Damn, last issue before we hit the big 30! No, not 30 years unfortunately. Nearly 11 years in publication and only 29 issues! Glad yer still with us on this, the longest running internet based publication on the planet.

You'll no doubt notice that besides being on our own server, with our own domain name, we have also incorporated something many readers have asked us for for years: RealAudio 5.0! That's right, starting with this issue onward, all sound files for the CD's we review are digitized in RealAudio 5.0. This results in a clearer sound for our readers. We have a host of other surprises planned soon, in the meantime, here is the address if you feel the need to write (with pen and paper that is!)

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


ADAGIO "Sanctus Ignis" (Limb Music) SCORE: 81/100

This thing totally struck me as a group that is dominated by masterful musicians. The orchestration and synth layers are absolutely top notch, and a track like 'Panem Et Circences' showcases some very eerie horror styled organ pieces. The first four tracks of this album absolutely smoke, however, and their lead singer has amazing ability, the most surprising facet of this comes from the fact that our lead throat man once frotned Pink Cream 69! Their tunes do tend to be a bit drawn out at times, notice the really rough beginning of 'The Inner Road' before they settle down and craft an amazing tune. The guitars rip like no other, showcasing more thrash tendencies than the standard power metal fare of fast instrumentation, though they also have that in spades. Songs like 'The Stringless Violin' and 'Seven Lands Of Sin' show us that they can craft some very dark, almost haunting instrumentation as well, and that's what sets this off so well. On the minor side, besides getting off track and going off into strange realms (note the almost chessy prog-synths ala The Flower Kings on 'The Strginless Violin'). Four instrumentals grace the album, including a rather interesting synth version of the Zeppelin classic 'Immigrant Song,' which is a few too many for a 10 song CD. The Zep cover would have been nicer still if we could have heard some vocal work. The score that graces this CD in particular is the equivalent, in my eyes, of a 50 or 60 for an average band. This band has limitless potential and surprising skill and craftsmanship. Let's hope future endeavours expand on such an amazing CD full of emotion and grace, both heavy and soft.
Contact: Limb Music Products.

AGALLOCH "Of Stone, Wind And Pillor" (The End Records) SCORE: 100/100

Ya know, Agalloch has done so much in so short a time. After creating what many have called one of the best atmospheric black metal albums of last year, they returned with a mini CD collection of older material, demo tracks, and a cover. 'Of Stone, Wind, And Pillor' starts this off with some of the most vicious black metal vocals I've yet to hear from Agalloch, and they're definitely more dominant. 'Haunting Birds' is an instrumental, and shows off the more classical oriented instrumentation that dominates much of this CD. The Sol Invictus cover 'Kneel To The Cross' is done predominantly with clean sung vocals, very nicely done and quite the rarity for Agalloch. True, there are blackened vocals backing up the cleanly sung choruses, but it was surprising to hear the clean vocals done so well. The beginning of this track had them repeating 'Summer is a-coming, arise, arise' quite frequently for the first minute or so, and almost garnered a point lost, but it's not like the female sung vocals from the first album that are almost rampant throughout the song. I didn't feel it as large enough a distraction to shave off a point, and so you have the perfect score. 'A Poem By Yeats' was interesting enough, with more medieval like synth work with some spoken vocals and it's surprising how a poem set to music works well for Agalloch. If this is any indication of where their next release is heading, then I foresee another fantastic score in the works.
Contact: The End Records.

AMON AMARTH "The Crusher" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 82/100

I know this is seen as a death metal release, but it definitely has elements of black metal in it, especially with some of the vocal work. What Amon Amarth is doing is, from a lyrical standpoint anyway, is Viking styled death metal, something that is not very common anymore. Their musicianship is what is immediately going to set them far apart from their peers, for though tracks like 'Annihilation Of Hammerfest' and 'Masters Of War' have some crushing riffs and vicious screams, their guitar framework is quite musical and melodic at times. They definitely use the instrumentation as enhancement for the mood of whatever lyrical content they are working through the song. For example, and though it's one of my least favorite tracks, 'The Fall Through Ginnungagap' has some strange, otherworldly guitar structure going through it, though it must be noted that the main character is telling a story from beyond the grave, so obviously he's in a strange place. The one odd thing about Amon Amarth's music is that there are really no choruses to speak of, save for 'Masters Of War,' and that is only sung a time or two. No my friend, these songs remind me of a story told that is set to music, which some may find rather odd. The vocal delivery usually charges on at the same pace throughout the song, though they will throw in a few different changes to keep the song interesting. The lead solos are used very sparingly but are of such quality it's a shame the axemasters aren't turned loose on EVERY song. One other minor detraction may be the abundant melodic paces many songs have, sometimes they take precedence over the crushing, brutal edge we all know Amon Amarth possesses. Still, they manage to put out one hell of an album, and it's one I can find myself listening to quite a bit.
Contact: Metal Blade, 2828 Cochran St., PMB 302 Simi Valley, CA 93065 USA
Web site:

