ISSUE #1 - October 2012
S e r p e n t i n e pat h | ko n t i n u u m | z at o k r e v | k r a ko w
b a ck w it h a v en ge a n ce
Cryptopsy buy our album” “we have faith that our fans will
ENSLAVED M usic d oe s n ’t com e fo r fr e e DOWN the hardships and struggles of life
plus PETER DOLVING | GRAVE
WINTERFYLLETH | UFOMAMMUT MONUMENTS | HEXVESSEL KLONE | ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO
Editorial... ISSUE #1 OCTOber 2012
4 CRYPTOPSY F E AT U R E S : 04. CRYPTOPSY 06. DOWN 08. enslaved 10.PETER DOLVING 12. WINTERFYLLETH 14. ufomammut 16. KONTINUUM 18. KLONE 20. SERPENTINE PATH 22. MONUMENTS 24. HEXVESSEL 26. grave 28. KRAKOW 30. ZATOKREV 32. ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO 34. REVIEWS
Here is it finally is, the culmination of months of hard work, the first issue of Ghost Cult! In this issue there are interviews with Down, Enslaved, Ufomammut, Peter Dolving and many more. Birgir Thorgeirsson of Kontinuum fame contributed a stunning editorial on the Icelandic metal scene. Of course there are tons of reviews that will this very special occasion. I hope you all will enjoy reading this first GC issue as much as we have pleasure putting it together!
RAYMOND WESTLAND FOLLOW US www.facebook.com/GhostCultMagazine twitter.com/GhostCultMag
CREW... Editor: raymond westland [email@example.com] senior editors: chris wright, pete ringmaster, david alexandre Contributors: Matt Spall, John Muskett, John Toolan, Cheryl Carter, Catherine Morris, Myron Schmidt, Curtis Dewar, Ian Girle, Jodi Mullen, Chris Ward, Berneau van der Merwe, Christine Hager, Chantelle Higgins, Dewie, Gilbert Potts design: david alexandre INFO... (W) www.ghostcultmag.com General Enquiries: (@) firstname.lastname@example.org Submissions: (@) email@example.com GHOST CULT MAGAZINE | 2
the records that changed my life
O CT O BER t o p 5 RAYMOND WESTLAND | Editor-In-Chief 1. Eryn Non Dae - Meliora 2. Klone - The Dreamer's Hideaway 3. Planks - Funeral Mouth 4. Blut Aus Nord - 777 Cosmosophy 5. Between The Buried And Me - The Parallax II: Future,,,
James Conway | WRITER 1. Winterfylleth - The Threnody Of Triumph 2. Evoken - Altra Mors 3. Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol 4. Blut Aus Nord - 777 Cosmosophy 5. Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine
Berlin – Lou Reed ½ mensch – Einsturzende Neubauten
Chris Tippell | writer 1.Devin Townsend - Epicloud 2.Down - Purple EP 3.Rex Shachath- Sepulchral Torment. 4.Posthum- Lights Out 5.Vision Of Disorder - The Cursed Remain Cursed
Station To Station – David Bowie Blood and Chocolate – Elvis Costello Margin Walker – Fugazi
Ian Girle | writer 1. Enslaved – Riitiir 2. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last Of A Dyin’ Breed 3. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future ... 4. Instant Drone Factory – Ho Avuto Paura del Mare 5. Distorted Harmony - Utopia 6. Sound Storm – Immortalia
Loveless- My Bloody Valentine From Her To Eternity – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Meantime – Helmet
Jodi Mullen | writer 1.Zonaria - Arrival of the Red Sun 2.Enslaved - Riitiir 3.Blut Aus Nord - 777 Cosmography 4.Reverence - The Asthenic Ascension 5.Vintersorg - Orkan
The Top – The Cure Downward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails
david alexandre | designer 1. klone - The Dreamer's Hideaway 2. A LIFE ONCE LOST - STATIC TRANCE 3. Enslaved - RIITIIR 4. GAZA - NO ABSOLUTES IN HUMAN SUFFERING 5. Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy
SEND IN YOUR RANTS, SUGGESTIONS OR WHATEVER YOU HAVE IN YOUR MIND TO: INFO.GHOSTCULTMAG@GMAIL.COM
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C ryp t opsy
Cryptopsy is back with a vengeance WORDS: RAYMOND WESTLAND
One of the most formidable comeback albums of this year is the new self titled Cryptopsy album. It combines all the best elements of both the Lord Worm and Mike DiSalvo-era for fans. Vocalist Matt McGachy graciously answered my questions on the return of guitarist Jon Levasseur, the writing process and the previous album, and the backlash it received. Your new album is a magnificent return to form. Are you happy the way it turned out?
We wrote songs which we hoped would cater to all of Cryptopsy's fan base. We wrote more straightforward brutal songs to appease the Lord Worm era fans and more complex brain melting ones to match the Mike Disalvo era. We wanted to create something that would span all of Cryptopsy's discography into one. As for the production, we knew that we wanted to keep it raw. But we also wanted to hear all of the instruments throughout the entire album. Working with our guitarist Chris Donaldson was a no brainer; he brought excellent production ideas and was extremely easy to work with. How did the writing and recording sessions go for the new album, compared to previous experiences?
When bands release a self titled album, many times it’s a sort of statement. It usually signifies a return to the roots or the band see it as a defining moment in their career. What’s the case on the new Cryptopsy album?
For me, this was the easiest album to record. I was completely prepared; I had my lyrics already written and patterns figured out months before I entered the studio. I guess all the hard work paid off because it only took me three days to track the entire album. This time around I got to see the guys writing the album that was a privilege that I didn't have during TUK days. It was amazing to watch Jon and Flo communicate their ideas to each other in their own alien language. They are a truly a fantastic writing team and a pleasure to witness in action.
With the return of our primary songwriter, Jon Levasseur, the task sort of accomplished itself. It's not like we set out to write a redemption record; once Jon came back so did his classic Cryptopsy compositions and the record basically wrote itself.
The band went through a rough time after the release of “The Unspoken King”. That album received some very bad press and it didn’t go well with large portions within the Cryptopsy fanbase either. How do you look back at that period?
The new album reminds me a lot of “Whisper Supremacy” and “None So Vile”, but the modern production gives it a contemporary feel as well. How do you see things?
I see it as a time of experimentation for the band. The guys all had a vast array of musical influences and they allowed some of the more mainstream ones slip out during TUK writing sessions. Also keep in
I couldn't be happier with the outcome. It is brutal while remaining creative and non-redundant.
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that Jon was not in the band at the time and it was Flo's first time working with a completely new writing team. The record that came out was where we were as a band at that time. I'm glad that we released it because I wouldn't be where I am today if we hadn't. Itâ€™s getting increasingly difficult to make a decent living playing in a metal band. How do you guys get by? As long as we can keep making music we will. We are currently releasing this new album independently with the help of some key players: JVC in Japan, PlasticHead in Europe, Revolution Harmony & Candlelight in the Sates, Galy Records in Canada and Clawhammer PR. A fan recently asked me if we were afraid that people were going to pirate our record on the Internet. I responded, "We knew that people we're going to illegally download our album, it's unavoidable. But we also have faith that our fans will buy our album if they like it and want to help encourage us to continue making music. We also have faith that if people download the album that they will come to our shows and buy some merchandise to help us out that way". And finally I told the fan, "None So Vile has leaked on the net years ago but we are still selling copies of that one!" Playing Cryptopsy songs is a very demanding physical activity. How do you keep yourself in shape? Well, I definitely have the easiest job in Cryptopsy. During some songs there are long vocal breaks and the other guys are all going crazy on their instruments while all I have to do is head bang! I do warm ups before each show to ensure that my voice stays in top shape all the time. I try not to push while I'm screaming and I try not to party too too much on the road. Also I'm really lucky to be in other musical projects outside of Cryptopsy, which keeps my voice fresh during the Cryptopsy hiatuses. I've discovered that my voice is like any muscle; if you stop working it out it will be sore and weak after a prolonged break. So I keep it busy to ensure that I'm always 100% ready when Cryptopsy calls.
the last bite of it. Then our sleepy guitarist finally went up to his bunk but our tech decided to make an open faced sandwich on his face. The guitarist woke up started fighting our tech until someone else jumped in and broke them up. When we woke up the next morning we came downstairs to a disaster zone. Food and garbage was everywhere! So much so that our until then timid bus driver had left us an extremely stern message declaring that we were slobs and that it was up to us to clean the bus if not we wouldn't be leaving. So the moral of the story is never drink Stroh again! Lol Time for the final question. What is next in terms of touring and possible other projects?Â We are looking forward to touring, it's been a while. It will be nice to get out there and connect with the fans again. I'm looking forward to sharing the new album with them as well as some of the classics of course! We are in the process of booking now but we have nothing to confirm as of yet. As for other projects I'm still rocking my progressive rock side-project The Era Of, we are in the process of writing a new record now. Our debut album is available for free at TheEraOf.bandcamp.com I'm also screaming for Montreal based thrash metal band The Catalyst, we just finished some dates supporting Kill Devil Hill and are also in the process of writing a new record. I know that Chris Donaldson is still playing in Mythosis and that Olivier Pinard is still in Neuraxis. Flo is always busy; he's playing with Temple of Thieves and Digital Doomsday now I believe. www.cryptopsy.ca
Can you share some of your best road stories, please? One of my all time tour story would have to be from our tour with Beneath the Massacre in Europe in 2009. It was the before last day of the tour and me and our tech went out on a booze run and we bought an alcohol which is not available in Canada called Stroh. We were good and waited till after the show to indulge, but what a bad night it led us towards! First of our merch guy Mike secluded himself upstairs in the back of our bus and cut his arms open with a knife. (Nothing serious though) Then our guitarist who fell asleep downstairs, kept momentarily waking up and ranting about "the triangles". Our tech who had used the last of his money to purchase a sandwich at the store was destroyed to the point of tears when someone ate
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The doom has been dropped on Down's latest release “The Purple” EP, the first in a series of four EPs to be released by the band over the next few years. Ghost Cult caught up with doom-lifer and Down drummer Jimmy Bower who shed some light on the new "Sabbed off" EP and life in Down 21 years after their debut.
THE HARDSHIPS AND Words: Dean Brown
STRUGGLES OF LIFE
The Purple EP is built upon the traditional pillars of doom; the vocals and riffs capture the same raw vitality as your debut—was this approach intentional? We definitely were going for a different approach on the production this time. In doing that, we went for a raw approach and also recorded at the 'Lair' which is a better vibe as well. Add all these factors together and it's basically the same as NOLA, just 20 something years later! It was very easy for us to put ourselves in that classic Down jam mode! Is there a concept looming over the four EPs? And if so, could you tell us a bit about it? Nothing really concrete on the concept end of things, we had talked about a different vibe or style for each EP which gives us a chance to expand on the riffs a bit. Like the first one (EP) we're talking about, we all agreed it needed to be old school Down. Just "Sabbed off," [as] we like to say! You guys have had your fair share of personal hardships and struggles with various vices—all of which have been well documented—however, in the last few years you guys seem to be back on the straight and narrow. Has such personal clarity effected the song-writing here, and can you tell us a bit about the song-writing process and why you decided to forego the usual full-length in favour of four EPs? Everyone in this band has been through hell and back at some point...and being such good friends has helped us to move forward! When we get together to jam, it's very family-like, we usually all bring a dish of food that we make and have a big cookout or craw
fish boil—set the vibe so to speak...Plug in and riff off! This EP, the songs seemed to come really natural to us during writing. It was Pepper's idea to do four EPs and we all thought the idea was killer. Down contains pretty big personalities and songwriters—to say the least! How do you guys manage to put egos aside and work for the benefit of the song, and is it a struggle to do so? We just get in the 'Lair' and jam, man! If anything, we are inspired by each other I think. There is mutual respect, so things tend to go smoothly when we write. We are all pretty laid back guys, so we've never had any problems! “Down III: Over the Under” was a direct reaction to the disastrous aftermath of hurricane Katrina, what has been the inspiration this time round? As far as inspiration for us, just jamming again has been inspiring. Every time this band jams, it is always good times as of lately! We have "Witchtripper" which was inspired by old superstitions in a small town in Spain where we stayed. The local people put rocks to trip the witches on their doorsteps... add a joint to that and you have "Witchtripper". Check out the video! Is Pat Bruders going to be in the band for the foreseeable future? How did you settle on Pat as a member? How much influence has he had on the song-writing? Yes, Pat is a solid bona fide member of Down. Pat was an easy pick because he lives in NOLA, already plays in Crowbar and understands our style of groove. Pat is an insane finger picking bass player
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which just adds to our sound. He joined during the writing process and plays his ass off on these new songs! Together we work extra hard to be the best rhythm section we can. He is also one of the coolest dudes I know! Can you tell us a bit about the reasons surrounding Rex’s departure? Is the door open for Rex to re-join at a later stage or is he gone for good? I will say that we love Rex and are happy for him and his success with KDH. Rex is always a part of our family!! What can the fans expect from the remaining three EPs? Musically, is there going to be a big sonic departure from the doommongering of Purple? I hope we do some more of the trippy, Sabbed out mellow stuff like we did on Down II. A few more like "Bury Me In Smoke" where the riff is slammed down the throat will happen, I'm sure. Those are fun to jam 'cause of how much feel you can put into songs like that! That's the cool thing, is that we are open to playing around with the riffs and the grooves to the point that we have many different styles developed as Down. It has been 21 years since Down formed, what drives you guys to continue to create music together? When you look back at when you were
passing around your demo, did you ever think the band would have ended up being this popular and lasting this long? When that record came out Phil was on top of the world with Pantera, Pepper and Kirk were enjoying success with COC and Crowbar, and I was doing EHG at the time too. NOLA came out on my birthday, Sept.19 1995. I really thought we sounded different from all the bands we were already in, and unique altogether. I've had some of the best times in my life with four of my best friends and met a ton of people that I admire and are proud to call my friends. I hope it lasts forever...Are we popular? Jimmy seems to underestimate the band's popularity, but popularity can mean different things to different people. In the case of Down, their status exists within the confines of doom/sludge metal, and as fans of doom will attest, this supergroup of metal musicians—who hail to the almighty Sabbathian riff—have never rested on the laurels of their past individual glories and have created a discography that holds a certain timelessness similar to their forefathers in doom. It will be interesting to see which direction Down take on the next EP, but for now, take the time to blaze out to the six smouldering jams that form “The Purple” EP. www.down-nola.com
Music doesn’t come for free Words: Raymond Westland
During the Into The Grave festival in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, I had the chance to sit down with Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) from Enslaved. We talked about “Riitiir”, the latest Enslaved album, the changes in the music industry and the band’s remarkable switch from Indie Recordings to Nuclear Blast. Let’s talk about your latest album, entitled “Riitiir”. It has this nice Rush and King Crimson thing going on. What do you think? I wouldn’t necessarily call Riitiir a progressive album and it wasn’t conscious move. It was more about going with the flow and see where it takes us. There wasn’t any preconceived direction or something like that. It was very long process from the first guitar riffs to the actual recorded songs. It not something we have in our mind, but what you’re listening colors your music. You can hear our influences here and there.
You can pick up a lot of stuff which isn’t an immediate source of inspiration. Music shouldn’t be about strict rules or boundaries. I listen to everything that I find interesting. The previous Enslaved record received lots of praise from both fans and press alike. Did you guys feel any pressure to deliver an album that would be just as formidable? No, not at all. Of course we always try to make a better record, but pressure no. For a prize perhaps? No, we’ve won a couple of prizes, so we left that all behind us. It’s a nice gesture of accomplishment but the biggest pressure comes from ourselves. I know it’s a cliché, but true nonetheless, it’s pretty much go with the flow and accomplish as much as you can. Try to become better as a musician and writing songs, you know. “Riitiir” is also your first recording for Nuclear Blast. Why did you guys leave Indie Recordings?
So what’s the latest music that you put on your Ipod?
It was the least dramatic move we have ever made, actually. For the last two records we were on Nuclear Blast in America and we worked really well with them. We had also some good relationships with Nuclear Blast in Europe and they wanted to sign us earlier on. This has always been in the back of our minds and we kept the dialog going, so for us it felt completely natural to sign a worldwide deal with them. It was an easy move.
Most recently I bought a record from this acapella group from France from 1972 singing some Bretonical traditionals. It’s sung in Gaelic by a group of sisters. It’s very interesting stuff. I really don’t care how people call or label music, as long as there’s a little spark there, I’m happy.
More bands from Indie Recordings moved on to bigger labels, like Borknagar for instance. Does it have something to do with a label like Nuclear Blast having more resources available to really push their bands?
You mean a lot of Rush and Pink Floyd? Yeah, they are two of our biggest influences, along with a lot of metal. That’s where we came from. We have a vast musical interest and all the guys in the band listen to loads of different bands.
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Certainly, they’re one of the biggest labels in metal with a very large distribution network. They run an efficient operation and it’s a good label to be on. They believe in what they do and they have a very smooth way of doing business and they’re nice guys. Moving to a bigger label was strictly a business decision. Time will tell if this is a wise move, but the time was ready for us to move on to a bigger label. We didn’t want to do this before, because we wanted to stay independent and maintain control of what we are doing. Kind of like the whole D.I.Y mentality? Yes, but we still are independent, although we have signed to a bigger label. Such things take time and it’s not easy to get a decent offer from a bigger label when you’re a young band. They probably jump at it and sign a bad deal. That’s not the case now. We have a very good deal with Nuclear Blast, due to the fact that we stayed independent for so long. What can you tell us about the writing and recording process for “Riitiir”? This time we had more time to work on the record. This tour got cancelled so suddenly we had a couple of months available to really develop the songs and we spent more time in the rehearsal space. We played our instruments live in the studio, which gives the album a more live feel. There are little mistakes here and there, but it gives the album the space to breath more. It gives it all a more human touch, just like how bands used to record back in the seventies.
I’m from the tape-trading generation. We sent demos and we received demos and traded some and send money in envelopes. Our first official release was on vinyl, so lots of things have changed. That also goes for the record sales sadly. Even in metal record sales have gone through the drain. The clean vocals by Herbrand Larsen seem to be more in the forefront on the new album. Was this something which grew along the way or was it more of a conscious decision? Both actually. He was hired into the band to do most of the clean vocals and we developed it together with the arrangements ever since Isa, so it’s a natural development. That’s what he supposed to do. Ivar Bjornson and you form the creative backbone of Enslaved. How do you feed off each other creatively speaking? We have very specific roles in the band. It’s not complicated, really. He writes all the guitar riffs. I stopped doing that like ten years ago, because I felt that my riffs aren't suitable for the band. His riffs were better than mine, so I decided to focus more on the lyrics. He usually sends me his guitar riffs by tape, well nowadays per mp3 of course, and we start working on the vocal arrangements and me, Herbrand and Ivar are producing the albums together. Ivar and Cato work on the drum arrangements. The other band members have their input here
and there. We tell Ice Dale where we want to have a guitar lead in a song and he plays them. We all have specific roles within Enslaved. Of course we have discussions here and there, but those are healthy discussions which only help to improve a song. It’s not a like dictatorship, because we have a deep respect for each other's capabilities, but this is the working method we feel comfortable with. You’re active as a musician for more than twenty years. What are the biggest changes you witnessed through the years? The internet obviously, haha. I’m from the tape-trading generation. We sent demos and we received demos and traded some and send money in envelopes. Our first official release was on vinyl, so lots of things have changed. That also goes for the record sales sadly. Even in metal record sales have gone through the drain. Metal is probably the most stable genre when it comes to selling records. The older metal heads are still very concerned with actually having a finished product with decent artwork in their hands. The younger generations only care for mp3’s sadly and they think they can get it for free from some torrent site. Let me tell you something, for us bands recording an album doesn’t come for free, my friend. People don’t seem to get that you can’t record a good album in your basement. You need separate rooms to record drums and vocals properly. Such things costs money and lots of it. But you guys have the comparative luxury of having your own recording studios... That’s true, Herbrand has his own recording place and Ice Dale too. They record local bands there and whatnot, but we still hire studio room to record various instruments. Some parts of Riitiir were recorded in our home studios, but the rest was done in a big studio in Bergen. As a final question, what’s the latest on your other projects, like Trinacria? Trinacria is put on ice at the moment, because everyone is occupied with their main bands. Trinacria requires a lot of time and space, because it’s a big production with lots of people involved. We’re not split up and we’re planning to do some more, but we need to find ample time for that. Ivar and I will be busy with Enslaved for the next three years touring and all. It’s definitely not over for Trinacria, that’s all I can say at the moment. www.enslaved.no
Riitiir is out now via Nuclear Blast GHOST CULT MAGAZINE | 9
p e t e r d o lvin g Words: raymond westland
RLD ADDRESS STATE OF THE WO
r nted singer Pete Former The Hau isn’t e arkable man. H Dolving is a rem ves his his mind as he gi k ea sp to id ra af ic industry, his views on the mus Thieves effort, entitled upcoming solo an he got shaped as And Liars, how ng gi in br up orthodox artist by his un g in h yt g love for ever and his undyin rock and roll. Hi Peter and thank you for doing this interview. To put things in perspective, can you give us a summary of what happened after you left The Haunted and working on Thieves and Liars? Work. Not a hell of a lot else really. I have done one small tour with Rosvo in the spring and I’ve been finishing Thieves And Liars and my guitars and vocals for <O>’s We Come For Blood. Except for that it’s been preparation and deal making with a bunch of good people to get the House Of Dolving project up and running. As you can imagine, finishing the amount of music, words, and art that I have over the last year has been quite a chore. What’s the story on the album title? It’s a reference of course. So far the first 20 years of my life in music has meant pretty much this; Thieves and liars. It is, if you let it be so, the way of the music business. There are a handful of amazing loving people who actually do it for their love of music, and entertainment, but the larger part is fly-by-night shysters out to make a fast buck, ready to crawl over corpses. It’s not a nice business. But hey, I’m not complaining, I knew it when I started as a kid. What I didn’t know was that it was going to hurt as much and the basic mentality is straight up deranged for the most part. I really like Thieves and Liars because of the album cover, a lot of different musical styles and it’s full of well-written and structured songs. How do you see things? I am really proud of it. I feel like I made a great rock album. It really is music for concentrated listening. It’s very deep in audio-structure and Fredrik Reinhedal. Tue Madsen really managed lifting forward what I was aiming for, even topping my initial vision.
