXII was quite a challenging and often difficult process. Care to elaborate on this, please? Yes, it was a very difficult process, because all the members in Killing Joke are very strongly opinionated and wilful people who refuse to compromise. The creative process becomes one big battle of different criteria. Plus, we’ve known each other for a very long time, so there’s also an element of sibling rivalry to it. At the same time, there’s a lot of shared love and respect. We are very proud of each other in different manners.

Like I said, we don’t compromise. We simply battle it out. It’s all about who has the best idea, but we always end up in a unanimous decision. The process can go all beyond different poles and spectrums. Sometimes we end up doing three different versions of a single song according to different visions within the band, and we just keep on going until we’re all happy with one version.

Wow, there are always a few songs left. We recorded like 25 to 30 songs for the last album, so the ones that weren’t used simply get shelved like fine wine and sit there for a few years. We may rehearse them and revisit those songs at some point. Some of the songs recorded for MMXII were written during the Absolute Dissent sessions under different names, and they still didn’t make the album, haha.


But will they see the light of day on a rarities album or some compilation album for instance? Perhaps in a few years down the line, but not in the near future. One of the aspects of MMXII I really like is the fact that it sounds so fresh and vibrant. Killing Joke has been around for more than 3 decades now, so what’s your secret? I don’t know really. My day job is to produce other artists in my studio. I work with young artists and bands. Jaz is also a producer and that keeps our edges sharp in a way. We’re all doing different things. Geordie doesn’t do any other side projects, but the rest of us do. We’re all active musically, and we’re not afraid to go all in, because we’re in familiar space. The album was recorded in my studio in Spain, so that gave us the time and space to experiment with things. Does it have something to do with your uncompromising attitude towards the song material? Yes, there you are! The material gets distilled down a lot. We approached this album and the previous one with songs that were already written, and we also did sponta-

These days it’s a success when you’re able to make two albums in three years and still able to tour and doing lots of projects in between. That’s real success to us. Of course it would be fantastic to have the amount of sales that Metallica has, but it has never been our main motivation. I guess those type of sales are no longer feasible for most bands. Even Metallica doesn’t sell as many albums as they used to back in the nineties, due to illegal downloading. Possibly, yes. The market has changed dramatically. There aren’t many blockbuster albums around anymore. The same goes for book publishing. There aren’t many Harry Potter-type sales figures to detect there anymore, as well. On the other end of the spectrum, there are smaller independent publishers who are carving a nice niche for themselves. That’s getting bigger and bigger. That’s great, because it gives everyone a chance to try something. It’s almost punk, in a way. With modern communication and social networking you can carve a niche for a very small market and survive. You might do even better as a band doing things on your own then being signed to a label.

it also helps just to chill out and relax. Every group or band has its own unique set of dynamics, so how do you know when you've pushed a band or artists to a certain breaking point? My university was Killing Joke, and we push each other to the edge every time, so I’ve been there countless times. I bring a little of that to the recording sessions I have with other bands and artists. When I was younger and didn’t really know how to do ormanage a session with artists, I almost brought bands to the point of breaking up. The most challenging jobs are working with bands and artists which are on the verge ofbreaking up or where there’s a lot conflict going on. You have to make sure they reconnect with each other on a creative level and give them an intense and challenging experience as well. Especially, working with established and successful artists is never easy. People like Axl Rose, Jaz Coleman and Paul McCartney are very challenging people in their personas. Not many producers get the best out of them. You have to employ different kinds of psychology and techniques to get the best out of them.

“My university was Killing Joke, and we push each other to the edge every time, so I’ve been there countless times. I bring a little of that to the recording sessions I have with other bands and artists.” neous jams which resulted in other songs we spent a shorter amount of time on. Seven or eight of those tracks made it to MMXII actually. A lot of it was spontaneous, and that’s something I always try to aim for as a producer anyway. Killing Joke is often cited as one of the most influential bands within the metal and rock community. Bands from Metallica to Fear Factory to Ministry and Nine Inch Nails mention you as source of influence. Even Nirvana did that. The true tragedy is that Killing Joke never managed to achieve as much commercial success as many of the aforementioned bands. Is that something that bothers you? It used to, but I feel the underground is a better place for us. Artistic success gives you more longevity than commercial success, and it has a better reward to it as well.

I also read that as a producer you like to get bands and artists out of their comfort zone by inciting strife and conflict. How so? It’s all about getting the most of an artist, creatively speaking. All the art that I like has a certain intensity to it. When an artist or musician feels too comfortable, the art will reflect that. You want to create an emotional dynamic that has this intensity. One of the best things you can do as an artist is to challenge the status quo. Creating an atmosphere in the studio that has an intensity to it is important, and there are various ways to achieve that. Sometimes I try certain rituals or try to make a big event out of it by challenging a band in different areas, to get them out of their comfort zone and see how they respond, to try to get them into a whole different geography of emotion. Sometimes

Finally, you have a rich career as producer and as a member of Killing Joke. What do you see as your proudest achievements? Definitely working The Verve, The Orb and Crowded House. I’ve been fortunate enough to work some really amazing artists like Paul McCartney and Axl Rose. That was a really learning experience for me. One of the things I’m really proud of at the moment is an award I picked up from a panel of producers, called The Man with the Golden Ear Award for pioneering innovative solutions. That’s a big deal for me. Cheers for the interview! A special thanks to Liz from Earsplit PR http://www.killingjoke.com

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Rage Nucléaire

Se tting The W o r ld On F ir e One of the most ferocious albums of this year is Unrelenting Fucking Hatred by Quebec-based extreme metal outfit Rage Nucleaire. Bassist Alvater was more than happy to share his views on the band, the benefit of having some well-known members in the lineup and why it’s difficult for Canadian bands to tour in Europe. Words: Raymond Westland

Rage Nucléaire is a relatively new band. Can you share some light on the origins of the band? After my former band (Frozen Shadows) had split up, Dark Rage and I began to make music together. At that time, it was only for fun. After a couple of songs, we asked Lord Worm if he would be interested in being part of it, and then we pushed the band to become something more serious. To what extent is the band name a giveaway or indication of the relentless chaotic violence of your music? ‘Rage Nucléaire’ was the only name we found that expressed the amount of anger that life is bringing us. When listening to your new album, Unrelenting Fucking Hatred, names like Anaal Nathrakh, Mysticum (for the industrial feel), early Emperor (for the symphonic parts), and classic Mayhem and Burzum (for the sheer darkness) come to mind. What’s your perspective on this? Without saying a band in particular, the black metal that we appreciated the most is the first wave of BM. After that, only a few bands are a part of the rest, like 1349 and Anaal Nathrakh. We want to play original music, if it still possible with the 666,666 bands already in the BM scene, but I am sure some influence from the bands mentioned above can sometimes be heard in our music. The lyrics are very dystopian and misanthropic in character. Can you shed some light on this? Lord Worm has a very particular way of writ-

ing. He is very unique. All the lyrics on the album have one point in common: death. The subject of Rage Nucléaire is about hatred, death, and genocide, with a way that only Lord Worm has to telling stories.

only listen to violent black metal and death metal, so I can tell you Grimoire and Sombres Forêts—those are good bands in their genre, plus Frozen Shadows and old Cryptopsy for sure. And that’s almost it.

What do you remember most vividly about the writing and recording sessions of Unrelenting Fucking Hatred?

I think we are, in the black metal scene, the most extreme black metal act.

Nothing in particular, because we are all friends before anything, so this was only being together. But in the beginning, it was only a project with Lord Worm, Dark Rage, and me, so it was with a drum machine. And when we decided to push it further, we asked atomic drummer Fredrik Widigs to do the drums. The first time we listened to him was on the song ‘Violence Is Golden’. I remember we all looked at each other without being able to say a word. Former Cryptopsy singer Lord Worm is arguably the most well known member within the band. What are the benefits of having him aboard, as far as exposure and business goes? That wasn’t something I thought about in the beginning, because we’ve been friends for 18 years now. It was only for the fun of doing a project together. But this is sure to bring us bigger visibility and more chances to be listen to by more people. Rage Nucléaire is based in the Montrealarea, a city known for its vibrant extreme metal scene. Do you feel a part of that scene, and what are the bands to look out for nowadays? From what I’ve heard on the Montreal black metal scene, the bands are all depressed and slow/mid tempo music. For me, I almost

I’ve spoken to a lot of Canadian bands over the years, and many of them complained about the difficulties of getting on a decent tour in Europe. How does it work for you guys? That’s something I can’t answer just yet, because we haven’t had any shows yet. We’re concentrating on the completion of our second album at the moment, but there aren’t a lot of bands in Canada who are signed with a major label like Season Of Mist, something that I am pretty sure will help a lot. It’s no secret that many metal bands are struggling to make ends meet. How does this work for Rage Nucléaire, and how do you guys get by? Rage Nucléaire is only our means of evacuating our accumulated rage. And because making music is our passion, we work fucking boring jobs for a living, where we accumulate the rage needed to make our music... and so on.... Time for the final question: What is next in touring and other possible musical ventures? We have no plans for touring right now— maybe a couple of shows here and there, but we’ll see after the release of the album how people appreciate it and the opportunities we are offered. http://www.facebook.com/RageNucleaire

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Skálmöld High above Skálmöld’s line-up of guitars, synths, and woodwinds, sits drummer Jón Geir Jóhannsson on his mighty Nordic throne. From across the seas, Chantelle Marie sought an audience with Jon Gier and queried him on what makes this mythological band tick. Here is what she learned.

The Sounds of Folk and Metal from the Land of Fire and Ice Words: Chantelle Marie

The new album, Börn Loka, was released last month. Are you happy with how it turned out? Yes, we are very thrilled with the outcome. We’re much better as a band this time around and more confident in trying new things and having fun. I think that shines through. The reception in Iceland has been incredible; the CD went straight to number two in the charts. We have the most incredibly loyal fanbase here, but this goes way beyond that. Did the writing process differ much this time around?

Not really. When we started writing, we were kind of worried how the pressure of following up Baldur would affect us, but then we just figured we shouldn't give a fuck about the expectations of others and just keep on doing things we think are cool at that moment. Like with Baldur, we started off with an idea for the concept and a skeleton of a storyline, then we start jamming and trying out riffs and other ideas. Once we had a basic framework of a song, we’d start wondering where it fits into the story and tweak it to fit the atmosphere of the chapter. You have a strong Viking Metal and folk sound to your music, but where do the other influences come from?

The classic answer as a band from Iceland would be that our main influences are the darkness and the harsh landscape and nature, but that's a load of fucking crap! When we started the band, we didn't have a clue what it would sound like, and we didn't really care. We were a group of guys playing metal because we love it, and because it’s fun. Everyone just brought in their idea of what we should sound like. We grew up with NWOBHM and thrash metal. And then there are punk and death metal elements. And then we have Gunnar (keyboard/oboe player) who never really listened to metal, so he just does things he thinks are metal. And somehow it just all works out great.

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You’ve said before in interviews that Skálmöld was originally started as just a hobby. At what point did you realise the band was bigger than that? I think it’s still sinking in. We just wanted to make a good album so we could say to our grandkids, ‘here’s grandpa's metal album.’ But when we heard the first mixes of the CD, we knew that we could take this farther. Were you surprised by how well your first album, Baldur, was received when it was re-released under Napalm Records? No, it’s a great album. We’re not only a bloody great band, but we are probably the most modest band in the world. Find me a more modest band... I dare you! What has been your most memorable live show as Skálmöld so far? I would say our gigs at the Eistnaflug festival in Iceland. It’s a great festival with great people in the middle of fucking nowhere. It’s a blast.

What are your touring plans for the near future? Right now we’re focusing a bit on our home turf, but hopefully we’ll be touring a lot next year. That’s in the hands of our wonderful booking team right now. Your lyrics are all in Icelandic and you are obviously very proud of your heritage. What is the metal scene like in Iceland?

Ghost Cult are taking you away for the weekend. What would be your ideal way to spend time off? Somewhere where I can go moose hunting. A log cabin somewhere in the mountains with no electricity or central heating or other modern crap. Just an open fire, lots of beer, a couple of fantasy books, more beer, and a gun so I can hunt a moose. Just make sure there’s beer and we’re fine.

It’s quite good and getting bigger and more visible. There are a lot of great bands around, and people should check out bands like Sólstafir, Kontinuum, Angist, and Momentum, to name a few.

In closing, do you have any last comments for the fans out there?

If a band were to do a cover of one of your songs, who would you like it to be and why?