BEATEN BACK TO PURE "Southern Apocalypse" (Retribute) SCORE: 94/100

Stoner rock? Southern stoner rock? Let's just say I see this band as a cross between Iron Monkey and Lamb Of God, with a little bit of Southern flavor thrown in. Vicious vocal work sounds more on the Lamb Of God front, but at least the lyrics can be made out a little bit better (though you still need a lyric sheet to do it). There are some definite headbanging riffs present, so stoner rock or not there are some vicious "metal" influences in the songs. It can go slow like on 'Acolyte' or fast paced like 'Whore's Bath,' but they do manage to do BOTH in damn near every song. They tend to run the ending of 'Six Gun Salute' a little long, but it's so damn enjoyable you don't care. They do this feedback overrun on 'Failure Wine' which really grates the nerves, but there aren't many big problems standing in the way of enjoyment here. The marching war drums (sounding like a drum beat you'd hear marching in the Civil War) on 'Antietam' were a nice touch, as were the acoustics immediately following the opening percussion. They know how to keep things interesting and diverse, and whether you consider it stoner rock or just slow, heavy, doomed out death metal, it's a great release from a label I have never heard of before. Make sure you tune in to the interview though: seeing as how the band is based out of Virginia, it gave me the opportunity to talk about a great many things dealing with the Civil War, the South, the NAACP, and the Confederate flag.
Contact: Retribute, P.O. Box 76, New Ferry, CH63 OQT, ENGLAND, UK
Web site:

BLOODTHRONE "Storms Of Apocalypse" (Forever Underground) SCORE: 79/100

Bloodthrone play black metal wicked and full of power. It helps that lead screamer Demonian belts out some of the most brutal warlike screams I've heard on a black metal record. 'Bloodthrone' (the song) starts things out with a wicked evil synth intro, before ripping into some fast instrumentation. They do know how to write good songs too, as there are good variations throughout many of their songs. They do cram a lot of lyrics into small lines though, which was one of my main gripes. The title track continues the carnage, and you really hear how effective the drummer is in providing an apocalyptic beat structure to the mayhem. 'Mummification' however was probably the weakest link here, with some odd instrumentation and vocal phrasings that, if you read the lyrics, are a bit awkward. And lyrically, well, this is more Nile's turf than theirs, but u gotta love the beautiful lead solo and vicious screams. The instrumentation is unusually mature for a band playing this style, high ended lead guitar work pops up all over the place, especially on one of my favorite tracks 'Marching Towards Armageddon' and the slower passages that are wrought with such heaviness, though they are slower, on 'Mayhem Upon The Heavens.' The do seem to have a little difficulty on their transitions from sudden slow to fast passages, but it seems like this is a relatively new band on the black metal scene. Don't laugh at band members with names like 'Evil Pope,' 'Machine' and 'Captor,' though, as these New Jersey based fiends know how to come up with some killer black metal in the style of old Gorgoroth, Satyricon, etc. while not sounding like clones. They even go so far as to mix death AND black metal vocals on 'Serpent, Goat, Spider And Skull,' though they could have written the song a little bit better.
Contact: Forever Underground, 1111 W. 4th St., Hobart, IN 46342
Web site:

CANYON CREEP "Hijack The World" (Canyon Creep) SCORE: 79/100

You may already know what to expect if I tell you that this album was co-produced by Billy Anderson, most notable for his work with The Melvins, Sleep, and recently High On Fire. So with Man's Ruin down and out, this band seems to have nowhere to go! But, onto the music, which is lively and not really stoner rock much, well, unless you count 'Black Bra,' which is a funny tune about a Mexican chick who kics ass. The opening intro tells you all this band is interested in: rocking your eardrums off and chicks! There's a few instrumentals in here (see the Karma To Burn review for all you need to know about heavy instrumental rock), 'No Brakes' and 'Warm Beer.' The first vocal track is the title track, and it kicks serious ass. The music gets a bit aggressive but they ain't afraid of using some melody, heavy though it may be. This is a pretty fun ride, though the last track 'Give Me Some' must be some sort of joke, it's supposed to be humorous I would think, but it definitely grates the nerves. Constructed as sort of a ballad, it plays on a death metal inspired chorus, which was interesting but they could have left it off. They got some guy named Dave singing 'Can't Afford You,' and he has a bit rougher style of vocal work than their regular. The two instrumentals and the bad track kinda drop this 9 song CD a little low, but it rocks in all the right places. I wanna hear more from Canyon Creep, so soon ya better 'Gimme Some!'
Web site:

CLAN OF XYMOX "Notes From The Underground" (Metropolis) SCORE: 61/100

Clan Of Xymox, for the uninitiated, is a gothic band that has been around for quite some time. I remember the 4AD demo releases back when they were just Xymox. Never really a band I could get into, their biggest drawback some will say is that they sound too much like a more successful gothic band already signed to Metropolis in Australia's Ikon. Some tracks like opener 'Innocent' and 'Number One' he tries to do the warbly Sisters Of Mercy vocal effects, and many of the tunes are quite simply fluff cheese. Remember that some goth bands would rather sing about love and other sappy things, however Clan Of Xymox MUST be given points for daring to bring out the darkness in the gothic scene, it's not all love and melodic ballads. 'Anguish' is probably one of the darkest tunes on here, and the melancholy atmosphere is made all the more dark by the low toned vocal work. Best cut here is most assuredly 'The Same Dream,' which is upbeat, energetic and obviously tailor made for club play, especially with the female backing vocals, but this track, clubworthy though it is, is pretty dark in it's own right. I know, I keep saying dark, but for a gothic band, the more mysterious side of existence is something to be celebrated, as is the overbearing misery and loneliness, which they throw around in pieces. 'The Bitter Sweet' sounded more trancey than I am used to hearing them do and is quite unusual. 'I Want You Now' has the dark heavy elements but the guitar work is a bit too overbearing for this group, who definitely does NOT have the better qualities of their music defined by the 6 string instrument. Potential here, but a bit disappointing, I'd rather listen to Sisters Of Mercy or even Ikon but the CD is not a total waste.
Contact: Metropolis Records, P.O. Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105 USA
Web site:

DAWNBRINGER "Catharsis Instinct" (Icarus) SCORE: 63/100

From Argentina comes yet another signing that has not quite lived up to it's potential. Playing the Gothenberg styled death metal which is fast becoming the next "wish it would fade" trend with many metal fans, Dawnbringer has one serious problem with this release, and that is the vocalist. That is, the seeming lack of one. There's only two things I can think of when I hear this CD, either the vocalist is very weak and ineffective, or the mix on the record is so bad that the vocalist is in the back. Many songs I'm hearing lean strongly towards the former, while on 'Halfman' you can hear the vocalist a little more clearly, but that's because the guitars aren't full on every second. Many of the guitar riffs are quite good, in fact they're the highlight of the CD. Especially a track like 'Halfman,' which has an evil quality that invokes some of the most vicious tracks from Entombed's "Hollowman" release. Fast tempo songs are the order of the day around here, and songs like 'Mudslicer,' 'All Hell Broke Loose,' especially on the latter's efficient lead solos, proves that Dawnbringer has the potential, at least in the instrumentation department, to make something happen; hell, they even had the balls to bring nice flutes into 'Cosmos Disease' and incorporate some singing vocals on the chorus, though some will find them a tad weak. Even for all the great guitar work that graces the CD, I can't help but feel like I'm listening to a Gothenberg instrumental album, which will sound overtly repetitive since there's nothing else to back up the instrumentation work.
Contact: Icarus, C.C. 1953, Correo Central, C1000WAP Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

DRAGONLORD "Rapture" (Spitfire) SCORE: 98/100

One thing I always dig is the fat guitar sounds Eric Peterson wrote for the last few Testament releases. So when I heard that Eric was starting a black metal project and doing vocal work, I was intrigued as all hell. Fortunately, this "side project" exceeded all my expectations! The fat, thick thrashy guitar sound is only the first thing you notice. Eric's screams are more than adequate for this as well, and though Dragonlord features a Sadus member in it's ranks, Eric's vocal work for some reason reminds me of Sadus. So you have black metal bands all over the globe trying to bring back that retro thrash sound and incorporate it with black metal, this U.S. band actually succeeds. Check out his raven throated opening screams on 'Tradition And Fire.' Keyboards are presented in force but they don't distract from the main attraction here which is the guitar work, however they are allowed to give their moments of glory, like when they solo off on 'Born To Darkness,' and the song 'Unholyvoid' where the synths are utilized to give off a rather cosmic atmosphere, done up better than recent efforts by The Kovenant to mix outer space themes and black metal. The main thing that hits you in the face is the thick sound and beefy production, which made recent Testament albums like "The Gathering" and "Demonic" so powerful and punishing, and it's good to see Eric make great use of that. No female vocals to be found here, but some multi vocal singing lines are used, albeit sparingly. I had to drop a few points for 'Wolfhunt,' the faster speed chaotic lines got a bit too out of hand and sounded a bit sloppy, but they soon return to form. Black + thrash = kick ass all the way around.
Contact: Spitfire Records

