Page 1

ISSUE #5 - february 2013


A M us ica l Cr iti qu e on M od er n Ti m es Anathema God Seed Pig Destroyer +

Jason Newsted

Nidingr - Hell Militia - car Bomb - Antimatter - Kowloon Walled city Hanging Garden - Kongh - gorath - The Prophecy - Omnium Gatherum

Issue #5 February 2013

4 - riverside 06. jason newsted 08. anathema 10. god seed 12. nidingr 14. hell militia 16. pig destroyer

18. car bomb 20. antimatter 22. kowloon walled city 24. hanging garden

26. kongh 28. gorath 30. the prophecy 32. ominium gatherum

34. live reviews 36. REVIEWS 50. guest column: Dane Prokofiev 52. guest column: dean brown 53. guest clumn: Ray Van Horn, Jr.

CREW... Editor: raymond westland [] senior editors: pete ringmaster 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) General Enquiries: (@) Submissions: (@) GHOST CULT MAGAZINE | 2

Editorial... It’s often said that variety is the spice of life and that change is the catalyst for great things. This certainly rings true for Ghost Cult. The first “change” is a rather sad one. Our designer, webmaster and my partner in crime in all things Ghost Cult from the very first moment, David Alexandre, is going to leave our ranks and this is the final GC issue he designed for us. Besides being a top bloke, his visuals played a pivotal role in our growth and overall presentation. On behalf of the GC crew I would like to thank him for all his efforts and wish him well in all his future endeavors. He will always be part of the Ghost Cult family. I also would like to use this opportunity to officially welcome Keith Chachkes and Fabiola Santini to our ranks. Both are veterans in all things metal. Keith is stepping in as our webguru/tech guy and Fabiola is going to coordinate all our coverage on live events and photography. With their experience, energy and fresh ideas I’m sure GC will reach new heights. We also expanded our writing crew with the addition of Lily Randall, Angela Davey, Sirisha Chhibber, Ross Baker, Violet V, Marcus J. West, Sean McGeady, Victoria Anderson and Dan Swinhoe. Their collective writing talent, experience and dedication will enrich the Ghost Cult experience.

fe b r u a ry t o p 5 Raymond Westland: Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam Toxic Grind Machine - Embryonic Emission Nightfall - Casiopeia Aestrid - Box Komatsu - Manu Armata Violet V: Down IV - The Purple E{ Pig Destroyer - Book Burner Testament - Dark Roots Of The Earth Cradle Of Filth - Manticore And Other Horrors Wintersun - I Time Keith Chachkes: Otep - Hydra Voivod - Target Earth Flotsam And Jetsam - Ugly Noise Tweaker - Call The Time Eternity Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam

With all these introductions I almost forget to say something about GC issue #5. As always there’s a whole new batch of interviews, reviews, guest editorials and live reviews. This time around we have interviews with Anathema, Riverside, God Seed, Jason Newsted, Antimatter, Kongh, Pig Destroyer and many more. Marcus J. West covered the recent God Seed/Cradle Of Filfth and Aeon gigs in London for us with Fabiola Santini providing the visuals.

Angela Davie:

Dean Brown unearths another forgotten musical gem in his monthly editorial, Dane Prokofiev gives our musical taste a philosophical treatment and last but certainly not least, Ray Van Horn JR spits his bile on internet warriors in this month’s guest editorial.

Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance Amenra - Mass V Hic Iacet - Prophecy Of Doom Nine Covens - On The Dawning Of Light Nails - Obscene Humanity

I’d reckon those are enough incentives to read GC Issue #5. Remember, a change will do you good!

Sirisha - Chhibber:

Raymond Westland Chief Editor


Ross Baker: Clutch - Earthrocker Cult Of Luna - Vertikal Jess and The Ancient Ones - Astral Sabbat Devin Townsend - Epicloud Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay

Venom - Black Metal, Behemoth - Thelema 6, Vital Remains - Dechristianize, Bloodshot - Dawn Flayed Disciple - Deathhammer


rive rsid e

Polish progressive rock outfit Riverside has raised the bar considerably for their peers with the release of their fifth album, entitled ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’. Ghost Cult caught up with singer/bassist, and main composer, Mariusz Duda to discuss Riverside’s latest musical gem and everything that comes with it. Words: Raymond Westland

A Musical Critique on Modern Times ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ is a much more brooding and atmospheric album compared to its intense predecessor. How come? To be honest, I don’t like to repeat myself. Releasing ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ part II wouldn’t be interesting for us and our fans; the band is in a totally different mindset now. This time around I wanted to focus more on writing ambitious songs; that’s why I had to skip all the metal parts, unfortunately. I think that’s the main difference between our new album and the previous one. You find a delicate balance between memorable songs, great melodies and classic rock influences without sounding completely retro or dated. How do you manage to do that? Michal, our keyboard player, is very much into classic rock bands and he loves vintage keyboards that are older than he is, haha. This time I aimed to write songs in which the use of Hammonds would sound natural. The thrash metal bits we used on our previous album are fresh and original, but they wouldn’t work in the classic rock context of ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’. It’s not like we’re using those influences for the first time, they’ve always been a part of Riverside, but this time

around they have a more prominent place in our music. We play modern old fashioned prog rock. There’s always a lot going in your music; lots of subtle layers and other small details which keep your music fresh and interesting, without the need of excessive technical power play. Writing our music is like drawing a picture: there’s a central theme and then you draw squares and circles surrounding that and you add and remove elements to keep things interesting. It should be like a movie: you have a beginning, an end and a couple of turning points and it shouldn’t get boring - that’s the way I like our albums to be. Despite MP3s being the norm these days, I still want to keep the traditional album format alive; when people listen to ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ they should do it from the beginning to the end, and it should be a satisfying and interesting experience for them. Shrine is a typical grower; it demands several listens before all the details set in. I think so too. I wanted it be like that, because the album tackles some serious problems. After listening to the album three

times my wife told me she found the album to be very dark and depressing. At first, ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ comes across as a collection of good songs, but then the darker undertones set in; it’s a psychological thing perhaps. Can you tell us more about the concept behind the new album? Just like our previous album, ‘Shrine..’ tells the story of modern times. This time I wanted to focus on the sociological aspect of modern man. On ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ I wanted to highlight some of the psychological aspects of modern life from an outside perspective. On ‘Shrine...’ I wanted to do the same but this time from an insider’s perspective. I noticed that people have become grimmer and tend to care less for each other. Perhaps this is because of the current economic crisis or the whole end of the world scare; these are hard times for everyone. Some of the songs are about people working at big corporations, who really hate their jobs, but they need the income in order to make ends meet. I’ve noticed that people are complaining more and people are generally unhappy even to the point of outright aggression. People are no longer in control of their own lives and they just work for a living completely devoid of any passion. I’m a lucky guy of course, because Riverside is


my job. I do notice that people are getting more and more frustrated due to any lack of perspective. I used these observations and the experiences from my friends and family as the basis for the general theme behind the album. ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ isn’t a concept album in the traditional sense, but all the songs are thematically linked together. So, in many ways ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ is about the zeitgeist of the modern era? I certainly hope so. When you take a look at the album cover you’ll see a shrine of sorts. A shrine to me is a big temple for where people come to worship, just like in ancient times. Now people pray in the supermarket, so to speak. The escalator on the album cover is a symbol for the moment that people actually stand and have a moment for themselves to contemplate and think things over. It reflects the modern times in many ways. The first three Riverside albums are part of a bigger concept, entitled the ‘Reality Dream Trilogy’. With ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ and ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ there seems to be a new sort of overarching concept developing. How do you see things? Perhaps, this concept could be about life in modern times, haha. The first three Riverside albums are indeed part of a greater trilogy. ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ and ‘Shrine of New Generations’ do share some similarities as far as certain themes go, but I don’t want them to be a part of a new trilogy again. Many artists have certain periods in their career where sets of albums share a certain emotion or style without being necessarily linked together by some overarching concept or storyline, just like David Bowie and his Berlin period. For me, personally, ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ is a whole new chapter for Riverside. What can you tell us about the writing process for the new album? This time around I wasn’t as dominant as I used to be on the previous albums. Usually I start writing the music at home, but this time I started writing music in the rehearsal room together with the other band members, it was more of a team effort. I’m the editor or conductor of the band, if you like, because I’m the one with the most ideas, but I still have to remember that Riverside is a band and not a one man show, haha. That’s something I can do with Lunatic Soul, my solo project. This time around I really wanted to use the input and ideas of the other guys, instead of telling them what they should play. I also wanted to concentrate more on the arrangements. In the end, I still delivered most of the ideas, but the other band members had a bigger say in things and I used more of their ideas for the album.

What about the recording process? The album was recorded at various points between March and October of last year. In March we went into the studio and we recorded some demos and in April we recorded a new song called ‘Escalator Shrine’ in our rehearsal room. At the end of April we went into the studio and recorded some songs, we took a break and we used that time to let our songs mature and to make some alterations when it was called for. I use this working method for Lunatic Soul and I wanted to do it with Riverside as well. The initial recordings were done in September, but I really wanted to bring our album out as a mediabook format, but the people at the label said it couldn’t be done based on one disc, so they asked me whether I had some material left for a second disc. I hadn’t, so they suggested we rerecord some old songs. I wasn’t too happy about that idea, because ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ represents a new chapter in Riverside’s history. We still had one week of studio time left, so Michal (keyboards), Pioter (guitars) and I recorded an ambient track called ‘Night Session’, which is a way better alternative than to re-record some old shit or same lame instrumental versions of the same tracks that appear on the regular album. Riverside has a very strong connection with The Netherlands. Care to explain? It started with the fact our first shows outside of Poland were in The Netherlands. The same goes for our first festival appearances. At our first show in The Netherlands we were announced as a different band, because a band called Amaran was put on the bill. People were confused at first but eventually we won them over and we sold all our merchandise that night. In later years we did our own tours and people still remembered us. Some fans got the chance to visit you guys while you were recording in the studio. What was that like? It was kind of strange, because they came in too early in the process. We only had finished songs ready which were very similar to each other in style and atmosphere. I like to be with people and it was a nice experience, but like I said, it came simply too early. We only played ‘New Generation Slave’ and ‘Celebrity Touch’ to them, which are both similar songs and not really representative for the whole album. After hearing those songs the fans were all terrified. They feared that Riverside went all hard rock, which is not entirely the case, haha. Would you be interested in becoming a more mainstream rock act with Riverside?

To be honest, I was interested to be in between different music genres with Riverside since the inception of the band. Progressive rock is meant for intelligent people who understand the music. I was never interested in the typical prog rock clichés, so I wanted to do something different. There’s Pink Floyd, there’s Rush and David Gilmour and Roger Waters who play these big stadium shows with lots of people attending and then there’s also a midlevel section of bands, like Opeth and Porcupine Tree that play at venues for two to three thousand people. When you start the adventure with progressive music you always start playing in front of ten to twelve people and those people are the ones complaining on the internet about why people are more interested in listening to Lady Gaga than to ambitious music. The truth is that many progressive bands are downright boring. I remember the time when we played at some festival in Belgium in front of 150 very sad people who were just sitting and listening, but they didn’t give any response. I never want to experience that again, so we created music that is interesting for different kinds of fans. I like good songs and good melodies. I’m not into twenty minute guitar solos or adding jazz elements just for the sake of it. Riverside may never become a mainstream band, but we’re certainly opening up for different kinds of people with different tastes. This approach does set Riverside apart from your more technically orientated peers. Exactly! I never wanted Riverside to play old fashioned boring progressive rock or overly complicated progressive metal. I don’t have the skills, I could always learn, but it’s simply something I’m not interested in. It’s not my strongest point either. I like to diversify things. From time to time, I like to play something boring and from to time to time I like to do something complicated, but it always should be based around good songs, like Marillion did on their ‘Misplaced Childhood’ album. Yes, the album has complex parts here and there, but the core of the album is built around memorable songs. They’re a source of inspiration for me in that regard. Riverside is going to tour with Jolly and Dionaya fairly soon. What are your expectations? I hope that people will still remember us and at the moment we’re learning how to play our new songs in a live setting. I hope we’ll be able to play a string of good shows, like in the Netherlands; the atmosphere is always good there. When you feel that people actually like you it translates on stage. We’re preparing a solid show with interesting arrangements and maybe a couple of surprises.



Far Beyond Driven

How do you feel about the snippets of material that have been making their way out to the public now?

So you have been keeping a low profile over the last couple of years, what drove you to bring out Newsted in 2013?

Very secure! We are solid footing, these are guys I have been playing with for years. I am usually the last man standing but this group of guys can play with me, point counterpoint style, for as long as I can stand it myself. I could have gone and cherry picked my group of musicians to play with, but this group of guys and I have played so long together and so well together that they deserve to get the fruits of their labor. They all have a real fire and hunger for this music. Being together for 5 years at the Chophouse it just had to be these guys. This is not starting over it is starting again! Fresh, secure and solid!

After years of silence former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted returns to the front with a new band, called Newsted. He may well be one of the most nicest and candid guys in metal today as Myron Schmidt found out when he talked with Jason Newsted about his latest musical ventures, his passion for painting, possible touring plans, his stance on (illegal) downloading and fronting a band for the first time in his career. Words: Myron Schmidt

The real fire and spark that told me the time is right was playing with Metallica at their 30th anniversary show at the Fillmore. Once I got on stage and looked in all those fans eyes, that stage, connection with the fans, and electricity told me that I still can and want to do this and now the time is right. The accolades are cool, the money is cool, but it’s the tremendous connection to the fans that is really the ultimate high and something we all chase. I knew then and there that the time was right and I had waited long enough. I worked on my voice to be able to sing and get away from the cookie monster growls. Well, I sing in a metal way, I took my time, I honed my music. It really all came together at that time. Have you come off the cloud yet, to me it sounds like you still up there? I am not sure I will ever come down. I stepped off the mountain at the peak, and I have sort of hung there since. Not sure I will ever come off that type of experience.

Do you regret not doing the super-group thing? You know purity is the most important thing. These guys are professional they have put in countless hours towards this cause, they need to taste some of the sweetness that goes along with the work they have put in over the past 5 years. I want to do this, at this time, with these guys. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I only do what I want to do, and I want to do this! So I hear you are a painter. That is true.


Are you doing the artwork for your upcoming release? I am doing some of the design work but I have recruited Mark Druzitto, who did lots of work with Metallica, to do the actual art design. This all came about because during the times of 2004-2008 I had three shoulder surgeries combined on both of my shoulders. For a good part of that time I was one-armed and had to teach myself to use both arms to do everything since at one time or another over those years I only had one arm to freely use. It was during this time that the painting really came on full force. I have roughly 800-1000 pieces of work hanging in various shows and galleries. I have sold around 20 pieces of work and have some established fans and collectors for my work. It was really quite a journey during those times. I was about 95% shoulder wise when I played with Metallica so in a lot ways the planets all aligned both physically and emotionally at that time. Any neck damage from the years of headbanging? There is some degenerative damage for sure from all that windmilling I did over the years. I have my exercises, and you know it’s really about keeping the muscles there strong and healthy. So I do my exercises and I know what I can and can’t do on stage now. When does the new Newsted material drop for us? On January 8th at midnight there will be an EP exclusive and about two weeks later the CDs will be available. We will have three of these EP offerings and then at the end join them into an album. At that time we will have vinyl ready, and more cool art work and the whole package. This seems like a DIY Effort? Oh yes this is all from the Chophouse, we are doing it ourselves. We of course are bringing in people from all over to help with various parts but essentially it’s all from us. Think of it this way we are doing this as a total grassroots effort but we have lots of roots planted.

whoever wants to hear it. Because of my position I can make sure certain criteria are met before we engage for a show and that is a great position to be in. I can make sure the band is safe, get an idea of expected audience size, location, and this it really allows us to get our music out there. What size venues are you most excited to play in, smaller clubs or large stadiums? When you go into a smaller venue say 400600 people, I can physically look into 400600 pair of eyes and that kind of emotional and electrical connection is so immense and personal. The electrical energy you get when you go into play for 60,000 people is of such a magnitude that is becomes indescribable. You have 60,000 people so into and focused on your music and you in return are trying to give that level of energy back to them, the electricity that is generated is beyond words and measure and I am sure it could power a large city. So each of these had their own appeal and experience it’s hard to compare one to the other. They both give such different personal experiences but at the end of the day it’s this feeling that we all chase and live on. So how do you like being a front man, is it different? Oh yes and I like it. That extra demand placed on you as a front man for me just turns up my personal energy to a new level. I still love just being a bass player and I feel that this is such an important part of any band. In this band we switch instruments. I will play some guitar parts on stage live. I wrote most of the rhythm guitar parts and all of the songs on a guitar. I posted some of the pictures and some of the younger fans were rather surprised that I was playing a guitar in the photos. Do you think people are ready for this, when Joe and Mario of Gojira did a similar thing it kind of set social media ablaze for a bit.

I am not sure on that one. I think when people see me playing the guitars is some parts it will get interesting. People may not realize that some of their metal heros can play more than one instrument. Finally, this may not be appropriate but let’s forget the past and lets focus on January 4, 2013 and your feelings at this point in time, what are your thoughts on illegal downloading? It's still dishonest to steal stuff. Follow this, whatever your parents did to make money, dentist, bricklayer whatever it was. Now imagine your parents go clean and fix teeth and they do that for free, eventually everyone starves, it’s just not healthy for anyone’s future. On the other hand as the internet has now shrunk the globe to the size of my fist things have changed. I used to have to be in Estonia and look fans in the eyes to see how they felt about the music, and then I would have to be in Wichita and do through that same process. Now with the internet I can sit in California and know what’s going on in Estonia and Wichita at the same time, it’s really enlightening. People are going to download the music when you put it out there, it’s just the fact today, but we have to now think of things they can’t download, t-shirts, posters, live concert experience. People really want to be part of that as well. I can really see a future where music may be free and artists will have to get out and tour and sell merchandise to make a living. People do want that and for artists to continue to make a living there has to be a way to sell something. Go back to 1959, BB King drove around his station wagon, and got paid for gig and sold his wares one fan at a time. Now we all have to do this, if you think about it we have come 360 back to where it started from.

So now that the release is coming are there any tours plans, big headlines, small clubs, festivals, maybe Mayhem Festival in the US? I love everything you just mentioned. The word is now out and the calls are streaming in from managers, bands, promoters, and just lots of people really reaching out. I am trying to get a handle on all this, I have been away from this for quite a while so I am trying to get a lay of the new land and find out what’s going on. I am so focused on getting the band ready to answer all of these requests we have been getting. I am ready to take the music to

“it’s the tremendous connection to the fans that is really the ultimate high and something we all chase.” GHOST CULT MAGAZINE | 7



Thank you for doing this interview. I have some very good news for you, because Weather Systems has been picked by the GC crew as album of the year. What are your thoughts?

There’s an honesty about Anathema’s music I’ve always admired. The emotions you guys convey through your music is genuine..

Weather Systems is getting lots of accolades from other publications as well..

That’s right. I think it’s getting more honest as time goes on. I think that’s natural for anybody as you go through life. You start to strip away the layers of your barriers of whatever psychological walls you have and you start to get more in tune with yourself in a way. That is reflected in your creative output too, so it’s a natural process for us.

Yes, it seems to be popping up everywhere. We’re Here Because We’re Here (the previous studuo album) did very well, but Weather Systems is doing even better. Great!

There’s a sense of optimism on Weather Systems and We’re Here Because We’re Here that I haven’t encountered before on your previous albums..

Do you think your success can be attributed to you guys always staying true to your own musical vision, despite the criticism you received because of it?

It’s not all upbeat and optimistic. The main difference with our past albums is that we include more upbeat material to go with the dark stuff. We’re more in-between nowadays, so to speak. ‘Storm Before The Calm’ is kind of dark and weird and it borders psychological madness, like a kind of psychedelic trip. I don’t know man. We’ve become more honest with our music and our music starts to reflect more sides of who we are. Life isn’t all darkness, at least for us. Not even when we made Alternative 4. It was shitty but not all dark.

That’s fantastic! We’re very humbled. It’s always great to hear positive feedback on your music.

In a way yes, but at the end of the day everything stands or falls with the quality of the music. The fact of the matter is we had a break of four and a half years (the interlude between the two previous Anathema albums) and people realise that we’re back. The quality of the music of the past four years is really high and we feel we really have something. It almost feels that we’ve finally found our stride. It’s been a very long journey. It feels like there are so many things we want to do and places we want to go with our music.

Albums like Alternative 4, Judgement and A Fine Day To Exit are pretty dark in my book...


Judgement has its share of lighter moments in the form of ‘Deep’, ‘Pitiless’ and ‘Make It Right’. A Fine Day To Exit has such moments as well, like ‘Release’, ‘Looking Inside Outside’ and ‘Barriers’ as well. Nowadays we like to write more diverse material. It’s more real and more us. In several interviews you mentioned that the close ties within Anathema is the creative source behind the band’s musical output. Care to explain? It is actually. When you have people who are as close as me and Danny (Cavanagh – guitars/vocals) are it’s only a very positive thing for the creative process. For instance when Danny comes in with a song that he would like to finish in a certain way I can yes or present him with another way of ending that song. He will listen to me because he respects me as a musician and the fact that we’re brothers. It’s been like this since the beginning. We grew up together and that creates a bond for life that never can be broken. You build your career up with these people. That’s simply incredible. It’s a very positive thing, certainly these days. In the past Danny and I had our moments, but not any more. I’m closer to Danny now than anybody else. When you’re writing songs for Anathema is there a sort of sibling rivalry going on to see who comes up with the best ideas? It used to be like this. Ultimately it’s all about the music. You’ll have to put your ego aside because it’s not you writing the song, but it’s the song writing the song. The song ultimately chooses what it wants to be and not you. So put your ego away, because it’s not you. That’s all you need to know. Anathema also has an exceptionally close bond with your fanbase. How did you manage to get that? The reason behind that is the songs are really personal and a lot of people relate to that in their own lives. It’s the same thing for me when I pick certain songs by certain singers because they could be about my own life. That song or singer would be very special to me. Those are the bands and songs that will stay with you for the rest of your life. They carry you through the dark periods of your life. I’ve read that Daniel Cardoso (Head Control System, Anneke van Giersbergen) has become a permanent member of the band and that he will be part of the creative core within Anathema. Are you guys already writing music with him?

That remains to be seen. For the moment he has more of producer and performing role. We also worked with a very great producer called Christer Cederberg and we want to work with him again. We also have Daniel and he’s got some serious skills, man! He’s an incredible guy and he can play almost everything. He can play drums like a beast, he can sing, he can play piano, guitars, bass, he’s got it all. He’s almost a one-man band, haha. We’re one of his favourite bands and we get along really well, so it’s great to have him in. He’s one of the family now and I’m very close with him personally. We joke all the time. It’s usually about South Park. It fits simply perfectly. It never hurts to have a guy in the band with producer-type skills... In the past few years Danny and I took the producer’s role as well, but Daniel is another eye on the process so to speak. It’s really good to have more people in the band who actually understand how a studio works. When I’m working with Christer for instance Daniel can record something else, almost like a second studio. It really speeds up the process. On the next record we have three sets of producers, haha.

