Welcome back to yet another music filled issue of mayhem! As you are all hopefully aware by now, we have moved and now reside less than 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, where all the cool bands come to play (eventually). Our new mailing address is:

Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963

Everything else is as it was before, the web site still remains:

And of course if you need to drop me a line electronically, the email address
is still:

As a late note, we mourn the loss of two great record labels, Misanthropy Records and Re-Constriction Records. More info on the folding of two great independent conglomerations can be read about in the Editorial Notations section of this magazine.

So now onto the 'zine!

As the classic album section grows, I find that more and more letters coming
in are mostly in praise of the achievements of the classic albums! So what, don't you people read the 'zine anymore? Well, here's a few comments from those who do more than just listen to the albums:

From: Wylee (

I had time to read your editorial rant regarding the sheepherding of American youth through corporate marketing and it's effect on metal music. I couldn't agree more and wanted to throw in an example of just how this mockery is occuring. I am pointing my middle finger at the band Buckcherry for the following reason: Our band was playing a gig in San Fransisco, CA and we were hanging out before our set and in walks these two guys who proceed to placard the entire club, appropriately the bathrooms as well, with color posters and stickers, plus two song tapes of this band. They take some pictures, to prove they did their "job" and were on their way, assumingly to the next club. At first it was funny, then quickly it turned into a sickening, gut wrenching pain when I see that they are on Dreamworks Records. The next week I'm listening to the local "rock" radio station, a station that won't give us the time of day, and on comes this Buckcherry band. Next, I read a review of how these guys are supposedly now "the shit" and I find myself gasping for air. I mean are we supposed to be good little sheep and buy some crap because someone bought their way in, brainwashed the masses, sheared the sheep or because the band just "loves the cocaine?" Give me a break! What ever happened to proving yourself? Their schlock isn't metal or rock or anything, it's bought rock. There are so many insane bands out there and I appreciate Vibrations of Doom for clueing people in and letting me rant.

Steven: Well, first of all we really don't know that they "bought their way in," but it's sad that so many enormously talented bands continue to die out because the mainstream American press ignores them. However, to play Devil's Advocate here, remember the Texas raging inferno known as Rigor Mortis? Capitol Records, a huge major label at the time, signed this ungodly band who just so happened to be in the right place at the right time, an unknown who also appeared in a movie. It was a smart move for the label, as that first record was incredible, but they never did capitalize on the fury of their first release, only to die a slow death when it was proved they didn't "have what it takes." So a band like Buckcherry, who is gaining radio play even here in Atlanta, will have to prove themselves through time. In this day and age of the seemingly one hit wonders, many "fans" probably only know one song of theirs anyway. Even the mighty Marilyn Manson's latest release didn't sell tons of records either. It seems that any band these days that combines rap with any of their styles or sounds will hit it big. Such is the case with bands like Korn, Rage Against The Machine, Buckcherry and the like.

From: Rick Bocanegra (

Hello Steve! Man your stuff you posted on the net in Doom9 is awesome! I too am looking for the lyrics to Iron Angel's "Hellish Crossfire," did you ever get them from the band? Can I write to them and where? I have both "Hellish Crossfire" and "Winds Of War" you can still find them but they are rare. Please let me know. Also I'm looking for Savatage "Live Devastation." Thanks. Steven: That is the one thing that I have searched for to no avail. I STILL seek the lyrics to Iron Angel's "Hellish Crossfire," if ANYONE knows how to get in touch with any band members or has a lyric sheet, PLEASE drop me some email or something! As for "Winds of War," I thought it was a much weaker album but I do own it, maybe someday I'll digitize it for the web site.

From: A Mystic (

Hi! I wonder if you know where I can get a hold of the Hobbs Angel of Death record? And I have heard that they have released another album but I don't know the label do you know anything about that? Thanks, Andreas.

Steven: Well, first of all, their debut self titled album was released on SPV/Steamhammer Records. It can be found on the mid priced CD series, but if you find it, be prepared to pay quite a bit for it as it is extremely rare! I found it in a pawn shop in Savannah, of all things, for less than $5! They did release a second album but I don't know much more about it, other than it was released on the same label.


HACIENDA "Narrowed Eyes" (Infracom! Records) SCORE: 100/100

WOW! Finally, after having been out since mid last year, I tracked this gem down! It was well worth the wait, as Hacienda now become the first band in the magazine's history to not only garner 100 ratings back to back from their first and second albums, but we honor them by allowing them to be the FIRST band ever to be interviewed twice in the magazine's 8 year history. What can I say? This album has taken quite a different turn, and for the better! While there are still some mellow tracks, like 'Electric Diva' and 'Out To Lounge,' the German duo showcase even more sinister sounds and heavier beats that they only hinted about with their first full length "Sunday Afternoon." The pot references are back in full swing (see the interview for more info) with 'Lazy Mason Fills My Bong,' you can actually hear someone toking off a bong in the background! They experiment with even more sounds and instruments, there are some funk and jazz and even acoustic guitars throughout, and their penchant for big band, elevator and funky jazz music all breathes refreshing life and trippy vibes to a genre that hasn't seen this kind of innovation EVER! Yes, I rave quite a bit about this, so go listen to the 5 songs we have digitized for you to get a full effect of what critics have already been saying about Hacienda (what little press there has been). There's even a Simpsons' reference here, so grab this release wherever you can find it and take a suggestion from track numer 6: 'Serve Chilled!'

VARIOUS ARTISTS "CyberPunk Fiction" (Re-Constriction) SCORE: 83/100

Anyone who saw the movie Pulp Fiction will instantly appreciate the humor and work that Chase and company put into this, however I must say that Society Burning's Dave Creadeau had a lot of influence in this unofficial soundtrack of sorts, as not only does he rearrange many of the movie's original dialogue with some of his own humorous insights, but his band also contributes 6 songs to this compilation, most of them being instrumentals. The vocal track 'Flowers On The Wall' that he is involved with, as a bonus track, is okay, but exemplifies the one problem with this soundtrack, though it is a small one: The vocals often bring the song down a notch or two. As club tracks, though, there are many to choose from, and once again Hexedene shows off their brilliance with Jude Graham at the helm with one of two versions of 'You Never Can Tell,' though WHY this was a bonus track and not on the main song list is beyond me! Collide's 'Son Of A Preacher Man' is seductive and rather intense, another brilliant strategy of Chase's to include many artists utilizing female vocalists. This gives the soundtrack a seductive and sensual edge that was merely touched upon in the movie. Purr Machine and Hotbox both do great versions of 'Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon' and 'You Never Can Tell' respectively, the former track presented much better here than when 16 Volt does their version. The dialogue is hilarious as hell, especially if you remember the conversation Vega and Jewel had in the car about Amsterdam and the discussion of Bacon in the restaurant. Nicely done, much more musical than a few of Chase's earliest projects, though I still can't get into Christ Analogue after all this time. Versions for the club floor abound, and you'll probably get a laugh or two out of Killing Floor's 'Jungle Boogie' (Yes, THAT one...)

