ISSUE #4 - january 2013
Being On The Beach And Sipping Margaritas With The Ladies
Death Moonspell Bison BC
Evocation Grand Supreme Blood Court Venomous Maximus Dragged Into Sunlight Bloodred Hourglass Fontanelle American Heritage Bad Powers Fen To -Mera Blueneck
Editorial... Issue #4 January 2013
4 - tiamat F E AT U R E S : 04. Tiamat 06. DEATH 08. MOONSPELL 10. Ghost Cult Top 15 2012 12. EVOCATION 14. Grand Supreme Blood Court 16. Dragged Into Sunlight 18. Venomous MaxiMus 20. Bloodred Hourglass 22. American Heritage 24. Bison BC 26. Bad Powers 28. FEN 30. TO-MERA 32. Blueneck 34. Fontanelle 36. REVIEWS 48. guest column: dean brown 49. guest column: j. bennett 50. barge to hell - LIVE REPORT FOLLOW US www.facebook.com/GhostCultMagazine twitter.com/GhostCultMag
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Happy new year! We’re back again with a brand new issue of your favourite metal magazine. Yours truly has survived the rigors of Christmas and New Years Eve, thanks to a balanced musical diet of Shining, Moonspell, Paradise Lost, Cult Of Luna, Deftones, Burst, Isis and Khoma. Not to mention some excellent Scotch and other beverages...Time to introduce the GC January issue! In this issue there are interviews with Moonspell, Tiamat, Death, American Heritage, Bison BC, Evocation, Grand Supreme Blood Court, ToMera, fen and many more. There’s also a report on the infamous Barge To Hell cruise, Ides Of Gemini’s J. Bennett shares his views on the metal world and Dean Brown shows some love to Acid Bath. The icing on the proverbial cake is our annual Ghost Cult Top 15. Enjoy reading this one. Go forth and spread the Ghost Cult gospel through all your channels! Expect the next GC issue to drop in early February. Cheers, Raymond Westland Chief Editor CREW... Editor: raymond westland [firstname.lastname@example.org] 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: (@) email@example.com Submissions: (@) firstname.lastname@example.org GHOST CULT MAGAZINE | 2
the records that changed my life
jan uary t o p 5 Raymond Westland 1. Cult Of Luna - Vertikal 2. Audrey Horne - Youngblood 3. Khoma - All Erodes 4. Kongh - Sole Creation 5. Omnium Gatherum - Beyond Pete Ringmaster
TOM MACLEAN (TO-MERA) 1. Use Your Illusion I and II - Guns’ n’ Roses
My first cassette tapes as a child and my first exposure to rock music! 2. Youthanasia - Megadeth
1. Devilman - Self Titled 2. Blynd - Punishment Unfolds 3. Nidingr - Greatest Of Deceivers 4. Deus Otiosus - Godless 5. Aeons - Aeons Black
My first encounter with thrash metal.
3. Keeper of the Seven Keys pt. II - Helloween.
1.Cult of Luna – Vertikal 2.Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay 3.Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind 4.Aoria – The Constant 5.The Secret – Agnus Dei James Conway 1.Pig Destroyer - Book Burner 2.Dead Beyond Buried - The Dark Era 3.Amenra - Mass V 4.Nine Covens - On The Dawning Of Light 5.Sylosis - Monolith
My first encounter with the European style. 4. Awake - Dream Theater.
My first prog metal CD. 5. City - Strapping Young Lad.
Tom Saunders 1.Deftones- Koi No Yokan 2.Neurosis- Honour Found In Decay 3.Dephosphorus- Night Sky Transform 4.Khoma- All Erodes 5.Bastard Sapling- Dragged from Our Restless...
Where I developed a taste for the extreme!
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TIAMAT IS A BAND WITH A REMARKABLE HISTORY. THIS SWEDISH ATMOSPHERIC/GOTHIC METAL OUTFIT STARTED OUT AS A DEATH METAL BAND NAMED AFTER ONE OF THE MOST HORRIFIC NAZI DEATH CAMPS IN WW II, BUT THEY CHANGED THEIR NAME AFTER A LOT OF HASSLE TO TIAMAT. OVER THE YEARS THE SWEDES SHED THEIR EXTREME METAL ROOTS IN FAVOUR OF A MORE PINK FLOYD-INSPIRED ATMOSPHERIC APPROACH. GHOST CULT CAUGHT UP WITH SINGER/GUITARIST JOHAN ENGLUND, THE CREATIVE MASTERMIND THE BAND. HE WAS MORE THAN HAPPY TO TALK ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM, ITS STUNNING ARTWORK AND HE DOESN’T MINCE WORDS ON TODAY’S BANDS... Words: Raymond Westland
Hi there and thank you for doing this interview. Your latest album, entitled The Scarred People, is met with a lot of praise from the press. Are you happy the way it came out?
e h T n O g n i Be d n A h c a e B i r a g r a Sipping M The tas With Ladies
I love the creative process behind the making of an album. The result doesn't interest me much. Maybe it scares me... You know... You think that after this brilliant masterpiece you can die in peace. Then you mix it, hear the result, love it for a day, get drunk with the band, and then you just wanna do another one and your fear of flying is back ‘cause you're still not finished. There’s a four year gap between your previous album and The Scarred People. What happened? I've been spending a lot of time in the sun. I love being on the beach sipping margaritas with my ladies and... nothing more really. I've had some very dark years in my life and now I'm enjoying the brighter ones :) I’d like to describe the new album as sort of musical summary of what you’ve done the past years. There are some harsher moments reminiscent of Wildhoney and A Deeper Kind Of Slumber, but also hints of the more Pink Floyd-inspired moments of Judas Christ and Prey. How do you see things?
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I totally agree with you when it comes to summing up what we've done earlier. Tiamat is Tiamat’s biggest influence. When we're in production we often go back to little details that maybe we have been part of in inventing…you know, a bit more monotone clean electric guitar picking like you did on that album.. What about a drum pattern like what you did on Whatever That Hurts... Stuff like that. In what way did the writing and recording sessions for The Scarred People differ from previous experiences? It's just life, isn't it? I think we lived the album more than recorded it. One day you might wake up with a hangover and a new tattoo. It's all part of life, and life changes. We've never had any great masterplan for doing an album. The album’s stunning artwork is made by Johan Edlund himself. Can you tell something about the making process and what it represents in lieu with the themes and subjects tackled on the album? I love contrasts and I love symbolism so I got a bit influenced by Crowley who also loved to mix contrasting things into something on his own. I know I might sound a bit abstract here, but that might also be part of the concept. I leave the rest up to the one that is willing to take his/her time.
Tiamat has evolved quite a bit musically over the years. How important is it for you as a person and a musician to evolve and keep on pushing creative boundaries? I live here and now. I have no interest whatsoever in the past or in the future. I'm happy it's still pretty hot here, and I'm thinking about going out for a cold beer once I've finished this interview. When you start working on new material to what extent do you keep the wishes and expectations of the Tiamat fanbase in mind versus fulfilling your own creative needs? We don't think at all. We work on instinct. If anybody would follow, that's a nice bonus. Tiamat has been around since the early nineties. What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed over the years and how did they affect the band? Today’s bands are sissies. Cool in the way that they don't take as much drugs as we used to do, but they really have to step up against the business. The younger bands destroyed a lot, doing everything for free... like prostitutes, and some of these bands sell like hell, but they're still not being fairly
treated, and they don't dare to put some demands cause someone else might steal their position. I understand it, but it's sad to see. I would never ever in my life crawl up someone else’s ass. Fuck no! Recently you guys changed labels. What are the biggest differences between working with Nuclear Blast and Napalm Records and how would you like to describe the partnership so far? We're happy on Napalm. I just can't see why this is interesting. I also changed from Citibank to Eurobank. We changed cat food from Friskies to Whiskas, and we changed washing powder 'cause my t-shirts started to itch. Which records did really resonate with you this year and why? Lana Del Rey - Born To Die. I got so happy to hear it, even though I got tears in my eyes. But it sounded like a proof of that the Crazy Frog days are finally over in music. Love her for bringing music back to music. Finally, what is next in terms of touring and other possible musical projects? We have a boat cruise in Sweden next week, and then one in the Caribbean in January. Nothing else booked as of now. www.facebook.com/tiamat
I live here and now. I have no interest whatsoever in the past or in the future. I'm happy it's still pretty hot here, and I'm thinking about going out for a cold beer once I've finished this interview.
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Watching Over Chuck Schuldiner’s Legacy There have been many Death re-issues and re-releases. Why did you decide to re-release Spiritual Healing now?
DEATH – A BAND SO TIMELESS AND PIVOTAL, THEY REALLY NEED NO INTRODUCTION. AN ABSOLUTELY VITAL COG IN THE DEATH METAL MACHINE, THE BAND’S THIRD ALBUM SPIRITUAL HEALING HAS BEEN RE-ISSUED WITH A HORDE OF SPECIAL BONUS FEATURES. IT’S THE NEXT IN THE LINE OF RELAPSE RECORDS’ ON-GOING DEATH RE-ISSUE CAMPAIGN THAT’S REINTRODUCING THE WORKS OF DEATH AND CHUCK SCHULDINER TO THE WORLD. RELAPSE’S PRODUCT MANAGER DREW JUERGENS EXPLAINS ALL. Words: Jonathan Keane
Unfortunately, there’s no intricate story behind this question, just that Spiritual Healing was the next release that was in the queue to get worked on. What makes this re-issue unique and why do you think people should pick it up? (Even if they have previously owned it) Well, for starters, Spiritual Healing sonically sounds much more pummelling and full with the new re-mastering and the bonus material is pretty amazing (and humorous this time around) and a must have for any and all Death fanatics like myself. I’m a hardcore Death fan, but my Death upbringing started with Human and then grew from there. That being said, I am more partial to the later years of Death than the early ones as my Death education started when Death went through their own aural evolution from being a death metal band to a progressive and technical metal band. I went back and checked out the older Death albums after Individual Thought Patterns came out and loved them for their own qualities. I regularly listen to Human, Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic, and The Sound of Perseverance, but what I really love about this Spiritual Healing re-issue is that this reissue made me a fan of the older Death
material all over again and gave me a much deeper appreciation for the earlier material. There is a killer live set on the third bonus disc of the 3CD deluxe version that is from ‘Streets’ in New Rochelle, NY. The live set encompasses the full Spiritual Healing line up and everyone was on their A-game and gave a killer performance. Bill Andrews might not have been Death‘s most technical drummer, but damn that dude was right on the money each and every time. Who do you feel the re-releases appeal to more – die-hard fans/collectors or new younger fans discovering Death? And why? My first reaction to your question is that the Death 3CD deluxe re-issues appeal to the more die-hard fans and collectors for sure with heaps full of exclusive material on the 3CD special editions. But as a whole, we’ve seen a huge resurgence in Death across the board and there is a completely new generation who are getting into Death’s music and it’s almost 50/50 to an extent. I went to the Death To All tribute to Chuck Schuldiner Tour in New York this year and there were just as many younger folks there as there were older folks my age and older, which is pretty awesome. There are different packages of the album available, notably the 2CD and 3CD packages. Do you feel that you may be putting too many bonus features on the re-issues such as “joke/jam tracks” and various
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rehearsal recordings? Do you ever feel like it can run the risk of being overkill? I don’t think there can ever be too much bonus material. As a Death fan, I feel honoured and privileged to head up the revitalization and re-issue of Death’s catalogue. When I think about these re-issues, I come at them from a fan’s perspective, because ultimately that’s what I am. I want all these crazy and insane bonus tracks because I can’t get enough of Death. All of the bonus material to me is a must have for anyone who grew up with these records and anyone who might be interested in Death now. I know there are more than your usual Joke & Jam tracks on Spiritual Healing than there were on previous releases, but that’s only because of the members who were in the band at the time. Eric Greif [Death estate manager and lawyer] told me that Chuck could be a jokester at heart and you saw that with some of the crazy joke songs he created that wound up on Control Denied’s The Fragile Art of Existence re-issue. For Spiritual Healing, there was a totally unique dynamic of Terry Butler, Bill Andrews and James Murphy who added to the insanity of the music writing and rehearsing. A lot of the bonus material mirrors the awesome liner notes that we get from the previous members and I think this package as a whole leaves no stone unturned for the long time and new Death fans. Do you think these bonus features give the older listeners an insight into the album’s creation? Absolutely. I get a kick out of every single Death track that’s on each of the re-issues. They were obviously never meant to be heard, but I am thankful and grateful that they are there for everyone to hear. It’s pretty amazing to hear the evolution of each of the songs from their rehearsal tracks to pre-production demos to the final studio albums and even the in-between joke tracks the band recorded while they were hanging out. What blows me away is the wholeness of some of these joke and jam tracks on Spiritual Healing, in that they are fully realized songs that the band took time writing, but never played live or any time else in their history. I think some of the more appealing things are to hear the newly unearthed pre-Human writing sessions and how those songs started out before Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal were involved. The songs have an almost primal feeling to them when Terry Butler, Bill Andrews and James Murphy began working on them with Chuck. Various people contribute to the writing of the liner notes, like James Murphy and Chuck’s sister Beth. Do you feel their stories and experiences that accompany this re-issue offer some new perspectives on how and when the album was created?
The liner notes that are contributed to each and every re-issue are vital pieces of information and back story for each and every Death fan and absolutely essential to understanding the internal history of Death that everyone might not know, no matter how much of a fanatic they are. We all wish Chuck could be here with us now to give us the insight into everything Death in the past that wasn’t highly publicised, but all the contributing liner notes from previous members and family members are just as crucial and poignant. All of the liner notes are absolutely killer, but some liner notes that really stand out in my mind are Gene Hoglan’s liner notes for Individual Thought Patterns, Terry Butler’s liner notes for Spiritual Healing, Richard Christy’s liner notes for the live collection Vivus and Travis Smith’s liner notes for The Sound Of Perseverance. There is something uniquely humorous and truly priceless about the liner notes that deem themselves essential in every regard. As previously mentioned, there have been quite a few re-releases. What do you feel the re-release accomplish in regards to the legacy of Death and Chuck? Each and every re-issue reinforces Chuck as the indisputable godfather of death metal, creating the genre with Mantas and Death. I think that Death was widely known in the underground for these accolades, along with somewhat of a mystique around Chuck and his life. If you weren’t in the know in the underground metal scene, this information wasn’t necessarily common knowledge. Relapse in connection with Perseverance Holdings / the Schuldiner family fully believes that Chuck’s moniker and genius should be a household word and everyone should know about the glory of Death and their extensive catalogue. This re-issue not only bring Chuck and Death’s name back into the lime light after years of being unavailable, but also tries to paint a picture of Chuck as a human being in addition to being a guitar hero and god. The intricate nature of these re-issues, the in depth information behind each record and their ‘no stone left unturned’ focus accomplishes that goal. How much do you feel the influence of Death still matters to this day? Is it only growing as the years go on? Death and Chuck’s influence knows no boundaries. The lyrical topics and music transcend contemporary notions of time with their ageless themes of human emotion and turmoil and highly innovative song writing. Spiritual Healing as an album can be viewed as particularly piercing in this day and age with its topics of religious corruption and idealism with the song ‘Spiritual Healing’, human / women’s rights in relation to abortion and the question of where life begins with the recent political elections in the US
with the song ‘Living Monstrosity’, technology’s advancements and influence on population control and growth with the song ‘Genetic Reconstruction’, I could go on and on. Spiritual Healing was written and originally released in 1990, but the lyrical topics still relate to our current everyday lives. As far as Human, Individual Thought Patterns, and The Sound Of Perseverance goes, there are topics of betrayal, jealousy, spirituality and one’s own mortality that anyone can relate to at any given point or time in their life. On a musical side, I don’t think anyone has really picked the torch up from where Chuck Schuldiner left off. His playing was not only technical and awe inspiring but beautifully melodic and catchy and unique. The only other person that I can think of that was as revolutionary of a guitarist for extreme music comparable to Chuck would be Dimebag Darrell. I might get some flak for saying this, but that’s how I feel. I still to this day see bands and their members wearing Death shirts (bootlegs or official designs) and I can hear Chuck’s influence in extreme music played to this day. I think Death and Chuck’s influence still runs rampant and I proudly know that I’ve helped that along. Are more re-issues and re-releases on the way and, more importantly, is anything previously unreleased left to be unearthed? Absolutely, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. We will be finishing out the rest of the re-issues next year with the two remaining titles in Death’s catalogue, being Leprosy and Scream Bloody Gore. We’ve been fortunate enough to have access to so much unreleased rehearsal and demo material that each release is going to be amazing, as they’ve been so far. We have some amazing bonus material for Leprosy, but that’s all I’ll say for now. There is so much material for Scream Bloody Gore that it’s going to be jam packed with amazing extras. Chuck did a ton of demos and rehearsal recordings back in the tape trading days prior to Scream Bloody Gore coming out in addition to the infamous aborted sessions for Scream Bloody Gore, it’s going to be a diehard Death fan’s wet dream! We have a lot of awesome preSymbolic material that was never released that will see the light of day. Once all of the CD versions of the re-issues are done, you should also look out for the re-issues of each record on LP, made using the studio 24 bit masters for superior audio quality. I can’t wait for everyone to experience the rest of the re-issues, and to enjoy Spiritual Healing as much I have organising it. As Terry Butler so eloquently put in his liner notes “Remember…Practice what you Preach” and let the metal flow. “Spiritual Healing” (Reissue) is out now on Relapse Records.
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The Alpha And Omega Of Moonspell Earlier this year Moonspell released a double album in the form of Alpha Noir/Omega White. On behalf of Ghost Cult guest writer Friso van Dalen caught up with frontman and singer Fernando Ribeiro just before they went on stage. They talked at length about the band’s latest effort, Fernando’s preference for intimate club shows and the old Moonspell days... Words: Friso van Dalen
Hi Fernando, thank you for this interview. How are things in the Moonspell world? We’re doing great and this is the last day of the tour. We survived another tour and we’re quite happy about that, haha. The band worked on Alpha Noir/Omega Black for more than a year. Is that the normal pace for you guys? We actually worked more than a year on Alpha Noir. People have to understand when you have released a couple of albums in a row like we did with Memorial and Night
Eternal there was a lot of live activity involved promoting those records. We toured a couple of times around the world and we played on a host of different festivals. In the intervals during those tours we wrote the album with the intention of taking our time. We didn’t want to rush things and we were really focussed on writing great songs. So yes, it took a little longer this time, but we also ended up recording enough material for a bonus album in the form of Omega White. In the end it really pays off, because the fans have more music to listen to. Can you tell something about the sources of inspiration for Alpha Noir and for Moonspell in general? Other bands definitely. Bands get their inspiration from listening to other bands and other kinds of music. When we started with Moonspell more than twenty years we were heavily inspired by certain kinds of avant-garde and black metal bands, like Bathory and Celtic Frost. Eventually we moved away from that as we started getting into other styles of music. We’re also very inspired by gothic bands, like Fields Of The Nephilim, Sisters Of Mercy and Type O Negative. We took those influences and we forged our own sound from those influences. Dreams and life in general are also great sources for inspiration. Lyrically Moonspell is all about humanity in general, our fears, unfulfilled dreams and desires. That also goes for our latest album. You touched the songwriting approach for Alpha Noir a little a while back. Can you delve a little deeper please?
Sure. Nowadays we’re able to record most of our stuff in our own studio in Lisbon. We have our own place for many years now and we gradually transformed it into our own recording space. This allows us to spend much more time on writing songs and honing our craft. The songwriting for Alpha Noir was a really intense experience, but at the same time it went quite smoothly. The creative juices were flowing all the time. Generally speaking we get an idea of what an album should be like and work from there. It’s basically fitting the pieces together. For Alpha Noir we wanted to have extreme songs but at the same time flirt with our gothic and atmospheric sides as well. When we have a general idea of what an album will be about it really helps us to get focussed and speed things up. So at what point did you decide to put out a sort of double album? The idea actually presented itself. After the first three songs we had some more metal oriented material which ended up on Alpha Noir and the more gothic rock oriented songs which ultimately ended up on Omega Black. Our main problem whether we should or shouldn’t fit those songs on one single album. On Night Eternal and even Wolfheart we have songs like ‘Erotic Alchemy’ but also ‘Alma Mater’ or ‘Scorpion Flower’. We wanted to do something different and release two different albums, instead of releasing another Moonspell album like the ones before Alpha Noir/Omega White. In this way people can experience both sides from Moonspell without those sides getting in each other's way. I think the result is quite good. There will always be people who
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prefer the old ways and we will return to the single album concept, because you can’t put out double albums all the time. However, it was a really good and fulfilling experience for us and the several different formats for Alpha Noir/Omega White turned it really great, especially the vinyl one. It was really good and original idea. The album was released almost half a year ago so you had some time to let it all sink in. Are you still happy with it or would you like to alter some elements if you had the chance? I’m still very happy with it and the song material works even better in a live setting. When you’re working on an album so intensely as we did, you risk the chance of losing your focus. It’s when you play the songs in a live set you can feel it coming alive. The Alpha Noir/Omega White material is very vibrant and that’s the aspect I really like about the albums. We will be playing these songs for well into 2013. It’s also a great opportunity to develop some new ideas along the way for new records and possible other projects. Right now we really enjoy playing the new songs. They bring a lot of power to our live show. Moonspell is known for doing long tours and playing lots of shows. Aren’t you afraid that at some point things may become routine or dare I say boring? No, live shows are never boring. Sometimes the surroundings of a show may be boring when you play in a club that isn’t as engaging as the 013 or when it’s located in an area where there’s nothing to do. Many fans and other bands ask us how we manage to keep a certain level of enthusiasm up like we do. A lot of that has to do with the sheer enjoyment of playing live. Hands down, playing live is the reason why I like to tour. It’s not any sort of partying or the free beers; it’s really the live aspect of Moonspell that I enjoy the most. I like working in a studio as well. The simple answer is when things like that become boring, you’d better stop being in a band. Every show is different especially when you’re performing in cities and countries you’ve never been before. Every crowd is different. Sometimes they’re with you from the first note that is played and at other times you have to work really hard to get them going. There’s always a new element to that and it sure beats to waiting for a show, fixing any broken equipment or spending long days in a tour bus. It’s the time we spend on stage that makes it all worthwhile. So what do you enjoy more, doing intimate club shows or playing on big metal festivals? Well, we started playing on festivals fairly
early on. In the beginning it was very strange I have to admit. I had a hard time adjusting to the whole festival atmosphere. As time progressed we got in a certain groove and we became more and more known among the metal masses. We had some really great experiences playing festivals all around the world. Fortarock in the Netherlands was a great experience and it was the last festival we did and Graspop in Belgium was amazing as well and the same goes for Wacken Open Air in Germany. To be totally honest the best place to experience Moonspell live is in a club. That’s where our light show and all the theatrics really come alive the way we envision a Moonspell should be. On a festival it’s more rock and roll. It’s more about conveying a certain amount of energy and work with bigger crowds. You have to win people over who aren’t necessarily interested in seeing Moonspell. That’s quite a challenge. Generally speaking, I prefer doing club shows. You almost seem to have quite an obsession with wolves...
up and expand on it. They enjoy the moment, but they forget that you need to tour constantly in order to stay noticed. Being in a successful band is not a nine to five job, we never had a six month break from touring in our career, so that means spending a lot of years on the road. Not everyone is cut out to do that. We don’t have a real rock and roll mentality, so many things we do are perfectly normal to us, but they’re not for our family and friends. They ask us what life in a tour bus is like and what it’s like to wake up in Germany one day and to get awake in Holland the next day. That’s all part of the job for us. It’s not a lack of quality, but it’s the lack of really willing to commit yourself and also the lack of being smart businesswise. It’s also about seizing chances. For a Portuguese band it’s harder to break through than for a band from the UK or the US. We have two choices, we can either sit in the dark and bitch about it or we can put up a fight and go for it. In Moonspell we always choose to put a fight and not being side tracked because we’re from Portugal. In fact, it’s an advantage for us, because there aren’t many bands around from my country.
