ISSUE 2/NOV 2011
DUALITY IS THE GENESIS OF LIFE
I C S plus THE KONSORTIUM + IRON LAMB ................................................................................................................
+ MORS SUBITA + FLESHRED + SKIRMISH
4 THE KONSORTIUM
12 IRON LAMB
8 ICS VORTEX
10 MORS SUBITA
CREW Editor: David Alexandre Contributors: Luca Niero, Byrant Thomas, Alex Grimm, James Merrett, Ann Sulaiman, Gilberto Rui www.scratchthesurface-webzine.com | email@example.com
With only one year of existence, Finland’s Human Sculpture already shows a strong level of maturity in songwriting and execution on their first effort “Our World Torn Down”. Influenced by groups like The Black Dahlia Murder, At the Gates and Decapitated, the Finn’s sound can be enclosed in this new wave of bands that mix of death-metal brutality and technicality with heavy metal harmonies, along with some pummelling breakdowns. Yet not once they sound like a cheap and mundane imitation of these other acts, Human Sculpture grind along with total command of their craft, without having the need to resort to the same shameless plagiarism that affects a good percentage of similar acts. Although they don’t offer anything new on these three themes, Human Sculpture’s synthesis of technical breakdowns, furious riffs, staggering harmonies and throaty growls really kicks some serious ass and is reason enough for us to keep an eye on this promising and talented act. EAK If Converge and Mastodon had a bastard love child, EAK would
definitely be that ugly and wicked creature. Brilliantly savage and scandalous vile, the band’s first fulllength release “MuzEAk” is the perfect amalgam of Converge’s nihilistic and crusty riffs, Mastodon’s wickedly jagged rhythms and whole piss and vinegar attitude of their early records. “MuzEAK” is truly a pulverising experience, it’s filth, it’s ragged and absolutely vile and when it’s over you feel the need to take a bath in a clean and warm water. WE ARE KILLING OURSELVES
Portugal’s We Are Killing Ourselves are back with The Road of Awareness, their second album and follow-up to their acclaimed debut “Deconstructive Essence”. One of the best things about The Road of Awareness is the band's fusion of Meshuggah technical and mind-shattering rhythms with the pounding groove of someone like Lamb of God. “Extispicium” smacks heavily of that Meshuggah's influence crossed with Lamb of God’s pummelling attitude, with intricate chord progressions, machinegun-like kick drums and a groovy and infectious chorus. The band has definitely written a monster record that will surely break a bone or two wherever it spins.
Scratch the Surface | 3
“...I don’t even have a clue myself where we’ll go next. But I don’t see any radical changes in the near future. There’s still a lot of ways to bend metal, and we’ve only just started...” Scratch the Surface | 4
Norway has produced some seriously innovative and weird music over the last two decades. For every five acts crawling out the deep and dense Norwegian forests and resorting to cult black metal methods, there is always a group of musicians clearly bound to take a leftfield road, making music that not only is entirely their own, but it’s also challenging and irreverent. This bizarre pedigree of vanguard musicians is vast and goes from The Third and The Mortal to In the Woods, from Ulver to Red Harvest. And the well hasn’t run dry yet as a young Norwegian collective known as The Konsortium, definitely gravitate toward the more irreverent end of this spectrum, twisting a harsh black metal with some progressive overtones and epic melodies. There’s precious little information about the band available, its members have deliberately made an effort to hide their identities behind masks and pseudonyms. With the exception of Teloch from Mayhem/Nidingr that plays guitar and Erlend Hjelvik from Kvelertak that lends his voice to some songs, no one knows who’s involved with band, although rumours suggest that they’re all prominent figures of the Norwegian metal scene. Guitarist and founder, simply known as One discusses the genesis of the group, their self-titled debut release and the volatile nature of their music. Does this decision to keep your identities secret means that you prefer the music to do all the talking or are there other motifs? No, that’s correct. But I have to add that there’s nothing mandatory about this – just look at Teloch or Ording, they have chosen to do otherwise. Will you ever reveal the real people behind the masks? Well, as I said, some of the members go by their birth or artist names, so anyone can find out who they are. As for myself, I prefer to stay as much in the background as possible. Privacy is an underrated thing. How do you wish The Konsortium to be perceived, a supergroup, a side-project or a bunch of kindred spirits bound to craft some irreverent metal music like the name suggests? Definitely the latter! It’s more than a mere project, and we are not a “super group” as such. Teloch has some fame to his name of course, but what matters are his skills, not how many followers he has on Twitter. Reviews and critics are comparing you to various artists like Arcturus, Borknagar, Solefald and Dødheimsgard, how does that make you feel and how would you describe your own music? All of the bands you mention are capable of delivering music with serious impact, so I see no other way than to take it as a compliment. I haven’t heard the latest albums of Arcturus, Borknagar and Solefald, but I still know that all the names you came up with are of a certain quality. Myself, I prefer to describe the Konsortium’s music as metal, plain and simple. We do things with a twist, but it’s still metal. Some describe us as black metal, and if that’s what we are to them, then fine, but in my own opinion, we stray too far off the radar to fit that genre exclusively.
Based on the reviews you’ve read of your album what bands do you see mentioned most frequently when trying to draw points of comparison to your style? Have you read any that just had you roll over the eyes and shrug in confusion? I’ve seen some pretty puzzling associations with bands like Fear Factory. Hah, I haven’t seen that one. The usual ones are the bands you’ve already mentioned, in addition to Satyricon and Thorns, along with the later releases of Mayhem. I’ve seen a few reviews from Germany, where the reviewer just doesn’t seem to understand the music. If you don’t like the music, that’s fine, but at least give the record more than one spin before you make up your mind. Anyways, I’ve also seen one review comparing us to “Bathory in space”, which is fucking great, hehe. I only remember one review that made me kind of pissed, stating that we were lacking ambition and just trying to be a copy of Satyricon, Thorns and DHG… Sure, you can hear in our riffing that there are similarities, and that we come from a certain style of metal… but a copy?? If you can’t tell us apart from those bands, you either have no clue of what you’re talking about or you’re simply plain deaf. Tell us a bit more about the record. How did everything come together, the end result can be attributed to a team effort or does any member take the role of principal song writer? I have written most of the material on this album, but it’s still a team effort. Teloch did almost all of the guitar work, for example. We don’t function as a “normal” band at all, but get together when we have to… Anyways, I guess it’s a mix of both team and individual effort. Are you difficult person to work with or do you generally tend accept other opinions when it comes to songwriting lightly? Well… I have been in several bands and have made music with quite a few people over the years… and I think it’s safe to say that I am not an easy person to work with. The conflicts are too many to mention, and there’s no doubt that others see me as a band dictator at times. But so be it. I’ve read that you might invite other musicians from various fields to collaborate with The Konsortium in the future, if that is so, do you see the band as a volatile entity with no bounds to a specific genre or style? Yeah, that’s correct! In other words, I don’t even have a clue myself where we’ll go next. But I don’t see any radical changes in the near future. There’s still a lot of ways to bend metal, and we’ve only just started. What are your realistic goals for The Konsortium in the next few years? Where do you see your music going in the future? Difficult question. I am happy as long as we continue to challenge ourselves and evolve, and don’t let anything run on autopilot or routine, you know. There are no plans on taking over the world or become massively popular or anything like that. Well, perhaps taking over the world, that would be ok. Apart from that, we’ll go where the music takes us. The Konsortium is out now via Agonia Records More info at: www.facebook.com/thekonsortium Words: David Alexandre
Scratch the Surface | 5
Since the release of their debut ‘Polars’ in 2003, Holland’s Textures have been gradually building a strong reputation as one of the most challenging and skilful acts in the metal scene, which now culminates in their most recent release ‘Dualism’. A record that marks a few firsts for the band, it’s the first album featuring new vocalist Daniel De Jongh and new keyboard player Uri Dijk, and it’s their first effort for Nuclear Blast, following three records on Listenable Records. Scratch the Surface communes with drummer Stef Broks to find more about Dualism.