LOTHLORIEN "The Primal Event" (Black Mark Records) SCORE: 97/100

I had to give VERY high marks to yet another Gothenberg styled band, though what makes this Swedish styled unit so amazing is that they utilized the best mix of extreme emotions, lyrics and keyboard stylings that blend very well with the guitar work and vicious vocal stylings of Henrik. Quite a few of their tracks are fast paced, and it's nice to see the synth work able to keep up with it! 'Moments' is probably the best example of how they mix emotional lyrics, beautiful keyboard passages and ripping death vocals with some catchy guitar riffs and chorus lines you will definitely remember. Though I listened to this CD more than once it struck me almost instantly the first time I played it. Some of the instrumentation and vocal delivery may be a bit TOO fast at times, especially noted on the first track 'I Wear Mankind,' but I must say that no other band utilizing this sound (In Flames, Night In Gales, etc.) has been able to bring such emotion and feeling into their sound, and none that I know of dare to use keyboards & synths to their fullest effect. Check out also the amazing computer generated artwork found on the front cover! With passages that you can even mosh to, there's still lots of life in bands that wish to explore and create exciting works utilizing the Gothenberg sound!

ABOMINATOR "Damnations Prophecy" (Necropolis Records) SCORE: 57/100

This is one brutally fast grindcore type of project laced with slight black metal vocals and some slow parts, though very few. It's really hard to get into this CD for most of the tracks on here are quite the same, though they do utilize two vocal styles. It's mostly a speed fest, though they show us that they can play their instruments slow at times like on 'Activate The Anarchus' and 'Ode To Morbid Pleasure.' They utilized some Slayer type leads on 'War Worship,' and if you're looking for all out insane grind, this outfit from Australia can play their instruments quite proficiently, but other than the insane amounts of speed, grind and death, there's not much else going on. Not a project I could totally get into.

PRO PAIN "Act Of God" (Nuclear Blast Records) SCORE: 86/100

Okay, so what happened, did Energy Records fold? Amazing to see Pro Pain get picked up by a label who is better known for death and black metal acts, plus a few good power metal ones, than hardcore bands. Nonetheless, after listening to this newest effort, I'm convinced that Nuclear Blast had to be impressed with the sheer brutality, simplistic though it is at times, of the massive crunch of the guitar riffs. True hardcore diehards may be a little dissapointed at the many high end leads presented, but like on 'Time Will Tell,' they are surprisingly well done. Who said hardcore bands aren't allowed to show a little guitar savvy? Four tracks on this disc REALY smoke, my favorite 'Hopeless?' has the coolest arrangement of chorus, guitar riffs, pounding drums and that whole song is well written. 'Love And War,' also, has the best guitar riffs on the whole album, and that's difficult praise since the whole album has great songwriting. However, the album's weakest point is also it's most surprising; on the song 'All Fall Down,' Gary Meskil's vocals dip into extreme low death metal range! One has to wonder if this was at the request of the label, however, since this amazing change in vocals only occurs on one place in the whole album, and unfortunately it's repeated ad nauseum towards the end of the song. However, even metal fans should find that Pro Pain have brought about a rather hard hitting album, in many places much heavier than their previous effort "Contents Under Pressure."

SPAHN RANCH "Beat Noir" (Cleopatra Records) SCORE: 44/100

I must say, after totally enjoying the first 5 releases from Athan and crew, this disc was sadly disappointing. The fault cannot be placed with Athan, however, as his singing is mostly top notch as usual. The disc starts off well with a rather energetic instrumental which would do good in any club rotation. The track 'Remnants' follows and is immediately catchy, in Athan's best vocal performance I've heard yet. Sadly, his newfound fascination with hip hop, jungle and dub beats brings this down a lot, it's most of the poorly arranged instrumentation that ruins the rest of the CD. Two of the instrumentals are tolerable but nothing great. The last song 'An Exit' really made me want to cry, as the chorus lines are beautifully sung and the synths & beat structure are wonderfully soothing, but the rest of the song is so annoying and poorly arranged that Athan is forced to sing in a lower pitch and ruins the mix. This isn't the only song this is done on either, but on 'Test My Reaction' EVERYTHING is dulled, even Athan' vocals. I do applaud the band for branching out into other realms, but it doesn't help that I'm not a huge jungle or breakbeat/dub fan, and now I can cite one more reason for my dislike of these genres: the ruination of a truly great industrial band. Not many entities in the pages of rivet head culture can boast of their frontman actually being a great singer, but in Athan's case this is most certainly the exception.

RHAPSODY "Symphony Of Enchanted Lands" (Limb Music) SCORE: 100/100

This was released late last year, but I felt with all the power metal bands we were doing, it would be a crime not to mention this one. This is only the second album from these brilliant and ungodly speed/power/symphonic metal masters, and proof positive that Bulldozer was not the only great band to come out of Italy. Drawing upon a massive array of symphonic instruments and a choirs that blow away the ones on Therion's last few records, it's obvious to me that the worldwide buzz constantly surrouding this group is well justified. Their vocalist has tremendous range and power, and like the newest Blind Guardian release tells a story, but less in spoken word than in brilliant arrangement of song. 'Wisdom Of The Kings' starts things off with a beautiful flute like intro (they use recorders here) and acoustic guitar work, before delving into one of many dazzling displays of synth/guitar interaction. 'Beyond The Gates Of Infinity' probably utilizes the darkest and most sinister atmosphere on the whole CD, showcasing their mastery of feeling and emotion utilizing a rather creepy organ notation sequence. There was one line of lyrics on this song that was rather out of place, but overall there is nothing on this CD that would keep me from giving it the highest possible rating. The ending track 'Symphony Of Enchanted Lands,' clocking in at just over 13 minutes, showcases such diversity and variety in the instrumentation that it needs to be lengthy to convey all it's ideas properly. Even though bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, and the like gain more attention in the power metal genre, it's a band like Rhapsody that shows the whole musical realm in it's finest hour.

IVORY TOWER "Ivory Tower" (Limb Music) SCORE: 76/100

This progressive metal group has songs that are written a bit slower in scope than most bands in this genre. The vocalist is quite competent however, reminiscent of one Geoff Tate but sticking more to the higher note range. This is not a problem as one might think, fortunately. Rather on a dreamier soundscape, the guitar riffs do speed things up a bit on the solos, and the keyboard work adds to the overall structure of the songs rather than just adding background ambience. The cover of John Miles' 'Music' was rather bad, though, since consisting of mostly piano work. That and there was another track that was a ballad type that didn't work well for me. 'She,' however had some very good keyboard work in the beginning, making the song take on a heavier feel. Rather simplistic instrumentation, also most of the songs are rather long, but still a good release if you're in the mood for metal but want something that's not so heavy.

HEDNOIZE "Searching For The End" (Wax Trax/TVT Records) SCORE: 99/100

This CD probably won't be out until August or so, but when it does be ready! This is the brainchild of Psykosonik frontman Daniel Lenz, so you KNOW right away it's gonna be good! The first thing that hits ya is, besides this being less of a club-oriented piece, is the rather untraditional and VERY emotional song structures presented within. The vocals are sung this time, sometimes in a lower range, but on tracks like 'Pay Me No Mind' and 'Devil's Train,' they are sung with such strong emotion and feeling that each track conveys quite well many soundscapes! Lead opener 'Loaded Gun' has an almost ambient soundscape, and 'Drain' has some of the coolest guitar effects you'll ever hear, kinda hard to describe but very cool. There are a few club worthy tunes, but this CD goes more for the atmosphere and emotional backdrop rather than innundate the listener with intense dance beats and layers of noise, distortion and more distortion. Damn near all the tracks are very emotional, except for 'My Machine' which is more of an ambient track and not quite up to par with the rest of the CD. 'The Road' finishes out with piano notations and is more ballad type but still good. The sound files are the only real way to take in a work of this magnitude.