This is far from being over. Thanks for your support—we'll see you down the road.

Börn Loka is out now on Napalm Records

Motörhead. Why? Hearing Lemmy singing one of your songs ...I don't think I need to explain that any further.

“The classic answer as a band from Iceland would be that our main influences are the darkness and the harsh landscape and nature, but that's a load of fucking crap! When we started the band, we didn't have a clue what it would sound like, and we didn't really care.”

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ides of gemini

BAC K FR F R O M T H E ROAD BACK Some time ago I had the pleasure to do an interview with J.Bennett, the guitarist of Los Angeles-based black/post metal ensemble Ides Of Gemini. We talked about the impact of the band’s most recent album, reminiscing anecdotes from the road, the creative process within Ides Of Gemini and working with the people behind Neurot Recordings. wORDS: raymond westland

Constantinople has been out for some months now and it has received some very favourable reviews. Were you surprised by this?

Ides Of Gemini did a lot of touring in support of Constantinople. How were things and can you tell some funny annecdotes?

I was certainly surprised by the fact that so many of the reviews were so positive. Every band gets negative reviews—and we certainly had a few—but I guess I expected to see more noncommittal reviews. Not outright negativity so much as indifference. Luckily, there’s been very little of that. Although I suppose those who were indifferent probably didn’t bother to review it. And for that I thank them.

We’ve only done one tour so far—a month in Europe and the UK. We had a few crappy nights, for sure, but mostly it was fantastic. Funny anecdotes? We played on a boat—a former Nazi supply ship, apparently—in Bremen, Germany, on a Tuesday night. There were maybe 15 people there. By the time we went on, both Sera and Kelly were seasick. To make matters worse, someone had set up the fog machine right below the drum kit so it was pointed directly into Kelly’s face. She spent the entire first song getting blasted in the face with fog to the point where she was literally choking. She started yelling, ‘No more fog! No more fog!’ but I guess whoever was controlling the machine didn’t hear her clearly and thought she wanted MORE fog. Finally, she started

In hindsight would you like to alter some things about the record? Maybe one or two minor details—the kind of nitpicky things that nobody outside of the band would care about or even notice. But I wouldn’t change anything significant about it, no.

yelling in half German, ‘Nein fog! Nein fog!’ That seemed to work, but the damage was already done. There are some artists who write music to satisfy their own creative drives and there are bands who do virtually anything not to offend their fanbase. How do you see things and where does Ides Of Gemini fit in? We had no fans to speak of when we wrote and recorded our first album, so we had nobody to offend. But I think it’s safe to say that we only make music that we’d want to listen to. Speaking personally, Sera is the only person I really consider when I’m writing music for Ides Of Gemini. The songs are meant for her to sing over, so it’s important that she likes what’s happening. I’ve already written most of the guitar parts and basic song structures for the next album, and some of it is very, very different than the Constantinople material. So I’ll be curious to see what the response will be.

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How does the creative process work within the band? Do you need to be in a special headspace in order to be creative? I write all of the guitar parts first and record a demo version of each song to a kick drum to establish the tempo and a basic arrangement. Then I turn it over to Sera and Kelly so Sera can come up with a vocal melody and bass line and Kelly can come up with a drum pattern. Then we’ll tweak the arrangement a bit depending on what Sera wants to do vocally. That’s basically it. Being in the right mood or headspace obviously helps, but it’s not strictly necessary. Sera definitely sets aside time to be creative and work on music or lyrics, but I tend to stumble over things while I’m idly playing guitar while watching a movie or something. When I sit down with the purpose of “writing a song,” it rarely works. But if I already have the initial riff to build on, the rest usually follows fairly quickly. How important is it for you to have creative control over your own endeavors?

I don’t see the point of doing anything creative if you don’t have control over it. Ides of Gemini is signed to Neurot Recordings, a label owned and run by members of Neurosis. What’s it like to work with them instead of a more regular metal label? The folks at Neurot are fantastic. I can’t say enough about them. We’ve never worked with a regular metal label before, so I really don’t have anything to compare them to, but I can tell you that Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly completely understand the realities of being in a working band. Not only are they a wealth of knowledge and experience, they’re also true artists of the highest calibre. I’ve definitely called up Steve to ask for advice about this or that, and he always provides the kind of insight that can only come from decades of doing this shit on a daily basis. And Serena, the woman who runs the label’s day-to-day logistics, is one of the most diligent and thorough people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to make any sort of living from making music. How do you guys get by? All three of us have to work for a living, no question about it. Then again, we don’t harbour any illusions about becoming rock stars. If you want to make money, you don’t play music that sounds like ours. Time for the final question. What is next in terms of touring and other possible projects? With any luck, we’ll be touring Europe again next year—hopefully the States as well. Sera will be unveiling the debut from her Black Mare solo project in the next few months, and I may have a trick or two up my sleeve next year as well. http://idesofgemini.com Constantinople is out now on Neurot Recordings

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In The Footsteps Of Oceansize And Soundgarden UK-based progressive/ alternative rock outfit Prosperina really managed to blow me away with their debut album, entitled Faith In Sleep. I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Owen Street. He had a lot to tell about the band’s debut album, working on a tight budget, the benefits of social media and curating the famous Roadburn Festival. words: Raymond Westland

Hi there and thank you for doing this interview. I’m pretty impressed with Faith In Sleep, your debut album. Are you happy the way it came out? Thanks Ray! Faith In Sleep took quite a while to get done, as we didn't really have much budget. I did a large amount of the production, and though it was frustrating at times, I think that the long timescale translated in a positive way, as we had plenty of time to think about running order and other stuff that benefits from a bit of headspace. All things considered, we're really happy with it. Can you shed some light on the band’s origins, please? The band started a few years back in Port Talbot, and we used to play a lot of shows in Swansea. We changed members quite a few times and used to be a four-piece at one point. But we settled on a definitive line up of three, which seems to work just fine! I found a really intriguing line from the band’s biography, namely 'Prosperina extract the pop from prog and the drone from doom and shape it into a commercial yet credible art form.' Can you explain this in your own words? Our record collections are hugely varied, but we're all into hard rock, doom, metal, etc. In the early days, we used to jam out riffs for hours on end, but it got a bit boring after a while, so we decided to try and use structure to make something epic but cohesive. In an entirely unintentional way, we appear to have distilled ideas from progressive rock

and juxtaposed them with elements of doom, hard rock, and metal. Melody has always been important to me, too, so there's a fair bit of that in there. I hope that answers the question. While listening to your album, bands like Oceansize (RIP), Soundgarden, and Isis come to mind. Are you guys inspired by any of the aforementioned bands? Oceansize were an incredible band. Though they had a loyal fanbase, they did fly under the radar a bit. I always thought they could have been a British answer to Tool. Obviously they weren't as metal, but they did the progressive thing way better than most bands in that vein. I'm also a big fan of Soundgarden; I think they tread the perfect line between hard riffs and good songs. Vintage Soundgarden is as good as anything out there. Isis is a great band too; their records sound huge, and they have a real art-metal vibe. They strike me as a band that did everything properly and with taste from the ground up. How did the writing and recording sessions for Faith In Sleep go? The writing for Faith In Sleep was fairly protracted, due to lineup changes and other things interfering, but several tracks were written before the band was formed ('Temples', 'God vs. Darwin', 'Trees Have Eyes'). The bulk of the album was recorded at Mwnci Studios in West Wales in a week but 'Trees Have Eyes' and some parts of 'Temples' came from an earlier session at the former BBC studios in Swansea. Mwnci Studios has become like a retreat for us. It’s a

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great vibey studio, it’s totally rural, and the owner and engineer Jethro Chaplin has amazing ears and engineering skills that perfectly compliment my way of working. As a result, we make a lot of records together these days.

Prosperina is based in Wales, a part of the UK famous of its beautiful landscapes (and sheep). Are you inspired, as a musician, by the magnificent landscapes?

There are trying times for any musician. How do you guys get by?

Social media gives bands the opportunity to promote themselves and sell music directly to the fans. How do you guys make use of these new tools? What do you think of these new developments?

Wales is indeed a beautiful part of the world, and the landscapes can be quite breathtaking. The seascapes around Swansea are pretty awesome, to be fair. A little while back, we had the pleasure of entertaining a Dutch band who were touring the UK. On their day off, we took them to a local spot called Worm's Head where the land meets the sea. There is a causeway, an island, and loads of cliffs there, which I understand is dramatically different to the Dutch landscape! We were there for hours and the guys didn't want to leave as they'd never seen anything like it before. So to come back to your original question: yes we are inspired by the landscape!

Finally, what is next for the band in terms of touring and other possible projects?

Social media is excellent as a way of reaching out to like minds and potential fans. These days, you can just make a band page, slap some tunes up, and start peddling your wares and gathering fans. Previous to this, we had to rely a lot more on promoters in the hope that they would do their best to fill venues with potential fans for any out-of-town shows. But nowadays we can reach out directly and easily to our fan base in any part of the country with details of gigs, releases, and artwork—all of which can be copied, re-pasted, re-tweeted, etc. The Internet has killed record sales but the industry has had a polarity flip in the sense that it's all about being out there and playing, as opposed to selling tons of records, and I guess as long as you keep your fans close and your schedule busy, then you'll get by. We have our own site (www.prosperina.co.uk) as well as the usual array of Facebook, Twitter & MySpace though we try not to hassle people too much!

If you had the chance to be the curator for the famous Roadburn Festival, which bands would you put on the bill?

By the skin of our teeth and with a love for our art!

We're hoping that the new year will be a good and busy one. We're going to concentrate on promoting Faith In Sleep for a while, and we'd love to tour Europe at some point in the near future. So if there are any promoters out there who can hook us up, please get in touch. As for recording, we just cut a couple of new tracks and we're working out what to do with them at the minute. Maybe a double A-side 7-inch and a video, or maybe we'll go back into the studio and cut a few more for an EP or album! It's a bit of an open book, to be honest, and that's exciting us all right now. http://www.prosperina.co.uk

Wow, what a question! How about Soundgarden, Kyuss, Isis, Red Fang, Sigiriya, Earth, Sunn, Orange Goblin... I could go on!

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With their second album released last month, black metal mystery men Nine Covens took a moment to sit down and chat with Tom Saunders. They chewed over the advantages of remaining anonymous in a digital era, discussed the resurgence of British black metal, and debated what keeps the genre relevant after 30 years. Words: Tom Saunders

Black M e ta l’s Ne xt G ene r at i o n ? Your new album …On the Dawning of Light came out last month. Can you explain the concept of the album, and what themes are explored on it? I think the central concept has crossed over into both of our albums, and is likely to be something that we explore further on the third album. On the first album, …On The Coming Of Darkness, we broadly told the story about how humanity is socially and culturally repressed and how various power structures exist in the world as a means of doing that. We also discussed how humanity can and should wise up to this and challenge it. On the new album we have discussed how humanity can overcome tyranny and move on towards a more positive way of living. This is framed through paraphrasing ‘front line’ stories from people who have challenged the old ways and brought in the new.

A lens of religious belief is used as the reference for the subject matter, but it is used metaphorically to represent a wider social issue. I think this is something we believe strongly, so I guess it is somewhat of a vocation for the band in our lives outside of music, as well as in it. Who are your main influences (musical and non-musical) and what inspires you to create and record music with Nine Covens? The members come from a variety of musical backgrounds, some from a hardcore/punk background while others are from more extreme death, black and doom metal backgrounds. I guess our influence is from bands in those spheres primarily, but not exclusively. Bands like Darkthrone and Enslaved have been important for a few

members of the band, and have perhaps led us to be in a black metal band together in some way. All the members of Nine Covens use pseudonyms and hide their faces behind cloaks. Why is this? Can a band truly remain anonymous in the digital age? The distortion of ourselves is more as a means to an end rather than a statement in itself. The tendency to judge our releases on the strength of our previous works is removed, and our pasts alienated from the conscience of the listener when addressing the albums. As such the message and musical ideas can land in isolation as a whole rather than a preconception based on our other works. I’m not sure if a band can stay anonymous in a digital age, but if our identities come out at any point I don’t think it harms what we do, it is just not important to the image of the band at this point in time.