“ The darkness is always there in all the things we experience in life.” Many Anathema songs are intensely personal, with ‘One Last Goodbye’ being a very poignant example. When you play those songs do you relive the emotions of that period in time such a song is written in? Yes, every time. I don’t listen to the music at home or in my car. I only get to listen to it when I play it. When you’re actually playing and singing it you’re going right to the heart of the matter. You don’t really listen to it, but it’s a very strange experience. It’s difficult to describe. It’s like you experience it for the first time every time you play it. That’s how I like to keep it as well. It’s the most respect you can pay to the music.Generally speaking I listen to new music two weeks after we recorded it, but that’s it. The next time I listen to it is when I play a song on stage or when we have to rehearse or something. Do you have moments of doubt whether some songs aren’t just a little too personal for comfort? I don’t see how. I guess we don’t question that. If you’re going to do a song like ‘One Last Goodbye’ how much more personal can you get? Where else can you go?

We’ve already done that. It’s something I don’t really think about to be totally honest with you, because it would be diluting the purity of what we’re doing. It’s all about purity and honesty at the end of the day. Especially when you’re dealing with something like real emotions. Are you somewhat of a romantic who’s longing for better days? No, it’s not really that. It’s up to you to create a better day and better time, you know. We’re doing that and we’re active in out lives. The darkness is always there in all the things we experience in life. It’s a part of human beings and the human experience, but it’s just the question how you deal with it. Personally for me it teaches you about yourself and what these experiences are; they are very deep and profound and they have a very strong effect on how you are as a person and how you deal with things that are very difficult in life. That’s why it’s one of the best subjects for music, because it means so much. I would like to talk a bit about the Falling Deeper album. You guys re-recorded a couple of songs from your doom/death metal days with a very stripped down approach. Would you do something similar with Alternative 4 and Judgement for instance? No, Alternative 4 is kind of done. It was something about the melodies of those early songs that we wanted to put in classical music. Alternative 4 is more like a rockbased album, so I don’t think that would really work. It might work, actually, but Falling Deeper is a one off project. It was a really nice project to work on. It was a great opportunity to make an album consisting entirely of classical music. It was really different and outside the box type of thing, but we don’t like the do the same thing twice. Finally, rumour has it that you’re guys are going to release a live DVD in the not-too-distant future.. That’s true. We recorded a special show we were played material off Falling Deeper with a 36-piece string orchestra in an ancient Roman amphitheater in Bulgaria. It will be out on DVD later this year, together with some footage recorded during our show at the 013 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. I’m very much looking forward to that release. Thank you very much for this interview. My pleasure!


god seed

The Master’s Emissary The will to grow. The God within man. The God within nature, and the will to reach one's highest potential. An interview with Kristian Eivind Espedal, as known as Gaahl, frontman of the dominant and notorious Norwegian black metal force, God Seed. After one of the most infamous disputes in black metal history, which saw Gaahl and King ov Hell (Tom Cato Visnes, current bassist for God Seed) part ways with Gorgoroth in 2009, God Seed started shaping its own future, filling it with certain conquest. I Begin, God Seed’s debut album, was written and arranged at various locations between Oslo and Bergen during August 2011 and July 2012. It finally saw the light of day on October 23rd 2012 and is the result of the new chapter of the life of this talented artist; he is the one who will always feed the hungry black metal community. WORDS Marcus J. West

Welcome back to London, the last date of one of the most anticipated tours of the year. What has it been like to share the stage with Cradle of Filth and Rotting Christ on The Creatures from the Black Abyss – European Tour 2012? It’s been very good, it all felt more decent than my past live shows. There are few shows that were more intense than others. I think that my favourite one of this tour was in Prague, but I think it had to do with the fact that the audience was close enough to get proper contact with them. Kraków and Helsinki were also very good shows. Bologna was a decent show, the venue was… um… but the energy and the feeling from the audience made up for it in the end. I Begin, God Seed's first album, has been out since October 23rd, it's one of my favourite releases of 2012; as I mentioned in my review, it is a majestic collection of pieces of black metal art. How has the response of the crowd been so far?


The response to the new songs has been very good actually. On this tour, we only have 45 minutes, so we have to cut our setlist to 10 songs. We have structured the set list so that half of the songs are from the new album and half are from our past. Have you have noticed so far any major difference between the God Seed crowd today and the crowd that followed you during the Gorgoroth years? There will always be someone very similar, considering that the last years of Gorgoroth were basically God Seed before things changed, as we had to start searching for a different form of expression. I think now it all feels like an easier connection in a way for us; the intensity we perceive is the same as we had in the past, even if someone may not be too pleased to see what happens on stage both based on the new sound and on the new way of performing. We now have a new energy and we let it out, even if it may not be the same energy that the audience may be searching. Let’s start talking about I Begin. The album was recorded between August 2011 and July 2012 between Oslo and Bergen. How would you describe the recording process? For me it was a very difficult process, mainly because originally I did not enough have time to escape and get in contact with what I needed to create. It went rather smoothly with the rest of the band once we gathered together. It just that I felt I did not have anything to tell to an audience and to myself; we spent two months trying to fix this with no results. That was the hardest part of the making of the album. So at a certain point, I went far from everything for three months and from there I went directly back into the studio. You see, I felt I had two options, which is never good, because when you have two options you know that both of them are wrong. I did not lose the main topic of the album, it was just that the spark that allows me to create at my highest potential wasn’t the deepest of my inner-self. I Begin awakens a very strong sense of pure supremacy from the very first track, ‘Awake’. What inspired you in the making of this awesome track, which sets the path very high for the whole album, and why did you choose to open the album with this song? This song, in a way, brings back the link from our past. Musically it has more of the energy than the other tracks. The storyline between the tracks is not necessarily chronological, the tropics are kind of braided from one song to the other.

This song has brought to the album lots of the elements from the frost giants, which are the creators of the world, and are linked to the Norse mythology universe and mysticism. ‘Alt Liv’ just hits the soul. There has been already so much happening and embracing that it’s difficult to believe it’s only the third track. The video is as intense, how did you develop it and what is the story behind those children running? The song itself is about what keeps one alive. Everything that happens within life basically, and wanting to go on with the necessity of it. The video shows the three boys running: with two, there will always be a tendency to balance out and as soon as you add a third element or character, potentially you will have a conflict. I see the life concept in the third element, rather than in the solution of choosing between black and white. This is one of the hardest songs to sing; I am not sure I will be able to sing it tonight as my voice is very low. I will of course go on stage and see what happens. I do hope you feel ok. Yes, I just feel a bit reduced tonight compared to what I have done in this tour. Mind over matter, so let’s see. New elements surface in ‘Lit’, which is constructed with the additions of organ waves and electronic bullets. Was the addition of these new elements an approach you adopted before you starting writing the album or did it develop as I Begin progressed? Most of it I would say was intentional, although I think there was a lot happening when Tom (Tom Cato Visnes, as known as King ov Hell, bassist) and Geir (Bratland, keyboard player) were in the studio together. We had talked a lot about bringing the organ waves, I think they brought more essence to the song. This was one of the songs that I wanted more to bring live, but because of the time limit we have to choose differently. You are surrounded by very interested musicians: how would you describe the God Seed line-up today? Lust Kilman has been playing since he was fourteen and he is from the same region as I am. I do not know very much about the other projects he has, but I know he is an extremely good guitarist. His sound is very organic.

Yes definitely. Sir is the lead guitarist in the band. They are both very professional and add a bit more of an old school sound to our music. Kennet (Kapstad), the drummer, did not play the first four shows of the tour, but when he joined us in Stockholm and we did the sound-check, we just realised how fantastic it was to play with him. And then we have Geir on keyboard, which unfortunately I never really hear on stage from where I stand; I mainly hear the drums and the guitars. I simply adore your latest, promotional photos: how did you come up with such an eerie artwork from Haakon Hoseth? Tom got in contact with him, his work is great and he is very easy to work with. I never like to over clarify contents, I just explained to him very few topics and elements that should be in our visual art and he just developed them; he has become almost like the seventh member of the band. Is it ok to talk about Gorgoroth? Yes of course. Do you think that the Gorgoroth dispute was something inevitable after so many years and albums together? Yes, I forced it to happen! It’s always difficult when you love something and you despise it (laughs!). It’s difficult to admit the final end to it. I didn’t want Gorgoroth or anyone to think of Gorgoroth as me when I quit, that’s why I felt I had to do it in a rather ugly way. Infernus (Roger Tiegs, Gorgoroth current guitarist and remaining founding member) would have gotten the name from both me and Tom no matter what, but first I had to kill my relationship to it. It had to happen the way it did, kill it before it eats you! Besides being a talented musician, you also paint: is this an artistic expression that you would consider to bring it to the masses or is this more of a personal form of expression? Any form of art has potentials in catching my attention. At the moment I feel a bit ambivalent about what I paint. Of course it is very personal, but I have lot of people around me that would like to see other reactions to my work. I am always there ready to show my paintings and then I withdraw. I have come this far with it: I have never been into the internet, but someone has already made a web page of my paintings which I have not allowed to be activated… yet. The main difficulties that I feel about sharing them is that people would be more interested in them because they are my paintings…. So maybe I should start using an alias.

ghost cult magazine | 11


the lord of chaos Words: MARCUS J. WEST

SINCE THEIR STUNNING 2005 DEBUT ALBUM, SORROW INFINITE AND DARKNESS, NIDINGR HAVE MAINTAINED THE STATUS OF GUIDING FORCE FOR ALL THE BANDS REVOLVING AROUND THIS POWERFUL UNIT. MORTEN IVERSEN, AKA TELOCH SHARES HIS VIEWS ON HIS REMARKABLE PAST, HIS PROLIFIC PRESENT AND HIS WELL-DESERVED FUTURE. Greatest of Deceivers is one of my favourite releases of 2012. Before going into the details of your new masterwork, I would like to go back for a moment and explore your past within the black metal community. Nidingr features past and presents members of historical black metal bands such as Mayhem, Gorgoroth, DHG (Dødheimsgard), 1349 and God Seed. How would you describe the band as it is today with so much history behind you? I started Nidingr in 1992, way before I was in all these bands. It just happened almost as a coincidence. I would say that I got involved in so many projects, but always maintained Nidingr in the background as my main priority.

Could you give a quick impression of what you remember the most from your time in these bands? The most crazy band I have been with was maybe Gorgoroth because….. (laughs)… we were kind of crazy back then! We did lot of stupid and crazy stuff together, that’s what I remember most from my so called career so far. Of course, playing at Wacken in 2008 with God Seed was also really cool. Your new album, Greatest of Deceivers, was released last November: how is the mood within the band today? Everybody is very excited about this new release because finally it seems that we are getting the attention that we deserve, in a way. If you think about it, we have been playing for over twenty years and nobody really knows who we are. With Greatest of Deceivers, there is this new energy within the band, everybody seems to be willing to do all this the proper way now; I think it’s going very well.

all the time. We were thinking about adding more dynamics to our basic structure. Blargh, the other guitarist, and myself did all the song writing. In the past, we have always written each song individually, but for Greatest of Deceivers we have written all the songs together. This was a new experience for us and I can say it was a positive one because people seem to like it and I like it as well. That’s where I think the intensity comes from, it’s a work from a bond. Yeah, and every time we were both trying to make the best riffs in the song and some of them turned out to be some kind of competition for us (laughs), a healthy competition! I wish I had been in the studio writing the studio report during those competitions. Actually, we used the Internet a lot for this album. Blargh would send me a link and I would build up on top of it and we would end up sending the song back and forth until it was done.

My first impression when I listened to Greatest of Deceivers was that the album is very intense. How were the dynamics working during the song writing process? Did you approach the making of the album from a concept?

Is this Internet approach something that you are experiencing for the first time? Thinking of Nidingr’s previous works, Sorrow Infinite and Darkness and WolfFather, I would never imagine the songs were conceived the way you just described.

It all started when we wanted some new songs for a live show. We needed some more… let’s call them ‘more laid back’ tracks without all the blast beats that we use

This is the first time we have been doing it to this extent, but we have definitely used this method also in the past.

ghost cult magazine | 12

So how would you describe the overall sound of Greatest of Deceivers? Organic, I think is the main word to describe it. As I explained at the beginning of the interview, we were looking for different dynamics when we started working on the album, and I think we have also achieved this goal. Speaking about the opening title track, I cannot wait to see it on stage. As a matter of fact it’s the first song of our set list now. I am very pleased to hear that! Could you give some anticipation about the stage sets for your next shows? We just play the songs, that’s it. We are not going to use any theatrical make up and lighting, we just want our music to speak by itself. And the music of the whole album does. Thank you. And when are we going to see Nidingr live in Europe? We wanted to release the new album first, start seeing some reviews and then look into booking the shows for 2013. We have only played in Norway so far, so hopefully

we will tour all around Europe soon. Another song from Greatest of Deceivers that I wanted to ask you about is ‘Rags Upon A Beggar’, particularly because of the amazing guitar work. Do you agree that is a very old school song? Yes, it has a strong old school feeling. Was this a difficult song to write or did it just happen? ‘Rags Upon A Beggar’ was probably the easiest song to conceive in the album, I just wrote it in one hour or something. This song is about darkness I guess. The closing track, ‘Dweller In The Abyss’, is also very interesting. It really has a feeling of closure. Did you construct it with this purpose? No, it was not supposed to be the last song of the album, it just ended up being in that place, after the vocalist, Estrella Grasa, put everything together. He choose it to be the closing track. You are one of the people that can best describe the black metal scene today as it is in Norway; how do you feel about it? I do not follow the scene at all. I just keep mostly to myself, so I only know the music

that we are doing. However, 2012 has been a very successful year for black metal with many great releases. Was there any album besides Greatest of Deceivers that caught your attention? No, not really. And to be honest, after I write a song or finish a studio session I do not feel the urge to listen to more black metal as I am doing this for a living already; I do not want to take my work home! I listen to laid back jazz instead of doing drugs. It’s much healthier and will probably get you readier for the next studio session or live show. With all of the contributions that you have given the metal community, are you happy these days? I am never happy or satisfied, that’s why I always need to have something new all the time. I always try to do the best album, as I have never been entirely satisfied with what we did in the past. Hopefully your best album will be Greatest of Deceivers as it comes at just the right time in your career. We’ll see if I can make something even better in the future.

ghost cult magazine | 13

hell militia


You had said previously that when recording previous album Last Station On the Road to Death you could only record at night and when you were “fucked up”. Did you follow a similar sort of structure when writing Jacob’s Ladder? No, for the first time we almost recorded everything by daylight and in a more classical way of studio recording. We of course still got brainfucked but this time we had almost normal hours. One of the main reasons was that the Bayern in winter is freezing cold and we were warming up with wood and alcohol… Has the reaction to Jacob’s Ladder been as good as you had hoped? Reactions have like always been great or flat. We aren’t doing a kind of music that can please everybody and anyway that's not the purpose either.

The main surprise for me was the reaction to the cover. I really thought people would hate it, and that's what happened when a small preview was first out, but then the reactions were really good about it and I got many demands about why we didn't use it for the LP or if we would do it as a poster. This proves that Black metal people are not just like usual metal heads that don't give a shit about other kinds of perverted arts, or that people into Hell Militia have tastes close to ours. How do you as a band feel your sound has progressed since the Last Station… record? I really enjoyed recording both. Let's say that the previous one needed a fucked up recording and this one needed a more focused recording. Of course we can't record anything just like if we were going to some kind of work, but still this time, we were clear at least half the time of the recording.

Also this time, I have followed the mix with the studio far of 9000 km. That was pretty interesting as a change and I think it gave the sound engineer more personal touch, even though we have given it our soul as well. Jacob’s Ladder is a story from the Bible and it would appear almost mocked on the album artwork. How prominent is religion in the music of Hell Militia? Hell Militia is not meant to gather people to any faith. It is more directed to people that are already into the Faith or the great politic disorder. I don't feel there is mockery on the cover, but I intended to show the twisted part of the prediction - vision of Jacob, and in a more modern way, how people appeal to high moral values in words, but have very different acts. Is there a particular reason as to why you have decided to play without a bassist?

ghost cult magazine| 14

We have only changed our bass player. Now our VJ, S. is playing bass in the band as he is a bass player, and we are already working with our new VJ. In fact, the band is taking a new turn and I really believe the new line-up will be the best thing that ever happened to the band since I first recruited members. Many people complain that it is hard to do anything original with black metal nowadays. How do you feel you differ from the rest? A famous French writer said in the 17th century that all has been done and said, what is left is how it is done. You know, I'm into many different kinds of art, and nobody likes changes and things that have been done before are always better. Of course I loved the beginning of Black metal, but I am more excited now about many things. I think that there has been a lot of great works in all kind of arts recently. I like my old 1990's records as I like many today. Most people who complain are people that

have lost the flame and are stuck in a fake golden age. How do you feel about bands like Watain bringing the occult and black metal into the mainstream? Watain is a great band and they haven't changed since their success. They didn't sell their ass and deserve it. Who could blame them? No matter how much you sell, as long as you make it for a higher goal. The French BM scene seems to be ever growing. Is there a mutual respect between the bands? It depends, there are many bands that are linked with strong brotherhood like Hell Militia, Aosoth, temple of Baal, VI, Decline of the I and many others. I don't think it's growing especially, it's mainly more known.

It has become my priority ever since the second album was out. Jacob's Ladder is really the first album that has been made as a whole and with all my time. I have worked the artwork and the songs at the same time, taking all necessary time. Then we all rehearsed until we were satisfied and really felt it. This album has opened new ways of working for me, and I already see how my writing has changed since. 2012 saw a large step for Hell Militia as you signed to Seasons of Mist. What are the plans for 2013? We are working with the new line up, and we have quite a bunch of shows and festivals, so time will be needed to take that new album on stage. Then I have started to bring new songs to the others, and I am starting the new artworks as well.

You have all been known for taking on many musical projects at once. Has Hell Militia now become a priority?

“I loved the beginning of Black metal, but I am more excited now about many things.� ghost cult magazine | 15

pig destroyer


To start, an obvious question: What's been going on for Pig Destroyer in the 5 year gap between Phantom Limb and Book Burner? To make a long story short, we promoted Phantom Limb a little, built a studio and a practice space, then we had to work in a new drummer. We were always doing some sort of work on the band, I know it may not have seemed like that from an outsider’s perspective, but we were. You were back in the UK last year, for the first time in 8 years, as part of Damnation Festival, with a couple of dates either side. How did the slot at Damnation come about? Any bands on that lineup you were hoping to catch yourselves? We were offered the show, so we decided to do those dates. It was a lot of fun, we played shows with BLCKLSTRS and they were incredible. I really wanted to see Electric Wizard, but they played at the same time we did. Lyrically, Book Burner covers a range of unsettling themes, from the state of mental healthcare, to America's position in the world, as well as religious and media censorship. Reading the lyrics, it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into them. How do you approach writing lyrics?

JR writes all of the lyrics. Some of that comes from personal experiences, but a lot are whatever just pops into his head. He’ll take a few lines and until he feels what he has is right, he’ll work and re-work them. I see you were fortunate enough to play some farewell dates with Nasum (alongside Napalm Death as well). What was that like? That was incredible, a great bunch of guys, two great bands, it was a lot of fun hanging out with them and seeing Nasum one last time. Book Burner is being released on pretty much every format under the sun (CD, digital, vinyl, cassette). Have you got any thoughts on the recent resurgence of analogue media? Do any of you have a preferred format for listening to music? I think it’s cool, I personally like the idea of music that’s collectible. I’m a vinyl guy, so I prefer that, the artwork and the record itself just looks so cool in that format. Other than Napalm Death, Phobia and yourselves, last year seems to have been pretty quiet for grindcore. Are there any releases you're aware of that might have flown under the radar? The last Afgrund record is pretty cool.

ghost cult magazine | 16

I personally like the idea of music that’s collectible. I’m a vinyl guy, so I prefer that, the artwork and the record itself just looks so cool in that format. Following on from that, what music have you been enjoying recently, and are there any forthcoming albums that you're particularly looking forward to? The new Misery Index and EyeHateGod records should be amazing. I’ve been listening to BLCKLSTRS, Fulgora, Asthma Castle, Gaza and Dragged Into Sunlight. To me, Book Burner feels rawer than Phantom Limb. Was this a conscious decision by the band? Absolutely, we just wanted to make a raw, lean, mean, grind record. We wanted this one more stripped down and nasty.

Book Burner is very dynamic, as grind albums go. How do you achieve this in such a narrow genre? That’s all Scott, his writing style is so interesting and varied, He’s an amazing musician and it’s a pleasure working with him. Given the number of band reunions that have been happening recently, if you could make any band reunite, which would it be? Assuck, I’m not holding my breath though.

ghost cult magazine | 17

car bomb



I think the most important part of our process is forgetting what we write. We record ideas within a day and then refuse to listen to them for weeks, sometimes months. Once some time passes and we go back to listen to these ideas we can really hear how a riff or a rhythmic idea sounds like as a listener hearing it for the first time. This also helps ideas flowing because it prohibits you from getting married to any one idea, which has its way of putting a musician into a creative rut.

on this record is stick with only a handful of rhythmic ideas for each song. We try to extract as many parts as possible from one simple rhythmic pattern or sequence… which acts like the DNA for the song and gives it continuity. Then we tweak and tweeze the idea to make other sequences, or we overlay other “formulas” (as we call them) to the ideas. The most obvious example of this is ‘Garrucha’, which except for a few select parts has the same samba-inspired rhythmic pattern throughout the entire song.

Once we got some ideas we like I’ll usually try to demo something in Cubase and build a song structure out of a few select ideas. Then El, Johnny, and I try to play it and we’ll tweak based how it feels to play. Mike will usually wait until we’ve nailed down 95% of the song before he’ll start demoing his own parts.