OVERKILL "Necroshine" (CMC International) SCORE: 65/100

While I respect the fact that Overkill are still making records, sometimes it's Bobby's vocals that kill this one. The record starts out thrashing, and in fact most of the time the guitar work is quite intense. Only the track 'Stone Cold Jesus' really stands out as the true gem on this CD. I can really get into other songs too, like the title track, 'Let Us Prey,' and 'Dead Man,' but many times there are things put in there that annoy. It's cool to hear Bobby's pseudo-black metal shrieks on the title track, but there's some odd vocal stylings on songs like 'Let Us Prey,' and what's with that damn whistling on 'Black Line?' I guess Bobby thinks he's Axl Rose now. :> On an interesting note, 'Black Line' does have some good melodic chorus lines, and is rather catchy. '80 Cycles' had really bizarre blues man style singing on it, and 'Forked Tongue Kiss' had some odd moaning sounds on it. If they could lose the little oddities that bring the songs down some, this could be a really good disc, but many of you can probably enjoy it for what it's worth, and that is that after 8 or so albums, they can still write good thrashy, headbanging material.

SOLSTICE "New Dark Age" (Misanthropy Records) SCORE: 96/100

If it wasn't for Dutch East India here in the United States (thanks Mike) I shudder to think that I almost might have missed this. WONDERFUL doom metal, and all the more impressive that it is rather untraditional especially where the vocals and guitars are concerned. The songs are long, but there's so much going on instrumentation wise that you catch yourself wanting to hear it all again, in fact it took more than two or three spins to grasp the full scope of what's going on here. The most beautiful guitar work can be heard on several tracks, 'Blackthorn' being a rather ballad type with only acoustic guitar and a vocalist that at time sounds and pronounces his words as if he were Irish, which really adds something here. The doomy guitars sometimes get VERY heavy, though not for long, a very striking and interesting, if not unusual, contrast to the softer vocal style. There's interesting useage of a slight hardcore chorus which rarely surfaces. The intro could be done away with though, and the last song 'Legion XIII' was ultra slow; not much variety for a song so long, suprising seeing how this folky, doom metal band has an unusual knack for being able to write such moving and well written guitar pieces. Everything comes together for a unique and unusual doom metal masterpiece, and it will take me quite some time to put together the right sound clips so you can put this all into perspective audio wise.

HADES ALMIGHTY "Millenium Nocturne" (Hammerheart Records) SCORE: 75/100

The first Hammerheart release we've been given as a promo arrived with mixed blessings. One can't deny that the vocal arrangements here have the nastiest bite, and it was this that at first was going to prompt a higher score. That coupled with the fact that the instrumentation was a bit slower in scope than most black metal bands also was quite pleasing to me, since I'm not always a huge fan of fast, fast, fast on fast paced blackened arts. Okay, for starters they could have left off the intro, with some keys and female vox that were more annoying than anything. The slow playing, while nice, varied and often allowing the songs to have a breakdown and build up range, were at times TOO droney, many songs dipped well past the 6 minute mark. The worst example of the guitar work was on the track 'Carnival Blaspheme.' Some of the ghostly vocals you didn't really notice, but on 'A Ballad Of Death And Obsession,' they start to become annoying but not in a noticeable way. By the track 'Nighttime Endurance,'you almost don't want to finish the song! Keys here are VERY minimal but when used add a rather unique feel to tracks that have such vicious bite! Others may not wish to indulge in Hades Almighty's simplistic approach, but given their barbaric and brutal attack, it made at least for an effort that I could appreciate, and even return to on occasion. (By the way, this is the group labeled simply Hades before the U.S. techno thrashers decided to make their return.)

PINK CREAM 69 "Electrified" (Digital Dimensions) SCORE: 92/100

This hard rockin' group has been around for quite awhile, and though this is my first exposure to them, I must say I was quite impressed with their unique brand of heavier style hard rock. Hard rock, or straightforward heavy metal. Anyway, you have some great guitar riffs, great song structure, and a vocalist that really puts an energetic performance into nearly every line. A few songs on here were rather average, though quite better than most one hit wonder hard rock bands from the early 80's, though you know they must have done something right if Ralph Sheepers does guest vocals on 'Over The Fire.' 'Higher Kind Of Love' is one of my favorite tracks, showcasing great song structure and like many other tracks, great sing along chorus lines and kick ass instrumentation. Even the slower numbers, like 'Rocket Ride,' don't stay mellow for very long. I didn't care much for the piano backing of 'Gone Again,' but there's no denying that this act should make it big and I mean in a HUGE way here in the States. Very accessible and very catchy, heck one of those that maybe SHOULD stay underground. WHY the U.S. version labels them simply PC69 is beyond me though.

EMPEROR "IX Equilibrium" (Century Media Records) SCORE: 99/100

I have listened to this ungodly CD more than the three or four I usually give bands in order to do an accurate review. Not too much needs to be said about this Norweigan black metal band whose previous release "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk" was named top CD of 1998 in TWO publications in both the U.S. and the U.K. And I feel that this followup is probably going to be one of the top contenders for album of 1999. There is a great mix between the synths and the kick ass guitar work to be sure. Heaviest of the heavy on 'Warriors Of Modern Death' and 'Sworn,' which showcase some fast brutal playing but especially on 'Sworn' also show that they can write some slower passages that border on thrash! 'Curse All You Men' starts things off with a bang, and my only few complaints that keep this from being a perfect 100: Those high pitched power metal vocals get a tad annoying, yes, even after 7 or 8 listenings on 'The Source Of Icon E.' Plus, 6 minute plus songs (there are three of them) seem a tad long for black metal with this much energy and attitude, though I must admit that those guitar riffs you defintiely want to hear more than a few times each song! The best song here to me is 'Decrystallizing Reason,' one that blends good guitar work and amazing synth moods perfectly, though you'd be hard pressed to find "beautiful" synth work that borders on the dark and ominous elsewhere. And Ihsahn's screams and vocals are so harsh and long lasting, it's a miracle he's able to keep this pace up through the whole album! After seeing them live, I am doubly impressed by this work of art, and maybe I'm nitpicking just a bit, however I HAVE heard some say that this newest release isn't as good as "Anthems..." Which means had I been able to review and hear it I would have given "Anthems..." a 101?!?

FLOTSAM & JETSAM "Unnatural Selection" (Metal Blade Records) SCORE: 34/100

Damn. I really can't get into this album much at all. Lifeless thrash riffs that seem to go nowhere and get really annoying on most songs, with the VERY occasional interesting riff here and there, and the vocals get downright annoying. I never was much of a fan of this band even from their "Doomsday For The Deceiver" days, and this doesn't help to rekindle any interest. Maybe some might find the halfway decent song structure of 'Promise Keepers,' or 'Liquid Noose' worthy of their attention, but for a band who has been around for a long time, this is just sad... Don't want to spend too much time on this one when there's so many other bands who can actually keep my interest for a song or two.

