VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
BY: STEVEN CANNON
Welcome back! I'm not sure if all are aware, but the classic albums section
has been going through major improvements and renovations. First and most
important, there are NO dead links. Some of you may remember the radio show
went down when xoom.com deleted my server, and unfortunately it took a few
redone classic albums with it. All the albums are now online, though some in
shortened format but we are working to get every one in full length and 16 bit
stereo. There are probably some added new albums by the time you read this, be
rest assured we are always going to be adding new stuff when we can!
Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963 USA
Send me your letters, comments, complaints, CD's, etc. Please be more interactive!
I would really like to know how to improve the web site, so anyone with any
constructive criticism please send it in!
AGENT STEEL "The Omega Conspiracy" (Candlelight Records) SCORE: 79/100
At first I had a very hard time with Bruce's erratic vocal delivery. To be very
honest, back for the first two albums, John Cyris' vocals had the ability to
make or break the music depending on how out of control he got. It's what made
"Unstoppable Force" a brilliant masterpiece and "Skeptics Apocalypse" less so.
Bruce Hall has one awesome set of pipes, and this album falls squarely inbetween
the last two albums as far as likeability. To be sure, this is the heaviest set
of instrumentation you will EVER hear from Agent Steel, this is most damagingly
evident on my all time favorite A.S. song 'Illuminati Is Machine.' 'Destroy The Hush'
and 'Know Your Master' showcase some brutally harsh multi chorus vocals, and
couple that with the brutal guitar attack that hasn't been this devastating
ever in Agent Steel's career, one can see that music wise this album punishes
and is truly an updated 90's version of Agent Steel. The melody is still there
though, and Bruce does amazing singing vocals that hit very high notes on
'Bleed Forever,' which is an amazing ballad type. Bruce can hold notes for
quite a long time, and with the material present I truly believe that John was
simply incapable of dipping his vocals range so low while still belting out the
ear shattering highs. However, 'Awaken The Swarm' shows Hall at his worst, this
slower paced beginning does not match well with his highs, and some of his other
vocal delivery is scattered at worst, especially on 'Infinity' and 'Fighting
Backwards.' Though not totally bad songs, when he gets out of control it can
make for some embarassing moments. Hall is totally right for the job nonetheless,
but I do wish he'd get some of his out of control moments IN control. When his
power is focused it can be devastating, just re-listen to 'Illuminati Is Machine'
if you're not thoroughly convinced yet. Definitely NOT an album you can say
yea or nay to in just one sitting.
Contact: Candlelight Records, 2 Elgin Avenue, London, W9 3QP, U.K.
ARTILLERY "B.A.C.K." (Diehard Music) SCORE: 42/100
Man I was very dissapointed in this, the Danish thrashers 4th release. Gone are
the low ended rough vocals of one Flemming Ronsdorf, in fact I'd say that all
the vocal work is done in this rather annoying high ended wail. When he did the
vocals on "Terror Squad" and "Fear Of Tomorrow," the higher pitched vocals were
done for effect and they didn't sound as bad as they do here. Musically, though,
there are lots of good moments, but once the vocals kick in the songs tend to
go waaay downhill. 'WWW' has some of the STUPIDEST lyrics I've ever heard, too,
which really brings this down even more. Even though songs like 'Violent Breed'
and 'Cybermind' had better lyrics and some decent instrumentation/vocal
structures, the whole CD really didn't do a hell of a lot for me. Major points
have to be given for the instrumentation, though, like I said they still know
how to write some catchy riffs. Some of the chorus structures got hit the
hardest, worse notably on the songs 'The Cure' and 'Out Of The Trash.' Artillery
used to know how to write great mainlines that kept you going until he kicked
in the chorus with some vicious higher pitched vocals that added strength and
ferocity to already great material, but these songs go from average to just
plain bad. I'm about ready to cry now.
Contact: Die Hard Music, Vindegade 101, 5000 Odense C, DENMARK
BEWITCHED "At The Gates Of Hell" (Osmose Productions) SCORE: 84/100
When I first took a stab at this record, the first thing that hit me square in
the face was the Running Wild "Gates To Purgatory" era guitar style! Especially
on 'Sabbath Of Sin' and 'At The Gates Of Hell,' the light and unusually melodic
guitar tones really offset the viciousness of our championed lead singer, who I
must admit has some of the most unique and unusual vocal styles in black metal.
Though I do grow a bit tired of the cliched Satanic influence and dethroning
of Christianity type lyrics, the overall vibe is very well done, even Thor's
guest appearance on 'Let The Blood Run Red' doesn't ruin this thing, though I
questioned his appearance on such an album in the first place, this is probably
one of Thor's better songs. 'Infernal Necromancy' ended things kinda sourly,
but overall one can't help but get into this retro thrash sound that goes so
far back. Extremely melodic, though it does lose some points for the lyrical
stances, it's a good piece of work. Check out side projects Naglfar and
Ancient Wisdom, the former is the guitarists' side project while the vocalist
also does all the screaming on the newest Ancient Wisdom CD, which is more
symphonic and less guitar oriented.
Contact: Osmose Productions, 4470 Sunset Blvd. Suite 6, Los Angeles, CA 90027 USA
CHURCH OF MISERY/SHEAVY "Born Too Late" (Game Two Records) SCORE: 78/100
I hope ya don't mind a review that's a few years old, but I had never heard this
compilation until quite a few months ago, and being a huge Church Of Misery fan
I couldn't pass this up! Many of you may remember the split I reviewed from
them with Iron Monkey, an ungodly compilation which you can still hear a few
tracks from if you go to the sound files section (we keep two issues' worth of
sound files now). I thought those tracks were great, but these 4 penned here are
by themselves very well worth the price of the CD alone! 'Spahn Ranch,' 'Road
To Ruin,' 'Reverend' and a ripping cover of St. Vitus' 'War Is Our Destiny' are
simply phenomenal. They all have the sound samples to start them off, and 'Spahn
Ranch' shows Church Of Misery in their finest Sabbath worship, complete with
the 'All right now, won't you listen' lines from Sabbath classic 'Sweet Leaf,'
although you'll find that, for a song lyrically dedicated to Charles Manson,
is downright heavy and eerie at the same time! 'Road To Ruin,' a song about a
man named Charles Whitman (he shot at people from an observatory tower at Texas
A&M back in the 60's, an obscure madman I knew nothing about until I did some
research), was a bit lighter in scope and was very refreshing after the crushing
doom of the first track. Onto Sheavy, a band that I was a tad unable to get into,
they make for the lower score of this CD. When their "Blue Sky Mind" album came
out, I wasn't too crazy about it, and all their tracks are either live versions
of songs from those albums or in the case of track 5 a reworking of one. They
do a cover also of Sabbath's 'War Pigs,' which isn't too bad. As I re-listen to
many Sheavy tracks on this CD, especially the live ones, it is apparent that
Sheavy also deals out a bit of Sabbath worship, and while lead singer Steve
Hennessey sounds an awful lot like Ozzy, he's got a higher range that at times
tends to sound a bit more whinier, it's the onyl way I can describe it. I seem
to have gotten used to it more, but instrumentation wise there really isn't too
much to complain about Sheavy. Regardless of who else had been on this CD
sharing laser space with Church Of Misery I would have bought this and made it
a recommended CD, even if the other band present had been Mortification in their
Contact: Game Two Records, 2980 Hooker St. Denver, Colorado 80211 USA
DEAD SILENT SLUMBER "Entombed In The Midnight Hour" (Hammerheart) SCORE: 89/100
The first thing I thought of when I saw the front and back CD sleeve and
listened to the music was if Joe Satriani got himself a black metal band
together. This guitarist has some REAL skills man, and it makes their songs
sound SO damn good! They don't mind utilizing the synths either, making the
beginning of 'Reborn By The Seed Of Death' sound like eerie and downright
evil organ type music! Something out of a horror movie and it works so damn
well! The first three tracks on this album kick some serious ass, vicious
razor blade cutting diabolical frozen winds of the north kinda vocals! Track
four puts things in a downslide though. And don't get me wrong, 'Entombed In
The Midnight Hour' (track 4 that is) has some beautiful female vocals and
the normal male black vocals commit to mere whispers, and it does create a
rather spooky feeling with some beauty behind it, but I am not a big fan of
this track. I will say it's good however. Nor did I care for 'Raising The
Suicide Chalice,' especially since the synths here sounded a tad cheesy, though
they have to get some points for the techno effects which are not overused,
but some vocals here were horrible. 'Lick The Wound' was most noteworthy for
being a real slow track, it had some techno, SLIGHT techno effected synth
passages which enhanced this thing, plus those torturous vocals are actually
lengthened for a vicious effect! This CD should probably be in the 90's range,
but since there are only 7 songs, two bad ones drop this down a bit more than
I would like, but it's a damn good effort and one that sounds great in the car!
Check out those lead solos on 'Smell The Incense!'
Contact: Hammerheart Records, P.O. Box 277, 6300 AG Valkenburg HOLLAND
DEMONS & WIZARDS "Demons & Wizards" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 70/100
Despite what people may think I don't like EVERY CD that comes my way, even
though I am very open minded (probably too open minded for my own good).
However, I have to admit I was very intrigued by this melding of Iced Earth and
Blind Guardian, thankfully the vocals are on the Blind Guardian side. I must say
I am a bit disappointed, and I know it's not the overall reaction of most who
have heard this CD. The main problem seems to be on the instrumentation side of
things; the guitar work and mood of some songs is just too damn dominant and
thrashy ala Iced Earth. That brings down many a good song, however it must be
said that when used sparingly, it puts overwhelming emotion and feeling into my
two favorite tracks: 'Fiddler On The Green' and 'Path Of Glory.' Let me tell
you WHY these two songs work: Beautiful acoustics, sweetly serene and mind
melting vocals of Blind Guardian's Hansi Kursch, and great songwriting. The
basic branch of what makes Demons And Wizards stand out from most side projects.
There's a few others but it must also be said that the chorus lines are
very catchy and great melody exists in them, except for 'The Whistler,' where
the choruses are too heavy. The songs do have cool thrashy guitar riffs, but
they are just, like I am repeating ad nauseum, too strong for the style and
vocals set up here. The potential is there, but listen to two mellow tracks
(my favorite ones) and two that are good but have too strong instrumentation
and tell me you still agree that the heavier side should be dominant. I'll be
fair and also mention the rather angelic choruses that pop up every so often
and add very sweet melody to a disc I'll probably only spin a few songs of.
Contact: Steamhammer, SPV BmgH, P.O. Box 721147, 30531 Hanover, Germany.
DOMINE "Dragonlord" (Metal Blade Records) SCORE: 79/100
Yet another power metal band from Italy, this one not quite as good as most
that I've heard, like Rhapsody and Labyrinth, but they do show great promise.
The last half of the CD is easily better than the first, though there are some
good songs in 'Blood Brothers,' Fight' and 'Thunderstorm.' My main complaints
were in some of the songs structures, these songs aren't bad but they sometimes
left me wondering if they couldn't have more dynamic instrumentation. Especially
on 'Blood Brothers Fight,' I thought the synthesized parts could have been more
intricate than just one-two one-two notations, however I must admit that overall
the lead guitar work is quite intricate! 'Dragonlord' is where things REALLY heat
up, right around track 7 that is, and incidentally this track also happens to
showcase Morby's best vocal performance, proving he is capable of great things.
This is still a good record regardless, even the epic song 'The Battle For The
Great Silver Sword' done in seven parts is not as long as you might think! One
thing they should do definitely is tighten up on the chorus lines, they were
pretty weak in spots on 'The Battle For The Great Silver Sword' and
'Thunderstorm.' 'Defenders' they could have left off, and with an instrumental
and a spoken word piece comprising two of the ten tracks, this could have
received a higher score. Sounds like maybe I'm bitching too much, but like I
said there's still some enjoyable material here.
Contact: Metal Blade, 2828 Cochran St. PMB 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793 USA
EINHERJER "Norweigan Native Art" (Native North Records) SCORE: 90/100
When Native North Records emailed me about a new Einherjer record, I must admit
I wasn't all that enthused, especially since I REALLY didn't like "Odin Owns
Ye All" at all! But I will say this, if you didn't like the last release at all,
at least give this one a chance! The instrumentation is very well done all the
way through the CD, the guitars are more out in front but the synth effects
blend in so well that they can take a life of their own and build up the
choruses both before and after! There are a few times when one might laugh at
the piano notations, especially when they start the CD off on 'Wyrd Of The
Dead' and 'Burning Yggdrasil' (what IS a Yggdrasil anyway?) 'Doomfaring' is
really the only downer here, especially where the vocals are concerned, but
I like the way they do their vocals! If there are those of you that complain
there shouldn't be any high pitched singing in "true" heavy metal then you will
like the rough vocals presented here! Even though I hated the vocal style of
the band Defender, the rough vocals here are done just right! Some even border
on death metal style as seen on 'Crimson Rain.' Their songs are so catchy,
especially on their choruses, I've found myself singing quite a few of their
tunes at the most inopportune times. The last track 'Regicide' was interesting,
as the synths are utilized to sound orchestrated, and there are female vocals
mixed with the melodic male singing vocals, the latter of which are very well
done but are quite the rarity here; they only appear on a few other songs.