When I received Per Möller Jensens drum tracks I felt like a kid on Christmas eve, and it delivered. As I said I am very proud and grateful, because I’ve had all these ideas and thoughts about songwriting over the years but this time I finally took the step all out and it paid off. It’s a record that will keep the listener on their toes as well as really offer a soundscape to lose one self in. What was the creative and recording process for Thieves and Liars like? It’s been intense and very enjoyable really. I’ve recorded directly as the ideas have emerged, all mental filters off, just intently creating. I’ve been in that state of mind and kept that attitude for the last three years, but over the last year it’s really come to bloom. I just got tired of trying to please anyone else. Writing for the Haunted and bands I’ve worked with before has been very formatted and that constant sense of restriction makes the creative process painful. It’s not supposed to be painful; it’s a beautiful thing to have been given the gift of a mind that overflows. I used to hate it, it was incredibly harsh to try fitting into the tiny mould that even other musicians seem to live their lives in. I can’t, it’s not for me. And once I finally let go, here I am, no holds barred and it’s fucking sweet, creatively.
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It’s often said that the best art is created through times of turmoil and suffering. How do you see things and how does it apply to you personally? I don’t know what to think of this idea. Personally I think it sucks when life is more like a nude physical exercise in a field of nettles, reflux and snakes. To be honest the last three years have been worst fucking years of my life in some senses, but again, it’s also been a time when I have just completely let go. If someone doesn’t like me or what I do? Whatever man, it’s not my business, I make art for those who like what I do, and that’s really all there’s to it. Now I’m beginning to see the first indications of how people are receiving the work I am beginning to feel a slight beam of light that I think might just be hope and you know what? I like that feeling. Your upbringing is unconventional to say the least. How did this influence and shape you as a musician and an artist? Of course it’s shaped me. I started out with absolutely no respect whatsoever, and that has a lot of downsides, but has had one very good side. I have had to reinvent rock n roll for my own little perception. I’ve started with absolute no care or respect for the craft, but I have been fortunate in my life, meeting so many incredibly talented artists and musician who have treated me with love and respect, even when I was just a fucking brat that deserved nothing more than a good ass whooping. It’s left me humbled. It’s given me incentive to really listen, to really pay attention, to really try and understand and see the real beauty and miracle in music. Cheesy huh? But really I love rock n roll. Viciously, intensely and fanatically. To me rock n roll is the last stand, the last gasp of hope, the only still standing bastion, an island of hunger for freedom in the vast endless sea of infinite indifference and formatted, streamlined lukewarm faeces that is modern entertainment. Besides your own solo project, you’re involved with a couple of different projects, covering a whole range of musical styles, including hardcore to freestyle jazz. What fuels your musical urges and creativity?
The controversy shouldn’t be what I say or how I or anyone else reacts. The real controversy is why the fuck so many people are imbecilic enough to not understand 1. What I’m talking about. 2. That so few engage in a positive discussion. I am an observer, and so is everyone else. We have a mutual responsibility. If you don’t want to participate, fine, but don’t be a silent voyeuristic bystander in every part of your life just because you were taught to shut up and get in line since you were a kid. It’s not OK anymore. Seriously. Just because culture is a crippled dog at the moment doesn’t mean you and I have to go along with it. If we want a dynamic democratic society, we have to DO what a dynamic democratic society demands of the individuals of it consists. We have to participate. We have to step up and be loud and outspoken. We have to break the complacency that is the public room. Be childish, honest, open with your agenda and just stay fucking sincere, because the alternative is living in fear and constant worry. Silence, indifference and nonparticipation are really symptoms of a fascist society. It doesn’t need cops beating people up, all it needs are bullies who belittle and chastise. The self censorship that’s going on now from folks with reason is pretty much exactly what preceded the takeover of power by National Socialists in Germany in the mid-20’s. What’s is next for you in terms of touring and possible other projects and collaborations? I am focussing on promoting Thieves and Liars, rehearsing with the band, raising money and talking to people at really small labels all over the world to make the album available everywhere. It’s about all I have time for. Sure I do some painting as well, but yes, right now it’s mostly about preparing for the next year of touring and releasing records. I’m really excited and curious, since we are doing something only a few artists are attempting on such a large scale. A lot of learn-as-you-go. We have the music, the art and the fans. We are just trying to pull it all together. www.facebook.com/HouseOfDolving
Love. Lust. Joy. Spite. Relief. The sense of care, and laughter with those I hold dear and that I know agree with me on life. That “fuck you all!” feeling when a great song falls in place is irreplaceable. Over the years I allowed myself to let so many “It can’t be done” personalities into my life that for a while, I almost believed them. But no. It’s a victorious feeling when something beautifully falls into place and I feel that “Holy shit!? Did I do that? That’s impossible!?” feeling. Yes it’s humbling. You like to speak your mind and you don’t mince words on the posts on your Facebook page. Some of those updates sparked quite some controversy. Is this just a way to vent your frustration or do you like to stir things up a little from time to time?
Thieves And Liars is out on October 24 via http://peterdolving.bandcamp.com ghost cult magazine | 11
“Knowledge of the lessons we have alread y learnt as humans should be applied in modern situatio ns to better all.“
ODE TO THE LOST ONES Words: Mat Davies
Mat Davies was very impressed with “Threnody Of Triumph” by British black/folk metal outfit Winterfylleth. Guitarist and vocalist Chris Naughton was more than happy to share his views on the new album, incorporating new influences and the band’s collective interests in history.
I guess it was a fairly conscious decision in that it has always been a part of what we do, so we wanted to continue to express ourselves through the more folk influenced material as well as through the metal songs. We’ve always wanted to pay tribute to the early music of the British Isles through the use of these folk songs and choral vocals, so it was really just to keep building on that and push it into new directions. We used layered strings this time to produce a more mournful and reflective sound that really stirs up emotions in people and I think it comes across as a build on the songs we have put on previous albums in that style.
First off, thanks for taking the time to talk to Ghost Cult and many congratulations on the record- it’s a beguiling and thoroughly captivating piece. How pleased are you with how it has turned out?
I have seen descriptions of the Threnody of Triumph being a “concept album” but is that a totally fair description? It seems much richer in scope, tone and execution than a simple narrative tale.
Many thanks for the positivity, we really appreciate it. Glad the record has landed so well with you. We are really pleased with how the album turned out overall. I think it was quite a daunting prospect coming into this record. Our last album was really well received and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it played on our minds a little bit when starting this album. Once we got into the writing and found our feet again, I think we bettered our last one and really pushed ourselves as writers. The songs feel more epic, passionate and developed than before and I think that is due to us all having more to contribute this time around and it being more of a team effort.
Yeah I’d say that’s a fair description. The album is a concept in the sense that lyrically it is a linear narrative about the progression of a person through the stages of death. At its core a ‘threnody’ is a deathly ode or lament to one you love that you’ve lost. In that sense the album is about a body dying and going through the phases of death before those who miss the dead person offer a threnody to their memory at the end. Musically it is not ‘conceptual’, if that’s what you were inferring; it’s thematically and/or lyrically conceptual.
The record sees you broadening your artistic palette to include elements of folk and post rock in amongst the more familiar black metal. How much of a conscious decision was that?
Your previous record, “The Mercian Sphere”, seemed to garner you universal acclaim. Did that put any pressure on you as a band to surpass what that record achieved?
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Yeah I think so. As I mentioned above, there was certainly some trepidation on our part coming into this album. The press, reviews and response to the last record was pretty overwhelming, so it was a little worrying coming into this record. I think you just need to rationalise that you don’t have to write the album for anyone else, and that it’s about the four of us coming together and doing something we think is great. If people ‘get’ that, then great, but it’s not the primary motivator. As soon as we got into it and started the creative process, we came up with a great album. Production wise, this is an unusual record in that it’s one of the cleanest and clearest black metal records I have heard in a while. How did you approach the production side of things: what effects were you seeking in the recording process? I’ve mentioned in other interviews a lot that we came to the conclusion a long time ago that we weren’t trying to parody black metal from the 90’s. I think to do so would be at a detriment to what those people achieved and wouldn’t be representative of what we want to say, or put across. That’s why we don’t do corpse paint or sing about Satan. That was their thing, not ours. Some see it as a corner stone of this genre, but I feel its best not to dwell within the realms of rigid orthodoxy for too long and try to make something of your own. The recording process is very much linked to that idea. We wanted a natural, organic sound and process in the album (as with the last one) and wanted to build emotions and feeling within that. Not to detract from the lo-fi production values that many would associate with black metal, but for us, to express what we wanted to do fully, we had to think wider than that. Hence the production you hear in the songs. What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learnt about yourself whilst making The Threnody of Triumph? Well, in truth, I think we learnt a lot of the lessons on the last one. This time we knew what mistakes not to make, or what to listen out for etc. So as such this time we were a lot more prepared and focused on the nuances and ‘mistakes’ of the last one. I say mistakes loosely because it’s more just tweaking our approach as opposed to a wholesale departure from an idea or anything drastic. But you learn and you get better, so hopefully this album represents our best, most educated attempt at an album. You have often spoken about the band’s interest in history and politics. It appears to becoming more and more a part of the band’s aesthetic. Is that a fair assessment? No I don’t think so. It’s always been a very strong part of what we have done as a band. The concept has always been strongly connected to history, folklore ad heritage etc, and the aesthetic has always reflected that. Be it about local or national history, the link has always been strong. I think people take us more seriously now than ever before, so perhaps the fact that it is having an impact on people is driving the assessment of it becoming more fundamental to what we do.
an We’re important going on linkaintour understanding throughout Europe the struggles in September of today.supporting Knowledge Flyof the lessons we have learnt asthat humans applied ing Colours. It will be already awesome. After I thinkshould we’re be gonna try toin do modern situations The fact is that many governments and some more touringtoinbetter early all. 2013. establishments (banks, corporations etc) would rather keep you working, dumb and unheard so as to impact social control over you. If more www.facebook.com/beardfish people understood how this has come to be, and gave a bit of consideration to it, then the world could be a better place. So what is driving us as a band is sharing that knowledge and engagement. What bands and artists are influencing what you’re doing? Who would you like to collaborate with in the future? We’ve talked a lot about our influences in the past, bands like Enslaved, Ulver, Hate Forest, Drudkh, Burzum etc but also folk artists like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, The Albion Band, Barron Brady, Julie Fowlis and others. In terms of collaborations I'm not sure, but we’d love to do a split with Enslaved! What’s next on the horizon for the band? The band is looking to undertake some touring to support the new album in 2013, so we will be planning that quite soon. Also, we have recorded a 3 track folk EP that will come out after the album. We are also playing at Damnation festival in November and have recently booked to play Hammerfest V in March 2013, so we have a good few things on the horizon. For now we will be getting into the rehearsal room to polish up on the new album songs, so we can bring some of those out in November. Being in Winterfylleth appears to be a pretty intense business: when you’re not working on your music or band related matters, how do you relax? Loads of ways, there are some great places to go walking in the Peak district near to where we live, so it’s good to go out there and clear the air for a while. There are loads of great pubs and real ale places you can go round our way, so it’s good to do that as well. If ever you get a chance, I would suggest getting the Leeds to Manchester Train and doing the pubs on each station! Tell us a secret that you haven’t told another journalist/webzine. There are no secrets about Winterfylleth. We have nothing to hide! We’re getting a round in: what’s your poison? A pint of Aspall’s ‘Suffolk Cyder’ or Pennine Brewery’s ‘Sunshine Ale’. www.winterfylleth.com
What’s driving you as artists and musicians? I suppose what’s driving us is the desire to reinvigorate peoples’ interest in the social landscape and things that affect them. I’ve been asked about this a lot and I would say that having a link with one’s history is
Threnody of Triumph is out now via Candlelight Records ghost cult magazine | 13
uf o m a mmu t Words: James Conway
Sonic alchemists With the second part of their ambitious double album “ORO” just out, two thirds of the Italian doomsludge trio Ufomammut, namely guitarist/vocalist Poia and bassist/vocalist Urlo, chat with James Conway about their love for The Beatles, their creative outlet Malleus and the new deal with Neurosis’ label Neurot Recordings.
Your new album “Oro: Opus Alter” is the twin of ‘Oro: Opus Primum”, released a few months previously. What made you want to record a double album? Was it a challenging recording process? Urlo: Opus alter is the second part of ORO. We recorded a single track and we split it in 2 different temporaltimes and parts: Opus primum and Opus alter. Poia: Oro was too long for a unique release, so we decided on this split. This way the listener has the right amount of time to listen to Opus Primum, and then, later, go on with Opus Alter.
What concepts do the Oro albums deal with? Is it a continuation of the religious themes explored on previous albums such as “Eve”? Urlo: They are both about the concept of knowledge. Oro is about the alchemic process leading nature (intended as a primordial one, scaring man with its majesty) into power, the knowledge blooming out of our fears. Poia: Actually we're not religious people, but we're interested in what men can do when they have to face the unknown, how they can evolve and explore their limits.
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How has your sound evolved, if at all from your previous releases? What inspires you to keep creating music for Ufomammut?
In previous interviews you have declared a love for The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Are there any modern metal bands that inspire you in the same way?
Urlo: We bought bigger and powerful amps. Ufomammut is a part of our lives, so it's normal to continue increating with it.
Urlo: No, I don't think. There are a lot of modern metal bands I love, like Converge, Melvins and Botch, for example, but Beatles and Pink Floyd are another thing for me. Poia: The same for me. I love and respect a lot of other bands obviously. But I don't want to make a list.
Poia: We've discovered the dynamic of sound. How to be menacing starting from a very low db level. So, when it's time to go louder, well...this is simply too much :-) Do you consider your albums do be one long track made to be experienced as a whole or can the listener flip through at will and still get the same listening experience? Urlo: I think the best way to enjoy every album is to listen it from the beginning to the end. Poia: Even our “songs based” LPs (the first four) have been conceived as a single flowing of music. We've always loved to keep the sound going on through the tracks, like Pink Floyd do :-) All your members are part of the graphic design collective Malleus. How important do you consider artwork and visual aesthetics for Ufomammut? Urlo: Poia and me are 2/3 of Malleus. Lu, the one behind the visuals, is the 3rd one. Artwork and visual aesthetics are fundamental for us; we always took care of Ufomammut. Poia: At the very beginning, during the nineties we took care of every visual aspect of our music: we started in doing artworks for our demo tapes, posters for the concerts in our hometown and so on. Thenthis “attitude” became our job, but we continued to take care of our music. You have maintained a constant line-up since your formation. What do you put this down to? Have there ever been any times when one of you has been on the verge of quitting? Urlo: We're friends, we've grown together musically. We've had ups and downs, but we're still Ufomammut. And if one of us will leave, I think it'll end. Cause Ufomammut is an alchemy and I couldn't understand it without one of us. Poia: I consider myself and my band very lucky: we found the right people for going on playing... since quite a long time, actually. More than 13 years together...
You recently switched labels from your own label Supernatural Cat to Neurot Recordings? What influenced this decision? Urlo: Since we met Steve Von Till he showed a real interest for us. Steve is a musician so he knows what's the meaning of making music and playing on stage. We're on the same line, we feel music like something to feed our souls and we all play. It's a family, not band and label. Something like it was already with Supernatural Cat (Malleus label), but we found it out of ourselves. Something great. We took the final decision during Neurosis Euro tour in 2011. We were the opening band (together with Amenra) for some of their shows and so we met Steve and the other guys. Everything was so easy and natural, we spoke about music and we had fun at the same time. Poia: We had other offers from other labels after our previous album Eve. But we wanted something peculiar like Neurot: we wanted to have a different sight and perspective on our own “trunked space creature” Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! Is there anything further you would like to add? Why should people listen to “Oro?” Urlo: Keep us following us on our websites (ufomammut.com, malleusdelic.com, supernaturalcat.com) and listen to ORO cause otherwise the gnome with the 40 fingers will come and take You. Poia: Moreover, listening to Ufomammut is the key for leaving your friends envious and your charm irresistible. www.ufomammut.com
Given the repetitive (in a good way) nature of your music how challenging is it to recreate the songs in the live environment? Do you have to concentrate extra hard to ensure you don’t lose your place? Urlo: It depends on the parts, surely. But it's quite natural to reproduce our own music and ideas. Poia: Live acts are obviously another story compared to studio albums. We have a different approach to the sound applied to a live show: for this reason, we believe a lot in the importance of our live sound engineer: Ciccio. Moreover we enhance the experience with the visuals created for Ufomammut by Lu of Malleus.
Oro: Opus Alter IS OUT NOW VIA NEUROT RECORDINGS
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KO N T I N U U M
Spirit of the Earth Words: Jodi Mullen
Iceland is fast becoming a hot bed for thought provoking and experimental music. The newest proverbial kid on the block is post (black) metal outfit Kontinuum. The band’s mainman Birgir Thorgeirsson was more than happy to shed some light on his band, it’s amazing debut album, being signed to Candlelight Records and the whole Iceland music phenomenon.
True, we have been around for a long time as individuals in other bands, Kontinuum is however quite recent. It pretty much started working on ideas back in 2010 when I moved back to Iceland and my main musical outlet was not available. Some of it was based on previous work but most of it is very recent. The process of the album was not catastrophic but the necessary struggle was there. Usually I think good albums rarely come effortlessly, whether that’s some sort of conflicts during the creative process or the recording. It usually means that people put their passion into it. We had some drama during the recordings and production but nothing unusual. Our recording engineer wanted to leave the project because we were very precise what we wanted and probably slightly irritating working partners. It takes patience and conviction, luckily he found some extra energy and finished the job quite successfully.
Hi guys, first of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Earth Blood Magic has just been released but it has received quite a lot of attention from review sites already. How do you feel about the response to the record so far?
Is there an overall theme to the album, either lyrically, musically or conceptually?
No problem. The response has so far been pretty good and a pleasant surprise. We didn't really have a clue how this album would be received. Personally I was more expecting a massacre from the press. From a musician standpoint I think it’s a risky album. Meaning that no specific genre or subgenre is being catered to. It’s a strange mix of things. This is our debut release and we feel privileged to have had this attention. You've been around for quite a long time as a band but it has taken a while to release your debut full length. Did you encounter many challenges while working on Earth Blood Magik?
There is no one concept behind the album as such. The album is human and reflects that in its diversity and the landscapes being explored. There is also some sort of spiritual theme to it which grew over time, an underlying connection or an inexplicit red thread, but without escaping realism and portraying some sort of fantasy or myth. The album is personal, slightly introverted, and speaks to the individual, not a group. The process itself was a very influential one where a deep feeling towards the music and its origin was realised. This origin of the music became increasingly more important. This then grew into a total obsession and remains a religious conviction which we will now build on. Our initial musical intention was to make honest music that meant something and one which could resonate in your bones. Near the end it became totally and religiously necessary to do the album and the work, without really knowing why and without
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having a clue if anyone would really care or appreciate it. For better or worse its honest and not trying to be anything in particular. I want to ask you specifically about the song Red - it's quite different from the rest of the record in some respects and I love the female vocals. Who sung them? Great I will tell her you said so. Its sung by Agnes Erna Stefánsdóttir, she is a great and professional vocalist. She sings with an established (and very good) Icelandic indie act called LayLow. It's clear from the sound of the album that Kontinuum draw influences from a wide variety of different sources. Are there any other bands that you would say particularly inspired your sound? I could give you a huge list of bands. Like most the bands you fell in love with as a teenager really impact you as a listener and as a musician. I have to mention nineties black metal when it comes down to atmosphere. These are the usual suspects from Burzum, Ved Buens Ende, old Mayhem, old Emperor, Dissection, I was and still am a huge fan of that area. Those are the roots but since then there have been countless of influences metal, indie, electro and all over the place. After awhile they just merge into a one big pot and mix with what you want to say and what you are a musician. We don’t feel constrained by any particular genre. The current line up of Kontinuum is a strange mix of people with different background from hardcore, black metal and indie. You recently signed a deal with Candlelight. What's it like working with such a prestigious record label? It’s been great. It was important to us to work with people but not the label. We are happy with our contacts, very professional. Their A&R have great taste in my opinion and have impressed me at least with some recent signings (modestly excluding us of course). Zatokrev is amazing, it’s been a while since I heard something that heavy and good. Cold In Berlin is a provoking splash in the face of the old history of corpse painted black metal and stereotypical norms of what dark music sounds and looks like. I think Candlelight is becoming even more forward thinking and progressive. Then they have solid big names in the mix too. I like their diversity. We were lucky enough to have a few offers from labels, initially we were apprehensive of joining such a big label, being total nobodies. But we don’t regret it, on the contrary, we have had nothing but positive things to say about them and their attitude towards us.
A lot has been made of the fact that you're from Iceland which, apart from Solstafir and now Kontinuum, isn't too well known internationally for its metal bands. Is there much of a local scene that the rest of the world isn't aware of? Yes it seems Iceland is becoming some sort of brand. You might be missing Skálmöld, a viking metal band signed with Napalm. Word is their new album in October kills. Today there is a huge list of good bands. Momentum is an undiscovered diamond for any label, then there are the quality acts like Atrum, Angist, Dimma, Gone Postal, Muck, Norn, Svartidauði, all of which are very good and authentic. However, the undisputed kings of metal and the greatest source of inspiration I think for most if not all metal bands here, is HAM. Do yourself a favour and at least check them out. I would also mention some of the indie acts Dead Skeleton and Singapore Sling. And speaking of Iceland, do you think that the type of music you play has been influenced much by your natural surroundings? Hard to say. Of course surroundings matter but I have also lived abroad in different natural and social surroundings. I didn’t find that changed ideas or the musical direction at the time. What I think influences you to a larger extent is the society you grow up with, your peers and your personal character and experience in life. In my opinion, natural surroundings are only one factor and are often overly exaggerated. Do you have any plans to take Earth Blood Magic on the road and tour? We hope so, if people and bookers are interested we will. Our history is very short so people need to get a chance to discover it. Given our island isolation its takes a bit of an interest and to fly us all over. We can’t just jump into a van and drive to the next gig like on the mainland. Finally, what's next for Kontinuum? Any big plans for the future? We are rehearsing now with a new member and preparing a solid live performance. We want to be visible. We are also preparing for a video shoot and working on early demos on a possible EP release between full lengths. www.facebook.com/kontinuumice
e honest music that meant something and one “Our initial musical intention was to makona which could res te in your bones. “ ghost cult magazine | 17
Yann: Yes, all the feedback is positive, which is excellent. We are just beginning to promote the album, so we are waiting for more opinions later.