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The cover art for ...On the Dawning of Light is very striking and quite different from your previous album. Are they connected in any way? The artwork is connected in that it is linked to the concept on either record, and the concepts follow on across the records. The first one is about ‘darkness’ coming to bring shadows over the ‘Illuminati’, whereas the second one is about the ‘light’ of a new dawn coming to bring a wave of change. This is reflected through either images or symbolism on the albums. This is your second release for Candlelight Records. How helpful is it having the backing of an established major label considering the extreme nature of your music. It’s amazing to have the backing of a label who has always championed this style of music, as fans, and at their own expense. Working with people who care about what you do is important, as it adds to the whole. It is also great to have the backing of a label that allows you the creative freedoms to express what you wish to do, with no encroaching. Black metal has been around for over 30 years now. How does it remain so relevant and what do Nine Covens offer to the genre? Black metal has remained so relevant because it is a genre filled with people who have something to say. That ‘something’ isn’t always positive, but it is often passionate, and for the most part, it is positive and engages people on a personal and intellectual level. I think we try to continue this in our own way and bring socially relevant concepts to people through engaging music. We have our own stories to tell and our own perspectives to offer, so if you care about socio-political issues, then we feel we have something to offer you and the genre through the music and lyrics we make.

British black metal is in the best health of its life with bands like Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone and Fen all recently releasing great albums. Why do you think it has taken the UK so long to catch up with other nations with strong black metal bands? I think the black metal scene is very healthy in the UK at this point in time. All of these bands are coming through and making an impact on the global metal scene, getting recognition for their albums and genuinely bringing UK black metal to a wider audience. I think this is pretty much for the first time ever, as a cohesive scene any way. Bands like Wodensthrone, Winterfylleth, Fen, Cnoc An Tursa, Falloch, Haar, Askival, Burial, Fyrdsman and many others have all raised their heads above water and caused a stir in the international scene. Many of whom have been awarded the great praise they deserve for putting the UK on the black metal map once again. For too long we have been the poorer cousin of the rest of the world’s black metal, despite the genre originating in England. The time has come for change and the output we are seeing from many bands is helping to do that! I suppose this has come about because of the social situation in this country and lots of bands have found black metal to be the medium through which express their views on this; making it our own and bringing the genre back to its roots. Taz from Satan’s Wrath recently stated in an interview that he can’t take satanic bands seriously as his research has led him to believe that Satanism is a bogus religion, invented by Catholic inquisitors to justify witch hunts and the like. Venom were obviously only using Satan for show and yet other prominent musicians claim that black metal has to have a satanic message or by definition it isn’t

black metal. Which side of the argument do you agree with, if at all? I think that religion is so entrenched in our societies and mindsets that it has become a subject matter people like to ‘rebel’ against by feigning to support its antithesis. I don’t think being anti-religious is any good if you pretend to be its conceptual opposite number. The truth is that it’s all rubbish and that true anti-religious sentiment would see the pillars of all religions crumble and see people move on with their lives without the crux of a dogma to make them function as a drone in society. Religion is power, and power is control. Thus religion is control, and if you believe it, you are a fool who needs to see what is happening in society. The argument sits about the statements you mentioned above. What’s next for Nine Covens? Do you have any plans to tour? I think the plan is that we will play live at some point in the future. As you are aware, we are all active members in other bands already, so we are playing live with them. When the right show and the right timing come together, you will see Nine Covens taking to the stage. For now, our new album …On The Dawning Of Light is upon you through Candlelight Records on November 12th. Familiarise yourself, for the path to clarity lies within! Do you have any message for the readers of Ghost Cult? Why should people buy your new album? If you are reading this, then you obviously care about what we have to say. Why not arm yourself with the knowledge to challenge the way society is and use it positively? If our album helps you to do that, then great. http://ninecovens.com

I think that religion is so entrenched in our societies and mindsets that it has become a subject matter people like to ‘rebel’ against by feigning to support its antithesis. ghost cult magazine | 29


Envisaging the Universal Silence Australian atmospheric black metal shadowed trio Crowned have unleashed a debut album which explores new inspiring depths of the genre whilst journeying through and creating enveloping maelstroms of sound to instigate primal and shadowed knowledge found in dark ages. To learn more about album, band, and the haunting resonance of times lost in past darkness, Ghost Cult sent forth fearless inquisitor Sean Pealfry to talk to the band. Worlds: Sean Pealfry

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How did you all come together to form the band and how did you come settle on the moniker of Crowned? Originally we knew each other through two different musical groups, sharing the same drummer. We all shared similar ambitions and interests and decided to collaborate in 2010. The name Crowned, relates to both the majesty of the music, and the illusion of humanities superiority to other life. This illusion is reflected in our faceless, nameless figures. Your début album 'Vacuous Spectral Silence' is very atmospheric in its approach, what are your musical influences? Our main musical influences are bands like Burzum, Drudkh, Summoning. This is extended to bands like Mayhem and Emperor, and music outside the realm of Black Metal. What themes does the album invoke and where did you draw your inspiration from? We wished to create a vast weaving cacophony, but at the same time, through use of extensive repetition and throbbing drone too in a way, try and resemble that silence which might be imagined at the centre of the universe. Lyrically this was further enhanced by depicting great spectral maidens dancing to a silent score, meanwhile creating all the divine bodies of this voidal universe. How do you feel the band has been received by the wider Black Metal scene so far? It seems to have been received fairly positively, with a lot of interesting requests for and reviews of the album showing up globally. How did the writing and recording process work for the band, were there any particular rituals or incidents that helped to shape the album? We used to write and rehearse in an old shed/room that would have great nostalgia for each of us, and no doubt helped shape the writing process for VSS. We also made camping trips when possible, in which we took acoustic guitars, and worked on material. As for the recording process, we recorded, mixed and mastered it all ourselves which no doubt shaped the album greatly, as it gave us release from the constraints of time and money and left us to create exactly what we were after. You signed with Séance Records to release 'Vacuous Spectral Silence', what do you feel this partnership can bring as opposed to simply releasing the album yourselves?

This partnership has allowed Vacuous Spectral Silence to be realised and understood as a complete art form, not just a musical offering. Séance offers us an unbelievable amount of support in regards to printing, exposure, merchandise, and live promotion, which provides us with more time to focus on the material at hand, in both a live and recorded sense. You simultaneously embrace and reject the trappings of the typical Black Metal image by remaining anonymous yet issuing mysterious photographs of yourselves dressed in spectral looking robes. Why is this important to you and how do you balance this when playing live? The robes are important because they maintain our anonymity. This leaves only the music and atmosphere for listeners to become immersed in. When playing live we aim to conjure an otherworldly atmosphere that intoxicates the listener. The robes help achieve this by dehumanizing the band, making it more than just people playing instruments. What is the Black Metal scene like in Australia and are there many bands that you have a kinship with? The black metal scene in Australia is incredibly impressive, with a great number of bands all releasing quality material and performing intense live shows. I’m not sure if there’s much of a kinship as such, but we have received great support from the likes of Erebus Enthroned, Moon, and Pestilential Shadows. All of which we are very grateful for. Do you feel that the geographical separation of Australia has given rise to any intrinsic variations upon the way bands approach the genre? Maybe, partly the geographical separation and partly the harsh, fierce natural beauty and climate of Australia. Some Australian extreme metal bands reflect this with music that is unrelenting and harsh, this has become a recognisable Australian sound. Finally, what are the plans for the band going into 2013? We will be rehearsing, composing, and beginning to form our next record. http://www.youtube.com/user/crownedbmband

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From Romania With love Dordeduh is a new band consisting of former members from Negura Bunget. Their debut album took some years to make. Ghost Cult caught up with multi instrumentalist Hupogrammos to talk about the challenging recording process of Dar De Duh, the stunning landscapes of Romania and Negura Bunget. Words: Raymond Westland

Thank you for doing this interview. Dar De Duh is quite a stunning album. Are you happy the way it came out? Yes, I’m quite happy, considering that every album in a sum of compromises that one has to accept during the entire process which starts with composing an album and ending with mixing and mastering it. There are also many aspects regarding the release and the different formats that an LP takes shape when it is launched on the market, where sometimes one needs to make compromises. But overall yes, I’m satisfied. It took quite some time before Dar De Duh saw the light of day. How come? Well, there are a couple of aspects I would mention. The first one is that we’re not really a band that writes and produces an album fast. We prefer to stay longer in the process and leave things to mature and only after that to leave the product out of our hands. Then there’s this thing that we overworked the album a bit. We wanted to have the best out of us and we spent a lot of time composing, re-composing, recording, re-recording, mixing and then starting the mix again. And then, all this time, we had also many issues regarding our personal life, sometimes we’ve been quite broke financially and we had to focus on earning some money for survival. I could say that the entire process

regarding the birth of this album was not the easiest thing we ever encountered. Can you tell something about the concept behind Dar De Duh and this is reflected in the lyrics and album artwork? We tried to make things to complete each other. The album speaks through music but the music was completed by lyrics and lyrics were completed by graphics. It’s a unitary thing. The concept of the album stands as a unit as well. There are seven songs which define a complete circle and the eighth one which closes the circle and returns everything to unity and to the primordial state. There’s a strong conceptual background for which I spent a lot of time studying and which is based on the number seven. This number was seen from a spiritual hierarchy perspective and it’s a jointure of elements extracted from traditional ancient cultures as well as esoteric believes. The name of the album speaks again about unity because “dar” means gift. The name itself invites people to think about the fact that we don’t really offer things in life without having an expectation to get something in return. On the other hand the nature and the universe are offering us life and all necessary for leaving without any conditions. Our egocentric way of living is centering us only around ourselves and we forgot things from

our very own basically existence. What do you remember most vividly of the creative and recording process of Dar De Duh? The truth is that I remember it as a perpetual struggle, even though this might not be felt by listening to the album. Hopefully not… Spirituality and nature are important cornerstones for Dordeduh. Care to explain? Well, I think I just did two questions before. One needs just to go out into the wilderness and see how fast one gets recharged. One might be as well instinctual enough to get the awareness of the spiritual realm and to realize that flesh and bones are not all that we are. But it all starts to change only by continuing one's practice in practice. Otherwise all these recharging moments will remain some calibrating fractures during a blind life. How do you look back on your years with Negura Bunget and the music you’ve created with that band? I could not say that I look back with pleasure because it was a sustained effort and a hassle to reach all that we reached and in the

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the end there's nothing left for us anymore. But on the other hand I think I could say that I’m quite proud of all the achievements. Do you have any regrets leaving Negura? Yes, I do have regrets for the way that everything ended. It seems that only Sol and I really cared about the real meaning of that band. When you work on new material to which extent do you take the wishes and expectations of your fanbase into account versus satisfying your own creative needs? We do not take in consideration any of the things you’ve mentioned. We do what we need to do. Sometimes we would like to do things in a certain way, but we realize then that those things might not really serve the purpose of why this band exists so we leave our personal preferences behind. On the other hand I don’t really believe that satisfying the customer perpetually will bring benefits in any regards. Romania is a country with stunning landscapes, strong traditions and a bloody history. How does this affect a band like Dordeduh?