Thrashy, choppy riffs, heavy atmosphere mixed with rather majestic sounding
synths (check those trumpet sounds on track 3), and a rough voice that praises
the Viking gods, and truer Viking metal has never sounded this good! I only
wish they would bring out more of the singing vocals, as they are quite good,
but they may believe it shouldn't be overused in a style of music like this!
Contact: Native North Records, Skillebekkgt. 45A N-5522, Haugesund, NORWAY
ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW "Chaotic Beauty" (Spinefarm Records) SCORE: 86/100
I must give my eternal thanks to Spinefarm for sending me a rather massive
package, containing about 8 CD's in all, with full packaging! So what's up
with these big labels that send out cardboard sleeves with NO lyrics, NO band
info and NO info on the bands at all? Spinefarm is half way across the world,
and it costs them to send a package like this, while U.S. labels are scrimping
on product for guys and gals like us who bust our asses to review their bands
(Like Century Media for example). Anyway, onto the review: Another Gothenberg
based band. Sort of. Did I lose you yet? Well, hopefully not, because though
they have many of the trademarks of the Gothenberg style, they have much more
melody than most, and I do mean emotional, beautiful MELODY. They even manage
to incorporate fast paced black metal style here, unfortunately it is their
weakest point and I must say it brought three of the 9 tracks down quite a bit.
Surprisingly, their best songs are also the three that feature Kimberly Goss
doing some BEAUTIFUL vocals that really add to the flavor they are bringing out.
'Bride Of The Crimson Sea' is most noteworthy, there's piano notations and
keyboards that stand out more than the guitar work, something they do a lot of
on this album. Dominant keyboards withstanding, Kim's vocal work on 'Nocturnal
Strains' sounds a bit like the style you would find on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side
Of The Moon" to close out side one. Their blast paced black metal style works
most definitely against them, it made 'The Seventh Eclipse' and 'Tar Of Chaos'
sound kinda messy, and they lost a lot of their catchiness and original style.
There's a cover of Dan Swano's 'Black Tears' as well, not sure of the actual
band of origin but I think it's an Edge Of Sanity song. The first two songs,
'Shattered Soul' and 'Blood Of Faith Stain My Hands,' deal less with the
symphonic beauty and emotional atmosphere, though they are still quite catchy
and heavy, but their greatest strength lies in writing soul moving, emotional
and downright beautiful and heavy works. Lose the black metal instrumentation,
and PLEASE bring Kimberly back for your next album, this is her best vocal
Contact: Spinefarm Records, PL 212, 00181 Helsinki, Finland
GANDALF "Deadly Fairytales" (Wicked World/Earache) SCORE: 96/100
Though this has probably been out for quite awhile, I just recently hooked up
with getting all the Earache and Wicked World stuff I missed, and believe me
this was worth the wait! Though I know there's probably more Gothenberg styled
death metal bands out there than you can shake a drumstick at, these guys are
right on the money with their melodic based power riffs. There really isn't a
hell of a lot to complain about, hence the high score, but I must start off by
saying that the weakest track of the ten is 'Stronger Than Hell,' and mainly
in the instrumentation department. 'The Price Of My Deeds' was quite slow and
melodic, but picked up a bit when the more aggressive parts kicked in, however
it pissed me off when some of the best aggression pieces on the song were very
short and not repeated very often. Highlights are of course their extremely
varied song structure, you never know when they are gonna blaze right through
ya with speed, power and complex instrumentation, or slow things down and drop
some beautiful acoustic riffs (see 'Eternal Fire' and 'Never Again') and some
low spoken vocals. Lots of stuff to rave about, especially the catchy as hell
choruses, the vicious power of the death/slight black vocals, and the out and
out aggression of the track 'Dark Memories,' MINUS the melodic guitar riffs and
throwing in some Slayer'esque lead riffs! You've probably heard many Gothenberg
based bands but this bunch here really know how to write some hellaciously
powerful material and blend it well with gifted melody. A highlight of the
bunch to be sure.
Contact: Earache Records, 295 Lafayette St. #915, New York, NY USA 10012
GORGOROTH "Incipit Satan" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 89/100
I must say I was quite impressed with this new CD after their last release for
Nuclear Blast entitled "Destroyer," which I did enjoy, though not quite as much
as this disc. For starters, the first noticeable thing is that several tracks
have some new and unique influences in them! 'A World To Win' has some rather
energetic and rather melodic power metal style guitar chords impressioned behind
the vicious vocals of Gaahl! They also do a lot more work with synths on intros
and whole songs! 'Will To Power' was one of these tracks, very dark industrial
with electronic percussion (I don't quite want to say "beats" with this style
of music) that was reminiscent of MZ412 (satanic industrial on Cold Meat)
and though it was interesting, I don't know how well it holds up as a track.
Their instrumentation may contain mostly fast riffs but they do know how to
inject some melody and slow things down a bit to keep songs from sounding
stale, especially on 'Ein Eim Av Blod Og Helvetesild,' though that particular
song is basically a speed fest for awhile and a tad weak. 'Litani Til Satan'
was a weak track as well, there are very few black metal vocals and mostly
just a low rumbling male spoken word piece that, though containing cool
guitars, is rather dragged out at length. Surprisingly, they have a guest
vocalist who sings in a lower tone though very well, on the ending track
'When Love Rages Wild In My Heart,' and it's really killer to see Gorgoroth
inject such melody and passion into this music! Though most of the tracks
have the trademark brutality and viciousness that will keep longtime fans
interested, there is enough diversity here to surprise the listener, and
pleasantly too I might add, though their diverse elements also forced me to
drop some points in spots. However, it's a better release than "Destroyer,"
both in terms of musicianship and maturity, and the fact that they still keep
their trademark sound virtually intact.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records, P.O. Box 43618 Philadelphia, PA 19106 USA
KATATONIA "Tonight's Decision" (Peaceville) SCORE: 36/100
I have never heard anything by this band until now, and from what I have heard
other people say about Katatonia, I doubt this resembles any of their previous
releases. This CD starts off very deceptively, the first two tracks 'For My
Demons' and 'I Am Nothing' I did enjoy, to be honest, but I quickly realized
that this was more in an alternative style with slight heaviness. However,
once those first three tracks are over with, we start to hear rather whiny
alternative type of stuff, not unlike the Goo Goo Dolls or some such mess.
The vocals are quite cool to start out, but over the rest of the CD our frontman
gets very whiny and tries unsuccessfully to be melodic. 'This Punishment' is a
great example. 'Right Into The Bliss' started out with some really cool
instrumentation but then turned immediately into fluff. Sometimes they try to
get a decent song working, like the last track 'Black Session,' where they
use some heavier guitar work, but their choruses are whiny and nothing else
much was great here. Sounds to me like they are going radio friendly, and if
they could have done a better job they might have achieved this, I see mindless
radio & MTV freaks finding quite a bit to like, but as for me it's too much
Contact: Peaceville Records, 333 Latimer Rd, London W10 6RA
MENTAL HOME "Upon The Shores Of Inner Seas" (Century Media) SCORE: 33/100
I was eagerly looking forward to the third U.S. release from famed Russian
composers, but this CD is one of the worst I have heard from them. Their song
writing skills this time around leave a lot to be desired, in their quest to
turn more progressive they left the songwriting skills out the window. There's
many songs where the vocals are downright embarassing, and it seems the vicious
doom/death style vocals have taken a backseat to singing vocals that aren't
always in tune with the rest of the music. The harsher vocals are there in
spots though, they made 'Against My Will' sound a lot better than the rest of
the tracks. The guitars are off on a lot of tracks too, though 'Amidst The
Waves 99' has some of the best guitar work on the album. Nothing here really
grabbed me at all, the synth work is good on some songs, but they aren't
consistent on anything and it makes for a very poor album.
Contact: Century Media Records, 1453-A 14th St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 USA
MY DYING BRIDE "The Light At The End Of The World" (Peaceville) SCORE: 69/100
It has been quite a while since we've received anything from this band, especially
since they don't have a proper U.S. distribution, so my thanks go out to Jim
Raggi at Lamentations Of The Flame Princess magazine for this. I must say right
off the bat that I am greatly surprised to hear vicious death metal vocals that
border right on the edge of black metal, and they are quite powerful in tracks
like 'She Is The Dark' and my favorite 'The Fever Sea.' The instrumentation too
is quite intense, though on a few tracks it could have been better, especially
where the vocal delivery was concerned, and this was their biggest drawback.
That and the fact that a few songs like 'Christliar,' and the title track are
so long that they tend to drag on. The disc starts out quite good, though,
especially with their sorrowful and forlorn atmosphere, only to kick in some
vicious aggression, in most regards the harsher vocals and the cleaner sung
vocals are well mixed. 'Edenbeast' I couldn't really get into, though they did
score some points for the melodic guitar work, and 'Christliar' had some of the
vocalists' worst singing parts. The title track as well had problems vocally,
though this isn't a terrible disc, I did enjoy 5 of the 9 tracks, but I wanted
to hear a better mix between the instrumentation and the sung vocals on the other
4 I didn't care for.
Contact: Peaceville Records.
M.Z. "Blood Is Life" (Brennus Music) SCORE: 94/100
I was most impressed with this French group who mixes classical, baroque and
period romantical instrumentation with guitar work of the highest caliber.
This is akin to a guitar instrumental album along the likes of Joe Satriani,
Steve Vai and the like, however there are numerous synth passages throughout
many songs that keep this from being a guitar tech's interest only. Many of the
songs are quite catchy, showing that these guys know how to write songs that
are not only intricate and full of guitar wizardry, but also catchy and kick
ass at the same time. There were many standout tracks here, especially the title
track that starts out with two pianos going at it with some slow lead riffs.
The songs do show a lot of fast and furious riffing, especially noted on 'Shadow
Glare,' 'Evil Lair,' and 'Silver Hairs,' though I did question the few tracks
that were 6 minutes long; they may not hold everyone's interest that long,
though personally I felt they varied it up a bit on the longer pieces. 'Killing
Tale' was probably the most noteworthy of them all, with synth passages that
were strong, dynamic and invoked much feeling, and personally I hope future
endeavours partake of such dynamic synth arrangements. Not to say that the
keyboard work wasn't spectacular, it was, especially to hear this multi choral
vocal style that was quite angelic and though hidden in the background, it adds
quite a bit to the music. Not your average guitar instrumental album, though
there's no vocal work, you'd be hard pressed to find an instrumental album that
will keep your interest and contain catchy material otherwise.
Web site: http://mz.ifrance.com
NIGHT IN GALES "Nailwork" (Nuclear Blast Records) SCORE: 91/100
Night In Gales knows how to combine crafty melody and vicious At The Gates style
vocals to create some vicious Gothenberg styled death metal. Surprisingly, this
album is a hell of a lot heavier especially where the guitar work is involved!
Check out those thrashy choppy riffs on tracks like 'How To Eat A Scythe'
and 'Hearselights,' my all time favorite track on this record. They also manage
to bring in a surprisingly good singing vocal style for the chorus lines of
many songs, most notably being the title track, 'How To Eat A Scythe,' and
'Hearselights' though they do have many tracks that have an odd vocal style
which would almost take down the song, fortunately it's not much of a bother
for me. 'Quicksilverspine' didn't do much for me, especially the ending, and
there are some songs that take a while to kick in, but there's no denying that
you can hear some vicious vocal work all the way through, there are times when
I can play just about the whole CD straight through. Check out those vicious
screams at the beginning of 'All Scissors Smile.' Their cover of 'Black Velvet,'
while being heavy and thrashy as the rest of their CD, has some wierd vocal
delivery on the chorus, but I guarantee you've never heard a cover like this
ripped that heavy! A very good follow up, heavier in many spots than their last
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
NOCTURNUS "Etherial Tomb" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 65/100
Having only ever heard their last recorded effort, the green vinyl 2 song EP
containing 'Mummified' and 'Possess The Priest' (to the best of my knowledge)
I never did have a chance to hear "The Key" or their other efforts. I DO know
that they were considered one of the first death metal bands to utilize
keyboards in their music and that tradition continues today. One of my favorite tracks
is the opener 'Orbital Decay,' which showcases great brutal vocals, and some
intense lead riffery and keyboards that blend in so well with the music you
really have to listen hard for them to pick them out. Doing the sci-fi horror
technology type of lyrics makes for refreshing listening when placed against
all the gore and satanic imagery overcrowding the scene today. Their faster
paced brutal riffings are most evident on my other favorite tracks 'The Science
Of Horror,' and 'The Killing.' Their main problem comes with slower passages
that, while meant to evoke an eerie atmosphere, just end up leaving tracks
like 'Paranormal States' and 'Edge Of Darkness' a bit too slow and rather
hard to get through. 'Search For The Trident' had some nice acoustical and
keyboard riffs flowing through them, though sometimes the majority of this
stuff is a bit too long and drawn out, especially evident where the playing
is slowed down a bit. Nice to see them come back after a few years, and though
it's not a terrible release, I'd like to see more brutality and power mixed
in better with the melodic parts.