“No never, because there’s simply no reason to be worried. We always release songs that are completely how we are ourselves. And we only release them if we are 100% confident about them. Just like with new record ‘Dualism’, this is Textures 2011 and ‘Silhouettes’ was Textures 2008. They are statements to those very moments. The art that we create is the combination of Bart, Jochem, Stef, Daniel, Remko and Uri! We are not ashamed of being ourselves and that's why we have no worries about releasing a record. Simply because being ourselves is our only true way of being. If people don't like the music, that's a pity but we have show our true face. It's take it or leave it thing, but luckily most people stay hahaha.”
First of all, I want to congratulate you on the new album, “Dualism” is an amazing record and in my opinion it’s your best work to date. Is the band happy with the final outcome?
It took you guys three years to follow up “Silhouettes”, couldn’t you have made the new record any quicker? Was it a difficult album to piece together?
“Yes definitely. It took a lot of time and effort to craft this record into the shape that we wanted. Right in the middle of the writing process our former singer Eric and former keyboard player Richard decided to quit the band. Luckily for us there was a guy available in Holland who could match up to Eric's vocal skills. So, for three years we worked our asses of, built a new rehearsal space, built a new studio and finally here it is, ‘Dualism’. This is Textures 2011, stronger than ever.” Have you got high hopes for this album? “We have a new label, the big-shot Nuclear Blast and we have the same booking agent as Devin Townsend, Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan so hell yeah we have high hopes. Together with our management they’re pushing Textures to a maximum. One of the first results is this US tour with Periphery and all the interviews we have to do over here. It's amazing. Our new video-clip already ended up in some charts and probably in Holland and Great Britain the album will hit the charts as well. We never could have dreamed about that.” Do you think the band felt some kind of pressure, consciously or not, when you started penning the new songs given the high expectations surrounding the band with the recent signing to Nuclear Blast?
“That was the departure of the Eric and Richard and the joining of Daniel on vocals and Uri on keys. At first it felt like a slap in the face, you know. We were friends for such a long time. We really needed some time to recover from that. But I'm glad that our artistic strife survived and kept Textures alive. Textures 2.0 haha” This is the second time you had to look for a new singer and that’s always a trick position to fill in. How has these recent changes affected how you’ve approached this new record? Have the new members had an impact on record's overall sound? “Daniel's timbre is very similar to Eric's voice. Daniel knows what the soul of Textures is and I mean that in a couple of ways. First of all, we knew each other already. Secondly, he was acquainted with the Textures material. But most important of it all, Daniel knows about singing soul. I mean, about bending a note like soul singers do. In that way Daniel is not a 100% metal singer who sings heroic anthems about knights or blood and death. His vocals have this expression that touches us just like Mike Patton, Maynard James Keenan or Phil Anselmo do. Some people call that blues, I call it soul. Hey, but let me be clear, for the biggest part Daniel is screaming and grunting the hell out of himself, so it's not clean all the way haha.” Did it take a while to get used to the new members Daniel De Jongh (ex-CiLiCe) and Uri Dijk (Ethereal) style, or everything just clicked immediately?
Scratch the Surface | 6
“Socially there was a click right away. After some changes you get very aware of what you need in a band, musically and socially. Daniel is a very experienced man. With his previous band he did loads of shows around the globe, so he knows what he was up to when joining Textures. On the other side, we were lucky that Daniel is from our same small country, Holland. Most Dutch people have the same kind of sober attitude and rough humour. I don't think Textures would have continued with somebody from another country. Speaking the same language is very important to us.” When I was listening to “Dualism” for the first time I noticed some songs are heavily drenched in progressive overtones, it seems that your love for prog rock/metal is more prevalent on this new record than ever before. Is this something that you were looking for when the band begin the process of writing this new record or was it more or less a natural thing? “We write songs very impulsively, what comes out is coming out. Sometimes that is an epic and clean song like ‘Reaching Home’, while other times that is a freaky, polyrhythmic ‘Singularity’. We listen to so much stuff that we have influences from all over. Besides that, Textures always had a very big range of sounds, ever since our debut ‘Polars’. So, we don't think Textures has a very strict formula to work with. Of course we use a lot of special and recognizable ingredients or tools to create a song. And of course all band members have their own sound when they play. That is the soul of the band.”
The album was once again produced by guitarist Jochem Jacobs at Split Second Sound. What’s the atmosphere in the studio been like this time? “Jochem is always hyped up, a real workaholic. He never stops before the product is perfect. So every day he and the rest of us would set a goal and everyday we had to fulfil what was on the list. He is the owner of the studio so he can plan his own schedule, and most of the days that's Textures 24/7. For the drums we took 6 days. Everyday we’d record from 10am till 17pm. Those were long journeys, but definitely needed to create the result that we wanted. In total the recordings took 3 months plus a week to mix and master it.” Even though Textures are now signed to one of the biggest independent record labels in the music scene, it’s surprising to witness that you still have the DIY attitude that characterized the band’s whole career. The production duties were handled by guitarist Jochem, the album cover and layout was designed by former singer Eric Kalsbeek and bassist Remko Tielemans. Did the label gave you a green card to do it all by yourself? “They are no majors so you could say they gave us carte blanche. The scene thrives by bands that are kind of stubborn and create their own sound and Textures has always been like that. We just love to be creative with our music, the lyrics, the videos and the merchandise. The whole Textures package really.”
“...We are fascinated by the contrasts between man-machine, nurture-nature, dark-light, physics-brains and how we deal with that. Dualism is representative for the choices that we make, rational or emotional...” Do you guys plan to explore the progressive side of your music any further?
Tells us about the lyrical themes explored in this new record, what is the dualism you’re referring to?
“Well, to be progressive in when it comes to freakiness is not really an issue. For us progressive is way more important. We just want to create something new, something fresh for our eyes. At least for ourselves we have to make some progression in that way. To express that in freaky rhythms or riffs is just a tool to do that. To create interesting song structures and sounds is a more important tool. I don't know in which way we will head. Music is always an impulsive and natural thing to us. Let's see in which direction we will flow.”
“We are fascinated by the contrasts between man-machine, nurture-nature, dark-light, physics-brains and how we deal with that. Dualism is representative for the choices that we make, rational or emotional. Every song tells a person struggling with finding a state of enlightenment, of beauty or bliss. We wrote it down in a poetical way so that every reader or listener could find their own meaning in it. People have to invest some energy in listening to Textures to get the highest result I guess.”
So, how does “Dualism” compare to the band’s previous releases, particularly “Silhouettes”?
We go all the way with this record. At the moment we are on the road in America, Portland, Oregon to be precise. After this 5week tour we go to UK for 10 days, then our homeland Holland and some shows in France, Belgium and Germany. By the end of the year, maybe we’ll hit India again and next year....Europe and maybe USA one more time. Even Australia is an option.”