KLO NE French progressive/experimental metal outfit Klone is about to reveal their latest album, entitled “The Dreamer’s Hideaway”. Singer Yann Ligner and drummer Florent Marcadet were more than happy to share their views on the new Klone album, the artwork and musical influences... Words: Jody Mullen
You are just about to release your fourth album, 'The Dreamer's Hideaway'. Now that the album is finished and you've had a little time to reflect on it, how do you feel about it? Flo: At this moment, every member of Klone is extremely satisfied. We’ve worked for more than one year to create this new album. The audience and press will tell us if it’s good or not. We really hope that they will feel the emotion and go on a musical journey whilst listening to “The Dreamer’s Hideaway”. Today, all I can say is that we gave the best we could, so we have no regrets at all.
You worked with Sylvain Biguet and J.P. Bouquet on this record. Does their input show through on the final album? Yann: It's not Sylvain Biguet and J.P Bouquet but Franck Hueso with whom we worked. We have already worked with Franck Hueso on "Black Days". He is a really good guy, we've known each other for a long time. His vision of music is quite interesting and it suits us. We had a same idea of how we wanted "The Dreamer's Hideaway" to sound. His work was a great addition to ours. It flows perfectly. The artwork for your records is never less than stunning, but the cover of The Dreamer's Hideway is quite a departure from Black Days. Can you explain why you chose this image? Flo: The timeless aspect of the musical creation is very important, however each song grows in a context of real life. Black Days was an expression of our concrete experience and our suffering, and as a therapy, the music invites us to turn bad moments into something positive. I think the Black Days artwork highlights what was our state of mind at this period.
How do you think the new record fits with your previous work? Yann: First, we have the same line up, except Aldrick Guadagnino who joins us as a guitarist. So the sensibility stays pretty much identical and in the same time is in constant progression. Then, we wanted to reinvent, to renew. We don't want to make the same music we used to do. All this things contribute to the evolution of Klone. Is there an underlying theme - lyrically or musically - to The Dreamer's Hideaway? Yann: There's not a specific theme or concept. We wanted to do something different. What I had in mind was an idea of movement, motion, the fact that we wanted to pull away from the darkness of Black Days .. There are also some places, some landscapes which translate the tracks. It's a kind of guiding thread. The lyrics come only after the music and it's the music which gives meaning to words. In "The Dreamer's Hideaway", the songs are more varied, tempos are a little faster, and we use different tunings. You released the song "Rocket Smoke" as a preview of the new album, are you happy with how it has been received?
French metal scene seems to at th ink th I t bu g on wr be “ may gnised than before.” co re ly de wi d an al ot piv re be mo
Only A Dream Away Scratch the Surface | 18
Today, Klone has evolved. We’ll never compose completely joyful music but “The Dreamer’s Hideaway” is less dark. For me, the atmospheric music, the lyrics and the image gave us more freedom to bring what we want to the table. Each listener can build their own thoughts. This artwork brings colours, textures, symbols, feelings… but there’s no specific meaning. We just liked what comes out of it in the end-the eventual result. 2012 has been a big year for French metal with major new releases from Gojira, Gorod and Blut Aus Nord. How important is a strong domestic metal scene to aspiring musicians growing up in France today? Flo: Yes, there’s a true dynamic in France and it creates a diverse circle for every band. I may be wrong but I think that French metal scene seems to be more pivotal and widely recognised than before. Of course, Gojira are the best example of professionalism and there are a lot of very good bands in the “Hexagone”: Trepalium, Benighted, Hacride, Deathspell Omega, End, Gorod, Blut Aus Nord as you said… You know, I’m a drum teacher and sometimes young guys tell me that they want to do some shows and tours, release albums like us… Whatever the aura we have, even if we remain as a small band- to speak for the majority, I say that we have created something real and useful for them… Who were the biggest influences on your own development as musicians? Flo: Each member of the band stems from different musical scenes like metal, progressive, psychedelic rock, punk, hardcore, pop, grunge, jazz... As the biggest influences of Klone, we could name bands like Porcupine Tree, Alice In Chains, Down, Meshuggah, Neurosis, Karnivool, Pearl Jam… It’s not easy to explain our sound with words but we could say that we play heavy and progressive rock with a grooveesque touch. The Dreamer's Hideaway is your fourth album to date. What can we expect from Klone in the future? Flo: The passion grows with the time for each of us and we feel that the band constantly evolves artistically. I think that beautiful things are possible in the future. We keep our dreams intact and I trust Guillaume Bernard (guitar player) to create beautiful songs for ages. Also, the line up seems to be very strong, our booking agency is efficient; we work with good sound and light engineers… All the bands need a good team to build a solid project and in my view we have it! As a result, we are going to perform “The Dreamer’s Hideaway” on stage with our entire heart and soul put into every show. Each album is a new beginning and not an end in itself. We will do our best to make this musical story come alive as long as possible.
Klone - The Dreamer’s Hideaway (Klonosphere) 2012 has proven a vintage year for French metal so far. New records by Gojira, Gorod and Blut Aus Nord have set new musical benchmarks not only for the bands themselves but for their respective genres; never before has Gallic metal been in such rude health. “The Dreamer’s Hideaway”, the fourth fulllength album from Poitiersbased progressive outfit Klone, finds itself quite at home in such prestigious company. Klone’s core sound is dominated by precise, tightly syncopated riffs that slowly accrete into enormous, intricately constructed grooves. On top of these rhythmic superstructures lie strata of rich melody, complex vocal harmonies and an assortment of experimental flourishes; keyboards add lush depth and saxophone solos bring touch of jazzy smoothness to otherwise crushing tracks like ‘Walking on Clouds’. Much of “The Dreamer’s Hideaway” bears more than a passing resemblance to Tool’s later work in the way that grooves are constructed from mechanistic, almost repetitive components and in the vocal styling of lead singer Yann Ligner, strikingly similar to that of Maynard James Keenan. But though the LA group’s influence is plain, Klone put their own memorable spin on the format in a way that the Martin Lopez/Steve DiGiorgio supergroup Soen didn’t quite manage earlier this year with Cognitive. “The Dreamer’s Hideaway” is something of a Trojan horse; an unassuming record, easily accessible for those not fully initiated into the world of extreme metal but with enough depth to satisfy more seasoned prog veterans. Klone don’t do anything particularly new or innovative but the execution is impeccable and there’s plenty here that merits repeated listening. Klone haven’t quite reached the upper echelons of the pantheon of French metal gods but on current form, don’t bet against it happening with their next release. Jodi Mullen
And finally - you're scheduled to tour France later this year with Hacride and Trepalium. Are you looking forward to it? Flo : Of course, we’re looking forward to take the road with our friends Trepalium and Hacride. For the Klonosphère collective, it’s the best way to celebrate 10 years of musical activism. Personally, I joined Hacride for several months and this tour is going to be a good challenge for me. Then, we go on a European Tour with Gojira and Trepalium for one month. We’re very excited to open for one of the biggest names in the international metal scene. We couldn't hope for anything better than a tour of Europe due to the release of this new album-it's a real progression in our eyes-a sense of evolution. One more time, sharing our universe with the audience is going to be such an exciting experience www.kloneband.com
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Taking the Serpentine Path Words: Raymond Westland
One of the most exciting debut albums within the doom/death metal realm is the self titled effort by Serpentine Path. This outfit consists of (former) members from Electric Wizard, Ramesses and Unearthly Trance. Tim Bagshaw (guitar), Ryan Lipynsky (vocals) and Jay Newman (bass) were more than happy to share their views on the band’s origins, living on the road and the records that changed their lives.
Serpentine Path is a relatively new band. Can you shed some light on how you guys came together?
Congratulations on releasing such a strong album as “Serpentine Path”. Are you happy the way it came out?
Ryan Lipynsky: At the time when Serpentine Path first began, our other band Unearthly Trance was still going, so I very conscious to not do the same thing vocally in SP as UT. So I went with a more singular deathly growl, which is something I haven’t really done so much in any of my previous bands. Made sense as the band is deeper tuned, pitch black evil and slow as fuck. We set out to make the heaviest riffs and songs we could possibly create; just as we always have. We’ve just upped the ante, so to speak and we all think we achieved exactly what we set out to do!
Tim: Absolutely! The production is probably one of the best I’ve heard. The overall vibe on the record is one of total horror and disgust, which I thought was captured perfectly. I'm always going to have a few things that I would have liked to add or change after it’s finished, but on the whole this album is very rewarding to me indeed. Ryan Lipynsky: Yes, very pleased. Jay did a great job with the recording and its always rewarding when the band can record and produce its own album completely “in house”. I also think Collin Jordan at Boiler Room did a killer job with the mastering. Orion at Relapse did a perfect job conjuring the artwork ideas and the execution of it all. Jay Newman: Thanks, definitely pleased with the way the album came out.
Ryan Lipynsky: A while back we found out Tim was staying out in New Jersey [right outside of NYC] and eventually moved there. We thought it was the perfect time to do a project with him as we have been long friends going way back to the Electric Wizard/ Sons Of Otis/ Unearthly Trance “Mental Home” tour in 2002. This band has evolved very organically and it’s really just grown from an idea of “yeah let’s have a jam sometime!” all the way to a fully fledged and fully realized monster doom machine of death! Ha! What did you set out to achieve with the new album?
Jay Newman: Have fun, Create music we all enjoy. Make the heaviest record possible. What I really like about the album is the way you guys manage to craft something fresh and original in a fairly conservative subgenre. How do you see things?
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Ryan Lipynsky: Yes. I agree that “Death Doom” can be quite limited of a pallet musically, but all of us are musicians with enough experience to make sure what we do is first and foremost focused on good quality song writing and that we make sure we have a distinct sonic identity. I also think Serpentine Path does enough of things subtly that aren’t really like other bands of a similar ilk. Jay Newman: We just want to play the style that comes natural to us. We have all been playing Doom for over a decade and we don't really concern ourselves with what other bands are doing. How does the recording and creative process work within Serpentine Path? Ryan Lipynsky: Up until now Tim has first presented us with a rough demo idea of some riffs that he does at home with a drum machine. Then we kinda pick out the favorites of the bunch [he writes a ton of material!] and then the guys bang out the songs in the rehearsal space. After the songs are arranged and sorted, I belt out the lyrics I have written for each song at rehearsal and refine my ideas each time we play. Then the songs are formed! It is really a simple instinctual process and everything comes together very cohesively and without much debate. What do you think of the so-called “supergroup” tag? Do you think it applies for you guys? Ryan Lipynsky: I don’t like it. Most bands with that title usually fail to impress. I can think of a few examples right off the top of my head. This is a real band, not something just thrown together. What are the top 5 records that really changed your life as a person and a musician? Tim: Sabbath, Cathedral, Bolt Thrower, Burning Witch, Pentagram. Ryan Lipynsky: Black Sabbath – S/T, Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales, Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky, The Melvins – LYSOL/Houdini [tie] and Kiss – Alive! Jay Newman: The Melvins – Houdini, Sleep – Jerusalem, Neurosis Times of Grace, His Hero is Gone - Monument to Thieves, Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness.
Jay Newman: The Melvins - My absolute favorite band. Buzz and Dale can do no wrong. Hawkwind! Full line-up with Lemmy. ! Sleep - Amazing. Huge influence who I think really sums up the spirit of what the Roadburn Fest is all about. Neurosis - A favorite band. Their live intensity is unmatched Burning Witch - When first heard Crippled Lucifer it really raised the doom bar! One of the all time heaviest. I never had the chance to see them live. Grief - The undisputed heavyweights of American doom. Touring isn’t the healthiest life style around. How do you keep yourself in shape both mentally and physically? Tim: I know how difficult it is for bands to go on the road and stay sane let alone healthy, I stopped drinking about 2 years ago, so there's obviously a massive improvement in my general health! If we were going on a long tour with Serpentine I would probably invest in a portable DVD player, Haha! Ryan Lipynsky: It’s tough! Since I’m vegetarian I usually lose a couple of pounds after a tour is over. I would say don’t drink too much [not always possible] and make sure you each have some fresh fruit and vegetables whenever you get the chance. I should work out more on tour but it never happens. Haha I’ve always been one to take pleasure in loading and unloading the gear so that is a good part to use as a form of exercise. Jay Newman: Try to eat as healthy as you can and wash your ass. If you get hammered every night you'll feel like shit. Keep a positive frame of mind even when things get tough. Cooler heads prevail. What is next in terms of touring and other ventures? Ryan Lipynsky: Good question! Nothing planned as of now but who knows what the future will bring! I hope good things! Jay Newman: We have just recently made the addition of a second guitar player Stephen Flam of Doom Gods WINTER. We are more than excited to be playing with him and are looking forward to some live shows. www.facebook.com/serpentinepath
If you were the curator for the Roadburn Festival, which bands would you put on the bill and, more importantly, why? Ryan Lipynsky: Tough question! Hmm… Grief – I would love to see a reunion. I pick them because they are great guys and deserve it! Grief is a big influence on Serpentine Path and Unearthly Trance. The Melvins – One of my favorite bands of all time. Every time I see them play they put a huge smile on my face. Virus – Great band from Norway. I’ve been obsessed with “The Black Flux” since it came out. Spirit Caravan - One of my favorite bands Wino ever did behind The Obsessed. Since he’s open to the past, why not? Darkthrone – I know they never will play live again, but this is a hypothetical dream list right? Dax Riggs – He is one of my favorite singers and deserved to play big stages over here and overseas.
Serpentine Path out now via Relapse Records
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seeing with the soul Words: John Toolan
Djent is a relatively young subgenre within metal, but it’s getting old already. UK-based progressive metal outfit Monuments are one of the few exceptions to that rule. The band’s latest album, entitled “Gnosis”, is one of best releases in their particular field. Vocalist Matt Rose was more than happy to share his thoughts on the latest album, the origin of the album title, different musical influences and the eye catching artwork. How have you managed to keep the music of Monuments so fresh and original sounding in an arena where “djent” has been used as a template to such an extent for many bands? I think what keeps it fresh is the diverse musical tastes within the band. Only a couple of us really listen to a lot of Metal, the rest are all listening to Jazz, Funk, Soul , Fusion Jazz, Hip Hop, Drum N Bass, Dubstep, the list goes on and on. My point is this is the reason we may sound fresh and original because we don't all pay much attention to the music genre that we make. Do any members of the band find the characterisation of music into genres, such as “djent” frustrating, or, as some would argue, does it help the consumer search out music that they may not have otherwise discovered?
It helps the consumer for sure but we really don't pay any attention to genres. We don't mind the word Djent but we also don't really give a fuck. What inspired you to come up with the term “Gnosis” as a concept for the album? Adam Swan (Bass) came up with the idea of calling it Gnosis. It means a higher level of knowledge through intuition and is a word which we felt best described the album. I’ve seen the process of releasing “Gnosis” be described as being “stuck in production hell”, how true is that statement? Very true though it wasn’t stuck in production hell it was just stuck. We finished writing it in August 2010 but we had no vocalist to complete the album until November 2011 when we found Matt Rose. I described the addition of Matt Rose on vocals as bringing a soulful yet brutal quality to the music, particularly as his background has incorporated jazz, drum n’ bass and funk. How did this collaboration come about, and was it a conscious decision to use these influences? The collaboration came about when Mel Schmidt from Century Media saw Matt at a Qemists show, which is Matt’s other band. She then thought it was a good idea for Matt to meet Monuments and the rest is history. As far as it being a conscious decision to use these influences I can tell you it was definitely an unconscious decision, in fact there was not even a decision we just did what we felt sounded good again that leads back into the title Gnosis.
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Sterile?! I would never describe our albums production as sterile. A lot of very creative musicianship and hard work went into making this album. Browne is a perfectionist so he would play things until they were right, the same goes for the vocals. There are individual mixes for each song to cater for what each song needed as some songs are in different guitar tunings, so a lot of thought went into every aspect of the mix. It is refreshing to see an album with a traditional total playing time of 40-odd minutes which ensures that none of the tracks “outstay their welcome”. Was this deliberate? NO but we are aware that the male attention span is on average only 3m and 30sec.
Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph (Candlelight Records)
The third album from Manchester's arch misanthropes in residence (well, they now live in more rural Derbyshire, but whatever), the increasingly impressive Winterfylleth is another step forward in the bands development and evolution. The “Threnody of Triumph” is a bleak, challenging and often cantankerous record: easy to admire, if sometimes a little bit harder to unequivocally love. Winterfylleth are not a band that you come to lightly: their music and art is often densely packed and full of ambition. There is a breadth to their artistic vision that takes the sonic architecture of old school black metal and then furnishes it with a rich tapestry of ideas, aural, political and philosophical. This is a band with a passionate interest in, and a pronounced understanding of, the role of the rural idyll in the English artistic imagination and of death as part of the collective European mindset and consciousness. The “Threnody of Triumph” is a concept album that deals with death. This is a black metal album of stirring ambition and execution. It's a record brimming with confidence, wherein the band take their dark, unerring vision and imbue it with a wider creative ambition that envelopes post rock, folk and even tranquil melancholy.
Could you tell us something about how the cover art to the album came about as I believe this element to an album's release can often be ignored in the age of the download? The cover art is as much a part of the album as the music, we wanted to represent our music visually and we feel what Matthew Fall Mckenzie has done achieves this. People who haven't seen the artwork in its entirety, i.e. the album booklet inside, should definitely buy a copy just to have a look what Fall came up with. The man is a genius. www.facebook.com/thisismonuments
Over the course of some 65 minutes the band take the listener through a pretty epic journey that is, by turns, harrowing, frightening, beguiling, horrific, plaintive, euphoric and bewitching. Take a close listen to ‘The Swart Raven’, for example. What at first listen might appear to be a fairly standard black metal track soon reveals itself to be a much more skilful, far more immersive and threatening, as all dark art should be. Elsewhere, ‘The Glorious Plain’ has a stark brutal quality to it that at first feels unwelcoming and cold but over time becomes that itch that you need to continue to scratch, such is its beguiling nature. Right across the record, you get a real sense that the band have set out to stretch themselves artistically and emotionally with the album. The musicianship is tight and caustic, the vocals are brutal and tranquil by turns. Another impressive element to this record is the overall production. Unlike many black metal records it doesn’t sound like it has been recorded at the bottom of a public toilet. On the contrary, this is a clean and expansive sounding record where you can hear the subject matter properly. This is a very good thing indeed, given the record’s complexity and diversity. Thematically rich, relentlessly dark and evocative, the “Threnody of Triumph” will likely see Winterfylleth cement their position as one of Europe's premier black metal outfits. The record’s widescreen creativity and artistic vision may also see the band break out of the notoriously internecine underground scene and achieve a wider artistic recognition that, should it come, will be deserved. Mat Davies
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HEXVESSEL The Call Of Nature wORDS: RAYMOND WESTLAND
One of the more enigmatic records that came across my desk is “No Holier Temple“ by Hexvessel. It’s not metal in, but its music is near perfect blend of progressive rock, folk music and psychedelica. The band’s main man Mat Kvohst was more than happy to share his thoughts on the importance of his lyrics, the impact of nature and his former affiliations with Code and Dodheimsgard.
The lyrics on “No Holier Temple” revolve around the occult, pagan themes and nature worship. What do you find so inspiring about those subjects and what do they mean to you as a person?
Congrats on releasing such a strong album as “No Holier Temple”. Are you happy the way it came out?
“No Holier Temple” is a near perfect blend of folk music, psychedelia and progressive rock. How did you manage to get the right balance between the aforementioned influences?
Thanks. Yes I am. It wouldn't have been released if I wasn't :) I'm an all or nothing person. If the album wasn't the way I wanted it to turn out, I would have shelved it. It's been a great journey and one worth making with good friends. We've been to the land of the dead, through the forest and inside the universe. We brought back an album with us.
They mean everything to me. Nature is the only thing we know. We're all made of the same things, from stars and the ancient cosmos. We know that. That's completely magical. We're one and the same and the universe is our great cosmic mother. For me it's something to worship and be continually renewed and enlightened by. Inspiration should come from deep inside and true inspiration to me is more like enlightenment, not just being influenced by what's happening in fashion and the world around you. So I go to primal influences now when trying to create my music. I don't want to muddy the water with anything manmade. It's better to ape the universe than apes.
We didn't try to get that balance and I think that's the point. It's within us. The music is the culmination of our love, our shared road through life. It's more about making sure what you put down is true and honest and pure. Then the balance will be right. We're into things on a much more cosmic level than just sitting down and wondering “hmm, does
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this have enough AC/DC or should we add a bit more Black Sabbath to this track?” Can you tell something about the recording process? We record live, with some mics and a good engineer called Kimmo, at a studio called Space Junk in Tampere, Finland. We're very relaxed, but a little excited when in the studio. You for us it's a dream to find each other and to be there recording – that's where we excel and what life is about for us. I think, dream, sleep and eat music and so the recording studio experience is just like Disneyland to a poor child for me. When I was a kid, going to a recording studio was a rare thing. They cost so much. The tapes were expensive and so you had like 1 or 2 days max and absolutely no control of how it would turn out. It's great now when you go to a studio and know that the sky is the limit, especially when you have the perfect band with you. When you’re working on new material to which extent do you do this to satisfy your own creative needs versus pleasing your fanbase? I never had a fanbase with Hexvessel! So I never cared what anyone else wants from the stuff we're making. I guess now we do, but we're not the usual genre band so I think people want to be surprised by us and taken on new journeys. I won’t release something mediocre or bland. I always need to do something different, so I think that the fans should just get used to that. Your own creative needs as an artist come first, always. It's bonus if people connect with what you're doing, but disappointment, criticism and failure are all part of art and necessary in my opinion. How can one succeed without the concept of failure? To which extent is Hexvessel a solo project versus a real band? Hexvessel is a band but it's my band. It's Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. Hexvessel and The Death Magicians. It's a flux. It's one and many. It's a concept. You can all be a Hexvessel. Like a biker gang. It has a leader, but many members who can come and go as they please. You were a part of both Dodheimgard and Code, both bands with blazing guitars and very experimental edge. In what way have they shaped you as a musician and would you ever be interested in joining a full blown (black) metal project again? I learnt a lot from those bands, both what I want to do and what I don't want to do. It taught me recording, mixing, producing and most importantly how to lead a band and compose music. I owe very much to two people: Vicotnik and Aort. Those two guys helped me to understand a lot about composing and structure and music and life, both in their different ways. It's a feeling rather than anything else, that I created and contributed to some very good albums with both bands and that I don't need to do anything else there. I would just be covering old ground. Hexvessel was the next logical step for me. If I would return to Black Metal then I would have to feel that there was something creative to get out of it, some new ground to cover and explore. I need to be pushing the boundaries and right now I think Black Metal is not a music genre that's alive with creativity. Perhaps it will come around again, but for now I think it's stagnating. USBM is having a small party, but I don't want to join that. I think in general USBM is mega lame. There are a couple of cool bands like Negative Plane – but I don't consider them a part of that genre – they're more European sounding. You relocated to Finland back in 2009. How does the impressive Finish nature influence you as a person and musician?