Contact: Season Of Mist, 24 rue Brandis 13005 Marseille, FRANCE
ORANGE GOBLIN "The Big Black" (The Music Cartel) SCORE: 43/100
Man, what a total shock! I can't believe this album from a band I've really dug
since their debut "Frequencies From Planet Ten" came out. "Time Travelling
Blues," their second album, had a few weak songs but was a rather solid effort,
and this album sees the English musicians get even heavier in style and sound,
but not always with the greatest of success. Many songs this time around, like
'Turbo Effalunt' and 'Hot Magic, Red Planet' have cranked up the heaviness but
the song structure and in most cases the vocals took a nosedive, especially on
'Hot Magic...' and 'Cozmo Bozo' the vocals were rather off in many places and
on the latter track I kept hearing this "yeah, yeah" being repeated ad nauseum;
are they trying to be White Zombie now? On the positive notes, of which there
were really only 3 solid tracks of, 'Scorpionica' kicks the disc off very nicely,
if they plan on getting heavier this is the way they should go, crunchy guitar
riffs, great choruses and catchy song structure. 'Quincy The Pigboy' was quite
nice too, though short on lyrics. Like the track before it, it rocks with
intensity, unfortunately, we don't hear any good rockin' tunes again until
track 9, 'Alcofuel.' The better tunes are the faster paced ones, and there
seemed to be little of the melodic slower parts found on "Frequencies..."
There is an instrumental which isn't bad, but it's still just another tune that
will probably be forgotten. I have seen lots of good press surrounding this
album which makes me wonder if there's just something wrong with me: I have
listened to this album more than 4 or 5 times and the result is the same, I'm
disappointed almost to tears...
Contact: The Music Cartel P.O. Box 629, Port Washington, NY 11050
Web site: http://www.music-cartel.com
POTENTIAM "Balsyn" (Wounded Love Records) SCORE: 21/100
Man, this had me just about to cry. (I better invest in a box of Kleenex!)
The CD starts out with the most beautiful
and kick ass intro that I have ever heard, done all in synths with some kick
ass guitar behind it, and the rest of the CD falls flat on it's face. The
instrumentation is mostly bland to awful with occasional moments here and
there, same with the vocals which are more like hoarse attempts at blackened
death; more emphasis here seems to be on death vocals. 'Alfablod' was the other
instrumental type piece, about 4 minutes of a synth background with some
trumpet style notes inlaid; sounded kinda cheesy at first but kinda grew on
me. There's supposed to be 9 tracks here but I think after that instrumental
piece (track 5) it goes right into song six without changing track numbers.
Oh well. I heard hints at things like in 'Latum Oss Bidja' I finally heard
the closest thing to black metal screams the entire disc, but like I said it's
not all the fault of the bad vocals, the songs just never went anywhere. I
don't even want to start about the 'song,' and I use that term VERY loosely,
entitled 'Flames Of Potentiam' which had some really bad synth work and some
people who I guess were supposed to sound like they were burning in torment.
I just fail to see how a band can record such a beautiful and stunning intro
and then screw up the whole damn thing. By the way, if any of you thought you
recognized the intro synths from the soundfile (on the track 'To Know Is To
Die,') then you're probably correct if you remember that I used this as the
intro to my radio show (which I am trying to resurrect... Be patient!)
Contact: Wounded Love Records, c/o Avantgarde Music
POWER SYMPHONY "Lightbringer" (Pavement Music) SCORE: 88/100
Remember how Charlie Brown lusted after the little redhead girl? Remember how
she was always rather unreachable? Well, Charlie Brown would absolutely die if
he could see what the little redheaded girl turned into! This Italian readheaded
bombshell goes by the name of Michela and she fronts Power Symphony, one of the
coolest power metal type bands around! Not many female lead singers sing and
write about epic battles and many of the lyrics this time around deal with very
dark subjects! Her vocals are strong and powerful, but can be mellow at times.
No wimpy screeching here! This 7 track CD really doesn't pick up until track
3, entitled 'Gethsemane.' It's not that the first two tracks are bad, but at
times the instrumentation can be a bit overbearing when the vocals are in the
mix. The lead work is quite good, and on 'Never Dream Of Goodness' there is a
very emotional mix of high end guitar riffs and vocals that put the song over
the top in spots. 'Song Of Men' has an acoustic start and very cool flutes and
an overall mellow vibe, though it does run a tad long, but it's very enjoyable.
'Quest For Knowledge' has some sinister synth passages and a trademark for the
majority of songs here: great multitrack vocals which make you think there is
more than one vocalist and dominant guitar work. There are mellow passages
mixed in with the heavier ones, and the last song is a nice instrumental, but
I would have liked to have one more good song, since there's only seven tracks
here. MUCH improved over their first demo "Evillot," one that shows great
promise and I bet gets great press coverage through and through.
Contact: Pavement Music, P.O. Box 50550, Phoenix, Arizona, 85076 USA
REBAELLIUN "Burning The Promised Land" (Hammerheart Records) SCORE: 100/100
Damn, this is some skull stomping blackened death metal! Hailing from Brazil,
the birthplace of Sepultura, one has to wonder how this group got missed! Their
one and only CD release starts out slaying all and damn near never lets up
until the very end! Song titles like 'Hell's Decree,' 'Killing For The Domain,'
and 'The Legacy Of Eternal Wrath' show the rather black subject matter at hand,
namely the extinction of Christianity. Make no mistake about it, this is one
damn consistent album from start to finish. If you like all the songs you hear
digitized on this web site then there is no doubt you will love the whole
album! The guitar work is most noteworthy, I swear to the legions almighty that
there has never been a faster guitarist lead wise, and just listen to the
ending on 'And The Immortals Shall Rise' to be convinced that their guitarist
is not of this world! 'Flagellation Of Christ' is the only instrumental here,
though done seemingly with keyboards it is one dark, evil and brooding intro
that would serve them greatly when they play live! Vicious death metal style
vocals and hyper speed drumming put the finishing touches on such a kick ass
disc, surely this makes Vader's "De Profundis" CD look like it needs touching
up a bit! See the interview we did with them this issue, I must say that this
thing could garner most brutal death metal album of the year!
Contact: Hammerheart Records.
SATYRICON "Rebel Extravaganza" (Nuclear Blast Records) SCORE: 52/100
I can't say this is a terrible album, but the instrumentation here never really
goes anywhere. Most tracks typically start out with blazing speed, kudos have
to go to the drummer for being able to keep the speed. There are some riff
changes spread throughout the songs, but they basically keep to a rather bland
set of speed riffs; the vocals, while quite vicious, are delivered rather
slowly to the music, making this sound more dreary than it sometimes is. 'Havoc
Vulture' had vicious chorus lines, and I loved the keyboard riffs on 'Supersonic
Journey,' though this is one of the only songs you'll hear it on. Gone are
the melodic synth passages they utlilized quite frequently on earlier albums
like "Dark Medieval Times" and "Shadowthrone." Their lack of anything catchy
or melodic is what really brought this down, though I have to admit there are
some nice melodic passages on the last track 'The Scorn Torrent,' it was very
surprising after what I had heard throughout the album. The vocals were done in
an underwater warped style, but it didn't help the instrumentation much. I know
black metal isn't supposed to try and be "catchy" or "melodic," but this is one
record I can't relate to much at all. Maybe I just like things on the more
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
SIGH "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams" (Cacophonous Records) SCORE: 49/100
I think these guys are from Korea or Indonesia or one of those Oriental
countries. It doesn't really matter, what we have here is a rather bad take on
black metal that tries, albeit unsuccessfully, to mix a variety of different
musical genres and effects to achieve a great melting pot of revolutionary
black metal. All this did was annoy the hell out of me. The first three tracks
are godawful, I think even Satan himself would run as far away from this as he
can. 'Infernal Cries' is probably the lousiest of the bunch with some terrible
guitar riffs and black metal vocals that are almost laughable. 'Iconoclasm'
starts to pick things up a bit, and I must say the lead guitar work here and
on 'In The Mind Of A Lunatic' brings memories back from the days of Motley
Crue and WASP type solos! I was disgusted by the twanging country sounding
guitar (NO, that is NOT a misprint) on 'Black Curse,' and what's with all the
hand clapping sounds everywhere? This ain't soul revival, it's black metal
goddamnit! Or supposed to be. 'Imprisoned' started to surprise me with some
very mellow guitar riffs and spacy synths, but they soon proceed to ruin the
rest of the song. 'Divine Graveyard' shows a big problem with the vocals
clashing horribly with the instrumentation. There's some good male singing
vocals on 'Iconoclasm,' and some nice female vocals interspersed everywhere
else, maybe three good songs grace this disc, but overall they either start off
terrible and manage to add some nice interesting ideas, or start out good for
a few minutes and then degenerate the song all to hell. Work on those
Contact: Cacophonous Records, 231 Portebello Rd. London W11 1LT ENGLAND
STRATOVARIUS "Infinite" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 95/100
What is it with bands changing labels these days left and right? Their last
release being on Noise, I was quite surprised and quite pleased as well with
their label switch, as "Infinity" is a whole lot catchier, heavier, and
musically much better, which is saying a lot since I did rather enjoy their
last effort. Tracks like 'Hunting High And Low,' 'Millenium' and 'A Million
Light Years Away' have very strong multi vocal choruses, keyboard instrumentation
that at times is almost indistinguishable from the lead riffs and just as fast
if not faster at times, and some of the best songwriting ability I've heard in
a power metal release. Up until 'Freedom,' I was digging every single second of
every single song. 'Mother Gaia' has to be one of the most emotional and
beautifully sculpted power 'ballad' type pieces I've heard in awhile, with great
Piano notations, very well sung vocals, and just an overwhelming feeling of
sheer beauty. 'Infinity' does some very heavy synth and angelic male multi
chorus style, before mixing heavy and slow passages for a rather lengthy tune
that manages to hold one's interest through the roller coaster ride. 'Freedom'
had some really silly synth riffs though, which distracted from the overall
feel of the song, and brought it down a notch, and 'Celestial Dream' had nice
acoustic/synth instrumentation but was a tad weaker overall than most here.
The bonus track, which I have yet to figure out, wasn't bad but could have been
better. Overall though, European power metal definitely shines brightly enough
to blind even the most hardened critic, and I would NOT be surprised to hear
stuff like this make major waves on radio stations across America if someone
would just have the balls to play this stuff.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
SUPER NOT "Phlegmatic Sun" (Yperano Records) SCORE: 90/100
I really enjoyed this little gem of a CD from a band and record label I have
never heard of before in my life. Super Not are said to be a cross between
Soundgarden and a few other typs of bands, what I hear in the music is a very
heavy alternative style of music that is more metal oriented than anything,
the thrashy and catchy sections of many songs reminds me of another U.K. outfit
from days ago known as Dearly Beheaded. The melody is there, evidenced on slow
groove type numbers like 'Phlegmatic Sun,' which is very stoneresque and quite,
well, heavy! 'Cyanide And Concrete' is a faster number that really gets to you,
in fact many of their songs are a bit faster than you might expect, and those
guitar riffs are quite crunchy and heavy but with an alternative slant. The
vocalist really rages on a tune like 'Cyanide And Concrete,' but he does have a
tendency to sound a bit twangy, which makes the semi ballad 'Sorrow's Eve' come
off a bit TOO alternative sounding especially in the vocal department. Maybe the
guy can't help the way he sings on more slower numbers, but believe me it
doesn't detract much from the overall heavy vibes flowing through the disc. They
do an unbelievable ripping version of The Doors' 'Break On Through To The Other
Side,' and the extended version of the title track I thought a tad unnecessary,
but the opening riffs come straight out of the slowest doom metal and are
interesting for the first few spins. 'Hate,' though over 6 minutes in length,
showcases some of their fiercest material, and for a band that's a tad bit
difficult to pigeonhole exactly, they have made a rather interesting CD
Contact: Yperano Records, P.O. Box 17222 W12 8ZG, London, U.K.
Web site: http://www.yperano.com
THROES OF DAWN "Binding Of The Spirit" (Wounded Love Records) SCORE: 97/100
I was thoroughly impressed with this release from a band I've never heard of
and a style that is pretty unusual for black metal. There are some whispered,
clean sung and vicious black metal vocals mixed with Tiamat "Deeper Kind Of
Slumber" styled atmospheric instrumental passages and Therion "Theli" era
styled orchestration, that's about the best way I can describe what is a very
powerful and balanced mixture of dark and light instrumentation and vocals.
It is truly astounding to say the least, especially considering a track like
'On Broken Wings Of Despair' could be a stoner's dream track, especially given
the clean vocals which are more dominant here than any other track. There were
a few downsides, though, like on 'The Warprophet Dreams' where some of the
guitar work tends to get a little overrepetitive, and the clean vocals on 'On
Broken Wings...' gets out of sync with the music at times, but there really
isn't much else to complain about. 'The Hermit' crushes with it's upfront
guitar work which is very dominant and in your face, only to break things down
with some awe-inspiring acoustics which are not only beautiful but dominant
and soul invoking as well. If you're looking for a most diverse piece of work,
one that goes from heavy to light all in the breadth of a 5 minute song, look
no further than Throes Of Dawn, a masterpiece to be sure.