DREADNAUGHT "Down To Zero" (The Music Cartel) SCORE: 48/100

Man, I was totally floored by the start of this CD! Yes, the singer does have an alternative delivery, bordering on melodic, but damn if the first two tracks on this disc don't rip shit up! Yelling vocals bordering on hardcore and mean, FAT chunky riffs had me going for 'Dead In The Dirt' and 'Scumbag.' However, all that is abandoned by the rest of the disc and only resurfaces on tracks 5 and 6, 'Game' and 'Fast Food On The Streets Of Gold,' respectively; the latter track losing a bit of it's power near the chorus. So these guys really want to croon for the females, they do this alternative melodic style the rest of the way through which is really shameful since they rock so hard on those other tracks. 'Last Drinks' does the electro-acoustical start, even trying to throw in some heavier riffs but it doesn't work with that singing. Hell, this is stuff you can turn on your favorite corporate sponsored radio station and hear! With 'Undone,' it's way too obvious these guys want a radio hit, though gotta give 'em props for throwing in some heavier gits near the end. I'm already jumping ship on 'em tho. 'Blue,' track 9. ANOTHER ballad. 'Nuff said. Points are given for using the female vocals and piano notes on the end track 'Someday,' which has a kind of stoner atmosphere. And if you weren't totally convinced they were going for radio play, their heaviest, catchiest tune 'Scumbag' which features the vocal line 'Get me out of this world of shit' is featured AGAIN on track 11, but of course the word 'shit' is bleeped out. Tell me they aren't going for radio play...
Contact: The Music Cartel.

ENTWINE "Gone" (Century Media) SCORE: 68/100

I hate to admit I liked this a little more than I thought I would. You see, Entwine plays what's commonly known as gothic metal, but in this sense the word takes on a more commercialized meaning. Tracks like 'Snow White Suicide,' 'New Dawn' and 'Silence Is Killing Me' are very catchy, upbeat and add a dimension of heaviness to what would usually perturb most other metal fanatics. Be that as it may, the sappiness does tend to creep through in their lyrics at times, especially with a song like 'Closer (My Love).' I think the song title says it all. On 'Thru The Darkness' they're going for a Type O Negative vibe and it just doesn't work well at all. The choruses are heavier but it's just not working for me folks. The starting track shows our male vocalist trying to do some warbly delivery I guess he's trying to overemphasize some key words, and it starts to distract from what is otherwise a decent tune. 'New Dawn' was their hit single and it did their career a world of good, though as I said this may be a bit too mellow oriented for most. There's some good songs but if they could just stick to catchy and slightly heavy, even if they are going to inject heavy doses of melody, they would do better. This is a disc that falls a few marks short of a keeper, though as I said I must admit I do find it easy to crank 3 or 4 of these songs.
Contact: Century Media Records.

FEAR "American Beer" (Hall Of Records) SCORE: 52/100

To be quite honest, the only Fear record I know by heart, or have heard until this point, is their first, which is a kick ass boot to the face for punk music. It is the main reason why I have went out of my way to see Fear perform live twice now in as many years, and through all the death and black and power metal shows I have attended, Fear puts on one of the best performances I have witnessed in quite some time. This record, released late last year, is somewhat disappointing. I mean, first of all, their second record "More Beer," their next "Have Another Beer With Fear..." do you get where I'm going with this? Sadly, their beer anthems are among the best tracks here, with the rest going for a more emotional feel sort of the kind of punk I don't like. I was even more apalled by the bebop singing and jazz riffs coming out of '33rd And 3rd.' This is the same band who wrote 'Fresh Flesh?' The same band who didn't mind saying fuck you to everyone has not one profane word to utter and singing about lost love and 'I'll meet my baby at 33rd and 3rd?' Then there's the usual obnoxious, nails across the chalkboard tune like 'Catfight' and a damn Willie Dixon cover 'Hoochie Coochie Man?' 'Hard Cotto Salami' is just basically a sad reworked version of 'Beef Baloney' from the first album, and you can hear the tiredness of 'I Don't Care Without You.' Lee Ving's singing vocals aren't the greatest in the world, but on leadoff track 'Surgery' and even 'What Is Best In Life,' the latter the only reminiscent tune of Fear's angst ridden days, there is promise and a kick ass mosh pit delivery. 'The Bud Club' gets a bit anthemic and some tracks here are actually fun, but overall Fear has lost much of its edge. Maybe Lee's been spending too much time with the wife. I'll still go see Fear whenever they come around, but sounds like Lee needs to take a textbook lesson in old school punk one more time. They do manage to write a Misfits like tune with 'And The Spiders Crawl,' however.
Contact: Hall Of Records, P.O. Box 69281, West Hollywood, CA 90069

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM "My God" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 18/100