Thank you for doing this interview. I’m utterly blown away by the new Car Bomb album. Are you happy the way it came out? I think so…I can’t tell anymore from listening to it so many times. Some of these songs are almost five years old so I can’t gauge if they’re good or not. Maybe in twenty years after I forget how it sounds I’ll be able to tell ya. What I really like about w^w^^w^w is the way you guys manage to fuse all the different elements in your music together in well-written and constructed songs. How do you manage to do that? Well, I’m not 100% convinced that we do it that well, but we try. One thing that we do

How does the writing and creative process work within Car Bomb? It varies from song to song. I usually write a lot of the stuff but we also come with ideas for rhythmic bits from jamming together. But

Gojira’s Joe Duplantier provided some guest vocals on the new album. How did you guys manage to bring him aboard? We met Joe in Arizona when we opened up for Soulfly and he was filling in as their bass player (yeah, bass!) Ever since then Johnny and Joe have been keeping in touch with each other and became good friends. He actually lives in Brooklyn now with his wife, so we see him all the time when he’s not on


the road with Gojira. One day we just asked him if he wanted to sing some stuff and he was down. It took him no time at all to sing his parts. And holy fuck…that dude screams fucking hard! We thought he was gonna choke himself the way he was screaming, but apparently that’s just how he does it. Car Bomb does remind me a lot of Cryptopsy, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Cephalic Carnage. What do you think of those other bands I mentioned? I’ve actually have been learning a lot of the Dillinger songs on the guitar recently and have even more respect for them now than I ever did. They always come up with these really bizarre note sequences that are completely void of key that are like tonguetwisters for your fingers. All of those bands pushed the boundaries of heavy music a little further, but the bands that are doing that right now are Ulcerate and Loincloth. If you don’t know… holy fuck! You better get your ass on their records. Everything Is Fire from Ulcerate and Iron Balls of Steel by Loincloth (don’t let the tongue-in-cheek title fool you) are two of the most challenging and unique records I’ve heard in a really long time. Your previous record was released on Relapse, but w^w^^w^w is independently released. How come? Well since we were took longer than expected to finish the recording Relapse dropped us. They had every right to and it was on good terms. We were going to start looking for another label, but then started realizing that this was actually good for us and we could do it ourselves. We sort of see the “glass ceiling” with the type of music that we do, and figure anyone who is interested in the type of music we play will find out about it eventually. You can’t really “sell” our music to someone who is not interested, so we feel we don’t need the whole label thing.

What touring plans do you guys have lined up?

Bonus question: What are the five records that really changed your life?

As of now we have a few local shows coming up. We’re actually all back grinding at our day-jobs from taking a whole bunch of time off to finish the record this past summer. But we’re definitely looking to do something early 2013.

Metallica - Master of Puppets: The first time I heard the first riff in ‘Battery’ I knew I had to play guitar. And James is so pissed on that record!

These are hard times in the music industry. How do you guys cope with the current crisis and what would be the solution? I don’t think it’s strictly isolated to the music industry per se, but would argue that music ITSELF has changed a lot. A lot of music is a commodity now. It’s in every inch of our lives and is produced cheaply. You can start a djent band with a computer and $500 worth of plugins now. For us we never really benefited from the good old days in the industry. We have all been in bands that were under the radar and have steady jobs and businesses so we can fuel the band. The fact that we’re not signed helps, because we see a lot more cash from every record we sell. But the goal for us isn’t to sustain a living off music, it’s to make records that we like and that hopefully can stand the test of time. Time for the final question. Who’s your favorite character from Family Guy and why? Besides Peter (the obvious choice), I’d have to go with Ollie Williams. He gets to the point!

Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante: Probably one of the most layered and dense records ever made. It really shows what you can accomplish with arrangement, instrumentation and effects. Plus the songwriting is just plain insanity. Coalesce - Functioning on Impatience: The first record that showed me you can use odd time signatures and tempo shifts to kill people. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works Vol 2: I’ve always listened to all of his records but this one really stands out. More than two hours of soft droney minimalistic soundscapes: some pretty, some creepy. Makes you feel like a spaceship left you on Mars to die alone. Meshuggah – I: Knocked me on my fucking ass the first time I heard it. Definitely Meshuggah’s best recording in my opinion. They have awesome ideas throughout and just relentlessly execute the material. And dude, the helicopter riff! That’s gotta be the heaviest riff ever!

You guys brought the DIY mentality to new extremes by doing literally everything yourself. What are the pros and cons of this working method? The pros are that you have 100% control over everything, which means everything comes out exactly how you want it. The major drawback is time. Besides some public relations stuff it’s literally just us four working on everything, so everything takes longer. Plus we ran into some production problems, like with the vinyl, which took way longer than we thought to get manufactured. But we learned a lot in the process and we’re confident it will go a lot faster and smoother the next time around.

“A lot of music is a commodity now. It’s in every inch of our lives and is produced cheaply. You can start a djent band with a computer and $500 worth of plugins now.” ghost cult magazine | 19


No Need to Conform Words: Raymond Westland

There are passionate musicians and then there’s Mick Moss. Ghost Cult recently caught up with him to talk about ‘Fear of a Unique Identity’, the latest Antimatter album. He didn’t mince his words when talking of creating it, the world around him and his compelling need to make music. What’s going on in the Antimatter world? I’m getting in touch with the tour manager to put a tour together for 2013 and I’ll be doing some acoustic dates with Vic Anselmo. There are loads of dates coming in. At the moment I’m looking at 20 to 24 dates for March and April, so I’ll be touring throughout Europe. I’m also busy with completing the Antimatter live band. We just got a new drummer, so we’ll be practicing a lot. We’re looking for dates for late 2013 and on top of it all I’m working on the new Antimatter album, called ‘The Judas Table’. I’m also working on a side project called Sleeping Pulse. You’re a busy man! That’s me, always busy. It keeps me out of trouble, haha. Let’s talk a bit about ‘Fear of a Unique Identity’. Compared to the older Antimatter material it’s way more guitar-orienated. The ambient pieces and electronic elements are still there, but they’re way more subdued. What’s your take on this?

Well, I started incorperating more straight up rock influences on ‘Leaving Eden’ and even more on ‘Planetary Confinement’, so ‘Fear of a Unique Identity’ isn’t such a departure for me from what I’ve done on the previous two records. After ‘Leaving Eden’ I was completely done with the whole slow acoustic stuff, so I made the conscious decision to incorporate electric guitars within the Antimatter sound. We did the acoustic thing on three albums, namely from ‘Saviour’ to ‘Planetary Confinement’. I wanted to have some more uptempo tracks, mostly to keep things interesting for myself. The Antimatter vibe is still in there. The music is still dark and depressing.

getting singled out or becoming isolated. So yes, that’s where the title originates from. I don’t know whether this is something that plagues humanity as a whole or just in certain areas. As the album progresses we take a more historical view on conformity.

‘Fear of a Unique Identity’ is quite enigmatic title. Does it refer to the growing tendency of people to have a conformist attitude towards things, instead of voicing their own opinion on things?

This is similar to a song by Tool, called ‘Vicarious’. It very much touches the same subject.

Absolutely! It’s based on the kind of behaviour I see from people in my city around me. For years I’ve seen my city deterioate and I wondered why. I came to the conclusion as the tides turn more people subscribe to the masses and subdue themselves to the common identity thread running through people. People do that because they’re afraid of

Can you give any specific examples of historic events you describe in your songs? I think it’s pretty self explanatory. I won’t give everything away, but the last song on the album is about organised mass murder and suicide people subscribe to.

I don’t listen to Tool, so I can’t comment on that. I don’t listen to bands from the last ten to fifteen years. In an earlier interview someone asked me what my thoughts are on the current rock and metal scene. I don’t have any thoughts on that, let alone be able to mention five or six bands from the last decade or so, haha.

ghost cult magazine | 20

Sticking with the theme of the new album, are you afraid of having your own unique identity? I was never a conformist and I never will be. That’s actually where the whole idea from the album came from. I just stand out and observe. I can observe that kind of behaviour, because I’m aware of it and choose not to become involved. What can you tell us about the writing and recording process for ‘Fear of a Unique Identity’? I wanted to go for more energy, just to keep myself interested. I made a conscious effort to make the songs interesting and vibrant for myself, which is relevant for the musical journey I’ve been on the last ten years. I couldn’t be doing the same thing again and again, because that’s not creative, that’s simply being repetitive. So I set out to create an album with a different vibe and along the way I’ll see how things will work out. I demo a lot of the songs before I go into a studio anyway and that’s what the creative process is all about for me. I usually make sure that I have song frames completed before I enter the studio. The recording process itself went really smoothly. The only thing we ran into was myself, because I’m very picky and difficult to work with. I feel very sorry for every producer that works with me. The producer had some ideas on things and I envisioned things in a different way, so we had to find some ground in the middle. It’s just the nature of it. Antimatter is very much your brainchild and you’re the sole creative force behind it. Do you find it difficult to compromise

with someone from the “outside world”, like a producer for instance? Yes, it’s hard, because I have so much control over the entire process and it’s difficult for me to swallow when somebody tries to advise me on doing things. I did learn to appreciate the comments from other people, because in the end you can only gain from that. It’s valuable to have other people involved. Would you consider teaming up again with other musicians like you’ve done with Duncan Patterson (ex Anathema) and Danny Cavanagh (Anathema) in the past? I’ve worked with them in the past, but we never wrote together. For the first three Antimatter albums I worked with Duncan. He wrote his share of the songs and I wrote mine and we recorded them. As with Danny, he was brought in as a sesssion guitar player on ‘Leaving Eden’. He didn’t write any songs for the album. Even the parts he played seventy percent were melodies that I whistled to him. I never made any musical compromises with Antimatter since the beginning. Duncan and I collaborated on albums and not on songs. Lyrics are an important part of the Antimatter experience. How do you go about things? It’s usually when I encounter personal grief in a certain period; I use the lyrics and songs as an outlet. Any point in time, if there’s something bothering me; I’m aware that at some point I will use that problem as a base for my lyrics and work it into a song. It’s not so much a stream of consciousness, because I know exactly what I want to write about. It’s just a question of letting it out. I

usually already have lyrical ideas, like phrases or a line or an angle that I want to approach, but it will not have a melody or specific shape. At a separate time I’ll be playing on my acoustic guitar coming up with melodies, usually a lyric comes out at the same time and it will automatically be about what’s occupying my mind at the time. So when the song emerges I choose to pursue it or to leave it alone. When I choose to pursue it, I’ll just take the idea and keep on working with it. It’s that simple really. Do you need to be in a melancholic or depressed state of mind before you can create proper Antimatter music? For the lyrics, yes. Happy emotions don’t solicit me to write. When I’m happy, I’m out and about enjoying life and I’m not strumming on my guitar. It’s more like when I’m unhappy I come into the writing mindset. The music is more of a creative thing and it’s more channeling energy out of my guts and the need to be creative. How important it is for you to have music in your life? I’m compelled to. I just had a conversation earlier today, it wasn’t an interview, but a normal conversation about making music and the guy I was talking to said to me that I was doing something that makes me happy and that’s the most important thing in life. I told him even if I wasn’t doing this I still want to do it. If I worked in some fucking supermarket, putting bananas on a fucking shelf, I would come home at night and I’d still be picking up my guitar and writing songs.

I was never a conformist and I never will be. ghost cult magazine | 21



You've named your band after the infamous Kowloon Walled City. How do you feel that aesthetic relates to the band? Ian Miller: Despite 85% of everything written about the band mentioning the similarities between our music and Kowloon Walled City the place, there’s no relation. We thought it was a cool concept and all the good band names were already taken, so we went with it. People seem to like it, which is cool. But the place doesn’t inform the music. The new album, Container Ships is your first recording with new guitarist Jon Howell. What's the story behind the change? IM: Jason Pace, our former guitarist, moved to Seattle for work, and we didn’t know if the band was going to continue. But luckily Jon was open to playing with us, and he’s worked out better than we could have imagined. It’s been awesome.

But melodically, there’s a tension among the three of us: Scott is trying to keep things simple and straightforward, I’m always trying to add melodic movement and dynamics underneath the guitars, and Jon is trying to add dissonant weirdness. That tension is what makes these songs interesting listening, for me, anyway. This question’s for Scott. In producing your own band's album, do you find that you are any more critical of your bandmates’ performances than you would be of other bands? Scott Evans: No, I don’t think so. One thing is that I know everyone so well that I have a pretty good idea of when somebody has a better take in them. But we’re all pretty good at self-editing in that regard too. We’ve done a lot of recording together. Nowadays it rarely feels like I’m the taskmaster in the studio. It’s not necessary. Container Ships has a very "live" feel, somewhat similar to fellow San Francisco residents Bossede-Nage. Was much of the album recorded that way, as a band? SE: Yes. We’ve tracked all of our recordings roughly the same way--we set up all at once and play the songs. We don’t go back and redo the bass or the guitars. I do vocals as overdubs, and we did a few guitar bits as overdubs. Obviously there are lots of ways to record bands, but I love it when you can get everyone in a room and bang through the songs this way. It gets everybody on point, it feels comfortable and familiar to everyone playing, and in most cases it’s a lot faster than

How has Jon affected your songwriting process? M: Jon’s approach to playing guitar is so out there. He comes up with crazy parts, and we’re constantly having to reel him back in and dumb down his ideas. If you listen to his other band, Tigon, you’ll hear what I mean.

ghost cult magazine | 22

overdubbing each part. It’s also more likely to leave some rough edges--some bits here and there that, if you were standing in the control room next to the engineer, you’d probably say “back up and let me try that again.” And leaving those can be a good thing.

genre. In fact, I pretty much ignore the crazy pigeonholing that you see in most heavy music. I listen to bands, not genres. My vocal touchstones are bands like Unsane and Godflesh, and Quicksand and Frodus—not a lot of growling there.

The bass sound throughout Container Ships is phenomenal. As a bass player, I gotta know how you achieved that.

The lyrics on Container Ships are quite poetic/abstract yet are emotionally deep and filled with struggle. Would you care to share what's behind some of that turmoil?

IM: Nothin’ fancy here, man. A couple of years back I bought two basses from Ishibashi Music in Japan: an ‘80s Tokai Hard Puncher P-bass copy, which I love, and a Fender Japan ‘57 Precision reissue. I only snagged the Fender because it was super-cheap, something like $250. There was an issue with the truss rod, and the Ishibashi guys

SE: I don’t know. I’m not a very good selfpsychologist. I feel pretty together most of the time, even though I overthink and stress about pretty much everything. That probably manifests in its own way in my lyrics. There’s a lot there about responsibility and expectations.

I used to download a lot of stuff on Mediafire, but I don’t any more. Now I buy tons of records as MP3s and it feels good. I listen to a record a few times, I like it, and MP3s are $5 from Bandcamp or Amazon? Hell yes, stoked to support the band. I feel like we were waiting for Bandcamp and Amazon MP3 this whole time. Obviously lots of people want music for free and that’s okay too, though I guess it’s best if the band is okay with it. We have all our records up for free download. That’s worked out pretty well over time. And it turns out that some people DO want to pay a few bucks if you give them an easy way to do it, and that’s really cool. Maybe Radiohead had it right. Following that line, do you feel it is

“Heavy metal is stupid and no one should listen to it.”

didn’t even want to sell it to me at first, but I took a flyer on it because it was so cheap. I figured I could part it out if the neck was fucked. It came with EMGs in it, which kind of grossed me out—I hadn’t played active pickups since the ‘90s, when they were “in.” But they sounded really good, and I’ve been too lazy to change ‘em out, so there you go. For distortion, I use a bass-specific Ben Adrian Bunnydrive. It’s based on the Anderton Tube Fuzz/Way Huge Red Llama, but with some modifications for bass. It’s fantastic. That goes into an Ampeg SVT II Pro head driving a Bergantino NV425 cab. I only used the Bergantino because two different SVT cabinets shit the bed during that session. Ugh. The sludge/doom subgenre is starting to become a little saturated. However, I think the cleaner vocals make KWC stand out some. But I don't suspect that's your reason behind "defying the norm" or even that you consider it that. Why not roar and growl?

Traditionally, you tend to be very free with the distribution of your music. Which begs the question, what are your thoughts on music piracy this far into the digital age? SE: A few years ago, you couldn’t find legit MP3s of a new record, or if you could, the label was selling them for $15 and there was no good way to listen to it first to see if it was worth your money. No surprise that everybody ended up searching Mediafire or Blogspot. But things have gotten much better since then, both for bands and listeners, and I think it’s largely thanks to Bandcamp. Now it’s easy to listen to new records, and it’s super easy to buy digital versions. It’s probably easier than finding a “pirated” copy. And you know you’re getting the whole record, and it’s encoded well, and has the right cover art and tags and all that.

more important that others hear what you have to say (and think about it, learn from it, grow from it) or that you just get the music out of yourselves? Or do they hold similar weight? SE: I love making things. Writing music, recording other bands, building things. I always have. I find it satisfying and gratifying when somebody else appreciates something I’ve done—who doesn’t? But that’s not what drives me. If it is, I’m failing pretty spectacularly. Thank you very much for making the time for us. Any last thoughts? IM: Heavy metal is stupid and no one should listen to it. SE: Agreed.

SE: Well, why does a band do any one thing rather than something else? I write vocal parts that I think fit our songs, and that reflect my particular set of tastes and abilities and goals. I don’t think in terms of

ghost cult magazine | 23

hanging garden


Can you start by telling us a bit about the band? When did Hanging Garden form and what were the circumstances? Who is in the band now and what instruments do they play? How would you describe the musical genre you play? Nino Hynninen: Hanging Garden have been going through some regular line-up changes during the last couple of years so the only original member still left is our guitarist Mikko Kolari, who formed the band with four other musicians in 2004. Soon after, the band signed a record deal with Spikefarm and released the debut album Inherit the Eden. The second oldest member of the band is guitar player Jussi Hämäläinen, who joined the band before the recordings of the second album, TEOTWAWKI. Right after the release of the album the band decided that they wanted to stop using soundtrack keyboards and recruited me, Nino Hynninen, as the keyboardist. Soon after the original singer was replaced by Toni Toivonen, who also sang in another project with me. After that new drummer, Antti Ruokola, joined the

band and the most recent member of the band is bass player Jussi Kirves. What are the band’s main influences? NH: I sincerely hope that I won't come off as sounding too elitist in the following paragraph. I'd say the members are a relatively eclectic group of musicians with quite a broad range of influences and just summing up a couple of bands would be somewhat misleading. But probably the main principal is that we try not to be too constricted within the boundaries of "our" musical genre, which can be superficially categorized as postdoom or something like that. We try not be influenced too much by other bands within the traditional metal scene and thus avoid musical "in-breeding". Instead, we try to find our inspirations from various other sources, musical and non-musical. For my part I listened a lot to bands like Weeping Willows, Kent and Swans during the recording of At Every Door.

Toni Toivonen: Lyrics-wise, I take a lot of influence from literature, history, music and all kinds of expressive art that has an impact on me. Your new album At Every Door is your first since your 2009 release TEOTWAWKI. Was it a difficult process to write this follow up album? TT: No, I don’t think so. I think that Jussi H. and Mikko both felt quite comfortable when writing new material. There wasn’t any pressure, we didn’t have any obligations to a record label for example. What is the theme on At Every Door? Is there a specific story you want to tell the listener? TT: Taking a view back to mankind’s history, and acknowledging the repetitive nature of said history, it’s easy to take a guess were we could be going wrong in the not-so-distant future. The songs tell stories of desolation in a ravaged world devoid of life, from

ghost cult magazine | 24

different viewpoints and protagonists. A lot of intertextuality is present in the themes and song titles of the album.

Can you describe to the reader what it would be to experience a typical Hanging Garden gig/show?

What process does the band follow to write the songs? What is your inspiration?

NH: I'd say it moves you. Not maybe physically, but within it can be quite a powerful experience. You just have to let it happen.

TT: We have a clear vision of what we want to do so there’s no big magic behind the songwriting. Usually someone comes up with an idea, records it and sends it to the others and after that we usually arrange the songs together.

TT: A jolly night of grieving.

Hanging Garden makes music which is “the perfect soundtrack for dark winter days”. How much is this influenced by living in Finland, which is a country known for very dark winter days? NH: I think music always has a sense of place and it's important that you can relay these powerful images to listeners on an intuitive level without it being too banal. In Finland it's of course somewhat of a cliché with the darkness and coldness, but to say it didn't influence us would be somewhat a lie. TT: I suppose it reflects on the music a bit, even though not consciously.

What do you think of the state of doom metal at the moment? NH: I think there's a good movement going on nowadays with bands trying to breathe some "new" life into the whole genre without taking a couple of steps back. In my opinion the start of the millennium was quite a bleak time for metal in general as everything was a bit artificial and there was a bit too much emphasis on the superficial side and not on the actual content. Now you have some really cool stuff coming out musically and soundwise, especially those that aren't afraid to experiment, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Jex Thoth and Oranssi Pazuzu for some examples. TT: There are a lot of bands worth listeningto, both new and old. For example, the latest My Dying Bride album is awesome! Generally

it seems that the old masters are still doing good stuff. Does Hanging Garden use any social media to promote their releases/gigs? What medium does the band prefer to communicate with their fans? TT: Today, Facebook is the name of the game. It’s effortless and an easy medium to reach the fans. Of course, a lot can be said about their pricing methods when it comes to making yourself visible to the already reached fans. Fucked up, I say. Finally, what are the future plans for Hanging Garden? If you have any big tours or gigs coming up can you please mention these? NH: We just finished the filming our very first music video and let me tell you, it's something worth checking out. Without sounding too over-confident I think I'd say it's going to raise some attention. So that's going to come out around the time of the release of the album, so keep following the updates.

ghost cult magazine | 25



Can you start by telling us a bit about the band? When did Kongh form and what were the circumstances?

That got us signed to Trust No One Recordings, who released our first album one year later.

Tomas Salonen (drums) and I met each other back in 2004. We were raised in a rather isolated part of Sweden where the musical climate is quite low, so it was hard to find like-minded people to play more extreme kinds of music. But we found each other and had a similar vision in mind—we wanted to play very slow and heavy music, without any artistic boundaries or traditional song structures. We started to write songs, took time to find and shape our sound, and two years later we recorded our first demo.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know Kongh has always been a 2-piece band with David playing bass and guitar on recordings and Tomas playing the drums. It seems you have a third band member in the person of Olle Hedenström now who apparently plays the bass? Is Olle involved in the recording and writing process as well or is he only playing at the live shows? Well, we have always had a bass player

associated with the band in some way, but the core of the band has always been me and Tomas, and we're the only ones involved in the writing process. We had a few different bass players through the years who played with us live. I have recorded the bass for the last two albums and on most of the debut. Olle has been in the band for about a year and a half now. He's a live musician, we're really glad to have him in the band, he's a good bloke. Your last full-length release Shadows of the Shapeless was released in 2009. So it’s been a while since we have heard anything new. Was it a difficult process to write and record Sole Creation?

ghost cult magazine | 26

I don't think “difficult” is exactly the right word. But when we write music, we want it to end up being as good as possible, and rushing song writing has never worked for us. We also want the music to evolve between each release, and that is hard to truly achieve if you're not taking your time while writing. When we're done with an album, we're so exhausted from writing, planning, recording and everything, so we take a break and focus on touring and stuff. And when it feels right and you're ready to start writing again, the music and inspiration will come to you. What process does the band follow to write the songs? What is your inspiration? I have always had an urge to create, and that is my main inspiration. If I'm not inspired, I don't bother trying to write music. Sometimes I can go for weeks or maybe months without thinking of creating music, but then it hits you and suddenly you're sitting down with the guitar and new riffs are coming to life. The process of writing songs is long and sometimes complicated. Basically we have a library of riffs and ideas which we are happy with and want to use. Since our songs are quite long, they take some time to assemble. As I also mentioned, we don't like rushing things, so basically we try out ideas, thinking about how to improve or progress things and working until a song is finished. That usually takes months, or even years for a song to progress from a single riff to a full 12 minute song. However, we usually work with several songs simultaneously so each album has probably taken 2-3 years to write. Compared to your previous work there is a lot more melody on Sole Creation without steering away from the classic sludge/doom sound. Do you see this as a natural progression of Kongh’s sound? It's definitely a natural progression. That has to do with what I just described, the fact that we're not rushing things and letting the music find its own way. We listen to a lot of different kinds of music and our goal is that each of our albums should have something unique. We also consider the melodic aspect to be an improvement, a new dimension that makes the music richer.

maybe even top ones! That being said, thanks for the Ozzy comment, that's nice to hear! I would definitely consider Black Sabbath a huge influence. I'm not sure if you can actually tell that judging by our riffs etc, but yes, we love Sabbath. But at the end, we never really think about influences while we're writing. It's not like “let's try to sound like this, or let's try to sound like that”, it just happens. I suppose we're getting inspiration from many bands. Not just metal, it can just as well be an old electronic band like Tangerine Dream or a prog band like Goblin. If I was to list every band we've probably ever been inspired by, it would contain too many bands to even make any sense. I’m curious to find out more behind the new album Sole Creation. Is there a theme on the record? How do the four tracks interact or are they all single tracks within their own entity? Lyrically, there's definitely a connection and a theme going on. This is the first time we have included the full lyrics in the album cover so I have done my best to write the lyrics in a way that it can have different meanings depending on who's reading them and how they're interpreting them. To find out what it is about and what it means, I suggest you read the lyrics, listen to the music and use your imagination. That's the way it should be experienced. There have been some amazing releases in the sludge/doom genre in 2012. Do you guys keep track of what’s been released and what are your personal favourites of the last year? I'm not keeping track of everything new that's getting released, no. I just check out a few new albums every year. Despite that, I'm a very active music listener but I tend to look more towards older than new music. It's not that I'm not interested, it's just that there's so much good stuff from the last five decades that I have not yet explored. If a new album gets out and it's worth listening to, I will find out sooner or later.