Contact: Wounded Love Records c/o Avantgarde Music.
TOGETHER WE FALL "Drowned" (RRP Records) SCORE: 94/100
I really like this record a lot. It's hardcore through and through, from the
mean streets of, um, Baltimore? Hee hee.. They also mention D.C. and Boston in
passing, though their lyrics are very down to earth and deal a lot with pain,
troubles, and losing it all only to find out where you stand in this game of
life. They are very spiritual minded as well, which seems to be spoken of even
stronger by their street language and the few cuss words thrown in here and
there to show that their beliefs do not undermine their street smarts. Very
real and really hits home. Music wise, they like the faster paced riffs and
drumming, which will keep things moving quite fast, in fact this 8 song CD ends
rather quickly, leaving me wanting more. There were a few things I didn't dig,
namely the guitar patterns on 'All I Need' could have been a bit more dynamic
though it didn't detract too much as they were playing at a rather speedy tempo.
Also, the vocal delivery on 'Everything' was rather off, doing a speedier kind
of rap delivery. Otherwise, tunes like 'Drowned' and '28' have some killer
thrashy riffs, '28' reminds one a bit of Biohazard, and there's an overwhelming
feeling hanging over these songs, very heavy and a weight of really feeling for
the narrator's pain. Quite well done, keeping it real and dealing with some
topics that may never happen to us, but if they ever do then we know someone has
been there who's speaking from the dark side of his heart. Why do good releases
like this have to be consigned to a record label all the way over in Belgium?
Is hardcore a dying breed?
Contact: RRP, P.O. Box 19, 1190 Forest 3, Belgium.
TRANSPORT LEAGUE "Satanic Panic" (Pavement Music) SCORE: 93/100
I have to admit I am a bit surprised that Pavement is picking this up, as we
reviewed their last release "Superevil" which was put out through the Music
Cartel, though it is a good thing that SOMEONE is releasing this U.S. wise.
This is some hard driving, rough as all hell metal with hardcore edged vocals
that at times may remind someone of Skinlab or even Pantera, though they also
do manage to utilize some singing vocals in spots. They use singing vocals
less on this album than they did on "Superevil," in fact this albums seems
to have more hard edged material than the last album did. One place where
"Superevil" had problems was on the slower tracks, however, tunes like 'Plague
Ship' and 'Tar' are unnaturally heavy in their slower modes! 'Shut To Drown'
kinda bothered me though, it seems to drag on a bit. 'Un Man Conquer' had a
strange chorus pattern, and sometimes there are parts of songs when I wish the
vocals didn't dip into the singing range, but as I said before, this CD drives
home the point that heaviness and shouted kick ass vocals along with rough and
dirty guitars are the driving force on this monster slab of wax. Check out
those wicked riffs on 'Creep Provider' and just about everywhere else! If you
liked "Superevil," it's my bet that you'll like this much more. In fact, a
friend of mine who loves Pantera is begging me right now for a copy of this
CD, though the two bands are rather removed from each other. It's pure out and
out aggression if ya need a daily fix of it, this'll have you O.D.'ed for
Contact: Pavement Music.
VADER "Litany" (Metal Blade Records) SCORE: 74/100
You know, after Vader's second album "De Profundis" (which we wholeheartedly
agree is one of the best death metal releases that came out at that time) the
band has never really done anything different or groundbreaking within their
genre. "Black To The Blind" was not much of a great album, and their newest
effort is only mildly better than their last full length. Maybe it's just me,
and maybe I've been numbed to all other death metal releases since Rebaelliun's
newest has been unleashed, but there's not much different going on here. I will
give points where they are due though, especially for 'The Calling' with it's
slower delivery and heavy as hell guitar riffs, and Peter's vocals are still in
brutal form on most every track. 'Xeper' is another one of my favorites, though
not just for the brutal guitar work, the lyrics deal with a facet of Egyptian
mythology that has always fascinated me. 'Cold Demons' which also features a
video clip which is supposed to be included on the CD as a CD-Rom track (I have
yet to be able to get mine to work) is another slower one that wasn't too bad.
Even 'Litany' was interesting, especially since he only shouts one word
sentences at a time. After about track 7 though, I start to realize that most
of the songs start the same way, things start to sound a little repetitive,
though I can't say this sucks, after all this album has a few more good songs
on it than their last one. Many people profess to like this one a lot, but I
feel that it's no better than "De Profundis," and I'm waiting to see if they
can do something new with their next album.
Contact: Metal Blade Records
VANDEN PLAS "Far Off Grace" (Inside Out Music) SCORE: 96/100
I remember their last release gained very high marks in our publication, and
this CD is just as good, if not better in some spots. Heavy guitar riffs
accentuate a very melodic styled vocalist, they definitely utilize catchy
chorus parts and great songwriting ability. Ranging from hard edged melody in
'I Can See' to acoustic melody in 'I Don't Miss You,' they definitely have
good range and variation within each and every song. The keyboard riffs here
tend to lean more towards the progressive side of things, letting the guitars
and multi chorus lines (most evident on 'Far Off Grace' and 'Into The Sun') catch
the listener with heaviness and melody, not always ocurring at the same time.
Is it metal or is it progressive rock/metal? It's both actually, and another
great release from a band who I don't hear much about in the press. Before I
forget, they also do a very heavy progressive cover of the song 'Kiss Of Death,'
but don't ask me who did the original 'cause I forget.
Contact: Inside Out Music, 344-TB Oakville Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15520 USA
VARIOUS ARTISTS " Judge Not..." (Underdogma Records) SCORE: 92/100
This 2 CD set is quite amazing, it represents some of the coolest underground
stoner/desert/psychedelic rock bands on the planet. Of course, the best band on
here is The Satellite Circle doing 'The More I Drink,' which scores points right
off the bat. For a 2 CD set this thing has very few duds, although I must
question why a band like Raging Slab is on here. Iron Boss has this twang thing
going, and Smoke In Sunshine has a heavy style with annoying vocals. The biggest
beefs with this CD set seem to be with odd vocal styles and a few bands that
want to do this countryfied twanging thing. Five Horse Johnson almost got low
points for their acoustic guitar style, until I realized that this is more of
a blues type number which doesn't really belong here. High points: Damn, where
do I begin!?!? Zerocharisma does 'Take A Ride' and it's really laid back, with
cool vocals, this thing has a heaviness all it's own without trying to play
heavy. Bozeman's Simplex does a great melodic set of riffs with 'Psychelectric
Revolution, and Man's Ruin signing The Men Of Porn push out some heavy distorted
fuzz with 'Pony Ride.' Disc 2 has some great stuff on it as well, the funniest
track has to be Puny Human's 'Raze The Leghorn Bar,' it's about daddy payin'
five dollar bills to them leggie girls at the nudie bar. :> Astroqueen decided
to go for a bit speedier tempo than most of the artists represented, and
Traumatic has some Kyuss sounding heavy as hell riffs, but with some great
singing vocals. I was also pretty amazed by The Mushroom River Band, sounding
instrumentation wise like a cross between Roachpowder and Sixty Watt Shaman,
with the vocal abilities sounding much better than the Sixty Watt screamer from
their Game Two Records debut. The team that put this together really did their homework,
they obviously captured some of each band's finest moments on a 2 CD compilation
that comes highly recommended. (It helps that this be one of my favorite genres
of music anyway).
Contact: Underdogma Records. http://www.underdogma.com
WALPURGIS "And Then There Shall Be None" (Independent) SCORE: 52/100
I have to let you all know, I have been in contact with a TON of bands from the
seedy underside of Belgium's underground. Many of you may be getting weekly
updates from one Nicky Neyah, who keeps a vigilant eye on concert dates around
the world, and also does show reviews. He recommended this band after seeing
them live, and I can understand what he might have saw in them. There are TWO
vocalists working here, mostly at the same time, one doing a very decent death
growl, while the other is a black metal screech that tends to be a bit off in
spots, mostly on the fast delivery that they like to utilize so often. After
getting through the "dark and stormy night complete with a scream" intro that
starts off track 1 (thank god it wasn't ONE track with only 5 total on the CD!)
we hear some competent riffing & drumming, although another thing that goes
against this is the production: whose idea was it to bring out the cymbals more
than any of the other drum parts? Oh wait, that's probably not a production
problem!! Anyway, they do utilize a few acoustic passages, mostly on the
intro part of songs like 'Restless I Shall Be' and 'Suffering In Disgrace.'
(Hey, is that song title ever appropriate!) My other complaint is, while they
are able to utilize both fast and slow instrumentation, nothing ever really
stood out, though the guitars do have some high end tones that may make one take
a 3 minute interest. Plus, for such a vocal style, they never seem to get very
aggressive, well, until track 4, but by then you've already lost interest. They
aren't obviously trying to do the slow doomy death black thing, and their
speedier pieces just get lost in a blur with the vocals at times sounding
really silly. Get some more aggression in those vocals, rip and cut loose and
just blast the righteous off their thrones with hell piercing growls and screams,
no that won't fix ALL the problems but hell it's a start!
WOLF "Wolf" (No Fashion Records) SCORE: 98/100
Man oh man where did these guys come from! From the first track all the way up
to the 8th (more on the last track in a minute) this is some kick ass powerful
stuff! Starting the disc off with a bang is 'In The Shadow Of Steel,' a rousing
metal anthem if ever I heard one! These guys claim to be a New Wave Of British
Heavy Metal inspired band, which I can rightly see, kick ass 80's style metal
which is full of power. Though they seem to know little about the actual bands
involved (see the interview we did with them for more details) they DO know how
to just rage out of nowhere and knock us all on our asses! The first track is
a little short by most standards, but fear not, they will blow you away with
their tight musicianship, excellent power styled vocals that can hit high notes
but, like Hammerfall in some ways, don't ever go high pitched and screechy.
'Desert Caravan' was an interesting track, breaking things down a bit with
some waaay cool and mellow singing & acoustics, only to put you right back into
headbanging mode. Oh how I wish this thing could get a 100, but ending track
'In The Eyes Of The Sun' was a bit of a downer, the instrumentation was right
on at first but mixing a rather Egyptian style guitar riff works much better
for Nile or Anubian Lights than the style presented here. There's even a rockin'
instrumental in '243' and I really don't need to say much more, if you're still
not convinced that this is one of the most prized NWOBHM releases to come out
since the legacy died in the early 80's, then go listen to the sound files
Contact: No Fashion Records.
AGENT STEEL. Interview with Juan Garcia via email.
This is a day that metalheads everywhere and fans of 80's speed and thrash metal
have been looking forward to. Ever since their breathtaking "Unstoppable Force"
album had been released on Combat and their demise, especially with all the
resurgence of 80's bands coming forward to continue their careers, I had wondered
if an Agent Steel reunion would ever be possible. They have continued on with
the majority of the lineup intact, save for one glaring omission: Tha absence of
one John Cyriis. This is where Bruce Hall comes in, and though his vocal
performance does stand to have some corrections made (see the review for more
details), it's obvious to me that Bruce is more suited to the powerful array of
instrumentation that John would have been. Juan comments on this and also gives
his two cents on what caused Cyriis' departure: "I have no idea where John Cyriis
is now, and personally with all due respect to him, I truly believe we are a
stronger unit now as a band with Bruce Hall on vocals. ''Omega Comspiracy''
would not have been possible with John singing, the album would have never been
completed as we would have argued the whole way through the recording. I know
it may be hard for some of you to understand this but it is the truth, I refuse
to work with negative individuals and Mr. Cyriis puts out a negative vibe." My
opinion was that John Cyriis could not have been able to do the lower end vocals
that Bruce Hall is capable of, though Cyriis was very very good for what he did,
Hall seems to have the upper hand as far as range and ability. "Exactly my point
as well," Juan agrees. "John Cyriis had a different approach than Bruce, and if
''Omega Conspiracy'' had Cyriis singing on it, you are right he would not have
been able to handle the low vocals, and also the new Agent Steel disc would not
have been as heavy as it is; personally it could have been even just a little
bit heavier and that would have been okay. I think this new release is an
amazing record, especially if you consider that we haven't put out a studio
record in over a decade!" So how does Bruce perform all the older songs live?
This was a question I was curious about, since he does seem able to hit just as
many highs as Cyriis, if not more: "Bruce pulls off the old material just fine,"
Garcia adds, "no problem if anything he gives the older songs new life. We have
discussed the possibility of releasing some live stuff showcasing Bruce on the
older material from ''Skeptics Apocalypse'' and ''Unstoppable Force'' so we will
see what happens." This is something I'm very curious to hear, as I must admit
there are similarities between the two singers, especially in the way of vocal
pronunciations, but many similarities end there.
Many people who had the first two full length Agent Steel albums will eagerly
remember just how different they were in a scene dominated by the shock gore and
over the top satanic imagery of many purveyors of 80's thrash and speed metal.