CREMATORY "Act Seven" (Nuclear Blast Records) SCORE: 99/100

WOW! I remember Crematory made waves when they were on Massacre Records for their unique brand of beauty and atmosphere while still retaining that brutal edge with death vocals and heavy guitar riffs. While previous releases like "Awake" and their self titled effort sung entirely in German were quite good, nothing could prepare me for the fantastic release this German unit has labored over. Things start out with an intro that in their hands is quite materful. Several tracks catch your ear immediately, like 'Fly' with it's beautiful female vocals and out of this world synthesizer arrangements. There are several vocal styles preented, and just when the song is thrashing along and you find yourself banging your head, the song awes you with some classy yet serene instrumentation, so nothing EVER gets boring. 'I Never Die' is one of a few tracks where the vocalist is quite brutal and even the synths are dark and haunting, until the catchy chorus comes in and you can't help but sing along. They still have just a little bit of trouble mastering the English language, but their unique brand of interpretation renders the listener unwilling to downplay their abilities. 'The Holy One' showcases some surprisingly heavy guitars, and the only drawback to this whole CD was the vocals on 'Tale,' which were a tad weak (and incidentally are performed like this on only the one track, leading me to believe it was a guest vocalist). Things are soon set to rights, though, by taking in the symphonic style instrumentation which reminds one immediately of fellow Swedes Therion. Many death metal bands opting to utilize melody and beautiful arrangements tend to abandon their heavier, darker roots, but Crematory have not forsaken ANYONE and I can't see why many different types of fans couldn't enjoy this marvelous work of art!

NOXIOUS EMOTION "Symbols" (ADSR Musicwerks) SCORE: 34/100

Utilizing heavy beats and a German'ized low vocal style in the vein of :Wumpscut: and Rammstein, which is the low point of this rather poor CD of industrial music. The instrumentation is nothing special, save for some of the nicer atmospheric sounds on 'Entropy.' The guest vocals are a bit better, represented by vocalists from Fockewolf, SMP, and Ninth Circle, but like I said there is really nothing special on this disc at all. A few of the songs might make halfway decent club tracks, they're designed to be danceable, but as I said before, it really didn't hold my interest for very long.

GORGOROTH "Destroyer" (Nuclear Blast Records) SCORE: 80/100

I had heard a lot of things about Gorgoroth, and since you can find me on IRC chat under that nickname, I thought it might be appropriate to find out what they were all about. From the opening second of this CD it's very raw, primal and vicious black metal, without the keyboards. It's very fast paced at times but they do slow it down once in awhile and prove they can actually play their instruments. There are three different vocal styles presented, though the best are eaily heard on 'Open The Gates,' where Pest does his most vicious screams that one can ever hear in Black Metal. The tracks towards the end start to wear down a little, especially the slower playing of 'The Virginborn,' one of the longest tracks on the album. They utilize some harsh mechanical sounds on 'Blodoffer,' sounds like someone banging a lead pipe against the hull of a Battleship. The first part of this CD showcases what raw, violent black metal is all about, though they could have done away with the Viking style singing on 'Pa Slagmark langt mot Nord.' Yes, there are a few songs in what I guess are their native language, but overall if you like to hear well played black metal at its harshest, you could do no worse than the mighty Gorgoroth.

BLIND GUARDIAN "Nightfall In Middle Earth" (Century Media) SCORE: 100/100

Damn, what is with Century Media these days!? I can't remember the last time I had to give a C.M. act a bad review! Okay, well, with all the power metal we've got this issue, it would be downright unforgiveable of me not to mention this speed metal influenced behemoth. Like Rhapsody, they utilize fast guitar riffs, though they base their mellower passages more on acoustic guitar, flutes and the like rather than the all out symphonic passages made famous by Italian based Rhapsody. Many tracks stand out for me due to the tremendous vocal work by the vocalist Hansi, and when his entourage performs dual vocals in time, it makes for some of the best vocal work ever to be heard by anyone, anywhere! Tracks like 'Blood Tears,' 'Thorn,' and 'Noldor' are not only heavily melodic, but contain great verses and chorus lines that easily stick in your mind as catchy and well written. Speed based tunes like 'When Sorrow Sang' and 'Mirror, Mirror' are not totally devoid of melody either but have some powerful guitar work in them. The songs are accompanied by spoken word tracks that tell the story of a Tolkien epic in "The Silmarillion" and go well to enhance the brilliant musicianship that has apparently been around for years. Stateside audiences will no doubt be soon treated to a full U.S. tour, as this gem of a power/progressive metal album has garnered rave reviews the world over. American audiences will hopefully wake up and see the talent that lies in the non mainstream music world that Europeans have recognized and praised for more than 10 years.

VARIOUS ARTISTS "Nod's Tacklebox 'O Fun" (Re-Constriction) SCORE: 77/100

Yet another compilation in Chase's arsenal, this one continues on the success of the first comp. of famous covers which was entitled "Shut Up Kitty." It's a shame that we will never get to see another good release like this from Chase (see the Editorial Notations for more details). THIS is the compilation that I have been eagerly awaiting, and simply because of the best track on the album: Vault Point Nine's sinister version of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia.' For those not in the know, Vault Point Nine is the Savannah, Georgia based industrial band that we waited for a few years to get on this compilation, and indeed I have to admit that this is the best song here! The harsh and sinister beat structure, the hellish demon screams, even the fact that Todd and Gilbert, true industrial purists to the core, made this release that much more amazing by the total lack of guitars anywhere. As for the rest of this compilation, the next best track is Pain Station's 'Safety Dance,' quite a brutal selection of sounds and beats quite innovative for a song like this. Good to see John Bergin of Trust Obey back in business with a ripping Ministry cover in 'Revenge.' Hexedene's Jude Graham does a beautiful version of the James Bond tune 'Diamonds Are Forever,' a classic that I don't think was meant for the dance floor. Hate Dept. does a good version of 'You Spin Me Round,' and DB9D9's version of 'Don't You Want Me' sounds pretty damn close to the original! Ordinance's 'Sabotage' was butchered by too much distortion, and some of the other covers were made a little distracting by the overtly harsh vocal styles of groups like Alien Faktor and Tinfed. It was amusing to hear covers of songs like 'Ice Ice Baby,' 'You Oughta Know,' and 'Waterfalls' though, making for interesting listening and quite a few good club hits.

HAWKWIND "In Your Area" (Griffin Music) SCORE: 45/100

I was so eagerly looking forward to Hawkwind's first U.S. released album in quite some time. Unfortunately, the group is more bogged down in Acid based compositions than anything, and nearly ALL the tracks with vocals suffer as a result. They even butchered a newer version of 'Brainstorm;' WHY they felt they had to redo this song that's been on more Hawkwind compilations and albums is beyond me. Their instrumental pieces, oddly enough, are their strongest suit on here, with 'Diana Park' being the best due to some beautiful ambience, and a Santana like vibe all the way down to the drumming and guitar riffs. 'I Am The Reptoid' is almost appreciative, though the vocal portions don't add up, and 'Hippy' would have been nicer if they had left out the vocals. There's a new singer in Captain Rizz, an individual who seems to be trying to add a hip-hop/rap element to Hawkwind, especially in the lyrics on 'Hawkwind In Your Area.' (A Hawkwind tip? Come on...) The instrumental work is still quite good for Hawkwind, but this album needs serious renovation. One of the worst I've ever heard from them.