Well, there’s a saying in our country: “Romania is very beautiful; too bad it is populated” hahahaha. Regarding the history, I guess we are all affected by it in the same amount but we don’t get too much influence from that. History seems to be more like some selected uninspired stories which are manipulated towards creating a general view about something that never existed. And traditions become synonym with superstition. Only a few simple people do authentically care about them… The music industry is in a state of flux nowadays. How do you cope with the current situation as an artist and musician? Many things are changing and many things will still change. It might be that we’ll never have that security of knowing to which way things turn. It’s no secret that things become very hard for a musician especially when it’s about surviving in an open market of competition. The general view of an artist was pushed more to the status of a “un-integrated” person, which has to learn precisely how to manage financial paperwork to now give away most of an anyway modest earn. These self-made financial expertises were never the goal of an artist, but now one has

to learn all these in order to do a living out of being an artist. From this point of view the future is synonym with the death of the art, because art it’s far away of being encouraged. On the other had I’m quite proud of being part of the musical scene, because there are still many good bands who do apparently a more sustained and dedicated work in order to perceive something beautiful in life. Time for the final question. What is next in terms of touring and other projects? We just finished the first European tour next to Bethlehem and Secrets of the moon which turned out a successful tour for all the bands and now half of our Romanian tour is over. For Dordeduh it will be a small vacation after that, meanwhile Sol and I will conclude the first album of our second project called Sunset in the 12th House. We have already confirmed some festivals in summer and we’re about to get back on the road for April next year, hopefully with both of the bands. http://www.facebook.com/Dordeduh Dar de Duh is out now on Prophecy Records

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REVI EW S Deftones - Kai No Yokan (Reprise)

The English diarist Samuel Johnson once wrote “We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting”. I think it’s a decent bet that Sacramento’s Deftones didn’t have this witticism in mind when they began work on this, their seventh album, (roughly translated from the Japanese as “anticipation of love”) but it does, to my mind, appositely reflect the high level of expectation we have conferred on them in their twenty years plus existence. Kai No Yokan feels like an album where the band, rightly or wrongly, have something to prove. Whilst the pressure might be different in 2012, given the critically acclaimed 2010 release, Diamond Eyes, there is no doubt that there remains a welter of expectation around this album. I

Amenra - Mass V (Neurot Recordings)

Mass V was a serendipitous experience. It appeared out of nowhere like the sun breaking the horizon to encompass existence in warmth and life-giving energy. All life is born from death and will return to death through a lifetime of suffering, over and over again until eventual enlightenment. This inescapable cycle is mirrored on Mass V, its peaks and valleys, decaying riffs and

know we all deal with pressure in different ways but this band seem not just to take it in their stride but soak it up like a sponge. Not only is Kai No Yokan the best record they have made in over a decade, it might be a contender for the best record they have made period. It will make the album of the year shortlists with consummate ease. ‘Swerve City’ comes charging out of the blocks, full of pared back menace, swaggering and malevolent: this is Deftones spoiling for a fight, should anyone be foolish enough to challenge them to one. We’re wiser than that. ‘Romantic Dreams’ brings forth the dark melancholy that we've come to love from Deftones, its mournful core wrapped in some beautiful melodies and executed with a collective excellence by the band who sound positively energised and at ease with each other. The crackling and spiky ‘Leathers’ soon gives way to an equally snarling and aggressive ‘Poltergeist’ which threatens to tear itself from the relative safety of your speakers before the sonic tempo is eased back a notch or fourteen by the reflective and hypnotic ‘Entombed’ which sounds like a grown up, adult version of ‘Teenager’ from their 2000 masterpiece White Pony, only this time with a greater sense of confidence, dynamics and belief. This is Deftones and Chino in particular doing heartbroken: it's absolutely fantastic. ‘Graphic Nature’ has a natural, organic and snake like groove running through its vibe with sonic and aesthetic echoes of, very pleasingly, Disintegra-

explosions of sound all spoken with a voice desperately searching for happiness and love. The sparse clean chords and resonant thumps of ‘Dearborn and Buried’ are the first rays breaking the darkness of pre-birth. The light opens wide with shrieked vocals ushering in the pain permeating the album. The pacing varies from the funereal to the chelonian. The powerful slo-mo riffs stretching across eons reflecting the endlessness felt in the depths of loss. Seconds seem like days, minutes like years on 'Blut und Boden - Spijt'. Gut-wrenching anguish and sorrow bleeds into the listener's consciousness. Tortured vocals tear into the heart and bury the pain within the warm viscera. Harrowing guitars wrack the nerves over flattening riffs stiffening the hairs on the back of one's neck. "I am fear." The spoken half whispers layered against the minimalist backdrop are just as impacting as any scream. The track erupts yet again in a triumphant explosion of emotion as wave after wave crashes against the shores of your being. Ethereal and ghostly, 'A Mon Ame' slowly builds in melancholy as a lamented soul

tion era Cure, which, as devoted fans of Deftones will doubtless know, have been a long term influence of this band. ‘Tempest’ begins all smoky atmospherics: at first listen, it sounds almost like an aural scrapbook of all the bests bits of Deftones but latterly reveals itself to be more than the sum of its parts: you will be singing its haunting chorus for months to come. ‘Gauze’, an Everest in this Himalayas of an album doesn't just blast out of the speakers, it assaults you like a particularly angry Mike Tyson whose beer you've just spilt. There's a fantastic riff from Stephen Carpenter, all angular and incisive. That it’s pared with some of the best melody this band have ever created goes some way to articulate that this is a spectacular high in a record with a surfeit of creative brilliance. The evocative ‘Rosemary’ is another classic Deftones effort where they take the often difficult, cantankerous and deliver it with such spectacular ease: you can only doff your proverbial hat in admiration. Add in the sparkling playing and effervescence that pervades ‘Goon Squad’ and the plaintive hues of ‘What Happened to You?’ and you’re left with a record that, more and more, sounds like a greatest hits set rather than “just another record”. Seven albums in and Deftones have scaled another height. At the tail end of a year for exceptional, creative and life affirming music, Deftones have returned to the fray to reclaim the championship belt as their own. Essential, utterly essential. Mat Davies

croons "Your warmth is all I had" repeatedly until your chest is ripped open to cast your life’s blood across a barren wasteland. Circling vultures survive on your demise. Muffled vocals insinuate an emotional core that cannot truly break free. Sorrow and regret feed on the soul like so much carrion as the track's crashing end forms around guilt and hopelessness. Mass V's concluding psalm, 'Novena I 9.10' is it’s most sonically crushing. Plodding into oblivion it signals the new beginning from every end. Burning away the past it rumbles headlong towards the redeeming light leaving destruction in its wake. Hypnotic with its determination the listener is compelled to follow the example set before them and press on through the darkness to emerge in the light. As the music gradually fades away the true emotional weight of the album sinks in leaving the listener heavy-hearted yet anxious to repeat the process. Sonically spectacular and emotional magnificent, Mass V is devastating and transformative. Feel the Light brothers. Embrace it and be renewed. Matt Hinch

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Brokaw – Interiors (Good To Die Records)

What exactly is a Brokaw? If you’re reading this expecting an answer, you’re in the wrong place. So what is “noise rock” then? There is something I can answer. Brokaw apparently is noise rock. Therefore in order to understand noise rock you have to listen to Brokaw. See what I did there? Right, shenanigans aside, Brokaw is a noise rock band from Seattle, Washington state. Their new 10” LP is titled Interiors and I am willing to go out on a limb here and say “hey, here something new, something fresh and rad” if I talked like some hippie music moron. Brokaw do have some awesome sounds, before you ask, yes it is pretty noisy. Mum thinks so anyway. The album just has a very chilled atmosphere to it, whilst displaying some awesome skill when it comes to creating a pretty unique sound. When you think of new age rock bands, most if not all of them are a bit rubbish… wait, they’re all rubbish. These guys however are pretty bloody good in my humble opinion. It can be deducted from the track titles that there is a certain underground political message or whatever, but for the most part, it’s just pretty sweet tunes. Good rhythm, some pretty gnarly riffs and just creates a cool atmosphere. The kind of atmosphere one gets when you walk into one of them indie nights with all the confused youth etc. Good variation throughout the album, which means it’s not predictable or boring. One song definitely doesn’t tell the full story. Even though it’s not “extreme music” dare I say? It is definitely worth a listen if you’re in the mood for something complete different. This music makes me pretty happy, which in itself is an achievement all be it pretty scary. Hope the review of Brokaw’s Interiors 10” LP gives you enough information to go and have a geezer without giving too much away. But seriously, it’s pretty damn good and I would highly recommend it. Berneau Van Der Merwe

Car Bomb – w^w^^w^w (Relapse)

First off, what does w^w^^w^w even mean? Car Bomb certainly is not making it very easy for people previously unfamiliar with the band to find information on this album. Regardless of title choices, this is the second

album from New York mathy metallers Car Bomb, the follow-up to 2007’s Centralia, released by Relapse Records. Since then, Car Bomb all but dropped off the radar but here we are five years later talking about them again. Last year, vocalist Michael Dafferner released the documentary online entitled ‘Why You Do This’, but the doc gained much attention earlier this year. It detailed Car Bomb’s woes, primarily financial, in touring and just being a dedicated band in the 21st century, and centres on the key question of why you would be in a band. Even with notable interviewees like Randy Blythe and Joe Duplantier, ‘Why You Do This’ was a hit and miss documentary for the most part but garnered quite a significant amount of attention, and much of that attention has found its way to Car Bomb now conveniently. A lot has changed since 2007. Firstly, Car Bomb find themselves in a world where there’s in fact a renewed interest in their style of music and with a seemingly endless sea of bands as far as the eye can see, it’s difficult to see where the New Yorkers can slip back in. w^w^^w^w is not an album that is going to break any new ground, nor is it an album that is attempting to do so. Car Bomb know what their arsenal is and aren’t afraid to stick with it on this record. The problem that emerges is that the end result is an album that doesn’t have a great deal of ambition or a destination in sight. Each of the 12 tracks on display are pummelling and visceral lessons in modern metal with the erratic and brain melting meanderings of Meshuggah, Botch, and Dillinger Escape Plan proudly flown as inspirations. There are juddering walls of discordant riffing and searing vocals from Dafferner that are totally relentless, with the occasional clean vocals, but the formula becomes quite predictable as the albums progresses and its 51 minute running time can feel like overkill when the listener reaches the final quarter of the record. Shaving off a couple of minutes from w^w^^w^w could have worked wonders. That aside, the band hits some interesting moments at times like the collision of stark riffs and sleek acoustic guitars on ‘Lower the Blade’ and the guest appearance from Joe Duplantier on ‘Third Revelation’ is nothing to be sniffed at, but it isn’t really enough to salvage the album in the end. Jonathan Keane

Cradle of Filth - The Manticore and Other Horrors (Peaceville)

I personally have never understood the antipathy that some "hard-core" metal heads have towards Cradle of Filth. I mean, I can understand how some might take offense to the fact that the band are embraced by more main-stream "fans" primarily for fashion, but the band have never really strayed too far from their black metal roots. Sure, the band does have a few more "hooky" elements to them now than when they first started, but by and large the band, while not "pure" black metal any longer (if they ever were), are still an extremely heavy band. Still, with each release there is always a parade of insults on metal forums by people who deride the band as sell-outs and every other name in the book. In my opinion these are most likely people who haven't bothered to listen to a COF album in years and have probably only heard ‘The Death of Love’ on the radio or something. Personally I like Cradle of Filth, despite all of the negative comments that the "troo" metal heads make about them. The thing that I have always liked about the band is that they are consistent in that their entire discography is solid with only a few missteps. With Cradle you generally know what you're going to get: A symphonic opening number, followed by a borderline black metal song, a couple of songs bordering on commercial for radio to play, a few more heavy songs and boom you're done. Lyrically you can expect some sort of horror theme and you know that Dani will shriek and howl his way through the songs with a vengeance. Some might call this pattern unoriginal, but to me it is always nice to know what I am going to get out of a COF release as that's what made me a fan. The Manticore and Other Horrors follows the above pattern pretty much to the letter, which will please long-term fans and utterly infuriate those who expect the band to make a full-fledged return to their black metal roots. All of the songs are solid and it is a good album to listen to from start to finish. For those of you who have read criticism that Dani's vocals are no longer what they used to be, ignore it. I personally didn't notice much of a difference in his style as compared to the last few releases that the band has done. Overall this is a solid album and COF fans will be pleased to hear a solid return from the band. Curtis Dewar

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Death – Spiritual Healing [Reissue] (Relapse) Over 20 years on from their inauguration, Death’s influence and importance to the entirety of death metal remains unquestioned and, if anything, is stronger than ever. 1990’s Spiritual Healing, the band’s third album, was a vital spoke on the wheel of Death that marked a huge turning point for the band and specifically the craftsmanship of one Chuck Schuldiner. With James Murphy, Terry Butler and Bill Andrews joining him in this line-up incarnation of Death, Spiritual Healing was helmed at the production desk by Scott Burns (who had first teamed up with Death to engineer Leprosy), a now pivotal point as Spiritual Healing utilised a much cleaner and fresher production. It meant that Death had a new vim breathed into them and Chuck’s progressive and ambitious tendencies truly started to flourish with this record and continue to flourish they did with the following efforts.