“There are two big differences I guess. The first was that the whole writing process was cut down in two pieces because the dudes left the band. We needed some time to recover, you know. It was a slap in the face. You need some time to think about it before you strike back. I can assure you that we never felt knocked down. When we talked to each other the first time after the departure of Eric and Richard we immediately decided to continue our crusade for modern metal music. The fourth album is our way of striking back. So that said, everything was like what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger! The second difference is that unlike the other albums, the songs were our main goal. That's the reason why the tracks are so distinctive from each other. Each song has its specific mood, tempo, sound and vibe. But in the overall, the album is more coherent than our previous ones. The sound and the overall track listing is one package with just different ingredients. Like a heavy, long dinner in a good restaurant haha.”
Following the upcoming North-American and European tours, what is next for the band?
Anything else you'd like to add? Thanks for the time. “Next week our new album Dualism is to be released. Check out some new songs on our Facebook. Our video from new song ‘Reaching Home’ was released already last week. Check it out guys. Hope to see you on the road!” Dualism is out now via Nuclear Blast Records More info at: www.texturesband.com Words: David Alexandre
Scratch the Surface | 7
no rest for the wicked Scratch the Surface | 8
Following an acrimonious split with Dimmu Borgir, ICS Vortex aka Simen Hestnæs didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself and decided to roll up his sleeves and start working on a number of projects that have been laying dormant for the last few years like Arcturus and Lamented Souls, plus he rejoined Borknagar and even had time to create his first solo effort. Recently issued by Century Media, “Storm Seeker” might surprise a few people as ICS Vortex probes more emotional, progressive territory and lets his creative spark get more expansive than ever before. The progressive and hard-rock style contrasts heavily with ICS Vortex previous endeavours, yet the ambitious instrumentation and dazzling songcraft proves that the musician’s name holds up pretty well on its own. ICS Vortex discusses the making of the album and his future plans. Now that the Dimmu Borgir chapter is closed, Hestanes says that the relationships between him and his former band members are pretty much broken and there’s no chance of collaborating with them again, ICS Vortex is determined to give a new lease of life to some of his long lost, but highly missed projects like Arcturus and Lamented Souls and to finally to commit to tape some ideas that have gestating in his mind for quite some time. “I had these songs in the back of my mind for quite some time now. I had a lot of material laying around in minidiscs, tapes and hard discs and I started collecting the material and produce it. There’s stuff that goes back to 2001, songs that wouldn’t fit in any of my other projects or bands. Songs like ‘Blackmobile’ had been finished for a long time, I think I first jammed that song with Nicholas Barker and the other guys on our first tour with Dimmu Borgir in 2001 I believe. I’ve just added the clean vocals and it turned out quite better that I thought it would.” Although most of the songs featured in his first record have been laying around, waiting to be recorded for quite some time, “Storm Seeker” has very few ties with the symphonic black metal of Dimmu Borgir or Borknagar, in fact it will surely surprise a few people as ICS Vortex probes a more emotional, progressive territory and lets his creative spark get more expansive than ever before. The progressive and hard-rock style of some of these new songs contrasts heavily with Hestanaes previous endeavours. “I found it to be extremely diverse when I first listened to it in the studio as a whole. I thought wow this is going to surprise some people for sure, it’s a bit more challenging. There was lot of hard work and effort involved as I’ve tried to make it all work together, to make all these diverse influences to sound like a complete package.” Were you ever concerned how the fans might react to this record? I guess a lot of them were expecting a more black-metal sound. “I don’t know, it depends on how big fans they’re, I know I have some die hard fans, probably not that many, ah ah. But for people who know about my other bands like Lamented Souls and previous stuff it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. I thought it was going to be more complaining about the material but it has been a lot of pads in the back and I guess a lot of people just matured in the same sort of way as I did and now we’re on the level and they can relate to my music and my lyrics and maybe they think it’s ok not to scream all the time ah ah ah.” As mentioned before, “Storm Seeker” displays Hestnaes’ affection for hard-rock music, “Windward” for instance is hands down the mellowest song he ever written and reminds me of Kiss at certain times, while songs like the title theme evokes some influences of artists like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
“Well Kiss is one of mine all time favourite bands so it’s great you say that yeah. I can see that.” So, could you elaborate on the effect hard-rock and acts like Kiss, Led Zeppelin had on your sound? “Overall, they’re all bands that I grew up listening to. I started following Kiss even before I’ve heard of hard rock music. As a kid, like when I was four or five years old I started collecting these trading Kiss cards and all the kids wanted to play in Kiss because of these cool cards, so you know that’s how it started and the first Kiss tape I’ve heard I was like five or six year old, it was the Hotter than Hell record and that was an excellent start. It’s was Kiss, then Wasp, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, a lot of punk stuff and also some alternative things like Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and The Birthday Party and then I evolved to more hardcore bands, Megadeth, Slayer and then some Norwegian black metal bands. It’s been music, music all the time for me, that’s what my life had been based around you know. And I never wanted to be narrowed minded when it comes to music, even though there was a time in the beginning of the 90’s where a lot of Norwegians were narrow minded including me for a time I admit.” So Kiss was the band that touched you in a way where you knew it would always be part of your life and wanted to be a musician and play in a band? “Absolutely” What’s been most challenging aspect of your career following the split with Dimmu Borgir? “Humm, I don’t know, I’ve been working hard in making new music since then, but I’d say working with so many creative and talented people has definitely been a challenge for me.” Indeed, Hestaenes have been extremely busy in the last few years, not only he crafted his first solo effort, he also rejoined Borknagar and even brought Arcturus back from limbo. “That’s fantastic and I’m really happy that it happened really, I’m especially optimistic for Arcturus as the album we’ve prepared is going to sound massive.” And hey, let’s not forget about Lamented Souls, I thought the band was buried considering your involvement with Dimmu Borgir and Einar’s focus on Duplicate Records. “Lamented Souls was never really dead, it’s just been inactive for so many years. You know we always wanted to record another album, but really haven’t had the time to put it together. We’ve trading e-mails back and forth with ideas, and we’ve the songs finished, we just need to write the lyrics and find time to put it together and I hope there’s a new record out in 2012.” What about these other projects that were announced recently like Artisan and God of Atheist? “Well it’s interesting that you mention God of Atheist ‘cause I just mentioned it a couple of times, but that’s Asgeir Mickelson band and he recorded all the drums of album, I’m not going to mention the rest of the line-up, but there’s going to be some big names on that album. I’m set to do the vocals and it’s going more technical metal like Atheist and stuff like that.” “Artisan is a project that Jens has just started, but before I do that I just have to finish the recordings of the new Borknagar album, which I did the bass lines and some vocals. So there’s a lot of stuff going on.”
Excuse me did you just say Kiss? Hestaenes interjects. Yeah, somehow the song’s vibe reminds me of Kiss.
Storm Seeker is out now on Century Media Records
Scratch the Surface | 9
Made up of former and current members of Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Dark Flood and Catamenia, Mors Subita are one of the most exciting and crushing new acts coming out the cold and grey Finland lately. Their debut full-length release “Human Waste Compression” recently issued by Violent Journey Records shows that this is a band clearly destined for bigger and better things. We caught up with guitarist and mastermind Mika Lammassaari to learn more about the working methods of Mors Subita and what to expect from them in the future. Congratulations on “Human Waste Compression”, it’s a great record. Are you satisfied with the final results? Thanks you very much! We’re glad you like it! We’re fully satisfied with the outcome and we’re proud to finally release this album! And of course we could not have done it without the amazing people who collaborated and helped us! Cheers! In your bio, it mentions that you all play in other bands such as Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Dark Flood. Does this means that Mors Subita is a side-project or do you want people to perceive it as a full and independent band?