Yes, I almost turned into a wolf during the shooting of the video clip for Alpha Noir, haha. The whole imagery around wolves is so powerful and there’s a lot to learn from them which apply to Moonspell since the very beginning. We were kind of alone out there, since we’re the only band coming from Portugal at the time. We had to create a sort of wolf pack consisting of our fans and the band. That’s why the wolf imagery always comes up. It sort of symbolizes our attitude in Moonspell and it keeps coming back on our songs and albums, especially on Wolfheart. On Alpha Noir we decided to write a song about a wolf man, a figure that’s not really wolf nor man. but it’s also a metaphor for the beast inside mankind and whether we should tame that or let it go loose at times. Wolves are really inspiring to us and they are the legitimate children of the night. We’re turning forty pretty soon and we’re from a generation that likes to give meaning to music and go a little deeper at times than your average pirate metal band for instance.
One of the key elements in a Moonspell show is the fact that you come on stage wearing a mask. Why is that?
In your previous answer you said that Moonspell was the only Portuguese band in the metal scene at the time, but in all honesty you’re the only Portuguese metal band I know of I’m afraid...
It certainly doesn’t get much better than that as far as touring and performing goes. We already did the 10.000 tons of metal cruise before, which was a lot of fun. At first we didn’t really know what to expect from it, but it was an incredible experience. The whole atmosphere, the way people mingled with their favourite bands, the service and the travelling were simply top notch. I was really stoked when I hear we got booked for Barge To Hell. Also a lot of my favourite bands are going to perform there, like Rotting Christ, Possessed and Artillery. It’s like being on vacation while doing the thing you like doing most. It’s just perfect.
Yes, it’s really strange why no other band from my country really followed suit. When we started to get really noticed with Wolfheart back in 1995 we were really the only band around which got great exposure. It’s difficult to explain why really. It’s not the lack of quality, because there were metal band before Moonspell and there will plenty of bands around after we’re gone. It’s more a mentality thing. Portuguese people tend to go not all the way. When they manage to achieve something they don’t really follow
On this tour yes. I use it for a song called ‘Axis Mundi’ and it’s very inspired by gladiators. I try to impersonate a gladiator, so that’s why I wear a mask. I bought from an armourer. I’m very picky on how the band presents itself on stage. When I go to a show I can get really annoyed when a band has a sloppy intro or give a weak performance. Especially in metal a show has to be big like Judas Priest and King Diamond for instance. It’s all about theatrics and I can think they are an important part of a metal show. At times I make a fool of myself, but it’s important to make an impression which get people in the mood for the show. That’s why I do it. Time for the final question. You’re going to perform on Barge To Hell, which is a seven day metal cruise between Florida and the Bahamas. What are your expectations? I’m sure it doesn’t get much better than that…
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WORDS NOEL OXFORD
WHAT A YEAR WE’VE HAD, EH? TWELVE MONTHS OF COLLAPSING CURRENCIES, FREAK WEATHER AND TEEMING SOCIAL UNREST. NO WONDER EVERYONE’S MISERABLE AS SIN. FERTILE GROUND, YOU’LL AGREE, FOR A BUMPER CROP OF ANGSTY, SOUL-RENDING HEAVY METAL CLASSICS, AND 2012 HASN’T DISAPPOINTED ANY OF US. IF IT DISAPPOINTED YOU, YOU’RE A BUFFOON. We asked each member of our ever-illustrious staff roster to select their 15 favourite records of the year. The results were then scientifically tabulated using mathematical spreadsheet logic and arcane alchemies, in order to produce the Official Ghost Cult Top Fifteen Heavy Metal Albums of The Year of our Lord Twenty Twelve. But be assured, this list is just the tip of the iceberg; there’s been an astonishing range of great releases this year. So, be sure to have a look through our archives to see what else we’ve enjoyed over the past few months. The fact that only one of my picks made it into the final list is irrelevant. I’m not bitter, I’m just backwards.
15. Pallbearer - Sorrow And Extinction (Profound Lore) A crushing debut from these Arkansas doomers. Critics found much to love in the Sabbath-worship of Pallbearer, but most especially the mournful mood that hung around Sorrow And Extinction; due perhaps in no small measure to the clean Ozzy-ish vocals of Brett Campbell, laid over cataclysmic funereal sludge. Pallbearable!
14. Enslaved - Riitiir (Nuclear Blast) Here’s what Ghost Cult’s Chris Ward had to say about the latest from proggy black metal architects Enslaved:“It has all the makings of a modern classic and is certainly an album that will be spoken about for quite a while – or until their next one pushes things even further. But until then this slick, modern, progressive metal album with a blackened heart is as vital and exciting as metal gets.”Please write in if you know what a ‘Riitiir’ is, because we’ve got no idea.
13. Pig Destroyer - Book Burner (Relapse) A slow year for grindcore was broken by the tumultuous bloody racket of Pig Destroyer, to the delight of angry young gentlemen everywhere. Tom Saunders on Book Burner, for Ghost Cult:“It's incredible how Pig Destroyer make a song that lasts barely more than a minute sound so complete. [...] Whether you're new to grind, and want to know what the fuss is about, or whether you're a grind veteran, desperate for more, I can't recommend Book Burner highly enough.”
12. Ihsahn - Eremita (Candlelight)
The fourth album by black metal Emperor Ihsahn caused a bit of a stir around the internet and beyond. The product of another collaboration with Jens Bogren and featuring a guest spot by none other than Devin Townsend, fans of blackened Norwegian prog were treated very kindly indeed this year.
11. Ne Oblisvicaris - Portal Of I
(Aural Music) Another cracking debut. Perhaps those rumours I’ve been trying to spread about the death of heavy metal are unfounded. More proggy black metal, as if you hadn’t heard enough of that by now. Portal of I surprised, though, with the sheer onslaught of extreme technicality it presented. Critics had their work cut out, but found it well worth the effort. Indeed, some appeared to have had their minds irreparably melted by the halfway point of their reviews, if the grammar is anything to go by.
10. Gojira - L'enfant Sauvage
(Roadrunner) The highly-anticipated major label debut of death ‘n’ groovers Gojira took a step in a more melodic direction than previous works, if reviews are to believed. But not to the detriment of technicality or complexity.
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9. Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
(Century Media) Another day, another album by a marquee heavy metal name. 2012 seemed like the year everyone made their comeback. The thirteenth LP by Paradise Lost united fans in praise of their gradual return to traditional, bittersweet, gothic doom.
8. Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud
(InsideOut) I remember when this came out. I was in hospital and everyone on Twitter was raving on and on and on about it. In my doped-out state, all I could think about was what a horrible name Epicloud was. It still is. Nevertheless, it’s the fifth album in three years from the busiest man in music, and that must be approaching some kind of Guinness world record. Fans and critics alike revelled in Epicloud’s unashamedly poppy approach to heavy-devyness, finding themselves absolutely riddled with catchy hooks by the end of it.
Oh hello. Here’s the only album I had on my list. What a belter, as well. I had a bit of a Matt Pike-a-thon this year, actually, between High on Fire and the Dopesmoker remaster. De Vermis Mysteriis is utterly fucking superb. A preponderance of queasy riffs, energetic clattering and Pike’s wet roar combine to produce an relentlessly pummelling experience, and there are some big bad rockingchair grooves tucked away towards the back of the album. And if there’s been a better song than King of Days released this year, I’d like to know about it (warning opinions such as this are subject to violent change).
6. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph) Another hotly-anticipated release that didn’t fail to delight. Melding their blistering hardcore sound into other genres allowed this album, the band’s eighth, to find new sonic territory.“It’s songs like ‘Coral Blue’ or ‘Sadness Comes Home’ where the band meld influences or tries something new that really make an impact on the listener. [...] Consistently brilliant,” said Brayden Bagnall, for Ghost Cult.
2. Between The Buried And Me - Parallax II: Future Sequence (Metal Blade)
4. Baroness - Yellow & Green (Relapse)
7. Deftones - Koi No Yokan
(Warner Music) Oh finally, something we’ve reviewed. 2010’s Diamond Eyes impressed almost everyone, so with a weight of expectation behind them, what do Deftones deliver? Here’s Ghost Cult’s Mat Davies: “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. [...] 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.”
singalong choruses, or tunes with less than a five-minute runtime — and bravely bushwhack uncharted territories for the last quarter-century.”
I’m not the biggest fan of Baroness, but they’ve had an absolute fucking bastard of a year, the poor sods, so we’ll let them off. I don’t know anyone who didn’t absolutely rave about Yellow & Green, which is impressive for a double album. The band’s heavier, sludgier tendencies were incorporated in a far wider musical palette for this record, including pop hooks, folky meanderings and alt-rock angst; all of which left some critics scratching their heads as to whether it was ‘metal’ or not.Here’s a hint, idiots: It doesn’t matter.
Here’s yet another band who are ripping up the rulebook to produce challenging music of mind-bending complexity. Seems like there’s a lot of it about, especially in this article. Ian Girle reviewed this record for Ghost Cult:“To conduct an in-depth analysis of each song would take more words than I’m allowed here (I usually make notes before writing the review proper, and for this album I ended up with six pages of the damn things) [...] This is essential listening, easily one of the key releases of 2012 and a genuine landmark in progressive music. If you don’t buy another album this year make sure you get this one.”Crikey.
1. Anathema - Weather Systems (Kscope)
3. Neurosis - Honour Found In Decay (Neurot)
5. High On Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis (Century Media) What’s that? Yet another highly anticipated 2012 release from a much-beloved heavy metal innovator? You don’t say. 2013 is going to be a desert compared to this. Ghost Cult’s Metal Matt Longo said:“The subtle connections between [...] dense layers is where Neurosis commands their muse. It’s what has allowed them to successfully sidestep well-treaded paths — like
The theme of 2012 is brought full circle. Once again, a big name, a highly-anticipated record. At the time of writing, doomsday has not yet arrived, but if it should, at least we know that heavy metal went out with a bang. And yet our favourite record of the year isn’t necessarily the heaviest. Anathema’s poignant way with an atmosphere evoked both inspiration and mourning in listeners, apparently unable to settle on whether the record was life-affirming or melancholic. A sparing use of distortion provided a subtle contrapuntal emphasis, but it was the vocal harmonies of Vincent Cavanaugh and Lee Douglas that critics were most fond of.
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Illusions Of Grandeur Words: Chantelle Marie
GHOST CULT’S CHANTELLE MARIE WAS PRETTY IMPRESSED WITH THE NEW EVOCATION ALBUM, ENTITLED ILLUSION OF GRANDEUR. SHE CAUGHT UP WITH DRUMMER JANNE BODÉN WHO WAS MORE THAN HAPPY TO SHARE HIS VIEWS ON THE NEW RECORD, THE GOTHENBURG METAL SCENE, KEEPING THE FANBASE HAPPY, AND THE MANY CHANGES THE BAND ENCOUNTERED OVER THE YEARS. Illusion Of Grandeur was released back in September. How has it been received so far? It’s has been well accepted and raised by media, and by fans as well. Some old fans still think the older albums are more for them but there are far more fans that like the latest. Evocation has evolved somewhat over the years. On your latest album a lot of early Gothenburg-styled melodic death metal influences made their mark. What do you find inspiring about that scene? Gothenburg scene has always been close to Evocation and so has Sthlm scene been too, and since the band is located in between we have been influenced by both
scenes for ages, but for Illusions album we just wrote the music that felt best for us at the time, and I guess without even reflecting on what actually was written, or what influences we had, and of that came Illusions of grandeur. The band has also released a sort of retrospective album full of old demo recordings and extensive liner notes. How did that came about and has it sparked some interest in the Evocation back catalogue? Yeah, it has been really good. At starts fans of older times reacted because we already released a demo compilation on CD/LP a few years ago, but in my opinion that release was quite lame, without photos or anything extra, so with this later release the reactions was really nice since the Evocation fans could find all this extra in the release, and we did a hell of a job to find all the material that is on it, photos, rehearsal songs etc. It´s not easy to dig up old dusty boxes from the basement, that you had forgotten for a looong time hehe!!
You have been around since 1991. How have you seen the metal scene change in this time? The Metal scene has changed a lot through the years of course, just look at the studio and recording equipment, these days you don’t need to actually be a good musician to record something worth listen to or something that sound good. Back in the days when we used old Ampex tape recorders, it was necessary to be able to play your instrument, you couldn´t fool the tape recorder hehe!! If you failed you just had to start record from the beginning again, today, it´s a whole different story… What has been your most memorable live show you’ve played to date? I have to say Summerbreeze 2009! It was amazing and terrifying at the same time, since we had 8 live cams recording for a live DVD and lots of audience. It was memorable for sure...and the show went super!!
When you write new material do you feel any pressure as to live up to a certain quality standard or to satisfy the wishes of your fanbase?
You’ve toured with a lot of bands with varying styles over the years – What would be your dream gig line-up to headline?
Both yes and no…. Well, you always feel pressure when creating something than people are gonna listen to, and judge, but on the other hand, you can’t keep everybody satisfied. Then again we feel the most pressure from ourselves to deliver something worth releasing.
Oh?? That’s a hard one! Well, after a few minutes of thinking, it would probably be a tour with only Swedish bands such as Entombed, Unleashed and Evocation, and it would have been nice to let the audience decide which band plays first, second and third on each venue hehe!!
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What does the future hold for Evocation? I wish that I could see into the future and tell you hehe! But since I don’t have those skills I just can hope that the future treats us good, and get us out on a good tour and a bunch of nice summer festivals for 2013, and that we build our fan base even more with our new mates at Century Media.
I’m taking you all out for a drink – What’s your poison?
In closing, do you have any last comments for the fans out there?
Captain Morgan and Coke, Jim Beam and Coke and of course Beer! That would make me melt like butter in sunshine!
Yeah I actually do, keep supporting the metal scene, and see you guys on the next tour. http://evocation.se
you always feel pressure when creating something than people are gonna listen to, and judge, but on the other hand, you can’t keep everybody satisfied.
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Grand Supreme Blood Court
The Resurrection Of
THE NAME GRAND SUPREME BLOOD COURT MAY NOT SOUND TOO FAMILIAR TO MOST OF US, BUT THE BAND BOASTS SOME OF THE MOST RENOWNED MUSICIANS FROM THE DUTCH DEATH METAL SCENE. GHOST CULT CAUGHT UP WITH GUITARIST ERIC DANIELS. HE TOLD CANDIDLY ABOUT HIS DECADE LONG RETRAITE FROM ANY METAL AND MUSIC RELATED ACTIVITIES, PUTTING THE BAND TOGETHER, HIS DISLIKE FOR TECHNICAL DEATH METAL AND HIS APPRECIATION FOR WELL-WRITTEN SONGS. Words: Raymond Westland
Thank you for doing this interview. Can you share some light on GSBC came to live? You’re welcome. The original idea was to do a project with the name The Company Of Undertakers. The reason it was not lifted from the ground was the busy schedule and commitments of everyone in this project. Some riffs kept laying down, nothing picked up, and also some complete song-parts. The long distance between our home-towns also wasn't very lucrative. But after a while Bob, Martin and myself we looked through the material we made that time ago, went into the rehearsal-room and finished two complete songs. Those songs also are being recorded on the album. Because this was a new start and beginning, Martin came up with the name Grand Supreme Blood Court. It was born and to be meant as a band of its own, not a project-status anymore.
After quitting Asphyx you decided to leave the music industry entirely and he gave up guitar playing altogether. What happened and what made him decide to pick up the guitar again? I was focusing on other things. Best to see it as a long time rest I needed, after some crazy musical years. After the “On the wings…” album we did some shows and I needed to focus on other things. I got a job and climbed into it till today. It took me some years to reach the job I wanted to do and succeeded in that. I also had a family life, but 4 years ago it went out not so good. I don’t want to go into detail, it’s too personal, but my best friends know and want to keep it this way. Most important is that I needed those years to be a musician again till today. I almost never touched my guitar in those 9 years, and looking back it’s good I did not. All inspiration I kept inside now I used for the album. A fresh start and in another time.
I never thought it would happen again, I also told the other guys, but that’s the most beautiful things in life. I am writing music for 2 years already and those hidden inspiration was seeing the daylight when I picked up the guitar again. It was Bob actually who gave me the inspiration and urge to step in again, however we did not planned and spoke about this. It was just a feeling I had to pick up that guitar again, just to see for myself how it will turn out. From two years now I play my guitars every day about one hour. I found out I missed it so much, be creative and composing again. It gives me a sort of happiness inside, a well-done feeling, no matter if I play only for myself. Lots of things happened at the personal side in those 9 years. Now it feels good to make music again, and most important to have my best friends to make the music with. Grand Supreme Blood Court is the consummate name for any death metal act. It
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also reminds me of the name of a court set up by the Duke of Alva in the eighty years war. Is there some connection? Well, we know that story however the band name was the intention to a mix between the Grand Jury and the Supreme Court as they exists. The name is bound together; it stands for justice on its most brutal way. No mercy, no convictions, just carry out the tasks to die. But we will dig up that Alva story, always nice to have some concepts in future. The album is a concept-album about the Blood Court. All lyrics are bounded together for this idea. Martin wrote the whole concept. It is too much detail to tell about the lyrics but the main inspiration is that the Blood Court is coming on earth, don’t know where it came from, and will judge everyone inside the court a brutal death. When you are picked out and dragged inside the court you know already going to die. Which way you’re gonna die you don’t know that’s the decision about the grand jury and judges. After the task is done for the Blood Court it will vanish to another place nobody knows where. This is the story for the album like a comic is written for it, packed in brutal lyrics and of course music. What I really like about the album is besides the vintage old school death/doom feeling, you guys write actual songs, instead of a pile of technical riffs and blast beats. What is your perspective on this? That’s absolutely right. We hate technical riffs and blast beats, it is simply not our thing. We like to write songs with drive, passion and feeling. That has nothing to do with being technical on the instruments. We like the heaviness, the brutality of mid-tempo and doom riffs. In this traditional style of music we invented the tempo changes in the beginning period of Asphyx, and it’s our trademark sort of speak. So that is what we stand for, brutal doom heavy mid tempo music played with our hearts and souls.
the album. It all fitted together, our cooperation as 2 guitar players, tandem wise, same ideas and thoughts about the structure of the songs. This is a golden combination. Despite the band’s best effort to stay clear of any Asphyx references there are certain musical similarities to be detected. What are your own thoughts on this? GSBC is that different, that the whole process of making songs is way different from the other bands. The composing between Alwin and me on guitar is way different, we have our own tasks, and its turning in his own way what GSBC is sounding like, the structure of the songs. It did not occur to me that I should be careful in making riffs about comparisons. I just composed like also Alwin did, the riffs which suits best to us, and we joined our strength together. Of course we have our own way and style of playing that is heard in the other bands too, hey its men’s work, not like machines turning on with a different character. Martin’s voice, Bob’s pounding style, of course that’s similar. The whole start for GSBC is just to spread the doom-death in that way we wanted and felt about the music. I do not wink at the other bands. I think the death metal scene is richer with a very good band, and that’s what counts to me. Other members from Grand Supreme Blood Court are active in Hail Of Bullets, Asphyx and some other bands as well. I can imagine that this makes planning of any larger scale touring quite difficult. How do you work around this?
GSBC is off to a good start with Century Media backing the band. How did they come into view? We had offers from 3 record companies who were interested in GSBC. As you’re right, according to the past relationship with Century Media, and they were the ones who really took interest and had some sort of schedule how to release the album. It’s a big family, very professional and the relationship is friendship. They know what they want from us, and we know what to expect from them, although they surprises us in a nice way every time. The people there are hard workers, dedicated to the right kind of metal, and with a kind way of correspondence. All of that made us decide to get involved, to build up the relationship between band and record company. I’ve always worked with them in the early Asphyx years and it felt comfortable. So never change a winning team! It seems the Dutch metal scene thrives on two pillars, namely female fronted/gothic rock/metal and old-school death metal. Are there any specific reasons why Dutch old school death metal is doing so well at the moment? I really have no idea why the traditional death metal is doing ok, just see it as a revival, or just the lack at other good music, or the urge to play brutal music; in our case it’s the last choice, and the circumstances all went this way. To us we never planned for this, it just happened, I really hope some good bands will rise with the right spirit and believes, to say, clean the current scene with to the bone death metal.