Dissipate – Tectonics (Prosthetic)

Certainly a genre that has seen many, many bands pass through it ranks in recent years; deathcore is in somewhat of a stagnant state. With many bands jumping to either the post-metalcore or djent side of things, it seems one of metal’s most detested offspring may be on its last legs. Enter Dissipate, a band who fit snugly under the deathcore moniker, but who also incorporate progressive and technical elements in their music. While mathy/technical death core is not an entirely new concept (see Ion Dissonance or The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza), Dissipate’s new 6 song EP, Tectonics, is a worthy entry in an otherwise bland and uninteresting genre. Tectonics opens with massive, twangy low end guitar chugging in the form of ‘Motion’, and rather than abuse the ‘djent’ sound, the band digress into more technical territories,

22 years on, Relapse Records, in their on-going Death re-issue quest, have re-released Spiritual Healing with a variety of special features. First and foremost, after all of these years the album itself remains a masterwork. The pristine production is near-faultless, the death metal in excelsis riffing is in tow, and Chuck Schuldiner’s skilful and supreme guitar solos remain untouchable. So, nothing’s changed there. There’s also an overwhelming sense of reality that remains so palpable in Chuck’s lyrics, which was always the case. Just listen to ‘Genetic Reconstruction’ with the strangely prophetic lines: “Replacing what is real by using technology” and “Producing a race of human machines - A new age of existence the world will see”. Now in 2012, in the age of staggering technology and communication and with it depleting human interaction, Chuck’s lyrical mastery is all the more affecting. It’s the bonus features of this re-issue that are rather superfluous. Only a true diehard is pining for rough instrumental demos that are very much that… rough, and the inclusion of “joke/jam tracks” that last for about 20 minutes is certainly head-scratching. If anything, Spiritual Healing’s re-release returns the seminal album to the everyday metaller’s conscience and allows younger, new metal fans the opportunity to marvel in the wonders of Death for the first time and that’s certainly no bad thing. Jonathan Keane

unleashing a flurry of sweeps and sudden tempo changes. ‘Such is the Mind (Of a Realist)’ continues the aural beatdown, but adds emotional and clean vocals into the mix. ‘Mech Fail’ is an intense ride, gradually slowing down for a melodic finale, while ‘Fragments Lost’ is a jazz tinged instrumental. Title track, ‘Tectonics’, is the slowest song on the album and ditches the chaos and technicality of the previous songs, and instead builds on grooves and melody. Bar for the occasional jazzy break (the bass solo in ‘Becoming the Mantis’ deserves mention), Tectonics is a largely forgettable experience. The alternation between clean, growled and screamed vocals carries the EP in the right direction, but ultimately this is lost in amongst the vortex of blast beats and guitar trickery. Technicality and precision are indeed a plus, but only when they’re used to achieve a purpose, whereas Dissipate use them to batter the listener senseless (and not in a good way). Tectonics will most definitely appeal to a select fan base, and for those people Dissipate will indeed please them with their brutal precision and sonic devastation, but for anyone looking for a more well-rounded and enjoyable listening experience, I recommend looking elsewhere. Brayden Bagnall

Dopethrone – III (Self-Released)

Spawn through an evening of collective illicit substances, shadowed by a morning of foggy memories, Dopethrone emerged. As the heaviest thing to come out of Canada since Shallow North Dakota, “…our riffage is filthy, grimy and about as elegant as a sledgehammer to the sternum.” they publically proclaim and I couldn’t have put it better myself; III in particular. Electric Wizard inspired by the evident name choice, these Montreal natives has filled a scene gap that’s been largely void in Canadian metal for years. Topping it in southern blues and a heavy dusting of THC, their third self-produced album III was released in August of 2012, following the success of their previous work; Demonsmoke (2009) and Dark Foil (2011.) Floating in like a hovering extraterrestrial ship, ‘Hooked’ creates a sensual envelopment, slowing all your senses in smoke of its engine. Perhaps more comparable to their previous work than the later of thealbum, the second track, ‘Reverb Deep’ persuades a more

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God Seed - I Begin (Indie Recordings)

By now, anyone who knows a teeny bit about black metal knows about the Gorgoroth and the great name battle that took place between band members King Ov Hell, Gaahl and Infernus. After Infernus won full rights to the name, Gaahl and King decided to go out on their own to form God Seed, but before the album was fully completed Gaahl abruptly retired from black metal and King decided to release the songs he had been working on with Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir. Then, earlier this year it was announced that the God Seed album was indeed going to be completed and would be released in 2012. Now, in addition to the above odd history, Gaahl and King both have, should we say, "Quirky" reputations in the black metal genre. Gaahl at one point was considered to be one of the most "evil" men in black metal with his infamous interview in the documentary "True Norwegian Black Metal", in addition to his conviction for torture. However Gaahl also has a penchant for designing women's clothes and came out as a gay man a few years ago, dealing a severe blow to his scary reputation. King is not thought well of in the

seductive pervasion to twist and wind your licentious honey pot over something stiff and ready. The vocals are crass but the rhythm is smooth like a well fermented brew and it glides through your system, scraping the inner walls to leave its mark. Coming in on what feels like an after school special, ‘Reverb Deep’ continues in Dopethrone fashion. Putting the stoner grin on everything they touch, vocals are so shredded, this track, or even the whole album for that matter could theoretically be pulled off in a drunken slur and it wouldn’t matter much. Guitarist/vocalist, Vincent Houde solos his instrument into the dirt, allowing his strings to wail and bend at the mercy of his skill with the track closes on a brilliant clip from the infomercial, “The Blunt Truth;” “Its leaves extend out in a star pattern some say resembles a hand, reaching out to claim its next victim.” ‘Devil's Dandruff’ is the fastest of the track list with a bit more punch than your average Dopethrone track, caked with Vyk’s thick, fatty bass. In ‘Cult Leader’ they’ve done an excellent job of layering instrumentals, vocals and sound clips throughout. The riffs on this track in particular seem to have expanded the band’s sound a bit which is a promising piece of progression in their timeline. Borman’s patience and control behind the kit could only be fueled by a bong of that sweet Mary Jane you hear bubbling and billowing with each inhale. At this point, by the quality of their work, it’s hard to say whether the fact that this band is still unsigned is a creative choice or an unfortunate overlooking by major labels. My only complaint about this album was that the vocals have become overly distorted and detract from the bands potential for greatness, as much as I love a gruff voice and Vincent’s signature “wugh” yelp. As pretentious as this is to say, I can’t help it. I liked their earlier stuff better. Christine Hager

Early Graves - Red Horse (No Sleep)

black metal community by some with Fenriz of Darkthrone calling him a poser. Colorful history aside the new God Seed album is actually much better than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, I liked King and Gaahl era Gorgoroth, but after hearing that band's supberb "Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt" I wondered how much King and Gaahl actually did contribute to the band. Sound-wise the album is quite different than the sound they are known for from Gorgoroth. Yes, the album is black metal-to a point. There are black metal vocals and even black metal sounds, however there is also a lot more going on here such as organ solos (!), industrial sounding songs and even some electronica influence at times. Yes it's weird, but it also works at the same time. At the same time, Gaahl gives the performance of his career: I don't recall hearing any Gorgoroth albums where the man has been able to convey so much power as he does on "I Begin". When he was in Gorgoroth I always found his voice to be a bit too screechy for my liking at times, however on "I Begin" he both screeches his lungs out and also puts on a stunning display of black metal vocal prowess. However, despite the fact that there is a lot of interesting things going on here, (And the fact that Gaahl's vocal performance is excellent) many of the songs are just not quite up to the level that can elevate the album from good to great. As a result, there are a few awesome songs (Lit, Awake, From this Past) and a bunch of others that are simply good. Don't get me wrong, the songs aren't bad at all, they just simply lack that extra oomph to make the album a classic. As a result, "I Begin" is a good, but not great album. It is a good debut from a band that will hopefully realize their full potential on their next release. Curtis Dewar

As some of you are probably aware, Early Graves’ third full-length effort, Red Horse almost did not happen. The accident that occurred on 2 August, 2010, while the band were touring the US along withFuneral Pyre and killed vocalist Makh Daniels, nearly dictated the end of Early Graves. Fortunately, the San Francisco group overcame such profound tragedy. With the help of John Strachan from Funeral Pyre, who was a close friend of Daniels’ and also involved in the accident, they recorded a new album that can be described as heavier and more hostile than its predecessor, Goner, from 2010. Right on the first song, ‘Skinwalker’, it’s obvious that Early Graves are still on a determined mission to deliver some pure, undiluted, metallic hardcore on Red Horse. And damn, they have done a tremendous good job at it. Reminiscent of Disfear and to some extent a rawer, nastier, At The Gates, the band go for the jugular on every song, just throwing raucous, punishing, rhythms and nihilistic, harsh, riffs with no regard whatsoever for the mental or physical health of their listeners. Chris Brock and Tyler Jensen’s wonderfully heavy and punk-infused riffs are a constant threat. Coupled with Dan Sneddon and Matt O'Brien’s crushing rhythms, they provide the ideal backbone for Strachan’s raspier growls, which are closer to metal standards when compared to Daniels’ hardcore bark. Clocking in at a relentless 33 minutes, Red Horse is a menacing, abrasive, and incredible hostile assault that completely maims the listener where others simply bruise. David Alexandre

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Evocation - Illusions of Grandeur (Century Media Records)

Despite having been around since the days when the Gothenburg death metal scene was new and fresh, Evocation have somehow managed to avoid being put into the same name-check lists as their peers. This may have something to do with the fact that they split around 1993 just as their contemporaries such as Entombed and At the Gates were breaking away from the underground, but nevertheless their early demos showed promise and had things gone differently then maybe their name would be more familiar than it is. Since reforming in 2005 they’ve made up for their lack of content by releasing a handful of well-received albums that, whilst not a million miles from what you would expect from a band who formed during that era, established a firm grasp on what made the Gothenburg sound so good in the first place. Illusions of Grandeur is their fourth full-length album and can probably be neatly summed up as a solid example of Swedish melodic death metal, and that isn’t meant to sound as negative as it probably does but there’s very little here that you haven’t heard before from countless other similar bands from the last fifteen-plus years. That said it is a step-up from what you’ve heard from this band before, at least in terms of production and song structure. Relying more on a chugging groove than the harsher death metal traits that the band used before, songs like ‘Metus Odium’ still sound brutal enough to keep hardened death-heads happy but there is a more accessible edge that may have lent itself to a wider audience if bands such as Amon Amarth or Dark Tranquillity hadn’t got in there first. But is it an album worthy of your time? Like anything, if you’re a fan of the style then there’s plenty here that ticks all the boxes (so to speak) but if you’re looking for something that’s going to push the envelope or take things to another level then this will remain, at best, a competent album from a band who would maybe have had more success or recognition had they released it fifteen years ago. Chris Ward

Family – Portrait (Pelagic Records)

I found out two things regarding Family very early on after receiving their debut album Portrait - they create amazing and innovative music and are an incredibly hard band to google. The band has made a name for themselves in the Brooklyn scene, alongside bands such as Primitive Weapons, with their unique take on the progressive metal genre. Family draws on a wealth of influences and delivers a concoction of 90s heavy alternative, post metal and classic rock with nods to blues and jazz thrown in for extra measure. Opening track ‘Bridge and Tunnel’ sets the pace for Portrait with its epic introductory guitar riff and marching drum beat, before giving way to a classic rock flavoured riff and lead singer/bassist Kurtis Lee Applegate’s throaty bellow (think of a cross between Jens Kidman of Meshuggah and Chris Spencer of Unsane). The album takes some odd twists and turns in the form of tempo shifts and irregular time signatures, but never strays too far and always returns to building on a great riff (see ‘Daddy Wronglegs’) The album explores more mellow territories with ‘Illegal Women’, a track that draws similarities to Baroness with its twin guitar harmonies and sudden bursts of urgency. With ‘Delphonika’ Family wear their jazz and prog rock influences on their sleeve, with long instrumental sections King Crimson would be proud of. ‘The Wonder Years’ delves into noise and southern rock while ‘Other Mother’ is seven minute long instrumental, a slow burner that progresses into a metalcore tinged crescendo. Album closer ‘Exploding Baby’ sees the band return to more conventional territory, with the instrumental/vocal dynamic established in the album’s first three tracks. Portrait literally came out of nowhere and took my breath away, and that’s no easy feat. The heaviness of the vocals and the lightness of the instruments is an interesting dynamic very seldom explored in music, and with its excellent production, this aspect of the album flourishes. While songs repeat and build on riffs, they never get old; rather they stick, and create a memorable experience. With just enough deviations from the norm (whether it’s the long instrumental passages, jazzy guitar riffs or vocal effects on ‘Illegal

Women) Family ensure their music remains interesting and intelligent. It’s not often that a band delivers a sound they can be embraced by almost any metal or alternative music fan, but with Portrait, Family have done just that. While combining progressive metal with other genres is certainly not a new prospect, Family do it with precision and soul, and the results are astounding. Brayden Bagnall

Ichabod - Dreamscapes From Dead Space (Rootsucker Records)