It's where the heart is. It's home. Finland has it right. Vast country with few people. More trees than people is the way to go. It's not so much about how free I feel here as opposed to how trapped and sick I get in a big city now. You have to have nature around you. It's not just for inspiration, it's a necessity. What is next in terms of touring and possible other ventures? We're planning a European tour. Hopefully we'll set up our festival in support of the nature protection charity we support here. We're also working on our 3rd album. www.facebook.com/hexvessel
Primitive Weapons – The Shadow Gallery (Prosthetic Records)
Trying to classify Primitive Weapon’s genre is a tricky task. Are they metalcore? Are they post metal? Are they progressive post hardcore with metallic leanings? The answer is all of the above…and more.On their debut album, “The Shadow Gallery”, the New Yorkers establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with, bringing a fresh, original sound to a scene that’s oversaturated with auto tuned vocals and generic breakdowns. Placing Primitive Weapon amongst the rank of other ‘metallic post hardcore’ acts such as Asking Alexandria or Capture the Crown would be wrong, rather it would be more accurate to compare their sound to Canada’s KEN Mode or Sweden’s Cult of Luna. The band brings dissonant and irregular musical stylings, injects it with some post metal sensibility then tops it off with beefy (and very catchy) riffing. Track one, ‘Good Hunting’ is a prime example of this, beginning with an infectious drum roll and some odd industrial noise, the song launches into one hell of a groovy riff (I’ll admit I caught myself banging my head). Song number three, ‘The Death of Boredom’ has a Converge like intensity, conveyed by the track’s chaotic guitar work and singer David Castillo’s throat shredding vocals. ‘Big Chief’ slows things right down, and introduces a spacey, ambient element to the music, while still maintaining the intensity established at the beginning of the album. Closing track, ‘Black Funds’ opens with a unapologetically heavy (and drool worthy) bass riff, digresses into a creepy, dissonant midsection dominated by an angular guitar riff and the repeated lyrics ‘You’re wrong’ and then finishes by slowly deconstructing the song, fading out the instruments and introducing eerie sound effects and noise into the mix. With the final seconds of ‘Black Funds’, “The Shadow Gallery” comes full circle, and finishes with a hazy, uncertain and slightly disconcerting atmosphere, much like the beginning of the album. “The Shadow Gallery” is an excellently produced album, and I must give extra credit to the amazing bass tone on this album. My one gripe however, is the dense, wall of sound type layering with the instruments and additional sound effects/noise. While this initially works to the band’s favour, I found it went from being bone crushingly dense and intriguing to downright overwhelming throughout the course of a few songs. While it was an enjoyable, I did find that it lacked emotion overall. “The Shadow Gallery” offered brief moments of sorrowful melody (i.e the intro to ‘Big Chief’) and genuine conviction (the vocals in ‘Quitter’s Anthem’) the album never managed to engage me in a profound, meaningful way. So there you have it, “The Shadow Gallery”, and intelligent and original album for those of you who want to bang your head and maybe throw an arm or two around. Brayden Bagnall
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BACK FROM THE GRAVE WORDS: RAYMOND WESTLAND
Swedish death metal outfit Grave just released another solid album in the form of “Endless Procession Of Souls”. Drummer Ronnie Bergenstahl was more than happy to share his views on the latest album, the status of his band and line-up changes. Congrats on releasing such a strong album as “Endless Procession Of Souls”. Are you satisfied with your latest release? Thanks a lot. We're extremely happy with the new album and as far as I know the album's got really good response both in the press and from our fans so I’m very pleased.
How did the creative and recording process for "Endless..." differ from previous experiences? This was a band effort, compared to the last 2 albums which Ola and I wrote everything for plus recorded ourselves. Tobias and I met in the rehearsal place and got the basic structure for those 2 songs listed above plus began on at least 1 more, which I think was Amongst Marble and the Dead. Ola eventually joined us and we finished writing the album very fast. The recording process went really smooth with the drums first of all. It took me 4 days I think to do my parts, after that Tobias did his bass lines in 2 or 3 days. When he was done we took a break for almost 4 months due to that we had to move out from the old place and actually build a completely new studio from scratch! Ola did the rhythm guitars at home in between building the studio so the whole process took a long time but efficient time in the studio I’d say maximum 2-3 weeks.
When the band started to work on new material for the current album, what was the mindset within the band and what did you want to achieve?
Grave is regarded as one of the premier Swedish old school death metal bands. Does this "status" give any pressure when the band is working on new material because you have to deliver?
As always, just to try to make the best album we can at the moment. It's not rocket science to write Grave tunes, hahaha. When we got the first 2 songs done, I think it was Perimortem and Passion of the Weak, we just took off.
Not at all, I mean, we wouldn't release anything that we feel doesn't cut it so to say. We have to be 100% satisfied about the songs otherwise it would be a huge waste of time. But pressure, nah, not at all. We know that we do what we do very well, so no need to worry.
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Grave's particular brand of death metal is pretty much set in stone. How do you manage to find new angles to keep things fresh and interesting for yourself as a musician? For some reason it works, don't ask me how but it does. Sure, there are certain notes or chord progressions that you use a lot more than others but that's what defines the Grave sound in my opinion. You just have to find that twist and angle time after time and we seem to do that hahaha. It's not that important for us to develop as musicians, you know, to push ourselves technically and stuff like that. As long as the songs are good and it sounds like Grave, we're happy. You guys went through the motions as far as line-up changes go. Do you see it as a negative thing or perhaps one of the key factors why Grave still sound fresh and inspired? The last line-up change has been all for the good. This is by far the best and most inspired line-up since I joined the band in 2006. Tobias and Mika are two extremely good musicians and their live performances are filled with energy, something that we've maybe lacked the last couple of years. I've been told that watching Grave these days compared to some year ago, it's like a new band... and it is in a way but they gave both Ola and me a kick in the butt to work harder live. There seems to be a sort of retro trend within metal that goes along with a growing appreciation for all things old school. Is this something you notice as well and how does this benefit Grave? If you with retro mean only the music I’m with ya... Unfortunately there are bands that tend to think that with retro the recordings have to sound like shit and you have to look like a fucken hobo, then it doesn't benefit us at all! It's the 2000 for fucks sake, not the 70's, 80's or 90's for that matter. I hear all the time that "ohh, the first demo is the best... bla bla bla..." Well, it sounds that way 'cause the guys couldn't tune the guitars and the equipment in the studio wasn't that good but hey, that was back then. This is what we sound like today. It's also strange how people are so narrow minded that some only listen to death metal, or only to black metal... Grow a pair and look outside the box and you'll see that it's not dangerous to explore some other stuff that's NOT retro. Some time ago Grave played at the Into The Grave festival in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. You guys played the Into the Grave album as a whole. How did that came around and how did it feel to revisit that album? We didn't play the whole album at that festival but we did build our set list around it. Last summer we did the whole album at some festivals and we did the same on our US headline tour a year ago. It was fun but after like 15-20 shows it gets kinda boring, especially when you feel that some of the songs don't really work that well live, like the song "Haunted." I hardly think we'll do anything like that again though with any of the other albums. Into The Grave was THE album that started Grave's career so that's why we wanted to celebrate the album! It was received very well on the shows to say the least.
Hahaha, by drinking. ;-) Nah I’m just kiddin'. Uhm... It's not that hard as all of us really love to tour but of course, there's lots of boring and dull moments, especially when you headline... All the waiting. We try to go on sightseeing as much as we can, at least Tobias and I. Just to get away from the bus or the venue for the evening can help you a lot if you feel bored. Time for the final question. What is next in terms of touring and other projects? A short European headline tour starting September 5th, and then straight off to the US to do a month long tour with Morbid Angel and Dark Funeral. We have some other stuff booked for next year already so stay tuned for that.
Weapon – Embers and Revelations (Relapse Records) With a name as blunt and menacing as Weapon, it’s pretty obvious what’s on offer here. Add that to the devilish album art featuring skulls, wolves, snakes and arcane symbolism and it’s pretty obvious that this Canadian quartet isn’t fucking around. Following on from 2010’s well received “From the Devil’s Tomb”, Weapon have unleashed a truly menacing instrument of destruction that should lay waste to the competition with ease. A crunching mid-paced riff cuts through the muted shades in album opener ‘The First Witnesses of Lucifer’ before going hell for leather in an all-out assault on the ears. Snaking melodies reminiscent of Melechesh wrap around the charred black/death metal riffing, with the rigid and unmerciful blasting of drummer The Disciple taking no prisoners. A sense of malevolent grandeur possesses ‘Vanguard of the Morning Star’ with vocalist/guitarist Vetis Monarch belching forth his sermons with frightful vigour as the rapid tremolo-picking and swirling solos up the intensity levels to a warlike cadence. Pinch harmonics flair up during the skull-crushing stomp of ‘Crepuscular Swamp, Unhinged Swine’, calling to mind Morbid Angel in their prime before the compressed, hate-filled black metal of ‘Liber Lilith’ leaves you helpless in the heat of battle as yet more billowing solos and percussive battery pile on the fury. The instrumental ‘Grotesque Carven Portal’ may clock in at under three minutes, but still manages to pack in some disgustingly strong melodic leads from Monarch but the respite is only brief as the title track arrives to tear you asunder with its furious, Behemoth style blitzkrieg. ‘Disavowing Each in Aum’ sucks you into a storm-filled vortex as the galloping refrains threaten to overwhelm the senses entirely before loosening their grip only to toss you onto the jagged spines of its choppy, grinding end-section. Final track ‘Shahenshah’ pits the vengeful ghost of Dissection against the brute force of Vader and revels in the carnage wrought. The short running time of “Embers and Revelations works to its advantages, opting for a melee rather than a long drawn out campaign, and the results are devastating. Monarch’s skill with his axe elevates Weapon to a higher rank entirely and demands their presence in any self-respecting extreme metal fan’s arsenal. Essential. James Conway
How do you keep your sanity while being on the road?
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Your music is very hard to put into any specific genre – how would you therefore describe the music of Krakow?
krakow Ghost Cult’s own Matt Spall was pretty impressed with the latest Krakov album, entitled “Dinn”. Bassist Frode Kilvik was more than happy to shed his light on the origins of his band, their place in the atmospheric/post metal scene, and sources of inspiration How did the band originally get together, and why did you choose the name ‘Krakow’? The band got together in 2005, when me and Kjartan wanted to start a rock n roll band, at this point a certain René was also eager to play in a band, and when the three of us came together in Kjartan's apartment it was done. It is always hard to find a band name, one of the first name ideas was "Peter Sellers and the Dead Metal Heads".... Anyway, once at rehearsal we were discussing philharmonic orchestras, and then I said "Krakow", and it stuck. It is a good name I believe, easy to remember and it gets people interested in the band right away. As time went by we learned the legend of Krakow, about the prince and the dragon, which we thought made the name even better. When you started the band, what/who was your inspiration and what did you set out to achieve musically? Originally we wanted to play rock n' roll, we all loved bands like Guns N' Roses, Alice In Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss etc. The inspiration came from the childhood dream of touring and recording albums, and I guess that was the goal, to actually go on tour, meet a lot of people, make records and have fun.
We try to describe and/or make certain feelings with the music, we want to make the listener feel anger, despair, joy or any other strong feeling when he/she puts on an album or goes see us live. We give a lot of ourselves in the music and lyrics. Krakow is A Wall of Sound. What makes Krakow different from any other band currently in the rock/metal scene? Hard to answer this without sounding like an asshole, but I believe that we have found a unique sound that doesn't sound like any other band. You can of course compare us to other acts, but we have our own sound. Most of the bands around you can't even tell apart. Do you worry if people try to categorise your music inaccurately? Not at all, people are different, and people feel Krakow differently. Most people categorise us as Post Rock or Post Metal, which I think is accurate. But if you call it Stoner, Doom or Metal I wouldn't hold that against you. What are you most proud about with the album ‘Diin’? The songs and the production are really good; the cover art is unbelievable great. The vocals sound beautiful and possessed. I'm most proud to be a part of this album. What are the lyrical themes on ‘Diin’, and what does ‘Diin’ mean? The lyrics are about fear and eerie feelings, at least that was what I intended them to be about. The lyrics are from the darkest place in our minds, and when I write I tend to "disappear" in those extreme feelings. "Diin" comes from the English word "din" which means a loud, continuous noise. We added the extra "i" because we felt the pronunciation sounded better...
The dark side of the minadkow is A Wall of Sound.
and lyrics. Kr ic s u m e th in s e lv e s r We give a lot of ou
Words: Matt Spall
How do you write your music, and where does your inspiration come from? When we started to write our own material it somehow went in the Kyuss direction, stoner rock, and that developed even further when we got Black Metal elements in the mix. Also as our music developed, and people started to compare us to other artists, each of us discovered new (old) bands. As we listened to new stuff we wanted to make similar music, or it might push us to find our own niche. We write music either together, or individually. But, if say René comes with a song, me, Kjartan and Ask have to get our sound/ideas in it, so basically we work together as a unit. A lot of the inspiration comes from things happening around us, life basically, you get ups and downs, and in those extreme opposites we get very creative. Your music is very atmospheric – is the atmosphere the most important part of your music, or is it something else? It is very important, because we want to take the listener on a journey, tell a story, or even better let the listener make up their own story with us being the soundtrack. We have no political or religious agenda; we just want to make you uneasy, restless, loved, scared and so on. What does the future hold for Krakow, both in the short-term and the long-term? Do you plan to tour in support of this new album? First of all we are going on a Norwegian tour with Enslaved then we head for Europe in December. We also want to tour Europe next spring, we'll see what happens. In the future I see us recording another album and keep on touring, hopefully a US tour ain't far away. www.facebook.com/krakowband
Krakow - Diin (Dark Essence Records) Norwegian quartet, Krakow, do their absolute utmost to defy categorisation and for that, they deserve much praise. However, it is for that very reason that I find “Diin”, their sophomore fulllength release, ultimately flawed. There is an odd juxtaposition going on here that I find a little disconcerting and hard to articulate. On my first listen, I was intrigued as it felt like there was a lot going on and therefore much to explore. However, after repeated listens, I don’t seem to be as enamoured as I was initially, with the compositions failing to offer up as much as I hoped and thereby maintain my interest. The core sound of Krakow sits squarely within the sphere of postmetal but this classification can cover a multitude of delights, or sins, depending on the output. In Krakow’s case, they infuse their metal with swathes of stoner rock, lots of atmosphere and ambient flourishes. The approach occasionally verges on discordance, particularly when things get more aggressive, accentuated somewhat by a decidedly jangly guitar tone at the centre of the sound. At times, as with the riffing in the crazy, faster-paced ‘Possessed’, there’s also an element of progressive rock whilst the Bergen crew demonstrate an understanding of dynamics with a good use of lighter passages giving way to greater aggression and vice versa. On paper therefore, there appears much to explore. However, aside from two genuine stand-out tracks, I find myself feeling let down and a little unsatisfied. The twelve-minute-plus epic ‘Mound’ is a swirling and hypnotic track with plenty of melody in the closing stages whilst the follow-up cut, ‘Mark Of Cain’ employs some really lovely lead guitar work to add more immediacy to proceedings. These though, are the two highlights in an otherwise pretty average album that fails for the most part to live up to its billing. Part of the problem perhaps lies in the fact that Krakow are sharing a scene that is currently close to bursting and as such, need to pull something amazing out of the bag to get properly noticed. On the strength of ‘”Diin”, there is some way to go, but there are a few promising signs nestled deep within if you’re prepared to listen hard enough. Matt Spall
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Zatokrev ENTER THE E L C R I C S U O I VIC di Mullen Words: Jo
Switzerland has a proud tradition of forward thinking and experimental metal bands. Bands like Celtic Frost, Triptykon, Samael, and Coroner pushed the creative envelope in their own unique ways. Zatokrev is another ensemble with a distinct experimental edge. Ghost Cult’s own Jodi Mullen sat down with singer/guitarist Frederyck Rotter as they talked extensively about the new album, its concept and the band’s numerous influences.
First of all, congratulations on the release of The Bat, The Wheel and A Long Road to Nowhere. Are you happy with how it has been received by fans? Thank you. Yea, quite happy about the good reactions. Anyway it's great that this bastard is released finally. You're probably asked this a lot but can you explain how the album got its name? It's 3 metaphors. The Bat constitutes kind of an inner voice speaking out of darkness, The Wheel is kind of a vicious circle, and A Long Road To Nowhere is to where the vicious circle is leading you. It shows a parallel to the past years for me, personally, and somehow it also shows the long and stony way how this new album has been created.
years ago. I was searching for somebody who could bring that vision to paper so I got in touch with Marcel Szerdahelyi who was really into it from the beginning and he very understood how to draw the story of the nine songs from the album. So the songs are telling the story behind the artwork. If you wanna read the lyrics you can check it on the web at www.zatokrev.com/tbtwaalrtn Maybe that will help to understand. Do you feel that TBTWAALRTN offers something different to your earlier work or is it more of a natural evolution for you?
The album cover art is pretty amazing and scary too. Is there a story behind it?
I feel it really more like a natural evolution, because the music arises from the same energy as ever. You can hear it's still Zatokrev, but with more variations, dynamics and love for the details. It's much more melodic and groovy anyway, it has still Zatokrev's old, heavy and dark undertone. We always wanted to develop our skills further, so for sure no album will ever sound the same.
The artwork is made by a friend of mine, who's an amazing artist. I had the idea of that long title and a drawing in my head already about 5
You made a video for "Goddamn Lights" with Lionel Weitnauer. Can you tell us a little more about it?
“Actually the early sounds from Smashing Pumpkins made me begin to play the guitar, but when I started to create my own songs it was usually slow and heavy.” ghost cult magazine | 30
We wanted to create something very simple but anyway something with a certain depth that had to fit to the song. We only had a small budget so we rented 2 cameras at a culture office here in Basel for a very low price. The clip has been recorded in nature and on a stage with a strong light show. We worked with a light technician who already perfectly knew the song, to make the pictures as intense as possible. Lionel spent a lot of time and passion and during the shootings he started to create new and own visions. He really made the best possible video out of the possibilities we had. We are really happy with that simple but very epic, in terms of colours intense and beautiful result. It should show kind of a battle between humans' origin and the goddamn lights that constitute a sort of human dazzlement. How much of an influence do "sludge" bands like Neurosis and Eyehategod have on Zatokrev's music? Sure bands like Neurosis, Eyehategod, Crowbar and many others had an influence when Zatokrev were created 10 years ago, but we also also felt close to various Stoner, Psychedelic, Black/Death Metal, Ambient, Rock, Hardcore or Pop music. Actually the early sounds from Smashing Pumpkins made me begin to play the guitar, but when I started to create my own songs it was usually slow and heavy. That was before I knew all those "Sludge" and "Doom" bands. I grew up in a very small Swiss farming village. There was no chance to discover modern, alternative metal music, that all came later. The slow and heavy grooves are inborn and it will certainly stay Zatokrev's basis in a way. Does the name "Zatokrev" have any special meaning? It's two words in one in Czech language, my mother tongue. It's taken from one of the very first Zatokrev songs that have ever been created. The track is called "...Zato Krev", you can find it on our debut album. It's a part of the first verse and it means as much as "...for it blood". It's a bit abstract and seems free interpretable. For me, personally, it says that I'm creating this music with all my love and passion. I'm kinda spending my life blood for it. Switzerland has produced more than a few bands who could be classed as "experimental" - Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Samael. Do you consider yourselves part of the same tradition? I don't really know. We are just doing our thing, so in regard of that we could say maybe yes, we wanna go our own and honest way like these bands did. But in my world it's hard to make such parallels between the bands because in the end every band has its own story, experience, dynamic and its sense for their own creation. And the word experimental can be explained in many different ways anyway, so I can't really give a clear answer to that. What does your touring schedule look like for the next few months? We're planning a short Germany/Scandinavia tour in October, but not sure yet if it will happen. In November we will tour in Germany. Next year in March we wanna tour in the UK and later across different parts of Europe. It was quite a while between the release of Bury The Ashes and The Bat, The Wheel and A Long Road to Nowhere. Will we have to wait as long for a new album next time? I hope not! Really think that we for the moment have a pretty strong and creative line-up and we already work on the next album. So let's hope it will come to a point a bit earlier this time.