Hallows Eve, Slayer, Exodus, all great bands in their own right, but still Agent
Steel brought many different aspects to the table, especially in their melody
which went hand in hand with their speedier riffs, and there's no doubt lyric
wise this was a whole new ball game. "We kept the conspiracy theories,
supernatural and alien topics in 90% of the lyrics when we reformed." Garcia
notes, "We take pride in our lyrics and concept; it separates us from your
''normal'' metal bands. I really enjoy all the Agent Steel lyrics past,
present and future ones that we are creating. With ''Omega Conspiracy'' we
really got into reading David Icke's ''The Truth Shall Set You Free.'' and all
kinds of theories of conspiracies and supernatural subject matters as well. It
makes for interesting lyric material and it makes the songs more interesting I
believe." I had a small curiosity for Garcia too, namely the song '144,000 Gone'
and it's meaning. "Lyrically, '144,000 Gone' deals with the revelations chapter
of the bible and the rapture, of course Cyriis put a twist on it in the lyrics."
Originally available through Candlelight Records, Metal Blade has stepped in and
given this monster of an album a U.S. release. "Omega Conspiracy will be
available as of June 6th in the States." And what of press reactions to the new
album? "Mostly good press," says Garcia. "We've been featured in lots of metal
magazines and fanzines worldwide and they all really like Bruce Hall as a new
singer. I have not seen too many bad reviews, wait there was one, it was classic.
(???) some magazine in Europe did a live review of our recent European tour, and
they said we were thrash metal and too loud, and real noisy, then I read another
magazine who did a review of the same show and they loved it! They said it was
one of the greatest live shows they've witnessed to date! So the moral of the
story is, I suppose, don't believe everything that you read! Go check us out
live and make up your own opinion of us. Overall it has been really positive for
us and we are glad to be making good music again." Speaking of touring, I
wanted to get some idea of how it was for them in the glory days of metal, back
in the early 80's, so I asked about some memorable tours, bands they have played
with and whether or not they will grace Atlanta with their presence: "My favorite
bands from the old school days that I still listen to would have to be Exodus'
''Bonded By Blood'' and Iron Maiden ''Killers.''" Juan states. "Also, Slayer's
''Hell Awaits'' is great. The first memorable tour that comes to mind was when
Agent Steel supported Exodus in San Fransisco at The Stone, the crowd went nuts
for us and Exodus as well. It was pure fucking mayhem metal! Also a few opening
slots with Slayer were really cool, because we totally kicked ass and we all
know how hard it is to play in front of a Slayer crowd! That is the true test
of metal! We've never played in Atlanta but we would love the opportunity to
tour there. We have been discussing possibly doing a national U.S. tour in the
near future. We did play a reunion festival last year in Germany at the Wacken
Open Air in Hamburg. There were like 25,000 metalheads, and it was our first show
in over a decade! Usually I don't get nervous before a show, but this time I
did... It was unbelievable how many metalheads are into it in Europe!"
Finally, as we wrap this up, I wanted to get a few details about the artwork
that has spanned three albums. Out of all the artwork I have seen to grace Agent
Steel covers, this new one has to be the best, in fact my friend said he wants
to get the "Omega Conspiracy" artwork tattooed on his arm! "Thanks a lot!"
Garcia exclaims. "Dimitri Patellis did the new design on our cover and I think
your friend rules if he gets a tattoo of the cover on his arm! In the past,
''Skeptics Apocalypse'' was just a satellite photo of the Bermuda region in
Florida, ''Mad Locust Rising'' was created by Gerald McGaughlin (who also did
some cover artwork for Omen, another Metal Blade band), and ''Unstoppable
Force'' was a photo of the Bimini region of the Bermuda Triangle and Gerald
airbrushed lasers breaking through the ocean floor walls." Thanks for clearing
that up, I never could tell what that cover art was supposed to be! My last
topic of conversation is the cohesion between the band members, and whether or
not the entire band has a hand in the writing process, although we know already
that Bruce Hall has written some of the lyrics. "I like all the songs that we
have written instrumentation wise, but I am not too crazy about the piano intro
on 'Bleed Forever,' but that's okay. That's the beauty of being in a band, you
can't always agree on everything all the time, and going with the flow is always
the best policy. Hey, if Bernie wants to put in a piano intro on his song 'Bleed
Forever' then that's fine with me and I respect his creativity. I think also a
few more harmony solos like the one in 'Infinity' and 'Know Your Master' would
have been cool." He had a few more things to say concerning his fans, and the
internet, which I'll let him say at length to carry this interview to a close:
"The internet rules! We keep in touch with fans, and also just recently released
an Internet exclusive single called 'Brainwashed' and you can get it for free at
www.musicblitz.com. We also have some merchandise available, go to JSR direct
at: www.jsrdirect.com We are also planning on licensing the old shirt designs
as well in the future." Oh yeah, tell us briefly about the Combat/Relativity
side of the business (Obviously I don't want this interview to end!): "Working
with Combat was very cool," Juan states, "especially towards the end when we
were recording ''Unstoppable Force'' at Morrisound studios with Dan Johnson
producing. Combat really started to get into Agent Steel, and we even had major
label interest! Combat would have sold us to a major, unfortunately by that time
the band had broken up but fortunately here we are again!"
EINHERJER. Interview with Frode Glesnes via email.
Okay, so I know many of you who heard their previous release "Odin Owns Ye All"
may be as disinterested as I was, but wait until you hear the new record
"Norweigan Native Art!" It's heavy, kick ass, and surprisingly different, and
here's Frode's take on it all: "Yeah, ''Norweigan Native Art'' is by far our best
release to date, it's better in every way. The songs are better structured, the
lyrics are darker and the sound is superior, it's rather the opposite of ''Odin
Owns Ye All.'' The Odin album probably seemed a bit too ''jolly'' for some, and
I think most people were expecting something else, more in the vein of ''Far Far
North.'' Of course, a couple of years after we recorded ''Odin'' it's easy to see
what we did wrong, but now we're back on track and I think our newest release is
good proof of that." Proof indeed, but unfortunately, Century Media didn't seem
to have the desire to stick around for their great turnaround, causing the Viking
influenced crew to man their own ship. This comes in the guise of Native North
Records, which Frode admits is more than just another interested record label:
"Native North is actually our own label. Gerhard, Ragnar and I are working full
time with the label these days, and even though we created it first and foremost
to release Einherjer material, there are openings for other bands as well; we've
just signed Ulvhedin and Angelgrinder. Ulvhedin is a viking metal band and they
are about to enter Grieghallen Studio in September to record their forthcoming
album. It will be great Viking metal with a vengeance, and it's scheduled for
a November/December 2000 release. Angelgrinder, on the other hand, is a new
extreme black/death metal band, formed by myself (vocals/bass) & Gerhard (drums).
To complete the lineup we've recruited a guitarist named Calvin, who is a trained
musician and actually taught improvisational and conceptual jazz to students from
MIT/London. The Angelgrinder debut will be a lesson in pure sinister aggression
and it should be out around the same time as Ulvhedin. Anyway, the breach with
Century Media was a mutual agreement from both parties. We weren't too happy
with the situation, because with our tempo we'd be finished with the contract at
the age of 40 and I think Century Media had bigger expectations concerning the
sales figures. We soon found out after signing the deal with them that it was a
bad idea. Century Media has lots of bands and can't possibly concentrate 100
percent on all of them, many of the bands have bigger names and sell more CD's
than us and it's understandable if the label devotes more time on those bands.
C.M. was our label for both Europe and the U.S. but with Native North we've only
released the album in Europe. We have some U.S. distributors but our goal is to
license the album to an American label and hopefully that will happen very soon."
So let's talk about influences for this album. There was lots of terms I didn't
quite understand, especially some of the creatures named and some of the concepts
tying the whole album together. It's a rather in depth analysis, so if you have
the album and care to know more about the lyrics and the overall theme of the
album, then Frode is more than happy to oblige: "The first track 'Wyrd Of The
Dead' was the first song completed for this record, and it's about Odin and his
'crucifixion' on the world tree Yggdrasil, his sacrifice to himself to gain the
ultimate wisdom from the dead. 'Doomfaring' deals with Hel, the goddess of death
in the Norse myths and her banishment to the darkest depth of Helheim where she
rules all those who died a natural death like sickness or old age. A dark
atmosphere with an insane groove to be sure! 'Hugin's Eyes' is about Odin's view
on the world through his two ravens Hugin and Munin (thought and memory).
'Burning Yggdrassil' is about Ragnarok (surprise!) and all the horrors that
come with it, when the sons of Muspell torch the world and everything is laid
to waste; a typical Y2K prophecy. 'Crimson Rain' is a typical slash and bash,
slice and dice Einherjer type of lyric. The romantic violence combined with the
Einherjer that we glorify. 'Howl Ravens Come,' 'Draconian Umpire,' and 'Regicide'
stand out from the rest of the album with a calmer and more medieval
expression; they deal with the myth of Sigurd Fafnirsbane, based on the Edda
poem. The most important fragments of course, because the story is far too long
in itself." Speaking on this, I noticed there was a track error omitting the
third song from the listing, so when I saw the song title spell out 'Draconian
Umpire,' I had to wonder of course if it was a misprint, surely Frode didn't
mean Umpire in the baseball position sense of the word! "No," Frode is probably
laughing to himself, "It's supposed to be Umpire. This song, along with 'Howl
Ravens Come' and 'Regicide,' is based on the saga of Sigurd, with the Elder
Edda as an inspiration. 'Draconian' deals with the conversation between Sigurd
and the dragon Fafnir, and ultimately the slaying of Fafnir. The Draconian
Umpire in this song is Sigurds mighty sword called Gram, which Sigurd uses to
pierce Fafnir's heart." I also was curious about some of the songwriting aspects
of the album, namely in the keyboard arrangements. They are a lot stronger and
more dynamic than you would think, especially after hearing their lighter sound
and effect from "Odin Owns Ye All." Was there a certain framework or reference
in mind for writing the keyboard parts, and also I wanted to know more about the
female vocalist who was used briefly on the album: "There is no certain procedure
for writing keyboard parts," Frode explains, "but this time we decided not to
use just the standard stringchords. We arranged the keyboards in a very complex
and interesting way and in some songs they are a very important part. 'Regicide'
and 'Crimson Rain' are very good examples of dynamic and novel use of synths.
The female vocals were done by Hanne E. Andersen. It turned out really well,
she's a very talented singer and she's very easy to work with. Although the
female parts turned out so good, I don't think this is something we will do on
our future releases and we'll probably never bring a female singer on stage to
One questions usually ends up leading to another. Good interviews, even email
ones, work themselves out that way, so while "Norweigan Native Art" has been out
for a little while, there are already future plans in the works besides the other
bands signed to their own label: "We will enter the studio to record a mini
album later this year, probably in September or October. The mini album will
include 4 songs: one new song, yet untitled, a VERY heavy and VERY fast song,
and I think it will somehow show the direction Einherjer will head towards for
our new album. 'When The World Lights Dim' is a song which was originally
recorded during the ''Norweigan Native Art'' recording session but never made it
to the album; it's a very heavy song but it differed too much to be included on
the final product. 'Casildas Song' is a covertune of the legendary Czech band
Root from their ''Temple In The Underworld'' album. The last song is also going
to be a cover song but we haven't decided yet which one, proabbly something
As we wrap this up, it's no doubt that Viking metal, while very much an integral
part of Norweigan mythology, culture, heritage and history, has significant
importance in the lives of many Norweigans, though it doesn't always reflect in
their music. I was curious as to how Einherjer feels about the Norweigan scene
being dominated by the black metal genre, and if they had any thougts on the
band Apoptygma Berzerk, one of extreme few industrial bands that actually hail
from the land of mythological forests and demons creating a style of music that
is unheard of in the land of the frozen North: "Black metal is such an important
part of the Norweigan metal scene that we would never get away with not being
slightly influenced by bands like Emperor, Immortal, Mayhem, etc. I think you
get influenced by all kinds of music that you truly like, be it metal, progressive
rock, classical or whatever. Industrial music is not exactly my cup of tea but
Apoptygma Berzerk is a very interesting band. I really enjoyed their ''2nd
Manifesto'' mini CD. I have some other Apoptygma albums as well but none are as
good as their second." Oh, and finally, I had to ask: What EXACTLY is a
Yggdrasil? "That's an easy one," exclaims Frode. "It's the world tree in Norse
Mythology!" Hee hee.
GORGOROTH. Interview via email with Tormentor.
I didn't think it would have been possible to do an interview with the mighty
Gorgoroth, but here it lies! And their new album "Incipit Satan," while adding
a few surprise twists and turns to the black metal legend, still retains that
harsh brutality and outrageous vocal style that Gaahl presented to us on their
last release "Destroyer." Personally, I like "Destroyer," but find "Incipit
Satan" to be a better recording. Tormentor agrees with me, though he has
reasons of his own to like "Destroyer" less: "The album ''Destroyer'' was
recorded under circumstances which were rather... hmmm... messy. Lineup changes
all the time. Gaahl joined in the middle of the recording session, as did T.