Disclaimer: I'm gonna use some words in this review not suitable for younger listeners. But it's all good brothers and sisters, Ichabod allow themselves free (yet not flamboyant) use of shall we say, "colourful" language. Not that it's wholly necessary however, as Dreamscapes From Dead Spaces' impact is emphatic enough without it. The fourth album from these Bostonians drops like a ten ton hammer, covered in wet velvet. Smooth and slick yet still a devastatingly destructive force. Vocalist John Fadden's heavy threat from opener 'Huckleberry', "Tell them I'm coming! And Hell's coming with me!” should leave its target quaking in their boots but it’s hard to take it seriously when the album is just so fucking fun! Soaked in enough fuzz to make your ear hair grow, DFDS buries itself in familiarity, the sounds of a multitude of bands, mostly from the mid-'90s through the early '00s, leave their mark on Ichabod's sound. One could almost make a drinking game out of picking them out. Take a shot every time you hear a part that reminds of a different band. Early Clutch and Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Dozer, a half dozen other bitchin' stoner rock bands, Soundgarden, Silverchair, boyhitscar, the list goes on. You drunk yet? As much as it may sound like Ichabod is just aping other bands and piecing their shit together, that's not the case. The band sounds quite unlike anything I've heard before. But instead of sounding alien, it sounds

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homegrown. On first listen I felt like I'd walked into a bar and stumbled upon the house band tearing the goddamn place down. It's that aggression balanced by accessibility and even approachability that puts the syrup on my pancakes. (I have no idea what that's supposed to mean.) It just feels right. The bipolar nature of ‘Epiphany’ and ‘Baba Yaga’ feels like an easy ride down a desert highway before putting the hammer down, that full-bodied Harley exhaust screaming at the horizon.‘All Your Love’ is a murderously catchy hard rocker which sees Fadden bring yet more characters into his voice, at times sounding like Phil Anselmo and Kyle Thomas (ex-Alabama Thunder Pussy) The soft interior of strings, harp and crooning eventually crust over only to turn into a blissed out space jam on ‘108’ and instrumental album closer ‘Return of the Hag’ even whips out some flute to smatter on an all-out jamfest. Just one more trick Ichabod pulls out of their dimebag. Bottom line: I have GOT to see these guys live because they flat out fucking rawk. Don't be a Mass-hole, load your bong, grab some beers and check out Dreamscapes From Dead Space. Ok. You can uncover the kiddie’s ears now. Matt Hinch

Fistula – Northern Aggression + Loser (Patac Records)

Imagine having to explain doom metal to someone without a clue, now imagine explaining sludge metal to that same uncultured swine. Right, got that all visualized? Now try and explain the culmination of both afore mentioned metal sub-genres or whatever. Well never fear, no need to break your brain, just introduce said uncultured swine to Fistula. The sludge/doom outfit originating from Cleveland, Ohio releasing their 6th fulllength titled Northern Aggression. Not your typical sludge/doom in my humble opinion, coming from someone who is use to listening to most god-awful noise, these blokes pack a mighty punch! At intervals there is a grindcore/post-hardcore feel to it, yet not too overpowering. The lyrics range from anti-religion to drugs to life/death. So basically, are they just another drug band playing the power cords in a different

order? The answer is no, there is more to this band than just that. They seem to vary their tempo and intensity with little or no consistency what so ever, which means it’s not as predictable as some of the other bands that have the sludge/doom vibe. This being said, I doubt that it could be labeled as just a sludge/doom band in all fairness. The vocals might seem a bit confusing at times and is definitely not what one would expect. It has that post-hardcore/grindcore feel to it, which is refreshing as it adds a bit of a twist to it all. When it comes down to sludge or doom bands, what you see is what you get. You know you’re going to get really high and just get mentally eviscerated, and Fistula does exactly that. The sheer vibration of the music feels akin to that post-operation feeling of someone just rifled through my intestines, just then. It is absolutely marvelous. This is definitely one for the sludge/doom metal fiends among us. Willing to go as far as saying that even you psychedelic/stoner rock folk could get into this. Might be taking it a bit far, regardless, check out Fistula’s Northern Aggression you will not be disappointed. Berneau Van Der Merwe

Incite - All Out War (Minus HEAD Records)

Incite are a band in a relatively unique position; one that whichever way you look at it is very advantageous or a burden. You see Incite contains Richie Cavalera (vocals), son of Max, you know the guy from those bands Sepultura, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy; which could garner the band attention on the back of this but in the meantime could also prove to be a shadow over them. All Out War is their chance to make a real mark of their own, and sadly it doesn’t quite do so. All Out War sees a very groove laden, modern metal sound, not a million miles away from the likes of Lamb Of God; essentially a sound that you will have heard about a hundred times before and probably a lot better. It is an enjoyable enough listen, and it is by no means terrible; but it is certainly forgettable. Overall the songs are all pretty identical to another, and they aren’t too memorable, with no real big hooks or riffs to grab you. It really lacks its own identity as well, all too often

merely aping the modern metal greats we are all very familiar with. By name, All Out War sounds like a certified statement of intent to set their own path and move from the shadow cast by the most famous and recognised of family members. By sound however All Out War appears all too happy to be part of the crowd. Chris Tippell

Kamelot - Silverthorn (Steamhammer)

What to do when you’ve parted ways with one of the most distinctive and talented vocalists in metal? This question seems more pertinent than ever given the line-up changes that have occurred recently in the melodic metal world (Nightwish and Anette Olzon, etc.). However, Floridian metallers Kamelot have lucked out finding a new singer in former Seventh Wonder vocalist Tommy Karevik. Karevik fills the shoes of the legendary Roy Khan remarkably well on their newest offering Silverthorn– perhaps even a little too well, as his voice is at times difficult to distinguish from his predecessor’s. Certainly there will be no controversy caused here and fans of the band will be pleased that no major change of direction has taken place, but if you were expecting a fresher sound with a fresh face you may be somewhat disappointed. This writer will admit to being a little cynical towards the idea of concept albums. Because most concept albums, with the exception of Within Temptation’s The Unforgiving album of 2011 which ticked all the right boxes, are absolutely awful. Okay, not necessarily musically, but there are just too many things that can wrong. First of all, is your concept any good, or is it self-indulgent drivel? Silverthorn is “the story of a young girl who dies in the arms of her two twin brothers, taking the three siblings’ big secret to her grave.” Spooooky. Well, fair enough – it’s Kamelot, after all. Second, the songs – do they stand up on their own or is the album too full of arbitrary instrumental tracks, narrative passages and generally weak songs only there to keep the story going? The dark, melodramatic ‘Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)’ gives Karevik a chance to show off his vocal skills, while


‘Torn’ contains the album’s best chorus melodically and ‘Song for Jolee’ is a pretty ballad. But ultimately the album is a bit lacking – yes, all the elements of a great Kamelot album are there: intricate orchestration, inventive melodies and the classic Kamelot arabesque musical motifs; however, it all feels a little forced, and the metal elements seem to have taken a back seat to all the symphonic trappings. If you love Kamelot, chances are you’ll dig this, but for their best songs, you would do better to pick up a copy of The Fourth Legacy, Karma or The Black Halo. Catherine Morris

Lecherous Gaze - On The Skids (Tee Pee Records)

Born from the ashes of beloved Oakland riffpunks Annihilation Time, Lecherous Gaze finally puts out their first full-length, three years in the making. And they couldn’t have chosen a more apt title. Listening to On The Skids conjured up vivid memories of upperclassmen burners I recall from eighth grade: bitchin’ baby mullets, shitty-peach-fuzz pencil ‘staches, alternating denim or mack jackets, at least one Scorps shirt apiece, always hangin’ in the smoke pit. I’m guessing Lecherous Gaze probably knew (or were) those dudes too, ‘cept the mustaches prob’ly eventually took. Fuck whatever else you got goin’ on fuzzywarbles-wise, this here is dirt rock par excellence, sporting more than enough garage to satisfy the greasers, enough raunch-riffs to rile up the heshers, and just enough hawkedphlegm at-eh-tyewd to appease the punkers. But at the brunt of it, it’s all just guitars: Liberal drops of The Five, The Flag, Hendrix, Lizzy, and KISS soak into LG’s blotter, and the record fairly smokes with corrosive Clorox groove. Meantime front man Zaryan Zaidi crank-honks his best Beefheart-byway-of-Jerry-A (or is that vice-versa) over the whole distorto mess. Hey man, is that freedom rock? Well, turn it up! *flips the bird, volume-knob-style* Frizzample, dig ‘Scorpion’, which starts out

like a minor exercise in Frehley-fingering, until the chorus kicks in and the whole thing goes all snotty Dead Boys. But then, hang on, dig ‘Bagagazo’. I don’t know what it means, either - but hot damn if the Lecherous Ones haven’t shamelessly filched the opening riff from KISS’ “Ladies Room”, only to drop an atomic bomb of groove on top of it. You won’t give a tinker’s good goddamn what it mean by then, either, because your ass will be shaking too uncontrollably, doing whatever the title is supposed to be suggesting. Then there’s the big-boy-britches riffs of ‘Frustrated’, all Southern-rock dragged drunkenly through a street-punk gutter. Then, right on cue, both ‘Born On A River’ and ‘War Woman’ pay due tribute to the late Ron Asheton’s singlehanded invention of riff-rock, while Zaidi’s slop-shots-Iggy wailing overtop is probably one of the most fucken’-rights-eous Iggys that’s been since. A greasy, messy amalgam of every bandwho ever played guitar the *right* way, On The Skids is the best parts of your vinyl collection melted down into a 38-minute slab of pure, N.F.G riff worship, by a buncha shrubs who remember why we all got into this shit in the first place. Of the skids. By the skids. For the skids. You best get On the Skids. Kyle Harcott

Porcupine Tree - Octane Twisted (Kscope)

While Steven Wilson pursues his solo career with a vengeance and the other Porcupine Tree members keep themselves occupied with various other projects, these are trying times for any Porcupine Tree fan. Luckily, there’s some ear candy underway in the form of Octane Twisted, a brand new live box set recorded during the band’s last tour supporting The Incident album. Let’s see what it has to offer. With already two earlier live DVDs in the form of Arriving Somewhere (2006) and Anesthetize (2010), one can question the relevance and added value of Octane Twisted.

The fact that the main feature as a two-disc live set can also be put into question. Which band is still releasing live albums in this day and age of MP3s and other digital formats? Porcupine Tree, of course! Steven Wilson, the band’s creative mastermind, is a traditionalist and an idealist who loves to outlaw every digital format today rather than tomorrow. There’s something to say for that, but I’m afraid time has caught up with the traditional album format.But I digress. Despite bordering obsolescence, Octane Twisted certainly offers value for the money. Disc One is recorded in Chicago and features Porcupine Tree playing an integral version of The Incident in typical Porcupine Tree fashion. The band is on fire and the emphasis is clearly on the music with very little audience interaction.Disc Two is perhaps a tad more interesting, as it features several live recordings of songs from the early Porcupine Tree days, like ‘Hatesong’, ‘Russia On Ice’, ‘Dislocated Day’, and ‘Stars Die’. The rest of the second disc is rounded out by ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here’ (Deadwing), ‘Bonnie The Cat’ (The Incident), and ‘Even Less’ (Stupid Dream). Listening to these older songs, it strikes me how smitten Steven Wilson was with Pink Floydian psychedelics back in the day.The accompanying bonus DVD is actually the most relevant part of this box set, as it features the band performing The Incident in full with all the visuals that come with a Porcupine Tree show. Say what you will, but without the visual effects by Lars Hoile, the show would be a whole lot duller.Octane Twisted leaves me with somewhat of a double feeling. On the one hand, it’s a beautifully packaged document for Porcupine Tree fans. But on the other hand, one can question the relevance of releasing of a double live CD in this digital day and age. Perhaps it would have been a lot more interesting if the band decided to turn Octane Twisted in a retrospective document containing lots of unreleased material, alternate versions and old obscure live footage. Raymond Westland

Skálmöld - Börn Loka (Napalm Records) Skálmöld are a band from Reykjavik, Iceland, whose sole purpose is to blend traditional Icelandic folk music to crushing metal. Do they do it? Oh yes. Do they do it well? Yes again. Opening with ‘Odinn’, featuring a chanting choir topped off with vocalist Björgvin Sigurðsson’s Max Cavalera-if-he-came-fromIceland throaty bellow, Börn Loka (translated asLoki’s Children) soon locks into a charging power metal groove as ‘Sleipnir’ gallops


The Sword – Apocryphon (Razor & Tie/Napalm Records)