Mors Subita is my main band, and has always been. It’s an independent and fully loaded, ready-to-kill band 100%. It doesn’t mean I don’t focus on Eternal Tears of Sorrow though. For me, Eternal Tears of Sorrow has fed my compositional needs and also made me focus more clearly on the sound of Mors Subita. If I didn’t have EToS, all those song ideas would go to waste. Our new rhythm guitarist, Tero Piltonen (lead vocals/Dark Flood) is also a killer growler, so I think he truly needs a band where he can focus on vocals. Regarding your first album, “Human Waste Compression” is a detailed, eclectic and richly textured effort. We can hear several musical influences ranging from thrash, death and black metal. What were some of the influences, either musical or otherwise, that helped shape “Human Waste Compression” into such a diverse record? Our root influences come from 90´s metal such as At the Gates, Carcass, Testament, Death, Pantera etc. bands we grew up with. Mors Subita member’s personal musical influences vary quite a lot, so ideas flow kinda nicely within each other. Of course some “too poppy or non-Mors sounding” ideas can be shot down pretty fast, haha. From a composer’s perspective, I try to keep my eyes open for all good music, regardless of the genre. That’s where the diversity comes from, not listening only metal, haha. If you had to place Mors Subita in a genre, what would it be? Hard erectional serious Ulåbord melodic thrash death punk pop underground mainstream metal!
Scratch the Surface | 10
When and how was the album composed? What was your writing/recording process like? The material has been written mainly between 2008 and 2010 except a couple older killer tunes we felt needed to be included in the cd. I write all music pretty much from start to finish at home. Some songs for example the opening track “The Sermon” was pretty much ready from the first demo, lyrics and arrangements included. Sometimes ideas need more input from the band and those ideas get tossed around at our rehearsals, usually between me and our drummer, Haapala. We just jam on some stuff that needs to be worked on. Me and our former rhythm guitarist, Insu, recorded the drums for the album at a small local studio in Oulu and the rest was recorded by me at our rehearsal place. Pretty dark and agonizing period for me as I took the responsibility of producing, recording, editing and doing all guitars and backing vocals for the album, haha. For my fortune, the guys did just amazing work in the studio and where empathic enough put up with my Nazi asshole behaviour, haha! Now that the album is out, what's on the horizon for the band? Promoting the album and playing as many gigs as possible. At the moment we’ve got a tour going on in Finland but we hope to play abroad soon! Our main goal is to push Mors Subita forward with full force as far as possible! Is there anything else you'd like to add? Pre-order “Human Waste Compression” worldwide at http://www.recordshopx.com/artist/mors_subita/human_waste_c ompression and order our new merch at http://www.northerntribe.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=90_120&l Join our fanpage at www.facebook.com/morssubita Thanks for the interview and keep rotting in the free world! Human Waste Compression is out now on Violent Journey Records More info at: www.morssubita.com Words: David Alexandre
A fearsome blast of blackened thrash metal, comparable to the better works of Destroyer 666 and Aura Noir.
Iron Lamb are something of a super-group featuring members with a vast experience in the Swedish death-metal scene with their involvement in prominent bands such as General Surgery, Repugnant and Dismember. Yet, their first record “The Original Sin” is so much different from what these guys have done in the past and is deeply rooted in dbeat and punk rock, and that to me was a bit shocking at first. I guess with their background in death-metal and the involvement of Pulverised Records I was expecting well, more Swedish death-metal. We asked bassist and author of the notorious "Swedish Death Metal" book, Daniel Ekeroth, if he gets similar reactions from other people who listen to Iron Lamb for the first time? Well, abroad people tend to know more about our history within death metal bands. In Sweden, however, the majority are also familiar with our work within punk and rock in bands such as Diskonto, Crash Diet, Bombstrike and Subvision. I guess you can say that most of our previous bands have been pretty rooted within specific genres, whereas we are not too concerned about rules in Iron Lamb. We just make music we like now, be it metal or punk. If the riffs are good and the song rocks, we don’t care if it’s labelled punk or metal. It’s only rock n roll, and that’s the way we like it!
We certainly didn’t think like that at the moment, we just wanted the album to sound good. I guess the rawness comes from our working method – just bang the shit out of the songs, preferably in one take. Most of our favourite music was made in the 80’s, so I guess that influence was natural. I hear a lot of comparisons to Mötorhead, but I also hear influential twists of Poison Idea and Discharge. Who are the important musicians that influence your writing in Iron Lamb? All the great bands we like – Ac/Dc, Poison Idea, Venom, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Bathory, Autopsy, GG Allin, Ramones etc. Of course, guys like Lemmy and Eddie Clarke sure are inspirations, but any great riff will get our blood pressure up. Basically it’s the feeling of rock that gets us in the mood, that raw energy that just makes you feel alive. Why is the album called “The Original Sin”? And what does the cover art depicting a crowned lamb have to do with that? We are all lambs, just waiting for the slaughter at the end of our life. The iron lamb is the one that breaks out of the horde, and indulges in a life of sin. Break all rules, never look back and piss on authorities as you go wild!
And how did Iron Lamb come together? What was the spark that ignited the whole thing?
Do you have any plans of putting out another full-length or release in the future or this was a one-off experience?
I know Grga, Johan and Tomas had been talking for years about starting a rock n roll band, and I guess it finally happened in early 2009. Soon after, they lured me into joining the band, I actually turned it down at first but since I had locked myself out of the apartment I had nothing better to do than turn up at their rehearsal place! When I heard the first songs I was hooked, so I just joined on spot. Later Jens came into the horde, and completed the line-up. I guess we all feel a lot more freedom in this band than with our former groups; we can just do what the hell we want.
We will probably record some new 7” singles first, but next year we will surely work on another album. This autumn we will also do a European tour, so you better watch out if we come to your town. We feel great about the band, there’s no way we would quit any time soon!
With “The Original Sin” it seems you’ve made an effort to sound analogue and raw, is there a sense of trying to record an album that conveys a 80’s punk rock vibe?
Anything else you'd like to add? If anyone wants to get stuff from us, you can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org We still have some 7” singles left, along with a slew of different shirts.
Original Sin is out now on Pulverised Records More info at: http://www.facebook.com/Iron-Lamb Words: David Alexandre
Scratch the Surface | 12
Evoking the dirty, pestilent atmosphere of early Dismember and Entombed, Sweden’s Entrails are old-school death metal way down to the bone, but they cannot be seen as another bunch of new kids trying to emulate the crusty and infectious sounds of old-school Swedish death-metal as Entrails’ origins go way back to the early nineties. The band has just released their crushing sophomore album, “The Tombs Awaits”, and we caught up with guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist to discuss this new record, and why has taken Entrails almost two decades to put forth their debut record. It took almost19 years for Swedish death metallers Entrails to put forth their debut album, yet only a year has passed since the release of “Tales from the Morgue” and the band already issued their sophomore record entitled “The Tomb Awaits”. Does this mean you’re determined to recover some the lost ground?
speak. The solos are in my opinion not that much more melodic and to me it’s almost the same as “Tales”. You have a new line up for this album. How did that change the writing and recording process? “Nothing special, but there are more brains now and then I think the songs are a bit more aggressive this time. When I write the songs I can end up doing too long parts before some changes, but now we are working as a team and the songs got a new dimension now.” Just like “Tales from the Morgue” the new record was mixed and mastered by Dan Swano, who’s an interesting fellow. He’s capable of some mellowest and wimpiest shit, yet he always revealed a penchant for brutal and old-school death metal. Are you pleased with his work and the final outcome?