What do you remember most vividly about the writing and recording sessions for Bown Down Before The Blood Count? The recordings started with Bob and me, we just rehearsed in the mornings and recorded later the day. It went very ok, also the long time we didn’t play together for years. That was a really nice experience, it felt good and trustful. Further the recordings went relaxed, from the start to the end. We recorded the album faze-wise, spread about in 1 year, no stress, no hurry just to have in mind to record the album. We had lots of fun, in both studios. The writing process was done by Alwin and me, and we had lots of fun and motivation to connect our ideas and riffs together as they can be heard on
No touring plans considering indeed the busy schedule of everyone involved in GSBC. We do live weekend shows; our first show is at 1st December in Ingolstadt Germany, the premiere-show of GSBC. Also we do like to play the festival shows. We just see what's coming our way. Our agency TMR has to plan this for all the bands involved, and that’s a good case.
Time for the final question. What is next in terms of touring and possible other projects? As I mentioned before, we are not planning to tour, we like the single shows, picky about that, we just see what happens and coming our way, for now we enjoy the release of the album. Side projects beside our band, well to me, no projects or what so ever, I put my energy in this band, and only in this band.
“...we stand for, brutal doom heavy mid tempo music played with our hearts and souls...”
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Dragged Into Sunlight
Words: Brayden Bagnall
Balaclava-wearing black metal mentalists Dragged into Sunlight had a pretty great 2011, with a landmark appearance at Damnation. Now, they promise you ‘40 minutes of madness, depression and isolation’ on their latest album Widowmaker, out last month. Ghost Cult’s Brayden Bagnall sat down for a chat with the man known only as ‘T’, to find out more. First of all, thanks for your time. How would you describe your music to someone who has not yet listened to the band? Everything heavier and louder than everything else. Dragged Into Sunlight are an enigmatic
band; you rarely play live and have chosen to keep your identities hidden. What is the reason behind your anonymity? We live in a world where everyone knows everything. Is there really a necessity in knowing what everyone is thinking every second of every day? Dragged Into Sunlight are accomplished individually and collectively, there comes a point when you have to wonder whether it is the audience who needs to know the pander of their crowd or whether it is the musicians who need the appraise of their audience. It is certainly a disappointment that extreme metal is as overexposed as it is at present. Is it difficult to maintain this visage when information is so easily obtained from or leaked onto the internet?
band to record in this format? Widowmaker started as a void. It was a space that needed filling. A sound that, although present on Hatred for Mankind, was not as apparent and left a lot of room for exploration. With Hatred for Mankind, the elements were rolled into one massive ball of hate. On Widowmaker, they are laid out side by side like victims. The elements had been so heavily suppressed, there was really only one way in which an adequate means of redress could be found, and that is in the same manner as with everything Dragged Into Sunlight do: balls to the wall, relentless devastation and zero compromise. The end result is Widowmaker, 40 minutes of madness. Can you describe the recording process of Widowmaker please?
Not really. There are many heads to Dragged Into Sunlight, like a hydra. Dragged Into Sunlight is a collective of like minded individuals, and it would be an error to think that the band does not extend beyond four silhouettes or those onstage.
Your upcoming LP Widowmaker is essentially a 40 minute long song presented in three parts. What inspired the
Widowmaker as a recording, pulls from so many different strains of influence, that the end result is a very diverse recording.
What emotions and sensations do you want the listener to feel throughout the duration and after they have listened to the album?
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Listeners will relate to different aspects and feelings at different times, as to be expected when analysing a 40 minute track. It is anticipated however that listeners will share the overwhelming sense of depression and isolation evident within the recording and within Dragged Into Sunlight. What are your major sources of inspiration and which bands inspired the making of Widowmaker? Widowmaker, like Hatred for Mankind, draws on a vast spectrum of influence and a saturated plethora of slower and heavier music. Bands such as diSEMBOWELMENT,
Burning Witch, Mugwart, DOT, Ramesses, Iron Monkey, extending to some more ambient influences such as Growing and Ginnungagap. Finally, what can we expect from Dragged Into Sunlight in the coming months? Shows? Tours?
General Melchett. Thanks again for your time. Thanks. www.draggedintosunlight.co.uk
Not a lot. Expectation is weakness. We do what we want and at present, there are no immediate plans to tour. We will most likely hibernate in various studios for a while. Time for the final question. Who’s your favourite Blackadder character and why?
We live in a world where everyone knows everything. Is there really a necessity in knowing what everyone is thinking every second of every day?
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Proto Metal From The Lone Star State Words: Kyle Harcott
DOOM/SLUDGE OUTFIT VENOMOUS MAXIMUS LATEST ALBUM MADE QUITE AN IMPRESSION ON GHOST CULT’S KYLE HARCOTT. HE CAUGHT UP WITH GREGG HIGGINS AND THEY TALKED EXTENSIVELY ABOUT “OCCULT ROCK”, THE LOCAL METAL SCENE IN HOUSTON, TEXAS AND METAL LOSING ITS WAY BACK IN THE ‘80’S. “Occult rock” gets bandied about a lot lately, but I hear a lot more straight-up hard rock in what you guys do. Was it your initial intent to do something witchy?
together in our area. I wouldn’t say there’s a huge metal scene just independent true rock n roll. We fit in fine with everyone from War Master (Death metal) to Sean Reefer (outlaw country).
Yes. When we first started out it was us learning to play together as a band and the material was simpler and a little more blues based, but as time has gone on we are finding our voice. So new elements can be incorporated. Black Metal, dark wave disco beats etc. It all seems to come in full circle. One of the newest songs we are working on is our version of stairway to heaven
The vocals in VM are particularly striking -Your voice totally reminds me of Arthur Brown at times. How did you become the band’s vocalist?
What’s the metal scene like in Houston, and where do you guys fit into it? Houston is such a spread out city so it’s hard to explain. It’s like we have a group of small cities surrounding. We live in Montrose so a lot of the bands are lumped
The band was originally my idea. I came up with all the skeletons for the music. I could always hear the singing in my head but we had trouble finding someone to match up. I have never actually sung in a band before, so I never even thought about it until Christian (guitar player) mentioned it one day. I knew I wanted the singing to be understandable so people could sing along. That’s the best part about play music right? But I have no control over hot I sound. That’s the only way I can do it. Crank up the amp and go for it.
Beg Upon The Light comes across as slightly more accessible than The Mission, with a more pronounced hard rock influence. Was it a conscious decision to incorporate different influence this time around, or is it just that your songwriting evolved in that direction? We’ve always wanted to go the direction we are heading. We just didn’t have it when we started. Our sound is still not done evolving and I am sure that it ever will stop. But that’s kinda of how art rolls. You can catch a ride and see where it takes you or not. VM will never put out the same record VM takes a lot of the best of the protometal era of the ‘70s and crosses streams with the best of what metal was offering in the early’80s, without sounding dated. In your mind, where did metal lose its way in the 1980s? Good question! We talk about this often. Some of it had to do with culture changes and everyone’s drug of choice. That influences culture on a lot of different levels. In the 70’s people were still riding the enlightenment trip from the 60’s. Lots of hallucinogens and people were experimenting with keyboards and sync and how far they could take the limits. But in the 80’s it was cocaine, AIDS and fake tits.
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Music changed. People didn’t wanna message they just wanted to party, Music didn’t want integrity. They wanted money and it made music savage, which is cool to a certain degree. I like it all. Just look at the difference between horror movies in the 70’s and 80’s. All in all it lost the blues. If you ain’t got the blues you're not a man. What’s the songwriting process for VM? Is it a jam situation, or do you guys write individually? All of the above, Lots of time it starts. With lyrics or a title of a song. Then the birth of the riff. Once I have a good chunk of the song I introduce it to Bongo. For me it starts with singing and ends with singing. You guys have referenced Jodorowsky as an influence in your literature – how important is a visual theme to the VM concept? Its everything art is all about the schemes and we all know that sight is very powerful. I would love to be a director of a movie. So I imagine that the cover of the album is a movie poster. All of the songs are characters or stories and the main is Venomous Maximus. All of our images are linked to lyrics from our songs Blizzard or Diary? Trick question. Neither. It’s all about ultimate sin. Just kidding definitely Diary due to it having the most classic riffs! www.facebook.com/VenomousMaximus
tween horror be ce en er ff di e th at k o Just lo ’s. All in all it lost 80 d an ’s 70 e th in es vi mo t the blues you're the blues. If you ain’t go . not a man ghost cult magazine | 19
Thrash Metal The Finnish Way Words: Raymond Westland
FINLAND IS A HOTBED FOR METAL TALENT. THE NEWEST KID IN TOWN IS A THRASH METAL BAND CALLED BLOODRED HOURGLASS, FORMERLY KNOWN AS BRHG. GHOST CULT CAUGHT UP WITH DRUMMER JARKKO HYVÖNEN TO TALK ABOUT THE BAND’S ENERGETIC DEBUT ALBUM, THEIR SOURCES OF INFLUENCE, SPINEFARM RECORDS, AND WORLD DOMINATION. Lifebound is one of the better debuts I’ve heard this year. Are you happy the way it turned out? Most definitely. The feedback has been positive, praising, and some might say even better than we had our minds set to. Lifebound debuted as number 22 on official Finnish charts, which is also a great achievement for us. Word of the band started to spread this autumn, and we’ve had a quite lot of gigs at many different venues and cities. Still, it can be said that a total breakthrough is yet to come. Can you shed some light on the band’s origins, please? Bloodred Hourglass (or formerly, BRHG) was started in 2005 by Koukonen and me, and by the beginning of next year, Nenonen (guitar) and Moilanen (bass) had joined the party. Tiilikainen (guitar) was invited to our fancy group later, maybe 2008 or something, after we decided to part ways with a former member. BRHG is having its headquarters in the city of Mikkeli (located in the eastern part of Finland), which is not the
most popular city in the metal scene. Now that we’ve played many years and about 100 gigs together, we are finally gaining real attention in the world of metal music. The album was already recorded in 2011, but it saw the light of day almost a year later. Did you guys feel any form of frustration sitting so long on the album? Yep, of course there was some frustration in the air because we had to wait quite a long time before the album release. But how I feel is that the time we had only turned out to be a victory; we definitely focussed on playing and even had the possibility to create new material without any pressure of deadlines. We were prepared for the upcoming gigs and at the same time composed a dozen new songs! What I really like about the album is its diversity, but most of all the incredible energy captured. How did you guys manage to do that? Maybe it’s because of the production of the album; we didn’t want to sound as modern
and precise as many the new bands these days. Our music is still pretty much punk played in a metalish style and we want to keep it that way! Of course there is, for example, a fine production for the overall sound of the album, thanks to Mr. Jori Haukio, but nothing much more added. Another thing is that all the performances for the album with the instruments and vocals were recorded in just a few days. And that, for sure, brings pure energy to the album— when there’s a feeling of playing live and loud. When listening to the album, I hear a wide array of different influences, including Bay Area Thrash (Exodus, Testament) groove metal (Machine Head, Pantera) and even a bit of Lamb Of God. What are your own views on this? This is actually a pretty funny thing—that people tend to find almost these same influences in our music. Is it that obvious? But yes, of course groove metal, including Pantera and Lamb Of God, some old and newer thrash acts, hardcore, and even some acts from death metal, have built up the basis of
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our music. But I feel that we don’t have to strictly follow their musical legacy; we can create our own. Of course, when you’re starting a band and composing your first songs, you have someone to look up to and you’re doing your best to sound like your favourite bands. But still, there will be times when you realise that you’ve reached the point where those bands can’t give you anything new and you have to start to think more creatively and in your own way. I think that by now we have turned to that way. What do you remember most vividly about the writing and recording sessions for Lifebound? Smoothness in everything. Every now and then, you read and hear about the hellish studio sessions and arguments of a lifetime because of the one wrong fucking note in a wrong place. But nothing like that happened to us. Good times, good friends, good beer, and good playing. Well, let’s see what the studio sessions in future bring us.... Bloodred Hourglass is signed to Spinefarm Records. How’s the collaboration going so far, and how did it benefit the band so far?
So far, so good. The guys from Spinefarm have helped us to promote our debut and gain same attention that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve by ourselves. Looking forward to the future collaboration! Finland is a hotbed for talented bands. What’s your explanation for this phenomenon? Fucked up weather conditions, long winters, melancholic mindsets, high tendencies toward suicide... these are the basic and everyday reasons you hear from the mouths of more wise men that me. Well, in my opinion it’s just that we are better than anyone else. It was never easy to make any sort of living from being in a metal band, but it seems even harder these days. How do you guys get by? Well, we don’t. With our music, I mean. At least not yet. So all of us have our day jobs to have a decent income. Of course, I’m glad that we are finally actually making something out of this and receiving compensation for the work done. But basically, everything that comes in goes out for keeping up the band.
Finally, what’s next in terms of touring and perhaps a follow-up record? There are the same great expectations for touring next year, as well as for the new material. Hopefully we’ll manage to get our asses up to big stages in Finland and also play our very first gigs abroad. As I mentioned before, we have already composed some new material, and we're looking forward to playing them live. Even more, to start the recordings of second album. Of course, there are still many things in our way, but no barriers that we couldn’t break! www.brhg.net
“Every now and then, you read and hear about the hellish studio sessions and arguments of a lifetime because of the one wrong fucking note in a wrong place. But nothing like that happened to us. Good times, good friends, good beer, and good playing.”
Americana And Other Memorabilia Words: Chris Tippell
SEDENTARY, THE LATEST ALBUM BY THRASH/SLUDGE OUTFIT, AMERICAN HERITAGE, IS QUITE A SCORCHER. GHOST CULT’S CHRIS TIPPELL HAD A FRIENDLY CHAT WITH ADAM NORDEN AND SCOTT SHELLHAMER. THEY DISCUSSED THE NEW ALBUM, INSPIRATION FOR LYRICS, AND BREAKING THROUGH TO A WIDER AUDIENCE. Firstly, thanks for chatting with us. Your Facebook bio is quite ambiguous and cryptic—funny, but cryptic. Is this an area you guys don’t particularly like talking about?
Adam: The name comes from a dictionary. There is an American Heritage Dictionary. I guess I was thinking of names that conveyed the opposite of what we did. It was also the ’90s, and I thought I was being funny.
Scott: I think we just never took ourselves seriously enough that we needed to convince you that we are serious about what we do. Listen to the music and you’ll probably get it. We’re in it to make music, not to pose for pictures and tell you how awesome we are. Y’know?
Are you happy with the response so far to Sedentary?
Adam: I don’t think it’s very important, to be honest. We’ve been around for a long time. We make music for ourselves for the most part. How did American Heritage come about? Where did the band name come from, or what does it mean?The new album, Börn Loka, was released last month. Are you happy with how it turned out?
Scott: It’s been awesome. I’m pretty surprised, to be honest. Really, it doesn’t translate to anything tangible for us, but it’s always nice to feel like your work is appreciated. Sedentary took a shit-ton of effort and cash to make happen, so it’s really nice that people seem to 'get it'. Adam: Yes, I’m always surprised when someone hears our music. I’m happy that many people who have heard it appreciate it in some way. We are not, I don’t think, a band that necessarily represents the future of a subgenre or is vying for an X-Games medal for shredding or anything. So it’s cool that a few people see
where we are coming from. Where did the title of Sedentary come from? Adam: It’s got two meanings. One is on a larger scale, how humans live. We live in established communities and produce surpluses of goods which we trade. We don’t go around picking food and hunting. On the smaller scale, it’s how many of us live our individual lives. Sitting complacently, letting things happen to us. Getting fat with food that isn’t really food and such. It encapsulates the sort of ideas and themes represented in most of the lyrics on this particular album. Just where do you get your song titles from? 'Kiddie Pool Of Baby Blood' is a particular highlight of a title, if I may add. Scott: We just write down stupid shit we say on the dry erase board in the practice space, and those become temporary song titles...
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The thing about American Heritage is that we just do what we do and we do not attempt to erect a façade of metalness or hardcore-osity to try to sell our music to people. and sometimes they stick. 'Kiddie Pool Of Baby Blood' came about from a conversation we were having about a Slayer song from 'God Hates Us All'. There’s a line in the song: 'I keep the Bible in a pool of blood so that none of its lies can affect me'. This raises several questions. Slayer tours a lot. There is a Bible in almost every hotel room. So... do they have a kiddie pool filled with blood to soak the Gideons in so they aren’t tempted to read said bibles and be affected by their lies? Whose blood is it? Is it that difficult to just not read a bible or realize it’s complete bullshit? Who knows? Ask Tom or Kerry I guess.
rather than an admirer or spectator. The stuff I feel closest to sounds almost like I could have written it myself.
Adam: There are things we take seriously, and then there are the vast majority of things, which we do not. The thing about American Heritage is that we just do what we do and we do not attempt to erect a façade of metalness or hardcore-osity to try to sell our music to people. We want our audience (assuming we have one) to approach our material on their own level. For me, I think the kind of music that I like most is stuff that I can relate to as a peer
How would you guys describe your sound for people who are not so familiar with you?
Do you think Sedentary is the album to break you guys out to a wider audience? Scott: Nope. Adam: At this point, I can’t even begin to be concerned with a wider audience. We’ve been playing a long time. There will never be people lining up outside to see us.
Scott: A bunch of parts that go into some other parts. And there is a dude singing over a lot of it.
Scott: No touring plans now. It’s really difficult with our situation to play shows. Mike lives 13 hours away from the rest of us, and we practise once every three months or so. We are currently working on an EP that should be out mid-2013 if things go according to plan, (which they never EVER do.) Adam: We will play some shows. We are recording an EP this winter. Finally, once again a big thank you. Is there anything you want to add or say? Scott: Farts are funny. Adam: Thanks for the interest! http://americanheritage.bandcamp.com “Sedentary” LP out now on Solar Flare Records.
Adam: Riff contest with beer and arguing. What is the plan for you guys now? Much touring lined up that you can tell us about?
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Everything Is From The H e ar t THE LATEST BISON BC ALBUM, ENTITLED LOVELESSNESS, IS QUITE A SCORCHER. GHOST CULT THREW A BLANKET OVER GUITARIST/VOCALIST JAMES FARWELL SO HE WOULD STOP SMOULDERING LONG ENOUGH TO TALK TO CHRIS TIPPELL. JAMES WAS MORE THAN HAPPY TO SHARE HIS VIEWS ON THE BAND’S LATEST RECORD, WORKING WITH PRODUCER SANFORD PARKER AND UPCOMING TOURS. wORDS: Chris Tippell
First things first, thank you guys for taking the time to chat. For the uninitiated, how would you describe your sound? I wouldn’t know what to say other than have a listen and decide for yourself. I mean, I think we are a punk band, but I have heard all kinds of things said about us. We are loud and dirty and sludgy. We love playing live and performing, everything is from the heart. Previous albums garnered considerably good feedback. Has this been the case thus far for Lovelessness? Are you happy with the response thus far? I like the record. I’m very proud of it. I try not to read the reviews – I don’t really care what people think. There are some people I respect that may have an opinion, but they are few.
How do you feel the latest album has progressed from your previous releases?
a lot of good time with the arrangements, which is a constant learning process in songwriting.
I think the approach to recording was vastly different, and I think the songwriting was different. Almost everything about it was different from our last records. We went to Chicago to put us in an unfamiliar environment. We worked with Sanford Parker for the first time. He’s a ruthless prick… but he understands music. I think he wants to make something that sounds unique the way we did. He was a great host and was honest about the material. It was great working with someone who was new and unfamiliar, it helped keep us on edge a bit, and again adding to a certain tension I wanted with these tunes. The songs are also more personal, from the heart, more honest. I think that all affects the sound and the feeling. We spent
Lovelessness has to be the most obviously bleak sounding album title of yours thus far. What made you decide upon this particular word/phrase? Is love and/or heartbreak a major theme on the album? Well, I think the main inspiration was ideas of love. I had a couple of good friends pass, as well as my dog Milo, the past year. I had been struggling with depression and a certain pointed hatred that I couldn’t really understand or control. I had confusion about love, the pursuit of it, the pointlessness of it. I was really worried I didn’t know how to love properly, and not just in an intimate way with a girlfriend or wife, but on a human level.
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Love was becoming violent, it was grotesque, it was untouchable and offered no relief even in the most glorious moments of it. It was fear. Love was becoming violent, it was grotesque, it was untouchable and offered no relief even in the most glorious moments of it. It was fear. The whole album can be summed up with the idea of being killed by love. It was a lesson in the duality of love. It also becomes hate, and is just as strong. In comparison to many other ‘sludge’ bands, you guys have a particularly melancholic sound, in my opinion at least. Who then were/are your influences for doing so? I think the songwriters that I admire produce material close to their hearts. You know it is coming from somewhere honest and are almost humbled by the intimacy of that moment when you realize you are getting a glimpse of someone’s insides, how they really feel. But it’s also poetic and made with artistry, not just sad for the sake of sad. I dig Neil Young and Nick Cave. There needs to be some kind of lesson by the end of it.
It would appear that you’ve made big waves particularly in North America. Are you hoping to branch out further afield with this album cycle? All I hope for is to be inspired enough to write the next record. We will tour and meet great people, which is also a great thing about being in a travelling band. We just want to live life. Previously you have toured with some pretty stellar names, such as 3 Inches Of Blood. You got any big tours like this lined up that you can tell us about?