LORD BELIAL "Unholy Crusade" (No Fashion Records) SCORE: 93/100

No doubt about it, this is fast, violent, raw and uncompromising black metal with touches of killer thrash riffs and death vocals reminiscent of a more blackened Carcass style (and haven't I mentioned that before with other bands of this genre?) Although 'Unholy Crusade,' the second song that blazes in right after a brilliant and thrashy intro in 'Summon The Beast,' is quite fast, vicious, and unholy, you KNOW if it wasn't for the fact that they slow it down and play quite intense riffs I would probably have lost interest. Fact of the matter is that there are NO keyboards, though on gems like 'Divide Et Impera' and 'War Of Hate' there are some nice acoustic riffs presented which at times are quite serene but other times are quite dark and haunting! The female vocals are used very sparingly, they add a nice effect on 'And Heaven Shall Burn.' My only complaint could be a major one to some: their song lengths on three tracks. Granted, as far as I was concerned they varied their instrumentation and approach enough so that the tracks didn't stagnate but when you have such viciousness like 'Bleed On The Cross' which slays all it touches at a mere 2 minutes and 58 seconds, 8 and 10 minute tracks lose the feel and power Lord Belial effectively creates. VERY minor disturbances for a band who knows the true power and creativity still left to be found in the blackest regions of the soul. And by the way, for you black metal "purists..." They utilize NO KEYBOARDS... :)

SKINLAB "Disembody: The New Flesh" (Century Media Records) SCORE: 96/100

I don't really think I need to say too much about this record, their follow up to last year's punishing full length. The guitar riffs are in your face, the vocals kick serious ass, and pits everywhere can unleash their full fury to damn near every song on this album. Classic are the way they build up to the brutal parts, instead of one long pummeling assault on tracks like 'So Far From The Truth,' 'Coward,' and 'Breathe.' Their slower low end singing style is quite unique as well, overall the whole album works quite well, and say what you will about Pantera, I don't see why fans of that band can't easily get into Skinlab. Their pummeling assault will leave you quite senseless! Not much more to say about them, so go check out the sound files and experience for yourself the new assault from the Bay Area!

AUBERON "The Tale Of Black" (Black Mark Records) SCORE: 82/100

Those of you who like black metal may be a bit surprised at the style that is presented by yet another Swedish band, one that obviously borrows quite a bit from the Gothenberg sound. What is less apparent until one actually spins the disc a few times, is that there is usually more emphasis on mosh worthy speed and intensity, though you gotta admit many of their riffs are quite well written. Though overall there's quite a bit to enjoy, quite a few tracks don't really seem to progress much. There are female vocals which are quite strong rather than "pretty," which was an unusual touch and made the music that much stronger, though they could have done away with the male singing voice on 'Infinite Beauty.' 'A Whispering Wind' is easily their best track, one that will probably stick out in most people's minds as being quite catchy and one of the few songs where the female vocals are used to enforce the track. Of course, we'll skip the intro entirely. The last part of the disc is the best, for they do bring in some quite thrashy riffs and the blackened death vocals are quite brutal. Mostly utilizing faster paced riffs and sequences, they can keep your interest for all things brutal, though one has to wonder how others might deal with the slower and more melodic pieces found within.

NOCTURNAL RITES "The Sacred Talisman" (Century Media Records) SCORE: 99/100

This album really impressed the hell out of me. Though at times this Swedish based band's brand of power metal seems to be on the more mellow side at times, the vocalist has great power and range, and the chorus lines are well executed, overall the instrumentation and songwriting blend perfectly with the vocalist, and as a whole this album is represented well. On the few downer notes, a couple of the songs are laid down among similar lines, no real big deal in itself, and the one distraction is the overrepetitive chorus on 'Eternity Holds,' which was a tad weak, but these are extremely minor faults for classy, technical power metal that ISN'T Gothenberg based. :) Check out such catchy cuts like 'The Iron Force,' 'Hold On To The Flame,' and 'Unholy Powers.' Their ballad 'The Legend Lives On' is also unusually strong, starting out with simple piano melodies but getting stronger with guitars on the choru and pre-chorus lines. Utilizing some faster paced guitars and rhythm on quite a few tracks, they are doing what power metal bands like Gamma Ray and Rhapsody are doing by mixing elements of speed metal with their melodic passages which, for the band residing in the town of Umea, works extraordinarily well.

RAZED IN BLACK "Sacrificed" (Cleopatra Records) SCORE: 62/100

It's funny, I thought I would like this a bit more than I did. No doubt about it, Rommel's strictly harsh and heavy industrial band is most unlike his side project Transmutator, but it does contain quite a number of dance floor tunes that are quite brutal and fast in their own right. I thought the "comedy?" tracks could have been done away with, a piece on the snooze feature of a clock radio, an undialable phone number and a wierd porn sound clip. His most intense song 'Master' is an undeniable club worthy favorite, explosive as all hell and one of the best club tunes I've heard all year. However, though the brutality, electronic distortion and overall harshness is more consistent than most attempting this style of industrial, I couldn't figure out why I was more dissapointed than I was. He has a great singing voice as well, and though the overtly used distortion and harsh beats get in the way, tunes like 'I've Suffered Long Enough' and 'Better Off' have very strong chorus lines, although the music and other things weaken the songs. It's quite obvious from a lyrical standpoint that Rommel is an S&M fan, plus his other views seem to stem from emotional pain and suffering. Though there's quite a bit to get into, and many good club songs, I feel that without all the odd experimentation pieces, this could have been more solid than it was. Points have to be given for his well structured jungle and drum and bass lines; for the most part they're usually styles I abhor in ANY type of music, but here they are incorporated quite well. Of further interest is his ripping cover of Metallica's "Damage Incorporated" complete with thrashy guitar work that is to be found on many other songs throughout this disc.

TRANSPORT LEAGUE "Superevil" (The Music Cartel) SCORE: 79/100

This CD starts off with a bang with 'Lost In The Desert Of Habib,' showcasing some meaty rock riffs kinda reminiscent in the vein of Eyehategod, Down, Corrosion of Conformity and Monster Magnet! The vox are kinda hardcore tinged at times, at other times sounding strangely like a cross between C.O.C.'s Karl Agell and Danzig himself, but are sung and screamed with conviction and fury throughout the band's 11 tracks. Granted, for all their heaviness and apparent rocking riffery, there are a few bad tracks on here. 'Jesus Came' was one of a few that was quite slower in scope and lost its effectiveness, and 'High Riding Witch' had really bad slow instrumentation as well, the vocals didn't do anything to help this song either. However, there's so many good songs that really slam, especially 'Rotten Soil' and 'Filthy Old Liar.' The album finishes off with the title track, which has a more mainstream guitar sound, but still manages to pound away at your senses. At times coming off like TMC's other super hit band Roachpowder, they manage to pull off quite a few different ideas worth checking into.