Bland, uninspiring and flat out boring. Why the hell doesn't Metal Blade drop these guys already? I haven't been a fan of the band EVER, even "Doomsday For The Deceiver" way back when failed to impress me at a time when just about every new metal release I bought back in high school had some thrill for me. Nice thing about Flotsam is, though, whenever I need some bad album reviews, they never fail to disappoint me. Let's start with some of the crappy lyrics, like on 'Learn To Dance' and 'Killing Time,' which is an obvious rip of the Metallica demo, and showcases some white boy rap. Like I'm able to stick around that long. 'Keep Breathing' was one of their better tunes, well at least the opening riffs were interesting. The vocals ruin it though, as not just here but throughout the disc they are very uninspiring. Even their acoustic instrumentals 'Praise' and the opening acoustics on 'My God' cannot save this. Kudos to the end track 'I.A.M.H.' which was Arabic flavored instrumentation, but that seems like an extremely lucky coincidence (on an astronomic scale, think of the odds of one person hitting the lottery and you'll see just how lucky they got that they wrote one decent song, no vocals here definitely ups the odds). I've already wasted enough words with this one...
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

GALAXY "Solar Synthesis" (Blue Room Released) SCORE: 82/100

I have always said that we don't get nearly enough electronic music here at the magazine, and Blue Room has always put out top quality electronic music. They were responsible for starting the career of Juno Reactor, whose biggest claim to fame was having a track on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack, and releasing one of my favorite electronic based albums with "Beyond The Infinite." Galaxy is a bit difficult to pin down, though it's definitely techno based. Major points had to be taken from the breakbeat and jungle styled percussion structures they used in 'Golden Crown' and 'Liquid Sky.' They aren't total detractions, however, as the mastery of the synthesized passages shines through. One of my favorite tracks is 'Connected,' which has some heavier electronic acid trance notes, and is quite energetic to boot. This would make a great club hit, and works quite well in the presence of lighter instrumentation that is the staple for a Galaxy track. The electronics and trash can styled beats on 'Freezer' didn't work well for me, and the synths were minimal here anyway. 'Big Blue,' however, was another great track, though it started off rather odd. It soon settles into a somewhat slow, rather melodic landscape with darker and slightly heavier sounds thrown in, and works as a rather downtempo, but still forceful, club track. It's neat how they can vary the mood and landscape of the synth work within the framework of a track, and 'Fragment' ends off the disc with some damn good ambient passages. Pigeonholed between ambient, trance, techno, and some of the breakbeat and jungle elements makes for a rather interesting run at electronic music. Blue Room does it again.
Contact: Blue Room, 6C Littlehampton Rd, Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 1QE U.K.
Web site:

HANGNAIL "Clouds In The Head" (The Music Cartel) SCORE: 48/100

Stoner rock, sort of. The guitar riffs sometimes make some crunchy sounds, but overall the vocals usually ruin this. He's spending more time trying to yell or scream his way through the songs. The opening track 'Slowhead' is done really well, great guitar work and the vocals are actually in place here. An enjoyable track that unfortunately is the last great thing you hear on this. 'Third Time Around,' track 2, immediately shows what's wrong: the vocals really rubbed me the wrong way, and though he does bring things under control for the more singing parts that a song like 'Into The Ether' and 'Gone' require, these two are not songs I'm raving over. I'm not a huge fan of ballads so it's no surprise here that I'm not on board. If he didn't try to overpower his way through the songs they might have come off better, like on the shorter end track 'Riffmeister Jesus,' which is a short song that is definitely heavy, and his vocals work to decent effect. Haven't really enjoyed a Hangnail CD yet, you might recall their debut we reviewed, maybe one day they can tie it all together.
Contact: The Music Cartel, P.O. Box 629, Port Washington NY 11050
Web site:

HYPNOS "The Revenge Ride" (Morbid) SCORE: 36/100

I remember when Morbid Records first came to my attention, it was through some small flyers in various mailings. They had some inetresting sounding bands back then, like Castle and some other doom/death combos. What we have here in Hypnos is a straight forward, for the most part, death metal clone that unfortunately doesn't offer much. They have a spoken word intro to start things off, then 'Crystal Purity Of Treachery' that basically just speeds along, though I did note a bit of Deicide in it's vocal delivery. The growled screams were a bit interesting, though it's not the vocal work that suffers here, surprisingly, but the song structure. 'Evil Awaken' had some interesting start/stop guitar riffing, but the overall quality of the song didn't do much for me. Things didn't really peak my interest until track 5, 'Journey Into Doom.' This is by far the slowest tune on here, and one of the best, sounding a LOT like slower Morbid Angel fare, and quite brutal, the one exception from Morbid is the use of higher pitched screams than what Steve Tucker or even David Vincent could have pulled off. They have a nice instrumental in 'Lost,' which was full of melodic acoustic passages and showed some skill in the riff writing department, but their skill gets lost easily throughout this speed fest. It's not always the vocal work that kills a band, though I have to admit that if the vocals of a band suck, it's usually all over with. Standard death metal fare done a hundred times, but if they could make better use of the haunting slow riffs mentioned above, this might have come off sounding better.
Contact: Morbid Records, Postfach 3, D-03114 Drebkau, GERMANY
Web site:

IN THE NURSERY "Engel" (ITN Corporation) SCORE: 92/100

In The Nursery is doing a LOT of music work for movies, films and now it seems they've stepped into the gaming realm. Engel is the soundtrack for a computer game being created overseas, and I am quite puzzled at how the game will progress since the music here runs the gamut of moods and emotions. Mostly atmospheric music, they do utilize some militaristic percussion in the opening track and reminds me strongly of a couple of tunes I've heard in the game Doom. 'Beutereiter' really impressed me with the nice mixture of dark electronics and angelic chanting sounds, coupled with some impressive flutes! You can sense the tribal feelings from the percussion found in 'Brandland,' complete with a more sinister set of instrumentation than what you'll normally find, then they switch to a mellow and serene set of instrumentation, which is simply astounding; they seem to switch tones in one song so easily. My only major complaint is on the two tracks that feature vocals, they just don't work well for me. Granted, the female singer on 'Angelorum' is quite nice, but the lyrics are in French and just don't work for me, it's almost TOO mellow. Also, the male vocals on the title track sounds just a tad cheesy, but overall this is a fantastic disc, one that shows In The Nursery has been making some quality music for years now, and I wouldn't be surprised if their style and sound shows up in a few movies here in the States sometime soon.
Contact: ITN Corp. P.O. Box 1795 Sheffield S3 7FF, ENGLAND
Web site:

KAMELOT "Karma" (Noise) SCORE: 91/100

Another album from Kamelot. This makes like their fourth now doesn't it? I must admit I haven't been a big fan of theirs, "Siege Perilous" was the only album I've heard from them and it didn't make any big impressions on me. However, all that's changed with this latest release. They're set to play the Progressive Power Metal festival thing which is surprisingly going to be held right here in Atlanta! Okay, onto the album: Superb instrumentation and song writing for the most part, it opens well and proceeds quite nicely before taking a few dips here and there. 'Don't You Cry' is their ballad, and though I'm not a big fan of ballads, I have found myself singing this one quite a bit, as Khan's vocal work is quite superb. He can really hit some notes, and his vocal work is quite catchy especially on the first three cuts (first three with vocals anyway), 'Forever,' 'Wings Of Despair' and 'The Spell.' 'The Spell,' in particular, has a rather dark aura about it, especially lyric wise. The synthesized intro for this song is unusually sinister, a trend which continues over to the three song trilogy dedicated to our favorite Renaissance female, Elizabeth Bathory. 'Mirror Mirror,' 'Requiem For The Innocent' and 'Fall From Grace' make up the trilogy, and yes they are separate songs. Not your usual fluff and fold fare (IE, some of the recent Italian power metal). Kamelot has what I would term 'melodic heaviness' running rampant throughout their music, which is good for those wanting to hear it done heavy. 'Across The Highlands' is another ballad type but doesn't protray the typical ballad qualities of 'Don't You Cry.' The album's later tunes aren't as powerful and dynamic as the beginning, but the songs are still enjoyable and hell I could even see a few songs enjoying some radio play. I wanted to slag the quote-unquote "bonus U.S. track" 'Ne Pleure Pas,' all it is is 'Don't You Cry' sung in French. You can give us better than that. Otherwise, good solid album. Much impressed.
Contact: Noise Records.

KARMA TO BURN "Almost Heathen" (Spitfire) SCORE: 87/100

Some odd facts about Karma To Burn: They have a wicked and outrageous sense of humor. (Witness the funny packaging, especially of the devil standing over a burning forest holding a shotgun and a bottle of beer). They hate the idea of having a singer in the band. And the whole packaging, from the CD graphics down to the front and back sleeves, would not have been out of place on Man's Ruin Records, may it rest in peace. If you're going to make instrumental music then you damn well better make it interesting. And for the most part they succeed, with a hard edged guitar sound that thrashes more often than it settles for melody. All the song titles are numbers too, not indicitative of the track numbers, however. Track 1 is actually called 19, Track 2 is called 38, etc. The first three tracks have some of the most crushing riffs on the album, as if they're trying to prove they're a metal band. Once track 4 kicks in, they monkey around with the heaviness and throw in some melodic passages, but they are still throwing down hard. They utilized guitar feedback in a rather unique way on '36,' making it sound like an instrument all it's own; usually overuse of feedback is something limited to the Noisecore scene (like Merzbow, Namanax, etc. and something I usually despire) but here it works to their mystique quite well. They even drag out the cowbell on '35,' for a rather dirty southern rocker type of feel. Tracks 7 on to 10 aren't as dominant as the first few tracks, but track 10 loses me completely, breaking out some really silly sounding guitar work. Maybe they were trying to make it the most melodic but they made it the most silliest track on here. And '39' portrays the stoner rock vibe down to the essence, even throwing in a doom metal feeling. I can't really put music like this into the best of words, but this is NOT your typical, boring guitar god making an instrumental album. These guys KNOW how to write catchy material.
Contact: Spitfire Records.