Nothing I can say yet. We will be out in the world come the new year, whether its supporting someone or doing our own punk rock basement show tour. This will also include Europe. And hey, if anyone wants to help us get to Japan that would be great. Finally, thanks again for your time. Thank you, we will see you in the future. Peace. http://www.facebook.com/bisonbc
Did you know “Lovelessness” artwork cover is a picture of the tumour removed from James’ dog Milo? ghost cult magazine | 25
bad powers Powers That Be
GHOST CULT’S SEAN PALFREY WAS QUITE IMPRESSED WITH THE NEW BAD POWERS RECORD. RECENTLY HE CAUGHT UP WITH GUITARIST BRENDAN TOBIN. THEY DISCUSSED THE NEW ALBUM, THE FEEDBACK IT RECEIVED SO FAR, ADDING THE FAMILY CURSE’ MEGAN TWEED TO THE LINEUP AND SEVERAL OTHER THINGS. words: Sean M. Palfrey
You released your début album back in September, what has the reaction to it been like so far? The response has been great. We have had some good reviews and bad reviews as with any album. Very importantly the response of our peers has been overwhelmingly good. Why did you choose to rechristen yourselves as Bad Powers rather than simply continue under the previous moniker of Made Out Of Babies?
This is an easy one to answer. It is a different band, entirely! The fact that it's the three of us and a female singer is really the only comparison to be drawn as far as I can see. When we thought about continuing on none of us thought we would have a female singer again but the fact is, of the people who we talked to, people who did stuff with the material and of all the voices we heard put to our music, Megan was the best. Her voice is incredibly diverse. There is no put on, no pretension, and no overly dramatic flair. Her voice is real and I feel is an honest reaction to the music which makes it another instrument of the band, instead of the band being an accompaniment to the singer. That and I feel the direction of this band is limitless, whereas I felt like Made Out of Babies really could have just kept doing the same thing over and over and who wants to do that? And that's been the only source of negativity in any reviews thus far is "hey this isn't Made Out of Babies" and that is the point. Did you encounter any negative feedback from long-term fans for this decision? Believe me I am humbled and astonished to ever even have the word "fans" ever associated with music that we make. Going on tour and playing music to crowds of people into what we do in a real way is truly fulfilling.
But honestly if we were making music to get us fans there are some very tried and true methods of songwriting that we could easily follow. Follow the formula and consult the marketing department and start racking up "fans". But never does that cross our minds when writing a song as to whether people that liked our old records will like our new record. It is only and always will WE like the song/record/chorus/verse/riff/beat, can we stand behind it, are we proud of it. There was a song which probably would have been the most accessible, catchy and possibly commercially viable song on the record. We cut it from the record because it made a couple of us cringe. We got one bad review from a writer who then posted a link to it on Julie's Facebook page; like he wanted to declare what team he was on or something, as if there is such a thing. Or maybe he was just lookin' for a date. I don't know I feel like if you are really a fan of a band you can't wait to hear what the next thing they do is. And for me there's nothing more disappointing than hearing a new record that sounds just like a rehash of another record they already did. If you are a fan you want to hear progression and change and evolution. Bad Powers is our evolution. The sound of the album draws from a broader palette of influences than the previous work as Made Out Of Babies, was this a conscious effort or did the sound evolve more organically?
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We all have MANY different influences, as all musicians do I think. Whether it was a conscious effort or not I don't know but I know there was a conscious effort to not stifle anything because it didn't fit into any preconceived notion of what the band should be or should sound like. How did Megan Tweed come to join the band and what is it that you feel she brings to the sound? Megan sings also for a band from Seattle called The Family Curse. They opened for us on tour a few years ago when we went through Seattle. You see many opening bands on a tour and many of them blend together and are indistinguishable. Megan was memorable, to say the least, an incredible voice and astounding stage presence. She was a natural choice. Her demos she sent back were rough but it was instantly recognizable to me the potential her voice had for these songs. Her work ethic was remarkable as well. She wrote, demo'd, rewrote (after some whiny complaints from me) and flew out to NY to record something like 14 songs in just under 3 months. That is a level of commitment we'd never seen before. She's a fuckin' dynamo. How did the writing and recording dynamic change with the addition of Megan Tweed to the line-up? Firstly the vibe between the 4 of us was better than anything we'd ever experienced as a band. Cooper and Matt and I have developed a very curt, straight to the point way of
communicating with each other. We yell, we scream, but feelings rarely get hurt and we know how to get the job done with each other. We were very worried throwing a totally new person into that dynamic was really gonna gum up the works, but it did the opposite. A few times when Cooper and I would get into shouting matches about stuff (which gets heated very fast) I felt like Megan might have been thinking "what have I gotten myself into?" But she soon saw that it was like brothers arguing and the stuff passed as quickly as it came up. Also she is an actual collaborator; she has real and valuable input into shaping the songs. My only regret about this record was that these songs were so far along when she joined. I can't wait for the next record when she is more involved from songs inception. The album is out on The End records, a relationship that has continued from the last MOoB album. Were you tempted to shop around for another label or was sticking with The End a no brainer? The End didn't bat an eye. They have been very supportive of us and didn't hesitate for a moment when we came to them and said "hey, we changed singers, we're gonna change the name, we're gonna be a new band, we're gonna record it all ourselves". That's a lot for a label to swallow. They didn't even flinch. That shows a lot of belief in us I think, a lot of respect.
You recently made your live dĂŠbut in September this year, shortly after the album's release. What was this experience like for you as a band? Nerve racking. We all live all over the country so we all got together for only a handful of days before the show and worked out for the first time how to actually play these shows live, which wasn't easy. Multiple guitar parts, multiple vocal parts, string parts, synth parts...not to mention all playing our own parts. Matt our drummer ran much of the external stuff from a set of sampled triggers and it worked out really well (most of the time haha). But of course all the worry goes away halfway into the first song if it's all going right and it felt right, the songs were huge and felt great. The crowd reacted awesomely and I can't wait for the next one. What was the audience reaction like to the live show? Great. What are the plans for the band going forward into 2013? We are going on tour in Europe end of January thru February. Recording a song for an upcoming Rorschach covers project. Working on a US tour and we have already started writing for the next record. www.badpowers.com
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Dust And Dr ea m s
FEN ARE ONE OF THE BRIGHTEST IN THE UK’S BLACK METAL SCENE AND THEIR LATEST ALBUM, ENTITLED DUSTWALKER, IS SLATED FOR A JANUARY RELEASE. JODI MULLEN TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A FRIENDLY TÊTE-ÀTÊTE WITH A MYSTERIOUS GENT CALLED THE WATCHER. THEY TALKED ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM, WORKING WITH CODE666, MEMBER CHANGES AND BEING COMPARED TO LUMINARIES LIKE PRIMORDIAL AND ENSLAVED. Words: JODI MULLEN
Your new record Dustwalker is due for release in January 2013. How are you feeling about it after finishing recording? A sense of relief, really. One always forgets what a lengthy, draining process recording a full-length can be and if you’re serious about what you’re doing, you can end up investing an enormous amount of time, energy and essence into an album. Given that it was completed a couple of months ago, I’ve managed to get some distance from it and can listen with fresher, more objective ears. With this in mind, I’m very satisfied with the outcome. As with the previous record, we had an idea in mind as to how we wanted this to sound and where wanted to go with it and I feel we have achieved that. The band has changed a lot in the last 18 months or so and Dustwalker encapsulates this vividly. Do you think the record differs from your last release, Epoch? Yes. The melodic/atmospheric elements that define the Fen sound are still very present on this record but Dustwalker presents a
starker, harder sonic palette. The intention with this record was for each song to stand on its own, to have a defined and specific ‘feel’. Epoch perhaps was guilty of flowing together like one long 60-minute song which worked perfectly for the atmosphere/concept we were conveying with that record but Dustwalker speaks of more fractured themes and thus it was necessary to approach the songwriting and realisation in a different way. Is there any overall underlying theme to the new album? There is, though perhaps in a more loose sense than there was on Epoch. Dustwalker is a more disparate album and deals with concepts of isolation, disassociation and a forceful sense of detachment. It deals with the perspectives of an individual divorced from the reality that surrounds them, unable to engage with a material reality that holds little or no meaning for them. As with many of our lyrical subjects, there is the overt and metaphorical use of landscape in delivering this message. Your music combines post-rock and black metal, leading to very delicate and atmospheric tracks like the intro to
Hands of Dust. How do you balance these two different aspects of your sound? I think contrast and dynamics is a hugely important part of any music and this is where we feel this comes into play most prominently. Of course, it is entirely possible to completely overdo the ‘quiet-loud-quiet’ approach or bludgeon the crescendo to death. For us, it is a question of moderation, of that intrinsic sense of ‘rightness’ that comes when you have struck the right balance with your arrangements. Indeed, on the subject of balancing distorted/extreme sections with cleaner/slower pieces, there is also the matter of texture. Delivering the right atmosphere with distorted sections has more to do with the cadence of the riff and the melody lines you are playing whereas there is much more room to experiment with soundscapes, guitar effects and space with cleaner passages. I personally am much more interested in the possibilities of clean guitar sounds at the moment—it’s a wider sonic palette for a start, you are not tied down by high-gain and compression—and it is something I am going to continue to explore.
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You recently extended your deal with your label, Code 666. Are you proud of what you've achieved with the three full length releases so far? I can honestly say that I am proud of the back catalogue of this band thus far – there isn’t one moment where I feel that we have delivered anything that is dishonest or hasn’t fully represented our state of mind at the time it was created. Of course, there are areas that aren’t perfect – predominantly in the execution of some of the earlier material – but I do feel that up until this point, our work has been sincere, expressing something genuine. We do seem to have picked up some listeners along the way so I’d like to feel as if there are at least a few people out there that have empathised with our approach and that – even if it is only in some small way – have a felt a kinship with what we are doing. Music is in many ways about communicating after all and it is very rewarding to not only create something which I feel fully communicates a sentiment, thought and idea via music but that others can tap into this also. It is a powerful feeling.
certain sections and ‘turn it on’ so to speak! His understanding of production, recording techniques and of how to use certain types of drum/recording processes to achieve sounds is also very useful to us. He has certainly pushed both myself and Grungyn even further with our respective instruments and provides us with a true bedrock for further expression. Not to take anything away from Theutus who is a good friend and a cornerstone of Fen for many years but instrumentally speaking, this band is now stronger than ever. You've been compared to bands like Primordial and Enslaved in the past. How do you feel about that? That’s a hugely flattering comparison as these are two of the most inspirational bands around today, in my eyes at least. True legends of impassioned, soaring extreme metal. Both have been in existence for 20+ years yet continue to innovate and enthrall in equal measure. If we can achieve something approaching even one-tenth of the legacy/quality of either of these two acts then I will feel that Fen will have more than made its mark.
fonts of creativity. Harnessing these intangible sensations is key to me – one will always be able to pintpoint sonic frames of reference, however it is those moments of transcending awareness that can really inspire true creation. What do you make of the English black metal scene at the moment? I think the English black metal scene is in fine health right now. The English mentality of trying to ape whatever is popular in Europe seems to have more or less died away now and we have some really strong artists that have successfully defined their sound and their ethos in a way that I feel has made the world sit up and take notice. Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth are the obvious ones to cite and both are strong, characterful bands who use concepts of Englishness as a springboard to deliver passionate, powerful music. Old Corpse Road reinterpret a more traditional melodic black metal sound and add some unique folkloric twists into their ideas. We also have <code> (who should need no introduction), Ghast (excellent dunegony black metal), Lyrinx (depressive black metal), Throes, In-
“The English mentality of trying to ape whatever is popular in Europe seems to have more or less died away now ...” Since the last record, you've added Derwydd on drums. Has his presence affected the band's sound at all? Myself and Grungyn have known and worked with Derwydd for about six years now on other projects. When it looked as if Theutus was going to have to leave Fen in the middle of last year, Derwydd was naturally the first person we turned to. He had already filled in for us at a previous show in Austria so was very familiar with the material. Not only this, but he has a real sense and appreciation for what the band is about. His style has undeniably had an impact on the sound of the band and is a key component of what I feel has helped make this latest record so distinctive. He brings a real precision and power to the drumming but this forcefulness is also accentuated by very tasteful technicality. There’s no desire to show off or be overtly flash (although he can be if he wants), he has the experience and maturity to know when and where to accent
What would you say are Fen's main influences? Musically—the more reflective side of black metal (Ulver, Agalloch), the mid-90s classics (early Emperor, Dissection, Burzum, Isvind), 80s guitarwave/goth (Fields of the Nephilim, Chameleons), 90s shoegaze/indie (early Verve, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine), 70s prog (Genesis, Rush, Yes), post-rock/metal (Mono, Explosions in the Sky, Isis). A wide variety of things, it’s very difficult to distil this down into a cohesive list if I’m honest. Away from music, I take inspiration from solitude and reflection. Quiet moments in the fens, walking alone and watching the autumn sun set with only a hipflask of strong Islay whisky for company. These can be some of the most inspirational moments for me, a sensation or feeling that seemingly ‘speaks’ to me, that suggests near-limitless
stinct, Towers of Flesh, Hateful Abandon, Extinction and plenty of other fine acts bubbling away. Finally, what's next for Fen in 2013? With Dustwalker landing at the start of the year, we are hopeful for a productive 12 months for the band. We are in discussions with a few people about playing some shows – both in the UK and abroad – and the goal is to play live as much as we can and deliver our material in the way we have always felt it needs to be presented. The plan is to tour properly, play some festivals and do as much as we can to share the music with our listeners. There are also discussions regarding vinyl editions of the older releases so fingers crossed, 2013 could be a very busy year for us. /www.facebook.com/fenofficial
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EXILE, THE NEW TO-MERA ALBUM HAS BEEN OUT SINCE LAST SEPTEMBER, BUT ONLY RECENTLY I MANAGED TO GET A HOLD OF A COPY. I’M VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE RELEASE BY THIS PROGRESSIVE METAL OUTFIT, SO ENOUGH REASON TO HAVE A FRIENDLY CHAT WITH THESE BRITS. GUITARIST TOM MACLEAN (ALSO IN HAKEN) WAS MORE THAN HAPPY TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS ABOUT EXILE, ALTERNATING BETWEEN TO-MERA AND HAKEN AND THE RIGOURS OF TODAY’S MUSIC BUSINESS. Worlds: Raymond Westland
The Best Of Both Worlds Thank you for doing this interview. Exile, your latest album is out on the streets for some time now and it received some excellent feedback from the press. Are you happy the way it came out or would you like to alter a thing or two if you had the chance? I think we are all very happy with the way it came out. In fact it’s probably the first album where I haven’t felt we need to go back and records things again after it’s been released! :) What can you tell us about the concept story behind Exile? This is really one for Julie, but my superficial understanding of it is that it’s about a protagonist for whom life appears to be going all too well, and then is subjected to a traumatic experience that turns her world upside down. She then tries different ways of dealing with it, like denial, rejection etc., before trying to come to terms with things and accepting that this event will always be a part of her life, so all she can do is live with it and move on. That’s being a bit vague but the deeper meanings are for the listener to explore.
What I really like about Exile is the overall cohesiveness and the diversity in styles and textures. How did you guys manage to pull that off? I suppose it’s something that’s come about by trial and error. On the earlier albums, I think it’s fair to say we were deliberately trying to be a little bit risqué in our genrecombining approach. Over time, we realised the importance of making these transitions come across as being more natural rather than there purely for shock value. Ultimately, as long as there is some kind of logical harmonic and rhythmic flow between two sections, you can make any style of music work with any other. Well, potentially I guess. Exile is produced by the band itself. Why did you choose that approach instead of working with an external producer for instance? Our 3 previous works were all recorded with a producer at the helm. For the first 2 albums this worked well as we really had no idea about how to put an album together. But by the time we got round to recording the Earthbound EP, I think it’s fair to say that there was a bit of a clash
between myself and the sound engineer in terms of how we wanted to go about things, given that I had by that point learned enough about how the recording process. In the end I think the EP caused us a bit of frustration in that it was put together in a way that we would have perhaps done differently ourselves. That’s not to say that Jaime wasn’t an excellent sound engineer. We just had conflicting ideas. So we felt it was finally time to produce an album the way we wanted it to be done. What do you remember most vividly about the writing and recording sessions for Exile? It’s funny, but it’s all very hazy now, given that it was written on and off over nearly 2 years. Much was written at home on Guitar Pro, as had been the norm for the previous albums. But there was much more in the way of meeting up and experimenting/ changing/ rewriting things together than we’d done before. So there’s more of a “group” sound on this album than on previous records, I think. All members within To-Mera have a very broad taste in music. Is this a blessing or a curse and why so?
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Ultimately I think it’s a blessing. It means it’s easy to avoid stylistic clichés that might arise if, for example, everyone was equally into one particular band.
To-Mera is a completely independent band in which you handle the business, PR and distribution matters yourselves now. What brought this around?
Some members of the band are also active in Haken, an up and coming progressive metal band from the London area. How do these members combine obligations to both bands?
Essentially, we burned a few bridges following our split with Candlelight, and the metal scene is a small village over here in the UK, so we didn’t have a great deal of options in our home country. We considered a few territories for physical distribution, but the band had been off the radar for too long for distribution and PR companies to want to take the risk. Besides that, we really wanted to look after this ‘baby’ as well as possible, so it felt like the most sensible decision to take things into our own hands. The profit margins are much
Well, as a matter of fact To-Mera had been taking a bit of a break to recuperate after the EP, and during that time Haken was just taking off, so it made sense to nurture the new band, so to speak. It’s not like either band is touring constantly, though. There’s been plenty of time to switch focus between the two during ‘down-time’.
higher this way, but the visibility is arguably less. It’s a trade-off. The band is no stranger to the rigours of the music business. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned and which are the things aspiring bands should be aware off? Indeed! Well, I’d say the main thing is never rush into anything for the sake of a quick gain. Build your house stone by stone and make sure your product is watertight. Finally, what is next in terms of touring and possible other musical ventures? We’re still assessing the most realistic options in terms of touring etc. Watch this space. www.to-mera.com
“Essentially, we burned a few bridges following our split with Candlelight, and the metal scene is a small village over here in the UK, so we didn’t have a great deal of options in our home country.” ghost cult magazine | 31
Melancholy Is A Beautiful Thing
GOOGLING ‘BLUENECK’ WILL TEACH YOU A LOT ABOUT THE VOTING HABITS OF AMERICAN REDNECKS, BUT IT WON’T REALLY TELL YOU VERY MUCH ABOUT THE BRITISH BAND OF THE SAME NAME. SO GILBERT POTTS CAUGHT UP WITH GUITARIST/VOCALIST DUNCAN ATTWOOD RECENTLY TO HELP FILL IN SOME OF THOSE BLANKS. THEY DISCUSSED THE BAND’S LATEST ALBUM EPILOGUE, SADNESS AND SORROW IN MUSIC, AND THE SELF-INDULGENT NATURE OF PROGRESSIVE ROCK AND POST METAL. Words: GILBERT POTTS
Could you please indulge us with the potted timeline of Blueneck and who is in the band right now? Blueneck have been making music for well over a decade now. Out of that original line up only myself and Ben Paget are still in the band as founder members. Rich Sadler joined the band around three years ago and his role has grown from simply playing live to having a lot of input on the guitar aspect of the band, recording-wise. As for releases, we released our first album back in 2005 (Scars of the Midwest) and have followed it up with The Fallen Host, Repetitions and most recently Epilogue. Your music is very sad, often to the point of utter despair. This contrasts with our obsession with achieving sustained levels of happiness. How are you able to harness and stimulate an emotion that the world seems obsessed with preventing? I think we all have an inner darkness and melancholic side to us, life is an emotional rollercoaster after all. A lot of people choose to turn a blind eye to those sort of feelings, whereas I think I find that I can tap into those emotions really easily. Why? I'm not sure... I just can.
Perhaps ironically, music described as 'beautiful' is so often terribly sad. Despite our obsession with happiness, why do people enjoy hearing sad music, reading sad books and watching sad films? I’m not really sure… I think perhaps there is a certain level of enjoyment from being made to feel completely sad by music or a film. Because it’s not necessarily ‘real’, it’s perhaps a safe environment to explore those emotions. There’s probably some kind of scientific explanation for our need to experience these emotions… but unfortunately I'm no scientist. What is the most beautiful sound you have ever heard? I was in Yosemite, California a couple of years ago. We found a secluded spot and all you could hear was the sound of birds, a slight rustle of the trees in the wind and the very distant roar of a waterfall. Its perhaps the most peaceful and calm feeling I've had. One of those moments that makes you stop in your tracks and reflect on everything around you. I don’t do that enough.
When reviewing Epilogue I think I misunderstood its place in the scheme of things. Is it fair to say this is more a side project than the follow-up to Repetitions? How did it come about? You’re right. It started off as a side project. I've always wanted to do a little experimental project which gave a nod to works by composers such as John Carpenter, Clint Mansell and Brian Eno—it’s a genre I’m a big fan of. The project developed though, and in the end I felt it could be improved by asking some of the guys to get involved as well. So in the end it became another Blueneck record. But yeah, I guess it’s a bit of a side project really…it’s the kind of project I’d like to do more of in the future. As I find with many instrumental bands there are several space references on the record, from the cover's diagram of the Apollo command module instrument panel, to the song titles. Why do you think this association so often exists? If I’m completely honest I wasn’t aware of space being a theme amongst a lot of instrumental bands. But I can see why the association would be common… the theme of ‘space’ lets you explore so many different avenues and emotions. Both emotionally
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and also musically. Progressive instrumental rock, postrock or whatever you want to call it is often criticised as being self-indulgent. Why does the same song with vocals suddenly cease to be self-indulgent? Why do you think most people need their rock to have a vocal focal point? I guess people like a good strong vocal melody. If there’s nothing to latch on to then perhaps a large majority of people wouldn’t enjoy it. Maybe a vocal acts as a focal point for a listener… it makes a song easier to digest as opposed to needing to actually properly listen to what you are hearing. IE, take some time and think about what you are listening to. I'd hate to be the sort of person that just hears a song (or piece of music) as just one block of sound with no depth, layers and emotion involved. Unfortunately, we’re in the minority though… which is why radio stations are filled with so much shit these days. Denovali have many brilliant bands on their label from all over the world. Can you tell us about your relationship with them and what they offer the artists they work with? We got involved with them around the time that we released The Fallen Host.