However, I listened to a few new albums this year. Switchblade [2012] is my favourite in the heavy music department. Other goodies include the new Witchcraft, Graveyard and Astra albums. I also listen a lot to ambient/electronic stuff, so I was happy that there was a new Brian Eno album as well. Next year, there's some stuff I'm looking forward to though, like the new Ocean Chief and Ghost albums. What is the sludge/doom scene in Sweden like? Have you got a big fan base in Sweden or are you more popular in other countries? We've never really cared about scenes, neither do I feel that we have ever been a part of one. As I said, we come from the Småland area, where there is nothing in existence that anybody could consider calling a scene, so we just don't care about such terms. However we have gathered quite a good number of fans in Sweden I think, which is great! Of course it depends on where we're playing. If we're playing in a small town (which we don't do that often any more) there are not many people showing up but in the bigger cities it can be quite good. With the album being released early 2013, what are Kongh’s plans? Personally I hope to see you do a big tour, so is that in the pipeline? We haven't made any plans yet, but we're keeping our minds open. The album is getting released soon and we're very happy about it, so we're very likely to play a lot of shows. Which countries? Which circumstances? Time will tell. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and I hope your album will do very well for you guys! You're welcome! Thank you very much for your interest in Kongh, Sander! Cheers!

David’s clean vocals on Sole Creation remind me a lot of old Black Sabbath with Ozzy still on vocals. Is Black Sabbath an influence for the band’s sound? What are your other main influences? Black Sabbath is one of my all-time favourite bands (and Tomas' also, I'm sure). I think it's safe to say they belong in both of our top fives. Probably even top threes;

“...when we write music, we want it to end up being as good as possible, and rushing song writing has never worked for us.” ghost cult magazine | 27


Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away Belgian black metal/sludge outfit Gorath have called it a day after the release of their most ambitious album yet, entitled ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’. A rather curious decision it may seem, however, Gorath’s front man Filip Dupont heartily disagrees. What follows is a disheartening story about a hard working band in a world where having the right connections is more important than raw talent. Words: Kyle Harcott

Why did you feel the time was right for Gorath to call it a day? I’m sick of all the hustle that comes with doing a band like Gorath. After all those years, six albums of almost unanimous positive feedback and international approved shows there’s still lack of recognition. Every time we have to face up to ridiculous bookers, labels, promoters, etc. Sure, I want to keep on going against the flow, but I’m tired of it. Gorath will always be that small Belgian band, unwanted by foreign festivals (because we’re not German, French, Scandinavian or whatever) and also unwanted by Belgian festivals (indeed, for the same reason). In Flanders you can do three shows a year and already create overkill. Bands from bigger countries can boost up their reputation by solely doing shows in their homeland. Our music is quite appreciated; we just

need to build up our reputation through intensively touring, and that’s not possible due to my job. We, like most Flemish folks, aren’t very adventurous people, so we stick to our old secure habits. Keeping this in mind there are two options. One: we can go on, take back some gas to relax and continue the band on low-profile. Two: we can pull the plug when we’re at our best, leaving the scene with a blast instead of slowly fading away into oblivion. I guess it’s clear which option we chose. Are you pleased with outcome of ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’ compared to your previous five albums? Personally, I like the album a lot. For me it was clear there wouldn’t be another ‘MXCII’ or ‘Apokálypsis’. There were a few extremely fast songs written after the previous

record, but it just didn’t feel right, compared with the other heavy and more ambient songs I am into. I threw them away and made an album that I wanted to make. The reactions are very mixed. Black metal purists vomit at the sludgy and droning riffs incarnated on ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’, but this album has got more balls than all our previous full lengths put together. It’s really low and slow and my voice never sounded this dirty. Too bad for those who isn’t pleased; you can’t make everyone smile, can you? On our debut ‘Elite’ I kind of mocked the true black metal scene and their unwritten rules. We never fit the standard description of a black metal band, even though our lyrical content is way more interesting and occult than 99% of those purists. Gorath followed the way of the heart, and always told a true story. No, we didn’t use corpse paint and nor

ghost cult magazine | 28

did we shout hollow quotes to get attention. What you see is what you get. Was it planned as a finale from the start? Yes. Years ago I told the rest of the band I would quit after six albums, coincidence? I don’t know, but in addition with the stuff I have said previously, the time was right to call its quits. Everything to say was said. On ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’ I really did what I wanted to do, regardless of what might be said afterwards. Gorath started as a one-man-band, and more or less finished as being my last work, not interfered with by the other members. Did it turn out the proper finale you wanted to make? Musically: yes, soundwise: partly. I recorded the stinged instruments and vocals at my home studio, Reinier Schenk (Saille) took care of the drum recordings and the mixing process. In the end Greg Chandler (Esoteric) made the album sound like it was December 21st already. The sludge parts sound excellent, but the kicks are a bit too loud and too heavy. No big deal, every time there’s something which could have been done better. Screw it, you can’t change the things you’ve done, just learn from them.

minded stuff with progressive and avantgarde parts. Bart’s also deeply rooted in the classical music scene. He already showed me some really extreme classical music made some ages ago. Forget about Vivaldi, there’s so much more! I’ve got another black metal band which isn’t linked to Gorath. I want to keep it that way; we stay low-profile. Our debut has been released this year and vinyl is up for next year. There’s also Hemelbestormer, a sludge/doom/drone/ambient/post band which can be seen as the logical follow up for ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’, but with out vocals. I dare to say it’s pretty original. Remember the uncommon name, you will hear about it again in the not so distant future! The video for ‘Khiliasmos II’ is incredibly unsettling, with some fascinating and disturbing dark-cinematic (almost Lynchian), nightmarish visuals. Whose concept was the video, and did you have a large hand in the art direction for the video?

‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’ deals with salvation which comes through the destruction of mass religion instead of embracing it, just like on ‘Apokálypsis’ we inverted the storyline about the Apocalypse and each song of the new album describes the loss of a world religion through the fall of their symbolic city (Jerusalem, Rome and Mecca). In the clip we chose to make it more personal and showed You write all of Gorath’s music, at what a guy possessed by religion. The only way to point do you share the songs with your face his demons was to erase his divine way band? of thinking. Kevin (Hemelbestormer) made this video by himself. We both talked about Gorath evolved from a one-man-band to a band with live members to a “real” band with the concept and his creative mind made it like this. He immediately knew how to set up a fully involved line up. The way of writing the right atmosphere, so we didn’t have to inmusic stayed the same. On ‘MXCII’ and terfere. ‘Apokálypsis’ the guitarist Bart showed me some A-class riffs which I used in the songs. Was it a conscious decision to make ‘The However, the first time he heard ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’ more hypnotic Chronicles of Khiliamos’ the final mix was than past records, or did the songs just already done. Usually I write almost all turn out that way? songs, drum patterns included, and pass them on to the members. The other memOn every album there are slower and more bers come to my place and play their parts while I do the engineering. When they’re all entrancing songs. Some years ago there was gone, I take care of the vocal department. In the meantime, the drummer Heyde rehearses the new album at home and then he hits the external studio. As a foursome, we only rehearse the songs we do live. Quite unorthodox, I know, but it works fine.

a possible split album release with the American Wolfe. In the end it didn’t happen, but I kept the biggest part of the song and it ended up as ‘Khiliasmos III’. Also ‘Khiliasmos I’ was almost fully finished from my previous, already split up sludge band. Some accents were changed and the song is now on the new album. I knew ‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’ would be a slow and hypnotic monster. I feel more connected to this kind of music. What are the highest and lowest points of Gorath’s 15-year run? The lowest points are related to the stuff that lead to the split: annoying promoters, lying bookers, hypocrite labels, the usual business. I would rather remember the highest points. What is most important are the good times we had together. Some shows stay special, such as our ‘MXCII’ release show some years ago. It was winter, cold and a full moon was shining; we rented a power generator and set up everything in an old small cemetery located in a wood. We played in front of a huge cross and the atmosphere was just perfect. I would never relate good times to commercial success. There are many bands who are almost upset when a large crowd is not present, but we always performed like there was no tomorrow. What are the final shows you have planned before the end of Gorath? We just finished a series of shows in Germany, France and The Netherlands. All of them were more than just enjoyable and some of the best we ever played. Now there’s just one left, next year in April. Gorath will be doing a farewell show for our friends in Limburg (Belgium). We will play a 2 hour set with special guest appearances and some stuff we never played live before. That’s the only show left before Gorath vanishes!

What will you all do now that Gorath is no more? Learn from our mistakes and do it better! The bass player Raf plays in an old school death metal band, called Torturerama, they often hit the stage in Belgium and the Netherlands. Heyde keeps on playing hyperblasts in his death metal squad Storm upon the Masses, a rather low-profile band. Just like Bart, I guess he’s into more open

‘The Chronicles of Khiliasmos’ deals with salvation which comes through the destruction of mass religion instead of embracing it...” ghost cult magazine | 29

the prophecy

After years of decline and stagnation, the UK metal scene seems to be thriving again; its black metal branch brought out the goods with the latestest releases from Fen, Winterfylleth, Voices, Nine Covens and Cnoc An Tursa. Whether the same type of renessaince is going to happen with the doom metal sector remains to be seen, but with the latest album by progressive/doom outfit The Prophecy in mind, there’s certainly hope. Ghost Cult caught up with Greg O’Shea (guitar), Matt Lawson (vocals) and Gavin Parkinson (bass) to quiz them about their music, their latest album ‘Salvation’ and surviving the rigors of touring.

The Bare Essentials of Progressive Doom Metal Words: Victoria Anderson

Do you find that labelling your music is limiting or is it something you ignore? Has it helped or hindered getting The Prophecy into the public eye? GS: Doom, like all music, has evolved since its pioneering days and it’s difficult to find the line where its interpretation and delivery becomes something new and undefined as opposed to an extension of its heritage. It’s positive that doom metal is encouraged to grow beyond its expectations whilst staying true to its initial intentions and that’s where we see our impact has been. As we were writing ‘Salvation’ we were trying to capture certain moods and searching for melodies to support particular premises and we found that to deliver a coherent message we would need to use some different tools; something other than what we had in our ‘doom’ toolkit. Our philosophy has always been that if it fits then it is right. So for us to tell the story of ‘Salvation’ how it should be heard we needed to be open to new directions and welcome the infusion of different ‘genres’ and influences whilst staying true to our original intentions. I don’t know if we are doom or not, but I know that the doom community have always welcomed us and we feel part of their family. GP: It is a label that suited us well on the

first album 'Ashes' and probably also on 'Revelations'. Once we get onto 'Into The Light' there were clearly many more influences at play, there always have been loads of other styles and feelings in our music, but they really come into play on 'Salvation' and I guess the label has just stuck with us, probably due to the fact that it is music with a melancholic feel and a sound that often relies on space and playing with light and dark to create the moods, rather than 'overt technicality' or speed. Maybe it has hindered us, many people won't approach a band with the 'doom' tag, but it has put us in a scene that has supported us, and one with which I guess we have certain things in common. I think we do appeal to people outside the doom scene or even the metal scene, but we don't often get a chance to sell ourselves to these people. We don't set out to write doom songs or view ourselves as having to operate in a certain genre. We do what we do, and if people think it is doom, then so be it. The compositions of the songs on ‘Salvation’ are complex. How do you set about writing the music? GS: I work on a lot of ideas at home, starting off basic and then getting carried away

with adding excessive orchestration and layers. It does sometimes feel like a waste of energy when a few days later I find I’m much happier with the stripped-down simple version, but I become a lot closer to the song by working on and around it and find that the process often helps find a riff for it to become friends with. The riffs are shared with the group online so that we can each start working at home and getting ready for rehearsal. We learn the basic riff as per the recordings until we all become comfortable with it and we start exploring the individual opportunities it presents. Then we discuss its strengths, offer input on each other’s interpretations and start to think whether it could be the central riff of a chorus or whether it is ‘less deserving’ and can either do a less important job or be totally forgotten. As a rule I’m very keen on structure and predominantly maintaining a traditional ‘pop’ structure, intros, verses, choruses etc. rather than it becoming a long meander through random riffs and by keeping this in mind it lets us know what we’re looking for next. From where do you draw your lyrical inspiration? ML: The band draws inspiration from many areas, including our surroundings, so maybe

ghost cult magazine | 30

ust a Yorkshire thing and we're all just miserable Yorkshire men who mutter about the price of ale and how things aren't like they used to be whilst proudly wearing our flat caps after a day down t'mill. Perhaps we use the music to vent our darker emotions so we can otherwise lead carefree and happy lives! As a band we've always tried to write poignant and meaningful songs rather than throw-away album fillers. Perhaps the subject matter we use lends itself more to that philosophy. The Prophecy has been together for a tad bit over a decade. How do you keep the drive to create new music, tour and the over-all attitude of being in a band fresh? GS: Every day is fresh and stimulating when you’re spending time with creative people that have a shared purpose and, as a group, we are lucky enough to all have the same determination. All musicians are blessed with having the music inside of them turned up loud and playing all day long with the option to start a musical daydream on demand. 90% of what plays in my head during the day is The Prophecy and I can’t find the off switch! So then you get home and start recording. I ring John (drums) and he comes and listens and adds some ideas to help me write and then you wake up the next day and the daydream now has some drumming on it! It’s incessant and completely vital to our wellbeing that we can be creative together and share our work with our fans. In the beginning we sweated blood and tears and served a really hard ‘apprenticeship’ on the road because we wanted to do what we saw our heroes doing; sharing their music with the world, travelling and learning about other people’s lives, cultures and countries and getting to have sex with the people that lived there. We pretty much killed ourselves by playing anywhere and everywhere at any cost because we understood from day one that if we wanted to be successful we had better get on and do it. That work ethic is still there and it’s one of our greatest strengths. When we started to feel that we were having the experiences we had dreamt of and we flew to gigs instead of driving in a van, when we stayed in posh hotels and not on strangers floors and when we first had people whose job it was to look after us on tour then we thought ‘this is pretty cool, let’s carry on grafting and not mess this up’. The opportunities we’ve had over the last few years just increased our motivation to practice hard, spend time writing, rewriting, shouting and rewriting till it’s ready to gig and record. My father once told me that you should make sure you are seen how you want to be seen and that you shouldn’t change your aspirations for fear of hard work, it’s something that

has stuck with me all my life and runs through The Prophecy.

can fit them in. The band is open for bookings!

What was it like playing in China and Cuba?

What do you do to keep yourselves healthy both mentally and physically while you are on the road?

GP: Eye opening! We had a great time, met some great people, experienced different cultures and played some fantastic gigs to people that were genuinely appreciative of our music. At one of the Chinese festivals we got to experience some of the 'state' intolerance, as soon as Matt started growling and we started headbanging the police stood up and started banging their batons on their riot shields just in case. I guess we mobilised the Chinese Riot Police, great claim to fame. This was in more rural China that maybe hadn't experienced this kind of thing before, it only stems from fear and ignorance of the unknown. It was very different in Beijing; wild crowds, crowd surfing, stage diving and more laid back policing, as laid back as you can be with batons and guns, but we had to have our music, lyrics and a live video approved by the authorities before we could play. In Cuba there were no such problems, some gigs have no police presence at all, but the promoters had to work hard to allow the tour to go ahead in the first place. Just don't talk politics in public! As you can imagine there is a lot of paperwork and form filling to be able to perform in these countries, but there are some passionate metal fans out there and we would happily go back and play for them again. What has been your favourite country or city to play in and why? GP: There's nothing like playing to your home crowd, especially when many of them have supported you from the very beginning. GS: I think the one defining moment was when I was 18 and we were on our first tour of the USA. We had just landed and I was striding through the airport in Los Angeles with my snakeskin boots, sprayed on jeans and guitar in my hand. I got to the concourse, the sunshine hits me, I’m seeing lines of big yellow taxis and jumbo jets screaming into the sky and I looked at my guitar and “thought this is all because I practised with you a lot in my garden shed, how cool is this? It is very cool”. Tell us about your tour plans. GS: It will be a mixture of venues both big and intimate. We've no announcements to make as yet but we haven't ruled anywhere out. We hope to be hitting some places for the first time as well as revisiting some of our old stamping grounds that we've neglected over the last few years. We're also on the look out for some more exotic and unusual places to visit if we

GP: Being able to get a shower and a good sleep helps, as well as avoiding drinking all of the beer rider every night, otherwise four or five days into the tour you start feeling ill. Eating lots of fresh fruit and keeping hydrated helps as most venues just lay on the ubiquitous cheese and salami. Performing a few "rock squats' before a performance to limber up helps as well as avoiding too much air con in warmer climes as that kills the vocalist. GS: We play as much football as possible when we’re on the road and some of the guys like to work out in the hotel gyms. I’m happy with a swim and a steam room and that helps to cleanse the body of some of the rock and roll impurities. What are some of your touring essentials? GP: Diarolyte and antihistamine, especially in the further reaches. We had to cancel a gig due to mosquito bites once. Not good! Driving tunes: Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Primus, Immortal, War of the Worlds, Aghora, Queen. John can't do without a supply of crisp white t-shirts. We're a pretty low maintenance band; as long as there is somewhere to sleep, wash and drink beer we're happy! GS: I think the only thing that I really appreciate is having somewhere that I can spend some time alone and have a little peace. Sometimes to read, listen to my own music quietly, write new material or have a little nap. I am getting old now and do feel the strain a bit more than I should! What does the future hold for The Prophecy? ML: Inspiration has struck and we've already started work on the next album. GS: It’s amazingly frustrating how hard we hard to work to complete ‘Salvation’. We were 2 riffs away from finishing the last song for about 4 months. All of a sudden I get back home from the studio and within 2 weeks we have another 20 minutes of material there and ready to be rehearsed. Right now there is the dream that we might have a new album out in 2014; that is a prophecy that probably won’t come true, but would truly amaze me if it did!

ghost cult magazine | 31

Omnium Gatherum

The Rush of Melodic Death Metal

Finland is the home of some of today’s finest metal acts, such as Amorphis, Ghost Brigade, Insomnium, Swallow the Sun and Chaosweaver. Kotka-based Omnium Gatherum has always been undervalued, despite the release of solid albums, including ‘The Redshift’ (2008) and ‘New World Shadows’ (2011). The band is about to release their sixth release, entitled ‘Beyond’. Jukka Pelkonen (vocals) and Markus Vanhala (guitar) are convinced that this album will finally bring Omnium Gatherum the recognition they so rightfully deserve. Words: Chris Tippell

Your brand new album is about to be released entitled ‘Beyond’. What is the meaning behind this title? J: There are at least a couple of meanings in the title. It has got something to do with exceeding one’s limits and realizing that there is no separation between things in real reality. It is also an extensive outlook oo the human entity in its two ‘different’ forms, male and female, man and woman. It is an exciting adventure of the whole existence. Deep shit I might say, haha. ‘Beyond’ is your sixth full length album, how do you feel it compares to the rest of your catalogue? J: I think ‘Beyond’ is our best release yet. If one compares it to our previous releases it is near our previous album ‘New World Shadows’. It has a lot of similar elements which are found in ‘NWS’. Still the album is its own entity in whole. It also carries a legacy of our other older albums naturally. I think it combines very nicely the melodies and the brutality from which we are known.

M: I think Beyond falls kind of between ‘New World Shadows’ and ‘The Redshift’ and is like a cross-breeding of both of them, adding a new touch for the trademarked OG template. It’s our best entirety and perfect continuum for ‘New World Shadows’! You recently introduced a new bass player to the fold in Erkki Silvennoinen. What prompted the change in the first place? How was Erkki found? J: Well we had the situation that the co-operation with our former bass player was impossible so we needed a new one. We have known Erkki for years and he is a friend of ours. Erkki also played bass in Finnish band Amoral and with Finnish Idols winner Ari Koivunen and in a lot of other projects too. So we knew that he is an excellent bass-player and a good guy so it was quite easy to start playing with Erkki.

with a professional attitude and good work ethic. We share a similar weird & versatile taste of music, from black metal to prog rock to soul to hair metal and back. This is your second album with Lifeforce Records. How has your relationship been with them? J: The cooperation with Lifeforce has been okay. They have delivered almost everything they promised. There are no big issues with them so the cooperation is fluid enough. M: They really like what we’re doing and we have the artistic freedom and decisions in all of what we’re doing, as we don't compromise with our art.

And how has Erkki settled thus far?

Despite your longevity, you perhaps haven’t had the widespread attention of some of your contemporaries. Do you feel that ‘Beyond’ could change that?