ANGRA "Fireworks" (Century Media Records) SCORE: 46/100

I'm probably going to get blasted for this, but for starters I cannot handle the vocal style of Mr. Matos at all! It's very irritating and brings the songs down to a rather watered down level. Most of the songs here showcase potential to do more than they do, which is sound waaay too weak, rather like a pop-laced metal project. They do utilize some thrashy guitar work on 'Speed,' and 'Extreme Dream' brings us more powerful instrumentation, but what is mostly wrong with this album is the awful melodies in songs like 'Fireworks' and 'Gentle Change.' I don't see the "power" in this band like their bio states, it all sounds too pop oriented and I just couldn't get into this at all. It kinda reminds me of how Green Day ruined the whole punk image by watering it down with poppy melodies and vocals, well, this is the death knell for the power metal genre. When there is no singing going on it's more tolerable, but just barely. I didn't like their previous album "Holy Land" either.


LORD BELIAL. Interview with Sin via email.

Steven: Tell us a bit of history about the band, you know, the usual sort of questions one asks to familiarize our readers with you.

Sin: Lord Belial started sometime in 1992-93 with the same lineup we have today. Before Lord Belial though we all played in different bands; Vassago and I played together in a band called Sadist back in 1987, which was later renamed to Vassago. Dark has played with bands like Decameron and Satanized, and Bloodlord has played Swedish folk music for several years.

Steven: Your style and sound is seemingly unchanged from the last album "Enter The Moonlight Gate" until this newest one "Unholy Crusade." How do you see your brutal aggression progress from album to album and what is in store for us on future projects?

Sin: Well, we don't really plan these things out, it's just how it ends up when we write the songs. I think all musicians have to progress in one form or another or else they just get uninteresting. We will always do what we want, and it doesn't matter what other people think about our ideas. As for the next album, who knows? We have 3 songs done for the next release, and they are in general more brutal than all other things we have ever done before. But as I said, that's just three songs and we don't know how the other songs will be.

Steven: One thing black metal "purists" will note is that there are no synthesizers used and hardly any female vocals at all. How do you view the use of such things in the realm of black metal?

Sin: I personally do not care if it's keyboards in metal as long as it's not used all the time, but we have decided not to use any keyboards, as long as we can do the extras with real instruments. The same goes for female vocals and clean voice, it's cool that you have something that you can compare the violent parts with.

Steven: What is your opinion on all the beliefs of black metal fans screaming the words "sell out" at bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth these days? Especially with the bigger budgets and the selling of more records by the bigger name black metal bands?

Sin: I think these bands would be stupid if they have NOT taken this opportunity to sell albums and make some money. It's more stupid that bands proclaim "We are true underground evil black metal" but still they sell albums and demotapes, plus have all this merchandising.

Steven: Tell us about your album deal with No Fashion Records. With the Metal Blade licensing of "Enter The Moonlight Gate," are there plans to have Metal Blade release "Unholy Crusade?"

Sin: We have a 5 album deal with No Fashion Records, and after that we will have to see what happens. I think it's great that Metal Blade released our album Stateside but I don't know if they will license "Unholy Crusade" for a release.

Steven: Tell us about some of the tours you have been on, and are there any plans to come to the United States?

Sin: We did a European tour with Dismember and Disfear back in 1997, and it was a LONG party 24 hours a day! The bets audience was the crowd at GIBUS in Paris, France, they had so much energy and totally freaked out! We have had plans for a U.S. tour for a long time, but nothing seems to happen, as usual. It would be great to play the States however.

Steven: Finally, talk to us about any bands in your area you work with and whether or not you feel so many up and coming bands have helped or hurt the scene?

Sin: We are used to partying with lots of people from different bands, like The Crown, Impious, Sacramentum, Reaper, Dracena, Grief of Emerald and lots more. The fact that there are so many bands in Sweden now is just boring, it all sounds the same and looks the same after awhile. Thank you for this interview and thanks to all our fans out there for buying our albums, or copying them from your friends or whatever you do. :)

HACIENDA. Interview with Marcus.

As many of you may remember, way back in issue #14 we gave a 100 rating to this German duo who created some rather trippy, beautiful and wacky techno, what I now refer to as "Stoner's techno." Though their newest CD "Narrowed Eyes" is reviewed and digitized here for your pleasure, this CD has been out for quite a number of months now, but there were quite a few problems, as Marcus relates: "Our latest album, as you know, came out on Infracom Records. Harthouse/Eye Q went bankrupt and all the former artists we know are still owed a lot of money. We don't know the exact reasons but it really doesn't matter at this point. At that time "Narrowed Eyes" was finished and we didn't hesitate to send demotapes to a few reputated labels in Europe. But we decided to find a cool German label because we wanted to gain more control of events concerning our band, our releases and things like that. We thought it would be easier than being on a label based in England or America where we can visit the label only once a year maybe. We did get some major offers but in the end we chose Infracom which is Frankfurt based. We liked some of their earlier releases and generally their way of thinking concerning music and their general work, plus they were familiar with "Sunday Afternoon," our first release and their accompanying singles and they really liked it. They proved that they were doing well within the scene and together with Compost Records from Munich they now build the peak position of the few good German labels for music like ours." Yet, despite their good fortune with German based Infracom, the album was impossible to track down here in the States, as none of the import dealing techno shops could get "Narrowed Eyes" and this caused me great concern. Also, any kind of press for this album seemed to be faint to nonexistent, a problem that Marcus firther elaborates upon: "It was no surprise for us to hear you say this. We didn't license it to any label in America and maybe Infracom didn't sell too many CD's through Cargo/Syntax, their distributor in the United States. Some months passed by and several labels were discussed but neither Astralwerks (whose stuff we like a lot) nor Nervous Records wanted to sign "Narrowed Eyes" in the end. The press reactions were good but very few as well. In Germany we have received three times as much press about our latest album and the singles as on the first album. It was a lot better than we expected. Reactions from England were very few except for the big music magazines and the rest of Europe was small as well. There was virtually no press at all from America, We saw four or five statements on our album! That's not very good, but mostly the reactions we did get have been favorable."

So onto the actual album itself, which, as I stated above, is still containing the classic Hacienda style but things definitely changed this time around. Not many artists can change their song structure and keep things interesting, fewer still can release TWO albums in a row that garner 100 ratings, and this is the main reason why Hacienda is also the first band in the magazine's history to be interviewed TWICE. Marcus mentioned in their last interview that their newest release would contain many more instruments than on "Sunday Afternoon," which was rife with Hammond Organs, saxophones, and other non traditional instruments: "On Narrowed Eyes," Marcus states, "we tried to complete the fusion of electronic and acoustic instruments. We added bass guitar, jazz guitar, fresh Rhodes, Wurlitzer (a style of piano - Ed), and actual drums. All were played live by sone friends by the way. We just tried things out and kept what was good. The Hammond Organ was not used as much as it was on "Sunday Afternoon," as we felt it was a bit too cheesy (NO! - Ed.) for the second release, we wanted something different." Some sounds on "Narrowed Eyes" have gotten a LOT heavier too, in particular three cuts 'Akkustikkoppler,' 'Monostar' and 'Lazy Mason Fills My Bong.' I wondered if this was a new direction for Hacienda giving up the mellow and relaxing "stoner's edge" that we all came to enjoy so much off the first record? Thankfully, Marcus' reply was reassuring: "We have experimented a lot with all different types of guitars (acoustic, distorted, reversed for example) and created heavier sounds. In fact we really could describe it as a new direction for further releases for Hacienda. It is clear that we do some mellow and dubby tracks too, but in general we like the sharper sounds and heavier electronic and acoustic drums. We always try to be a bit innovative. Like we said, our music changes in the way that it is getting more and more song oriented. That means our first intention is not to produce chillout tracks but to compose real songs. You'll probably hear that if you listen to our forthcoming yet untitled album which comines electronic, independent and melancholic tunes. There will be more songs than tracks. We think one can hear a certain development fron the first record to this last one, though you cannot make any progress without doing different things or at least trying them out! Compared to our first album "Narrowed Eyes" is a bit more danceable (which led me to believe it was done to answer some of their critics who said that their first album wasn't club worthy enough, see issue #14 again for more details - Ed.) but just because we liked it and for the live gigs it is fun to play faster song. The next album is still downtempo but completely different, and let me state that we definitely DO NOT make music specifically for clubs! Some tracks might be played in clubs but this is not our first intention, like we stated before, our intention is to produce more song oriented tunes, we are actually working with a female singer and an MC for the next one!"