“Yeah, it was a long time for the debut to come out but things finally worked out turned and it feels great to finally have something released… so to your question I would say yeah, sort of…”
“Totally! He's the man for our sound. He knows exactly what we want and he brings it to us. Well invested money.”
I understand that most of the material featured in “Tales from the Morgue” had been lying around for years, waiting to be recorded. What about this new record, is it all recent stuff or you had been digging through your old archives one again?
How do you view the current metal scene when compared to when you first started, in the early nineties? There is no tapetrading but there’s a looot of file-sharing and that makes it difficult to sell records right?
“That's right! The material was made in the 90´s on ‘Tales’ and like 80% of ‘The Tomb Awaits’ is from that time as well. Since we became a complete band for this album we also wanted to do something new, but still do it in the old way. And it worked out real good so I am not afraid to let them help on every song, plus there is more stuff in my tape collections that could fit in some songs in future releases.” How does “The Tomb Awaits” compare to Entrails' previous release? I noticed that some of the guitar soloing is a bit more melodic, do you agree?
“Today it is almost computer for everything, good or bad. Well, without it I think Entrails wouldn't exist today and would have been dead and buried from that day I closed it down. Back then, we didn't have this contact with this tape world since we lived to far outside where it all happened. But still today there are people living for tapes, and that's really cool. Same is for the vinyl. File-sharing is a thing that have become so brutally big now so it's a yeah to your question about selling records. I won't stop making music because of those stupid mongoloids wants to spoil the bands by illegally uploading the bands music.
“To us it feels a lot darker and better done in everything so to
Anything else you’d like to add? “Keep supporting the underground DM by buying our stuff. www.serpentstore.se is our web-store.”
Death Awaits You
Scratch the Surface | 13
It may be their first release ever, but Finland’s Fleshred show on “Bloodtorn” that they have already mastered all the essential aspects of great and extreme death metal. It turns that Fleshred are actually a group of seasoned and skilled musicians, some doubling duties in acts like Ghoul Patrol, and most importantly they’re determined to separate flesh from bone with their amazingly brutal and relentless deathmetal. Below, Scratch the Surface asks guitarist and founder Jani Hentila his original intentions for Fleshred and their debut release “Bloodtorn”. It seems that Fleshred is a band with a cause, to put forth some straight up, ferocious death metal. That was the specific direction you wanted to go when you first started Fleshred right? I had some thrash songs written for my ex-band Evince. First intention was to start new thrash metal band and use those songs. I was looking for other musicians to start up the project. At some point I discussed with Jussi about playing death metal. I’ve always listened death metal and finally after meeting Oku we decided that Fleshred plays death metal. Very first song was “The Halls of Tormented Flesh” which can be also heard on “Bloodtorn”.
They had very primitive production in late 80’s, early 90’s. On the other hand I like modern production like for example Dan Swanö produces. I think Fleshred sound is some kind of mixture of both words but absolutely more modern. I don’t want intentionally copy early death metal production because nowadays it’s possible to produce a crushing and brutal sound without losing the live feeling. What are Fleshred's main musical influences? What bands did you guys grow up with and what are your recent favourites? Amorphis, Xysma, Grave, Funebre, Unleashed, Pestilence, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse…typical stuff. Like all kids back then thrash bands like Metallica, Slayer, Testament, Sepultura, Anthrax, Overkill, Stone, Airdash etc. but also WASP and KISS. I think Stray Cats is one of the Jussi’s all-time favourites...great rock band actually. Hail Of Bullets is my personal favourite at the moment; VERY brutal and catchy music. Martin Van Drunen destroys! Vader latest album is maybe best album this year. What about lyrically, are there any concepts or themes behind this first album? Not really. Typical death metal stuff but also more complex lyrics like can be heard on “When All Fades”.
In that regard, how do you feel about “Bloodtorn”, the band’s debut full-length?
These days playing live plays a pivotal role in getting music to the public. Are there any plans to support the album with a tour?
It's little bit hard for me to judge the album as I've written the songs and listen the album like 10000 times before the release. I was also recording drums, guitars and bass tracks. So far the feedback has been very positive. The music is pretty straight forward but we have tried to make songs dynamic; very fast and very slow and everything between, tempo changes, not so typical song structures etc. Hopefully these things keep music interesting.
Tours are expensive and hard to arrange because we all have day jobs, some have kids and so on. But we absolutely are going to make live shows every now and then. Pete and Oku are playing in Ghoul Patrol and they will be releasing album soon as well. The schedules must be fit with Ghoul Patrol shows.
So how exactly did you all meet up and decided to form Fleshred, did you all knew each other before this new venture? I knew Jussi and Pave. Oku was found from Finnish metal board called Imperiumi. Oku knew Pete and that’s it. Fleshred was born. We had many discussions earlier with Jussi to start a death metal band. Jussi had death metal band called Tenebrae in early 90’s so he really liked the idea to play death metal again.
Are there any other happenings or things going on with the band or you personally that you would like me to let people know about? I’d like to thank your interest towards Fleshred. Bloodtorn was released on 28th September and can be ordered worldwide on Levykauppa Äx (http://www.recordshopx.com/artist/fleshred/bloodtorn/). Remember to buy the albums and support the music you like. Bloodtorn out now on Violent Journey Records More info at: www.facebook/fleshred
One of the aspects of the album that I really enjoy is the crisp and brutal production, it’s not overproduced or glossy by any means, yet you can hear all the instruments and every crushing note in perfection. Was that a conscious decision to give the songs a slightly modern twist but still retain all the brutality and vile fury of death-metal? I really like and respect Scandinavian pioneers like Nihilist / Entombed, Amorphis, Nirvana 2002, Xysma, Grave, etc.
Scratch the Surface | 14
SKIRMISH IN FOR A KILL
Listening to "Through the Abacinated Eyes" is akin to getting caught in a bloody violent crossfire in the most dangerous drug cartel in South-America. Throughout 40 minutes, Skirmish holds nothing back and punishes our eardrums with their hyper-aggressive blend of raging riffs, crushing rhythms and furious vocals. In short, it’s heavy as shit. Scratch the Surface asked guitarist Mikko Kupiainen what kind of things motivated or inspired the band to channel all this anger into "Through the Abacinated Eyes". Read the answers below. Life itself, cold winters and bad hangovers. All of us have to take a certain amount of shit from somewhere each day and we, as a band, throw that into 40 minutes of aggressive music. It’s either better than buying a gun or doing something else stupid. “Through the Abacinated Eyes” became aggressive and heavy as shit, that's for sure. Mikko wrote the basics of music, Jani most of the lyrics, but the infinite hours of jamming together finding the best solutions for each track moulded the album into the fierce bad motherfucker it is. And that probably sums up all of our feelings for the last winter. Now that the album is finally out, what are your expectations for it? Expectations are to get our name out there in the open. We have a strong album to promote, sales have been quite good so far for a nameless band, and the reviews have been mostly positive. Hopefully the concert promoters will recognize the name soon from the mass-load of e-mails they get daily. Also there are some things going on outside of Finland, let’s hope the promoters out there are nice too. So far we’ve got some attention in the metal medias, Finnish Inferno magazine noted us with an interview, Metal Hammer UK included us on the free CD with the August issue and many webzines with their own community of readers have interviewed, wrote about the album release, reviewed etc. Tell us a little about how Skirmish got started. I believe the band has been around since at least 2005 and had released three EP’s prior to the release of this debut full-length right?