M: He’s a nice lad and awesome player

J: ‘Beyond’ will change that!

ghost cult magazine | 32

M: If ‘Beyond’ doesn’t change that then there’s a big mistake in the world! Do you feel that you perhaps deserve greater recognition? M: Of course, we’ve done this for about 15 years and we’re struggling a lot to be heard even for this stage. We’ve really had our fair share of deep shit in the business, but we’re still here for our music, not the fame or the money. It’s a tough game and it’s much about luck and who you know, but we’re delivering it! Your recent work has quite a progressive feel as well as elements of melodic death metal. What/who influenced this? M: I’m really into progressive stuff nowadays and the band started as a melodic death metal band, so it’s our roots mixed with recent favourites. We don’t want to be some disposable metal band, so we try to do more innovative music for the people digging deeper. I’m quite sure this stuff also stands the test of time better as it takes a few listens, at least, to find everything that is what the OG world’s about. Like Metal Hammer said

about our debut album back in the day ”If Opeth are the Pink Floyd of the metal genre, then OG is likely the Rush of death metal.” I think that says it all. We even recorded with the ‘Beyond’ sessions a cover from ‘Subdivisions’ by Rush and it turned out great! It’s on some Asian and South American versions of the album and it was also featured on the limited edition preorder package. Can we expect to see an awful lot of touring for the new album? M: Touring is where the heart is with Omnium Gatherum, that’s what we love! I guess the ‘Beyond’ touring cycle will this time start from Japan, which I’m really looking forward to. J: We have been to the UK many times and have always been treated very decently and had excellent crowds, so we will be going there. What does the future have in store for OG? J: Touring, gigs and more gigs! There will be new songs in the future too, of course. We also will be releasing a new

video in the beginning of 2013 of one of the songs on ‘Beyond’. The future holds good things. M: Lots of good times for sure! This band is a brotherhood!

“We’ve really had our fair share of deep shit in the business, but we’re still here for our music, not the fame or the money. It’s a tough game and it’s much about luck and who you know, but we’re delivering it!”

ghost cult magazine | 33


Cradle of Filth

God Seed + Rotting Christ + Blynd London, Forum 19th December 2012

Aeon Relentless Garage London, January 16th words: Marcus J. West Pics: Fabiola Santini The unstoppable Swedish death metal force, Aeon, finally hits the capital with the first show of the first leg of their 2013 European Tour. In 2005, they released their first napalm bomb, Bleeding The False, and three albums later with the release of Aeons Black on November 23rd 2012, they keep on feeding the death metal community relentlessly; it was about time to welcome them back on stage. Aeons Black is certainly an album to hang in the death metal hall of fame; it is a true example of uncommonly intense, technical musicianship and burning passion. Tonight sees Aeon’s new material surfacing its marvellous and state of the art live debut, despite a reduced set due to time constraints and (probably) too many bands on the bill, including Voices, Ageless Oblivion and louder than hell Dyscarnate (the perfect crowd warmers). The atmosphere in the upstairs Garage, the den of the purely hardcore, feels unique; there is so much hunger in the air for what is about to happen on stage: pure world-shattering death metal. As guitarists Zeb Nilsson and Daniel Dlimi prepare themselves, making sure their weapons are well oiled, newly acquired drummer Emil Wiksten (Arttu Malkki quit the band as his wife is having twins any day now) takes possession of this drum kit with a captivating confidence which generates a brutal, constant, lethal mix of blast beats and one hell of a dramatic build-up. Bigger than life frontman Tommy Dahlström joins his squad and as his powerful growling destroys every limit, tracks such as ‘Nothing Left To Destroy’ and the heart-crushing ‘Forgiveness Denied’ engulf the audience in oblivion and awe; his presence solid, perfectly crafted within the band. What makes Aeon stand out from so many other death metal bands is their perfectly-tuned attention to detail. The captivating riffing in ‘Glowing Hate’ is pure adrenaline that flows through the veins at uncontrollable speed. As the set list unfolds, all the way until the end which sadly came too quickly, there is no will to control whatsoever. This admirable quintet proved their worth once again. All the elements were mindblowing here tonight; this is what live death metal truly should be. Let just hope that Aeon returns, and with an expanded show.

words: Marcus J. West Pics: Fabiola Santini One of the most anticipated events of the year, the Creatures from the Black Abyss 2012 Tour which started in Haarlem (NL) on November 7th, finally hits London. The show at the Forum tonight is the final date. Blynd make a feeble attempt to prepare the crowd for the evening’s headliners, but it seems there is something lacking in their performance. Greek melodic black metal quartet Rotting Christ don't seem to fair much better; without any particular theme, apart from a supreme presence, their metal is more black-tinted than full-on. However, it offers a brutal neck muscle work-out, particularly for the die-hard fans who take possession of the front row. Triumph is soon restored to the stage as Norwegians God Seed take their positions. The temperature rises as drummer Kenneth Kapstad seats himself behind his lethal rig and bassist King ov Hell stomps grandly on stage accompanied by the rest of the God Seed’s imposing squad. And consequently, as the notes of ‘Sign of an Open Eye’ are mercilessly delivered to the audience, Gaahl, narrator of eerie unfolding stories, arrives. His presence is unique in its strength and definition. As he stares at the now uncontrollable crowd, the fire keeps on rising. Nothing can stop their momentum as tracks such as ‘Aldrande Tre’ and ‘Alt Liv’ become vigorous assaults to embrace fully. Tonight God Seed are simply an overdose of dynamic and passionate majesty, driven by the will and force to keep on conquering. Finally, British veterans Cradle of Filth hit the stage to great applause. Unfortunately, the fan’s excitement is fuelled by eyeless reverence. The performance that follows is uninspired, perhaps due to the fact that it’s the last one of the tour and, therefore, fatigue and repetitiveness start hitting the morale of the band. Nevertheless, seeing eccentric vocalist Dani Filth on stage, particularly on the platform at the right hand side of the drum kit where he stands singing while being devoured by smoke, is a fine spectacle. The sound does not seem quite up to the complex ideas that this established metal institution has to offer, particularly for tracks such as ‘Tragic Kingdom’ and ‘Summer Dying Fast’. However, towards the end, the energy and the enthusiasm of the crowd make up for this shortcoming. After all, Cradle of Filth are still an important part of British metal. As the end approaches, tracks ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’ and ‘From the Cradle to Enslave’ make the encore chaotic and mesmerising. The sheer strength of riffs carry enough weight to make you want to see them again.

ghost cult magazine | 34

ghost cult magazine | 35


REVI EW S Voïvod – Target Earth Century Media

To put it simply, Voïvod are one of the most important, and yet tragically under-appreciated bands in metal. Ever since their inception in the early 80s, they have consistently released albums of head-scratching, involving greatness, from the primitive thrash of War And Pain to the quasi-alt rock stylings of Angel Rat and everything in between. With the tragic death of guitarist Piggy in 2005, many assumed that Voïvod’s days were up, so inventive and unique was his playing style, it seemed impossible that anyone could hope to carry on his legacy. This coupled with the departure of former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted meant things were looking grim. Well, those fears proved to be unfounded,

Aestrid - Box Function Records

A sprawling velvet canopy, a gilded curtain embellished with electronic lace, draped across hulking percussion that tries desperately to wrestle out from under the shawl. Beneath its ethereal fascia, the latest album by experimental Dutch band Aestrid shifts with enormous weight and volume that may be unsuited to its purpose. Recorded in the summer of 2012, Box is a curious blend of astral guitars and glistening synths balanced atop

as drummer Away and singer Snake decided to soldier on, recruiting Martyr guitarist Daniel Mongrain and bringing original bassist Blacky back into the fold to record Target Earth, a ten-track masterpiece of sci-fi soaked technical thrash workouts that stands up to the classic material with ease. The opening track pitches the listener into instantly familiar territory, with its high-end riffing, otherworldly ambience and Snake’s nasal croon ensuring that this can only be the Voïvod we know and love. Mongrain’s guitar style effortlessly evokes memories of Piggy without falling into pastiche, while the freeform, playful bass of Blacky clanks away underneath, giving the music a sense of freedom that was somewhat missing from the Newsted days. Musically we’re pitched somewhere between Nothingface and Angel Rat territory, with enough gnarly metal crunch and progressive weirdness to placate fans of each particular era. The rapid assault of the bizarrely titled ‘Kluskap O’Korn’ shows that the members have lost none of their sense of urgency and desire to wig the listener out. In contrast, ‘Empathy for the Enemy’ features quieter moments of acoustic introspection, wrapped around a big chugging meaty riff that repeatedly shifts in pace and texture, before the wildly inventive, leftfield attack of 2012 single ‘Mechanical Mind’ comes at you with its twisted barrage of notes, hurried along by Away’s remorseless percussion. At nearly eight minutes, it’s a lengthy single, but

powerful, almost overbearing low frequencies. Despite its towering bottom end the record remains undeniably atmospheric due to its sweeping melodies and airy arrangements. While exuding grace and fragility, Box’s beauty is underpinned by a deep sense of mourning, and each note is bittersweet. But this tone leaves each track sounding altogether too precious to truly resonate. The influence of British post-punk and New Wave is clear. While occasionally lacklustre, Box moves with the intensity of The Cure at their darkest, and the emotional fortitude of modern electronic/New Wave acts like Tall Ships. The vast expanse on which Aestrid’s sound is built allows them to generate atmospheres most post-rock acts would be proud of. But the little variation throughout limits its grandeur. The strengths of Box lie in the tracks that stray furthest from its formula. Album highlight ‘I’m Einzelgang’ opens with pounding electronic drums that break into a glittering showcase of Aestrid at their widest and most endearing.

there’s enough inventive weirdness going on to keep things interesting and then some. Snake switches to his native tongue on the bristling ‘Corps Étranger’ which turns up the thrash dial whilst simultaneously turning the clock back to the late 80s. The angular riffing, abrasive tones and gloriously metallic bass of penultimate track ‘Artefact’ sum up so much of what makes Voïvod relevant in the modern era. They themselves may be an artefact, a relic from the mists of time, but they’re an object alien in design that despite influencing the technology of countless bands, are still wholly unique and capable of throwing up surprises to challenge and inspire. It’s good to have you back guys. James Conway

Despite its melancholic piano and vocal introduction, ‘Fair Start - Fire Hill’ evolves into perhaps the most intense cut on the record, its interesting and sophisticated drum patterns rumbling beneath dark overtones. Vocalist Bo Menning gives an assured performance throughout, but the most impressive vocals are found on ‘Oregon I’, where Menning really opens up and invites the song to follow suit. By its end, the darkness that had threatened to overwhelm Box finally takes hold. With an introduction veering toward Nine Inch Nails territory ‘So Sorry’ is a gloomy end to an album that, while sometimes somber, can be hugely uplifting. At times predictable but with some surprising twists and tinges, Box recalls the sounds of 1970s krautrock and 1980s New Wave and electronica without issue. Unfortunately the similarities may be largely cosmetic, as Aestrid don’t quite reproduce the quality of that bygone era, leaving them dwelling in a hazy nostalgia, albeit scattered with golden moments. Sean McGeady

ghost cult magazine | 36

Arktau Eos - Unworeldes Svart Records

There’s a feeling that Arktau Eos are running a bit thin on the ideas front with Unworeldes. As a companion piece to Ioh-Maera this feels shallow, lacking the atmosphere that their other album contained. This is, for the most part, background music. The formless, synthetic drone feels like a continuous loop, and while before they managed to add various parts to keep the atmosphere going, here it’s like a dog that never stops barking; intimidating, even scary, at first but then boring and annoying. This feels like a band releasing the instrumental tracks as B-sides. Yes, there are fundamental differences in the way Arktau Eos work in comparison to many bands, but the analogy still stands. They released Ioh-Maera and then this is the stuff that didn’t fit or wasn’t good enough to be on it. It’s a shame because I really liked Ioh-Maera. It was something that could truly be defined as a challenging listen. The lack of structure or melody, whilst still evoking emotion within the listener, was something that really stood out from the pack. Honestly I’ve listened to this album three or four times just as I write this and I can’t tell where the beginning and end are. I could be listening to Black Leaf Gaze or The Cypress Watcher and that’s not an on-going theme throughout, that is every song sounding the same. Different intro, same body. Drone isn’t a genre I could listen to for hours on end, but when done right it’s an incredible journey, with bands pushing their instruments to the limits. Stretching the boundaries of music and structure. Artau Eos managed this with their hypnotic last effort but here they embody all the reasons why people can’t appreciate drone. Matthew Tilt

Blockheads - This World Is Dead Relapse Records

than the forefathers themselves and although it may seem flattering and flawless at first, it soon turns into a cringe worthy amount of unoriginality and repetition. If you’re looking for an aural time machine, Attic (who only formed two years ago) will transport you with the eighties fully embraced by every riff and vocalist Meister Cagliostro’s high-pitched shrills. In an attempt to keep an otherwise aged sound in with the times, Attic cling on to occult themes akin to the likes of In Solitude or Ghost, with cliché song titles from start to finish, such as ‘Join the Coven’ or ‘Satan’s Bride’. Admittedly, there are breaks from the fanboy moments, such as organ-riddled instrumentals ‘The Hidden Grave’ and ‘In The Chapel’ and a closing acoustic track which may help you conclude with some other than term “copycat”. Every vocal is pitch-perfect whilst the production is crisp with a vintage twist and the leads on certain tracks, particularly the title track, do help to give The Invocation some kudos. There is atmosphere amongst the catchy sections; however it just isn’t enough to keep them standing as their own band, especially when it feels as though certain tracks are dragged out for the hell of it. Whilst the start of the album gallops along at a speedy pace, the end of the album certainly seems to drop and it feels as though the band run out of ideas with simpler compositions on the likes of ‘Evil Inheritance’. If you are currently rocking back and forth due to the delay on any new Mercyful Fate material, then Attic’s debut is a recommended dose of devil worship to keep you sane. Lily Randall

French grinders Blockheads have a tenure of over two decades behind them; however, little activity over the last four or five years hasn’t done them any favours. Signing with Relapse Records recently for the release of their new full-length ‘This World Is Dead’ may be the rejuvenation they need; being their first release since 2008’s split 7” with Mumakil. Forming back in the early ‘90s and with numerous releases under their belt, Blockheads are a straight forward, right to the jugular grindcore beast with searing blasts and cavernous, equally corrosive, vocals. At over 40 minutes, ‘This World Is Dead’ is long by grind standards and, for the most part, the band seems eager to jam as much aggression and force in as possible; this is both its strength and flaw. Opener ‘Deindividualized’ storms the gates immediately and makes Blockheads’ intentions quite clear from the off. After that, it’s business as usual and perhaps the only complaint put against the band is the predictability of some songs like ‘Famine’ and ‘Digging Graves’, which tread on formulaic ground a little too much. However, ‘Awaken’ and the totally devastating ‘Poisoned Yields’ are where Blockheads are at some of their best and fiercest yet. ‘To The Dogs’ is a manic and visceral number, with riffing reminiscent of modern day Napalm Death, and it makes for one of the LP’s highlights. The band take a different tone to close with the lethargic seven minute long ‘Trail of the Dead’. With moments reminiscent of Powerviolence’s slower techniques, albeit protracted greatly, Blockheads make a concerted effort to end this album on an altogether gloomier and bleak stance. ‘This World Is Dead’ is a solid effort overall from Blockheads, if only hampered by a few filler tracks. However, the record is meaty and unrelenting whichever way you slice it. Essential grind for the New Year? Not really, but still enjoyable. Jonathan Keane

Blodarv - Gâst Self-Released

Attic - The Invocation Ván Records

With King Diamond being a huge part of the heavy metal monarchy, it’s understandable that bands are likely to worship his every breath and take influence from the classic sound, but how far is too far? The answer can be found in German heavy metallers Attic. Their debut album The Invocation sounds more like Mercyful Fate

ghost cult magazine | 37

Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance Peaceville Records Darkthrone are a band infamous for their contribution to the Norwegian black metal scene in the ‘90’s, however, less celebrated is the diverse musical journey they have embarked upon since their creation in 1987. Touching upon death metal, black metal, crust, punk and traditional heavy metal, there is no genre that this duo have not tried on for size and all with varying results. ‘The Underground Resistance’ is yet another nail in the coffin for Darkthrone’s beloved frosty black metal sound and will no doubt see forum trolls the world over scrambling to their keyboards to slate this chunky slab of ‘80’s reminiscent heavy metal. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto make a fine vocal pairing, pushing themselves to extremities on tracks such as ‘The Ones You Left Behind’ – there is heavy influence from Judas Priest present throughout the entire Denmark isn’t usually a country associated with a burgeoning black metal landscape; unlike its Scandinavian counterparts, Norway and Sweden, who are always more adept with their blackened hearts and frostbitten shrieks. Blodarv, hailing from the small secluded Danish island of Bornholm, have since their 1999 demo debut, been a reasonably solid act but, at the same time, an altogether overlooked and sometimes forgotten one. Now in their 19th year of existence and with this new full-length ‘Gâst’, they’re still not quite equipped at changing their position in the world of BM, instead seeming content to maintain tunnel vision on their own blackened ideals. Released at the tail end of 2012, ‘Gâst’ is eerie and scathing lo-fi black metal, very much in tune with the attitudes and vibes of the old school. Founder, frontman and core creative member Hugin remains in the band despite some line-up shuffles of late, which means little to nothing has changed in the Blodarv approach, with Hugin still manning the studio reins and steering the ship. ‘Gâst’ is still horribly grim and steeped in all things austere and the band makes a concerted effort to conjure the cold and grimly affecting atmosphere that is pivotal to all truly great orthodox black metal. However, what we have here is an album that still fails to offer an intriguing edge to these BM hallmarks. It’s been done, as they say. Blodarv still occupy a sonic landscape symbolised by misty surroundings and chilling winds, and there are moments throughout ‘Gâst’ where the Danes hit a merciless stride, particularly with their mid-tempo BM moments, however it never quite reaches boiling. Instead, ‘Gâst’ plods along after a brief flurry of inventiveness, with no discernible aim in mind until another few minutes and a

album, not just in the vocals, but palpable in the hefty, thrashing riffs and understated drums. The latter two tracks on this record are by far the most impressive, however. ‘Come Warfare, the Entire Doom’ has the trademark Darkthrone stamp of murkiness teamed with rasping, gravelly vocals and acts as a welcome respite from the four fast paced and unrelenting songs that precede it. ‘Leave No Cross Unturned’ – the mammoth track of the album, coming in at 13:50 will doubtless become an anthem, with catchy hooks aplenty and an underlying resonance of crust. Regardless of whether people appreciate or understand these Norwegians’ need for experimentation it is beyond question that whatever genre they try their hand at it is always with the utmost skill and fervour. ‘The Underground Resistance’ has successfully resurrected ‘80’s heavy metal; even if only temporarily and however unlikely it is that the band’s fan base will appreciate this homage to the likes of ‘Priest and Manowar. Darkthrone have yet another genre to check off of their ‘to-do’ list and all that’s left is to wait with excitement for what they decide to try out next. Angela Davey

song or two have passed by. The Danish black metal troupe, again, are sticking on tunnel vision for their brand of black metal and the results are average at best, sometimes even pretty good, but in Jonathan Keane

Caladan Brood - Echoes Of Battle Northern Silence Productions

One of the most impressive things that sticks out about black metal duo Caladan Brood’s take on the genre isn’t their masterful use of atmospherics or the incredibly thunderous production—although these are indeed impressive enough. It’s the fact that they don’t come from the misty forests of Scandinavia but from Salt Lake City, Utah, not a place normally associated with this style of music. No reason why Caladan Brood shouldn’t come from Salt Lake City, or anywhere else for that matter—but their music is very heavily influenced by their European brethren, and is epic in scale and engages in a way that only the very best black metal can.

Based on the fantasy novel The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Canadian author Steven Erikson, Echoes of Battle touches all the bases that black metal has stretched itself over during the last twenty years; so pretty much any and all black metal precursors have been applied—epic, battle, atmospheric, folk, symphonic, fantasy can all be used to describe this album. The growling black metal vocals are particularly effective over the haunting and mostly mid-tempo soundscapes that the band conjures up, breaking occasionally into clean vocals for a bit of dynamic variation. The guitars are lower in the mix—always there but less obvious—allowing the vocals and the quite frankly astonishing drums room to flex. The medieval feel to most of the songs is also a little different, allowing you to immerse yourself in the atmospherics a little more than most traditional black metal. It is a very long album, with only six songs in seventy minutes, but it never feels like it’s outstaying its welcome. Definitely an album to put on and lose yourself in, Caladan Brood’s debut sets a very high bar for black metal and marks the band out as a name to watch. For if they can release an album of this quality as their debut, where will they go from here? Chris Ward

Chapel of Disease - Summoning Black Gods FDA Rekotz

When I was sent my next batch of releases to review for Ghost Cult magazine, one of them was the new release by a band called Chapel of Disease, some new death metal album by a German band I had never heard off. I initially thought “Oh no! Another death metal album

ghost cult magazine | 38

ghost cult magazine | 39

Sander van den Driesche

Coilguns – Commuters Pelagic Records

which re-invents the wheel like so many have done before!”, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Chapel of Disease manages to create a mix of various metal genres, and yes, it is predominantly death metal, but all mixed with the biggest amount of thrash you can think of. Chapel of Disease is made up of guitarist and vocalist Laurent T., guitarist Cedric T., bassist Christian K. and drummer David D. and they are from Cologne in Germany. Summoning Black Gods is the band’s first full length album after their very successful earlier released demo. The opening track ‘Summoning Black Gods’ starts with the almost obligatory church bells, some sinister singing choir and a spoken word sample, to then kick in with a riff that instantly reminds me of the late Chuck Schuldiner around the time of early Death. And this is not where my comparisons end. There are a lot of boxes ticked on this release, and the one which I keep on coming back to is Bay Area Thrash, because this album thrashes like no other. The track ‘The Nameless City’ has this guitar riff and song structure which draws comparisons with Sacred Reich’s Surf Nicaragua and other tracks remind me of Metallica around the time of Creeping Death. Most songs on this album have beautiful guitar solos again reminding of another legendary band and guitarist namely Alex Skolnick of Testament. It is like Chapel of Disease went in a time machine and got thrown out in the mid/late 80s thrash metal period and then decided to go back to the future to let the youngsters hear what metal is all about. There is no doubt that Death is a huge inspiration to these guys, musically as well as vocally. Whereas most death metal bands use this very deep and sometimes overproduced grunt (think of Cannibal Corpse, Bolt Thrower et cetera), Laurent T. handles a more hoarse “back in the throat” type of grunt, which remind me of Martin van Drunen when he sang in Dutch death metal band Asphyx. So, lots and lots of comparisons, but Chapel of Disease doesn’t just steel bits and pieces from all these legendary bands, no, they throw them all in a huge blender, while adding some raw grunting vocals and thrashy, almost punk-like drumming to it and somehow creating this sound of primal thrash death metal. This is how it should be done kids.

with the dark instrumentation of ‘Blunderbuss Committee’ and the harsh Cult of Luna-isms of album closer ‘Earthians’ standing out, with vocalist Louis Jucker’s roaring lending proceedings a certifiably apocalyptic feel. Anyone who likes their metal to challenge both in sound and approach would do well to give Coilguns their full attention, for they have recorded an album that smacks convention out of the way with all the force of the spring-loaded device from which they take their name. Commuters sounds just as deadly, and may well leave you with a hole in your head. James Conway