Alright, now some specifics, like the "sequel" of sorts to the last album's crazy tune 'Crazy Jason Spills My Bong.' They STILL won't acknowledge the drug references on a personal level, but it's not hard to figure out what's going on with their sequel 'Lasy Mason Fills My Bong,' which I had a feeling was written specifically for me after my last interview was done with them. "The title is a humorous link to 'Crazy Jason...' from our last release," Marcus admits a little reluctantly. "It was written especially for those who like listening to relaxed tunes after smoking." That's it. No further information was given! Still pressing on, I at least get some info on a few other tracks before I grudgingly move on: "Many of the instruments that our friends played live here are sampled and re-worked to fit into the songs. 'At Moe's Tavern' is a song we played completely live during a session. The name, of course, came from the series "The Simpsons" where Homer, Barney, and their friends always meet at Moe's to drink a beer or two and talk about the latest bowling results. We enjoy the Simpons a lot and wanted to do a little tribute to them. On 'Electric Diva' the wavy sounds you hear are a modified Rhodes piano with a tremolo effect. These kinds of samples always generate a warm and of course funky atmosphere." Finally, the meaning behind "Narrowed Eyes?" I ask this because with their last album the actual name of the album seemed to have a centralized theme running throughout it, and this one does too as well, as Marcus tells us: "The title "Narrowed Eyes" means that you are no longer able to see 100 percent clear and so you have to rely on your ears. (The album cover and small pictures on the back are fuzzy photographs and you can just barely see our shapes.) From now on your ears will do the work for you so you can focus on our music. One can listen to the album better and maybe one finds sounds that he has not heard when he listened to it the first time. Some people have narrowed eyes when they've smoked pot and feeling well and relaxed, all the kinds of moods we tried to catch for our latest in "Narrowed Eyes." By the way, the Chica Hacienda in Cuba where the album was said to be recorded is still a metaphysical phenomenon which only exists in our open minded narrowed eyes... Did you get it?" Yes, Marcus, we got it and got it good, kudos to those who were able to join us on our journey and for those that didn't, hunt this release down, it will be well worth your time to do so! Hacienda has plans to release this third CD within the next few months, and hopefully American audiences won't be left out in the cold, plus with their tours and side projects they are working on, it's no doubt that Hacienda will be making more great music for some time.

ROACHPOWDER. Interview with George Bravo.

For those not in the know (see last issue for more details - Ed.) Roachpowder has come off with one monstrous slab of Down style metal, utilizing psychedelic/space rock riffs and sounds, to create a brutal and melodic materpiece. To get more of an idea of their influence on this particular sound, one that capitalizes on 60's and 70's style music laced with the heaviness of metal, George delves a bit into what makes their debut "Viejo Diablo," such a smash success: "We just took everything we had in our brains for the past 10 to 15 years, everything from Judas Priest and Motorhead to Jimi Hendrix, music for your "cojones" so to speak. We also enjoy a lot of the music that has come out of the south during the last few years, like Down, Eyehategod and other wacked out stuff. We're definitely inspired by the music of the 60's and 70's but we wanted to put some 'future' into it. We're the bad ass junkie and of the next Generation sequel, Future Blues Voodoo Metal. We really like the tereo productions of the 60's and 70's but we also have influence from old school metal and hard rock and that's where we get the hard edge and heavy melodies from. As for the "peace and love" movement of the 60's, no one here is really into that kind of stuff, in fact the hippies of that era would proably consider our music a bad trip!"

Talking about some of the ideas behind the album, some of the effects they use are very spacey and eletronic oriented. George talks about some of the songs on the album: "Most of the effects are just feedback, guitars and old synthesizer sounds driven through delays and other modulation effects. This way of working makes a lot of the results unpredictable so there is a lot of improvising. The next album, in fact, is in process as we speak and it's going to blow you, in every sense of the meaning! we're on pre-production and it tastes Roachpowder more than ever. We're still into acoustics but you see that the acoustic song from our debut was an improvised number so those songs we tend to leave for last. The comparison to bands like Down and Eyehategod and such feels great because they are the hard bands that know how to groove, not some lame band with a 30 year old beat." I was curious about the lyrics for one 'New Orleans,' how this song could come about with the lyricist being seemingly very knowledgeable about this legendary party city. George explains: "Francis was there on a hitchhiking trip alone when he was 17 years old (he moved from Toronto, Canada to Stockholm, Sweden in November of 1995, which basically gave birth to the band). He wanted to find out what life was like there and the lyrics are definitely inspired by moments he had at the time. We think it's a magical place because of the fact that a lot of cultures meet and clash there and for us it's the Voodoo-Mecca. All this reflects on the music that comes from the American south. We have been in the U.S. but only for promotional purposes, a few of us spent about a week in New York doing interviews and other stuff." Finally I wanted to know if Roachpowder was planning on doing a tour of the States soon, to which they replied: "We haven't toured the States yet but we're waiting for it so stay tuned. We have managed to tour Scandinavia with a lot of Sweden's upcoming bands. If you want to hurry a tour through call and mail The Music Cartel! Thanks for the interview."

SUICIDE COMMANDO. Interview with Johan Van Roy.

Industrial music can be overtly dance oriented with hints of brutality, or so over the top brutal that club play seems not only unlikely, but extremely unintentional! When you find that metal fanatics are able to pick up on it as well, there must be something said that makes one stand up and take notice. Suicide Commando, from the distorted almost death metal styled torturous vocals to the harsh instrumentation, falls easily into the latter category. And yet, there are melodic and almost serene moments intertwined within the dark and evil passages, with lyrics more akin to the metal genre than the industrial. Their newest release "Construct >< Destruct" has been licensed here in the United States by Possessive Blindfold, a label that is certainly no stranger to harsh and destructive electronic music. Most of you probably need a refresher course in the band's history, yeah okay, this is my way of doing the "Tell us how the band got started" kind of question. Thankfully, Johan is only happy to oblige, but more along the lines of album history than anything else: "The "Construct-Destruct" album is just a continuation of the previous albums. Musically not much has changed since the "Critical Stage" CD, things only got better worked out, more professional, and I'm using a lot more sounds and equipment now which makes it all more complex. But if you like "Construct..." then I'm sure you'll like the other albums as well."