Zonaria - Arrival of the Red Sun (Listenable Records) The city of Umeå in northern Sweden has given the metal world a great deal to be thankful for; Meshuggah, Cult of Luna, Naglfar and now Zonaria. The melodic death metallers originally burst on to the scene with two successive releases in 2007 and 2008, only to fade into obscurity just as quickly as they had appeared. “Cancer Empire”, the band’s sophomore album, hinted at great things to come and now, four years later, Zonaria have made a triumphant – and unexpected - return with a new record, “Arrival of the Red Sun” that fully realises all of that early potential. “Arrival of the Red Sun” is an enormously accomplished release that drags the Swedish hard melodeath template laid down by Hypocrisy the better part of two decades ago kicking and screaming into the modern era. It’s really rather heavy, with an almost relentless pace, but all this ferocity is tempered by spectacular harmonised dual guitar parts, sparingly used subtle keyboard work that adds atmosphere and depth, and even the occasional breakdown and rousing choruses. It’s this augmented sound that sets Zonaria apart from their genre contemporaries, in much the same way as The Human Abstract’s “Digital Veil” did last year, though the Swedish band have an undeniably harder edge. The title track opens the record strongly and brings into play nearly all of the elements that makes “Arrival of the Red Sun“such a treat. The symphonic keyboards turn a textbook Hypocrisy riff into a grandiose proclamation of intent that isn’t a million miles removed from the sweeping atmospherics of Dissection, or even Dimmu Borgir. ‘Silent Holocaust’ showcases some impressive vocal gymnastics, with frontman Simon Berkland alternating between impressive growled, screamed and clean singing. Drumming, courtesy of Emanuel Isaksson is jaw-droppingly precise and together with Max Malmer’s low end work forms a pugilistic rhythmic framework that propels the record forward. The real treats lie further in with ‘Desert Storm’, a brutal thrash-inspired beast with some absolutely devastating riffs, and ‘My Vengeance Remains’, which pushes the intensity through the roof with a tidal wave of intricately layered keys and guitars. There’s a couple of weaker tracks, including the closer ‘Face My Justice’, but by then Zonaria have more than driven the message home; this is one of the best melodic death metal records you’re likely to hear this year. Jodi Mullen
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The Call Of Arkhamin Kirjasto Words: Raymond Westland
Thereâ€™s something brewing in the Finnish underground and every now and then thereâ€™s a new band rearing its ugly head. One of the more interesting formations is Arkhamin Kirjasto, who just released an album full of Lovecraft inspired death and roll. Guitarist Jussi Lehtisalo was more than happy to give his thoughts on the origins of Arkhamin Kirjasto, his fascination for Lovecraft and Finnish underground metal. Before we start with the interview can you shed some light on the origins of Arkhamin Kirjasto? I met Samae Koskinen a few years ago and our shared enthusiasm for heavy metal and Lovecraft sparked us to form a band. When listening to your debut I hear influences ranging Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to Entombed, but also some nifty rock nâ€™ roll grooves. This gives the album a nice diverse edge. How do you see things?
Yes, we have been influenced exactly by the bands you mention. I myself have missed groove and swing in metal, as I am a big fan of hard rock, 80's metal, hair metal and AOR. I have always liked the speedy lightness of rock 'n' roll and perhaps been avoiding the heaviness and slowness of the metal bands a bit. I saw Judas Priest's Turbo tour in 1986 and Iron Maiden several times in the 80's, and those gigs were a huge inspiration to me and inspired me to listen to music in the first place. In the end of 80's and in the 90's I got interested in free jazz, psychedelic and avant garde music and eventually found my way to German Krautrock. German bands like epic Popol Vuh, motoric and groovy Can and industrial avant garde band Faust made a huge impression on me, not forgetting the French prog monster Magma. I'm sure all these experiences have influenced the sound of Arkhamin Kirjasto (The Library of Arkham). Samae Koskinen is more a death metal fan (Morbid Angel, Nihilist...), but he does like 80's metal, like Iron Maiden, Kiss and Judas Priest, a lot as well. How does the creative process work within Arkhamin Kirjasto? Most of the music we compose is based on riffs. We make a bunch of riffs and stitch them together. Samae plays the drum tracks and we start blasting guitars and base lines on top of that, and we write the vocals last. We record the music at a summer cottage by the sea, and go to sauna between recording sessions, watch movies and play the Arkham Horror board game. What do you find so inspiring about Lovecraft?
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I got excited about Lovecraft when I read the book The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927) 20 years ago. I am interested in the Cthulhu mythos, the Great Old Ones, the Bloop and the unconscious and abstraction of art in general. Things that are beyond our understanding and perception are fascinating and that's what music is about!
Arkhamin Kirjasto - Torches Ablaze (Ektro Records)
Can you tell something about Ektro Records? Ektro Records is my record label that lives its own, independent life by releasing all kinds of music. Sometimes it confuses even me with its release policy and I hope Ektro will do what major record labels do not dare or want to do. It gives a voice to diverse world of music without elevating one band, genre or style over the others. All music has its own, exciting traits and the ones that are relevant today are often dispensable tomorrow. You guys are active in several different formations, like Circle and Pharaoh Overlord. How you do combine this with any possible obligations with Arkhamin Kirjasto? None of my bands are active all the time and we prioritize our activities to fit our schedules. For example Arkhamin Kirjasto takes all of my time right now and it looks like that will keep me busy quite a while. Finland has a very rich metal tradition and it’s even considered a legitimate art form in your country, unlike many other countries. What are your views on this? I am mostly interested in underground metal, which lives in its own world. The most interesting ideas come from the underground, and the ideas will get borrowed to the mainstream, popularized and all humanity is over-produced out of it. Rough rock 'n' roll is easily lost and replaced by more synthetic expression, which I am not interested in. In Finland metal music is seen as an export, which makes it widely accepted. I myself am interested in the artistic values of music, not making money out of it. How do you guys get by in these days of declining album sales? It’s financially more difficult to run a record label, but that makes it more challenging and interesting to get even a few people interested in intriguing underground artists. I myself buy now more records than ever, because it is a fascinating hobby. Which bands can you recommend to our readers? Here are some of my favourite metal bands: Jesters of Destiny, Voivod, Manilla Road, Brocas Helm, Halloween (US), Slauter Xstroyes, Legend (UK), Iron Maiden, Portal, Aria (RUS), Messiah, Wolf... What is next in terms of touring and other possible ventures? We practice the live set of Arkhamin Kirjasto and do a short tour and a couple of gigs as a support act in Finland. We have a couple of unreleased songs and are thinking about releasing them as a 7" vinyl. I hope we can get active soon in recording new material as well.
Dread tales inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and a staunch NWOBHM backbone – what’s not to love about Arkhamin Kirjasto? Though perhaps NWOFHM would be a more appropriate moniker; the band hails from Finland, a country that proudly boasts more metal acts than Cthulhu has squirming tentacles. If that description of Arkhamin Kirjasto as a head-on collision of traditional metal and Lovecraftian mythology is accurate, it’s certainly not the full story. Yes, the band’s debutalbum “Torches Ablaze” borrows heavily from early 80s Judas Priest and soaring dual guitar harmonies and galloping base riffs are the order of the day, as is made plain by opener ‘The Cult of No Return’ and ‘Bitch From Hell’ but tracks like ‘Sea of Madness’ and ‘Speed, Yog Sogoth’ reveal a more progressive sound that’s as disturbing as it is experimental. There’s a harder edge to Arkhamin Kirjasto than most of the other NWOBHM revival bands doing the rounds. Death metalstyle vocals are used throughout and a number of songs fall much closer to a straight up thrash sound than to the tried and tested Priest/Maiden template. ‘Speed, Yog Sogoth’ is one of these, pummelling the ear drums with breakneck speed and some simply twisted use of feedback that teeters on the brink of insanity. It may be selling the band short to say that Arkhamin Kirjasto sound just a little like what might have happened if Venom had started taking the occult stuff a bit more seriously and learned to play their instruments but, that’s more compliment than platitude. “Torches Ablaze” is a rare thing indeed, a NWOBHM-a-like record that genuinely breaks new ground in the genre and adds a dark and demented twist to a style that, like the Old Ones, simply refuses to die. Jodi Mullen
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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy (Self-Released) Four years ago with the release of their album “The Unspoken King” Canadian technical death metalers Cryptopsy seem to have their fans and world up in arms, its deathcore lilt and occasional clean vocals additives a catastrophe to many. Whether in hindsight the album was as big a departure and disaster as they claimed can be debated but the triumphant return of the legendary band well into its third decade, will build all bridges with the disillusioned and more. Their new self titled album is immense, a towering slab of imaginative violence seeded in the days of “None So Vile” and “Once Was Not”, though not a throwback, its heart fresh and vibrant brought with a corruption of ingenuity and sheer brutal intensity spawn from today. The album sees the return of guitarist Jon Levasseur who was absent for the previous release and the resumed songwriting union with drummer Flo Mounier. For many this was the missing element on the last album but whatever the case the new release which includes also the debut of bassist Olivier Pinard, is a giant of violent and vindictive technical invention. Completed by guitarist Chris Donaldson and the excellent guttural expulsions of vocalist Matt McGachy, Cryptopsy has returned harder and arguably more impressive than ever. From the opening atmospheric strains of ‘Two-Pound Torch’ with its sense of impending danger, the track explodes into vindictive mesmeric life, a leviathan of intensity and abuse brought with skill, craft and rippling enterprise. The track twists and stretches the senses to their limits, disorientating them with sonic blistering and melodic discord twisted in on itself. It is a magnetic attack which is summed up by its title perfectly, its touch leaving one punch drunk and smouldering. The likes of ‘Shag Harbour's Visitors’ with its sonic flailing of the ear and ‘Red-Skinned Scapegoat’ bursting with aggression and progressive jazz filaments which flame up from bass and guitar, both excite and leave one breathless. The album as a whole is outstanding with further tracks like the brilliant ‘The Golden Square Mile’ and staggering ‘Ominous’ bringing fiercer and deeper fires of appreciation to bear. If after this those who voiced discontent with the last album still have gripes they will never be appeased. Technical death metal is a genre starting to burst with talent but Cryptopsy have returned to show they still are one of its leaders and setting bench marks. Pete RingMaster
Abraham – The Serpent, the Prophet and the Whore (Pelagic Records)
There's something strange happening on this record. Swiss band Abraham are either completely mad or genius. For a start a glance at the PDFs for the cover art reveal some disturbing thoughts going on in theirminds, with some strange creatures interacting with humans in interesting ways (If I had the real
thing I’d tell you more). From the opening explosion of noise you are treated to what appear to be the drum, vocal and guitar/bass tracks from completely different songs, or even bands, played at the same time and it's not until the penultimate track that they somehow fully align, at which stage the music sounds like a lullaby in comparison to the torturous cacophony of confusion in the preceding six songs. I never thought I'd findscreaming hardcore vocals so soothing. The thing is that this is exactly what makes Abraham's sophomore “The Serpent, the Prophet and the Whore” so good. It makes you think, explore, discover and in the end work hard for your reward. The grungy, tortured, shouted monotone vocals are relentless, refusing to let you properly hear the guitars beneath. What you can hear reveals riffs and grooves often closer to post metal than hardcore but with aconstant air of sludge, and drums that swing from rocking beats to blasts of doublekick.
It would be wrong to give the impression the songs all sound the same because they don't, despite the nature of the vocals. With plenty of variation in the instrumental feel and emotion both within and betweenthe tracks, this album takes the listener on a long and uneasy journey. Turning down the vocals (for purely analytical purposes) reveals the level of detail, dynamics, layers and variation in these songs, but don’t take the easy way out. It’s like searching for gold in a forest of bramble. Once you find it you barely notice the thorns scratching your bloodied arms and legs to pieces. Gilbert Potts
Anuryzm - Worms Eye View (Melodic Revolution Records)
“Worms Eye View”, the debut album from progressive metal band Anuryzm, is quite simply staggering The album is immense; a powerhouse of sound, creativity, and most of all passion which fuels every note, word, and emotive breath it offers. It is also one mighty
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A Forest of Stars - A Shadowplay for Yesterdays (Prophecy Productions)
eclectic explosion of muscular intensity, which leaves one breathless and exhilarated from start to finish. Since its formation in 2003, Anuryzm itself has been a journey of dedication and determination. Originally college friends in Lebanon exploring their creativity, the band went through the moving overseas of guitarist John Bakhos and at the tail end of 2005 the death of rhythm guitarist Bernard Moussali which brought the band to a standstill. From Canada Bakhos revived the band in 2007 with success, though his return to homeland United Arab Emirates in 2009 meant another change. After linking up with drummer Martin Lopez (Soen, Opeth, Amon Amarth) to work on an album, the following year saw the addition of vocalist Nadeem Bibby, bassist Rami Lakkis, and guest synth player Uri Dijk (Textures, Ethereal) as recording began. Co-produced by Miltiadis Kyvernitis, the album is a powerful and provocative experience. Originally released throughout the Middle East last October and now worldwide via Melodic Revolution Records, “Worms Eye View” leaves no sense untouched or thought dulled. From the opening ‘Fragmenting The Soul’ with its enveloping initial ambience and subsequent thumping riffs the release hits hard, skilfully, and with imagination. The first track is a storming force of diverse sounds and textures, its expansive atmosphere evolving into a destructive presence with death metal growls from the excellent Bibby. He like the music offers a fully varied repertoire for a twisting mix of extreme, classic, and progressive might. As tracks like the excellent ‘Sintax Of Trinity’ and the mighty title track ignite the passions, the album just builds and grows in stature. The first of this pair flexes its muscles with every impressive inventive note and turn whilst the second ignites the air with a melodic fire which mesmerises within a perpetual intensity. Every song leaves one basking in nothing but pleasure, the stunning ‘Killing Time’ with its beautifully constructed blend of aggression, melodic invention, and jazz beauty alongside the immense epic ‘Breaking The Ballot’, stealing the honours though closing giant ‘Where Mockery Falls’ certainly rivals. “Worm’s Eye View” is an album deserving of every ounce of attention and acclaim it gets and Anuryzm a band destined for great heights. Pete RingMaster
The first thing that is immediately striking about A Forest of Stars, and “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays”, is how much effort they have put into the concept. A richly detailed Victorian concept permeates each of the band’s releases, but it is certainly at its strongest here. Melodic black metal is fused with folk instrumentation, predominantly violins to give the music a classical flavour: If black metal had been around in 1891, it probably would've sounded like this. To complete their unique sound, almost spoken, distinctly British vocals cut through the hypnotic black metal to tell us the story of “a man at odds with himself, torn between virtue and blasphemous (self) destruction) . Admittedly, the vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, but they do not detract too much from the album as a whole. In amongst that fantastical grandeur of the music, there also lurks a distinct uneasiness. The odd moment of atonality such as in the lead single ‘Gatherer of the Pure’ ensures that the folk melodies don’t totally do away with the harshness of the black metal. It would be fair to say that black metal is really only an influence here. “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” doesn’t fit into any subgenre of black metal neatly, and this makes it very difficult to describe what the album sounds like to someone who isn’t already aware of A Forest of Stars. Their label, Prophecy, describe their sound as “eccentric and sinister”, I couldn't put it better myself. Undoubtedly the highlight of the album is ‘A Prophet for a Pound of Flesh’. It is merely the third track on the album, but clocking in at just over 10 minutes, it stands as a monument to A Forest of Stars' capabilities. A catchy and hypnotic riff demands your attention immediately, whilst the keyboards provide a distant and ethereal melody. This gives the song tremendous amounts of depth, despite the paper thin production, which is an issue that permeates the album. The song goes through several surprising and distinct motions, whilst always maintaining fluidity.
Flutes, acoustic guitars, keyboards and violins, as well as standard black metal instrumentation weave in and out seamlessly. Moments of fury are counterbalanced by dreamy flute melodies, and uneasy violins. All in all, this song is A Forest of Stars distilled into 10 minutes of wonder. From here on in, the album remains fairly consistent, even if it does live in the shadow of ‘A Prophet for a Pound of Flesh’. The previously mentioned, ‘Gatherer of the Pure’ is a particularly memorable moment on the album, as is ‘Corvus Corona part 2’, which ends the album. This track utilises well delivered female vocals from Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts, and the harsh lead vocals to build a fantastic crescendo to end the album on. This certainly ensures that the album leaves a lasting impression, and deservedly so. Such an unusual album warrants many listens. Despite the flaws in the production, and the questionable choice of vocal style, I certainly enjoyed this album, and would implore you to seek it out, whether you're hungering for avant garde black metal, or even just a progressive metal album. If their execution improves just that little bit, so that there are a few more driving riffs in amongst the eerie melodies, and they have clearer production in the future; they could become something truly special. Tom Saunders
Black Magician- Nature is the Devil’s Church (Shaman Records)
This debut album from Liverpool-based doom metal merchants Black Magician is five tracks of unrelenting doom and gloom. At times bile soaked and gripping, at others diverting and atmospheric, it covers all the ground that you would expect of a doom metal release and, on a couple of occasions, some ground that you wouldn’t. "Nature is the Devil’s Church" has its musical roots firmly planted in the back catalogues of the likes of Black Sabbath, Cathedral and their ilk. As you might expect, there is afascination with the darker
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Blut Aus Nord - 777 Cosmosophy (Debemur Morti Productions) A question that has long been thought but rarely answered in a satisfactory manner is ‘when does black metal cease to be black metal?’ The reason for this lack of a resolution is principally because the question is so damn difficult to answer. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a different view on the subject, with some embracing the recent evolution of the genre into the ‘post black’ spectrum and others shunning it entirely, refusing to acknowledge that it has anything to do with ‘trve cvlt’ black metal at all. A tricky subject however, has just got even more mind bending, thanks the latest release from Blut Aus Nord. “777 Cosmosophy” is the third instalment of an ambitious trilogy which was kicked off in April 2011 with “777 Sect(s)” and followed up in November of the same year with “777 The Desanctification”. Both received massive plaudits at the time and breath was universally bated for the finale. My guess is that, initially, the finale to the trilogy will initially stun, bewilder and delight in equal measure. corners of English history, notably the Pendle Witch Trials, but there is also a folk influence and organic undercurrent to the album. This vein of folky sound works and moves "Nature" beyond the “just another doom album” of easy criticism. In particular, the acoustic and introvert Of Ghosts and Their Worship adds a layer of nuance and colour to the grimy, aural storm clouds that dominate the record. The fifteen minute epic (have you noticed how long songs are always “epics”?) Chattox which closes the album is, in reality, the centrepiece of this record and you get the sense that the band know this with the preceding tracks being mere appetizers to this chateaubriand of doomy magnificence. Production-wise, "Nature Is The Devil's Church" is foggy and almost impenetrable. Looking at this benignly, one might want to argue that this adds to the overall ambience, the murk and the overall net effect of the record. Looking at this from the listener’s perspective, it does makes it hard to truly immerse oneself it the record and, to these ears, it suffers somewhat. Nonetheless, as debut albums go, I recognise that there isn’t much here that hasn’t been done before but I’m quite enamoured of how the whole edifice works. As they say, it’s not what you do, but how you do it that counts and, given the rigid structures of the doom scene, they do it well. This is a solid and accomplished record. Mat Davies
I’m not entirely sure how this Gallic trio have managed it, but the five tracks that make up “777 Cosmosophy” are not really black metal in any shape or form. And yet, it feels absolutely right and proper that a black metal band has created this album. The content is a generally slow-to-mid paced, minimalist affair laced with plenty of atmosphere throughout. Occasionally, as with the opening to ‘Epitome XVI’, Blut Aus Nord dabble with ambient music, whilst the first half particularly of ‘Epitome XV’, with its programmed beats, strange effects and spoken word in the native French tongue, owes much to the industrial scene. The vocals are effect laden and generally unintelligible although they never veer close to the guttural screams that typify the black metal scene. In order to bring this trilogy full circle and to link everything together more cohesively, Vindsval and co. revisit some of the melodies previously aired on the two preceding albums, cleverly incorporating them into the final two compositions. There is absolutely no point in singling any of the tracks out for special mention as, to me, they are all equally stunning and worth every second you invest in them. This is an album that is ominous and threatening but, at the same time, utterly beguiling and beautiful. More so, “777 Cosmosophy” is the sound of a band at the very top of their game, serving as a triumphant ‘I told you so’ to the cynics and a statement of intent to their peers within the genre. Black metal or not, it doesn’t matter when the music is this good. Matt Spall
Beastwars- Beastwars (Destroy/EMI )
It is most likely that many readers of this piece may not be entirely (if at all) aware of New Zealand based Beastwars; well I hadn’t heard of them at least. In their home country however, Beastwars have made a bit of a name for themselves, and in a very short amount of time. Releasing this, their selftitled debut back in 2011, and receiving rave reviews, won the band big support slots and most importantly, won them attention. Now a year later, Beastwars sees a release to a wider audience courtesy of Destroy/EMI, giving us a chance to see what all the buzz is about. For the most part Beastwars are a sludge band, with a lot of focus on the riff and a prominence of the familiar low end tone much akin to the likes of Crowbar, as well as similarities at times vocally. But Beastwars do add some unusual ingredients to the mix
to set them aside from the rest of the pack, but do so without such characteristics being too overpowering. Wider influences from bands such as Soundgarden, and even Muse shine through adding a touch of quirkiness to proceedings, but once again with subtlety. Vocally is perhaps where the unusual nature is most obvious, but it is also where it can be the most testing. For the most part a familiar gravelly tone most familiar with sludge music is used, but at times, such as on ‘Mihi’, vocalist Matt Hyde tries out different things, such as a cleaner, chant like sound which can grate a bit. Often changing between styles within the same song, it is an area where it sometimes really works, and at other times damages songs. Props should be given to Beastwars for taken a very recognisable style and putting a wider spectrum of influences in the mix to create somewhat of a unique sound. Vocally it does at times lack in substance, but with improvement in this area, their buzz could get quite a bit louder. Christopher Tippell
Bedemon – Symphony of Shadows (Svart Records) Despite the fact that Bedemon have been around since 1973, this is their first proper studio output, aside from a compilation they released in 2005 called “Child of Darkness”. A side project including ex-members of Pentagram, Bedemon play doom at its most traditional.