De Profundis - The Emptiness Within Kolony Records Since their inception nearly two years ago, Swiss trio Coilguns have been making a name for themselves with not only their abrasive brand of chaotic hardcore, but also their unconventional approach to both recording and playing live. Featuring a core trio of members, the band have done away with a bassist, instead opting for a custom-built pedal board and chain of amps that enables guitarist Jona Nido to sound like two guitarists and a bassist all at once. It’s certainly a worthwhile investment, as the sound emanating from your speakers once you hit play on opening track ‘Commuters Part 1’ is enough to pin you to the wall and leave you completely at the mercy of what’s to come. Recorded live in the studio with only one take for each song, Commuters is a welcome antidote to the legions of bands that waste so much time and money attempting to capture a certain sound. The Coilguns approach just feels more honest and gives the record an organic sound, and a level of menace that suggests anything could happen. It’s not all just raging slabs of noise either; the eleven minute crawl of ‘Commuters Part 2’ is enough to set your nerves on edge in its early stages, but if that fails, the gradually building intensity and controlled rage of the end section should do the job. The band seem eager to demonstrate how feral they can be, however, as the brief blasts of ‘Hypnograms’ and ‘Plug-In Citizens’ demonstrate with their Converge meets Every Time I Die barrage of noise wreaking havoc with impunity. The Dillinger Escape Plan style chugs and frantic riffing of ‘Submarine Warfare Anthem’ is infectious in its intensity before the density and complex arrangements of ‘Minkowski Manhattan Distance’ demonstrate that Coilguns can go the distance when required and maintain the levels of threat and menace for longer periods just as well as the bands that influence them. The strength of the mix and immediacy of the instruments ensures that the remainder of Commuters is just as fascinating and challenging as the early stages

It's hard to believe that De Profundis are only releasing their third album. Coming seemingly out of nowhere in 2007 with their acclaimed debut ‘Beyond Redemption’ the band display a level of musicianship, across their three albums, that bands who have been around for three decades would look upon with envy. Having largely evolved beyond their earlier resonance of doom, the band present a sonic formula that mixes nearly every genre of metal you can recall and ices it with liberal helpings of prog rock and even jazz. The band should be in constant danger of descending into a schizophrenic cacophony; they don't, instead making it look all too easy. New album, ‘The Emptiness Within’, is no exception as the band power through the nine tracks channelling, and indeed expanding on, the work of luminaries like Opeth, Ihsahn/Emperor and Dream Theater. Whether it's balls to the wall heaviness such as 'Delirium' and 'Dead Inside', the technical excellence of 'Twisted Landscapes' and 'Release' with their crazy bass-lines, or the sumptuous exercises in emotive song writing on 'Parallel Existence' and 'Unbroken...' De Profundis constantly challenge themselves and always come out on top. With such accomplished song-writing and musicianship, it's refreshing that the production hasn't let the band down; despite there being so much that commands the listener’s attention. Instead every note has room to

ghost cult magazine | 40

breathe, giving the album a more approachable feel. The only real weak spot on the entire album is Craig Land’s clean vocals; they incorporate an awkwardness that is not otherwise present in the rest of his range. De Profundis will no doubt be propelled further by this album on a wave of critical acclaim and peer endorsement. Will it be too much for the casual fan though, who just wants a barrage of familiar riffs and song structures? Probably. Should De Profundis care? No. Sean M. Palfrey

heinous sound, you can tell this is organised chaos, with ‘Bring Down The Knife’ adding Pentagram’s Russ Strahan into the mix on guitar for an extra dose of great musicianship. Bearing in mind that this is only a snippet of the capabilities of Doomsday, in such a small turnaround period, the future is encouraging and we can only hope that they find time around their other projects to create more musical mayhem soon. Lily Randall

vocals get weaker and you can see the staples where they cobbled this together. It reminds of the best of collection I owned from a band called Dead, they were legendary because they were one of the first to add pornography to the list of sins death metal was covering. The problem was musically they were shit, a cheap copy of bands that had come before. I just hope Grand Supreme Blood Court are the only ones that have the legal angle down. Matthew Tilt

Doomsday - Doomsday Disorder Recordings

Grand Supreme Blood Court Bow Down Before the Blood Court Century Media

Grief of Emerald-It All Turns To Ashes Non Serviam Records

The concept of a super group can often cause a hype that is nowhere near deserved. A band full of death metal legends can create a standard yet strong release; however it is when a hybrid of extreme metal entities gets together that a real recipe for destruction can be created. With this in mind, Doomsday’s self-titled debut EP is a real treat that consists of past and present members of Nachtmystium, Goatwhore, Gates of Slumber and Bones. Certain elements from these aforementioned projects are engulfed into this sixsong onslaught, with the outcome being a nasty death metal album covered in crust and blackened at the edges. The record may only have a short space of time to blow you away, but it succeeds by changing the tempo from ferocious blastbeats to punk-fuelled d-beats and rock ’n’ roll riffs, all whilst Zion Meagher (ex-Nachtmystium) growls and snarls consistently with ease. Doomsday race out of the stalls at such a speed that the album is over before you know it and it’s fair to say that the beginning of the record is much stronger than the latter. The “fuck you” punk attitude flows through the EP and is concluded with a solid cover of GG Allin’s ‘I Kill Everything I Fuck’, which seems apt for the atmosphere that surrounds it. Considering this release was recorded in about a week, so to fit around the member’s busy schedules, the musicianship is strong and the production is purposely raw adding to the in-your- face emblem stamped all over ‘Black Vessell’. Goatwhore’s drummer Zack Simmons keeps the racket a controllable one, and despite the

I should point out that Grand Supreme Blood Court are not able to help you get off that pesky D.U.I. or sort out your messy divorce, but reading through the titles they seem to honestly believe they do run a court of sorts. It’s my first problem with this. How do they expect to keep this story going? People are anticipating their next album to be called The Gory Appeal Sessions. Honestly I’m just killing words because there isn’t too much to say about this. It’s about as generic as you can get. If you like death metal then this will probably be for you. It’s a blasting, noisy piece of heavy music that will have parents cupping their children’s ears in horror. It’s everything you’d expect. The thing that lets them down the most isn’t that they sound like everyone else, but that Grand Prosecutor van Drunen’s vocals are almost as bad his pseudonym. The roars are weak, never matching up to the music behind. Where Corpsegrinder leaves wide eyed awe in the wake of his performances, this guy leaves sniggers and pity. The weak theme they have running through the album makes it all very predictable. Spread out over an E.P. you could maybe envisage this working, but over eleven tracks with such weak vocals it becomes hard to find something to stick a gold star on. Even when the music impresses, it impresses as a perfect carbon copy of what has come before. Even the music falters when they try to speed things up. They’ve got the sludgy, doom parts down but when they up the pace things seem to flail off in weird directions, the

Near-twenty-year-veterans of the Swedish underground, Grief of Emerald have made a commitment to their art and this commitment has paid off in the form of their latest album ‘It All Turns To Ashes’. With nods to the unrelenting pace of Gaahl/King Ov Hell era Gorgoroth and featuring the measured kind of symphonic keyboard embellishments of early Dimmu Borgir all underpinned by a solid groove, the band typify the lasting elements of black metal without ever sounding derivative. A strong combination of catchy riffs, grooveladen rhythms, understated and accentuating keyboards and unwavering vocals are a simple formula, but in the hands of Grief of Emerald it is nonetheless very effective. Songs such as 'God Of Carnage', 'It All Turns To Ashes', 'Warstorms' and 'Stormlegion...' twist and turn through the various elements, changing pace and shifting their emphasis where less experienced bands would give in to the urge to just shred. That isn't to say the band don't always give into their urges, as there are a few occasions where the relentless blasts of the bass drum add nothing to the song, and swamp it needlessly. There is also something somewhat tiresome about the constant barrage of anti-Christian rhetoric which serves as unimaginative and cliché fodder that does nothing positive for the album itself, instead making it seem childish and asinine. Despite the band's underground status, the production on the album is first class. It sounds crisp, clean and, most of all, modern. Grief of Emerald may not be sonically


ground-breaking, or have enjoyed the fortunes of some of their peers, but there is an undeniable appeal in their skill and execution. The title track perhaps provides the album's biggest highlight with its infectious groove, while 'Warstorms' is an undeniable crowd pleaser. But is it enough to truly embed them in the collective consciousness of the scene? Let’s hope they begin to get the attention they've worked so hard for. Sean M. Palfrey

Idols For Dinner - Tenant Of A Declining World

momentum they had previously built up, before the pace instantly picks up again. This kind of habit needs to be lost whilst Idols for Dinner are in their formative years. Otherwise, however, this is very decent modern death metal. Maybe lacking a little in character and maturity but it certainly shows promise and chops. Still not sure about that name, mind you. Chris Tippell

Maveth - Coils of the Black Earth Dark Descent Records

M&O Music

Sporting one of the most unashamedly daft names I have come across in recent times, France’s own Idols For Dinner (seriously, I cannot get past that name—but that’s not the point here) release their debut album, Tenant Of A Declining World. And it is showing considerable potential. Despite forming from the demise of a prior band, Corpse Division, Idols For Dinner are still a relatively young unit and pack quite an impressive punch. This is modern death metal, taking some cues from the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder on the scale of brutality, with some use of breakdowns (without becoming a straight up deathcore album) and a Killswitch Engage-sense and ear for melody, not to mention near-mammoth choruses at times. Far from having a unique sound, Idols For Dinner certainly do this particular brand pretty well; songs are fairly simple in structure but are pleasant enough and memorable enough to warrant repeated listens. Breakdowns don’t feel overused and the different styles of growled vocals are performed with great force. There are some points here and there which perhaps show the band’s immaturity however, and hamper the album somewhat. Production-wise this is pretty thin, especially in the guitar work, which damages the sound and power considerably. And the presence of an acoustic track is quite simply nothing but pointless; as an introduction it may have worked but so far into the record, it seems bolted on and kills any

I though the brutality of Finnish death metal could only be amplified through the darkness, great black metal exudes; Maveth however, takes a stab at the loudness war and deliver an offering that pummels the ear drums with Coils of the Black Earth, their first full-length album on Dark Descent Records. I’m really curious as to how many times this album was compressed. Previous to this, after forming the band in 2007, they put their energy behind the year 2010, releasing both their EP Of Serpent and Shadow and a demo Impious Servant. They were then part of Nuclear Winter Records compilation, Breath of an Abomination in 2011. Delving straight into Coils of the Black Earth, ‘The Devourer within the Gulf’ takes you out to sea amidst the perils of a storm, cries out over the waves in impossible darkness, reeking of imminent death. You’re forced to stand, paralyzed before the devil while your face gets beaten by the batter of the drums. ‘Hymn to Azael’ has a fairly consistent rhythm that I’d be curious to see live in action. Though variety is not its strong suit, this track’s breakdowns cradle vocalist Christbutcher’s growls in slings of razor wire. ‘Beneath the Sovereignty of Al-Ghul’s’ satanic virtues unveil some instrumental prowess to the periphery, gradually building guitar layers in to a thick distorted fog, though no denser than the rapidity of Ville Markkanen’s kick drum which leaves little space for much else in the audio spectrum at times. The rise and fall of ‘Hymn to the Black Matron’s’ rhythm makes it a favourite of mine on the album. They’ve almost given it a hardcore drop, planting back in with Christbutcher’s smouldering vocal, satanic

nightmare, rooting you straight down to hell; sounding much like a dirtier version of Sonne Adam’s Davidov. With the title track ‘Coils of the Black Earth,’ Maveth come at you with a more spacious entry. Guitars are panned to opposing speakers so you feel as if you’re standing in the center of a ring of fire, licking flames of blackened guitar riffs singeing your skin and being compressed back down into their constraints. It might very well be the best track on the album. Coils of the Black Earth is a very base line album for 2012. If to you like a few tracks, chances are you’ll like the whole thing, since it maintains a steady tone throughout. For those in search of more exploratory guitar work, move along down the line. Maveth fucking slay, but that’s about all they can do. Forget a finely carved roast. They’ll leave you with hacked up chunks, oozing blood and puss on your front step, skull, hooves and all. Only the best offerings for Satan, and he requires all the good stuff. Christine Hager

Maudlin - A Sign of Time Consouling Sounds

A Sign of Time by Belgium’s Maudlin is very much an album that is best appreciated while listening on headphones. The tones and melodies created within bear subtleties not heard in distracted environments. A real stand out that could easily be missed in a less than ideal acoustic setting is the bass. Its warm tones and fluid motion acts as a driving force for this prog-heavy doom influenced outfit. It brings the heavy so to speak. Longer tracks such as ‘A Perfect Sky of Black’ rely heavily on prog tendencies, unravelling in many directions and on winding paths. However, they never seem haphazard. Each part of the song moves to the next in a natural way. Multi member vocal harmonies are the emotional piece of this puzzle, often sounding like a collective mourning of something that never was. Like lost dreams. If you didn’t know as much, you’d never guess Maudlin is a European band. Much of their sound carries a somewhat American feel. At times they sound very much like latter


Nightfall - Cassiopeia Metal Blade

Nightfall’s new album entitled Cassiopeia is a joy to listen to. Nightfall are a shining Greek beacon in the Metal Blade stable, and Cassiopeia is proof positive that Greece is a metal force to be reckoned with. The opening track ‘Phaethon’ is a rumbly heavy Viking-esque tome with luscious and rich guitar work from Evan Hensley and Constantine. Jorg Uken provides heavy-handed drumming. This is the sound of an evil horde in a thousand longships charging across the narrow sea. This is the sound that will strike terror into your enemies. In more modern parlance, it’s a cross between King Diamond— with the whole dark, operatic ambience, and progressive rock—with its forward movement in guitar and drum harmonies. Once you’ve satiated your palate with ‘Phaethon’, have a course of ‘Oberon & Titania’. For those not in the know, bone up on your Shakespeare. Oberon is the King of the Fairies and Titania is the Queen of the Fairies in the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon and Titania have an open relationship, but Oberon is a bit miffed Titania won’t give him a son. So when she sleeps, he curses her and she falls in love with the first thing she sees. day Baroness. Whereas Baroness can be generally uplifting, Maudlin remain on the darker side of things. Flashes of Neurosis also find their way into the mix. Even some Clutch-derived groove on ‘Goddess of the Flame’ bears fruit before devolving into gloomy retro-doom. A Sign of Time is very well put together. Varied elements compliment the overall sensitivity and heaving core. Diverse vocal delivery, inspired solos and bluesy swagger are just some of the touches fleshing out the skeleton of big riffs and prog melodies. Full of burliness, A Sign of Time is a full bodied entity which never leaves the listener bored. Yet even at their most bombastic, Maudlin cast a shadow of relaxation. Very much a grower, A Sign of Time is not a passive album. You’ll find something new every time you hear it. Matt Hinch

Even though the themes and lyrics of Nightfall’s Cassiopeia are deep and meaningful, they don’t take away from some pretty good music. The cookie monster growls provided by Efthimis Karadimas work for Nightfall as they accentuate the action in the lyrics, and complement Hensley and Constantine’s guitar work. ‘Stellar Parallax’ is, so far, the most mainstream metal song on Cassiopeia. I’m sitting in my office bobbing my head up and down and having a very good time. The feel of the song is like Moonspell or Fields of the Nephilim. If I had more room, I’d be up dancing. ‘Stellar Parallax’ has a beat worthy of airdrumming. ‘Hubris’ is more of a doomy-deathy sounding tome. Uken’s drumming here is bombastic and full of fury, and it’s magnified by the guitar work. The chord progressions are molasseslike in their intensity and heaviness. ‘Hubris’ is another epic Viking-feeling song with omnipresent keyboards and vocals dripping with evil. The drumming takes off in parts and seems to leave the rest of the song behind. About halfway through, though, it begins to sound like a hodgepodge of instruments with them not really fitting precisely right. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long. ‘Hubris’ is followed by ‘The Reptile Gods’. Nightfall’s Cassiopeia is full of atmosphere, and ‘The Reptile Gods’ upholds that feel. I love the guitar harmony that weaves through the music. ‘The Reptile Gods’ is an enjoyable composition, but ‘Hyperion’ is a song that beats the listener over the head with the doom and death style of metal music. Nightfall’s Cassiopeia closes its fifty minute run time with ‘Akhenaton’, ‘The Sand Reckoner’, and ‘Astropolis’. Three very strong songs that are part progressive and part death metal, all with sweeping guitar work, robust drumming, and intense vocals. Nightfall’s Cassiopeia is a wonderful capstone to the band’s twenty-plus year career. Victoria Anderson

Norska - Norska Brutal Panda

In case you didn't know, Norska is Swedish for “Norwegian”. But the band is from Portland, Oregon. It doesn't make sense but don't ask questions ok? Just listen. What you'll hear is some pretty damn sludgy doom.

Opening track ‘Amnesia’ sets the tone for this self-titled debut with an avalanche of feedback to kick things off. Consisting of a steady rumble and roll, some noisy solos and (and I don't say this lightly) monolithic doom crushes, it showcases the tension and release common across the album. As the song goes on, the paces slows ever more until it feels as though time is measured in eons. Guitarist/vocalist Jim Lowder has a hefty set of pipes on him. At his best his mighty roar could carry clear across the fjords without losing any of its impact. Being low in the mix, it does seem as if he’s trapped on an opposing shore desperate for his pleas to be heard. Joining Lowder on this sonic adventure are the skin pounding Jason Oswald, 6string riff crusher Dustin Reiseberg and the low-freq resonances of Aaron Reiseberg (also of Yob). Their next aural assault is‘Nobody One Knows‘. Ominous and plodding the track invokes a distinct feeling of paranoia, all swirling riffs and hypnotic repetition. The repeated ascension and descension is positively Sisyphean in nature, frustrating and heavy. The centerpiece of the album is the sprawling ‘They Mostly Come At Night‘. Featuring a decidedly beautiful intro, the track lulls the listener into a sense of calm security and wellness. But this is sludge. Soon enough Lowder's bellow breaks the plane accompanied by dark riffage. Twisting and turning various moods are created by the changing pace. Dark, melancholic, frantic and crushing. Quiet and mournful, stretched and deserted, the song sees Lowder employ an almost folky vocal style briefly. As the track finishes its journey, rising higher and higher, soaring above mountain peaks, bobbing and weaving until it finally crashes to its end, the listener is left wondering just how much time has passed. The album's shortest track may be its most massive. Huge plodding riffs play games with the boundaries of time and space on ‘Cholera‘. Closer ‘Two Coins for the Ferryman’ draws the listener in with another long intro. This time very solemn. The finality of death seeping through the edges of the mind. The majority crawling by thick as molasses until it hits a current propelling the ferry to its final landing. Norka's debut is a fantastic and entrancing introduction for this Northwestern band. There must be something in the water out that way to produce such warm yet harrowing sludge-ridden doom. Matt Hinch


Omnium Gatherum - Beyond Lifeforce Records

Although not the most well known—especially in a genre like melodic death metal, which has seen some notable alumni hit quite stratospheric heights—Omnium Gatherum are stalwarts of the genre. Since their inception in 1996, they have released six full length albums, with Beyond being the latest. And it’s a bit of a corker. For quite a while, Omnium Gatherum have had that extra element that has made them stand out from the over-saturated crowd of melodeath bands. On Beyond especially there is a progressive streak present which, whilst not being hugely digressing or even noticeably odd, does push their sound further forward. With its pace it isn’t just constantly full throttle yet melodic; it flows between the faster parts to those that are more serene and cleaner sounding. Once or twice, it changes from one extreme to the other quite surprisingly but not to the point of confusion; instead it continues to be excellent. And other surprises crop up on occasion, notably the very haunting clean vocals on ‘Who Could Say’. Aside from a slight but definite forward thinking element, this still maintains the quirks and traits of melodic death metal that we all love, and it does so very well, using melodic parts full of big hooks and a heavy side which sounds particularly muscular. Very few bands in melodic death metal sound vastly different to each other nowadays, and whilst not being radically unique, Omnium Gatherum at least continue to try their hand at doing so. More importantly, Beyond is a great album which retains the side of melodic death we love—but with a hint of seeking the new. Chris Tippell

Overtorture - At The End The Dead Await Apostasy Records

A compelling analysis of At The End The Dead Await by Overtorture, featuring songs like ‘Slaves To The Atom’, ‘Black Shrouds of Dementia’, and ‘Suffer as One’. This album proposes a familiar and decadent resonating sound of oblivion and death

that compels one to blast sonic beats into their eardrums. Listening to this album creates an alluring pressure towards the ultimate adrenaline kick one of which is incredibly similar to the aesthetics of such acts as Bolt Thrower, Debauchery, Hour of Penance, Desultory and Benighted. This band identifies many of their members to a range of other promising heavy and extreme metal acts. Some of the members of which were involved within illustrious bands such as Grave, Coldworker, Insision, The Ugly and Demonical. Ultimately it is profoundly clear to behold that there is indeed a bare amalgamation of sounds from each member’s previous musical attributes within this subgenre. This therefore has reinforced a predominately strong and rich death metal sound with a profound rhythmic strength. The keen listeners of the subgenre are undoubtedly enabled to identify with the themes of destruction and iconic fluid speed and powerfully informed drumming techniques. Additionally, it is plausible to consider that even though they persist to include a rapid pace, the band are also able to exude a rhythmic and pumped dynamics which separates them from other death metal such as Deicide or Cannibal Corpse. These counterparts benefit the band incredibly as their songs contain an aspect of all around dynamics, thus will cease to both manifest and inspire a varied audience. Sirisha Chhibber

beautiful and affecting, while also unreservedly sorrowful, and on each October Falls record he’s made valiant strides to progress the entity’s sound as much as possible. ‘The Plague of a Coming Age’ is progressive in the true sense of the word, with the opening atmosphere of ‘At The Edge of an Empty Horizon’ setting a nigh-on perfect tone from the off. It’s a tone and vibe that swoops in and out of dizzying peaks and troughs until the album’s closing notes in ‘Below the Soils’. The album flows from beginning to end so naturally and seamlessly that it’s easy to get lost in, from the lush melodies to the balance struck between various different influences. On ‘The Verge of Oblivion’ the band straddles a line between Primordial like riffing and very early Anathema-esque lead guitars – all conjured to supreme effect. With guest vocals from fellow countryman, Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis), the record never loses any of its vitality, constantly holding the listener in its throes of melancholy. Its beauty and heaviness are both equally captivating. ‘The Plague of a Coming Age’ is another invigorating triumph for Lehto and October Falls, and may be one of their finest moments to date. Jonathan Keane

Pendact - Days Of War M&O Music

October Falls - The Plague of a Coming Age Debemur Morti Productions

When executed so well, melancholy can be strangely invigorating. October Falls, the Finnish black metal infused miserablists, know a thing or two about this; meshing the black metal templates of some of their fellow countrymen with healthy doses of doom and shades of folk. On latest effort, ‘The Plague of a Coming Age’ that very foundation is maintained a great deal, laying down more bricks to build a towering opus. ‘The Plague of a Coming Age’ is a record enriched with melody, sleek folk-imbued passages and sublime black and doom metal. Despite its overt melancholy, the album helmed by Mikko Lehto is, for the most part,

Without skirting around the issue, Days Of War is a very strange album. Quite admirably, on this, their debut full-length, Pendact haven’t just stuck to the tried and tested formula of melodic death metal and have