Reaper. We tried out new stuff, Infernus did some vocals and played drums, I did
some percussion things, and T. Reaper also did some vocals. I think we had 4
singers and 3 drummers, plus a drum machine on that album, but somehow it
worked. ''Incipit Satan'' was recorded under a lot more stable circumstances.
We had other aims with that album too, not to sell a lot or get more money
('cause we don't!) but we wanted to make an album with sound that was brutal
and raw, but still clear enough so the riffs wouldn't drown, and have more
structure." Now I let Tormentor talk a bit about the ideologies and new sounds
behind their new release, some will have by now read the review and listened to
the sound files and noticed quite a few new influences, those of which I will
now let him convey: "Well, first of all Gorgoroth has one rule and that is that
we do like we please anyhow. This time we felt like using some synthesizers and
brought in more heavy riffs. There's no chance that we will make an album with
ten 'Will To Power' type songs, that I think I can assure you. The vocals on
'When Love Rages Wild In My Heart' were done by a man named Mickey Faust. He's
the vocalist of the best rock and roll band in Norway called Raga Rockers. We
have always been big fans of theirs. The songtitles may seem a bit wierd,
especially using the word love in a song, but they're about basic satanic
themes like bringing man closer to the animal in man; the discovery of
instincts, man as a biological being not only filled with rational thoughts.
Feelings, be it hate or love or anger or whatever are factors which points at
the animal in us. It's important I think, moral is not good for us. It's the
opposite of animal nature, which is a lot more honest to life." And the artwork
itself was interesting, with the mention of the snake and the eagle which, for
Tormentor and company, goes a little deeper into philosophy than I could have
known: "The eagle and the snake are Nietzsche's alter ego Zarathustras' two
favorite animals and best friends. They symbolize pride and wisdom. It's taken
from Nietzsche's book ''Also Sprach Zarathustra'' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra). The
sun coming up in the background symbolizes something new to come. ''Incipit
Satan'' means here begins Satan or this is the beginning of the opposite or
something completely different. This is roughly the concept of the album,
which is a follow up to ''Destroyer'' where the destruction of Christian
values and morals was the main theme. ''Incipit Satan'' brings a new way of
living to man: The Satanic! The creative man who makes his own morals and life,
which is how it should be. We find it
important to try new things and bring new elements into Gorgoroth. It's true
black metal the way it was meant to be anyway."
Speaking of black metal, one of the reasons why I never thought I would be able
to do this interview was my old school way of thinking, remembering all the
mystique of black metal and remembering how it was next to impossible to get
interviews with bands that shrouded themselves in the underground and their
whole mysterious images. Things have obviously changed nowadays, and Tormentor
agrees with me: "I think a lot of it had to do with the unfair treatment of
bands from the Norweigan media. On the other side of the coin black metal in
the years 1991 and 1992 was not for the media, it was strictly underground. Of
course that attitude broke with Grishnackt when he ran to the papers some years
back, plus all the events with the murders and church burnings and all. The
black metal scene has of course changed, and that's natural. Otherwise it would
have been a complete stagnation and that's worse than anything in my eyes.
Anyway, I think that black metal today has taken some different paths and
gotten a bit split up. Today you have many kinds of satanic metal which can be
labeled black metal. Some of these directions are not very good, but that's my
personal opinion. I really don't care about them. I like it more brutal and
primitive, that's why stuff like Krisiun and Morbid Angel are so cool."
As we wrap this up, many of you are aware that as with so many black metal
bands in the Scandinavian scene, and especially in Norway, Gorgoroth has been
a revolving door for many members coming and going to and from other bands.
Just read the enclosed map that comes with the Spikefarm CD release "True Kings
Of Norway" to see over 150 different entities! My concern is with Gaahl and his
side project Trelldom, a CD I wasn't extremely pleased with but nonetheless
admired for his vicious vocal work. Though I couldn't speak with Gaahl about
his involvement, rest assured that Gorgoroth is a high priority, as Tormentor
closes upon: "Right now I think all of us give Gorgoroth the highest priority.
That's why I think that we have a very strong lineup right now, as we also got
a new drummer recently, Hangatyr, so now everything is quite good! About
Trelldom, it's not really a side project, but Gaahl's band which is quite old,
it dates back to 1993 or 1994 I believe. They've released two albums, ''Til Et
Annet'' which you reviewed, and ''Til Evighet'' in 1995 which was released on
Head Not Found. Right now Gaahl is the only one who participates in other metal
bands. Our bassplayer also has some sideprojects but they're quite far removed
from the metal genre. When it comes to old members almost all of them had other
bands in the past which were their main bands. Pest was in Obtained
Enslavement, T.Reaper was in Malignant Eternal and Obtained Enslavement, Ares
and Vrolok had Aeternus, and Infernus and Grim (RIP) played in Borknagar."
Don't forget that the first few albums are distributed through Century Media if
you have a desire to hear them. It's interesting how they have releases through
three different labels though they seem to be effectively signed to Nuclear
Blast. "We've never had any contract with Century Media," Tormentor states.
"I can't see how they dare release our material. I guess they bought the rights
from Malicious Records, but he didn't have the rights for those albums anyway.
It's rather screwy as you see, Infernus owns the first three Gorgoroth releases!
You did forget to mention Embassy Records where ''Pentagram'' was first
released. We are, however, very pleased with Nuclear Blast. They do a really
good job for us and we work very good together. We don't earn any money on
N.B. but it's easy to run a band when you're on such a professional label.
Hail and praise to them and Liz at the North American office!"
PENTAGRAM. Interview with Bobby Liebling via email.
Though our chat with Bobby was supposed to be run last issue, there's no doubt in my
mind that whatever issue we ran this in it would have to be a featured interview.
Unbeknownst to many people (outside of those who read about them in Metal
Maniacs) Pentagram has been around in many forms and incarnations since right
around the time, maybe a little before, when Black Sabbath was playing and
just starting out. I asked Bobby to give a little history of the band, some
of the lineup changes, and things of that nature so that you could all see
just how long Pentagram has been making music; it's a lengthy one but oh so
necessary! "I formed the first incarnation of Pentagram in 1971 with the
intention of being the loudest, heaviest and to become a true all around
contender in heavy music. I guess you could say Pentagram plays heavy doom
metal from Arlington, Virginia. In the beginning I played guitar and did vocals.
Before I formed Pentagram, however, I played with a fantastic obscure hard band
called Macabre and we recorded only one 7 inch which included the first version
of our classic song 'Be Forewarned.' We are very influenced by Blue Cheer, in
fact those guys are one of the reasons we wanted to play! I must say Blue Cheer
was one of the wildest, loudest and most amplified band with wild feedback,
long live the legend who are Joe and mine's reason for continuing on heavy
forever! I can also say we are influenced by Budgie, Neil Merryweather, Thin
Lizzy, T.Rex, Mott The Hoople, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Kiss, etc.
Marc Bolan is one favorite guitar hero of Joe Hasselvander. I like The Obsessed,
St. Vitus, Trouble, and Spirit Caravan of our friend Wino. Our Black Sabbath
influence came mainly from Victor Griffin who played on our ''Be Forewarned''
album. Although he was ideal for Pentagram at that time, I find that working
with Joe Hasselvander on guitar presents a perfect thick rythym guitar wall of
sound that Pentagram has always displayed as well as all the lead guitar frills
and tones that have always been my personal love and favorite from the psychedelic
flavor of the late 60's and early 70's power trios." This is quite an interesting
notation since Joe played all the drums and percussion on "Be Forewarned," but
on the new album it is simply a two man job, with Bobby doing all the vocals
and Joe playing ALL the instruments!
The new album contains songs that are not so new. "Review Your Choices" has
songs that were written and never released, and some new tracks. Bobby excplains:
"I still have an arsenal of unrecorded material and I have hopeful intention
of doing a solo album in the near future, but now the next Pentagram record is
the most important thing for us and Black Widow Records. When we were doing
recording for the new album we thought that many fans had never listened to
great official versions of some of our classics so we decided to present some
old numbers in the new album. I wrote all the lyrics and Joe all the music, he's
a fantastic songwriter and a brilliant musician. 'Gorgon's Slave' is very
doomy (One of my favorite tracks of the slower ones - Ed.) I love her but one
of my favorite tracks is 'Megalania,' do you like this song? 'I'm Vengeance' is
also very great, this one is the main theme for a new horror movie out soon in
the States. It's a real slasher movie, horror meets Psycho heads or something
like that, very bloody. Northwinds, another band signed to Black Widow Records,
is also on the soundtrack along with some other doom bands. We think ''Review
Your Choices'' is our best album to date. For me it has the most appealing
material we've ever written and I'm really pleased with the dry, clean sounding
production. For example, ''Downhill Slope'' (a beautiful song I might add too
- Ed.) has a bluesy edge to it, I for the most part sing blues with a definite
soul edge which has always been by far my natural and most comfortable style of
singing. I'm glad I'm finally letting this side of me loose and hopefully in the
future you'll hear a lot more of this." This was a rather noteworthy aspect of
Bobby's to mention, as on the record you can hear no less than 4 different
types and styles of vocals, and to make matters even MORE interesting, he sounds
completely different on the "Be Forewarned" album! Tracks there and here show
him able to emulate Ozzy Osbourne's pronunciation style.
It's rather sad, on a final note, to hear about the near misses of Pentagram,
as the latest issue of Metal Maniacs reported on how Pentagram was supposed
to tour with Blue Oyster Cult but due to management and other problems that tour
never happened, leading instead for little known band Judas Priest to get
signed to Columbia. Who knows what would have happened had Pentagram ended up
on that tour, the face of "popular" metal might have been changed forever. Plus
also noteworthy is the fact that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS offered
to buy two of Bobby's songs for around $10,000 a piece, but wanted to put
written by Paul and Gene. Being the true to life artist that Bobby is, he
rightfully said no, but I asked him how he felt about missing out on a major
label deal, their fanbase, and how Black Widow Records has been for them:
"Black Widow Records has done a hell of a job for us, I never received so many
interviews to do and so many reviews and articles. They are fantastic, great
people and great friends. I know some U.S. labels are distributing and selling
''Review Your Choices'' like Meteor City, Southern Lord, Game Two, and
Brainticket. I never knew we weren't popular. our fans, though not yet a
megasized following, are and always have been incredibly devoted. I think the
biggest reason for not breaking big yet in popularity has always been no
management to speak of ever, very bad promotions and lousy distribution as well
as financial backing. We hope that finally Black Widow and our new album as well
as being contracted for another album for starters can finally change this
drastically. When I look back now I think had things gone forward with Columbia
we would have ended with little or no artistic control, musical say so,
production, etc. and may have had more things taken away from us as so often
were done to many bands that were heavy back then. You know, passion and
enthusiasm are things that take no effort with us musically because we've been
playing very extreme heavy styles and original material for years. We get
annoyed in fact when we hear people say 'I outgrew metal,' or 'I used to like
metal but I outgrew it.' That's such a lot of crap! You outgrow clothes, shoes,
things you never realized that bored you initially anyway. You don't outgrow
your wife or your kids or love that's real from the heart. That's why we have
a brain that can learn to reason with and help develop our progress as we try
to possess and channel our inner soul into our work."
Pentagram has plans to do other works as well, and for those interested in
hearing more older material, Bobby has the solution for you: "You can hear some
very old and very interesting stuff on ''Human Hurricane,'' a CD which includes
demos, outtakes, live and rare material. It's not very good quality soundwise
but it is interesting. It's on Downtime Recordings." So I was curious, since
"Be Forewarned" was on Peaceville/Music For Nations just what happened? This
label was obviously a major player in the music world with an established base
that could get the CD's out and distributed, but obviously two records have
gone by on different labels. "Upon merging with Music For Nations," Bobby
explains, "Peaceville aimed to gear towards a wider commercial audience
acceptance. Pentagram of course felt that with our being set to a definite
self styled format it was time to shop for a label with closer mutual
objectives. Unfortunately this took longer than we all would have liked. So far
Black Widow is already starting to show us their all out interest and intention
of finally helping put us in a musical status that the band has far too long
I believe their long history speaks for itself. Their latest work is their
inclusion in a Blue Cheer tribute album, something the band feels is a long time
in coming. This tribute album has them doing two of their favorite Blue Cheer
songs 'Feathers From Your Tree' and 'Doctor Please,' plus they are working on
a track for a Captain Beyond tribute. Very busy, very doomy, and very much
worth your time to check out, so if you haven't done so yet, there's still four
songs digitized from "Review Your Choices" from last issue! Hear for yourself
why Pentagram is one of the most original and oldest doom bands around!
REBAELLIUN. Interview with Fabiano Penna via email.