Revisionism in metal has been pretty rampant in recent years, regardless of subgenre, whether it’s young bands playing old school primeval death metal or fresh faced musicians channelling the spirits of NWOBHM in 2012. The Sword, to their credit, has been keeping pretty consistent in their homage to times gone with a string of solid albums and Apocryphon is a record that pretty much maintains that trajectory. Despite not jumping too far out of their comfort zone, The Sword’s brand of modern gleaned 70s-imbued hard rock hasn’t too much to fault. The execution is graceful, the production is pristine and there are plenty of hooky and tasty riffs to sink your teeth into. If any is

along like a Viking warrior in full-on battle mode, the main riff given a subtle keyboard backing which adds a little dynamism to the metal battery. With a healthy dose of classic thrash metal injected into most of the songs, it’s easy to see where the band’s heart lies – the instrumental break on ‘Gleipnir’ screams prime Anthrax and Megadeth with its twisted guitar solos and pummelling double-bass drums, while elsewhere the weighty ‘Hel’ brings in blast beats to complement the shifting tempos and oboe solos. The epic sub-ten minutes of closing track ‘Loki’ bring everything together in what could have been a comically over-the-top cauldron of Spinal Tap proportions but the band keep it convincing and

sues can be taken with the album it’s that the band doesn’t really know when to stop. Tracks like opener ‘Veil of Isis’ is a heady brew of classic rock but it’s a formula repeated throughout the album and unfortunately it becomes a little too repetitive. That said, The Sword still know how to pen some incredibly catchy tunes when needs be, ridden with groove and a penchant for a little blues. ‘Dying Earth’ is an old fashion raucous number with a riff that will easily lodge itself in your head meanwhile ‘Hawks and Serpents’ is a massive anthem meant for stadiums everywhere… in a just world that is. Apocryphon still has filler though and that’s when the weight starts to pile up with this album. ‘Excrator’ is a shorter song in the album’s middle but could have easily been discarded and ‘Arcane Montane’ does become a tad too formulaic at times. But the album’s gems still outweigh its rough edges. The Sword’s latest record is definitely a winner more often than not, just riddled with a few flaws in various parts. It’s not perfect, but what is; it’s definitely a solid effort to say the very least and the title track to close fearlessly whips the album back into shape to end on a high ebullient note. Jonathan Keane

tight, never quite stepping over the mark into ridiculousness. The production is a little lop-sided in places, particularly when there is a guitar solo, and maybe the keys could have been amped up a little more during certain passages, but these are things that should get ironed-out as the band progress and hopefully they will progress and release more material because Börn Loka is a fun album – whether it’s meant to be or not, who knows? – that rams home how good pagan/folk/Viking metal can be when the songs are there and the band can project something of their heritage into them. If the Nordic style of metal isn’t really your thing then this is the sort of album that may be worth checking out as an introduction because there are some quality moments to be had here and it doesn’t dwell too heavily on the folk side of things. Chris Ward

Strong Intention - Razorblade Express (Patac Records) It’s always quite amusing how some grindcore and power violence bands come up with their names. The name itself might not mean a lot or may be dismissed by the untrained

eye as with band names like “Weekend Nacho’s”, “Lack Of Interest”, “Iron Lung” and “Extortion” etc. I had a feeling when I received “Strong Intention”, they may be in the same vein. These guys pack a mighty punch, which can be better described as “an unrelenting barrage of hate” with their new album titled Razorblade Express. The Maryland band has their very own brand of grindcore with a thrash and hardcore/punk edge combined with break-neck speed. In 2002 the band was involved in an eastcoast tour with legendary Italian grinders Cripple Bastards, which by itself speaks volumes. In my assessment of the album on a surface level, it was quite evident that it was going to be a speedy and disgusting ride through a mince grinder powered by a V8 engine of some sorts. These guys do not disappoint! The album contains 6 songs, which features Mike IX Williams from EyeHateGod on more than one occasion. The thrash element and punk/hardcore influence is very evident in the vocals and sound. The sheer relentlessness and intensity could be described as a barrage of perpetual artillery fire. It’s fast, it’s heavy, it doesn’t seem to compromise and will destroy your eardrums. With influences such as Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front and Breakdown back when they first started out in the early 90’s, it makes for quite a unique sound. It has since changed over the years to a more unique grindcore/thrashy incantation of speed, filth and disgust. This would most definitely strike “normal” people as just racket or noise, which is why it is so great. I would definitely recommend this for anyone and everyone into grindcore and power violence. It’s short, disgusting and filthy. The album is excellent over all and definitely worth a listen. Berneau Van Der Merwe

Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats Blood Lust (Rise Above Records) With a name like Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, I approached this album with caution


Varg – Guten Tag (NoiseArt Records)

and a small amount of trepidation. It is a moniker that inspires me very little and strongly hints at a content which is likely to borrow from the ‘far out’ days of the 1960s and 70s. I was right and was therefore justified in my reticence. Blood Lust is the sophomore release from the UK based psychedelic doom-infused rock and roll trio comprised of vocalist, guitarist and organist Uncle Acid alongside his two ‘deadbeats’, bassist Kat and drummer Red. And strangely, despite living in a city just an hour away from me, Cambridge, theirs was a name that I had not heard of before. Personally, I don’t derive a great amount of pleasure from this album as the approach is way out of my general jurisdiction. However, being an aspiring professional music writer, I cannot leave the review there because to do so would do the band an injustice because, simply put, Blood Lust absolutely screams ‘vintage’ and ‘classic’ with an authenticity and originality that few others have managed to master. The deliberately lo-fi production sounds like it was lifted right out of the early 70s complete with distorted fuzz, hiss and an echoey feel. On the one hand, the compositions come across as bright and breezy thanks to some toe-tapping riffs and a smattering of melody woven into the compositions. The entire record also manages to maintain a live jam feel throughout, providing a distinct urgency to proceedings. However, listen more closely and it becomes clear that this upbeat feel is something of a façade, masking a more sinister and clandestine occult doom rock core. There is an inescapable Iommi sheen to the guitar work and tracks like ‘Withered Hand Of Evil’ with its ponderous central riff and ominous density demonstrate a darker underbelly to this band lurking just beneath the surface, ready to strike at any moment. The fact that Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats managed to impress Leif Edling (Candlemass) and off the back of a personal recommendation achieve a record deal, albeit a conservative one, from Cathedral’s Lee Dorrian and Rise Above Records, it must mean that the Cambridgeshire trio are doing something right. My gut instinct tells me to spend more time with this record and not discard it the moment that this review is complete. If I feel like that, I can only imagine what fans of this kind of ‘retro-doom’ will think when they hear this. Matt Spall

As you can probably tell from their name, Varg are a German metal outfit that play blackened pagan/folk metal with a US death metal undertone. Leaning more towards the polished sounds of power metal/metalcore than the raw, under-produced racket that their Norwegian brethren prefer to trade in, Varg are a comparatively slick and well-oiled machine. The album’s title track is the first full song after a very strange intro and is full of the sort of raging melodic death metal that wouldn’t have sounded out of place coming from early-90s Carcass, albeit with a production that gives the rapid-fire kick drums and buzz-saw riffs a clean, metallic sheen. Vocalist/guitarist Freki spits out the lyrics in the band’s native tongue, his dry-throated rasp sounding even more effective when you don’t understand what he’s saying (unless you speak German, of course) and when he puts in a few whispered passages, like during the intro of the doomy ‘Was Nicht Darf’, the effect is positively chilling. However, the crystal-clear production and mixing job doesn’t lend itself to the traditional folk side of the band’s influences. Sounding more Killswitch Engage than Emperor, when the band does add some folky-sounding passages, like in the savage ‘Blut Und Feuer’, the effect is lessened due to sounding so damn-near perfect. But that quibble aside, how you feel about this album really comes down to how you feel about listening to thirteen blasts of German pagan metal. The bulk of the tracks thrash along at a fairly breakneck pace, barely letting up before the next onslaught of cast-iron riffs come along to whack you around the chops, and if that sounds like an exciting prospect for you then Guten Tag is going to satisfy your every whim. If, however, you prefer a little more variety in an album then you may find yourself cherry-picking the best tracks to add to a playlist, but overall Guten Tag is a good album, if a tad overlong, that suffers slightly from being too polished and not quite edgy enough. Chris Ward

Vera Cruz – Skin And Teeth And Nails (Season of Mist)

If you look carefully at the name of the debut album by French hardcore noiseniks Vera Cruz, you’ll notice that the first letter of each word spells out ‘SATAN.’ See what they did there? However, the lack of spaces between the words is appropriate, as it will mimic your breathless voice as you ring all your friends who give a shit about heavy music and explain to them, with no pause for breath, how they have to check out “SkinAndTeethAndNails.” Occupying the dark corner populated by the unruly kids of the metalcore party who didn’t play well with others, such as The Chariot but adding the tough guy menace and gang vocals of hardcore legends such as Sick of It All, Vera Cruz simply sound dangerous and all the better for it. The brief mugging of opening track ‘Hopeless Knights’ shows both sides of this menacing sound before the jarring effects and punishing chugs of ‘The Last of a Dying Breed’ sound utterly corrosive yet thrillingly engaging and make you eager for more beatings, which are duly administered by the Every Time I Die-on-bad-meth barrage of ‘The Family’, which features an incongruous yet welcome cleanly sung chorus and the raging ferocity of ‘Black Walls’, which will have you bouncing off the ones in your living room until an even more out of place banjo section leaves you scratching your head instead of mercilessly banging it. ‘Open Your Eyes’ sounds almost mediocre by comparison but the building sway of the riffs will have you moving again in no time, as the track gets progressively heavier, leading into the off-kilter chaos of ‘The Last Parade’ which veers between frantic hardcore racing and passionate choruses with a bonafide Iron Maiden gallop thrown in for good measure. ‘Break the Lies’ puts a lid on the playfulness with its no-bullshit hardcore while the double-kicks and dissonance of ‘Dunwich’ is culled from the more metallic end of the hardcore spectrum, an unholy merging similar to the characters in the Lovecraft story the title is taken from. Maintaining the intensity throughout while


always threatening to do something completely out of character, Vera Cruz is an exciting addition to a scene which could do with a few new ideas. The kinetic energy captured on ‘SkinAndTeethAndNails’ is addictive, and will hopefully rub off on a few young pretenders as well as light a fire under some ageing backsides. In a word, banging. James Conway

Marty Friedman - Tokyo Jukebox Volumes 1 and 2 (Prostethic Records)

Acaro - The Disease Of Fear (SPV)

Relatively, perhaps even completely unknown in Europe (as far as I can tell), Boston’s own Acaro have forged quite a formidable reputation in the States, as proven by their upcoming support slot for Killswitch Engage and festival appearances. Listening to their debut album, The Disease Of Fear, it is easy to see why they fit so easily with such American bands, but also why they are making such waves. Their sound, while not wholly original per se, combines the brutality and ferocity of Suffocation style death metal, the massive groove of the likes of Lamb Of God and the melodic streak of KsE, with vocals that range from death metal guttural to the more hardcore tinged uncanny to those of Unearth to a volatile effect. Being built on elements that most should be very familiar with does mean that this doesn’t stand out too much from the pack, and songs do follow a fairly formulaic structure and pack very few surprises. That being said, these are all elements that are done very well, showing great viciousness with huge and memorable grooves and riffs that just sound like they would go down a storm. With these characteristics it is easy to see why these guys fit in with such American bands so well, but it has to be pointed out to the strength of the songs which, although showing a great lack of originality, sound like they perfectly lend themselves to the pit. Christopher Tippell

When Marty Friedman departed thrash juggernaut Megadeth in early 2000, having seen the band lurch from creative and commercial peak to almost inexorable decline, there was little doubt that the Maryland-born guitar virtuoso was set to take the road less travelled in his future career. So it turned out, as Friedman jetted off to Japan to become something of a cult celebrity, combining his twin passions for Japanese culture and heavy metal in a raft of TV appearances and solo albums over the last ten years. Cut loose from the creative restraints of Cryptic Writings and Risk-era Megadeth, Friedman wasted little time in fusing neoclassical and progressive guitar work with contemporary J-pop, a combination that went down a storm in his newly adopted homeland. Tokyo Jukebox Volumes One and Two, originally released in the Land of the Rising Sun in 2009 and 2011 respectively, and now re-issued as a double album for the North American market, is the culmination of Marty’s love affair with Japan. The records are a collection of instrumental covers of hit J-pop songs, all reinterpreted and reworked into Friedman’s signature style, falling somewhere between speed and power metal. Volume One opener ‘Tsume Tsume Tsume’ starts out with a harder edge than most other tracks but is interspersed with arpeggiated passages and searing leads that are much more representative of the double album as a whole. ‘Gift’, meanwhile, is infectiously catchy, Friedman’s guitar hi-jinks only further sweetening a saccharine melody and driving J-pop beat. ‘Amagi Goe’, one of the standout tracks from the first disc, ‘Eki’ and ‘Sekai Ni Hitostu Dake No Hana’, on the other hand, are bona fide power metal tunes that show an imagination and ear for melody that is seldom heard in Europe these days. While many of the compositions that make up Tokyo Jukebox are impressive in their own right, Westerners who aren’t either fervent devotees of Friedman or deeply immersed in J-pop culture may well find themselves a little lost at sea here. This problem becomes especially evident when both volumes are played back-to-back.