Nidingr - Greatest Of Deceivers Indie Recordings

Greatest Of Deceivers is an album which asks for and needs a focused and repeated attention to reap all its deep compelling qualities but rewards by emerging as one of the best extreme metal releases of 2012. Consisting of present and past members of bands such as Mayhem, Gorgoroth, DHG, 1349, and God Seed, the Norwegian quintet Nidingr has created an album which is as potent emotively and structurally as it is intrusively and destructively. Though it succeeds the 2010 album Wolf-Father, the new album has stronger links to the band’s 2005 debut Sorrow Infinite and Darkness in that it evokes ten Enochian Æthyrs within its expressive walls to continue the theme based on Enochian texts which scored the first album. Lyrically and musically the new album is a thick and rich landscape of shadows and expressive realms which takes no prisoners whilst simultaneously invoking thought and impassioned feelings. It emerges with the strongest essences of black, death, and thrash metal brewed into an insidious venom which soaks the devastating sonic fire at the heart of the release and from the opening title track, a song which assaults with scything riffs and ravaging rhythms whilst caustic vocals and cutting melodic shards from the guitars unleash their immense creative intent, the album lays down wave after wave of visceral malevolence delivered through immense craft and explosively creative sonic endeavour. From the strong start the album just elevates in stature and pleasure as the annihilatory beauty of tracks like the spite soaked ‘All Crowns Fall’, the diversely coated predator ‘O Thou Empty God’, and the rabid and sonically pungent ‘Vim Patior’, evolve an expressive and notable presence into an openly innovative and caustically challenging encounter. The album offers a persistence of corrosive invention and erosive enterprise from start to finish ensuring no second is wasted in idle thought or untouched passion with further highlights such as the punk fuelled ‘Rags Upon A Beggar’ and the deliciously bruising ‘The Worm Is Crowned’ with it greedy acidic breath, sparking torrents of aural and emotional intensity for release and recipient. Greatest of Deceivers is an exceptional album which as it began closes with striking triumphant creations in the mischievous shape of ‘Pure Pale Gold’ and ‘Dwellers In The Abyss’, two slices of grooved malevolence which seduce and charm like shadowed sirens. It has been a good year for extreme metal overall with Nidingr arguably saving the best offering till last. Pete RingMaster

tried a different direction. Days Of War could as easily be classed a power metal album as it could melodic death; but as such, it all appears rather odd. Certainly, at its root this shows the aggressive yet harmonious side associated with the likes of In Flames and Omnium Gatherum, and vocally, it bears a lot of resemblance to Jens of Meshuggah fame. This merges with some very power metal traits, like the odd use of guitar tone, a heavy reliance on keyboard, a quick, almost happysounding pace, and a large chunk of cheese. Initially, especially on ‘Lies And Hypocrisy’, this is fairly subtle and more in the camp of the former subgenre, where it sounds pretty strong. As the album progresses, though, the power metal influences become more prominent and dominating; with widening uses of sprawling keyboard passages and more grandiose toned piano parts. And the more it veers towards this side, the less at ease it seems with itself. The vibe of the vocals contrast and clash with the much more positive sounding pace and musicality the rest of the band is conveying. A pretty enjoyable album, and ‘Lies And Hypocrisy’ in particular shows that Pendact’s melodic death metal side is healthy—and very little can be said to fault the playing as such. But the overreliance on power metal causes Days of War to become a bit at odds with itself; like it’s trying to portray aggression and good times simultaneously. Far from a total write-off, but without question a peculiar record. Chris Tippell

Riverside - Shrine of New Generation Slaves Inside Out Music

Years before every progressive band worth its salt began raiding the archives to resurrect the sound of the 70s, Poland’s Riverside had already carved themselves a comfortable niche demonstrating how retro sensibilities infused with modern production techniques could offer a compelling

alternative in a genre then dominated by the technical virtuosity of the likes of Dream Theater and Symphony X. If 2007’s Rapid Eye Movement saw the band first dabble with vintage elements and 2009’s Anno Domini High Definition marked the Hammond Organ becoming a key component of their signature sound in tracks like Left Out and Hybrid Times, then their latest album, Shrine of New Generation Slaves (SoNGS), is the culmination of a long process of experimentation, with Riverside now feeling more at ease in their musical skin than ever before. While other 70s-flavoured records, like Opeth’s Heritage, have proven hugely divisive and have, in some cases, deliberately attempted to make a statement by eschewing the tastes and sensibilities of many ‘metalhead’ fans, SoNGS feels like a much more natural progression for the Poles. It’s a much more mellow record than its predecessor, offering a pared-back, more organic sound in contrast to the bombast of the aptly acronymic ADHD, though without sacrificing too much of that album’s energy. Riverside’s low key approach to progressive music on SoNGS shares many similarities with Steven Wilson’s recent output, with the Englishman having demonstrated a similar transition between Porcupine Tree’s 2007 and 2009 releases Fear of a Blank Planet and The Incident. SoNGS is generally a more sedate affair than the band’s previous output, with their metallic edge now largely tempered in favour of a more melodic, contemplative approach. That’s not to say that Riverside are now toothless. Far from it, as songs like the storming title track and the big bluesy riffing of ‘Celebrity Touch’ firmly prove but much of the record is more restrained, with ideas given room to breathe and develop fully without the necessity of building up to an inevitable pyrotechnic payoff. There’s a real sense of depth and richness to songs like ‘The Depth of Self Delusion’ and ‘We Got Used To Us’, both of which are slow-burners strongly reminiscent of Anathema circa A Natural Disaster. Not that the record is simply an exercise in introspection; ‘Feel Like Falling’ serves up a much more traditional slice of upbeat prog with another suitably impressive driving riff. The one constant throughout, however, is Mariusz Duda’s staggeringly impressive vocal performance. It’s no exaggeration to say that his work on SoNGs elevates him into the top tier of progressive vocalists alongside the likes of the aforementioned Steven Wilson, Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt and Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlow. Nowhere is this more evident than on penultimate track


‘Escalator Shrine’, a twelve minutes-plus prog songwriting masterclass that sees Duda making use of his full power and range in one of Riverside’s finest moments to date. It’s difficult to find fault with Shrines of New Generation Slaves and though some may be disappointed by the dialling back of some of ADHD’s intensity, SoNGS feels like the more complete, cohesive record of the two. Coming on the back of a stellar 2012 for progressive rock and metal, it promises an equally exciting year in 2013. Jodi Mullen

Sammal - Sammal Svart Records

World cinema requires a certain commitment from its audience. Through subtitles, an otherwise impenetrable narrative can be understood. But without our active and unbroken attention the plot is easily lost, and to receive it passively is to miss its point. The same is sometimes true of music, and such could have been the case with Sammal. An eponymous debut delivered entirely in their native Finnish, the album could have been a desperate slog through twisted words of foreign tongues and tangled thickets of progressive digressions. Thankfully Sammal have sidestepped these potential dangers and produced an album that’s confident, controlled, inviting and invigorating. Evident even from opening track ‘Puolikuu’, the accents and annunciations of the Finnish language lend the vocals a curious warmth, enhancing each melody and creating a series of surprisingly successful hooks that appear throughout the album. At over nine minutes, second track ‘Esox Lucius’ sees the band continually shift gears, ushering in new and impressive grooves with dizzying efficiency. The first of two instrumentals, ‘Jäniksen Vuoksi’ is laden with memorable melodies punctuated with scratchy guitar. Following track ‘Kaikki Kortit’ maintains a classic rock sound, its fetching vocals succeeded by a heavy blues jam accompanied by sprawling clean guitar. With a penchant for unpredictable digressions, Sammal seem to excel in the final third of every track. The second instrumental

‘Näennäiskäännännäinen’, begins as a melancholic daydream in danger of floating away if not for its anchoring bassline. Eventually the daze is broken when a volant guitar riff sees the track dive in another direction, weaving between keys and wandering percussion. Emotionally, Sammal are so in control of their craft that despite potential language barriers, their intended affect is always clear. The morose verses of ‘Lehtipuiden Alle’ give way to multitracked vocals, creating the album’s biggest chorus before closing after another interesting dynamic shift. A similarly crestfallen introduction opens ‘Jokainen Pysyköön Uskossaan’. After stunted guitar guides the track toward a bridge, the song really opens up and exceptional vocals are beautifully complemented by a masterfully emotive guitar solo. Penultimate track ‘Veneenrakentaja’ is bookended by two mournful passages, but undergoes numerous twists in between. Sammal are never prepared to settled on just one interesting rhythm for too long. Album closer ‘Kylmää Usvaa’ is aptly titled. Translating to ‘Cold Mist’ and opening with a heavily affected keyboard motif, it is the darkest and most brooding cut of the album. Clever interplay between perfectly pitched vocals and powerful keys exudes a sense of genuine sorrow. But sorrow is usurped as the song breaks down and begins the album’s thrilling 12/8 gallop to its end. With its blend of warm, plaintive tones continually punctuated by effective dynamic passages, Sammal sways with a wizened sense of self while maintaining an emotional clarity and exemplary attention to detail from start to finish. Haimish tones collide with harmonic grandeur to create a wealth of textures wrapped in a vintage progressive sound that, although familiar, never feels forced or derivative. Sean McGeady

The modus operandi employed by Saturnus seems fairly consistent across the album; that being long drawn out passages soaked in melancholy. Crushing riffs undulate beneath the surface as lead guitar dances delicately on top The lower register chords serve to stiffen the spine and raise the chin up high as the lead pulls on the heart strings, wrenching the emotion from the soul with its depressingly emotive melodies. Vocalist (and lone original member) Thomas Jensen uses a two-pronged attack. As expected, one voice is a deep ogre-like growl; the kind that weighs on the shoulders, the other is spoken word. It’s here that the themes of the album are given clarity. Obviously the subject matter is highly introspective as this is a death/doom album, but much is about “the path” - the path we must take to get through this life; it’s not an easy path, yet, one we must fight through nonetheless. ‘Saturn in Ascension’ possesses a crawling melancholy that leaves no room for joy, but this minimalist plodding doom doesn’t sound sinister or mired in eternal darkness, instead it reeks of sadness and loss. While the base of the album remains constant in this feeling, various accents break up the monotony. Some choral melodies, strings and female guest vocals from Laurie Ann Haus (Todesbonden, Autumn Tears) add flavour to this murky stew. ‘Call of the Raven Moon’ is an acoustic track with strings and flute filling out the sound peacefully and naturally in comparison with the rest of the album. Matt Hinch

Secret Sphere - Portrait of a Dying Heart Scarlet Records

Saturnus - Saturn in Ascension Cyclone Empire

‘Saturn in Ascension’, the latest offering from Denmark’s Saturnus will not put a smile on your face, nor is it meant to. Any manner of adjectives aptly describe this style of doom, however, ‘depressing’ is more than sufficient.

Secret Sphere are a power metal band from Italy—although symphonic progressive power metal would probably be a more apt description. Displaying the sort of musicianship that would make the most practised and rehearsed orchestras sound like a garage punk band, Secret Sphere are certainly masters of their craft and Portrait of a Dying Heart—their seventh studio album—is an impressive calling card when it comes to technical ability. Based on the novel She Complies with the Night by Constanza Colombo, Portrait of a Dying Heart is a concept album


that tells a love story over its ten tracks. It begins, funnily enough, with an instrumental, namely the title track. All searing solos, symphonic keys and pummelling drums, ‘Portrait of a Dying Heart’ has many layers to it and keeps rolling along through several time changes before we get to ‘X’. Now we get to hear new singer Michele Luppi (ex-Vision Divine) wrap his colossal vocal cords around the band’s razor-sharp performance. If symphonic power metal is your thing then this is probably as good as it gets—which is why it’s odd that some of the keyboard flurries seem rather low in the mix. Maybe the band were pushing Luppi’s vocals to the front to show what he can do—and it is impressive—but there are places where a little more backing would have added an extra dynamic and pushed everything that little bit further. So, technically the band are faultless, and despite an ever-so-slightly-muddy mix, the performance does come through. However, most of the songs here stray into ballad territory, which isn’t surprising given the nature of the concept it’s based around. There are also a few horribly cheesy moments, like the 80s synth-pop keyboard intro to ‘Healing’, that may prove distracting to the hardened metallers amongst you. Overall, Portrait... is an album that encompasses everything about power metal—good and bad—and blows it up to epic proportions. Michele Luppi’s extraordinary vocals certainly lift a lot of the material, which would have sounded a little sappier with a singer of lesser ability, and the guitar work is also very strong. But some of the subtleties of the rhythm section and the keyboards may get lost due to the soupy mixing job. Most fans are likely to turn it up full-blast, though, and not really give a monkey’s about such trivialities. Chris Ward

Collaborating lyrically with Azathoth (Ex Dark Fortress) this album is bestowed as a fine liberation for the band. Their musical presence on the album perpetuates a diversely cold and current sound that all around bases itself around the innovative pivotal elements of Black metal modernity. In respect to the structural style and components of the album, ‘Monument in Black’ presents itself as a fine musical specimen of self-torture and pessimism. The track, ‘Abhorrance Vs Scum’ lyrically evokes the disturbing duality of nightmarish hatred against the dark depths of infestation within our perceptions of reality. The sound of this album is truly infectious as well as appropriately dark. The vocal style eludes towards familiarity in terms of this genre and rightly so. Astutely the riffs and musical technique is surprisingly somewhat catchy as the composition gently embeds itself into the mind soothingly. The energy and efforts entrenched within the album prevails accordingly so in terms of their ‘black metal’ musicianship the band prevail in both high quality recording and speedy techniques. This has enabled them to withhold a fast yet lengthened instrumental and vocal correspondence in regards to what we’ve heard primarily within the subgenre and thus appeals to a wider audience. Sirisha Chhibber

Sulphur Aeon - Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide FDA

Straight On Target - Pharmakos Bakerteam

Sonic Reign - Monument in Black Apostasy Records

Monument in Black by Sonic Reign, featuring the tracks, ‘Abhorrance Vs Scum’, ‘Clouds Above The Desert’, and ‘Soul Flagellation’. Heavily influenced by the likes of Satyricon and Emperor are the aesthetically modern sounding German Black Metal band Sonic reign. ‘Monument in Black’ is their long awaited second album after a prolonged wait they haven’t at all ceased to deliver.

Song structures are near identical to one and unsurprising to say the least, following the well-established pattern of fast-beatdown-repeat. The one-dimensional side of this wouldn’t be so bad if there were great songs to actually show for it, but there just aren’t. No single hook, passage or whatever even feels like it’s going to grab you; instead it feels tired and bland. Another case of an album lacking any hint of character, Pharmakos tries to put out all the stops in hostility, but forgets to write a catchy song along the way. Boring. Chris Tippell

With a name like Straight On Target, first impressions point towards something with a poppy vibe of some kind. What I wasn’t expecting from these Italians was a brutal brand of bloody obvious deathcore, a tagline and genre that these guys are proud to bear. But their music also falls into a lot of potholes that peers have fallen into before, and for which they’ve been decried as a result. Pharmakos is quite impressively bland, actually. Very much at the meat and potatoes end of the spectrum, its songs are very formulaic, very heavy, and very beatdown-dependent— much like, say, Emmure—but with far less of a party atmosphere, while the aggression is unrelenting and the pace is stuck on fast— except for the beatdowns, obviously. Herein lies the main problem; Pharmakos is far too one dimensional, showing no hint of real inspiration whatsoever. Vocally, this is very generic, monotone pig-growling, of which you have heard plenty before, and better.

Though he died along time before Black Sabbath played their first note, the writer H.P. Lovecraft has left an indelible mark on Heavy Metal. His dark imagery and tales of horror have inspired a range of bands from Metallica and the Sword to High on Fire and Bal-Sagoth. Add to that list Sulphur Aeon, a German three-piece dealing in brutal death metal. Their debut album, Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide- featuring a beautifully drawn and equally evil-looking image of the dark lord Cthulhu on the cover- is a beast of an album. Comprised of Drummer D, Vocalist M and Guitarist/Bassist T, the band have created a thoroughly modern death metal album. Over the course of the record's three quarters of an hour, traces of black metal, old school Morbid Angel and 21st century Behemoth can all be heard at various points. The band have avoided any lo-fi nonsense and opted for a very well produced sound- clear, crisp and heavy- songs such as 'Incantation' & 'The Devil's Gorge' sound huge, full of relentless blast beats, guitar harmonies and plenty of high-pace chugging. Despite the blackened nature of some of the songs, it's all still accessible-their approach to extreme metal mirrors Amon Amarth- uncompromising yet retains a strong sense of songwriting and melody. This is helped by various splashes of Swedish-style melodeath; 'Where Black Ships Sail' &


'Monolithic' have plenty of twiddly guitar leads over the top of groove-based shredding. Through the maelstrom there's plenty of time changes and rarely stays still or allows you to settle into any kind of comfort zone. Though Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide could technically be considered a concept album, there's no pretension, just a lot of abrasively heavy songs with darkly nautical and mystical song titles. Tracks such as 'From the Stars to the Sea' and 'Those Who Dwell in Stellar Void' perfectly encompass what Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos is about, and provide a suitably bleak backdrop for d-beats and gruff, guttural screams. Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide doesn't reinvent the death metal wheel, but there's more than enough energy and quality to keep the attention through the album's 45 minutes. Sulphur Aeon has created a startling debut, one that should propel them to the head of the extreme metal in 2013. Dan Swinhoe

The Advent Equation - Limitless Life Reflection Self-Released

Thought Progressive rock might never make a comeback, Prog Metal in its various forms has blossomed in recent years. The likes of Mastodon, Baroness Katatonia and a host of others have made adventurous music cool again. Joining the scene right out of Monterrey, Mexico is The Advent Equation, who have burst with a startlingly impressive debut album. Though the country may be more known more for spicy food, Jazz and Mariachi bands than progressive death metal, Advent have ignored the chance to add any Latin style flourishes (no tribal beats of jumpingdafuckup) and gone straight into the art of shredding. The self-released Limitless Life Reflections sound is far more European, drawing particular influence from Opeth and the mighty Gojira. And since the former have turned away from heavy music, this could be the album to fill that void. Over the course of an hour, we're treated to a

selection of Progressive death, most of which are around the seven minute mark. Production-wise the sound quality is impeccable, which is helps keep all the subtlety, which this kind of complex music needs. The album itself mixes staggered shredding and huge rolling riffs laden with piano and countless mellow passages and acoustic flourishes. The vocals use Opeth-style death growl coupled with soft clean dynamics to suit the music, and occasionally bring in some ethereal female lines as backup, 'Purification Lapse' being the best example. The record swings from heavy and chaotic to dark and atmospheric at the drop of a hat, each song possessing a variety of moods and styles. Scattered throughout the tracks are moments of jazz, synth heavy prog al a Spock's Beard, all woven seamlessly in to a mass tapestry. The songs demonstrate a band with confidence and a high level of skill. But throughout the record, from opener 'Glimpse of What May Be' right through until closer 'A Violent Motion' the main star here is the relentless barrage of riffs. Only 'Visions of Pain' offers any lasting acoustic respite. Despite all the quality on offer, Limitless Life Reflections isn't perfect. Though the clean vocals work very well, especially when combined harmonised with the female background lines, at times they sound very flat. And the 'piano as a lead instrument' approach, while interesting, sometimes winds up more of an unwanted distraction at odds to the rest of the music. Though sometimes it's all a little bit too reminiscent of Opeth, on the whole this is a very enjoyable record. They've set the bar high for both their own future releases and any other bands looking to break out of Mexico. Dan Swinhoe

Vàrego - Tvmvltvm Argonauta Records

Originating from Genova, Italy, Vàrego consists of five exceptional musicians. Having buried their roots deep in the underground post metal /sludge circuit,

Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam Nuclear Blast

Over their 25 year existence death metal kingpins Suffocation have long been the yardstick by which technicality and brutality are measured. This is the New Yorkers seventh opus to date and despite recent talk of vocalist Frank Mullen no longer being able to commit to the band’s demanding live schedule there are no signs of tiredness where his fearsome growl is concerned. Pinnacle... also marks the first Suffocation release since Souls To Deny not to feature drummer Mike Smith and while reminiscent of that record in places it still has enough tricks up its sleeve to feel fresh and vital. Guitarists Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais acquit themselves admirably with their intricate complex riffs and slick solos which penetrate the guttural vocals and furious blasts that underpin the maelstrom of the songs. The scything riffs of ‘Eminent Wrath’ demonstrate why Suffocation have long been heralded the godfathers of the deathcore genre. What holds them above many of those bands is the vicious grooves remain intact despite the furious tempo changes. ‘As Grace Descends’ even drops in a tasteful jazz lick with the tempo changes feeling perfectly natural. The importance of flowing compositions can be lost of many of today’s acts who forsake hooks and melody in favour of cramming the most riffs and time changes into one song as possible. Where many fail Suffocation excel in the art of arrangement transitioning smoothly between tempos unafraid to slow the pace on occasion to allow the listener time to digest the feast of unrelenting brutality they are fed. The addition of the melodic passages such as the delicate outro of ‘Sullen Days’ only highlights how brutal the heavy parts are in comparison. This enables each song to stand out individually something which the vast majority deathcore bands fail to do. Zeuss production job allows each instrument room to stand out. While much of this can be fairly typical since the band’s reformation in 2003 Suffocation still find new methods to catch you off guard. Bassist Derek Boyer’s breakdown in ‘My Demise’ is one of many unpredictable sections which keep you on your toes with former Malevolent Creation/Incantation sticksman Dave Culross delivering a truly intimidating performance. While continuing in the direction they have pursued since the reformation this veteran act deliver highly in both arrangement and musicianship. Pinnacle Of Bedlam is a feather in the cap of one of death metal’s most enduring acts. Ross Baker


these veterans have honed their craft and are prepared to unleash their debut album ‘Tvmvltvm’ onto their disciples. ‘Tvmvltvm’ is the first component in an innovative concept about the mutation of mankind and the world. Joining forces with well-renowned producer Billy Anderson, they deliver a unique sci-fi themed, avant- garde masterpiece which will be the first of many. Opening track ‘Arrival of Maelstrom’ is a dark psychedelic melody that initiates the highpitched guitars and beastly low sluggish bass united with a steady drum lead worthy of leading a nation. Following on, ‘Horror in The Sky’ is chilling with demonic vocals and guttural roars fused with deep chugging guitars and immense squeals, showcasing profound bass and crashing drums that pack a punch. Whilst songs such as ‘Carved in Stone’ lead with a heavy hand of sheer brutality, tracks ‘Centauro d’Abisso’ and ‘Cataclysm and Mutation’ offer the listener a mix of soft hypnotic vocals, rapid guitar riffs and symbol strikes. ‘The Threatening Horizon’ is overflowing with dark doom that trickles down upon the instrumentals and sends a chill down the spine. The melodic finger plucking and dogmatic chants set the tone for a true masterpiece. ‘Odyssey’ sets a heavy, brutal and menacing tone, bringing with it an essence of Black Sabbath with low distorted guitars and unswerving layers of tremendous riffs that drench the listener in foul thick notable intellect. ‘Shapes of Beauty’ is a symphony of emotion ranging from acoustic yielding to melancholy ambiance carefully bonded with beastly howls. Varego has assembled a collection of diverse influences and encased then in an original and deeply personal composition that is nothing short of remarkable; a compulsory addition to the collection of anyone fond of intricate and creative musical composition. Violet V