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Behexen – Nightside Emanations (Debemur Morti Productions)
2012 has been an excellent year for doom in its many varieties, including stellar releases from Pilgrim, Pallbearer, High on Fire, and Ahab, as well as strong releases from the pioneers such as Saint Vitus. Unfortunately, “Symphony of Shadows” fails to compete with these heavyweights. The most immediate complaint about this release is that it outstays its welcome. Doom albums frequently stray into the 1 hour+ running time, but with such little variation or innovation on offer, the last third of the album drags a considerable amount. Furthermore, although metal lyrics are often ridiculous, I found some of the lyrics on “Symphony of Shadows” particularly grating. Take for example, the central refrain on ‘Hopeless’: “Kill me, I’m begging you! Kill me! You don’t know what I’m going through! Kill me! Oh god please! Kill Me! Put me out of my misery!” If these lyrics had come from a more mainstream style of metal, they would most likely be decried the most angsty lyrics ever. The worst thing is there seems to be no sincerity to it at all. Now, if it was intended to be a tongue in cheek song, that’s fine, but there was really no need to drag it out over 9 minutes. Despite these complaints though, “Symphony of Shadows” does have its strengths: The lead guitar work really stands out, bringing life to the songs. They add soaring melodies to the darker moments of the album, and often bring about a welcome change in pace. The faster songs such as ‘D.E.D.’ are easily the standout tracks on the album, as the pace pushes the song forwards, ensuring we are not left to dwell on the same riff for too long. I would only recommend this album to the most diehard Pentagram fans, or to those who think the recent doom revival hasn’t been retro enough. “Symphony of Shadows” isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just uninteresting. If you’re curious, by all means try it, but for everyone else I’d recommend digging out “Restless” and listening to that instead. Tom Saunders
Four years on from last album “My Soul for His Glory” and keeping to their seemingly set album schedule, it is time for a new release from Finnish black metalers Behexen. As always the anticipation to their releases is heightened on the eve of every unleashing due to the great creations and festering ingenuity which came before, and this time is no different. Also no different is the quality which the quintet brings to rampage and consume the senses within their fourth album “Nightside Emanations”. There is no lessening of the blackened serpentine smothering and raw molestation from their dark hearts and shadier imagination either, the release one which fulfils expectations and satisfaction. “Nightside Emanations” is vintage Behexen and as such to be honest does not offer or venture into any new realms or distinct invention. It easily feeds desires and eager assumptions in any release from the band without giving any bonus manna to feast upon. It is as always, a well crafted and impactful release which concretes the band’s standing as being in the forefront of black metal. From the atmospheric awakening of the ‘Intro’, the album immediately is a raging inferno of malevolence through the impressive ‘Wrathfull Dragon Hau-Hra’ and its successor ‘Death´s Black Light’. The first is a rabid expulsion of venomous melodics upon greedy exhausting rhythms and senses eroding riffs, an incessant onslaught which is unafraid to step back at points to bring a weightier oppression to its presence. The second song is of similar intent, a ravenous assault of twisted sonics, crushing unbridled rhythms and vicious heart. It is an old school abrasion which thrashes the senses and leaves only satisfaction in its wake, and though nothing is particularly new about its breath it is a fetid squall to ignite the passions. Songs like the cold and sinister ‘Circle Me’, the barbed ‘Luciferian Will’ with its predatory hunger, and the excellent ‘Temple Of Silent Curses’, a track which is blistered and spiteful in emotion and sound, leave one captured
within a maelstrom of satanic and consumptive soundscapes for nothing but grateful satisfaction. “Nightside Emanations” is Behexen at its accepted best and no more, which is not a bad thing at all just arguably a little underwhelming with the lack of new adventure. The album though makes an equal companion to their previous releases and adds another worthy tomb to the history of black metal. Pete RingMaster
Blacklodge - MachinatioN (Season of Mist)
In an age of increasing secularisation and scientific progression, is there any room left for orthodox devil worship within black metal? France has given us the elusive and devout Deathspell Omega, who are deadly serious about their medieval devotion to the Dark One, but how relevant is this belief as the march of technology and industry gradually blinks spiritualism out of existence? Villard-de-Lans natives Blacklodge have spent over a decade wrestling with this paradox and may well have been awarded their eureka moment on fourth album “MachinatioN”; ten tracks of punishing industrial black metal that paves the way for Satan’s triumphant march into a dystopian future. Opening track ‘TridenT’ wastes no time in beginning the quest for this brave new world, and not just in abstract lyrical terms. The programmed drums pound a merciless tattoo on your skull in the manner of a human branding machine gone into overdrive. Purists will recoil in horror when confronted with the dance beats that pop up unannounced throughout the album, infuriated that this is one rave of the damned they aren’t cool enough to be invited to. The fiendishly inventive ‘NeutroN ShivA (Sun, Walk With Me!)’ toys with several different tempos before the compressed Beherit style intro riff of ‘Neo.Black.Magic’ is soon buried beneath an avalanche of clinically cold blasts, emerging in the verses to jack up the grimness gauge.
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Cauldron- Tomorrow’s Lost (Earache) I was excited to be given the opportunity to review “Tomorrow's Lost” by Toronto's Cauldron. The band's last two efforts, 2009's “Chained to the Nite” and 2011's “Burning Fortune”, were both excellent albums with catchy and hooky oldschool metal songs. The band seemed to be destined to make a great album some day and as a result I was really looking forward to hearing “Tomorrow's Lost”. The opening song ‘End of Time’ starts off with a great opening riff and then falls utterly flat with no real hook or anything else that really caught my attention. The song isn't bad it's just not hooky or very interesting at all. After this disappointment I hoped the next track ‘Born to Struggle’ would be more interesting. And it was, sort of, again a really cool intro that sounds like the song is going to be a scorcher
‘Industrial Temple MysticA’ takes an Aborym conducted trip through distorted drum ‘n’ bass and snippets of stock black metal riffage, piecing them together to form something that shouldn’t work but just about does. ‘Antichrist Ex Machina’ is the most straightforward track on “MachinatioN’ yet also one of the most engaging as the guitars are brought to the forefront to lead the attack on your bleeding ears, until the drum machine takes over on ‘Order of the Baphomet’ with its samples of a rambling priest sounding ever more irrelevant as the track progresses. Vocalist Saint Vincent snarls his disgust all over the industrial tremolo picking of ‘Empire’s Hymn’, anxious to usher in the new age of apocalyptic sterility his master craves, even switching to Spanish for the devilishly catchy Dodheimsgard-esque ‘Culto al Sol (Solarkult).’ His barbed vocals may be the most conventional thing on “MachinatioN”, an album with progression in mind and invention running through it like an ice-cold current. If you want to be spared when the revolution turns sour, do yourself a favour and seek out Blacklodge. James Conway
Castle - Blacklands (Van Records)
It never ceases to amaze me just how many bands there are out there who are so obviously and overtly influenced by Black Sabbath. Yes, I know that they are the originators of the scene and held in awe by many millions worldwide, but whereas some artists cite the Sabs as an oblique reference, there are still a surprisingly large number of bands that take that inspiration and hang it
and then falls flat. The song has no chorus to speak of and is just slightly better than the opener. At this point I was beginning to lose hope for this album when the third track ‘Nitebreaker’ blasted through with another scorching intro…this, I thought must be where the album starts to take off… but once again, no. The song becomes utterly flat again. The rest of the album continues along in this same pattern: really good intro's which sound like the song is going to be awesome and then falling utterly flat with a total lack of hooks. I'm not sure how Cauldron managed to strike out so badly with this album as there are few signs that this is the same band that wrote such songs as ‘Chained Up In Chains’ or ‘Miss You to Death’. The only thing I can think of is that the songwriting must have been too rushed as it was only last year that the band released their last album "Burning Fortune". Hopefully the band don't rush things next time and turn out a much better album then this one as they have so much potential. The songs aren't horrible or anything, they just aren't very exciting. I hoped that my initial reaction to this album would change with multiple listens but after 5 times through I am fairly certain that this is not going to grow any further on me. Curtis Dewar
out for all to see. At this point in time, I honestly don’t think that the 70s-inspired doom vibe has ever been stronger and San Francisco’s Castle are one of these bands riding the crest of a wave. “Blacklands” is the American trio’s sophomore release, coming hard on the heels of their debut, “In Witch Order” that came to the attention of the metal community just last year. Not being familiar with that debut, I can only judge things on what I hear this time around. The immediately striking aspect of this band is in the vocal department. Instead of the normal male brusqueness, Castle’s doom rock with heavy stoner overtones features the gutsy but distinctly feminine and melodic voice of Elizabeth Blackwell. Personally, I think that it works well for the vast majority of the record and can be described, to some extent, as their unique selling point. Away from the vocals, “Blacklands” is a complete retro-fest but, despite the classic riffing, attitude and nods to NWOBHM scene as well as the aforementioned doom forefathers, the content is too inconsistent to turn this album into a classic in its own right. The album kicks off nicely with the up tempo ‘Ever Hunter’ plus I really like ‘Curses Of The Priests’ with its epic and melodic closing instrumental section. There are a few other high notes to be found elsewhere but the fact that there are peaks and troughs within individual songs, let alone across the album as a whole, demonstrates that Castle still have some work to do on their song writing to create the album that they need to. “Blacklands” is therefore a decent album, but far from spectacular. Matt Spall
Cold in Berlin – As Yet (Candlelight Records) Music that holds a mirror to everyone’s life, experiences and failings is never an easy listen, particularly when the lyrics are unambiguous and delivered with such assertiveness. Cold in Berlin are a London based four piece, and “As Yet” their second release, on this occasion on Candlelight Records, and from the opening ‘Take Control’ the listener is taken on a journey back through their own melancholic being.
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reactions. TThe final ‘...And Yet’ continues the poignant explorations and retains the sound of guitar, bass and drumsworking together, yet producing a sound which is never easy, and is all the better for it. The messages on “As Yet” then, are lucid and unswerving. This is ire in music where gothic met punk and spawned a new breed of intensive social commentary. John Toolan
Desolation seeps through tracks such as ‘As the Darkness Bangs’, as vocalist My scrapes the lyrics out amidst barren screams of angst. It would be difficult to name a track ‘The Witch’ without evoking gothic imagery, and the connotations that has, but Cold in Berlin manage to achieve an atmosphere of doom without resorting to clichés, and successfully create cinematic landscapes of familiarity and analysis. A tribal element creeps in to ‘The Visionary’ which further helps to unnerve the listener, whilst ‘Love is Shame’ speeds the tempo slightly with bouncing guitar riffs and soaring feedback drenched wails. If you were the focus of the song ‘John’ (?) then a part of your existence could be exposed uneasily on this release. The subject matter also, of ‘The Whisper’, may alarm or distress the listener who may be unprepared or unwilling to expose themselves to such imagery or suggestion, but possibly, it could be argued, this is not an album targeted at the listener with that disposition. The guitar, bass and drum instrumentation is uncomplicated but fitting, and is delivered with the right amount of attitude and belligerence. The production is unambiguous, allowing each element of the band to appear on equal footing. The vocal style may not be to everyone’s taste, and could be argued to alienate the passive listener. But this should not be seen as a failing in resourcefulness, as My infuses her delivery with zeal and theatricality to the extent that by the third or fourth track the listener is compelled to pay attention or face the consequences. Music with attitude can often be disguised in a cacophony of rage and incensed clamour. The listener to “And Yet” is not battered around the ears in a tornado of sound, but poked uncomfortably with jarring sounds and words and phrases that leave a bitter taste. The cover artwork is stark, with an appropriate amount of ambiguity, perfectly reflecting the music within. The use of an inverted cross on the cover may be interpreted as a cliché or as irony, and could possibly be used as a Rorschach test, as with the album as a whole, allowing the spectator the opportunity to explore their own understanding and
Down- Down IV The Purple EP (Down Records)
growl like voice once again is adding menace and simultaneously complementing the good time riffs of Windstein and Keenan. There wasn’t any doubt that Down were going to come back with anything less than stellar, but how strong and unforgettable “The Purple EP” has proven is hugely impressive. Arguably the band’s catchiest collection of songs since their classic debut; this EP has provided a great batch of catchy, dark yet massively fun songs. You already know that you’re going to love this. Chris Tippell
Earthship - Iron Chest (Pelagic Records)
It is pretty much guaranteed that even if you have a fleeting interest in heavier music, then you are fully aware of the pedigree within Down’s ranks. You will also know that very few partnerships out there write riffs as huge and as catchy as the duo of Keenan and Windstein. Five years on from their last full length, Down have chosen to follow up with a series EPs rather than another full album, with “The Purple EP” being the first. Now you fully know what to expect a new Down release to sound like, and that isn’t going to change here. What is striking however is how relaxed it feels. It feels like they were not under huge amounts of pressure in recording it, and even sense that the band were having fun in the process. Kicking off is ‘Levitation’ which starts off with slow instrumental passage which builds up throughout and even feels like the band is jamming before Phil Anselmo’s ever familiar drawl jumps the song fully in to gear. Unsurprisingly, the songs are very strong and immediate. The first thing that always hits you on a Down record is the monumental riffs and here they are amongst the bands strongest and most infectious. First single ‘Witchtripper’, most surely familiar to most by now, is one such example and is still perhaps the weakest track (although not exactly weak, more least good). The repeated riff in ‘The Curse’ will be hummed for hours after hearing it, and even the 9 minute final track (the bad pun of a title) ‘Misfortune Teller’ seems to fly by with immediate moments throughout. Elsewhere, Anselmo’s low and
Featuring the husband and wife team of Jan and Sabine Oberg along with drummer Dennis Böttcher, Earthship have served up a record which is at one moment a behemoth of sludgy doomy riffage and the next a series of rolling arpeggios over mathy bass and minimalist drumming. Deliberate or not, the opening strains of “Iron Chest” do little to reveal the variety of sounds and progressive feel of the record. Starting with growling, shouting vocals over some pretty standardhardcore riffs it takes a few bars to feel that there is something more happening. We soon get some clean vocals and harmonies and by the time we hit track two, 'Athena', the true nature of this album is revealed.Take out the doom and sludge undercurrent and the record varies between hardcore and post-metal in feel, with the closing couple of minutes of the final track 'Teal Trail' far removed from those opening strains and a well thought-out and written conclusion. Plenty happens to keep you guessing and anticipating and it's got a good level of unpredictability. You're not going to get the degree of experimentation and forward thinking of bands like Adrift for Days, or quite the level of songwriting and performing skill of
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Baroness or Jan's former band The Ocean, and it didn't move me much emotionally but that's OK- it's still a very good record. Playing around with different styles in a song or even on a record is of course going to lose the interest of those who like one style and sound start to finish (read: most people) but thankfully for fans of progressive rock and metal, bands like Earthship continue to deliver us from boredom. Gilbert Potts
Eryn Non Dae - Meliora (M&O Office)
As the droning, post metal introduction to ‘Chrysalis’ rings out, it is immediately obvious that “Meliora” is going to be a challenging listen. An avant-garde metal band from France, there are very few conventions that Eryn Non Dae. adhere to. It is very difficult to pinpoint their sound, but it sits somewhere between technical progressive metal, and post-metal. Although for the majority of the album's runtime, the lurching, off kilter technical riffs take centre stage, the post-metal sound is also always present. The hum of ISIS inspired riffs behind the dense technicality serve as welcome relief in what otherwise would be an overwhelmingly claustrophobic album. Frequently, avant-garde metal often falls into the trap of becoming lost in itself, meandering so far off the beaten track that the listener becomes lost and weary. Luckily, Eryn Non Dae. avoid this by giving the listener glimpses of infectious groove, before tearing it away again: The best example of this would in ‘The Great Downfall’, where after 3 minutes of droning noise, the lead guitars kick in, delivering a punishing riff that cannot be ignored. An astonishingly powerful vocal delivery also helps. Flowing naturally with the music, through whispers, to snarls, to an all out roar, the vocals are the perfect accompaniment to the technical wizardry from the rest of the band.
Although they get compared to almost every project nowadays, it is hard to ignore the influence of Meshuggah upon Eryn Non Dae. Although they never quite hit the same pace that Meshuggah do, that deep, atmospheric chug that the band utilise could not have come from anywhere else. This is certainly the aspect of “Meliora” that I struggled most with. Although I found the first half of the album very impressive, the second half didn't quite offer up enough new tricks to keep me interested. However, I must confess, that having never quite “got” Meshuggah or many of the bands they have influenced, this may have impacted on my enjoyment of the album. Personal gripes aside, “Meliora” is a very accomplished album, and I would happily recommend it to someone after a new avant-garde metal album. If you enjoy Meshuggah, and other progressive tech metal, as well as post-metal bands, you will probably get much more out of this album than I did. Although I can recognise the talent behind this release, it didn't resonate with me. Tom Saunders
Enemy Reign - Between Hell and Oblivion (Self-Released)
assured and packs a mighty force behind its deceptively catchy melodies. Oh yes, there’s actual songs on this record and it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that relies too much on the shock factor or “look how bloody fast we can play” attitude. In today’s metal world, just being good at bashing your instruments isn’t good enough and audiences are after a little something more and Enemy Reign have this in proverbial spades. Of course they can play really damn fast, but they aren’t afraid to slow things down that tiiiiiiiiiiiiny bit (and by tiny, it’s almost miniscule. It’s there though. Promise) or throw out a cool little riff that sticks in the mind like a dastardly earworm is wont to do or even go for that breakdown with the fun head-nodding element for good measure (‘A Viral Evolution’) and if you’re not carefulyou’ll be singing the chorus of ‘Forged from Suffering’ at the worst possible times. Vocals are deep and gruff and powerful and Mr Bosier has a terrific range of emotion in both the lower end of the scale and the higher registers. ‘Realm of the Hungry Ghost’ is a fantastic example of this talent and there’s truly a sense of there being a message here and throughout “Between Hell and Oblivion”. Whilst that entire technicality is going on with the breathless guitar work and flat-out destructive drum blasts, the voice of Bosier does much to communicate a common feeling of hopelessness but that something can and must be done about it. Enemy Reign is terrific, and is doing this alone. Self recording/releasing/distribution. It’s a model the industry is slowly heading towards and this band certainly deserves your support. What are you waiting for? Cheryl Carter
Evoken – Atra Mors (Profound Lore Records) Denver natives Enemy Reign are doing pretty excellent work in the realm of death metal and their latest release, “Between Hell and Oblivion” is a welcome addition to this bands catalogue. Having only released an EP (way, way back in 2008), it’s about time this quartet put something new out there. Who knows what the band have been doing in that time – line up shifts occurred, drummer Andon Guenther co-created “Sick Drummer Magazine,” and as evidenced here, honing their craft. Punchy tracks of varying harshness make up the weight of “Between Hell and Oblivion” and it’s clear that Enemy Reign have been paying attention to the modern death metal world whilst stepping up to the plate as one of the new school. These guys mean business and this debut is
When it comes to creating an atmosphere of utter misery and despair, few do it better than funeral doom pioneers Evoken. The Lyndhurst, New Jersey quintet have been weaving spells of sorrow for two decades now, and show no sign of cheering up. If any-
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Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud (HevyDevy Records/Inside Out Records) There is surely no one on this planet or beyond that can argue the musical talent of the one and only Devin Townsend. His vocal range, instantly distinguishable tone and original musical styling make him one of the most recognised creative geniuses of our time. “Epicloud” is our fifth offering under the Devin Townsend Project name and his fifteenth studio album in total. With the release of so much material it is almost hard to keep up. I was left wondering if this album would be slight overkill and I feel that perhaps, in this case… yes, unfortunately, it was. The title of the album suggests we are going to get something Epic and Loud. Or perhaps looking at it in terms of Epi – meaning above or nearby – Cloud, that we will be taken on a musical journey into another world… above the clouds. I am not sure he succeeds in either. “Epicloud” has a light sound to it, more so than a lot of his work. Each song features a simple song structure which gives it more of the feel of a metal album with a pop inspiration. If you are looking for something more complex than this, I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed. We are treated to the return of vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, whose angelic voice contrasts with Devin’s harsher tone and adds welcome depth to a number of tracks. Opening track ‘Effervescent!’ is a short offering which quickly sets the light hearted tone of the album and leads nicely into the almost epic ‘True North’. thing they have yet released; a harrowing descent into depths of fathomless anguish. The title track begins proceedings in a stately manner with a shatteringly dense riff cutting through sounds of drifting winds. The processional pace invokes images of a funeral cortege trundling down a grey and rutted road, but then the guttural vocals of John Paradiso cut through the murk and shock you into full wakefulness. Eerie keyboard swells rise up like some foul graveyard miasma, drums clatter like desperate fists against a coffin lid and the sense of utter bleakness becomes all encompassing. Paradiso’s often imitated spoken word oration leads the unhurried guitar lines of ‘Descent into Frantic Dream’, calling to mind the quieter passages of fellow brother in misery Mourning Beloveth but the momentumsoon builds as pounding slabs of crunching noise give way to a heartbreakingly sorrowful solo that ensnares you with its golden light, only to drag you down into the darkness once more. ‘Grim Eloquence’ usurps the formula slightly, employing swirling psychedelic effects among the deep growls and clanging chords with the effect akin to being trapped in a nightmare.
From then on it gets a little silly with ‘Lucky Animals’, although I challenge anyone to listen to that track and not have the chorus running through their head for the rest of week. Love it or hate it, there is no denying it is damn catchy! Although there are some strong songs on the album, ‘Grace’ and ‘Hold On’ being amongst my favourites, they all seem to be stand alone tracks with little effort to sell them as a consistent package. Don’t get me wrong, the album is not a bad release by any means. However, it does have the feel of an album made up of leftover tracks from the previous four album project. This isn’t necessarily a negative… It’s just for me, he has failed this time to bring much new to the table. Chantelle Higham
The sheer heaviness of ‘An Extrinsic Divide’ knocks the breath from your body as the layers of crushing guitars and wailing synths administer the same weight of torment diSEMBOWELMENT captured on “Transcendence into the Peripheral” before the restless doom-death of ‘The Unechoing Dread’ writhes and undulates in wretchedness like some poor soul confronted with the stark and uncompromising horror of existence. After nearly an hour we are finally led ‘Into Aphotic Devastation’ with its tortured strings and cascading falls of grief-stricken guitar solemnity sending any last vestiges of hope fleeing into the stygian gloom. An endurance task from start to finish, but a thrillingly cathartic one, “Atra Mors” is the true sound of woe captured on record. There won’t be a finer funeral doom album this year, or possibly for many years to come, so get those tissues at the ready; you’ll be needing them. James Conway
Haarp - Husks (Housecore Records)
I open, awakened from a 3 day rite of passage; wandering bare foot, adjacent streams and muddy forest paths. Bonding with the earth and its creatures till my mind crackled in the silence, driving a wedge of madness through my skull at a sluggish pace. Murky reflections of how I’d come to be flickered in front of my eyes like the fuzzy glow of SMPTE colour bars and echoing 1k TV tones. “It haunts me, so I haunt it.” My moments of connection seemed to have no resonance in this world. Even though I thought I’d escaped the city, all I feel are walls closing in. The forests have turned but in this world I’ve fought back with everything.