Onto the album itself, which as I stated (and you should have listened to the sound files on last issue) is quite harsh. One thing we often get around to discussing, before we bring up specifics on the album, is the club accessibility of certain bands. Entities like Front Line Assembly, Die Krupps, Front 242 and the like, while being totally brutal and in your face, all have their club hits that are designed to be danceable and a bit more, dare I say, "mainstream" than the rest of their album. Suicide Commando is no exception, as they have had one or two that were touted as club hits. Is that ever a planned thing from album to album? I asked Johan how he feels about groups that plan on having one or two "hits" per album, his answer to this question confirms his "underground" status: "While I can't speak for the other bands around, I definitely don't write club hits deliberately. 'See You In Hell' became one of the biggest electro hits of the last few years, but I never expected it to become such a big club hit. After the success of this song I tried to make some new clubworthy tracks, but I soon realized that you can't write "hits" on command, so I soon gave up on this. For the new album I just did my own thing, without worrying about potential club play or anything else. These things have to come spontaneously!" Incidentally, while on the suject of "hits," it must be documented that there has been lots of good American press for Suicide Commando, the album even took the charts! This was obviously a shock for Johan, as he admits: "The American market is still an unknown area to me. I know the scene is completely different out there. Possessive Blindfold didn't promise me anything ... and I like that. I don't like people (or labels) making so many promises which they never can realize, so I go more for a label that is realistic and standing with both feet on the ground. At the moment I only know that Scott was really satisfied with the "Construct..." CD and that he's planning on licensing my next new album as well. At the moment I'm having very good relations with Scott and Possessive Blindfold, so I'm sure we'll do more collaborating in the future, we were hoping to tour the U.S. this year but I rather think it will be in the year 2000 before we can come over, at least I hope so!" There's one other thing that needs to be noted where record labels are concerned: Off Beat, the label that Suicide Commando was on, no longer has any ties to Johan and company. The first contact I had with Suicide Commando was with two tracks off of the "Tyranny Off The Beat" compilation series, which started my overall interest with this group. Johan relates what has happened with his relationship with Off Beat and his new venture: "I recently moved to a new label called Dependent, which is the new label of Stefan Herwig, an ex Off Beat member. I don't even know if Off Beat is still around anymore! The main problem with them for me was that they had too many bands signed to their roster, so it was very hard to concentrate fully with all their artists. I guess they never did any major promotion and management, however I was quite satisfied with their work, I did have a good contract with them."

I was curious about the scene in Johan's country, after all where he dwells gave birth to quite a few industrial bands. "My hometown is not really a town," he adds, "only a village with about 10,000 people. So there's hardly an interesting club cene around here, and I don't think there are any other electronic bands in my area. The electro scene in Belgium is quite small, even if we had some of the most famous electronic bands ever, like Front 242, Klinikm, and Dive. There are a few good clubs and from time to time there's a concert or a festival but the attendance is rather low, especially comparing it to countries like Germany. I'm still a big fan of the scene as I like all kinds of electro/industrial, but I do notice some decline in the last few years. Too many releases are brought onto the market, this means a higher quantity, but unfortunately a lower quality. Not many of today's bands still interest me as old glories like Front 242, Klinik, Skinny Puppy, Leaether Strip, and the like did in the past. Maybe I'm just getting old, I don't know." So let's see if he's into any other style of music, and I was curious if he could see the comparison between some of his music and the harshness of death metal, which led us right to some of the influences and styles he works with in creating his latest masterpiece: "I guess I am a fan of some of these other extreme styles. I know I have some death metal fans, as well as some gothic fans, so I guess the typical Suicide Commando fan is pretty diversified! I really like this as I don't want to be put into certain categories. People, and especially the press, often just try to put you into certain cages. I don't like this narrow minded vision." SO, I guess he's claiming not to be industrial.

Finally, we get to the heart of what makes "Construct >< Destruct" so darn special, in that non-warm and fuzzy way (well, maybe warm in the fresh corpse sense. More on that later). Johan, lead us into darkness! "Somehow I really like this combination of hard industrial sounds and more melodious string lines or sequences. With my songs I often just try to create a certain atmosphere. I think the atmosphere of a song is very important, and somehow I like these dark and sinister sounds. As far as lyrical influences, I can't think of any in particular, although I'm pretty much fascinated by things like death, after-death experiences, reincarnation and that kind of stuff, but most of my influences are just coming from the daily news on TV."

For those of you wondering, despite what it seems like, Suicide Commando is NOT a one man project. That's a bit difficult to do live, don't ya think? So as we wrap this interview up, I will let Johan tell you all how it works: "It's not that easy to do live shows as a one man project, so after some solo shows (I started doing concerts back in '93) I'm now joined by 2 more members doing keys and effects and percussion. This makes it all much more attractive and this way I can fully concentrate on the show. It's quite hard to describe a Suicide Commando show live, but I guess they are quite chaotic as I often end up in the crowd, or just pass on the microphone to a member of the audience. Furthermore we're also using some slides and backdrops. We recently did a tour with Velvet Acid Christ which was a lot of fun, Brian is a really cool guy. If I had the chance I would do it all over again, Brian is a really cool guy! Over the years we did a lot of concerts across Europe. Highlights definitely were the shows on the big Zillo festival (over 15,000 people!), our show at the Gothic & Wave Treffen in Leipzig, and the shows in France. The French audience is great!"

As the year 1999 goes halfway out, I must say there's been quite a lot of really good metal bands coming out of the woodwork. Power metal seems to be on the rise, and with great talent like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, Nocturnal Rites and the like, maybe metal will become the official soundtrack for the new millenium! Although personally I have really come to enjoy industrial music, I haven't seen much of it released. Metropolis Records, the best supplier of industrial music, has cut off service to webzines, so we probably won't be doing any more work with the label. I simply cannot afford to buy CD's to review for the label, and lately I haven't been too impressed by their output as of late. The one thing I was very upset with was their blatant misadvertising of Wumpscut's "Eevil Young Flesh." The track listing and lyric sheets are all printed in English, but only one or two songs are SUNG in English! I feel this is a blatant case of false advertising, and there is NO indication given that you will have to sit through an album full of German sung songs, most of which aren't very good anyway. But this could be chalked up to many things, so I don't want to place blame just yet.

So here I am in a rather small town and got it all sorted out, put things together and survived, that's part of the reason why this particular issue is a little late. I even got my own computer sytem now, and it marks the first time in 8 years that I own my own system to work on the magazine rather than borrow someone else's. That's the story in a nutshell of the crazy move that brought me up here. The magazine will surely benefit from it.

Onto a final note for this issue, where we mourn the passing of Misanthropy Records and Re-Constriction Records. Misanthropy was started, as many of you may know, as an outlet for Varg Vikerne's work as Burzum. Though Burzum has strayed far from the black metal path it was more than likely intended to be, there isn't much you can do when behind bars for murder. They did put out some interesting works, in fact the new Solstice reviewed this issue is on Misanthropy. Re-Constriction, on the other hand, is probably better known for their innovative compilation CD and vinyl releases than for some of their individual bands. Chase always had a clear and interesting vision where hard edged industrial and electronic music was concerned, and though I didn't always get into everything he did, Chase stood 100 percent behind the bands and the music. His various cover song compilations got the most attention, in fact two of his compilations are reviewed this issue as a note to one of industrial's coolest underground labels. Chemlab got their start on a Re-Constriction compilation. Chase and company will be sorely missed.

CLICK HERE To return to the main menu