That’s right. Those first EP’s were less professional in a productive way, but the latest “Skirmish” 2010, which we actually made at the same studio as debut, got some attention worldwide and lot of positive feedback. In the beginning there were no any bigger plans or whatever. We just started to rehearse in a dirty cellar and played gig every now and then. Compared to today, a few of the first years were searching right persons to the group and learning to play together. Actually our line-up has changed a lot from those days too. Today, only Mikko (guitar) and Jani (vocals) are in from the starters. The songs we wrote then were also not so good as today, but the base-work was done there. How does "Through the Abacinated Eyes" compare to those EP’s, particularly the last one “Skirmish”? It’s a step forward again. Skirmish-EP got attention, good reviews and was overall received very well. But on “Through the Abacinated Eyes” we come yet more aggressive but more melodic too, more innovative and there is definitely more variations between the tracks. It’s good to compare great past music and notice you’ve moved on and done something new for yourself, and made it sound again a notch better. In conclusion; the songs are better, the production is better, cover art is great and the whole package is at least one step higher level. If you had to describe the sound of Skirmish to someone who had never heard the band's music, what would you say? Mainly Skirmish is aggressive metal band with influences from every here and there. Someone has called us deathrash or whatever, but we like to call it just metal. Some editor labelled us “turbocharged Sentenced” which may have something you can start, but it is just only reference. Musically our influences are metal in almost every possible genre, but progressive rock, classic rock and stuff like that are there too even it maybe can’t be heard directly. We have grown up with 80’s and 90’s metal, so I guess these are the most important musical influences; even there are lot of modern vibes too. "Through the Abacinated Eyes" out now on Violent Journey Records Read full interview at: www.scratchthesurface-webzine.com
Scratch the Surface | 15
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
TEXTURES - DUALISM (Nuclear Blast) Since the release of their debut “Polars” in 2003, Holland’s Textures have been gradually building a strong reputation as one of the most challenging and skilful acts in the metal scene, which now culminates in their most recent release ‘Dualism’. A record that marks a few firsts for the band, it’s the first album featuring new vocalist Daniel De Jongh and new keyboard player Uri Dijk, and it’s their first effort for Nuclear Blast, following three records on Listenable Records. “Dualism” also sees the quintet moving towards a more progressive sound, yet you’ll only start noticing that change when third theme “Reaching Home” pops in with one of mellowest vocal melodies and most soothing chord progressions of their entire career. New singer Daniel De Jongh does a great job assuming the role left vacant by Eric Kalsbeek and his powerful, dynamic voice suits Textures' sound extremely well. This new album offers plenty of quieter, subtle moments that could sit happily alongside someone like Marillion or Riverside, particularly “Consonant Hemispheres” and “Foreclosure”. These songs reflect a more subtle and polished side of Textures, with charming melodies that express some serious 80’s prog affection. However, don't despair, they haven't abruptly morphed into a prog-fixated act like Opeth did on their latest work as “Dualism” still offers plenty of powerful, assertive and challenging moments. Songs like “Black Horses Stampede” and “Singularity” stand out, erupting from the speakers with vigorous and forceful intent. “Dualism” is a mighty and accomplished record, the one that will surely promote Textures to the premier league. (9/10) David Alexandre
ALL PIGS MUST DIE - GOD IS WAR (Southern Lord) With a name like All Pigs Must Die, it's clear that this Massachusetts four-piece are not into the subtlety game and their music is not to be taken lightly. Vile as a gangrene infection and menacing as the great white shark, “God is War” is one of the fiercest, ugliest, most threatening records issued this year. From the get go, “Death Dealer” demonstrates what APMD are all about, enraged and buzz saw riffs, furious and relentless percussion and gut wrenching snarls amongst other delights. It’s like a cross between the primitive extreme metal of acts like Celtic Frost and Entombed with the raging d-beat/hardcore of Cro-Mags and Discharge. “Pulverization” recaptures that vintage Entombed sound, with the savage chainsaw guitars crushing all in their path while vocalist Kevin Baker spews pure bile. “Sacrosanct” erupts with relentless fury sounding like a fucked-up collaboration between Discharge and 1349. Clearly, All Pigs Must Die (which features members from Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, and Bloodhorse) are not trying to break new ground with “God is War”, instead they seem sadistically pleased to fuck up with your aural and nervous system by tossing out a vicious amalgamation of metal, hardcore, crust and punk with unrelenting menace, abrasion and malice. This is top-notch material that deserves a place your record collection right next to “Left Hand Path”, “The Age of Quarrel” and “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing”. (9/10) David Alexandre CONFRONT HATE - DIABOLICAL DISGUISE OF MADNESS (Hell Xis)
For a first offering, “Diabolical Disguise of Madness” is not far short of staggering. The combination of diverse sounds presented, from ethereal, introspective soundscapes to furious and pummelling elements is astounding and makes it a highly good listen. Well, that, and the expert songcraft, too. There are nods to Meshuggah and Gojira in the way they fuse technical and crushing riffs with dark, dissonant and progressive harmonics, like evidenced in “New Divine Shadow” and “Conception”. In other moments, particularly on the excellent instrumentals, “Sokenra” and “Love Grows Cold”, Confront Hate reveals a penchant for epic and sinister ambiences akin to someone like Tool or Nine Inch Nails. It’s clear that these guys are determined to create ambitious, potent and accomplished tunes, and although they still have to refine some details, perhaps eschew some of the tepid chugga-chugga riffing that hinders the impact of some of these songs, “Diabolical Disguise of Madness” is most certainly a memorable and crushing debut. (7/10) David Alexandre DEUS OTIOSUS - MURDER (FDA Rekotz) If the sleeve and the title don't make it clear, then the first 30 seconds of opener “I Have Seen Him Slay” will spell it out, Denmark’s Deus Otiosus plays brutal death metal. Drawing influences from groups such as Morbid Angel, Immolation and Incantation, the Danes proudly wave the flag of early to mid-90’s death metal and for the most part it works fairly well. Fans of old-school death metal will surely appreciate the recognisable traits of the style, break-neck drumming, vicious, furious riffs, chilling, devilish solos and guttural growls. “Murderer” is not all about early death metal homage though as songs like
Scratch the Surface | 16
“Wall of Violence” introduce some death metal grooves and movie samples that set them close to Dying Fetus standards, while “Ash World” reveals some thrash metal leanings that reminded me of Sepultura circa “Beneath the Remains”. Ultimately, “Murderer” is not always the most engaging experience, as it lacks some truly riveting moments and captivating dynamics that most listeners require to give it repeated listens, still it’s a record that death-metal die hard fans would want to give it a spin or two. (6/10) Byrant Thomas ENTRAILS - THE TOMB AWAITS (FDA Rekotz) If you know Entrails fantastic “Tales from the Morgue” debut issued last year and the oldschool Swedish death-metal they play, then you know exactly what you're getting with the new album “The Tomb Awaits”. Still evoking the dirty, pestilent atmosphere of early Dismember and Entombed, “The Tombs Awaits” is a crushing slab of guttural and vicious death-metal with a dash of groove and melody thrown in to balance out all the chaotic madness. First proper track “Unleashed Wrath” sets the tone of the record with crushing, dirty and chainsaw guitar riffs, thunderous drumming, and Jocke Svensson's deep death growls. The buzz saw riffs sound straight out of “Left Hand Path”, yet I’d say it’s amazing to hear this classic sound harkening back to a time when recreating the fetid stench and brutality of death were way more important than shredding like some Guitar World fanatic or mosh-pit breakdowns. Sure, it’s nothing overly unique, but when you’re getting strong tunes akin to any of your favourite death albums, it really doesn’t matter. The production value and musicianship are not to be ignored, this is far from sloppy underground old-school death metal as the Swedes deliver their brutal onslaughts with amazing precision and intent. “The Tombs Awaits” is definitely a must-listen for fans of classic Swedish death-metal in the vein of Dismember, Entombed and Grave. (7.4/10) David Alexandre EAST OF THE WALL - THE APOLOGIST (Translation Loss) “The Apologist” is the follow-up to last year’s “Ressentiment” and it sees East Of The Wall steering towards a slightly more streamlined and melodic approach, putting a greater focus on more memorable song structures. The group still posses the meticulous craftsman and inventive intricacies that were present in previous works, but the insertion of more melody in detriment of a dissonant harshness, as well as the choice to render the songs with more memorable passages, makes “The Apologist” a little bit different. Whereas in previous works, the smooth and intricate passages would abruptly unfurl into all-out rage, it seems that this time East Of The Wall are a bit more patient when letting their rage unfold. As a result, “The Apologist” flows with an increased and marvellous fluidity from start to finish, with songs such as “Linear Failure”, the title track and “Whiskey Sipper” reflecting the band’s remarkable ability to smoothly transition between moodier, gentle progressive rock passages to raging metal