A tangible sense of fatigue begins to set in early in the second disc, the constant barrage of neo-classical fretboard acrobatics gradually numbing the listener’s senses. Friedman’s playing is rarely short of immaculate but divorced of the songs’ cultural context as a frame of reference, there’s simply very little for the uninitiated muso to grab on to. Tracks like ‘Canon A La Coto’, a brief cover of Pachelbel’s Canon accompanied by Japanese strings, provide a moment of familiarity but are stylistically at odds with the rest of Volume 2, which is generally slower-paced and more focused on ballads than the original 2009 compilation. It seems a shame to dismiss an entire record out of what essentially amounts to ignorance but unless J-pop is your thing, there’s a strong chance your interest will have waned long before the final crashing chord of ‘Mata Kimi Ni Koishi Teru’ brings Tokyo Jukebox to a close. Friedman has clearly flourished during his time in Japan and is now a much more accomplished musician than when he parted ways with Dave Mustaine and company but for most fans of progressive music, the combined volumes of Tokyo Jukebox will amount to little more than a curiosity. Jodi Mullen

Bloody Hammers - Bloody Hammers (Soulseller Records)

There’s a lot of this sort of thing about at the moment; unreconstructed early-70s worshipping hard rock - and some bands inevitably do it better than others. Bloody Hammers seem to be following a similar path to Ghost and Anima Morte, crafting dread-soaked homages to the classic horrors of Hammer, rich with elements drawn from Black Sabbath and Pentagram. But there’s also a deeper fusion with the groovier, bluesy side of 70s doom exemplified by Witchfinder General and St Vitus; updated today by the likes of Graveyard, Witchcraft and Asteroid. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a rich seam of stoney-doomy-psychy-rocky stuff going about, and you’ve got to work hard to rise above the maelstrom. Happily for Bloody Hammers, they just about manage it. I think it’s the combination of stomach-churning fuzz with kooky synths and creepy organs, not to mention the vocals of Anders


Manga, cutting a compromise between the traditional nasal doom croon and the roughthroated rootsy delivery more suited to bassheavy hard rock boogie. It’s actually a pretty neat blend of the two atmospheres, and a strong tracklist of mostly catchy songs provides the headstone. All in all it’s pretty good. You’ll find hooks in the chorus of ‘Beyond the Door’, or the Grand Funk bothering bassline of ‘Souls On Fire’. You’ll likely enjoy the snarling vocal delivery and cowbell breaks in ‘Witch of Endor’, or the moody build of ‘Trisect’. There’s creaky moments too, wherein it becomes all too apparent that this a debut. Sometimes transitions between sections and soloists feel more stilted than they should. And ‘Say Goodbye to the Sun’ comes too close to ripping off Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, which immediately invites unflattering Marilyn Manson comparisons. But these are minor complaints in the scheme of things. There’s nothing remotely original about any of it - and in that way it ends up reminding me most of The Sword. Bloody Hammers does nothing particularly special, but it does it quite well. Noel Oxford

Kylesa – From the Vaults Vol. 1 (Season of Mist)

didn’t make it onto one of Kylesa’s earlier efforts. ‘111 Degree Heat Index’ is an alternative take on the cut from 2004’s “No Ending 110 Degree Heat Index’ EP. While not varying much from the original, the grimier tone is a fitting one and leads us neatly into ‘Between Silence and Sound II’, a shorter version of the previous track that meanders along dreamily before bursting into aggressive riffing and almost hymn-like chanting, an otherworldly trait that allow Kylesa to stand out from the crowd, as does their thirst for experimentation, which is why the downtempo punk of ‘Paranoid Tempo’ and ‘Bottom Line II’ come across as such badass surprises, yet feel completely at home. ‘End Truth’ is the only new song on “From the Vaults” and appears to fit perfectly in with where the band has been heading since 2010’s Spiral Shadow. The tone is cleaner but the instruments still sound filthy and have free reign to explore where they wish, be they beyond the stars or deep into the Georgian backwoods. The two bands covered towards the end of the album; Buzzoven and Pink Floyd are possibly the easiest for anyone to use when trying to describe Kylesa’s sound with the feral bite of the former and star-gazing eccentricity of the latter, but Kylesa have their own solid identity, and they are fully worthy of this collection, which should please fans and attract a whole swathe of new ones. James Conway

Pelt - Effigy (MIE)

Rarities albums are usually hit-and-miss affairs with bands offering up a selection of cuts that weren’t strong enough to make it onto the albums they were recorded for, godawful remixes that the producer has insisted upon for the opportunity to “bring you guys into the modern age” or similar garbage, and covers that may be fun but have no hope in hell of bettering the original. That said, after a decade in the game, as is the case of Georgia sludge beasties Kylesa, an odds and sods collection is inevitable, and when you’re dealing with a group as prolific and creative as this five-piece, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. After a quirky minute-long intro to set the scene we are greeted with the dirty, chugging sludge of ‘Inverse.’ Chock-full of unhinged shouts, menacing riffs and that trademark double-drum sound, the song conjures images of a pair of killers circling each other in a swamp, and you wonder how this

Drone, like most other styles of music, has

an infinite range of cut-off points where an individual listener will simply not get enjoyment from it or understand it. Those on one side of that line will generally refer to it as shit, sometimes with some additional adjectives like “commercial”, “hipster”, “elitist”, “manufactured” or a thousand others depending on the listener's own tastes and the social standards they seek to live by. Those on the other side of that line will describe it's positives to various degrees, again based on their own tastes and the social standards they seek to live by. Objective quality is not really the issue – it's really about taste. When it comes to the acoustic drone of Pelt on their latest record Effigy, I'm definitely not on the latter side, but I've fought my natural inclination to dismiss this as elitist crap that you would most likely find playing in some art installation consisting of videos on 100 screens of a thousand bleeding ears. Instead I have just thought about how it sounds and makes me feel. I don't enjoy this album. I listened to what I could of it eight or nine times and made no progress at all. I'm not swallowed up by any emotion other than the desire to stop the unpleasant noise. I can hear that it uses an interesting array of acoustic instruments including sounds from objects not normally regarded as instruments. I can hear that it uses extensive layering at times and minimalism at others. I can hear that it finds some inspiration in mountain music with some pleasant percussion driving a rhythm at times. I can also hear that the violin sounds like me playing the violin – like a cat being strangled. Above all though, I can't find anything that I want to listen to. The record is inspired by a network of mysterious ancient earthen mounds that look like animals. Some will no doubt declare how well that inspiration can be heard, although I'll wager it's not without knowing what the inspiration is to start with. I can't hear it myself. Right now though, as a reviewer I have to make a call on how good the record is, and give it a score, and I'm going to do that in the same way as I review any record. Not only can I not bear listening to Effigy, I really don't think it's that good. Gilbert Potts

The Tokyo Blade Rule: At War With Mediocrity By Adrien Begrand This past summer I was in the middle of the kind of music reviewing slog that happens when you foolishly decide to critique as many new releases as possible only to find yourself swamped by a series of awful metal albums. Mediocre music is bad enough to endure, but when it’s inept, that can be the last straw for anyone. That happened that one week; I’d just slogged through close to a couple dozen new albums when I put on the latest by some barely-out-of-their-teens “djent” hotshots. The music was so devoid of songwriting skill, let alone any imagination whatsoever, just an empty exercise in aping a formula, that I stopped right there, quit trying to assess the thing, and typed out a spontaneous, hostile post on Twitter: New rule: I'm not listening to any metal band born after 1990 unless they've heard a Tokyo Blade record. Enough of this. That statement might come across as a silly exaggeration by a grumpy old metal fan, and it initially was, but the longer I thought about it, the more apt it turned out to be, and how emblematic it is of the generation gap that’s in metal right now. When it comes to today’s generation of metal fans born after 1990, it was clear that as soon as they started posting YouTube clips of themselves shredding away effortlessly to some of the most complicated extreme metal ever recorded, that the future of metal would head into hyper-technical directions. Interestingly, though, is how accurately the music they eventually started writing and recording reflects their own cultural upbringing. These young bands have only known a time where nearly every single piece of music ever made was right at their fingertips, where file-sharing allows them to devour music voraciously, dispose of it, and instantly move on to the next thing, and that’s exactly what the bulk of today’s popular new metal music feels like. It’s ADHD metal, extreme music for short attention spans. Dazzling technical skill, but moving from one style to the next, to the next, and to the next in a series of minutes, devoid of personality and cohesion, and utterly forgettable. This past September I witnessed the first North American performance by Grand Magus. I’ve been an admirer of the Swedish trio for a long time, and they delivered a pitch-perfect performance of the kind of simple metal that hearkens back to a time where “thrash” was barely on our teenaged tongues, when “heavy metal” was the only umbrella term we used. Robust rhythm riffs and galloping drum beats that compel audiences to pump their fists and headbang, strong melodic singing that helped convey the power of the music, lyrics that reveled in fantasy, and best of all, incessant, rousing choruses that stick in your head. For yours truly, and many others in the crowd, it was glorious.

But what was the reaction of the young people in attendance? “That was boring.” To someone like me, in their 40s, a metal show these days usually involves at least one band barely out of their teens, signed far too soon by a trendy label, playing technically sound but boring and arbitrarily arranged compositions to a bunch of kids who couldn’t hum one of the band’s songs from start to finish of you paid them, who think the “metal experience” is to mercilessly pummel each other in the mosh pit, reacting physically to the music without actually taking in the music. This is the rabbit hole modern metal is slipping through. Such lack of attention paid to songwriting skill is proof that if this music that’s so huge with the kids these days – “djent”, metalcore, deathcore, Sumericancore, what have you - fails to bear a single influence of metal’s major progenitors, it fails to be metal at all, and is nothing but masturbatory bullshit. Heavy metal at its very core, no matter how forward-thinking and experimental it may be, is deeply rooted in tradition and formula, and the further bands stray from those crucial influences and the face-palmingly simple notion of restraint and dynamics – even the best death metal, black metal, and grindcore used dynamics – the further down that rabbit hole metal will fall. But that’s where the Tokyo Blade Rule comes in. Young metal bands: you have technical talent up the wazoo, there’s no denying that, but know your metal history. Study the progenitors, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper, like the underrated but oh-so-brilliant Tokyo Blade. I’m not saying that every new metal band should sound like it’s 1984 all over again – though if they did I wouldn’t complain – but learn what bands from 25, 30, 40 years ago did to make their music so distinct, and incorporate that into your songwriting. Less is more. A song is nothing without a hook. Singing with power is always better than screaming or growling. Don’t be afraid to be sloppy. Ditch Pro-Tools and record on tape. Bring bombast and personality back to metal. As for metal critics, it’s imperative that we stop being so forgiving. The more we embrace mediocrity – Killswitch Engage was just inducted into Decibel magazine’s Hall of Fame, for crying out loud – it lowers the bar for the rest. Bad music by young bands is unacceptable, and bad music by bands that should know better must be savaged. I talked to James Paul Luna of Holy Grail recently about the lack of songwriting skill in new metal bands, and while he agreed, he also mentioned how many young people are drawn to his band’s all-ages shows. He contends that true heavy metal will always have a very strong, innate appeal in people, and it’s only a matter of showing younger audiences just how invigorating and fun it still is. If he’s right, there might be hope for this generation yet. In the meantime, if a writer, musician, or fan finds himself or herself losing hope hearing band after talentless new band, all it takes is one listen to Night of the Blade or Midnight Rendezvous to be reminded of how great this music can still be.

Profile for Scratch the Surface Magazine

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 3  

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 2 Featuring Interviews with The Devil, The Secret, Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Marty Friedman, Ahab, Dynferi, A...

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 3  

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 2 Featuring Interviews with The Devil, The Secret, Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Marty Friedman, Ahab, Dynferi, A...