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Concurring all through their leaded riffs, extended and slowed as if being forced through a tube, cymbals crash to break the sky as bass buries you scrambling to escape your own grave. Haarp evokes all this and more in their latest album “Husks.” 3 tracks, ‘Deadman/Rabbit,’ ‘Bear’ and ‘Fox’ totaling a whopping 38:45 of begrudging sludgy doom, this is one of my favorite releases of September 2012 through Housecore Records. The atmospheric blend of sludge and doom seem to allow for the ultimate concurring of self, amidst adversity and blends for a solid evening of heavy listening. This album is a must for sludge fans this year without a doubt. Christine Hagar
But don’t take words like ‘monotonous’ and ‘painfully slow’ to be negatives. This band know exactly what they’re doing and they do it well, so if the snail-paced likes of early Cathedral mixed with the blackened death of Paradise Lost’s pre-Gothic material sounds like your type of funeral then Hooded Menace – with their added horror movie sensibilities and love for the dramatic - could well be providing the soundtrack for your next trip to the cemetery. Chris Ward
Ides of Gemini – Constantinople (Neurot Recordings)
Hooded Menace – Effigies of Evil (Relapse Records)
This results in songs like the languid lounge doom of ‘Resurrectionists’ and the quiet/loud dynamics of ‘One to Oneness’ where crashing riffs and furtive clean-note playing endure an uneasy co-habitation. Blackened melodies briefly flicker in the biting ‘Reaping Golden’ before the introspective Neurosis-through-Pentagram vibes of ‘Austrian Windows’ takes things down a creepier path . The overall feeling is that of being toyed with for some unimaginable purpose so it’s almost a relief when the arcane, minimalistic stroll of ‘Martyrium’ and ‘Old Believer’ play us out on a gentler footing. Heavy and haunting in equal measure, “Constantinople” may not be the jewel in the crown its namesake once was, but if Ides of Gemini, and particularly Sera Timms can repeat what they’ve achieved here, the doom landscape will continue to get more and more interesting. James Conway
Incoming Cerebral Overdrive – Le Stelle: A Voyage Adrift (Supernatural Cat)
Well this one’s a little on the heavy side, isn’t it? Hooded Menace are a duo (yes, only two people made this unholy noise) from Finland, influenced by old-school horror movies and the likes of early Cathedral, and have a sound that is akin to having your head crushed slowly under the sole of Frankenstein’s monster’s boot… …Which is exactly the effect that opening track ‘Vortex Macabre’ has. Coming it at over ten minutes, its potent blend of sludgy doom riffs and death metal vocals is huge and crushing, like the reanimated corpse itself, lurching at you with its death-grip firmly aimed at your throat and squeezing until you can’t take any more. And then the stomping title track lumbers into the vicinity and all bets are off! With a few samples from classic horror films thrown in, “Effigies of Evil” successfully captures the fog-bound graveyard gloom that many bands strive for but rarely achieve. In true death/doom style the songs mostly consist of a painfully slow grind that can become a little tiresome if you’re not fully in the mood, but every so often they throw in a little flurry to remind you that they’re not dead yet, much like the subtle Iron Maiden harmonies that are peppered throughout ‘In the Dead We Dwell’ that break up the monotonous sludge.
Naming your debut album after one of the most beguiling and mystical cities of the ancient world is a bold step, but for Los Angeles natives Ides of Gemini, the title is a fitting one, as the ‘dream doom’ showcased on “Constantinople” serves as a gateway to all manner of times and places where anything is possible. A riff that could have come off “Det Som Engang Var” kicks off opening track ‘The Vessel and the Stake’ before the haunting ethereal vocals of Sera Timms fill the room with glorious light amidst the darkness. Her mesmerising voice takes centre stage over guitarist J. Bennett’s brittle, slowed down riffing and leaves you anxious to discover more. ‘Starless Midnight’ employs elements of the loose pagan doom of Blood Ceremony but imbued with a drier post-rock feel as Timms soars into the stratosphere. The tone darkens on the grim ‘Slain in Spirit’ with Kelly Johnson’s militaristic marching drumbeat propelling the reverb-drenched guitar work forwards to an uncertain destination where desolation undoubtedly awaits. How the trio of musicians interact and feed off each other is key to understanding and appreciating Ides of Gemini’s sound. Repetition and simplicity are core themes running throughout the album, not due to a paucity of ideas, but because often less is more, and this allows Johnson to keep pace with Bennett’s stripped down riffs, giving Timms the freedom a voice as strong as hers merits.
It’s often the smallest labels that house the best artists. Italy’s fantastically named Supernatural Cat is home to a mere three bands; psychedelic sludge behemoths Ufomammut, post metal masters Lento and hardcore riff-meisters Incoming Cerebral Overdrive, whose new record “La Stelle: A Voyage Adrift” ensures these mystic moggies’ reputation for releasing prime cuts of audio goodness is kept intact. Based around a concept of a diary entry detailing a long and lonely trip adrift and the glut of emotions experienced en route, ICO take the listener on a bewildering trip into the void with ten tracks of restless, technical hardcore. Urgent album opener ‘Mirzam’ ensures you’re sitting uncomfortably with its jittery Botch-esque assault on the eardrums suggesting this is one ride you’ll want to
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remain awake for, while ‘Sirius’ sounds like Hawkwind discovering the music of Burnt by the Sun whilst on a ride in their Silver Machine and deciding it just isn’t weird enough. This will to seek out brave new worlds continues through the flowing prog-core of ‘Betelgeuse’ and the shifting time signatures of ‘Kochab’ and ‘Bellatrix’, all topped off by the sandpaper larynx of Samuele Storai, a captain who may have already lost his mind. ‘Adhara’ and ‘Pherkad’ charge on ahead but become far more interesting when they slow down for some space-age noodling, allowing the listener to gaze beyond and contemplate just where the hell this journey is going. That said, the pummelling dissonance keeps things on an even keel so when the punkedup swagger of ‘Sirius B’ shows up to throw a spanner in the works, you’d be forgiven for being caught off guard. The pace then slows for the chunky post-metal of ‘Polaris’, suggesting the navigator has arrived at the place on the map marked Latitudes (the band). The best is saved for last however as the lengthy ‘Rigel’ fires its engines and let’s rip with everything in ICO’s repertoire; surging polyrhythms, marching sludge soundscapes and a measured grasp of how subtle keyboards can work wonders for creating the right mood. Skilled performances all round, with the pulsating basslines of Alessio Corisini in particular standing out, make “Le Stelle...” a cosmic mission worthy of undertaking. To the pods! James Conway
Laburinthos – Augoeides (Avantgarde Music)
Vocals are most notably shared, with male and female voices providing colour and contrast to already interesting and engaging songs. The style ranges from the wistful, melancholic ballad of ‘The Great Brothel Of Mankind’ to the ‘70s infused prog of ‘The Emotion Of Stone Is Hidden In Divine Sigh’, and uses guitars, piano and strings to produce a unique sound that is reinforced by lyrics sung in both Enochian and English. Reverb is used often – particularly on vocals and piano – resulting in an otherworldly quality, like music produced in a cavern or ancient space, adding depth to the vocals and lending the piano a crystal –like presence. The Gothic roots are clear in song titles like ‘Crucified Among My Lovers’ and ‘God Wept In Tunguska’, always reminding the listener of the darker edge to the music. Having said that, this is not by-the-numbers Goth rock; ‘Jesus Or Christ’ for example is reminiscent of Van Der Graaf Generator, particularly the spiky, dramatic vocal delivery. The song could easily have come from the ‘60s or ‘70s with its psychedelic, folk and distinctly proggy elements combined to produce a thought-provoking and quite individual piece of music. Contrast this with ‘God Wept In Tunguska’, whose female vocals belie a genuine rock sensibility, treating the listener to a very pleasing guitar driven song, with full-on guitar solo. Individuality and uniqueness of sound is not easy to pull off, particularly given the breadth of music already on offer; but Laburinthos has managed it here. Its dark, melancholydrenched aspect might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it most certainly provides some compelling new musical insights for those whose minds are truly open. Ian Girle
Malignancy - Eugenics (Willowtip Records)
There is something ethereal about “Augoeides”, the first album by Romania’s Laburinthos released on Italy’s Avantgarde Music label: this is unusual, emotional music which draws inspiration from the likes of Sisters Of Mercy and Fields Of The Nephilim, but which also displays traits of prog, psyche and folk music. I’m no expert on Romanian music but I’m fairly sure there’s a strong thread of tradition that also runs through this album.
Whatever Malignancy thought they were doing – trying to be clever, trying to be cool and out there – well, it failed. The intro track only serves to make you wonder whether you’ve inadvertently been sent the wrong record by someone, and if they did it for a bit of a joke. Sorry dudes, but you started off badly and it pretty much never recovered from thereon out. Occasionally there’s a nice little groove, or a fun vocal line, or even a funky bass riff thrown out there for good measure, but on the whole “Eugenics” suffers from every stereotypical brutal death metal cliché there is. Guttural vocals? Check. Screams peppered throughout to change up the style? Check. Jaunty bass line? Check. The random slow song placed in the middle to give the impression that this band, y’know, care? Check. Ugh. Obviously death metal is a marvellous genre, but it’s so full of two-a-dime bands that aren’t pushing any kind of envelope and when even the masters Morbid Angel fail to produce a record that captures the imagination then it’s going to take more than Malignancy’s third full length to change any sane persons mind. Considering this band have been active since 1992 (!), you’d think they’d be way ahead of the game they were once at the forefront of...but “Eugenics” is proof that the most seasoned bands (some, notall) are struggling to stay in any way relevant. And it just sounds so....empty. Devoid of feeling and enthusiasm as well as a very vacant production, “Eugenics” never sounds as huge as it should. Great spacesbetween the instruments add nothing but confusion to proceedings. Brutal death metal should be massive and cacophonous and destructive and this record is none of those things. Apart from that one momentduring “Separatists” that’s actually sort of cool.So, Malignancy are seemingly happy to tread water and whilst there’s no doubt this group are proud of their newest work it’s just not enough in the death metal scene of 2012 where so many young and forward-moving bands are forging ahead with drive and passion and huge ideas for the genre and. Is there a nice way to say boring? Probably not. Better luck next time guys. Cheryl Carter
Planks – Funeral Mouth (Golden Antenna Records)
When a band start their latest record with an intro track made up of radio static and a sense of a continuous search for the “right” station.....you know you’re in for a bad ride.
Fresh off this summer's split with Lentic Waters, Germany's Planks come right back with full length, “Funeral Mouth” (Golden Antenna Records). The initial ambiance of the album matches the cover. A hooded figure stands on a snowy, wooded hillside their features obscured by a thick fog.
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Serpentine Path – Serpentine Path (Relapse Records)
The anonymity of the figure, in this case, I feel represents not the unknown but the "every man". That the themes on “Funeral Mouth” encompass issues and events that can happen to anyone reinforces this. The initial imagery could lead one to believe its contents lean heavily in the black metal direction. It certainly looks cold and bleak but this isn't necessarily the case. While Planks do pull from that genre on occasion, the results are more based in melody and melancholy with some death metal edge. Songs like ‘Kingdom’ even present as dark hardcore. Not "emo" by any standard, the album does however play toughness against anguish. Deftones-like vocals on ‘Scythe Impostor’ conflict with the death growls also present. In fact, those harsher vocals are the only part of the song that doesn't remind of Chino and co. Also as an example of the clash between the energetic and the ethereal, the guitar shifts back and forth from easy, reverb-laden chords to highflying, posthardcore gallop. This kind of balance between a tough exterior with an emotional core is the main feeling I personally take away from the album. Instrumental ‘The Spectre (Black Knives to White Witches)’ is a shimmering jaunt through those foggy trees on the cover. The snow is thick and difficult yet the travel made easier by walking on the planks of your determination and the hope of reaching your destination (literally or metaphorically). Determination, sorrow and the joy of moving forward are the attributes of “Funeral Mouth” which shine through the most. Technically straightforward, if not in arrangement, Planks never let skill overpower soul, letting the songs breathe rather than packing them full of notes. Not hacks by any means “Funeral Mouth” is more about emotion and setting a mood than showcasing musical proficiency. Blending a mix of styles both musical and vocal, “Funeral Mouth” would be an apt soundtrack for a dreary evening with a glass of red, spent reflecting on life and love lost. Planks may not be easy to categorize but it's equally difficult to find any major faults on “Funeral Mouth”. Its appeal may not be universal but fans of
Comprising of former members of Unearthly Trance and Electric Wizard, Serpentine Path languish in that claustrophobic vacuum known as death/doom and this self-titled debut album is the musical equivalent of being slowly choked to death in the dark by an unknown assailant who is also trying to shove something unpleasant in your ear. Whatever that unpleasant thing is you decide, but needless to say “Serpentine Path” is uncomfortable yet somewhat essential listening. The relatively musical opener ‘Arrows’ sets a harsh tone for the rest of the album to match, which it does with ease, although honest, heartfelt metal with grit and personality shouldn't find much to complain about. P.S. Tombs brought them over to the US to tour with them. So, you know, instant credibility. Matt Hinch
Sarin Smoke - Vent (M.I.E.)
If you ever wanted to purchase an album to feel good about yourself, the debut album by Sarin Smoke will scratch your altruism itch as all proceeds go towards funding co-member Tom Carter’s medical bills after contracting a nasty bout of pneumonia whilst on tour
not many of the songs are as catchy as this death metal bruiser. Songs like the deathlyslow ‘Beyond the Dawn of Time’ are about as obdurate as it’s possible to be within the genre, an uncompromising behemoth of doom that will probably mean nothing to the untrained ear but to a hardened fan this is the stuff of brilliance. There’s certainly enough here to please fans of either of the bands that make up Serpentine Path and at the same time offer some slight variations on the themes to make repeated listens more rewarding, as all good albums should. If your idea of doom begins and ends with the disco-bothering likes of Cathedral or the straight-up Black Sabbath worship of Candlemass then you may need some persuading to get fully on-board with Serpentine Path’s monolithic dirge. If, however, you’re one of those purists that prefers anything that Paradise Lost did before they released their first album and think that My Dying Bride just aren’t mournful enough then the crushing hymns of sorrow that Serpentine Path relish in will no doubt give you hours of endless pleasure. Enjoy. Chris Ward
in Europe. However, be prepared to have that grin wiped off your smug face the minute you press play, for the record now in your possession comprises of over 40 minutes of noisy, intractable drone. Not the pretty ambient drone you’ll find on a Sunn0))) record either. Opening track ‘3.1.2’ is the equivalent of being tormented by a giant mechanoid wasp in the ruins of an electrics factory where the discarded products have harnessed what faint vestiges of power resides in their broken bodies to administer an intermittent thrum of residual noise entirely designed to ensnare anyone who dares venture into their dominion in madness. ‘2.1’ offers something approaching the corrupted and defunct melodies that would occasionally emerge from the buzz of a Skullflower album as the guitars shimmer and undulate like the peeling skin of someone burning to death very, very slowly. ‘1.1.2’ bucks the trend with some post-rock style clean note picking leading the way into a more measured soundscape of fluctuating noise effects. The melody at one point appears to be copying what its creator may imagine a flute to sound like. Have the machines learnt this much already?
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While contemplating the horrors of the singularity you then realise that the effect now resembles a guitar solo and, oh god, something is trying to strum a guitar again and appears to be picking up basic chord structures. Things take a more aggressive turn with the squalling discord of ‘1.3.1’ suggesting that whatever is behind this album is not best pleased that you haven’t yet thrown yourself before your speakers in blind devotion. Turbulent drone, clanging chord hits and out-oftune horns conspire to turn your brain into mush for ten minutes before the brief ‘2.1.2’ roots through the wreckage of Earth, (band and planet) seizing the choicest pieces and offering up the curiously mournful fuzz of ‘2.2.2’, buried under an avalanche of car horn noises of course. Devoid of riffs, drums, bass, conventional song structures and vocals, “Vent” nevertheless draws you into its Eraserhead themed maw with surprising ease. Not music for a first date, maybe not even music at all, but when the intentions behind it are this admirable, you’ll have no qualms about following the ‘Smoke to their riff-free land. James Conway
Situs Magus – Le Grand Oeuvre (Avantgarde Music)
Italian label Avantgarde Music continues to provide the world with new and interesting black metal artists, with a roster including Toward Darkness, Ixion and We Made God. To this list they have recently added French black metallers Situs Magus, an enigmatic band which seems wilfully surrounded in mystery; they also make some pretty fine music. With influences like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, “Le Grand Oeuvre” is the band’s debut album and is described as “a breathless one piece opera divided into four movements.” – ‘Oeuvre au Noir,’’ Blanc’, ‘Jaune’ and ‘Rouge’ (I’m sure you can do the translation).
It’s a claustrophobic musical world as you might expect from this genre, with a dense wall of sound greeting the listener; at times verging on the impenetrable, such is the complexity of the production, it varies guitar sounds (from the heaviest doom infused riffs, to lighter but no less unsettling passages), arrangements and atmospherics to deliver a compelling, enigmatic album. It’s not for the faint hearted. The ‘Intro’ (separate to the four ‘movements’) utilises strange, subterranean sounds to build up to the fierce black metal onslaught that awaits, with ‘Oeuvre au Noir’ continuing the theme briefly before launching into a doomy section which, while not particularly detuned, is nevertheless super slow and accompanied by guttural vocals. A tremolo guitar effect – which will be repeated throughout the album – keeps the whole sound off centre and slightly left field. ‘Oeuvre au Blanc’ is an unremitting battery of noise that attacks the listener mercilessly, almost slightly orchestral in its riffing but nonetheless brutal for all that. It’s a driving force with the odd quieter break in the melee, before the heaviness is continued with even greater ferocity. ‘Oeuvre au Jaune’ is hypnotic in its structure, moving between fast, heavy riffing and something lighter but nonetheless dark and brutal. Whatever the form taken by the instrumentation, the screamed vocals reinforce the message that there are dark forces at work. Climaxing with a sound that’s like a head under water, it manages to attract and disturb in equal measure. The final song, ‘Oeuvre au Rouge’ begins like an almighty punch in the face, its huge, pummelling sound giving no quarter whatsoever, daring the listener to take the pain and complete this black metal journey. Suddenly there is a lull in the action, as if the band’s dark energies are spent, before the noise resurfaces with super fast bass drum and blast beats. “Le Grand Oeuvre” is so heavy and hypnotic it’s genuinely dizzying, leaving the listener’s head spinning and ears ringing with some seriously brutal sounds. If you’re an aficionado of black metal and think you’re up to the challenge that Situs Magus lay down then you’ll probably like “Le Grand Oeuvre”. Either that or it will scare the hell out of you. Ian Girle
Sons Of Otis - Seismic (Small Stone Records)
Out of the stagnant sewers of Toronto seeps “Seismic”, the latest psychedelic sludge-fest from Canada’s Sons Of Otis. The band has been in existence since 1992 despite a whole host of tumultuous events, from lineup changes to a retirement from the live scene. In that time, they have released six albums, the most recent of which we turn our attention to here. In much the same vein as its predecessors, “Seismic” is well-named, as the music on this record is heavy as hell but incorporates a psychedelic and blues-y edge to the bassheavy rumble that sits at the base of Sons’ sound. The compositions are lengthy and the content is ponderous but, generally, in an interesting way. Enough in the way of groove is injected to the likes of ‘Far From Fine’ and ‘Guilt’ to maintain my attention, the former benefitting from a central riff that has been lodged in my head for several days. Elsewhere on the record, ‘Guilt’ stands out as the album highlight by virtue of a liberal dose of melody and atmosphere, whereas ‘PK’ really lets rip with the psychedelic output. The inclusion of a cover of Mountain’s ‘Never In My Life’ is a nice touch and, executed in the manner that it has, will no doubt impress existing fans no end. Normally, I can take or leave this kind of down and dirty metal. However, Sons Of Otis have created something that has impressed me more with each listen and I would wager a decent amount of cash that this material will sound utterly immense in a live setting, down some back-alley underground club. If you like the sound of that, I’m sure you’re going to rather like Sons Of Otis. Matt Spall
Stinking Lizaveta - 7th Direction (Exile On Mainstream)
Appropriately titled, “7th Direction” is the seventh full length from instrumental alt-metal trio Stinking Lizaveta. Nearly two decades into the band's existence the founding members of the band, consisting ofthe brothers Papadopoulos, Yanni (guitar) and Alexi (upright electric bass) and drummer Cheshire Agusta remain intact. A consistency all too rare anymore.
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That undeniable connection between members carries over to “7th Direction's” 13 tracks. Much of the album plays out as if it's the result of extended jam sessions. There is no doubt that methodology had a significant role in its creation. The members anticipate and build on each other, that unseen connection driving the direction of the songs. The interplay present is almost cinematic; the songs acting as soundtracks for scenes left unseen. The drama put forth feels distinctly American. However the locale imagined falls somewhat west of the band's Philadelphia home. Reminiscent of the Josh Homme led Desert Sessions, Stinking Liz transport the listener to a peyote-fuelled jam around a bonfire in an arid desert. The squeals of the guitar echo off the buttes as the dessicated soul is laid bare. The smoothness of the upright bass (how cool is that!) mimics the windblown landscape and the sharp percussion parallels jagged boulders dotting the plain. Capturing the attention of listeners without the benefit of vocals is no easy task yet these veterans rope in the audience with ease. They've honed their craft to razor sharpness and cut a dense slab of laid back and groovy rock from the stone. As kindred spirits Keelhaul's album “Triumphant Return To Obscurity” alludes, instrumental riff rock will always be a niche market but thumbing your nose at consumables and the conformity of the masses is what metal is all about. So do yourself a favour and pick a drug (or not), spin some Stinking Lizaveta, and take off in the “7th Direction”. Matt Hinch
Sybreed - God is an Automaton (Listenable Records) I don't know if I'm sick or getting old or what the hell is wrong with me today. I just can't figure it out. I was assigned to review the new Sybreed album this month and because I had never heard of the band before, I said "OK". I had no idea that the band was some sort of weird Meshuggah/Industrial Metal/poppy sort of combo; otherwise I would have said "NO!"