hardcore segments. One thing hasn’t changed though, East Of The Wall’s music is still rather difficult to categorize, but regardless of what it sounds like and where it falls in the realm of heavy music, “The Apologist” is a great, well crafted record and is worthy of the attention of anyone into great, challenging and inventive music. (7.6/10) Luca Niero ICED EARTH - DYSTOPIA (Century Media) Iced Earth is known for writing some epic music, and this album does not disappoint in that respect. With new vocalist Stu Block (From Into Eternity fame) on board replacing former vocalist Matt Barlow, the pressure was on. Featuring songs such as the full on thrash attack of the opener and title track “Dystopia”, the beautiful ballad that is “The End of Innocence” and the power metal vibe of “V”, this is an album that showcases everything that Iced Earth was known for, and puts a new twist on it. Vocalist Stu has stepped into the admittedly large shoes that were left behind when Matt left and he fills them perfectly, with a huge vocal range creating multiple dynamics throughout the songs, going from really clean, to growls, to a Rob Halford esque shriek that fits the music perfectly. Iced Earth has never been shy about releasing concept albums and that doesn’t stop here, with another brilliantly constructed album about a Dystopian future. The music brings this concept to life, with songs such as “Boiling Point” and “Tragedy and Triumph” giving the concept life. This is an album that stands proud and tall next to Iced Earth’s extensive back catalogue and ushers in the new era of Stu Block. This is a must buy for all Iced Earth fans and it could quite easily pick up many new fans as well. (10/10) James Merrett MORS SUBITA - HUMAN WASTE COMPRESSION (Violent Journey) Made up of former and current members of Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Dark Flood and Catamenia, Finland’s Mors Subita show a lot of promise with their debut full-length release “Human Waste Compression”. Meticulously crafted and intensely delivered, this record finds the Finns fleshing out a fiercer and rougher sound than what they did in the aforementioned acts by blending the noholds-barred and scathing thrash chugs of Darkane and Dew-Scented with the more melodic and infectious side of Soilwork and Carnal Forge. The band's style is a combination of death metal and thrash but the technicality of the guitar work is definitely what makes this album shine. The intense, rabid riffs and blistering leads of Mika Lammassaari and Tero Piltonen deliver a furious aural onslaught that’s only slightly diminished in the record’s softer moments, as in the more progressive and emotionally-driven “Entrance of Sickness”. “One Million Flies” is one the fastest on the record and contains some relentless blasts merged with scathing chugs, impressive guitar solo shredding and rabid vocals that sound like someone
Scratch the Surface | 17
INSOMNIUM - ONE FOR SORROW (Century Media) There are very few albums that can be classified as both beautifully melodic and gut crushingly heavy. One for Sorrow is one of these albums and it is absolutely brilliant. The melodies are constant and flowing against the backdrop of heavy metal which creates a beautiful atmospheric sound which can lift you up and carry you away. When the heaviness kicks back in it brings you back to earth with a jolt into some bone crushing riffs which are fast flowing and make you just want to jump into the pit. There is a mix of melodic death metal, thrash metal and operatic classical music in this album which is melded together to create a sonic soundscape for the listener. Every track on this album is absolutely brilliant and everything feels new and relevant to today’s music scene. There is definitely something for everyone in this album. There are some dark lyrics and it feels like Niilo Sevanen is baring some open and festering wounds on this album, with lyrics such as “And I feel tired, empty and hollow, heart-broken inside/ And I feel this life has nothing for me anymore” from Through the Shadows showing that there isn’t any happiness on this record. Songs such as Through the Shadows and Every Hour Wounds will leave the listener in no doubt that Insomnium have returned once again with a brilliant album and it won’t let the fans down. (10/10) James Merrett who’s having a really lousy, shitty day. “Glance of Fear” offers more of the same, but reveals a bit more melody in the guitar work. Mors Subita has really concocted something of high calibre in their first effort and if they continue improving in the future, they will eventually ascend into the big league with no sweet. (8/10) Luca Niero MORBUS CHRON - SLEEPERS IN THE RIFT (Pulverised Records) Swedish quartet Morbus Chron seek only the ugliest, grittiest and most vicious side of deathmetal on their first release "Sleepers In The Rift", totally embracing the nauseating, fetid tone of groups such as Autopsy, Furbowl and Grotesque. Yet don’t mistake the Swedes for another effortlessly listenable old-school Swedish death-metal discharge, unlike most of their peers, Entrails, Crucifyre and Necrovourous, Morbus Chron aren’t merely sacking ideas from the usual suspects, Entombed and Dismember. Instead, they choose to plug right into the same caustic, uncomplicated and filthy death-metal that Chris Reifert used to write for Autopsy. Fans will surely recognise many of the riffs in “"Sleepers in the Rift", as a few tracks like “Hymn to a Stiff” and “Red Hook Horror”, are unreservedly influenced by works like “Severed Survival” and “Mental Funeral”, carrying out an identical cavernous death metal rumble. A crisp, yet fittingly raw production further strengthens Morbus Chron’s performance, delivering the primitive and devilish vibe necessary to give the songs an extra dose of credibility, yet some
times it gets a bit messy and sloppy with the Swedes ending up sounding like an obscure second-rate South-American act. Whether that’s on purpose just to be as primitive and naive as possible or not, it sure doesn’t do Morbus Chron any favours. Morbus Chron are definitely not for everyone, but if primitive extremity and nauseating morbidity is what you’re after, then this is one disc to look out for. (6.4/10) Byrant Thomas PAIN OF SALVATION - ROAD SALT TWO (Inside Out) Pain of Salvation is a weird one. It has elements of Blues, Old school prog and Zeppelin era Rock n Roll whilst also featuring orchestration in parts and syncopated and polyrhythmic rhythms. Basically it’s an explosion of musical styles, and it does it well. At first the music swaps styles so regularly it’s quite confusing to follow, but when you start concentrating on the music, it’s a beautiful journey delving into the soul. The varying musical styles also add to this effect and the journey just feels magical. There is no other word for it really. This could quite literally be a soundtrack to a completely epic film, with tracks such as To the Shoreline having quite a Celtic sound, whereas Softly She Cries is very old school blues. There is more variance in one song that most bands manage to get onto an entire album. The variance can be a bad thing as the music does sometimes feel fairly schizophrenic as it sometimes seems like the music doesn’t know where it wants to go next. Also as it has come only a year since Pain of Salvation’s last release (Road Salt One) it may be all too much for some people. The band have recently been on the road with the likes of Dream Theatre and Opeth, and this is very apparent in their writing style that these two bands are huge influences on them, as the band seems like a blues version of Opeth. Overall this is a pretty amazing album, and one I would definitely recommend to people who want a bit of everything from their music. (7/10) James Merrett THE BROWNING - BURN THIS WORLD (Earache Records) Once at the vanguard of the extreme metal, Earache Records now tries to sell us The Browning, a Dallas-based collective that is described as adventurous for pushing boundaries and pressing buttons in a way that most metal acts would not dare attempt. Well, that’s plain and simple bogus, ‘cause in fact these guys try to pepper their generic deathcore sound with some electronic touches in a attempt to sound different, but unfortunately they end up on the wrong side of the equation coming across like a mediocre blend of someone like Chelsea Grin with awful acts like ATC and Vengaboys. So, I definitely wouldn’t tag “Burn This World” as an adventurous and innovative record since the only thing that distinguishes The Browning from the hundreds of boring and predictable deathcore acts is their affinity for cheesy electronic sounds and beats, which also work against them really, completely ruining their respectability with some truly cringe-inducing moments. Damn, “Standing on the Edge” sounds like a cheap techno tune you'd hear at an amusement park.