PAUL CHAIN "Sign From Space" (Beard Of Stars) SCORE: 51/100

This is a most unusual move for Paul Chain. The last time we heard from Paul, it was via his "Alkahest" CD which was some fantastic doom metal, and now we see him delve into the depths of space. This is going to remind one of Hawkwind instantly, and all 4 tracks are improvised, which is most of the problem with this CD. Plus, his use of phonetics rather than actual words (though you can hear him say "Sign from space" rather frequently) really was a bad choice for such a work. His vocal "phrasings" will instantly bring to mind one Dave Brock, who did vocals for Hawkwind for many years, and this was a surprising twist. The tracks are all entitled 'Sign From Space,' in 4 parts, and the CD starts off with a 1 minute 46 second "intro." The next 3 tracks get progressively longer, and the direction of the songs tends to drag, though I must say this has promise. Track 3 is 12 minutes and the last track is over 20 minutes in length! The last two tracks in particular feature some really odd noises and off key guitar work in spots, and overall if this had been planned out better I would more than likely have been astounded at the change of genre. It's surprising to see Paul Chain venture into this realm, and hopefully with a bit more planning and forethought to the songs this will make for a pleasant journey, since apparently Hawkwind is no longer a band and Darxtar has all but vanished from the face of the Earth; someone has to pick up the banner of space rock for the 21st century.
Contact: Beard Of Stars Records, Via C. Abba 9R, 17100 Savona, ITALY
Web site:

RABIES CASTE "Let The Soul Out And Cut The Vein" (Earache) SCORE: 36/100

This band first creeped its way into my attention via a very independent label called Infernal Racket, and back then I wasn't very impressed. Neither am I into this band now, who somehow got moved onto Earache Records, and I am not sure how, but I will say that some of the attention must be due to Earache looking for the next Pitch Shifter. At the start of the CD, 'Got It From Blake' reminds me of Pitch Shifter via their earliest recordings like 'Submit' and 'Industrial,' though their colder, darker and harsher styled industrial/metal hybrid was shown mainly on their Grindcore Records recordings. The vocalist is, in one word, quite annoying. He's practically doing a hardcore yelling on damn near every track, and there isn't much variety to his throat work. It's actually the instrumentation that is the most interesting on this CD, as several tracks had the Pitch Shifter guitar work down, though on many tracks they managed to screw that up, like 'Prove Me' with it's horrible high end leads and 'Hand Abortion,' whose guitar riffs were very painful to sit through. 'Steel Right Through The Mouth' actually have some of the best instrumentation/ vocal combinations I've heard on the CD, and the opening track, which features a video for, are about the two best songs on here. The rest is just wierd arrangements masked behind great industrial metal with a cold and dreary feeling, though they need to lose that singer and tighten up their song arrangements. Since Pitch Shifter seems to have died a slow death, I'd love to see Rabies Caste take this to the next level and provide the world with another angry, brutal metal/industrial crossover. Maybe some brutal death metal vocals of the low toned variety are in order. Musically painful to sit through.
Contact: Earache Records.

RAW POWER "Trust Me" (Raw Power) SCORE: 33/100

Italian hardcore styled punk rock. Not too sure about the label of origin, though it could have been an advance release from Hello Records, the label responsible for Dr. Know's newest full length. The vocals are a bit rough, not exactly a good thing in this case, and the lyrics are truly strange. Take 'Feed Them Grazioli?' What the heck is that?!? Many of the tracks here are along similar lines, doing the fast paced punk style. They do tend to show a bit of angst with the track 'We Hate You' and they do some venting about bad cops on the song 'Take Your Hands Off Me,' but their lyrics delve into some awfully strange territory. Sometimes the vocals sound like they proceed at their own pace, rather oblivious to the rest of the band, and like I said, VERY odd lyrics. They do a Circle Jerks cover 'Behind The Door' which failed to impress me as well. Fast fast fast, and not much originality behind it.