They are lovely guys, passionate about what they do and who they work with. They put a lot of time, effort and risk into releasing records that they are proud to be associated with. The music industry needs more labels like Denovali. Last month you played at Swingfest. What is Swingfest? What does it mean to you to play with so many other great artists? Who stood out for you? If you Google ‘Swingfest’ I think you’ll get a lot of results pointing you towards a mass orgy… but that isn’t the Swingfest we played at. Each year, Denovali Records put on a three-day music festival showcasing bands that are on the label but also other experimental or progressive bands that they are fans of. We were on tour during the week that we played the festival so were only able to spend a day there. You are always guaranteed to meet some fascinating and interesting people. For me, The Pirate Ship Quintet and also Carlos Cipa stood out for me… both great acts. You have started working on record number five. It's going to be different from the others – does this mean it's going to be a happy record? When can we expect it?
shit. The new record is still very much a Blueneck record… it’s just that we’ve been exploring different ways of approaching how we record things. I've also spent a lot more time on the structures of the songs. It’s certainly a progression from what we’ve done so far, and I'm well aware that we may disappoint some fans…but musically you need to challenge yourself rather than doing the same thing all the time. What one thing can you tell us about Blueneck that we wouldn't know from googling you? Rich is a transvestite, Ben is married to his dog and I once had a really strange phone conversation with Uri Geller, we kept in touch for a while but now I don’t hear from him… I'm assuming its because he didn’t like Repetitions. Only one of these is true. ;) www.facebook.com/BlueneckUK
I once tried to write a happy song. It was
“I once tried to wr happy song. It was ite a shit.”
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Southern Lord is a label really known for releasing metal artists. How did you come to be involved with them? I have known the Lord for many years. Our bands (Jessamine and Engine Kid) used to play together in Seattle in the early 90s. I helped record Sunn O)))'s White 1 and 2 and toured with the band for a few years after that. During the recording of both Altar and Monoliths, I got a chance to hear what Randall Dunn, who recorded those sessions, could do for a record. Your music is a real fusion of so many styles, built on jazz. The ‘jazz-fusion’ description really seems to fit what you do. Would you agree with that? It is definitely sonically based on the jazzrock fusion of the early 70s. This is what Fontanelle has been building to over the many years of improvising. You can still hear us in the compositions, but the filter is definitely Oakland in 1973. I’m guessing your influences are many and varied, taking in a wide spectrum of styles and genres. Can you tell me a bit about them? I imagine that you can guess the obvious ones. I think the most influential thing that happened to create this album was Julian Priester playing on Monoliths and Dimensions. A Herbie Hancock, Mwandishi era player lifting Sunn O))) into the light with a beautiful solo at the end of Alice was absolutely transformational.
On The Jazz WORDS: IAN GIRLE
THERE ARE MANY MUSICIANS AND BANDS IN THE METAL SCENE WHO ARE INSPIRED BY JAZZ-FUSION. FONTANELLE MAY NOT BE A FULL-ON ASSAULT ON THE OLD GREY MATTER, BUT THEY STILL MANAGE TO PACK QUITE A PUNCH ON THEIR LATEST ALBUM, ENTITLED VITAMIN F. IAN GIRLE CAUGHT UP WITH REX RITTER TO REMINISCE ABOUT THE STATE OF JAZZ-FUSION, WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING SIGNED TO SOUTHERN LORD—AND POST METAL, LOTS OF POST METAL.
Historically there has been a backlash against fusion as a musical movement – certainly in the UK – but we seem to have come full circle to a place where people can accept all genres, and where creativity, musicianship and innovation are positively embraced. What has been the experience in the United States? A backlash is necessary when any genre becomes too excessive and cheesy. I think this is an honest, straightforward record. I feel we are lucky that people have been so positive and accepting of the record. It seems to me that the post-metal genre has opened minds again to the idea that music can be a journey; it doesn’t have to be built on one particular riff, but can be more fluid in its approach. Do you see any commonalities between what you do and bands like Isis or Australia’s Dumbsaint?
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In a world where every band is a derivative of Slint, we seem to me to be more like the Joe Henderson (or Bennie Maupin) of Slint on Vitamin F. It is an interesting exercise to genre-ize each band as the [X] of Slint for a relative comparison. (Example: the U2 of Slint) Is fusion making a comeback or are you still ploughing a lonely furrow? Do you have any recommendations (in addition to your new album and back catalogue) for people wanting to discover more? I am not familiar with other bands currently exploring this particular revival. Gentry Densley's previous band, Iceburn, has been exploring an intersection of jazz with various types of heaviness since 1992. The Ascend record, Ample Fire Within, from a few years ago on Southern Lord with Greg, Gentry, and Steve Moore on electric piano and horns is doom fusion. Is ‘Watermelon Hands’ a Herbie Hancock reference? The song titles on this record tended toward self-effacing humor more than anything else. Obviously, it's a twist on Herbie's Watermelon Man, but it is a joke about my bass playing on the song with hands "like two balloons." Fontanelle is the soft part of a child’s skull, where a process of fusion occurs. Hence the band’s name? Yes, the little fountain. There is a history of metal musicians becoming interested in jazz (Alex Skolnick of Testament and Steve DiGiorgio of Sadus and Death, for example). Does it work the other way (the only person I can think of is John Zorn who has well documented links with Napalm Death)? Well, there is fusion itself; a bunch of jazz musicians adding rock influences and creating some of the heaviest and darkest music that I've ever heard. What plans does Fontanelle have for the future? We just did a short west coast tour with Earth. Hopefully, more shows and another album soon. www.kranky.net/artists/fontanelle.html
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A L B U M O F TH E M ON T H
REVI EW S Cult Of Luna - Vertikal Indie Recordings
The word “cult” gets tossed around a lot, with the [becoming-reviled?] spelling kvlt reserved for the revered. It’s an elusive aesthetic that just fucking careens down a slippery slope and can probably be eliminated, holed away along with tr00 and br00tal and… well… anything else inexplicably misspelled with pairs of zeroes. I’m not suggesting cults should (or even could) disappear. So long as icons receive worship, there will still be cults — the Latin etymology of the 400-year-old word extrapolates into “care” actually, as in the literal care one would take of an object; that behavior isn’t leaving anytime soon. And of course here I am, writing about the latest Cult of Luna album for the freshly founded Ghost Cult ezine. So hey, maybe it’s a cult world after all.
Antimatter - Fear of a Unique Identity Prophecy Productions
It's not every day you catch me singing songs to myself. Most of the time if the music I'm listening to actually has vocals I either can't make out what they're singing or I don't care. It's often cringe-worthy or all been said before and doesn't engage me in the way the music does. I'm a bit like Bart Simpson listening to Mrs Krabappel, if you like. Of course I do enjoy a good voice and vocal line, but I listen
Perhaps it is then appropriate for the Swedish octet’s sixth album to embrace, adapt, and interpret the German film legend Fritz Lang’s classic dystopian monstrosity: Metropolis. Sure, it may be one of the most widely-known silent films of all time, but true understanding of its importance is likely lost to the majority of modern film audiences (to say nothing of how its rarer bits were coveted before their discovery a few years ago) and is thus cult. Despite the rudimentary naïveté behind the movie’s politics, the grand picture impresses indelible imagery into our noggins, and still inspires artists to this day; hence, Vertikal. It may have taken fifteen years — and about a decade solidified as the current lineup — but Cult of Luna has finally created a masterpiece. The dudes who have really stepped up their respective games are skinsman Thomas Hedlund and synth wizard Anders Teglund, both of whom joined around the time for 2004’s Salvation. Though the riffs are memorable, Cult of Luna is economically deliberate when doling them out, so Hedlund and Teglund provide propulsion above all else. The digital, mechanical heartbeat driving the intro 'The One' is entirely synthetic, yet no less majestic, and he finds perfect pockets throughout 'I: The Weapon' — itself lush with ISIS atmospheres, an electronic break in the middle, what feels like Latin-tinged rhythm blocks by Hedlund, and a gradual fade-out from each instrument. Then, in a near-
to tone, texture, timbre, technique and melody rather than words. Outside of a dozen bands and songs they made me learn at school, I can't really sing any songs from start to finish. I can, however, now add Antimatter, the project of Britain’s Mick Moss, to that list. On first listen, Fear of a Unique Identity, threw me a little. A quick glance at the intergoogle talked about ambient acoustic music, which this clearly wasn't. In fact it sounded a little commercial and mainstream in parts but with each spin I found more and more depth to the compositions. In a nutshell these songs find a wonderful balance between hooks and melody that you can sing along to in the shower; and progressive, inventive music that scorns traditional song structures and endless repetition of catch cries and phrases. But as with all good music it's the emotion behind this record that makes it so enjoyable and worthy of praise. I love a miserable record. One that spends its time patiently mounting a case for the futility of human existence. There is simply no other emotion in
brazen display of confidence, they unleash their longest song to date in 'Vicarious Redemption' — twice the length of the previous track, with nary a vocal for the first eight minutes. To save a 19-step, minute-by-minute dissection, suffice it to say that there is always something simultaneously familiar and alien juxtaposed, making the journey rewarding rather than grueling. Whoever is singing clean in 'Mute Departure' sounds heavily reminiscent of Phil Anselmo in his mellower moments (think 'His Majesty the Desert' or the like), especially in terms of timbre and applied vocal echoes; Cult of Luna should explore these experiments more, because whenever they harmonize in any respect, great things happen. Co-founding guitarist Johannes Persson and newest axeman Fredrik Kihlberg open their throats once in awhile, however frontman Klas Rydberg doggedly sticks to barks and growls — he definitely has heft, but further finesse would certainly broaden and improve his attack. This is nevertheless quibbling in the face of genius. Records like Vertikal are evidence as to why musicians continue to create, despite foregoing such luxuries as financial security, a normal sleep schedule, and stable relationships — to grab the brass ring of meaningful art that endures like a scene from a memory, reaching beyond merely marketable tripe into true, painful nostalgia. Smile through, nod your head, shed a tear, and progress. Metalmatt Longo
music that makes me feel this alive – no music more beautiful. I'm not a miserable person, I just love miserable music. In the case of Fear of a Unique Identity, Antimatter launch into their assAault on any hope and confidence you might have with a rousing track, 'Paranova', that lifts you up as if to set you free only to grab your ankles with bony fingers that anchor you to mediocrity as you survey the wasteland around you. This great use of paradox is repeated throughout the record as it slowly grinds you down, remaining beautiful even in its moments of heaviness. The use of violin, female harmonies, tension and release, delicate guitar melodies and crushing moments of metal all create a whirling mass of melancholy, despair, sadness and absolute hopelessness. This will have you at one moment screaming to the skies with clenched fists, the next curled in a ball under the coffee table hoping no one ever finds you. And so I return to the lyrics. Moss throws us lines of hope like 'We'd all love to fly away,' but they are firmly entrenched among a contrasting bedrock made up of the likes of 'Is
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that all there is? Conform and display,' and 'The gloves are off, the knives are out And you're on your own.' With a strong and clear voice Moss flows from metaphor to the literal as he paints a story of those who hide in the shadows of sameness and those who control what that sameness is. Great lyrics, sung deep and strong, with dynamic, powerful and emotional music that together tell a story of terrible sadness. And I know the words. Gilbert Potts
Acrimonious - Sunyata Agonia Records
Sunyata is the new record from Acrimonious, a Greek black metal band. It features songs such as ‘Lykaria Hecate’, ‘Glory crowned Son of the Thousand Petalled Lotus’ and ‘Vitalising the Red-Purple in Asher-Zemurium’. Acrimonious, led by Cain Letifer, self-professed “Luciferian Division via Prophecy, Dervishi-Madness and Orphic Dreaming” have a sound firmly rooted in occult black metal, bearing similarities to bands such as Dissection as well as Deathspell Omega on this record. Opening with a grandiose orchestral intro on ‘Nexus Aosoth’, Acrimonious effectively set a ritualistic atmosphere for the record. There is an ever-present chanting rhythm of sorts on Sunyata, and whilst it does help convey the desired atmosphere, at the same time it keeps the record locked at the same pace for the majority of its 55 minute runtime. Although Acrimonious play good mid-paced, rock influenced black metal, a little more variation on an album this long would improve it tenfold. The ritual well and truly kicks off with ‘Lykaria Hecate’, showcasing some of the best melodic riffs that Acrimonious have to offer. It is here where the aforementioned Dissection influence is at its most prominent. A soaring lead harmony plays over a solid foundation of galloping bass and pummelling drums. It is hard not to enjoy such an infectiousmelody. The influence of Deathspell Omega shines through on the following track ‘Adharma’, where Acrimonious opt for a faster and more dissonant approach. Although it never quite reaches the heights of madness that Deathspell Omega do, it helps to bring some variation to Acrimonious' sound, even if it is not quite enough for an album that feels far longer than it really is. It is worth
mentioning that although their sound is at times more dissonant and aggressive they never lose their strong sense of melody or rock influence either, which remains consistent across the whole runtime. The problem with Sunyata is that some of the tracks are needlessly long, stretching songs to the 7 or 8 minute mark when 5 minutes would suffice. Although the riffs themselves are strong in isolation, as mentioned above, there is not enough variation or progression in the song structures to warrant such length. Although things certainly pick up on the final two tracks, ‘Vitalising the RedPurple in Asher-Zemurium’ and ‘Black Kundalini’, which are shorter in length than the majority of the album, it is hard to still feel interested in an album that has bombarded you with a string of 4 (out of 8) tracks that feel far too long. Acrimonious have all the ingredients of a great black metal band, if they either tighten up their song structures, or simply make them more varied, they could have a great record on their hands. Tom Saunders
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Lost Songs Richter Scale Records / Superball Music
I have no idea what it would be like making music and facing a decade of critics and fans telling you they liked your old stuff better than your new stuff. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead are one such band that found themselves not living up to expectations, following the success and acclaim of their 2002 classic third album, Source Tags & Codes. Now their eighth release, Lost Songs (which is not a collection of outtakes), has been labelled by many as a return to form, so to speak, or at least what they believe should have been a return to form. Now I'm as guilty as the guy behind the grassy knoll when it comes to wondering what happened to the sound I loved with bands like The Lemonheads, but in this case, I'm going to avoid the comparisons with previous releases and go straight to the record to form a view. Starting with a hint of ancient South American rhythms (or at least what I perceive ancient South American
rhythms might sound like) mixed with some droney electronics, we soon launch into some pretty traditional post-punk rock with thumping drums and bass, full-on guitar treading a standard sort of chord progression, and strong, up-front vocals. There's acool bridge and then we get back to the verse and chorus before another huge flurry at the end. That's probably enough track description because the songs don't change much from the slowish-start/burst-of-energy/wind-down/explosion-of-sound formula. Which is a good formula for this kind of rock—even better when backed up by good playing skills, good variety in sounds, and great melodies. Which this is. A lot of the record will sound very familiar, and that should please those who have been crying since 2002. Thankfully, there is enough variation to stop the whole thing from sounding too much like any specific band, including themselves. There's plenty on it too—around three quarters of an hour of songs, each running between two and five minutes. It descends into quieter/slower for a song or two, which is always a mixed blessing; the good side being that it breaks up the flow, the bad side being exactly the same thing. The thing I probably like most about the record is that despite it being a noisy postpunk, alt-rock triumph, there is plenty of experimentation going on and a truck-load of layers. Yes, there are memorable riffs and even earworms here and there, but that's not what its soul is. This record is built on passion that often only lives in much younger bands. Although the band talks of this record being a response to a lack of political commentary in indie music, as well as ‘the endemic oppression of an indifference to passion present in our mainstream culture,’ I suspect there is also an element of grabbing each other by the throats and giving themselves a wake-up call. There are some great uplifting tracks, but the majority are serious, like their lyrics. This is intense stuff. It isn't a new sound, nor is it a return to the past. This is a band that has rediscovered what it was like to be young but with the wisdom of experience. If all bands that have been around for 18 years found this much passion again, the world would be a better place. Gilbert Potts
Alternative 4 - The Brink Avantgarde Music
Anathema fans of different eras will argue until the cows come home. When bassist, and without doubt a song writing force, Duncan Patterson left the band after the Alternative 4 album in 1998, he undeniably left behind a void, which makes sense in hindsight as the album clearly marked a paradigm shift for the band going into Judgement, ultimately leading them to being the band they are now. In that time, Patterson would
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Hate - Solarflesh Napalm Records Although Polish extreme metallers Hate have been around since the early 1990s, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that this is the first time that I have taken a listen to their musical output. There’s no other reason for it than the fact that Hate and I had never previously crossed paths. On the strength of Solarflesh, the quartet’s eighth album, I will admit to that being a rather huge mistake. What we have here with Solarflesh is one hell of an aggressive and evil sounding metal album that draws inspiration from both the death and black metal spheres, blending them together into something that is awesome in its extremity. The most immediate reference point would be latter-day Behemoth, although we’re not hit over the head with the similarities.