You see, the thing is that I usually hate this type of thing. I don't care much for Meshuggah and other "djent" music. I don't care much for Fear Factory or industrial metal in general. Poppy stuff I can dig, believe it or not, but not usually when it's mixed with metal. But for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on, I actually like this album. I mean, I can understand the appeal of the album, the music is well played and most of the songs have some nice hooks to them but this really sounds like one of those gateway metal bands that get people started on their journey into heavy metal. This is the type of stuff I hate. But, again, I actually liked most of the album.Of course there are some duds on the album and not all of the songs are great. But the songs that are, are really fucking good. For example the first three songs that blast out of the speakers sound like some of the best songs that have been released all year-and that's saying a lot with all of the awesome albums that have come out of late. The rest of the songs while solid however, are not quite up to par with the first three songs, but still remain not bad at all.Vocalist Benjamin Nominet is the star of the album as without him this album would probably have been regulated to the scrap heap within five minutes of me putting it on. The guy is a great singer and unlike alot of extreme metal singers who go between growls and croons, he actually pulls it off convincingly.All, in all “God is an Automaton” is a solid album that I will probably be spinning more of for the rest of the year. Check it out for yourself. Curtis Dewar
“Christ Zero” EP is their first release since issuing their debut record “AntiXtian” in 2010 and features five new tracks fleshed out with a variety of intros and interludes. “Christ Zero” suffers greatly from inconsistency and while ‘In Heaven There Is No Hatred’ and ‘G-Tox’ are chock full of rhythmic variations and blistering leads, much of the rest of the EP sinks into muddy monotony. The EP’s certainly not lacking in intensity, often veering close to a thrash-death metal crossover style that’s more than a little reminiscent of Vader, but the relentlessness speed of tracks like ‘The Atheist Impulse’ numb rather than excite the listener; there’s simply not enough else going on to keep things interesting. The voiceovers between songs add little and their po-faced, amateurish nature feels at odds with what’s otherwise a reasonably competent production. “Christ Zero” is ultimately a frustrating release and one that fails to capitalise on the potential of two and a half unarguably excellent tracks by adding far too much unnecessary padding. Still, Turbocharged show quite a bit of promise here and there’s certainly enough substance for thrash die-hards to sink their teeth into. Smooth away the rough edges before the next full length release and we could be looking at something worth sitting up and taking notice of. Jodi Mullen
Ufomammut - ORO: Opus Alter (Neurot Recordings)
Turbocharged - Christ Zero (Chaos Records) Hailing from Forshaga, Sweden, Turbocharged are purveyors of extremely dark and murky “deathpunk” – actually hightempo thrash metal with harsh vocals – steeped in virulent anti-religious bile. The
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Moving to the personal record label of a band as revered and influential as Neurosis must have lit quite some fire under the backsides of Toronta natives Ufomammut, for this year has seen them release two albums on Neurot Recordings. Coming hot on the hells of April’s “ORO: Opus Primum”, its twin “ORO: Opus Alter” ventures further into the void that these Italian Stallions (or mammoths if you want to get technical) seem intent on exploring with their mesmerising psychedelic sludge wig-outs. Comparisons to the mighty Sleep are inevitable as opening track ‘Oroborus’ coils and writhes like the Norse serpent it takes its name from, albeit one that has just spent the past thousand years ripping bong hits as a monotonous riff pounds through your already disintegrating perceptions. There’s so much feedback that the effect is that of an extra instrument; raw excess noise harnessed as a sonic weapon. The distant chanting and cries that rises from the depths of the pounding ‘Luxon’ are buried so deep in the mix they may as well be piped in from another world entirely, an alien abyss where repetition is a byword for violence and dread. Picture Remission-era Mastodon crashing their time machine at a Pink Floyd concert sometime in the late 60s, resulting in both bands attempting to recreate each other’s sound using only the broken pieces of the hull and you’re only vaguely anywhere near imagining what the 12 minute plus ‘Sulphurdew’ resembles, with its driving, rhythmic pulse, relentless crashing cymbals and discordant synths surely the product of minds who have peered too long into the void and liked what they saw. ‘Sublime’ lives up to its title as the smoky synths that swirl around the back alleys of Minsk albums are recreated to cloak a bludgeoning riff that could still be buried, undiscovered on an early Pelican demo. The trip comes to a satisfyingly baked end with ‘Deityrant’ which filters Kylesa through the prism of Neurosis and then back again a few times for good measure as the droning feedback finally wins in its quest to consume all and sundry in the mouth of madness. Best listened to at nausea inducing volume with the lights down low, Ufomammut’s invitation to tune in and drop out is one that should be accepted at once before something from the other side decides to show up instead. James Conway
Vision of Disorder – The Cursed Remain Cursed (Candlelight Records)
Whilst metal and hardcore are by their very nature aggressive forms of music, how many albums sound really, truly pissedoff? A lot of bands play hard, fast and heavy but don’t have that extra something that makes them dig deep and bring the noise in a way that would bring forth a cerebral aneurism in most musicians. Napalm Death’s “From Enslavement” to Obliteration immediately springs to mind as an example of a band reaching deeper than most and exploding, but then again so does Corrosion of Conformity’s “In the Arms of God”; very different and not as obvious but that anger is there, so much so it’s almost palpable. New York ragers Vision of Disorder have dug deep. So deep they seem to have pulled up their guts along with all the emotional wrecking balls that make “The Cursed Remain Cursed” such an aural
sucker punch. The bullish charge that songs like ‘Set to Fail’ and ‘Hard Times’ hit your ears with is quite something, the band’s crushing guitars creating a whirlwind of metal riffage that build and build in intensity along with vocalist Tim Williams’ hardcore bark. And that intensity doesn’t let up from the moment that riot-inducing opening track ‘Loveless’ leaves the trap, even the swampy, mid-paced grind of ‘Skullz Out (Rot in Pieces)’ sounding as thick and gnarly as the faster tracks. The album’s eleven tracks only cover forty minutes so none of the songs outstay their welcome, only the schizo ‘The Enemy’ burning itself out long before its 4:20 running time is up, changing from hyper-speed Sick of it Allstyle hardcore to Alice in Chains-esque melancholy and back again seemingly too many times. Although that awful tag of ‘metalcore’ gets thrown around to any old thrash metal band that has beatdowns in their songs, Vision of Disorder are the real deal and “The Cursed Remain Cursed” is the perfect album to wave in the face of all of those whingers who think that metalcore begins and ends with the likes of Killswitch Engage, Caliban and the like. Defiantly brutal and in-your-face from the very outset, “The Cursed Remain Cursed” is a pretty remarkable album and may well be the most genuinely angry thing you’ll hear all year. Chris Ward
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Black September - Into the Darkness, Into the Void (Prosthetic Records)
Following their rather pedestrian take on blackened thrash/death metal that was their debut "The Forbidden Gates Beyond", Black September return with the support of Prosthetic Records for their sophomore strike "Into the Darkness, Into the Void". Becoming a part of Prosthetic's reputable roster is a significant leap for the band and such a move should bring the heavily-loaded name of Black September to the attention of the metal audience beyond the underground. The band's Swedish black/death metal influence continues to reign supreme over this collection of songs and even though their sound does not show any signs of invention—or reinvention for that matter—they have honed their assault considerably. Each of these nine songs chainsaw through speakers with torrid chords progressions and frosty tremolo shifts, augmented by the tense drum work of Toby Nickels who flits between double bass pummels, distinctive blasts, and hurtling d-beats patterns with great fluidity. There are savage Dissection-styled hooks buried in the songwriting, as heard through the riff choices and guitar harmonies of "Solitude" and the majestic peaks of "Invocation", and vocalist Jen McMorrow's hellion growl (similar in tone to Angela Gossow and Blake Judd) rips its way through the mix. "Into the Darkness, Into the Void" sounds robust, but there is a clearness here that cries out for a layer of crust-laden filth covering its production (something their label mates in Mutilation Rites smothered their debut with) and such severity would really have complimented the already ravenous "Unhallowed Ground" and the Dismember-esque "No Return". Production gripes aside, this blackened thrash/death metal militia have created an addictive album brimming with scalding songs worthy of their influences, and your time. Dean Brown
Decline of the I – Inhibition (Agonia Records)
“Inhibition” is the first part of a trilogy release from French musician A.K , and, according to the press release, is a concept based on a study of the first of three possible reactions to aggression towards an individual, “Inhibition”, “Rebellion” and “Escape”. Based on the work of physician and philosopher Henri Laborit, this is most certainly an album for the head as well as the heart. Rather than dissuade the listener from the concept, “Inhibition” leaves the consumer wanting to discover more about the subject matter rather than evoking a feeling of pretentious dread. From the opening passages of ‘Ou se Trouve a Mort?, the ponderous, clanging guitar riffs herald something cerebral, and at the same time, slightly foreboding. ‘The End of a Sub-Elitist Addiction’ draws the patient further into the waiting room of apprehension, with its heavily distorted slashing guitar riffs, growling vocals and monotonously engaging percussion splashes. Over the course of its ten minute duration the music turns corners into scorching guitar lines, distant drum passages, white noise and barely audible lines of discourse. The mood of the composition can almost turn tangentially in an instant, keeping the willing listener both interested and fully engaged. This constant interweaving of mood is also apparent on ‘Art or Cancer’, which is bolstered by grandiose refrains and incongruent electronic effects. Prolonged passages of sampled French dialogue, over gently lilting instrumentation provide respite from the torment on ‘Mother and Whore’, prior to the return of the lavish riffs and barking vocal. The album takes on an ethereal quality over the course of ‘Static Involution’ as choral vocals are disturbed by unholy voices and unsettling sound emanating from the speakers. It was at this point that this reviewer had genuinely to pause the track to listen downstairs, due to being alone in the house when playing the album for the first time. ‘L’Indecision d’Etre’ features some intelligently crafted and manipulated guitar, whilst the final ‘Keeping the Structure’ combines all these previous
devices into a nine minute carnival of guitar manipulation and frenzy, contentedly nestling side by side. Right up to the final distorted lines of dialogue, “Inhibition” engages the listener with boisterous yet controlled turmoil. The album cover artwork by Abrakadabra, is a sensual blend of the erotic and the enigmatic, tantalising the listener who is interested in cover artwork with its imagery. Joining A.K on guitar, keyboards, programming and samples are G and S on vocals and N on percussion. The percussion may not always be as evident in the mix, as the guitars are very much to the fore. The production is otherwise reasonably fresh, which allows these compositions freedom to allow the many layers evident to be enjoyed and appreciated. This music has been described as “post black metal”, and this classification could be a basis for further discussion elsewhere, but if “post black metal” is allowing black metal the freedom and space that this release implies, then “post black metal” may be an area for further exciting releases. John Toolan
Manii – Kollaps (Advantgarde Music)
After a line-up change, Norwegian black metal stalwarts Manes have reverted to their original duo of Cernunnus and Sargatanas and become Manii. Still crafting bleak and depressive music with a quitedeliberately under-produced sound, they have moved towards a more atmospheric and melodic style on their latest opus “Kollaps”. The electronic accentuation on this album adds an extra element to their sound, but many of the songs revolve around one central riff that never really progresses enough to fully satisfy. Many of the tracks feel like they should build to something a little more spectacular, but they meander towards their conclusion with too few fireworks. This is by no means a bad album - the bleak attack of ‘Likfugl flaksar’ and the mournful solemnity of ‘Endelaust’ make for two standout tracks but with the likes of Agalloch, Cormorant, Alcest and Nachtmystium really broadening the horizons of black metal it really doesn't stand up with such forerunners of the genre. Dewie
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Oak Pantheon - From A Whisper (Broken Limbs Recordings)
The Foreshadowing - Second World (Cyclone Empire)
But really, at bottom, it all still sounds quite a lot like My Dying Bride, and that will tell you whether it’s for you or not. What else is there to be said? Noel Oxford
Evocation – Tales From The Tomb (Metal Blade Records)
As the autumnal equinox approaches, Minneapolis duo Oak Pantheon are set to lead us through to the depths of winter with their full-length debut "From A Whisper". An organic progression from their EP "The Void", "From A Whisper" continues to track the black metal infused neo-folk footprints that Agalloch has laid in the snow, and sees Sami Sati and Tanner Swenson further refine the transitions between heavy-of-heart acoustic work and the panoramic expanse of postrock. The powerful ending of "Descend into Winter" leads into to the gentle piano-led introduction of "It"—a song which grows into a desolate beast as the black metal engrained in Oak Pantheon's soul emerges past the often used arid rasp of Sami Sati, which brings us to rustic acoustic guitars and careening crescendos of "We Will Tear Down The Gods", and onward to charging war of the Amon Amarth-worthy "Aspen", the first half of this album sets four distinct sonic pillars. It is during second half of "From A Whisper" that these four pillars unite as one, and the disparate sounds explored previously fully intertwine. "The Roots of Man" begins with opulent acoustic guitars and reveals vista-spanning passages of tremolo picking, the title-track works on a similar premise but kindles the drama with Sati's rousing cries and an Opeth-ian sequence of guitars that proves to be a stunning precursor to the commanding closer of "An Altar of Limbs", during which Oak Pantheon's black metal bite finally bears its teeth. Through its sumptuous instrumentation "From A Whisper" depicts a wide range of emotions and does so by incorporating various contrasting moods. The flow between each of these eight songs is executed sublimely and culminates in an album that acts as a voyage in the truest sense of the word. Oak Pantheon's ability to mesmerize and tranquilize in equal measure will surely place this duo upon the upper-tier of forward-thinking artists in underground metal today. This is truly awe-inspiring stuff from America's latest black metal boundarypushers. Dean Brown
Give a writer one gothic doom album to review and he will gorge himself on sighs and heavy hearts for a day. Give a man two gothic doom albums to review (by the same band) and the chances of him topping himself increase exponentially. So this is my second round with The Foreshadowing today. And you’ll be glad to know I haven’t changed my mind in the past hour; they’re still pretty good. I’m a trustworthy reviewer, me. Not one of these fairweather self-styled ‘journalists’ blown around hither and thon on the fickle winds of fashion. I’m far too old and fat for that. It would be churlish to expect The Foreshadowing to have deviated too far from their template between 2010’s ”Oionos” and this album, and indeed, all the basic components seem to be there: synths, guitars,mournful vocals, a glacial pace. But correct me if I am wrong (I’m not, so don’t), there’s an additional touch of the old prog-rocks around this release. Even the shorter songs seem to be shooting for huge structural scope, and mostly pulling it off. Stopping a four-minute tune on a dime to launch into a piano section, beforestarting up a completely new and yet complementary - riff is a move it takes some balls to pull off, and The Foreshadowing have done it on ‘The Forsaken Son’, a song that also gives us a section I’m going tocompare to Samael just because I can. ‘Colonies slinks’ into the middle of a creepy congregation of monastic chants and church bells, setting up a gently picked acoustic mood, cushioned on a cloud of synths. This rolls itself up in a rumbling tom pattern, and before too long, a sampled baritone starts intoning serious-sounding words over it all. A definite journey, but one that has taken place in just over six minutes. Elsewhere, you find dependably atmospheric doom deepened with competent dynamics and enjoyable melodies. ‘Ground Zero’, ‘Havoc’ and ‘Second World’ all fit into this bracket, to ensure the record is atleast delivering what you paid for.
The first time I had heard Sweden's Evocation was about a month ago. The album was "Evoked From Demonic Depths -The Early Years." I have to admit I was really surprised I had not heard of them before as they have been around for so long. I was also impressed by the band's buzz saw guitar sound and melodic death metal sensibilities-Kind of similar to early Entombed. This album was originally released in 2007 and along with their 2008 album “Dead Calm Chaos” are now being released officially in N. America for the first time on September 11th by Metal Blade Records. Thisalbum, much like their other material I have already heard is some great death metal with some really good songs. While the band doesn't re-invent the death metal wheel, they do what they do extremely well, especially when they venture into the more "hooky" end of things in songs such as Chronic Hell- A song that sounds like it was meant to be played live. If you haven't heard these guys before and are curious check it out as this band are a real jewel amongst death metal bands. Honestly, after hearing this and "Evoked From Demonic Depths" I am going to startpicking up the entirety of the band's back catalog. It's that good. Curtis Dewar
Reviewed next issue: Neurosis, Varg, Tiamat, My Dying Bride, Cradle of Filth and many more. GHOST CULT MAGAZINE | 49
General acceptance in icelandic society is pretty high towards the arts and music. Although it could always be more monetary support etc. But in the average person's mind artists have created a good image and reputation for everyone. Icelanders love nothing more than one of their own being accepted by foreigners, its a small nation syndrome. The largest ever icelandic act Björk was not really popular here until foreigners told people she was great. Icelanders hunger for international recognition and praise. In fact famous foreigners are immediately branded “friends of Iceland” the moment they step into the airport terminal. Lately music has been delivering this fix of foreign praise, with it comes public support.
Iceland.. that desolate lonely island which sits like the unwanted child of the two big continents. I would not be lying when i say that the icelandic music scene has gained some attention in recent years. Lately i've been asked a lot about icelandic scene, its produce and characteristics. To summarize, people find it strange that a tiny nation of 320 thousand can produce so many quality acts. So here you go.. my humble thoughts on it and some much needed and hopefully interesting musical tips for you.
Lastly you have the much cited and famous epic icelandic nature factor, the tunes that automatically come pouring out when you watch the northern lights on a frostbitten lava field or when you stare at the sea from a mountaintop with the wind in your hair while doing Abbathian crab walk. Wrong. Nature and surroundings are not a conscious and direct inspiration to many im pretty safe to say. The great mystery of music is not that simple and rarely do musician know the source, let alone understand it. Those are my thoughts on it.. chances are they are all wrong and you have just wasted your valuable time for nothing. In this case i want to give you few insiders pointers of some essential and interesting icelandic bands. Thankfully there are far too many to mention here. Sólstafir
Well … here people drink brennivin, eat putrified shark and sheeps heads and so should you. Simple … the end. Not quite. First not all icelandic bands are good and not all of them sound unique, just like in any music scene. I would however agree that there is an unusually high ratio of original good bands here. So why the hell is that ? Since the music scene is small bands from very different genres interact a lot and even play shows together. Its not unusual seeing the same heads on an indie show and a death metal show. I think very different types of bands indirectly and/or directly influence each other through their music and personal relationships. This blurs boundaries between genres and maybe creates more variability in songwriting. Most bands also realize that it is highly unlikely that they will ever make a living as musicians. Only a handful of mainstream acts do that. Tailoring music towards an audience is not really gonna help your musical career prospect so why not just do whatever you feel like. Everyone are in it for the passion, this also creates a great deal of cooperation and support between musicians and artists in general. This cooperation and the work people do for each other helps bands to develop and produce to the high standard everyone aim for.
This one you should know, if you dont, you haven't lived. Already legends, their last two albums are unbelievably good and creative. They are totally unique and have developed some strange magic in their live performances. Sólstafir could make the happy birthday song sound epic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6j7mUxGz20 Skálmöld Their debut and subsequent wacken performance shot them right to the attention of the metal press. Very impressive genuine viking spirit with no bear fur in sight. Masterfully poetic lyrics with some quality epic metal. Their last album made tops of mainstream charts here and their success is creating something of a metal frenzy in iceland. Their debut made metal a lot more mainstream. Their second album Börn Loka will be released this month. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02sroZqq12I
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HAM What can you say. HAM is an icon in icelandic music, almost as universally liked as the god damn handball team (yes its a real sport). Founded in 1988 and released their second album 2011. They have inspired probably all the other bands on this list. They are the kings of Icelandic heavy music, and beyond. Just worship them!
Why is this band not touring with Mastodon or some other hot shot metal act ? Their talent is mindboggling and so is their music. They play a form of Neurosis meets Mastadon meets melancholic groove madness with some of the best drum work you will ever hear. They are well known here, with years of experience, currently working on their second full length. Hopes are high.
Beneath Technical and brutal death metal. Killer sound and professionalism all around. Its so precise and brutal it empowers you to a point of wanting to rip your own skin from your head. Just released their debut with Unique Leaders Records. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DScWjJHv0I&feature=related Ophidian I
They have been around for a while these guys. The best live show you will see. Just a great groovy and catchy heavy stoner with one of the countries best rock singers. They are touring a lot these days. I don't care if you need to starve your cat or sell your turtle for tickets. Its all worth it, don't miss them live. Drug and alcohol consumption preferred. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypVfmAQLV1Y&feature=related Svartidauรฐi Its the blackest thing you will ever hear. They create haunting and alluring music that sounds like a voice from the deep cold abyss. Be careful, they also add catchiness and groove just to make sure you stare into the deep in a trance wandering on which side of reality you are in. Let me predict that their upcoming album Flesh Cathedral will be a cult greatness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I5PcOr4a40 Norn I love this band because of their attitude. They play a strange mix of black metal and some form of black crust. Its weird punk black metal with attitude and dare i say it, even some humor. Why the hell not. The word on the street is that they are working on their debut. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z2r3IIqQEk Angist Bands doing old school death and black metal have a very tough acceptance criteria in my mind. I love it but my mind has been saturated already with it. Angist is one of those that just add some strange primitive magic to it and you're hooked. The vocals make you wanna call your mom and cry for help. Beautiful crushing old school black death. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9Y2S9R6eZY Momentum
Ophidian I are a young band but already gained some international fame through the release of their debut album Solvet Saeclum. Personally im not the biggest fan of uber technical music, maybe i'm just jealous, i would faint just reading their guitar tabs, let alone play it. They are very impressive, just released their debut. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDdR6Ffipoc Dimma Dimma are experienced bunch of some real rock n rollers. They have grunge/rock background but have been rubbing shoulders with the metal scene for a while. I think with this big occult rock trend today, bands like them might be of interest. They play no bullshit rock with an aura of some gothic darkness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRBjJPRgZxs Dead Skeletons Not metal ok shoot me. I could not skip this list of icelandic bands without mentioning them. Dead Skeletons are the creation of Jรณn Sรฆmundsson a multi talent visual artist and musician. The band is a bigger concept with killer artwork and image. They are apart of the indie psychedelic scene in Reykjavik which is really really good. If you are on the occult, mystical psychedelic sacrificial trance music. Press play and disappear into the light. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2kB5dSc_BM&feature=relmfu Azoic They are a two piece young band which very unassumingly released their first album online a few months ago. Its black, its brutal, its original and very professional. Probably the most promising band around, it drips new talent. One of those bands that just skipped the whole step of being promising, jumped straight into being serious next level darkness. Hope they stay at it, if so this is definitely a one to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXqhpOfdAZA
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