From the land of Brazil, a country probably better known for bands like
Sepultura and to some smaller degree The Mist, comes a completely brutal, over
the top death metal band that burns the very image of darkness into a man's
soul. Obviously, being from Brazil, some might compare Rebaelliun to Sepultura
without even listening to the music, but one would soon realize that Sepultura
could not ever play this fast or with this much brutality. Fabiano had quite a
bit to say regarding Sepultura and the state of musical affairs where his home
country is concerned: "Definitely this is not my cup of tea, from Sepultura I
still enjoy their first few albums, but I don't like their new style at all.
I don't know much about The Mist, so I can't really say anything about them.
Sepultura can play in front of 30 or 40 thousand people in Brazil, as they are
they most famous ''rock'' band there, but please don't believe this is the same
for death metal bands. These kinds of gigs here we can expect maybe 300 or 400
people, if the band is already well known over here. The social and economic
situation is very rough in Brazil, basically the honest culture doesn't get any
kind of support in our country, so you can imagine how difficult it is having a
death metal band over here. The only advantages we have living in this area is
that we are in our homeland and life is not so expensive if compared to Europe
or the U.S. However if we were depending on jobs to get money we would be
completely screwed, fortunately we have the chance to go to Europe to make some
money with the band to pay for rehearsals, buy equipment, etc. but basically we
live with no great conditions. Our economical situation is very bad but we just
keep on our way because we believe that in the future things will change for us."
Okay, I'm a bit confused on his actual meanings here, but one thing is very
certain: Hammerheart Records wasted no time in getting their name out and
getting them in front of people. I wanted to talk about the many live shows
they have done overseas, especially in the Belgian underground their name has
been put out in front of the masses. Penna once again explains how this came
about, and the origins of their development with the Dutch label: "About 6
months after creating Rebaelliun in 1998, we played a mini tour of Europe, then
we sent our stuff to several labels. We got a few good offers but we signed with
Hammerheart. They have too many bands in their cast, however I did like the new
Nocturnal Breed. We played two full tours over in Europe, the first one was
sponsored by ourselves, we went there with a few phone numbers to look for gigs
and record labels. Our situation in Brazil is pretty crappy, so we knew since
the beginning of the band that only in Europe could we have a chance to get
real support for ourselves. Our first mini tour had 19 gigs in Belgium, Holland
and Germany, twice we played with Deicide, we stayed 3 months in Belgium
however. At the end of the trip all the metal scene already knew of Rebaelliun
and then we got the chance to play with Deicide which was great. Before we
returned home we signed the deal with Hammerheart and after we released ''Burn
The Promised Land'' they offered us our first European tour, it was 17 gigs in
4 countries alongside bands like Vader, Limbonic Art and Ancient. This second
tour was mainly organized and sponsored by Hammerheart, they know how strong
we are on stage and that's very important to have the band touring in Europe.
Now we are going to travel to Europe once again for our third tour, this will be
30 gigs with Vader, Vital Remains, Fleshcrawl and Pandemia, and also includes a
festival with Cannibal Corpse. Of course we have had very good moments in
Europe, the culture is completely different if compared to Brazil, but we've
been learning a lot about those countries and their history. The first time we
went to Europe we could not speak English, so we have really been learning a lot
for our time over there."
Musically, as I stated, this band is brutal and flawless especially when one
listens to the high speed guitar riffage that never ceases to amaze me. Their
lyrics and musicianship seems to take a rather strong stab against Christianity,
forcing me to wonder just how strong their convictions are in everyday life
and whether they are practicing Satanists or not: "We are not Satanists," Penna
states, "However, our hate against Christianity is something strong and extreme,
because we truly believe in the freedom and one will of man, and this is exactly
what christianity goes against. They are responsible for many crimes against
humanity and nowadays they keep their strong empire by controlling people and
making money off of their image. They are not working for some kind of damn
god, they're working for themselves, to make them rich. We will never support
religions and shit like that, we believe in our own will and we lead our life to
have honor and freedom." There is something that Fabiano stated that makes me a
little sad, concerning the guitar solos on 'And The Immortals Shall Rise.' We
are not sure how it will affect the band in the future, but here is how it is
related by Penna: "The fastest leads on 'And The Immortals...' were recorded by
Ronaldo, the other guitarist who left the band a couple of months ago. He is
very interested in classical guitar, so he left Rebaelliun to dedicate his time
to classical music. We've been playing death metal since 1992 in other bands
which were not so known in the underground scene, and we keep improving like
musicians for this style." And now onto the lyrics, nowadays many people have a
difficult time separating death metal from black metal, especially where the
vocal styles and lyrical writings are concerned. For example, is Deicide a death
metal band or a black metal band? Remember when Cronos and company started the
whole black metal craze back in the early 80's their vocals were not exactly
either death or black style the way it is seen today. So how does Fabiano feel
about their unique brand of music, whether seen for their lyrical stand or their
brutal playing techniques? "Rebaelliun plays extreme death metal and it's very
clear in our music" Fabiano states rather firmly. "All this discussion amongst
other bands is nonimportant, people have to pay attention to the music and the
attitude of the bands, it doesn't really matter if it's death or black metal.
Our lyrics are honest, we write about what we think concerning this shitty
world, and if there are people who think that we portray a black metal style for
the lyrics, okay, I will not say ''NO,'' the music is very clear as I said."
I wanted to talk also about their one instrumental, 'Flagellation Of Christ.'
It is the only song that features keyboards, and I wondered if future
compositions will feature any keyboard material, also I had to ask how they plan
to top this masterpiece of work for their next release, and did they see this
style as limiting their future albums? Bands like Napalm Death continue to churn
out the same style of material from album to album, sometimes working in subtle
differences from release to release, do they think they can make each and every
album brutally heavy without sounding the same? "First off, we will never mix
any other kind of music with our own stuff. 'Flagellation...' was written and
recorded because we felt we could do something different but still extreme and
unholy. Keyboards were used simply because they were needed on that track, and
we will just use keyboards again in some other instrumental, never in the real
songs. We have recorded new stuff some weeks ago, and I can tell you that it's
more extreme and intense that ''Burn The Promised Land.'' If you are a good
musician, if you love music and death metal, you are able to keep on the path
you choose to be on and showing interesting music to fans. Our new stuff is
faster and more extreme as I said, but in some way it's more interesting than
the debut album, because we have new elements to make our music stronger than
before, and this is the key. We will never add strange stuff to the death metal
genre in our music, but we can improve like musicians to create better music,
faster, more intense and extreme. We recorded a new mini CD last month down here
in Brazil, it will be released on June 5th in Europe and called ''Bringer Of
ar.'' It's the first stuff we recorded with the new lineup, which is a three
piece now. It contains Morbid Angel's 'Day Of Suffering' which will also be
featured in a tribute CD that's been prepared by Hellfire Records, and 3 new
songs. The sound recording is better than on the album, and most importantly
you will feel that Rebaelliun has finally found it's own style. On ''Burn The
Promised Land'' there are many different types of tracks, but now we feel that
these songs are more in a unique style, which is very important for us.
I long to see Rebaelliun play live here in the States, and crush any other bands
that dare to share the stage with them. We'll close this interview with Fabiano's
thoughts on the United States: "We've never been in the U.S., but I'm very
curious about your country and it's history. We have received many emails from
your country, and we believe that in a land where there are bands like Deicide,
Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Vital Remains and others, death metal fans must
be the most brutal and aggressive on earth. We really want to play a whole tour
over there, Joe from Vital Remains was trying to organize something together
with us, right now I don't have any news about that but we really hope it will
work out, maybe this year or maybe in 2001."
TANK. Interview with Algy Ward via email.
This interview was a VERY short one, but seeing as how I'm a huge Tank fan, I
thought I would let you all share a few lines with original member Algy Ward.
Tank has been considered by many to be one of the forerunners of the
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement, were you an active participant in that
whole scene, if so what was it like and I'm curious as to why it seemed to die
so quickly, with many of the bands fading into obscurity.
Tank were not a N.W.O.B.H.M. band. We formed in 1980 sometime after Iron Maiden
had appeared on the "Metal For Muthas" album which is considered to be the
beginning of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.
What happened that made Tank decide to call it a day, and how did the
reunion come about? Also, tell us about the '97 reunion show in Holland.
Tank never really split up. We had contractual problems in 1988/89 and decided
to reform at a later date. The show in Holland was part of a tour we did with
Raven and Hammerfall.
Though many Tank fans have claimed the opposite, I felt that "Honour
And Blood" was one of my favorite albums, though not entirely consistent, I did
feel that this album had some of the strongest and heaviest songs you had ever
written. How do you feel about this album personally?
Honor And Blood is one of my favorite Tank albums from the songwriting aspects
doen to the production, though "The Return Of The Filth Hounds" contains my
favorite Tank songs.
Is there a new album in the works for Tank fans?
Yes, there is a new Tank album, it will be called "Tank V.11, Still At War."
Check out our web site for song titles and more information, at
It seems like the majority of the lyrics on albums deals with the subject
of war. Who wrote the lyrics for the songs, what were your influences for writing,
and tell us about the lineup as it stands today.
I write all the lyrics and war is a subject I sometimes use. The current lineup,
in my opinion, is the best one for us. It is: Algy Ward. bass/vocals, Mick
Tucker, guitar, Cliff Evans, guitar and Steve Hopgood on drums.
Though I know it's been a rarity, I have been told you played at least
one or two shows here in the States, anything you remember about those tours?
We played in the U.S. back in 1985, we had a great time playing some shows with
Raven and many more on our own.
Any plans to ever tour the U.S. again? Finally, tell us about your fan
base overseas and the origin of the song 'Whichcatchewedmycuckoo,' which only
appears as an extra track on the Japanese pressing of the "Honour And Blood"
We would love to play in the U.S. again but I don't think the current music
business attitudes over there would allow us to, I guess we'll have to wait and
see. We enjoy quite a bit of popularity in Japan, we played a show in Tokyo last
August and had a great time, making lots of friends. As for the music scenes
overseas, in Europe and Japan the scene hasn't really changed much, there's
still (thankfully) a lot of people into metal. As for the 'Whichcatchewedmycuckoo'
track, it was one of the b sides on the single version of 'Echoes Of A Distant
Battle' back in 1983.
Though he didn't have a whole lot to say, it's obvious that things are still
TRANSPORT LEAGUE. Interview with Tony Jelencovich.
This being their third release in "Satanic Panic," I sent some questions overseas
to Transport League to talk with them about their careers. Hope you enjoy it.
Check out their latest release, it's quite brutal!
I am rather surprised that The Music Cartel didn't license "Satanic
Panic" here in the U.S., why the switch to Pavement Music?
We were actually signed to Mascot Records for the first two records: ''Stallion
Showcase'' in 1996 and ''Superevil'' in 1997. We only had a deal for two records
and neither Mascot Records or us were interested in continuing our contract. The
Music Cartel did only the distribution for ''Superevil'' in the States, they
were interested in a follow up though but we didn't go for that.
Your album titles are pretty ominous, like "Satanic Panic," "Superevil."
and the like, even though the songs don't always reflect any satanic or dark
imagery in them, so I was curious as to some of the themes running rampant
through your songs?
All our album and song titles deal with reality and are pretty sarcastic at the
same time, a bit of black humour you know. We just want to tell the world what we
think about all the christian hypocrites, as there are too many out there. As we
all know, Satan and Hell were made up around 300 BC by Christian preachers in
Istanbul! The title ''Satanic Panic'' deals with the millenium computer hype
crash and ignorant people who judge you by the way you dress and the kind of
music you listen to, because if you're different then you just have to worship
I like the new record a lot, and feel it is more consistent song wise
than your last release, though some of your strongest and best songs, like 'Lost
In The Desert Of Habib' and 'Proud Cuts' are found on ''Superevil.'' How do you
feel about the new release and which sets of songs do you prefer more?
I'm very happy with the new record. (Pretty obvious answer!) ''Satanic Panic'' is
the most hardcore-styled metal album and less rock and roll than the two albums
before it. You can hear that it's Transport League, though, because of the
groove, which will never change. My favorites on the album are 'Neckdraft,'
'Psycho Connected,' and 'Un-Man Conquer.'
There also seems to be a lot less melody and singing vocals on the new
album as well, was that intentional to create a different sound and style for
the new record, or did you feel as I did especially on some of the slower songs
from the last record that the heaviness and power were lost?
I think that there are more melodies and more singing vocals on the new record
but there is also more aggression on the new album, more dynamic you could say.
That's my opinion. The intention was to make a dynamic record without losing the
groove, but yes, we wanted to make a heavier album this time around.
I have a friend of mine who is a HUGE Pantera fan, and he loves your
latest album. Do you see yourselves in the same league as bands like Pantera and
also Skinlab, a band on Century Media, and do you see yourselves touring with
bands like these? Would you even be willing to go out on the road with a band
like Pantera if it meant exposing your sound to a bigger audience? And how do
you feel about the many people who feel Pantera is a sellout type of band because
they are on a bigger label?
Our style would suit touring with an American band, absolutely. We don't really
have anybody to tour with here in Europe! Well, maybe Entombed though. We would
very much like to play in front of bigger audiences, because we would like to
make music for a living!
Not having heard your first release, I'm rather curious as to what it is
like. Obviously, I've only heard the last two, so how different is that first
release from your last two?