become a wandering nomad exploring new musical terrain, either with Antimatter or the gorgeously stunning folk project Íon, heavily inspired by traditional Irish music. In 2011 and some 13 years after the release of his final moments with Anathema, Patterson decided to explore familiar terrain again. Naming the band Alternative 4 doesn’t leave any blurry areas as to what his intentions were for this project. First album, The Brink, is very much in the same vein as its 1998 counterpart. The original album from Anathema was the third album with Vincent Cavanagh on lead vocals, and saw him completely drop any harsh vocals in favour of his now all too familiar affecting singing, and various Floyd-isms but still heartrending levels of abject despair. The Brink very much explores the same corner. While taking much from the similar influences of doom, the album picks up where 1998 left off with heavy atmospheric riffs, beautiful vocal lines alongside lush string arrangements. First track proper ‘False Light’ is a song that sways between the harrowingly mellow and the chorus’ invigorating call. The wash of keyboards then is all too complementary, and you know then at this point
As you would expect from a band of this style, the vocals are spat out in a deep-throated almost snarled growl, denouncing all that the Christian religion stands for. Indeed, Hate are a band with an anti-Christianity, quasi-satanic bent and they’re not ones for hiding it either. This blasphemous diatribe then sits atop the kind of uncompromising musical tapestry that you would rightly expect. When employed, the double-pedal drumming is thunderous, the guitar riffs are sharp, precise and aggressive and, although sparingly used, the guitar solos squeal as if they are escaping from the bowels of hell. Melody is naturally at a premium throughout and yet, in spite of the venomous intent of Solarflesh I find the album to be strangely accessible. Much of this has to do with the production which offers a clarity and power to each instrument that is very impressive indeed. But, as evidenced by the likes of the title track or ‘Timeless Kingdom’, Hate also know how to inject groove and impressive dynamics into their compositions, leaving you with a sore neck and a desire to make a return visit to the album in short order. In short, if vile, venomous and powerful extreme metal is your thing, make sure you check out Solarflesh as soon as possible. Matt Spall
that Patterson is really onto something here. There’s a sense of the unknown and the ghostly running throughout each of these compositions, all key to crafting the heavy atmosphere that makes The Brink such a compelling listen. ‘Underlooked’ is nine minutes of slow, creeping keyboards and spectral vocals, feeling like an eruption is about to kick in any moment but the tense air just keeps pulling you back in. Meanwhile, ‘Still Waters’ is a notable standout in the album with gloom aplenty, from the slightly denser guitars that are met by sultry acoustic guitars to the sleek vocal patterns. In various bands, Patterson has always proven his song writing worth in spades and that skill is more than prevalent here. The Brink will be subject to many a comparison to Alternative 4 the album, but it’s hardly to be unexpected considering how he has named the band; it makes his modus operandi quite clear. Regardless, judged entirely on its own merit, The Brink is an impressive first album. Jonathan Keane
Chaos Echœs - Tone Of Things To Come Chaos Echoes Products
Composed of 2 brothers—expat members of disbanded Bloody Signs—Kalevi Uibo and Ilmar Uibo, along with Etienne Testart and Stefan Thanneur, Chaos Echœs self-released their first album, Tone Of Things To Come, on September 18th 2012, following three days of recording at Le Grillen in April 2012. With each member contributing vocals and a plethora of unconventional instrumental skill such as cithara, bells and a multitude of
effects, how fitting a title for an album that evokes theremnants of a world that once was—a schematic and ecosystem of technological gadgetry, sparking and smouldering under overcast skies of polluted air. ‘Interzone I’ and ‘Interzone II,’ my favorite pieces of the entire album are just too gorgeous for words—but I’ll do my best. Hell, Hans Zimmer should call these guys up for his next movie soundtrack. Inception 2 anyone? These elegant and haunting drips of musical experimentation are the sort of thing that make Chaos Echœs more than just another generic black metal band for me. However consciously sculpted or remnant of acoustic dribble, these interludes stitch together Tone Of Things To Come perfectly. ‘The Innermost Depths Of Knowledge’ which trails into ‘Interzone II’ exits with an eerie cithara plucking, the likes of which could have harmoniously complemented a Twilight Zone episode from the 1960s. Dripping in death and charred from apocalyptic flames, guitars battle your senses from opposing ends and drums patter their way into a rhythmic formation, coaxing the vocals to croak and bubble over it all, like molten lava. Guitar solos create suction toward the abyss of the track’s
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Hatebreed - The Divinity Of Purpose Nuclear Blast Hatebreed is one of those bands that you can always count on to put out an album that will be unrelenting, fist-in-the-air heavy with enough shout-a-long choruses to permanently damage your vocal chords. Walking a fine line between thrash and hardcore they have always been one of the few bands that can be labelled metalcore without smirking, due to the fact they've always produced fast and heavy albums to a consistent quality. And the band's sixth studio album, The Divinity Of Purpose, is certainly no different. The motto of Jamie Jasta and his crew may as well be “If it ain't broke, don't fix it” which gives rise to both the band's biggest strength as well as their biggest weakness. Album number six is crammed full of the shout-a-long lyrics, fast, chugging riffs and mosh-friendly drumming that have built the band a worldwide
centre, until the turbulent struggle is prompted onward to battling though inner voices—or so it simulates. ‘Black Mantra’ is a perfect blackened death track, and contrary to many articles I’ve read, in which reviewers seem to be confused and unengaged by Chaos Echœs, I beg to disagree. For those in search of something industrious and corrosive, evoking the likes of Batillus, infused with the darkened doom of bands such as Inverloch after being pummeled by some old school black metal musicians, you’ve found your fix. Christine Hager
Corsair - Corsair Shadow Kingdom Records
When I was a child, my favourite aircraft was the F4U-1 Corsair. It was a single engine fighter the NAVY used. It was wicked fast and
following and they sound great as always, even with some sense of renewed vigour possibly due to the return of Wayne Lozinak on guitar. However, it is all very much the same routine as always. There is no denying the band's passion or abilities, but there is no attempt to leave their comfort zone or mix things up in any significant way. Hatebreed has always been a very straight-forward band who found their formula and stuck with it even as musical trends have come and gone. Even production-wise, again there are no real surprises as long-time producer Chris “Zuess” Harris returns to the mixing desk once more to weave his usual magic for the band. As such you can probably guess exactly how this album will sound from start to finish before even listening to a single note of it. That isn't to say there isn't a healthy dose of stand-out tracks to take your pick from though with 'Put It To The Torch', 'Indivisible', 'The Divinity Of Purpose', and 'Time To Murder It' standing above particularly amongst their signature cacophony. Hatebreed are not here to reinvent the wheel. They are the heavy band equivalent of a sturdy pair of boots that will see you through all weathers and all concerts. So if you're looking for technical wizardry or new and exciting sounds, look somewhere else because Hatebreed are here to just smash things up and have a good time doing it. Sean M. Palfrey
equipped with Browning machine guns. Squeeee It’s still my favourite fighter plane some many decades later. When I put on the band Corsair’s debut album from Shadow Kingdom Records entitled Corsair, the opening track ‘Agathyrsi’ reminded me of an aerial dogfight using, of course, the F4U-1 Corsair. The entire album sounds like a soundtrack to aerial combat. Corsair the band combine so many groovy elements in music, it’s hard not to like them. The twin guitar attack of Paul Sebring and Marie Landragin remind me of early Iron Maiden. They have this awesome NWOBHM vibe. Songs like ‘Chaemera’ and’ Falconer’ have a Steely Dan, Thin Lizzy feel as well. That’s the constant throughout the album, its feel. The main vocals change from singer to singer. Paul, Marie, and Jordan Brunk who also plays bass, sings lead as well. ‘Path of the Chosen Arrow’ sounds a lot like a Jackson Browne song vocal wise. Vocally, I don’t find it as strong as ‘Chaemera’ or ‘Falconer’. The overall tone of Corsair is delicious. There is a laid back earthiness to the music that is juxtaposed with the sweeping guitars that seem to simulate flight; much like the aptly named ‘Mach’. Corsair closes up shop with the hauntingly beautiful ‘The Desert’. There is something ethereal about the production. The guitars are dreamy. Jordan Brunk’s bass playing is hypnotic. Marie Landragin’s vocals are a study in quiet ecstasy. At 3:13 the band lift off into a psychedelic ‘70s prog rock head trip. The sounds emanating from my speakers
evoke colours and space travel and celestial beings. It’s like time travel. The eight songs on the debut album Corsair clock in at just a tad over thirty-seven minutes. It far too short a time to listen to music from this Virginia outfit. Corsair’s Corsair is starting the 2013 album season off with a bang! They are in serious contention to be the Top Album of 2013. Victoria Anderson
Deceit - Nine Scarlet Records
I have to say that I cannot claim to be the biggest fan of supposed Alternative Rock music as a ‘genre’ itself. Aside from a couple of bands that I love, most bands that fall under the umbrella don’t do a lot for me,
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and it does seem to encompass a lot of bands without a lot of thought or explanation. Deceit however are one that seem to not only warrant the ‘alternative’ tag, but also spark some interest in me. It has to be said that listening all the way through, Nine is quite barmy and even near schizophrenic. For the most part Deceit seem to show inspiration from grunge bands and acts like Foo Fighters, as well as pop punk; showing a knack for bouncy and quite pop tinged songs, but then this isn’t quite so clear cut. The first two tracks definitely follow this ideal, but then ‘First Father’ seems to throw the sent with a more frail, emotive and even near eerie sound. It does continue to throw up some weird reference points at times throughout; at times I can hear tinges of vocals akin to Matt Bellamy of Muse fame, sometimes there is a Turbowolf like quirkiness and even a very pop rock heavy riff that brings Franz Ferdinand to mind. There seems to be a fair bit going on here and this make it lack proper cohesion a tad. That being said this is a really interesting sounding album full of potential, so the follow up could be one to look out for. If you are a fan of supposed alternative rock then you might just lap this up, but those who aren’t may still find something to like here. An odd album, but a pretty good one. Christopher Tippell
Eagle Claw - Timing of the Void ECH Records
can have too many riffs. There's a wave of progressive and experimental bands like Russian Circles, Red Sparowes, Rosetta and What the Blood Revealed playing mainly or wholly instrumental metal that pushes the boundaries, incorporates elements of other styles and offers an alternative to traditional vocal-led metal. On the other hand Eagle Claw sounds like heavy metal from last century that hasn’t had the vocal track added yet. It's technically good but the fact it's unusually regressive rather than progressive will probably polarise those who listen to a lot of instrumental rock and metal. There’s no sign of extreme double-kick here – just proficient, loud and free-flowing drumming. Bass lines are strong but strictly rhythm-nothing like the technical wizardry of the likes of Cygnus from Ne Obliviscaris. The twin guitar attack is technical and not for the sake of it. It has melody but generally in the form of a short guitar solo that harks back to the 80s. There is some good counterpoint and interplay but too often you will find said twin guitars running the same lines a few tones apart but in unison. There is little use of dynamics and lacks the depth and layers that most good instrumental rock and metal use. There’s no tension, humour, lightness, despair or mind-blowing intensity. It's just riff after riff after riff harking back to early Metallica or Iron Maiden. You can still pay homage to an earlier era and make interesting and imaginative metal, as Apocalyptica do. Of course I'm writing this from the point of view of someone who loves the progression of music. If on the other hand you still love heavy metal from the 80s and think postrock, post-metal, black metal and progressive metal are all evil, then perhaps this is the perfect instrumental metal record for you. To my mind it's not a bad record and I admire it for standing out from the crowd in a strange sort of way. I just don't think it has much to offer. Gilbert Potts
what could be argued to be an entirely new sonic landscape. To be more precise, Erdh is actually a duo, comprising Wormfood frontman Emmanuel Lévy and multi-instrumentalist and composer Nicolas Pingnelain. Lévy and Pingnelain should be congratulated for their ambition because all too often, musicians seem to be afraid of trying new things, instead sticking to tried and trusted sounds and methods in the hope that they will be successful. The duo have come together with the aim of fusing together aspects of heavy metal with Gothic and electronic music in a very abstract manner. At the outset, I will be honest and declare that the finished article is not something I fully understand or embrace. And yet, I cannot deny that there is a certain something about it that draws me in. At its most facile, it may just be morbid curiosity but I sense that it is more than that. Take ‘Oxidized’ for example. It begins with a relatively groovy heavy guitar riff and a Gothic-sounding darkwave vocal before venturing into places that I’d never expect, ending with a strange electronic dance feel and a violin-led melody. ‘(O.D.)dity In Neverland’ kicks off in full-on electronica territory with a Samael-esque vocal and for its entirety never moves away from this dark path. The title track is hypnotic, as it ebbs and flows around a very simple monotone central riff whilst ‘Codex Atrox’ flits between quiet electronic sounds, strange vocal sounds and a Gothic rock approach. When Erdh stick to the metal, they appeal more to me. And yet, I am certain that the juxtaposition between the aggression and the more adventurous experimental elements will be the factor that brings the duo the most plaudits from those with broader minds and musical tastes than myself. I’m all for experimentation and originality, but Resilient takes this a bit too far for my tastes. Matt Spall
Ethernet - Opus 2 Kranky I generally listen to a record five to ten times before I write the review because as you know three things can happen; bands get better; get worse; or stay about the same the more you listen to them. I quite liked the new album Timing of the Void from Texas band Eagle Claw when I first played it. Using twin lead guitars they play metal without vocals, but you wouldn't call it post-metal or heavy post-rock, despite some moments appearing to stray in that direction. In some ways it feels like what you might call math-metal, but not in the sense of mathcore like Dillinger Escape Plan or any other hardcore. More in the sense that it is fairly emotionless, methodical and plodding. In the end that's where its problem lies and why I got bored with it after a few spins. It seems you
Erdh - Resilient Altered End
Resilient is the name given to the debut album by Erdh, a band seeking to explore
Sometimes the most rewarding albums are the ones that you need to have patience with and Opus 2 from Portland, Oregon's Ethernet is certainly one of those albums.
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This minimalistic ambient-cum-trance offering is a slow burn of swirling synthesizers and light melodies that loop together and reform themselves drawing the listener deep into the song structure. It is meditative and sedatory, and altogether rather refreshing. With each of the six tracks never dipping below seven minutes in terms of run time and with little in the way of traditional song structure Opus 2, for want of a better phrase, is heavy listening, particularly for those more used to up-beat or up-tempo electronic artists. That isn't to say though that the songs don't stand out from each other. The opening track 'Monarch' in particular is a very solid introduction that gradually builds on it’s own melody before finally introducing a minimal but catchy beat. Track 3, 'Cubed Suns' on the other hand is a slightly more ambientindustrial affair with its juxtaposition of harsher loops with an airy melody underpinned by a barely audible beat. 'Dodecahedron' on the other hand feels a lot darker in atmosphere with it's hanging chords feeding back slightly under a repetitive, echoing drum loop. There is something very cinematic about this album with the likes of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' recent works as well as those of Ryuchi Sakomoto coming to mind. While nods to Aphex Twin, Cevin Key, Coil and Susumu Yokota are prevalent throughout the wider palette of the album. In terms of production the sound is crystal clear and there are plenty of clever little tricks in the mix to keep the listeners interest such as loops, beats and melodies that hide in the barely audible levels to entice you to listen closer. Opus 2 is a very interesting and clever album and for open-minded fans of electronic music, it will be a rewarding listen. However for the more casual listener it may prove to be too difficult to get into, no matter how technically adept and sonically mesmerising it is. Sean M. Palfrey
Hanging Garden - At Every Door Lifeforce Records
developed from a more classic melodic doom/death metal sound to a more gothic metal style throughout their career. This Swedish six-piece consists of Mikko Kolari and Jussi Hämäläinen, both on guitar, Nino Hynninen on keyboards, Toni Toivonen on vocals, Antti Ruokola on drums and Jussi Kirves on bass. On this record they manage to create an interesting mixture of atmospheric doom metal with plenty of gothic sounding influences. From the first seconds of the opening track ‘Ten Thousand Cranes’ I instantly get reminded of Paradise Lost from the time of around As I Die to their more recent material. This is partly because of the changing vocals from clear singing to deep heavy grunting. But it is also the overall style which Hanging Garden uses, which is heavy-but-cleansounding sludge guitars, combined with a slow and steady drum rhythm, all accompanied by very prominent keyboards. One thing Hanging Garden does manage to do perfectly is to create that gothic atmosphere. The songs are all well-thought through and written perfectly, with just the right amount of doom elements. The title track is a beautiful instrumental intermezzo, which gives the listener a very welcome and almost dream-like break before the next story starts in ‘The Cure’. At times At Every Door is very accessible, almost danceable, as in the track ‘Evenfall’, which wouldn’t be misplaced on a heavier rock radio station. But it is the final track ‘To End All Ages’, which is—at just over 10 minutes—the longest track on At Every Door, that is in my opinion the magnum opus of this album. This long track is full of beautifully composed doom and atmospheric melody and gives this album a great finale. At Every Door is wonderfully produced with all the instruments very clearly noticeable in the mix. It does however miss a bit of rawness I quite like to hear in bands from the atmospheric doom genre. It will however open even more doors to a wider audience and I can see Hanging Garden playing some of the bigger metal festivals in Europe this summer. Coming from Sweden, Hanging Garden knows about dark and cold winters as no other and they managed to produce the perfect soundtrack to get through these winters. Sander van den Driesche
Holy Grail - Ride the Void Nuclear Blast
At Every Door is Hanging Garden’s third release and their most commercial thus far. Hanging Garden has progressively
Founded back in only 2009, Californian heavy metallers Holy Grail have returned with their new album, Ride the Void. They are a band that has gone from strength to strength since their last release, Crisis in Utopia. Due to a hectic and highly successful touring schedule this band have built up a strong fan base recently and hopes are high for their latest offering.
From the first listen, it is evident how talented Holy Grail are. The guitar work on Too Decayed to Wait in particular is very impressive. Ear-splitting solos teamed with power metal vocals are a winning combination in my book. The songwriting on the album is fantastic, giving each member of the band a chance to really showcase what they can do. It’s not all show-off material though, there’s a nice range of pace across the album and each track leads nicely into the next, giving the feel of a coherent release, surprising considering the band are still relatively new. Full of catchy riffs, the odd sing-along chorus and epic soles, Ride the Void is an album which should definitely be added to your most listened to playlist. Recommended for fans of Judas Priest and Diamond Head. Chantelle Marie
Infernal Poetry - Parapheliac Bakerteam Records
As a general rule, death metal, as perhaps the most confrontational and aggressive of sub genres, should sound just that. At its best it should completely live up to those superlatives we all use for this music: brutal, heavy, vicious and of course brilliant. On the evidence of Parapheliac, Infernal Poetry don’t do so. Hailing from Italy, Infernal Poetry have a modern death metal sound, certainly influenced by the traditional death metal elite, and even the likes of Sepultura but also with a tinge of Gojira-loving as well. Unlike Gojira, however, these guys seriously lack any real imaginative streak whatsoever, with no new ideas; this sounds all too much like complete aping of things already done to the death.
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Put simply, it shows no real identity of its own. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad if the songs were pure killer. They aren’t. Parapheliac makes the critical error of sounding nothing more than just plodding and worse of all, boring. No riffs or hooks manage to grab your attention at all, no curveballs are thrown and vocals feel uninspiring. After repeated listens Put simply, it shows no real identity of its own. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad if the songs were pure killer. They aren’t. Parapheliac makes the critical error of sounding nothing more than just plodding and worse of all, boring. No riffs or hooks manage to grab your attention at all, no curveballs are thrown and vocals feel uninspiring. After repeated listens this quite simply just becomes forgettable. Death metal fans, even those with a casual interest, know just how much great death metal is not only furious but also exciting; and from Parapheliac you can tell that Infernal Poetry love their death metal. Sadly they haven’t quite picked up its knack to melt your face or kick you in the guts. Parapheliac is hugely forgettable and does not pack a punch at all. Christopher Tippell
Kowloon Walled City -Container Ships Brutal Panda Records
turn. KWC (the band) reflects that imagery in that listening to Container Ships can be quite addictive, while at the same time sucking the air from your lungs. Even at their most urgent, KWC are stifling with their immensity. Much of the album is light on the notes yet heavy on the tone, the low end balanced by a jangly feel. It makes for a powerfully forlorn experience punctuated by outbursts of aggression, mostly in the form of drummer Jeff Fagundes. The lethargy encapsulating the album can be seen as a counterpoint to our current culture. Faster, better, newer, newer, newer, throw away the old. The riffs here sink in deep and stick around for the long haul, flogging the listener with doom and drone, laying waste to the wasteland. A wasteland occupying the same sonic landscape as Gaza (the band. Not that the region isn't fodder for dirgy, annihilative noise.) The main difference being Scott Evans's vocals. Mostly clean, with passionate yelling, his expressions evoke a sort of despondency. All the pain, apathy and pity for our society breaks through. All the ugliness of our world is reflecting within ourselves which is reflected in Evans's words. One could liken the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of Container Ships to rough seas. Waves cresting only to plummet down into the trough and rise again. The listener may be soaked to the bone and sea sick but there is a swirling beauty embroidered into the fabric of the album. A hope woven into our consciousness to hold onto as we try to find our place in a filthy world headed towards destruction. Container Ships is a monstrous and hefty journey that should appeal to a wide range of tastes and stimulate the thinking process. Its musical weight and heady content is just as likely to invoke a bodily reaction as it is to reside in the grey matter. Matt Hinch
This is the modern sound of Norwegian black metal, and NettleCarrier attack their music with intensity and passion. Whilst the members have been a part of NettleCarrier for quite some time (they formed around 2005), other projects took hold, most noticeably Djevel (all three members of NettleCarrier are in fact three quarters of the aforementioned black metal project), and this collective took their sweet time in releasing a full length debut. Thankfully, they couldn’t put it off any longer, and NettleCarrier finally sees the trio lay down their take on the influence of Satan via punchy riffing and the standard throaty rasps expected of the genre from frontman Mannevond. NettleCarrier is a flighty record, and tracks rush by in a whirlwind of shouts, screams, and rough-around-the-edges production. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but, this is black metal at its most pure. The sound is a little bit dirty and the mix is a tad off, but this is how it should sound. Mannevond’s vocals husk their way through layers of guitar and the blast-orientated drums of Dirge Rep cut through the murk with precision and glee. ‘Naar Han Vaakner’ flows with a steady and almost doomed feeling, which is in stark contrast to the otherwise rapid pace heard throughout the record. Songs often start with a filthy and devious tone that echoes in a devilishly consistent manner during the course of NettleCarrier. ‘Budet Til Masten’ closes proceedings on a sly and twisted note: all creeping guitar lines, the bass actually giving the song some weight and heaviness, and the drums running at a faster pace than seems humanly possible. NettleCarrier may have taken years to get to this point, but it was certainly worth the wait. Sinister and fun in equal measure, NettleCarrier is a delight. Cheryl Carter
NettleCarrier - NettleCarrier Independent Release Taking their name from the densely populated and debaucherous (and now destroyed) Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, Kowloon Walled City create music just as dense and filthy as their namesake. Their latest full length, Container Ships is a corpulent beast. Pigeon-holing KWC into a genre is an exercise in futility, but ball-crushing, noisy, posthardcore doom rock might suffice. Ian Miller's sickening bass anchors the low end while the equally heavy guitars of Jon Howell and guitarist/vocalist Scott Evans create the aural equivalent of that feeling you get in your guts right before diarrhoea. It churns so hard it could plow a field (of discontent). I see KWC (the place) as a microcosm of our future. Packed so tight we can barely breath and surrounded by sex and drugs at every
Orchid - Heretic EP Nuclear Blast
NettleCarrier hail from the cold and frosty land of Norway, and their sound is indeed true in its icy stabs at melody and harsh cries of power-hungry madness.
First things first, we’re not talking about the hugely influential screamo band, just in case you were clicking through the magazine and the name Orchid caught your eye for obvious reasons. No, rather we’re talking about the San Franciscan doom metallers and their inescapably Sabbath worshipping riffs who’ve released their newest offering in the form of this EP entitled Heretic. Brought to us by Nuclear Blast, Heretic is the band’s follow-up to 2011’s full-length effort Capricorn and sees the foursome churn out four tracks with an overwhelming affinity for the vintage flavours of Sabbath (of course) and the ‘70s psychedelia that so heavily informs each of their notes.