Vex - Memorious Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

considerably more melodic than its predecessor. A decayed and subdued sounding guitar encapsulates the elements of black metal so heavily forged within Vex’s sound and the riffing often eschews stereotypical brutality in favour of surging, layered harmonies and distinctive tremolos. They possess a gift of being able to serpentine between tuneful melodies, crushing brutality and then back again. Joe Jackson’s raspy, high pitched delivery of vocals does nothing to compliment the music texturally or rhythmically. Unfortunately, they are extremely high in the mix, making them difficult to ignore. Instrumental track ‘Away from the Sun’, whilst cliché and unimaginative, provides a welcome break. The song writing is both imaginative and captivating; it is a shame that the ill-fitting vocals distract the listener from this. Another disappointment of ‘Memorious’ the ropey production quality – it is obvious that the band had a shoestring budget to record this album. Thankfully, this provides minimal detraction from the actual music, but it would be interesting to see what these guys could conjure up given a larger budget. Weak vocals and poor production are both minor flaws, however, much outweighed by the impressive and relentlessly unpredictable riffs as well as the distinct bass tone. The record itself has been wonderfully composed with three instrumental tracks placed meticulously throughout to ensure it doesn’t become repetitive. This is an album that will take more than a handful of listens to fully appreciate, but it is worth the perseverance if only to appreciate the grandness of mammoth track ‘Wasteland (How Long Ago...)’ Ignore the stamp of ‘death’ and ‘thrash’ often unfairly placed upon Vex, given the chance this band will offer up to their listeners so much more than they bargain for. Angela Davey

Voices - Voices from the Human Forest Create A Fugue Of Imaginary Rain Candlelight Records

Voices describe their music as “avant-garde black metal” on one website, and an “aggressive black metal erection” on another – a clear indication of the chaos that will reign from their first release on Candlelight Records. Drummer David Gray (ex-My Dying Bride) joined forces with fellow Akercocke members Peter Benjamin and Sam Loynes (ex-Diminished Filth) to start a new experiment, and after recruiting producer Dan Abela, to work on their debut album, ‘Voices from The Human Forest Create A Fugue Of Imaginary Rain’ was recorded at Legacy Studios. This album is a must have for any extreme metal fan, especially those that take pleasure in furious blast beats, raging double bass drums, extreme guitar riffing, ear-penetrating growling and snarling vocals. The first 10 seconds of opening track ‘Dnepropetrovsk’ start relatively calm and slow, before Armageddon appears upon the listener and David Gray blasts through a near hour of fury. It is as if this album has been written by a band of delinquent youths on a sugar rush. Whilst this album encapsulates elements that may appeal to the masses, unfortunately, ‘Voices from the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain’ fails to deliver any real human emotion that is usually attributed to the black metal genre. After the third track ‘Fragmented Illustrations of Anger’, a respite is desperately needed, but instead it maintains extreme raging speeds for another 6 long tracks. ‘Voices from the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain’ is, however, brilliantly produced and there is no doubt that the musicians are all extremely talented, but it is sadly too clinical. Black metal, over the years, has developed a niche of atmosphere, warmth and emotion; Voices have overlooked these components in the process of making this record and it makes for an unsatisfying listen. Enthusiasts of technical musicianship, speed, and extreme black metal will no doubt fall for this debut album; however, those that enjoy a little more substance in their musical venturing will do well to avoid this. Sander van den Driesche

Exhibited as a death metal act, Vex definitely run along the blackened vein of the genre with the likes of Behemoth. ‘Memorious’ is the Texan quartet’s second full length release since their inception in 1998 and is


In ancient times, just because the geocentric view of the Universe was almost universally held then did not mean that the Earth was actually at the center of the Universe; the ancient people were simply ignorant of the scientific fact that the Earth has always been revolving around the Sun, and not the other way round. Ancient astronomers such as Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler would not have denied that different views of the Universe exist; rather, they were critical of the proponents of the geocentric model for being unaware of the scientific fact that the heliocentric model was the correct theory.

Is it really the case that musical taste is not rooted in some fundamental truth and is subjective? Does an objective, “true” musical taste exist?

Analogously, just because the traditional metalhead view of traditional heavy metal being the “truest” of all metal sub-genres is almost universally held since 1969 does not mean that traditional heavy metal is really the “truest” of all metal sub-genres; these people could simply be ignorant of the genuinely “true” metal sub-genre. Although not yet discovered, let’s suppose this “true” metal sub-genre is progressive metal. Let us suppose that progressive metal played by the likes of Between The Buried And Me and The Contortionist is true metal and the bands, somehow, just know it to be the case. These bands would not deny the musical relativist’s view that different views of what is true metal exist (i.e. like how the traditional metalheads would maintain that traditional heavy metal is true metal); rather, they would criticize the musical relativist for failing to see that all non-progressive metal bands are ignorant of the fact that progressive metal is true metal!

Cultural absolutism—and by extension, its constituent parts such as musical, artistic, literary, theatrical, motion pictorial, political and ethical absolutism et cetera—is a view that states that we live in a world governed by a set of ultimate cultural values. I think there are good reasons to believe that such a world exists, and in this post, I will explain why we, the self-aware and cognitively complex creatures known as human beings, could be living in such a world.

Of course, the flaw of this argument can be immediately seen: Can “true music” be empirically verified in the same manner as scientific facts? It is easily conceivable and doable to verify the true nature of physical reality, but for something as abstract and intangible as the idea of true metal, which exists in the metaphysical realm, is it even possible for us to conceive of a method to verify its essence from the physical realm?

The Six Arguments

(3) Just because a universally accepted set of musical values (which constitutes the concept of “true music”) has not yet been developed does not mean that it should not or will not be in the future. Let us suppose that avant-garde black metal in the vein of the music being composed by Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord is “true music”, and that the universally accepted set of musical values constituting it (e.g. atonal guitar passages, ambient keyboards, religious-sounding chorales and interjections of furious, primitive black metal blasting) has not yet been developed in our time. Is it right for the musical relativist to conclude that such music, which does not exist yet but will eventually be universally accepted to be “true music”, should not be developed in the future? Is it also right for the musical relativist to conclude that such music will not be developed in the future?

“There is no right and wrong when it comes to music; everyone is entitled to their own musical taste.” —Good Guy Music Lover

(1) Musical relativism is flawed because it does not evaluate in any way what is “music” or not. To say that musical taste differs from individual to individual, culture to culture and time period to time period is merely a descriptive statement. And if one goes one step further to say that because of this descriptive statement, we should normalize (meaning to go from stating something “is” this way to stating that something “ought” to be this way) the view that there are no universal musical tastes that exist independently, since all musical values are relative to a specific culture and are “right” for that culture, one would have committed a naturalistic fallacy. This is because this leap of logic just came out of nowhere. You cannot have a normative conclusion based on a descriptive premise alone; in order to do so, at least one of the premises must have to be normative as well. Also, such a conclusion is contradictory. It says that it is a universal value that different individuals or cultures have no right to evaluate if the musical tastes of one another are right or wrong. But in the first place, the premise that this conclusion is based on says that the value of accepting the fact that there is no universal musical taste should be a universal value. (2) Continuing from where the first point left off, musical absolutists do not deny that different musical tastes exist; rather, they are criticizing musical relativists for merely describing the situation instead of evaluating it. It is a weak argument based on a single set of facts that describes something as it is – that variable musical customs exist in the world. Fine, it is a fact that there are various musical tastes. But so what? Musical relativists are not explaining anything by simply stating that. On the other hand, musical absolutists have a strong argument because they do have an explanation for this phenomenon, and it is their belief that musical relativism can be explained by human ignorance of what the true (absolute) musical taste is.

However, it is a great challenge to provide a compelling rationale behind this argument, because traditional attempts to do so are typically religious in nature and use God or some other omni-potent, omniscient and/or omni-benevolent/omni-malevolent being as a convenient vehicle to justify the existence of such a musical “truth”. For example, European music purists often see Classical music as being the “best” form of music around. In the ages of yore, many Classical composers were very religious men and often saw their genius as being “God’s gift”. Even in the case of the example given in the previous paragraph, the people behind those avant-garde black metal projects are religious people themselves; they do attribute their genius to the blessing of Satan or some other non-Judeo-Christian deity. How can unreligious people be convinced to accept this thing as “true music” then? After all, the global human population is not only made up of religious people. (4) As human beings, we are emotional creatures before we are rational. We listen to music we like and appreciate it under the assumption that there are absolute musical tastes that are independent of


individual or group preferences. We habitually assume that our judgments of “inferior” musical tastes have some kind of meaning, and because we feel that way, it has to be that way. If a symphonic metal lover feels that he/she is justified in thinking that death metal is mindless and merely savage noise as compared to the purposeful and refined melodies of symphonic metal, a belief in musical absolutism will justify the subsequent conclusion that symphonic metal has to be better than death metal in accordance with the earlier feeling, since it will provide him/her with more subjective satisfaction and a more rational explanation of the musical world. Otherwise, if we commit ourselves to musical relativism, we must conclude that our judgments of musical evaluation and comparison (e.g. “Iron Maiden rules because they play traditional heavy metal! Suicide Silence sucks because they do not play traditional heavy metal!”) are misbegotten. And this does not provide us with as much subjective satisfaction or as rational an explanation of the musical world as musical absolutism does. However, a flaw of this argument is that the relationship between feeling that something has to be in a certain way necessarily leads to the conclusion that that something has to be in that certain way is already presupposed and not rationally addressed. According to Scottish philosopher David Hume, it is by custom or habit that we assume a relation between ideas. We do not know exactly the true nature of the connection between feeling in a certain way and concluding that it has to be in that certain way, but our deep desire for consistency compels us to continue assuming a relation between ideas because it makes us feel emotionally stable—and that is not rational at all! But the argument in the previous paragraph is trying to say that musical absolutism is a more rational explanation than musical relativism, and hence, it is contradictory in the sense that it is supposed to provide us with “a more rational explanation of the musical world”, but it is really an emotional argument at its core and emotional justifications are certainly not rational. (5) Another serious difficulty with musical relativism arises directly from one of the premises of the fourth point. Musical relativists assume that in most cultures, the majority of people within a culture agree about basic musical values. But who precisely are “the majority”? Although this may be generally true for smaller, simpler cultures (i.e. True Norwegian Black Metal community), this is generally untrue for large, complex and modern cultures (i.e. Modern Metal community, which includes melodic hard rock, symphonic power metal, progressive metal, metalcore, deathcore among a plethora of other sub-communities, which individually does not necessarily have a homogeneity of members’ views on musical values themselves). With the state of mass communication in our current electronic epoch, musical relativists assume that the speedy transmission of an authoritative figure’s view or powerful institution’s view (i.e. Fenriz’s view of punk-influenced black metal being true metal or Revolver Magazine’s collective view of mainstream metal being true metal) to a wide audience means that there is a homogeneity of views among members of that particular culture. However, this assumes that every member of that particular culture is a passive receiver of knowledge and does not critically question it. While it is likely to happen this way in theory, what happens in reality is that the culture is just as likely to become further divided on the issue of what constitutes “true metal”. This is because not every member of a particular culture is a passive receiver of knowledge, and mass communication also greatly enhances the individual’s accessibility to a wide variety of different views in isolation from other members of his/her culture just as much as it greatly boosts the speed at which information can reach every member of a particular culture. For example, suppose Fenriz manages to convince most of Darkthrone’s diehard fans that punk-influenced black metal is true metal via a widely publicized personal blog post or magazine interview. Even then, there is always the possibility that one of the Darkthrone diehards might simply chance upon or choose to read an online article or a magazine interview with Gaahl of ex-Gorgoroth—who might denounce Fenriz’s view of true metal—and be compelled enough to adopt the belief that Fenriz’s brand of true metal is not true. Take note

how both instances, which represent the two-way nature of mass communication in relation to the homogeneity of views within a particular culture, can happen in the same bedroom! The above example may have utilized a culture that is smaller and more likely to have a greater homogenization of views regarding what constitutes “true metal” (read: narrow-minded) than the larger and more open-minded Modern Metal community I brought up earlier, but it is still a proof of principle. If it can happen even to the smaller culture, it is all the more likely that it can happen to the bigger culture as well. And in the case of the bigger culture, there is a higher likelihood of a greater fragmentation of views regarding what constitutes “true metal”. Hence, how would the musical relativist determine which is the prevailing view on musical values (i.e. the majority) in a culture that is deeply divided? What is his/her rationale for determining the boundaries of smaller groups (i.e. the minority) within larger cultures? If “the majority” ends up being numerically similar to “the minority”, how can the musical relativist determine which group’s view on what is “true metal” is the prevailing one? (6) Finally, what would be the effect on human thinking and behavior if people really adopted a relativist perspective on musical taste, not just on a theoretical level but in practice as well? After all, more often than not, whatever we have come to accept as a “correct” view in our minds tends to manifest into physical actions later on. If musical taste is truly not rooted in any fundamental truth and is entirely subjective, then every conceivable arrangement of sonic pitches would be musically permissible. By simply accepting that many different musical tastes have to coexist, it would render “music” a meaningless term, since every kind of musical taste is “right” in their own sense and none of them can be faulted for being “wrong”. People who simply hook up their refrigerator to an amplifier and intensify its humming sound would be considered to be making “music” and hence, be considered as “musicians” too! How can these people be on par with those who compose and perform music that is generally considered by many to be the closest there is to true music (i.e. Classically-styled orchestral works or classic rock)? If people were to accept this, there would be musical anarchy and we will have a distorted view of true music. There will be devolution of musical values to more primitive and unrefined levels. However, it is a very Western notion that the world we inhabit has to be orderly and intelligible. By thinking like this, isn’t it a manifestation of Western cultural imperialism? Is it right for us to be ethnocentric like this and see our cultural values as being superior to those that belong to other cultures in the world? While most people will probably answer “No” to the preceding question, notice how it highlights the contradiction brought up in argument #1. Additionally, does musical anarchy necessarily make us stray from the vision of “true music”? Even if there were an absence of a universal musical taste and hence, no absolute musical standard by which to judge whether or not a particular form of music is “true” or “false”, the vision of true music—that of this particular set of variable arrangements of sonic pitches having to follow sensible structures and patterns to convey knowledge while simultaneously providing subjective satisfaction—can still be realized; assuming that different cultures live in isolation from one another; will never learn of the existence of one another and will never have abnormal members who oppose their culture’s vision of “true music” simply because they are naturally like that. Of course, the immediate objection to this counter-argument is that it is counterfactual and that we do not and will never witness such a phenomenon happening in physical reality. Mass communication has made it virtually impossible for almost every culture on this planet to live in isolation from others and not to realize that other cultures exist. Also, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon that abnormalities always exist within systems, no matter how stable and consistent they might appear to be on the surface. In conclusion, perhaps the sounds of nature constitute "true music". In the context of metal and extreme music, maybe the pagan metal bands and Devin Townsend’s The Hummer are closer to musical truth than the rest of their peers after all.


Revisiting A Monument returns for its second instalment, in which Dean Brown chases the rock ‘n’ roll whirlwind that was Clutch’s sixth studio release, Blast Tyrant. A record that grooves with the same vitality and relevance as it did back in 2004.

Elsewhere, “Cyprus Groove” kept energy levels high through Sult’s infectious licks and Gaster’s cowbellflavoured grooves, while “The Regulator” and “Ghost” took a more reflective turn with Americana kissing blues and campfire storytelling, coupled, in part, with hearty acoustic guitars. These two tracks were thoughtfully separated by further war rejection on “Worm Drink”, the wah-drenched riffs of “Army of Bono”—whose latter half saw Clutch get their Blue Cheer on—and the Motownsounding boogie of “Subtle Hussle”Eight years later some of these songs still maintain a place in the band’s live set; none more emphatically than the recognisable riffs of “Promoter (Of Earthbound Causes)”, and ahead of Clutch’s 10th record, Earth Rocker—set for release in Spring 2013—the band have stated that the new LP will attempt the attain the same spirit as Blast Tyrant; thus is the magnitude of this record. Upon its release, Blast Tyrant was exactly what the rock/metal world needed, and whether you prefer the band’s volatile 1993 debut, Transnational Speedway League; 1995’s hazy-eyed, self-titled effort; or the straight-up blues-bombing of 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion, there is no doubting the importance of Blast Tyrant in the grand scheme of things. This record will be forever cherished by fans of Clutch, and by the sounds of things—the band itself.

Maryland's power-players Clutch have built an empire of pure rock fury over the course of their 23 year existence. The band’s nine studio LPs have a distinct feel and force, with each record drowning in devotion from fans around the world. Anyone who has had the pleasure of being exposed to this unique yet traditionally-driven band will fight bloody for their own personal favourite, and there is definitely merit in every one of them, however, 2004’s Blast Tyrant has to be the one record every Clutch fan can agree on—an absolute master-class in modern day rock ’n’ roll. Blast Tyrant’s charm came from the sheer intrinsic swing and newfound sense of urgency in the playing of Tim Sult (guitars), Dan Maines (bass) and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), who rolled out some of the greatest sensimilla-stained grooves ever heard on a Clutch record—or anywhere else in fact—all of which formed the pulpit for the idiosyncratic vocals of the son of a preacher man, Neil Fallon. Fallon’s style has always based itself on the wild-eyed Howlin’ Wolf and the maniacal genius of Captain Beefheart, but his highly intellectual and often hilarious, imagery-laden lyrics and rhythmic phrasing are exclusive to him alone, and on Blast Tyrant, Fallon hit such a rich vein of form that his ingenious wordplay and raucous delivery set this record ablaze. Produced by Machine (Lamb of God/Every Time I Die), Blast Tyrant sounded boisterous with each instrument given plenty of space to breathe. From the liquid rhythms of opener “Mercury” to the closing instrumental jam-out “WYSIWYG”, each of these 15 songs came rammed to the gills with glorious, adrenaline-spiking riffs and engaging storytelling. Released during the height of Bush-bashing in music, some political disgust bled into Fallon’s lyrics, but unlike those who were blatantly obvious (boring) in their baiting, Fallon tempered his opinions with biblical references on the monolithically cool “Profits of Doom” and drove home the perils of war in entertaining fashion on the anthemic “The Mob Goes Wild”—a song which received heavy rotation on MTV courtesy of Ryan Dunn’s (Jackass) music video.


Quantum Physics & Disposable Meatheads by Ray Van Horn, Jr. Whether you buy into quantum physics theories or not, the fact remains that the sum of prevailing attitudes and emotions towards something has tangible effects. It’s a simple concept, really. Focusing on the good things brings about present and future happiness. Adversely, focusing upon negativity manifests parallel consequences. Call it hippie mumbo jumbo if you like, but we live in a free-speech society with even more latitude for expression via technology. Moreover, we have the capacity to say what we like under a fabricated cloak of anonymity if we choose, since anyone can create fictitious profiles then roam about cyberspace at-will. Unfortunately, many surf the digital nebula with the intent of provocation. I’ve seen a trend out there on the web I find distasteful and there are few checks and balances for them outside of going offline or prohibiting user comments altogether. As a reader of this e-zine, you may be one of the guilty parties or you may be nodding along in agreement. You might even be saying, “Oh, get your head out of your ass, Van Horn, it’s the way of the world.” As a writer of countless reviews and interviewer of hundreds of bands, I’ve been a part of this music community for a long time. I’ve received heaps of praise for my work and in turn, my fair share of scorn. It’s not about me, though. I’m a big boy, I can take it. One of my jobs as a journalist is to scrutinize, but my intention is always to play a fair hand. I hold myself accountable for my opinions and words and I make the fair assumption there are plenty who will disagree with me. It’s all good. I welcome the disparity because we’d be automatons if we weren’t using our brains and challenging what’s out there.

ID) using filthy, misogynistic adjectives against female metal performers you wouldn’t use in the presence of your mother and (hopefully) your significant other. That’s only one example of the raw sewage polluting our scene. I posit that these loudmouth (for lack of a better term since said offenders only have the stones to work their keyboards) bashers and hecklers make us all look bad as a metalhead collective. Instead, we’re the disposable meatheads those “other people” consider us to be. It’s quantum physics at work. Negativity begets negativity and we all suffer for the inane actions of few. Opinionated and brash as my own commentary may be here, the point I’m trying to get across is that differing points of view is fine. Like and dislike is a natural order of things, particularly in a world that has far too much choice for its own good. The burgeoning amount of product we have today fosters automatic pessimism as people scamper for the next big thing. Choose what you want, reject that which you don’t. In the process of gathering what sustains us, at least show the proper respect for others. At the core of our psyches, we all want to be respected. If you rebuff what’s presented before you, you’re not to be faulted in that respect, but be constructive and classy with your estimation, for crying out loud. If you can’t avoid the temptation to call someone you don’t even know personally “worthless” and demand their death just because you don’t agree with them or what they’re offering, then you’re a bigger cunt than they are.

The thing, however, is the blunt, crass and outright disrespectful candor I’m seeing from alter-name mutants who lack the character to back up their rude comments with their real names. I see it everywhere, jeering posers targeting their wrath against athletes, artists, writers, directors and especially bands. The common misconception is that every figure in the public eye is subject to harassment by those who haven’t achieved the same level of success as their marks, whether that success is minute or on a grand scale. Chat boards have long been notorious forums for underhanded slander and childish bitchery, but the pestilence from those hubs of hatred is spilling into any portal that invites reader commentary. As relates to metal culture, the constant barrage of holier-than-thou venom from cyber chickens who aren’t held accountable for their actions is a downer to our scene atlarge. In the real world, they’d have to put up their dukes for their infantile insults. Small numbers as they may be in the grand scheme, the potshots and low blows many of these cowards sling towards artists in our community reflects us all in a poor light. Heavy metal has always carried a stigma in mainstream society. Metal fans are written off by outsiders as brain-dead slack-offs who listen to indecipherable, neuron-shredding music. Since Slayer has fans ranging as far up the social strata as medical practitioners and psychologists, we know there’s a lot of bunk to said mythos—as if the straights have any room to jibe with their dunderheaded sports trash talk. All in good fun, they say to justify their moronic my team is better than yours goof-offs. Is it really fun, though, to chop up principals of our scene? Inherently, these spineless acts are done out of jealousy and boredom. You need some substance in your miserable life if you’re MetalMonger645231 (a made-up


Profile for Scratch the Surface Magazine

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 5  

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 5 featuring interviews with Riverside, Jason Newsted, Anathema, God Seed, Pig Destroyer, Nidingr, Hell Militia, Ca...

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 5  

Ghost Cult Magazine Issue 5 featuring interviews with Riverside, Jason Newsted, Anathema, God Seed, Pig Destroyer, Nidingr, Hell Militia, Ca...