The first record is very experimental, the songs were written in about two weeks
and the band back then was only a hobby or a side project. It's more rock and
roll and boogie thing, but with a damn good groove. It was recorded here at
Studio Fredman here in Gothenberg, Sweden together with Frederik Nordstrom.
Are there any solid plans to come to the States to tour? Also, how has
Pavement been for you as a label and what sort of deal did they give you? I have
seen your albums in many record stores already, so it's obvious Pavement has a
good distribution deal where the record stores are concerned.
We are playing this year's Milwaulkee Metal Fest on the 28 and 29th of July,
and there will be a string of shows attatched to the festival. We have a deal
with Pavement for three albums. We will also do a video for the song 'Neckdraft'
in the near future. Pavement so far has done a pretty good job for us, but I
guess the hard work for us starts when we get to the States, then we will see
what they go for.
One more point about the new release, it seems that the slower tunes on
your ''Superevil'' album were not as strong and powerful as they are on this new
recording, and it also makes this newest album more consistent song wise, like
I mentioned above. There's definitely more viciousness and ferocity on damn near
all the songs.
You definitely have a point there. Lots of things changed when Patrik Sten got
in the band. The old drummer Mattias was more into 70's type sludge rock, but
Patrik is more hardcore-metal oriented. That might explain the new sound.
WOLF. Interview with Niklas Olsson via phone.
If you've listened to the sound files, then you've probably heard some excellent
metal New Wave Of British style. Though that's not how I thought of the style of
music at first, it does seem to fit a band who came out of nowhere to record a
record that usually takes bands one or two albums before they can sound this
good. Niklas elaborates: "We started playing metal in '95, and since we didn't
have a singer I did vocals. At the time it was the grunge era of music, so some
people were laughing at us for playing heavy metal, but we carried on and decided
to play the music that we like. Our sound was more like hard rock mixed with
metal than straightforward metal. When I wrote 'In The Shadow Of Steel,' we
decided that this was the direction we were going to go. We have been compared
to Hammerfall I think just because they are Swedish and there's not a lot of
heavy metal with traditional vocals and strong melodies. I think Hammerfall
plays German expressioned power metal; we don't do that at all, we play that
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal style, early British bands like Iron Maiden and
Judas Priest." It was very odd to me, then, that Niklas hadn't heard of Diamond
Head, as they are considered to be one of the best N.W.O.B.H.M. bands in
existence. Niklas explains this rather odd ocurrence: "When I grew up I almost
only listened to Iron Maiden, there's obvious gaps in my music collection which
I regret, I've missed a lot of bands."
The self titled debut album has songs like 'Electric Raga,' 'Desert Caravan,'
and 'In The Eyes Of The Sun' which seems more like psychedelic or stoner rock
songtitles than anything you'd find in power metal or even NWOBHM styled metal.
Niklas explains some of the ideas behind the songs: "'Electric Raga' was one of
the first songs I wrote, I would describe it as an Indian carpet ride set to
poetry, kind of a nice entertaining story. I'm not sure where that came from,
but my father had some Indian music, I play sitar on this song which fits really
well. 'Desert Caravan' was just a fantasy story that I had written different
lyrics for at first. It was about leaving the desert on camels and I wasn't
happy with it at all. This set of lyrics is more like a 'born to be wild'
type of vibe, I feel like I'm a part of a restless generation, always on the
move and hard for me to settle down. It's a metaphor for the restless young
people. 'In The Eyes Of The Sun' deals with ancient Egyptian culture, about the
pharaohs, how they built the temples and ruled over the people acting like gods,
even though eventually they died. There was some research done for this song,
I am interested in Egyptian culture and I like the eastern touch in music,
especially their culture and art." So he goes on to mention a few other songs
he had written, to give you a better perspective on his topics, in particular
my favorite track: "'In The Shadow Of Steel' is about Don Quixote, he read too
much crap literature and went insane basically. In the medieval times there was
a lot of crap literature, sort of like there's a lot of crappy TV shows today.
He thought himself quite the hero fighting dragons and reading books about
knights and dragons and wizards. 'Moonlight' was the last song I wrote, it's
another song I wasn't happy with the lyrics with at first. When we went in to
record, I read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle kind of horror
stories which gave me inspiration to finish the lyrics. It's portraying a
certain mood, it doesn't mean anything really. It creates a little bit of fear
of the dark kinda thing. 'Parasite' is Doyle's song, it shows how we are always
being influence by the media since we're around it all the time. A lot of people
don't think for themselves due to all the promotion and press and media that is
bombarding them all the time." So how is the creative process put together?
Surely there must be a writing procedure utilized to be able to create so many
great songs? "I wrote two of the songs, 'In The Shadow Of Steel' and 'Electric
Raga' about two years ago, and this sort of set the standard for how we write
today. Nowadays we write everything together, some of us comes up with an idea
and we go from there. If we all like it then we continue on. The song usually
starts with a riff, something we're hooked on, and I make the song melody and
oftentimes I make the lyrics too. It's rather like putting a puzzle together,
the song is slowly building up around the main riff and the refrain. Our drummer
wrote the lyrics for 'Parasite' and 'The Sentinel,' but mostly I write the
I was curious as to how press has gone, it seems like they have been booked
solid for interviews, even though I was allowed to do a phone interview set up
by a band from overseas! For a somewhat unknown band, Wolf has done very well,
and Niklas relates how things have gone since the release of the CD: "We had
one day, the release party in Stockholm, that was when we did lots of interviews.
It was just for one day, but today I did an interview with a British magazine,
and some local papers. It's not the really big thing happening in Sweden with
Wolf, it's more like we came out of nowhere from the underground. We have done
I think 10 interviews, some are local and there were some radio stations, some
magazines are big, but nothing major like Metal Maniacs or Kerrang. However, I
did hear that the German rock magazine Rock Hard ranked us #7 in the top ten
list. I'm very happy with the quick press that has come out, it's been mostly
good reviews and people seem to be pleased with the record. That means a lot to
us because we worked very hard on this album and we haven't compromised at all.
People were laughing at us in the beginning but now times have changed. I just
hope that this record will reach the buyers." I definitely have to thank No
Fashion Records, since they are a smaller label in Sweden it could have been
difficult to get a promo copy, even to hear this great band might have been a
difficult task if No Fashion hadn't been able to afford to send one my way.
U.S. markets have a hard time getting overseas product widespread recognition
and even with a major U.S. label giving distribution deals to overseas bands,
many people are not as eager to buy CD's from bands they've never heard of
This young band has lots of great ideas but they realize that they have lots of
work to do to get their music out. "We are trying to work the Japanese market
but it's kind of tricky, because even though they are really into this kind of
music, they want to have more time and they think that because it's released
in Europe they will have competition from import releases." Plus, we all know
how Japanese releases have to be superior to releases put out everywhere else.
"I think this music would work in Japan, but since we are an unknown band I
don't see many problems from Japanese labels having to deal with imports. We
have done some live gigs but not very many. We are really a live band, and we
are at our best when on stage. We wanted to at least have a record in the back
of the truck before we go out to play if you know what I mean. It's hard for
Swedish underground bands who are unknown and don't have a record to play live.
I hope to play all of Europe soon, there's no big tours planned yet, but I think
eventually we are going to start touring around the area. A supporting tour
with a bigger band would help us a lot, and I hope the record will be released
in the States soon." Make sure you check out the sound files, and give this
record a chance as I'm sure it will immediately impress you as it has me.
It's been a rather long 9 years now... And yet the magazine still continues on.
I imagine I'll still be here long after many web 'zines have given up and gone
on to bigger and better things, or decided it's too much work involved for too
little return. You REALLY have to be a dedicated soul when it comes to this type
of work, especially when there's very little financial recompensation. I have
seen a lot of web zines these days, it's my job to keep up with what my
"competition," so to speak, is up to, and I started realizing that what I have
been doing for so long has yet to be incorporated into other web based
publications. Okay, let's be fair here: if you're going to put a magazine on the
internet, you should really take advantage of all the internet can offer it's
readers. Take the digitized album section for example, I have yet to see ANYONE
ANYWHERE allow their "surfers" to be able to listen to entire albums of rare,
classic and out of print metal albums. Much less the ability to listen to 4
songs from EVERY CD reviewed. Like I said, anyone can just throw words up on a
screen, but what I have tried to offer is visual candy for the eyes AND the
ears. I am slowly but surely improving the look and the feel of the site all the
time, and as I learn more about HTML programming and get more time off from my
regular 40 hour a week job, things will improve. We have TONS of classic albums
still to be added, and I am going to work on the lyric sheets section a bit
more, it's one area of the site that has been neglected for quite some time
now. So we will always be looking for new things to offer everyone and we would
really like to see more feedback from our devoted readers, it's what keeps us
I rarely like to tie in other facets of life to the music scene, in fact many
well know that regardless of my religious, political, social or philosophical
views, it is the music FIRST AND FOREMOST that speaks the language of the day
around here. Whether the bands be of Christian (which I use the term here very,
VERY loosely) or Satanic origin, or some other form of whatever "ion" altogether,
it's their music that we judge here for the most part. However, keeping that in
mind, many people obviously have seen or heard about what a HUGE Atlanta Braves
fan I am. The Atlanta Braves, as a great baseball team of the 90's, not only
exemplify a HUGE amount of pride in my home town; okay, for a while it was my
home STATE they represented more than my home city, but they have gone from a
team that everyone forgot about due to their constant low standings at the end
of the year to one of the most dominant teams in baseball history. They have
shown us that even diehard last place losers can bust their asses and achieve
something that an entire nation can be proud of. However, even the mighty can
fall, it's just according to whether they can pick themselves up and overcome
adversity that defines their greatness. And to draw a parallel to another great
entity, let's go to the champion of speed metal from the 80's, Agent Steel. They
sort of went the opposite direction as The Braves, they started out great with
a promising career and the most unique and distinctive sound in metal, both
in their intelligent lyrics, their unique singer and their defining and
redefining of an entire genre of music. Of course, they had fallen for a number
of years, but have come back with a strong effort. The main point that ties into
all this? Two main, important characters to be sure, John Rocker, closing pitcher
for the Atlanta Braves, and Bruce Hall, brand new frontman for the legendary
Agent Steel. Rocker's ability to pitch has finally overshadowed, in the minds
of the fellow teammates of his, his troubles with the press, the media, and
those who are ready to hang him out to dry. Everyone is now aware I'm sure of
his comments to Sports Illustrated that caused his suspension from the team.
Likewise, Bruce Hall also has a bit of an erratic vocal delivery, in short both
great men have problems that can prove to be embarassing to their other group
members. As I reported with the Agent Steel review this issue, Bruce Hall has
the ability to make or break this band, probably more so than John Rocker's
performance does for the Atlanta Braves. The controversy has hurt this Atlanta
team a great deal, and whether Rocker can regain his stature and throw winning
pitches is almost secondary to the problems that have been caused. It's a great
example of how some of the best people in their field can go through lots of
problems, time will only tell if these two men can overcome their obstacles and
keep their respective teams at the top of their game.
So here's to hoping that the Atlanta Braves can make the playoffs and the World
Series this year, and here's also to hoping that the music scene here can pick
up drastically with more and better shows, especially in a town like Atlanta
that's supposed to have this fantastic population and thriving community of
diverse people. We have started to see an influx of good bills lately, by the
time you read this I will have attended the Dismember, Kataklysm, Shadows Fall
and Krisiun show at the Masquerade in Atlanta, and we want all to come out and
show their support for black metal when Mayhem takes to the Masquerade as well
on July 15th. Only by coming out for these shows en masse can we guarantee that
when the time comes to book shows for U.S. audiences, Atlanta's extreme metal
community will not be left out in the cold, like we were with Emperor, Dimmu
Borgir, and other extreme shows. Did you know that two separate concerts in a
row, the Emperor tour and the Dimmu Borgir tour, were canceled from the Atlanta
itinerary and booked in a small town in South Carolina called Spartanburg? Is
this not a travesty? And do you know what Jim Raggi, editor in chief of
Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and I found out? Over 80 percent (roughly
estimated) of people that showed up in Spartanburg, a city about 2 hours away
in another state, were from Atlanta... I'll try to end things here with some
long overdue thank you's, first off to the bands Wolf, Hacienda, Agent Steel,
Usurper, Transport League, Rebaelliun, Gorgoroth, and all the other who have
sent me CD's from their own collection, made great music, and/or did killer
interviews for my magazine. Secondly, to the great record labels of the world
who allow me to bring good music to the worldwide masses: Avantgarde Music,
No Fashion Records, Metal Blade Records, Man's Ruin, Century Media (But I HATE
those cardboard sleeves!), Dwell (glad I FINALLY got on your mailing list),
Hammerheart (after two years I FINALLY get promos from you!), and too many other
to name. To all my supporters and faithful readers, thank YOU for allowing me
to have an audience and sticking with me through all the problems, delays,
setbacks, and site deletions, nothing has been able to stop me before and I
doubt anything ever will! And on that note, I will see you all next
Now, CLICK HERE to go back to the main menu!