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Sacred Reich - Live At Wacken Metal Blade
I have to admit that I have only had a bit of a casual acquaintance with Sacred Reich. Besides the odd video that I would see as a teenager on the Power Hour (Canada's equivalent to Headbanger's Ball), I think the only album that I actually listened to back to front was The American Way. And, to be perfectly honest I really don't remember much of it. I do recall liking what I heard, but for some reason or other I just never got any further into the band, as a result I didn't have high expec-
Orchid has a very particular goal in mind and that’s just to rock, simple as that really. The title track immediately grabs you as a standout with slithering riffs and possessed vocals, all steeped in vitality. This is Orchid’s modus operandi in full swing. It’s only on the track ‘Falling Away’ that Orchid really starts to unveil a different side to themselves. While certainly not a ballad of any kind, the song is an altogether subdued affair, acoustic driven and heavily led by the rickety vocals of Theo Mindell for seven minutes. Almost ceremonial in vibe, the chorus exhibits the band’s penchant for atmosphere and tense feeling. It’s a suitable curveball that the band throw in so as to remind us that they won’t rely on the same tools of the trade all the time. That said, Orchid do still feel that their strengths remain in the realms of hazy rock
tations for Live At Wacken. These low expectations were only further enforced by the fact that live albums generally don't appeal to non-fans and frequently are rushed products with horrible sound quality. I was however, pleasantly surprised by Live at Wacken as the album shows Sacred Reich to be a high-energy, catchy and engaging thrash metal band. Opening with the song `The American Way ’the band proves that despite their age, they are still a force to be reckoned with. In fact, the whole album is filled with great song after great song with each individual song being a standout. Now that I`ve heard ‘Live At Wacken’ I will be going back to listen to the rest of Sacred Reich`s discography as the songs here are so stellar. These are some great songs and you really should go and pick this album up-These guys are definitely underrated. Curtis Dewar
action and that’s exactly where the EP recommences with ‘Saviours of the Blind’. First kicking off with familiar riffing, the band delves into a bluesy passage and the eventual chorus is a tuneful one in every way. It’s still important though to note that it’s nothing we haven’t heard before and in fact, Orchid are treading ground well-trod at this point. Last track is a strange inclusion; ‘He Who Walks Alone’ originally appeared on Capricorn but has made a re-appearance here for some reason. What the purpose is of its inclusion is anyone’s guess. Regardless, Heretic is a solid offering from Orchid. They’re not reinventing the wheel by any stretch of the imagination but they serve up enough bluesy riffs to help you forget. Jonathan Keane
Rhyme - The Seed And The Sewage Bakerteam Records I was never much of a fan of the more mainstream metal scene in the 1990s and early noughties. The likes of Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit et al made me despair if I’m honest because it all struck me as a classic case of style over substance. But worse than that, it seemed to be a cynical attempt at making extreme music accessible. And, in the end, it kinda worked, although if you’re honest, it ended up being
that there was very little about the music that was extreme; it was mainly just pop music with down-tuned guitars and a shouty frontman. Now, I’m not saying that Milanese quartet Rhyme have dug up this whole scene and brought it back to life. Indeed, there’s very little shouting to be found anywhere on this record. However, there are elements of that within the quartet’s sound on The Seed And The Sewage, their sophomore release. But then there are other influences at play too, including another bugbear or mine – grunge, as well as Southern rock and nods to other rock luminaries of the period, principally Load-era Metallica. The whole thing comes together, on paper anyway, in some kind of Frankenstein-esque nightmare. In reality, the finished article is not quite as bad as all that. In fact, although it pains me to say it, The Seed And The Sewage is not a bad record at all. Opener ‘Manimal’ is a groove-laden up-tempo rocker that gets the head bobbing whilst the follow-up track, ‘The Hangman’ features an undeniably catchy chorus as well as a few massive riffs. This is very much the blueprint for the entire album, with catchiness and immediacy at the core of what Rhyme are all about. In spite of myself, I can’t help but interact with the music and although it really does verge on the side of cheesiness on a regular basis, there is no denying that the compositions have been constructed and executed very well indeed. There’s even a really decent cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Wrong’ to round things out. Overall, if you are looking for an uncomplicated and fun listening experience, you could do a lot worse than check these guys out. Matt Spall
The Algorithm - Polymorphic Code Basick Records The Algorithm: A band that have taken a massive gamble to try and combine two very diverse genres to create their own version of ‘electrometal’. What’s exciting about their new album, Polymorphic Code, is that they appear to have pulled it off. Mostly. The most impressive part of this release is how they manage to pull together both the metal and the electronic world with such ease. The most annoying part of it is at times
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Don’t let that douche Chris Brown’s DIY jacket (which was probably bought at hot topic) fool you. The Casualties’ latest album is a fist full of hate in the face of society. If you are into punk acts such as Krum Bums, The Exploited, GBH and Cheap Sex then you probably already know The Casualties. If not, you should take a long, hard look at yourself. Pick this album up, boys and girls of the revolution. It is pretty rad. Berneau van der Merwe
it sounds like they had a toddler sat beside them while recording, pressing random buttons on a children’s keyboard. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but in some songs it does feel like overkill. Opening track, Handshake, breaks you in gently to the unpredictability of the album in general, being of a more linear structure than the following tracks. I think this is a wise move on the French musicians’ part as it won’t initially scare off unaware listeners. My advice with this record is to keep an open mind. If you are looking for something a bit different, a bit more experimental than everyday metal, then give Polymorphic Code a go. I’m not sure how this album will stand the test of time, but it is definitely worth a listen. Chantelle Marie
The Casualties - Resistance Season of Mist
So, what is there to say about street punk act The Casualties? Absolutely nothing. The music speaks for itself. Their latest release, titled Resistance, is also the band’s ninth studio album. Angry, political and just noisy as can be, with some melody, but not really. Okay, I am lying. The latest release from legendary street punk band The Casualties has a lot of grit, awesome yet simple riffs and the vocal work is superb. That goes for the backup vocal work as well. It is the culmination of 22 years of disgust with pretty much everything to do with socalled “modern society”, which is fantastic. Resistance contains tracks such as “Modern Day Slaves”, “Morality Police” and “Brick Wall Justice”. The lyrical content seems pretty much carved in stone.
count. In some ways music that looks forward, in others a relic from days when people had time for 90-odd minute records, The Alvaret Ensemble stands out from the crowd. For all the right reasons. Gilbert Potts
The Flight of Sleipnir - Saga Eyes Like Snow
The Alvaret Ensemble - S/T Denovali Records
Do you know how hard it can be to find an hour and a half to sit back and listen to one record without interruption? Yes. That hard. Trying to do that five times in a week has been impossible for me so I've been listening to this self-titled album from The Alvaret Ensemble in less than ideal conditions. Yet despite this I've managed to get so much from what, in many ways, is so little. English-born Berlin neo-classical composer Greg Haines has brought together three Dutch musicians Romke Kleefstra, Sytze Pruiksma and Jan Kleefstra to add guitar, percussion and vocals to Haines’ piano. Other musicians join in here and there, providing depth and variety. At times hauntingly beautiful, others terribly sad and yet others enormously creepy, these long improvised works are a lesson in minimalism that you can actually listen to. While much ambient avant-garde music of this type comes across as pretentious because of its inaccessibility, The Alvaret Ensemble is thoroughly listenable. Better still, it's engaging and feels more diverse than it is over its vast length. This is not your cinematic film score for a film that doesn't exist, this is great music for the sake of great music. Whether it's the incredibly slow crescendo in songs like 'Wju' or the lovely short phrase used in 'Eac', these songs having been created with an incredible intuition for sound rather than melody, and timing rather than rhythm. The vocals take the form of softly spoken word, I presume in Dutch although it could well be invented words. It doesn't matter – it's what the words sound like that
Colorado duo The Flight of Sleipnir have returned with their fourth album—and follow up to the 2011 Essence of Nine—with their latest offering entitled Saga. It’s hard to place these guys into a definite category or even suggest comparison bands to them, due to the fact that they really are completely unique. A one-of-a-kind mixture of progressive and doom metal with a hint of Viking, diversified by their combination of melodic and harsh vocals and both electric and acoustic sounds. The album starts off with Prologue, featuring raw black metal vocals with a melodic section placed nicely in the middle of the track. The pace then slows right down for the next couple of songs which are more acoustic and mellow-sounding. The beautiful thing about this album is the feeling of the story it tells and the journey it takes you on. Reaffirmation begins to the sound of howling wind and gives the listener the feeling of trekking across a cold, harsh landscape; whereas the next track Reverence ends to a crackling camp fire, making you feel you’ve found your shelter for the night. The storytelling element is a common theme of the music David Csicsely and Clayton Cushman set out to make, as they give their own musical interpretation of Scandinavian literature. I’d highly recommend this release. It’s not one for background music, though. It’s an album which has to be properly listened to in order to understand and appreciate all of the subtleties in the writing. My advice would be to take advantage of the upcoming holidays, sit back in front of an open fire and just enjoy it. Chantelle Marie
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Sons Of Aeon - S/T Lifeforce Records
What constitutes a supergroup? Do they have to be musicians who have conquered the world (Velvet Revolver), or a group of guys who have day jobs in respected, but not massive, bands? I'm inclined to say the former, otherwise you have start calling Paul Di'Anno's albums with Dennis Stratton the work of a supergroup. But that doesn't mean new side-projects aren't worth listening to. Take Sons Of Aeon. The Finland-based band comprises members of Swallow The Sun, Ghost Brigade and Code For Silence's Tony Kaikkonen on vocals. There's no synths or clean vocals, but at various points their self-titled debut sounds like an amalgamation of their respective day jobs’ influence bleeding into one, which is no bad thing. The group fuses melodic death metal with a heavy slab of hardcore. Think Hatebreed with flourishes of At The Gates & In Flames over a bed of 90s death metal, and you're left with SOA. The songs are well-written, and thrash in all the right places. There's plenty of aggression: Opener ‘Faceless’ creeps along nicely before exploding into a barrage of relentless rage. And it continues like this for much the album. ‘Cold Waves’ eases off the tempo, but ups the chugging. Though it shreds in all the right ways, parts of the record suffer from a general lack of spark in places. There's pace, but there feels like a deficit of urgency in the songs. Perhaps it's because they wear their influences a bit too much on their sleeves; you rarely find yourself thinking "there's something I haven't heard before". On the songs that do show some spark, it's easy to imagine they'd sound great live. The problem is that on the whole, it lacks any real originality; there's little here you can't get from the member's respective sourcebands or any number of other players in the market. ‘Wolf Eyes’ could easily be a lost At The Gates track, though without the crazy leads. ‘The Center’s’ acoustic spoken word intro provides a nice change of tempo before breaking out some nice lead guitar work, and provides an great intro for album highlight, ‘Havoc & Catharsis’. Here SOA kick things up a notch and find the urgency and extra spark, and it's a shame more of the album isn't up to the same quality. Three of the best tracks on this debut have been around for a while; the band made ‘Weakness’, ‘Seeds Of Destruction’ and ‘Burden’ available for free on their site over a year ago. The latter starts slow before accelerating into an In Flames-fuelled melodic thrasher with a big chorus, and the other three follow in a similar vein. Sons Of Aeon is a solid debut, though also solidly unspectacular, and it suffers from a lack of originality. Fans of the genre or related acts will be satisfied though, and there's enough to keep even a casual listener interested for a couple of play-throughs. Dan Swinhoe
Talvihorros - And It Was So Denovali
London based composer Ben Chatwin would best be described as a musician's musician. The kind of musician who may be obscure, but nonetheless inspirational to those who discover him. His sonic experiments under the Talvihorros moniker mixes dark ambient, drone, avant-garde and a smattering of black metal to compose visceral and immersible soundscapes that range in scope from the claustrophobic to the ethereal. Expertly wielded electronics, guitar and violins converge evocatively for a truly cinematic listening experience. Throughout songs like 'Let There Be Light', 'The Two Great Lights' and 'Creeping Things' the balance of harsh, fuzzy electronics and melodic guitars, violins occasionally coupled with cavernous percussion, creates the sense of looking down into an infinite black void inhabited by Lovecraftian nightmares. While the likes of 'In The Midst Of The Waters' and 'A Mist Went Up' convey a more calm and hypnotic, but still no less sinister atmosphere by leaning more towards the melodic elements. But what is very interesting is the sense of journey that this album produces, it could almost be the soundtrack to a Lovecraft novella as it twists through terrifying preternatural and exquisite hallucinations. The skill of the song writing doesn’t end there though. From the mixing side of things every song is wonderfully punctuated by sounds that ebb and erode at themselves with reverb and delay as they sink from the top of the mix back down into the depths only to rise and fall again. While the predominant drones, chords and melodies, despite their often diametrical natures, flow comfortably feeding off each other. Even though Chatwin employs plenty of the off-the-wall styles and a heavy dose of experimentalism, the album remains fairly approachable with a mixture of track lengths (ranging from three-and-ahalf to eleven minutes) and an abundance of catchy melodies throughout. The style of And It Was So may not be unique these days (the likes of the
heavier Caïna springs to mind) but it is one of the best composed and best constructed albums of its ilk around at the moment; with a sense of experimentalism rooted firmly in good writing, which immediately separates it out from a drove of what can often be all too amateurish projects tagged as avantgarde. Best of all it will appeal to fans of electronic music, neoclassical, black metal, doom and even neofolk, which isn't bad for an instrumental album. Although it would be intriguing to hear how well this style gels with vocals. Sean M. Palfrey
The Prophecy - Salvation Code666/Aural Music
The Prophecy is an amazing English band. It's no wonder that Salvation is an amazing album. The title track is epic. It is a statement to the world at large that The Prophecy is a force to be reckoned with. The music is sweeping and expressive. Matt Lawson's voice is just as lovely on this album as it is live. It's deep and soulful. Matt can hold a note. He may joke with you that he parties hard and drinks loads of beer and smokes like a chimney. It's just a joke. The command he has over his vocals is gobsmacking. He's an amazing world class vocalist. ‘Salvation’, the title track, opens the album. It's moving and haunting. The opening tempo is methodically slow. Salvation lulls you into a hypnotic trance. John Bennett on drums shows amazing restraint. Almost five minutes in, the tempo picks up slightly. The drum fills punctuate the guitar work of Greg O'Shea. It's a counter balance. Every note and every rhythm, including Matt's vocals create a beautiful mixture. At seven minutes, ‘Salvation’ is a full-fledged heavy doomy type song. With over six minutes left, ‘Salvation’ is not done ripping your senses apart. To say the Prophecy's opening track on their fourth album is epic is an understatement.
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The second track on the album Salvation is entitled ‘Released’. Matt's vocals are the main instrument here with John on drums, Greg on guitar, and Gavin Parkinson on bass providing the musical harmonies. If 12/12/12 was supposed to be the end of the world with the Age of Aquarius following, The Prophecy's album Salvation is the perfect new beginning for a long count. ‘Released’ would fit perfectly into Andrew Lloyd's Webber's production of Hair. "...So here we are. So near yet far. So here we are. Salvation not far..." Clocking in at four minutes and forty seconds, ‘Reflections’ is the shortest song on the album. It's also the most jarring. I was not prepared for the music to reach into my chest and rip my heart out. The tone on ‘Reflections’ is very Tool-esque. Combine that with Matt's psychotically growly vocals riding along with his soulful balladeering, and it creates a chilling effect. What the Prophecy can pack into a song that's just shy of five minutes is more than most bands put into a full album. ‘Reflections’ has a gravitas that is unmatched in the current era of musicianship. ‘In Silence’ is a haunting melody. It's a powerful ballad (as opposed to a power ballad). ‘In Silence’ hurts. It hurts your heart. It hurts your soul. It's followed by ‘Redemption’. I believe this song was written with Martha Graham or Mia Michaels in mind. It just flows. It's the perfect complement to modern / contemporary dance. From violins to acoustic guitars to cookie monster growly vocals, ‘Redemption’ has it all. To wit, The Prophecy's Salvation has it all. It is indeed the perfect progressive doom album. Victoria Anderson
into play. Just as noticeable is the thrash influence, especially the likes of Testament, in its muscular feel. At times there is even a subtle hint of power metal in some of the guitar leads. It doesn’t sound hugely original by any means, and it could do with some bigger hooks in places but musically the subtlety of different influences does set this apart from a lot of its peers. The real ace in the pack has to be new vocalist, Bjorn Goosses. A vocal performance that shows versatility from big clean vocals to a variety of growls; but all are done so impressively and powerfully. A genuine pro in pretty much all he tries here, Bjorn’s performance is absolutely towering and sets this album at a higher bar. Definitely a band that appear to be trying to make their own identity, without being totally radical and against the grain, The Very End do stand out. With a very impressive vocalist in tow, all they really need are some bigger songs and these guys could be ones to watch. Still, Turn Off The World is a pretty decent showing and well worth a punt. Chris Tippell
To-Mera - Exile Illusionary Records
The Very End - Turn Off The World Steamhammer
With the hugely saturated state of the genre, hearing of any new melodic death metal band for the first time can create a sense of cynicism. Thankfully The Very End are a band that make a real effort to stand out and carve their own niche, and to a pretty good effect. At its core, Turn Off The World is mostly melodic death metal, as well as having a fat groove-heavy American metal sound, but there are plenty of other niches that come
Since its conception in 2005, London-based To-Mera has been an impressive and imaginative presence within progressive metal, their albums Transcendental from 2006 and the following Delusions two years later earning strong acclaim and attention for their wealth of invention and enterprise. To-Mera’s new album brings a further evolution in sound and ideas, and though it arguably does not exceed the triumph of its predecessor, Exile is certainly a matching rival and one of the best progressive albums over the past year or two. Exile is themed around the tale of a woman who places herself in a self-imposed exile after enduring hardship, suffering, and loss, to avoid further harm enveloping her. The songs are emotive reflections of her search for answers about existence, humanity, and the meaning of life. The lyrical hearts of the tracks are powerful and provocative to match the impacting sounds. Their essence is brought into the open by the magnetic and
potent vocals of Julie Kiss, an aural mermaid bridging the beauty and intense ravenous harsh metal abrasions within songs. Musically, the album is a compulsive weave of startling ingenuity, which seamlessly merges corrosive, driven fervour and crystalline elegance, though there is so much more within each passionate adventure. Bursting from the intriguing instrumental ‘Inviting The Storm’, a track which seems to navigate the globe musically to evoke its own distant land, ‘The Illusionist’ is the proof. From wistful strings floating within a rising temperature of fiery energy and beckoning keys, the track erupts into a furnace of snarling, technically gripped riffs coaxed by mesmeric keys and the vocals of Kiss. It is a union which evolves into an enthralling passage of imaginative sounds involving jazz funk, entrancing ambience, and soul-veined grace across the journey. The likes of the darkly shadowed song, ‘The Descent’, and the dramatically impacting ‘Deep Inside’ find the band exploring their craft and the senses further, as the protagonist of the album explores her thoughts and emotions. Every song on the release is a swarm of creativity shaped and realised into a siren-bred enticement of rich textures, musically and emotionally. Exile is an album which gives deeply the first time and continues to bring new riches with each engagement, whilst To-Mera leave the listener contentedly basking in immense imagination and craft. From the vocals of Kiss and the outstanding keys of Richard Henshall (Haken), the muscular and sensitive ranges of guitarist Tom Maclean, to the skilled and often uncompromising confrontation of bassist Mark Harrington (Pythia) and drummer Paul Westwood (Fen), there is nothing but inspirational mastery at work, making Exile a must-investigation. Pete Ringmaster
Tusmørke - Underjordisk Tusmørke Termo Records
To be honest, the first encounter with Underjordisk Tusmørke, the debut album from Norwegian progressive rock band Tusmørke, certainly left plenty of intrigue but arguably no more than a passing enjoyment. Subsequent reunions with its imaginative and
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unpredictable presence, though, saw a more intensive enamour with this quite mesmeric release. The album certainly needs time to make its case upon the passions but rewards with an enterprising and perpetually engaging collection of songs. The seeds of the band go back to 1997 with its founders, the Momrak twins, who founded Les Fleurs de Mal. With plenty going on within it but only one song recorded, the group disbanded and reformed in 2009 as Tusmørke. A few line-up changes followed until the unveiling of this, their first release, an album which finds the founding pair, Benediktator (bass and vocals), and Krizla (flute and vocals) bringing forth a darker and more intense sound than before, alongside HlewagastiR (drums) and Deadly Nightshade (keyboards). Underjordisk Tusmørke (translated as ‘Subterranean Twilight’), opens with the excellent ‘Fimbul’, a warm and energetic weave of whispering teases and joyous heart. The influences for the band said to impact on the album range from Gong, Caravan, Can, Amon Düul 2, to bands like pagan folk group The Incredible String Band. Certainly the blend of prog/psych rock and folk ripples with those essences, but the opener recalls Horslips more than anyone, the pastoral celebration and mystical countenance sharing the same evocative inspiration. The flattish tones of the vocals make an honest and pleasing presence within the golden wraps of sounds from the flute and keys to bring a full and satisfying opening. Without making the same impact, the following ‘Watching the Moon Sail Out of the East’ and ‘The Quintessence of Elements’ both treat the ear to tightly crafted yet enticing embraces of slightly primal atmospheres and natural landscapes of Mother Earth from before modern man. Like all the songs, the tracks inspire thoughts and coloured imagery with ease to add to the enjoyment of their company. Further highlights come with the delicious Doors-like seventies stormy breath of ‘A Young Man and His Woman’, a track which does ignite a fire in the belly, and the bedlam-glancing ‘A Nightmare's Just A Dream’. Both tracks offer something different whilst continuing the enterprising moonlit dance of beckoning shadows and mesmeric dark spirits. The release also contains a trio of bonus tracks taken from their Les Fleurs de Mal time, and all as good as anything on the album, ‘Salomonsens Hage’ and ‘Singers & Swallows’ especially. From an initial doubt, Underjordisk Tusmørke has emerged as a current favourite and a release any progressive/folk fan should indulge in. Pete RingMaster
Uhrijuhla - S/T Svart Records
The self-titled album from Finnish bandUhrijuhla is as intriguing as it is compelling, but a release which probably, by its end, has provoked more questions than answers to add to quizzical thoughts, which opened their
Witchcraft - Legend Nuclear Blast Records
arms once entering its warm and, at times, mesmeric realms. Within its evocative charms though, its engaging elements suggesting rather than provoking emotions, the album does captivate the imagination without offering a lingering presence which remains after the enterprising sounds have departed. Uhrijuhla, translated in English as ‘Sacrificial Feast’—though the name itself is taken from the Finnish title of the cult British movie The Wicker Man—has a rich pedigree within its ranks. Firstly the magnetic twin male and female vocal presences of the band come from Xysma vocalist Janitor Muurinen and Olga, a successful solo artist in her own right, whilst Callisto’s Markus Myllykangas provides a delicious expanse of persuasive guitar imagination and craft to bewitch the senses. With the majority of the music and all the lyrics written by one of the most respected Finnish singersongwriters Kauko Röyhkä, the album lacks no quality to its absorbing, mellow, dare one say rock-pop voice. Opening with the formidable presence of ‘Avaruuden Lapsi’, the album is off to a magnetic start, thanks to the transfixing heavily shadowed breath of the bass. Soon refreshing its gait with sultry glazes of sonic light and welcoming melodic weaves, the song is an engagement which only brings warm satisfaction. It is the impressive starting point to a release which just keeps one wrong-footed with each encounter. The following ‘Se Minkä Maa Voi Antaa’ raises the ante further thanks to the wonderful vocals of Olga; for all the great things on the album she is the major highlight, and the songs where her vocals lead are the most enchanting and elegant. Already a blend of 60s/70s soulful pop pervades the release which is a little surprising initially, due to assumptions that the album would be an occult driven conjuration feeding familiar expectations. The fact it is nothing of the sort is arguably its greatest asset. Further biggest highlights come with ‘Kotona’, thanks predominantly to smouldering guitar play, and the atmospheric ‘Kevään Airut’ with its delicious, irresistible, melodichooked groove and Cult-like resonance. Both tracks offer elements which simultaneously raise eyebrows whilst igniting an investigative rapture to find out more. Uhrijuhla is an album which is warm and tender, with less distinct but still apparent sonic shadows. It is also one which is certainly enjoyable but not one personally which inspires a constant return to its world. Pete RingMaster