Scratch the Surface | 18
If Earache wants to put out something truly innovative and groundbreaking, they only need to dig through their old archives and reissue the complete discography of Godflesh, Fudge Tunnel and Pitchshifter, not this plain awful mélange of deathcore and techno. (2.5/10) Luca Niero UNTIMELY DEMISE - CITY OF STEEL (Sonic Unyon Metal) After it’s slow and stagnant death in the late 90’s and early 00’s Thrash music is having a large revival across the board, and I fear that it’s going the same way it did before it died last time. The scene is becoming oversaturated with bands that have leapt onto the bandwagon, had a hit album or two, and then fallen off the radar completely. Untimely Demise seems like it will be one of these bands. They have tried to inject some different elements into the music, but it just sounds like Kreator and Sodom done badly. There is a bit of melody played throughout, but it doesn’t give the music much of a boost. I expected something much better when it’s been produced by Ex-Megadeth and king Diamond guitarist Glen Drover. With song titles such as Virtue in Death and Bloodsoaked Mission, it feels like they’ve gotten a thrash by numbers book on writing lyrics and music, there is nothing new and nothing original here. There are some redeeming points however, the music does get better as the album progresses, but still sounds all slightly disjointed, and the melody I mentioned before puts the band apart slightly from the rest of the pack. I was extremely disappointed with this album, as even with its few redeeming points, the music feels like recycled riffs from bands that did this much better at the forefront f the thrash scene back in the 80’s. This is definitely an album I would not recommend. (4/10) James Merrett ZOMBIE INC. – A DREADFUL DECEASE (Massacre Records) Horror Movies and Music. These are normally things people assume would go hand in hand, and sometimes, they go absolutely perfectly, like Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Murderdolls. Sometimes it can go very badly like much of the entire Horror Punk scene. Thankfully, Zombie Inc. fall into the former category and their brand of Horror Death Metal is a kick that a dying scene really needs right now. With sound-bites from old horror flicks accompanying some old school death metal styling’s, this is one bizarre combo that is not to be missed. With songs such as We Must Eat! And Planet Zombie, we are left under no illusions where this music is going. Brutal American Death Metal accompanied by horror lyrics. My only problem with this album is that it is mostly a gimmick, and that runs fast pretty quickly. There is very little variation so the music can become very stale very quickly unless you are a huge fan of Death Metal, then the gimmick lasts a little longer. Overall this is a good album, which runs out of steam fast. If you’re a fan of death metal, pick this up as it is an amusing take on death metal, but if you only have a passing interest, you won’t get much from this. (7/10) James Merrett
WHITE WIZZARD - FLYING TIGERS (Earache Records) Line-up shifts seem to be an issue for LA's White Wizzard, namely due to the constant changes with their vocalist. Yet while lead singer Wyatt "Screaming Demon" Anderson is gone, his legacy is well marked on the band's second album 'Flying Tigers' where he and his cohorts come into their own. In opting for higher notes in the vein of hard rock 'n' roll this time, Anderson offers a stronger performance, as his voice hits raw ends with each verse. It also makes White Wizzard's sound all the more human, in the sense that his method this time around gives more emotional leeway to be heard and felt by the audience. Music is powerful at its most empathetic, and coupled with the tightened strings on the songwriting, Anderson's vocals prove this point repeatedly without ceasing to be enjoyable. In turn, White Wizzard's worship of heavy metal's icons, typically Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio, is given a greater boost on the grounds of the band's entire performance - whereas the seeds were there on previous album 'Over The Top', 'Flying Tigers' watches them bloom into a band that could well become a name worthy of stepping up to being a part of the genre's history. (8/10) Ann Sulaiman WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - CELESTIAL LINEAGE (Southern Lord) Black metal is a genre of music which is thought off as solely coming from its bleak homeland of Scandinavia, far in the north and cold. Wolves in the Throne Room have set out from Olympia, Washington to disprove this theory and they do it with gusto, whilst also incorporating other elements into their music. For example, take the opening track Thuja Magus Imperium which has a beautiful melodic opening with some clean singing before kicking into a ferocious attack of Black metal. The two styles of music weave together brilliantly and create a sonic landscape of a bleak winter night. There are a couple off odd little filler tracks spread throughout this album though, such as Permanent Change in Consciousness and Rainbow Illness which seem to break up the flow and could really have been left off this album as there isn’t much purpose for them to be there sonically and at 1 and a half minutes each, they just seem to be put on to reach the requisite number of songs needed. The majority of the songs on this album however is absolutely brilliant with tracks such as Woodland Cathedral and Subterranean Initiation creating some amazing sonic landscapes that just drag the listener into the music. Wolves in the Throne Room are a band that have taken Black Metal rule book that the majority of bands live by and ripped it to shreds and then progressed onto making their own form of Black Metal the way they want to. By doing this they have escaped the usual limitations of the genre and managed to push through and become something more akin to Opeth than Emperor or Immortal. (8/10) James Merrett Reviewed next issue: Krisiun, Brutal Truth, Rwake, Retox, Echidna, Black Tusk, Bastard Priest and many more.
Scratch the Surface | 19
Published on Nov 14, 2011
Scratch the Surface Issue 2 Featuring interviews with Textures, ICS Vortex, The Konsortium, Entrails, Mors Subita, Fleshred and Skirmish.