Swedish trad metallers Witchcraft actually formed at the turn of century but after a decade, it’s only in recent years that the band has started to get some props with some records ranging from solid to impressive. Latest offering Legend is the latter. It’s definitely an album that exhibits Witchcraft truly getting it on the money. This album is chock full of psychedelic riffs, haunted by the ghosts of ‘70s proto-metal bands and unabashed, unreserved and unapologetic rocking. Legend is one of 2012’s real victory stories. There just isn’t a bad song on here and the Swedes’ ability to churn out hook after hook truly is something. By its nature, Legend is revisionism unashamedly and it’s rather clear that Witchcraft has no intentions other than to invoke the spirits of the past, summoning those elders to aid their craft. Pentagram, Trouble and obviously Black Sabbath are the greatest aids to this record. However, such revisionism has been rampant in metal of late and it really takes an interesting and evocative band to stand out. Granted, Witchcraft’s sound has been done into the ground at this point but the sincerity is palpable in each of these hook-laden songs and, what’s more, they are a band that know when they need to reel the songs in, avoiding overkill; an often times forgotten skill. But if there’s one thing these songs have it is swagger and not in that oh so clichéd way. ‘Deconstruction’ ambles in with ease, bubbling with angular riffing and vocalist Magnus Pelander is clearly in a league of his own with a sultry croon that’s simply too cool. Not to mention, this album is utterly heaving with riffs aplenty that drip with a love of the classics and the solos… there are solos in abundance all over this record. It’s hard not to pump your fist and just lose yourself in each of these gems as the bluesy ‘It’s Not Because Of You’ will attest. While the band can keep things pacey for the most part, they’re not afraid of reeling the grooves back in a little bit and fraternising with psychedelic and vague doom influences either, such as ‘White Light Suicide’. Pelander is truly the star of this album but all the performances are perfectly complementary, as he bellows over ebullient riffs again and again making this album. The end result is that Legend is quite the victory. Jonathan Keane
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In a guest article for Ghost Cult, Dean Brown charts the short-lived career of seminal 90s sludge-lords Acid Bath, whose second album still stands today—16 years after its release—as a towering sludge metal landmark. Arising out of the suffocating sub-tropics of Louisiana, Acid Bath's sound came flavoured by the band’s surroundings; a Cajun stew of sludgy Sabbathisms, moments of grinding metallic aggression, Southern gothic rock, and murder ballads. Disparate as those influences read, it was the dark timbre of Dax Riggs' vocals which tied it all together. Riggs' vocals and lyrics were Acid Bath's x-factor, and even though he touched on familiar metal themes: death, drug abuse, and general misanthropy, he harboured a sinister sense of humour and wrote in such a poetic way—part Jim Morrison and part deranged serial killer—that it proved to be more disturbing than anything that the Christ-baiting lyricists in metal could possibly conjure. 1994 saw the release of Acid Bath’s debut, When the Kite String Pops, and this gruesome record quickly gained notoriety as an underground classic. But it was Paegan Terrorism Tactics—birthed in 1996—that secured the band’s cult status. Around the time of its release, sludge metal was already bubbling vigorously in Louisiana, and the wealth of lysergic riffs that Sammy Duet and Mike Sanchez dragged from the swamps on the drug-fueled sludge of ‘Paegan Love Song’ and ‘Diäb Soulé’, as well as on the morose doom of ‘Bleed Me an Ocean’ and ‘Graveflower’, were deeply reflective of the
genre’s characteristics and provided a suitably volcanic base for Riggs' grungy, hook-laden vocals. On the likes of ‘Locust Spawning’, ‘13 Fingers’ and ‘New Corpse’, Acid Bath’s menacing side moved to the forefront, as drummer Jimmy Kyle switched between double bass and punk patterns to propel the scalding screams and deathly guitar work. In direct contrast to this brutality, Acid Bath revealed a mature understanding of dynamics by incorporating songs such as the predominately acoustic ‘New Death Sensation’ and the country blues of ‘Dead Girl’ into the sequencing, and more importantly, did so without losing the malevolence of the heavier fare. In fact, by including these individualistic hymns, the intricacies of the band’s song-writing were exposed, and it shone a spectral light upon Riggs' ability to bear the weight of the band’s darkness through his gloom-riddled performance. Paegan Terrorism Tactics stands tall as a testament to Acid Bath's macabre genius, and although it remains underappreciated, its influence has insidiously infiltrated metal: Nine masked men from Iowa were shrewdly paying attention to songs like ‘Locust Spawning’ when crafting their debut, and it’s clear that J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer is a past student of the elegiac murder of Riggs' lyrics. It also happened to be Acid Bath’s last album; increased drug dependency led to the band’s initial demise, while the death of bassist Audie Pitre—who tragically died in a car crash—put the final nail in the band’s coffin. After Acid Bath’s dissolution, Dax Riggs went on to form the short-lived (and rather brilliant) Agents of Oblivion with guitarist Mike Sanchez, before moving onto Deadboy and the Elephantman. And to this day he continues to create stirring (nonmetal) records under his own name. On the other hand, guitarist Sammy Duet has stuck strictly to his metal roots: after Acid Bath he joined Crowbar, before emerging with the blackened-thrash powerhouse known as Goatwhore. And although both artists have been successful in their post-Acid Bath careers, nothing will surpass Paegan Terrorism Tactics—a distinctive sludge masterpiece and a fitting epitaph. Dean Brown
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F IV E AL I V E by J. Bennett, IDES OF GEMINI December is the time of year when every magazine, blog and teenage girl in the solipsistic, selfcongratulating world of music fandom unloads his or her annual “best of” list on a fully suspecting public. Lady Gaga, Kanye and whoever played on the latest Twilight soundtrack take top honors pretty much every year, even in the ones when they don’t put out albums. Meanwhile, everyone jizzes their pants over the hottest new indie sensation (interchangeable from year to year, generally) and left-field world-music release (this year it was Goat’s World Music, which actually does deserve the props) to distract from the fact that the rest of their list is comprised of the same boring American and/or British pop records that everyone else jizzed their pants over. By then, everyone’s pants are so encrusted with semen that they have to start focusing on laundry rather than music that’s actually good. With the notable exception of American/UK exceptionalism, the heavy music galaxy isn’t really much different in most regards: Everyone loves the latest albums from Converge, Neurosis and Baroness—and they absolutely should—and there’re always a couple of newcomers that almost everyone agrees upon (this year it was Royal Thunder and Pallbearer). Don’t get me wrong: All of the aforementioned bands put out fantastic records this year. I dig them as much as the next person who spends way too much time in front of the stereo. But here are some personal favorites from 2012 that I haven’t seen on many—or in most cases, any—best-of lists. WHITE HEX – Heat I gotta give a shout out to the folks at the Cvlt Nation website for turning me on to this Aussie duo. White Hex members Jimi Kritzler (guitar) and Tara Green (vocals) wrote part of this record in Egypt, but you wouldn’t know it when you achieve full immersion with the icy narcotic atmosphere on these six songs. Sera and I have been listening to this one on repeat since it came out. It’s gorgeous, hypnotic and absolutely not metal in any way, shape or form. MENACE RUINE – Alight In Ashes This Quebecois duo has been one of my favorites since Chris Bruni at Profound Lore turned me onto them a few years ago—before he wisely signed them to his label. Their 2008 album, The Die Is Cast, is still in heavy rotation at Ides Of Gemini HQ—although now slightly less so since Alight In Ashes was released a couple of months ago. Way too many bands attempt to self-aggrandize their own songs by referring to them as “hymns” these days, and they’re almost all full of shit. But when it comes to conflating music with religion, Menace Ruine are the real deal: The deep, churning organ riffs and (especially) singer Geneviève Beaulieu’s chilling, soaring voice remind me of the church music I was exposed to during 12 years of Catholic school—only much, much darker and more spiritually profound. MGLA – With Hearts Toward None Killer black metal from Poland. Ides Of Gemini had the incredibly good fortune to play with these guys at the Incubate Festival in Tilburg, Holland, back in September. They took the stage in camo pants, steel-toes and leather jackets over black hoodies, plus one-way black masks on their faces. I’ll never forget the vocalist barking orders during soundcheck in his finest SS-officer baritone, in front of a packed house at the Little Devil rock café: “More reverb on this mic! Quite a lot of it!” It was almost as entertaining as the show itself. ALARIC / ATRIARCH – split EP Almost everyone with any interest in high-quality heaviness digs industrial-strength Killing Joke, but it seems like hardly anyone extols the virtues of their 1986 “pop” album, Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. Me, I fucking love it. In fact, it might be my favorite Killing Joke album. For some reason, Oakland’s Alaric remind me of that specific strain of Killing Joke—combined with a long-defunct band from Boston called Otis, which featured future Tombs mainman Mike Hill on guitar. The singer of Otis had a very distinct baritone that sounds not unlike the singer of Alaric. The Atriarch side of this split is excellent as well, but I got so caught up in the Alaric side that I haven’t given it equal play. SOROR DOLOROSA – Blind Scenes I just figured out that this record actually came out in 2011, but fuck it: I didn’t hear it ’til this year, so it’s making the cut. These Frenchmen play superb, somber death rock in the vein of Amesoeurs, maybe—minus the female vocals, but with extra emphasis on the Joy Division bass lines. We met them in Prague and very nearly played with them, but they were bumped from the bill we were sharing with Heirs, A Dead Forest Index and Nod Nod because there wasn’t enough time. Fucking shame, but we’re determined to play with these talented gentlemen sooner or later.
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BARGE TO HELL - live report
My name is Remi and I am a 43 years old metal fan from QC, Canada. I have been involved in the scene for close to 30 years, I did various labels, I still run PRC MUSIC (www.prcmusic.com – Negativa, Beyond Creation, Stalwart, Gorelust amongst a few others) and I started a record store called PROFUSION in 2003 which I sold in late 2011... I live for this music. It is in my veins. I will try to give you an idea of the day to day life on the first BARGE TO HELL as a metal fan, not a journalist, which I am not and have no pretention to be. I actually have no idea how to really do this… I sell music and distribute music, that is what I do best, so please bear with me if my article is not up to par with anything you will read in TERRORIZER or DECIBEL! Can’t actually say how and why but we finally managed to survive this trip and made it back home safe… Why “Survive” you may ask? There were no tsunamis or plane crashes or titanic-like catastrophes… But how can you think going to such an event with some of the best bands on earth, surrounded by friends, bars and drunken metal heads, and not get into the mood and shit faced? This is actually the best fucking festival I had the chance to experience, and for numerous reasons, and I am already getting anxious for BARGE TO HELL 2… I will be there, and you should too. Hell, we should go together. We flew (me and 6 my buddies) from Montreal and we could tell it was going to be a fun week because we were already (quietly) causing mayhem and laughing our butts off at the airport while checking in… the party was on, at 4:30 AM. After various body searches on myself and metal bro Eric by the very cool and chatty guy at the boarders (let’s call him Dick), we finally all boarded the plane… direction NY and then Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We flew out on December 1st in order to enjoy the sun, beaches and buckets of beers before the cruise… mission accomplished. We all had our proud moments. We were all pretty anxious on D-DAY, December 3rd, and woke up early for a quick continental breakfast (meaning muffins and cereals) and shower to finally leave for the port of Miami… We arrived there with a private shuttle. We saw black shirt and tattoos all over the place, Shane from NAPALM DEATH with his bass and luggage, the dudes from KRISIUN getting in line, the guys from ENSLAVED taking pictures with fans… we knew we were finally home… Home sweet home.
After checking in and finding our rooms, it was time to run around the boat and meet some cool people… EXODUS was scheduled to start the hostilities at the Chorus Line Theater. This is a cool club, actually my favourite place on the boat to watch a show, very comfy seats, the sound was always great and you have a perfect view of the stage where ever you may want to sit. It was unfortunately impossible to see every show, as some bands were playing while others were already on stage but on the first day I saw EXODUS (solid as usual), SOILWORK (Dirk is god and yeah, Speed was impressive), a bit of HOLY MOSES, I literally was blown away into very small pieces by ENSLAVED (incredible show!), SODOM killed everything on the pool deck… but nothing could actually prepare us for the unreal, incredible awesome first concert of the festival from my favourite band from Poland BEHEMOTH! I saw them numerous time and I swear on my wife’s head that I never saw them like that… evil was fucking dripping from the walls around us… it was incredible, magical. BEHEMOTH is way above everybody else as far as stage presence and precision… this show actually killed me several times in the process and since I slept a mere 5 hours in the 48 hours before, I decided it was time to hit the bunk bed for the night. I went in the room with a smile on my face. Day 2 (December 4th) started at 10 with ARTILLERY… which I missed as we were already in line waiting for the merch store to open… yeah, I’m a 43 years old kid and I need my goodies. Unfortunately for me, it was a hard fucking task to find XXL size shirts… No BEHEMOTH dammit. No GRAVE. No ENSLAVED… Still got a kick ass POSSESSED shirt, a cool MONSTROSITY shirt, the barge to hell shirt and baseball cap… life goes on. Went back to the pool stage in time to catch MORGOTH and they were fucking amazing… loved their set. Afterwards I got my ass kicked by LOUDBLAST, a pleasant surprise as far as I’m concerned as I didn’t hear anything new from the band since forever. Then SACRED REICH killed everything. It was fun to actually enjoy the band in the pool with the guys from MUNICIPAL WASTE… They had as much fun as we did for sure, SACRED REICH killed it, it was great seeing them live again after almost 20 years in my case! I went to the Spectrum Lounge to see NECRONOMICON (the Canadian one!) which I usually enjoy, I saw them live a lot and they deserve their new success in my opinion… but playing on this stage didn’t give them much of a chance. The sound was bad and we couldn’t see much of them on stage because first, they had quite a lot of people showing up which is cool, but there was also a barrier in front of the stage, which made things a bit weird and difficult to fully enjoy the band’s presence… please take that fence off next year, it’s annoying and absolutely not necessary. Next we had the chance to see BRUJERIA in action, which didn’t do much for me I’m afraid. The next gig was some sort of trip back to school for me, seeing CORROSION OF CONFORMITY in full force with their original line-up, like I did in the mid 80’s in a crappy bar in Montreal, was pure bliss…
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they were amazing. Pure gold for an old creep like me. Still on the COC buzz, we ran to the Chorus Line to see NAPALM DEATH… I saw them numerous times, again and again, I love them to death but this concert was beyond fucking sick… I never saw Barny so fucking intense before. The set list was amazing; they played material from all their classics. Incredible gig! We skipped MAYHEM and went to grab a bite, we came back just in time for SANCTUARY. They were great, as if the band actually never stopped for 2 decades or so… can’t wait for the new album. Next, AT THE GATES were playing the pool deck. The set list was cool. MOONSPELL went on stage next at the chorus line and did a killer set too… from what I heard, the singer as a weird effect on the ladies… I took a peek at the MUNICIPAL WASTE show at the Lounge; we could barely see the singer on stage as they were too many people enjoying a solid fucking gig in front of him. I can’t understand why this band was not playing the bigger room… SEPULTURA was next on the pool deck. They played some amazing songs but I don’t know… I am not a fan anymore. It was like seeing a good cover band. Those who had the chance to see SEPULTURA with the (almost) original line-up will understand what I mean. POSSESSED were scheduled to destroy the chorus line and they did… I saw them in the mid 80’s and they were good. Fast forward 20 something years later, they were amazing… Everything they played on stage was obviously a classic. It is cool to see Jeff Bercera on stage again. This was my last concert for day 2. I was barely standing on my feet. Day 3 (December 5) was our day off within our vacation… we left the boat for Nassau. Went to the closest Starbuck for Wi-Fi and a well-deserved coffee. We took a cab, died about 25 times on our way to the beach… barely alive; we went and find ourselves a nice spot to hang out. The weather was amazing, we had a blast. I am used to travelling in the south, I go at least once or twice a year, and I can’t say I would recommend Nassau… it is ridiculously expensive and you get the same treatment as if you were to go to a Mexican resort, weather and beach-like. And Mexico is much cheaper. Our taxi driver told us Michael Jackson stayed on Paradise island and paid 25.000$ a night to stay there… I told him Uncle Tom was staying on our boat for free. Back on the boat, with most of my orifices filled with white sand, I ran to catch my new buddy Andrew’s band on the pool deck: MONSTROSITY! I am ashamed to say I never had the chance to see them live and it was one of my priority on da boat to hell… disappointed I was not! Solid from start to finish, crushing in every possible ways. They are amazing musicians (you too Andrew! There you go, I said it!) and they should be a much bigger band in my opinion. If you have the chance to see them live, just go! I managed to catch a few songs from MORGOTH on the small stage at the Spectrum Lounge and they were killing it again… went for a quick shower and came back to see GRAVE, again, at the spectrum. Killer set and it was sounding great this time… this band is just fucking awesome, the new album is great and I needed to see them on the boat. GRAVE is god… they made me a happy sailor that night for sure. I also caught PARADISE LOST at the Chorus Line… I have been a fan of this band for ever, saw them live a few times and I was not going to miss the opportunity to see them live again… I also got myself a nice shirt the day before, so I am thrilled and anxious to see them. I am sorry to say that this is my disappointment of the cruise… I will not go into details as I am not into slagging bands off… but this was not up to par if you catch my drift. Totally disappointed. I will keep the shirt and keep listening to the albums. I felt fortunate to see SANCTUARY again, they played another new song and again, I just can’t wait to get that new album, it is going to be great for sure. I went on to catch a few songs from BOUNDED BY BLOOD and they were great. I couple of drinks later I went to my bunk, once again very happy to be there.
Day 4 (December 6) was going to be brutal… and it started with a bang with SOLSTAFIR. They were the right band to start this great day. You do not want to see KRISIUN at 10 in the morning (Well, I do, but not everybody!) and did they woke us up in a great way! I love the new album and they are very cool to see live… The stage look like a natural thing for them (looks easier for them than riding a Jet Ski! LOL! Sorry I will not go into details on this!) and they were the perfect band to enjoy with a glass of milk and a glazed donut beside the pool on a beach chair. I am a SOLSTAFIR fan more than ever. Went on to see DARK SERMON at the spectrum and I must say they were great! Not really my style (modern Death Metal mixed with Deathcore) but they have a killer stage presence, very intense. Pretty cool, I suggest you guys to investigate them a bit further. I ran to the pool deck to make sure not to miss a second of one of my favourite bands… the godly NOVEMBER’S DOOM! Paul is god… the guy sings like a fucking master! Solid is not even getting close to describe this band’s amazing live performance. I have all their albums, and I know their songs by heart, this band was one of the highlights on my trip to the Barge to hell… so heavy, so dark! They also played a great cover of WOODS OF YPRES… fucking magical moments. I wish they could play another 2 hours. AMAZING! I will do everything I can to see them live again. After this show, I managed to catch HACKNEYED which I thought were pretty cool if not necessarily my thing. I caught a few songs from HOLY MOSES, they had a lot of fans on that cruise but I am not really into their music. Still, they are good musicians and we could see and feel they were enjoying the whole thing as much as their fans in front of them. Kudos for this alone! We went to JOHNNY ROCKET for a quick burger (man, this burger joint is just great!) and came back to see HEADCRUSHER at the Spectrum. This band did kick my ass fair and square… Great band, great presence, musically similar to AT THE GATES mixed with some good old SEPULTURA… very intense. Check them out! At 2H30 I went back to the pool side to catch ROTTING CHRIST. They did well and they were well received by the crowd. The Greek’s discography is a hit and missed as far as I’m concerned but I must admit they really put on a great show, I am happy they were there and they deserved their spot on the cruise. I was curious to see VITAL REMAINS live, and since I never really was a big fan of their music, I will admit I was not expecting much and I was surprised they were actually playing the chorus line. Well, I never felt so dumb in my life… how the hell did I miss this freaking tornado for so many years? Shame on me! This was an unbelievable concert from A to freaking Z… The singer is redefining the term frontman in my humble opinion… fucking intense dude, he is a show on his own. It was a great (dark and evil!) moment of the cruise for me… I just ordered the last 2 albums a few minutes ago to make amends. AWSOME fucking band!!! I couldn’t live with the idea of not seeing POSSESSED live again and so I went to the pool deck to see if they could top their first show… They did more than that, it was even better! Fucking impressive… Please tell me the fuck why they are not signed on a label and kicking ass around the world right now? Holy fuck, for the sake of the metal scene, we need another POSSESSED album pronto! Totally exhausted (in a good way) by what I just saw, I decided to go back and check on KRISIUN…
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I knew what to expect and I was not surprised to see them slaying on stage… super tight, great sound, great songs by great people. For some reasons they always come out better live than on disc for me... it was a great show. I went to see ENSLAVED, and they did great, again... fucking impressive band. Went to the spectrum to see LOCK UP, too many people, couldn’t see anything and the sound was horrible... that bar sucks. I hate myself for not being able to see them at the Chorus Line, but hey, it’s impossible to be everywhere at the same time. I managed to catch HAVOK for a few songs after a nice supper and a couple of beers. At this time, I was exhausted, spent the entire day watching bands and I needed a break. So I went to my room for a quick shower and came back for what was going to be my last show of the festival... the second concert from BEHEMOTH at the pool deck. They were nothing less than fantastic once again. What a cool way to finish an amazing week of extreme metal. More bands were playing later on but we saw them all or were just too tired to see more. Plus, we had to leave early the day after... We all pretty much went to bed with the conviction that we accomplished our mission.
To sums up such an event in a few lines is pretty much impossible. I am happy with what I got for the money I have paid for. Few things are not working as far as I am concerned... First, to give the chance to unknown bands to be part of such a festival is a great idea... but to have them play at 4H30 in the morning is nonsense... It is ridiculous. I wanted to see KAMPFAR at the pool deck but at quarter to 4 in the morning? Who wanted to see ABIOTIC at 4:30? The spectrum Lounge is not the best option but since you have to work with it, I suggest you take off the damned fence in front of the stage... and maybe the bands should play on the floor in front of the stage, they would have more room and we could see them seated without any problems... I know the logistic for such a festival must be a pain in the ass to deal with and overall it went well, delays are inevitable in such an event but I know a few guys that were royally pissed off waiting for an extra 2-3 hours for the merch store to open... I mean, we were all on board when the ship departed, so why not putting the merch store together the day before opening the store? Just a thought... The restaurants and buffet are just great. You are tired and want to fuck off into your room? You will sleep well, no worries! The staff is great, polite, and helpful in any possible ways. Checking in was bliss and checking out was even easier... I just loved the experience and I already decided to go next year. So if you wish to get in touch with me for next year or if you were there this year and want to chat, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com Let’s talk metal... and see you all next year! REMI Words – Remi Cote Revision – Jacinte Pearsons Photos - Jean-Philippe Beaulieu