REIGN OF TERROR "Sacred Ground" (Limb Music) SCORE: 94/100

Guitar virtuoso Joe Stump debuts this band as his way of showing off his guitar skills AND making a heavy metal record one can actually enjoy. Many of the songs here I really enjoyed, and thus the high marks. 'Save Me' starts out with some intense riffing, speedy riffs that border on the power metal coming out today, and great vocal work. Just as noteworthy is the choruses which Joe knows how to make use of. 'Sacred Ground' was rather nice as well, melodic vocals on the chorus and some mean licks. 'Dante's Danza' and 'Paginini's Purgatory' are the two instrumentals here, and 'Paginini's Purgatory' is the better of the two, as it features great emotional instrumentation and is not just a showoff track, unlike 'Dante's Danza' which is filled with tight musicianship, but was a bit long and I would have liked to hear more instrumental variety. This is what a guitar virtuoso's album should sound like, and it's clear he's playing music that is not outdated sounding. Other choice cuts are the mean rocker 'Hellbound,' and 'Undercover.' 'When Will We Know' was really the only weak cut here, as it clocks in at 7 minutes and at a slower pace really seems to drag, plus the choruses are not as dynamic as they are throughout the CD. Nevertheless, if you like heavy metal without all the fluff, all the nu-jack aggression and just want to hear someone rock, then this disc is definitely for you. The CD has been garnering good press worldwide as well.
Contact: Limb Music Products.

ROYAL HUNT "The Mission" (Century Media) SCORE: 87/100

I was completely blown away by Royal Hunt's "Fear" album (yes, even the ballad type track.) So obviously I was looking forward to this one, and while it's a solid album, I can't help but be just a bit disappointed. This album quite simply has "Fear" written all over it. Here's some comparisons: New track 'World Wide War:' reminds one STRONGLY of 'Faces Of War' from the previous effort, similarity in songtitles notwithstanding. The heavy guitar riffs sound basically reworked though they are heavy. The bass guitar work starts off 'Judgement Day' like it does on 'Fear' from the previous album of the same name, though the chorus work is different. The instrumental track 'Fourth Dimension' has structure that is along similar lines as 'Lies' however for all the similarities, these are still good songs. This tells me one of two things: either they resurrected pieces, riffs and ideas from the album "Fear" or their signature elements are just too easily recognized. Either way, you'd be hard pressed to say this album didn't deserve more than a few spins. 'Total Recall' is one of their heaviest tunes that is truly original, and the title track is also in a different vein. The vocalist as always never fails to shine, and his vocal work has gotten a bit more diverse, though you'd have to REALLY know their last album inside and out to recognize this. They do sprinkle the 13 tracks with a few instrumentals, which shows off their skills without being too flashy or saying "hey look at he the master musician" like some progressive metal bands I've heard recently. They KNOW how to write good songs, bottom line.
Contact: Century Media Records.

SCENE KILLER "Scene Killer" (Meteor City) SCORE: 80/100

Despite Meteor City having one of the best track records for stoner rock worldwide, I was indeed a bit skeptical when I saw the number of artists from different bands contributing to what is essentially a jam session for stoner rock musicians. This will get a bit more attention, thankfully, due in large part to the contribution of Tim Cronin and Ed Mundell, both of Monster Magnet fame, who many of the artists on this compilation will agree are big influences on the modern stoner rock scene, which seems to have many roots in Jersey. So enter the first track 'Intro,' which is a short guitar oriented, well, jam session if you will. The riffs here are killer and incorporate more influences than you might think.One of my favorite of the Meteor City bands Solace lend their talented and killer vocalist Jason for a few tracks, the tune 'Pit Of Your Soul' sounds like it could have been written by Solace themselves, complete with heavy riffs that accentuate Jason's heavier delivery as well as his smooth singing style. However, that style didn't work very well, and surprising it was to me, on 'As You Look.' Sounded to me like his vocals had some electronic effects on them. Other few detractions were the ability of many tracks to run exceedingly long, though the guitar work is definitely a highlight throughout, without much essence to the filler minutes. Plus, the vocals and instrumentation didn't work for me on 'You Know,' which was acoustic based and had some rough vocal work. However, one can see the influence of the mighty Robin Trower on tunes like 'Midnight Snack,' which just oozes class and anyone familiar with the Trower album "Bridge Of Sighs" will know exactly how cool this is. 'Back Of My Mind' was a balls out rocker, complete with funny but cool lyrics, and the rest of the album definitely shows off the skill and craftsmanship of some of the best bands in the stoner rock genre, despite the sometimes tiring ability to exceed their distance and duration. Also noteworthy to this "compilation" of sorts is the inclusion of the last Drag Pack song ever to be written in 'Psychic Down,' plus an older Drag Pack tune 'Aurora.' Good material overall, and one that should require some of your attention
Contact: Meteor City.

SIGH "Imaginary Sonicscape" (Century Media) SCORE: 91/100

After the terribly disappointing "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams" on Cacophonous, I must say that thi\ough I dig them branching out WAY into left field, I didn't expect their follow up to be any good, but I knew if anyone could tame such a wild beast, then it would be Century Media (and no I don't mean tame as in "convert" their sound). In the interview, I noted that I have been telling people that this is what The Beatles would have sounded like had they played black metal back in the 60's and nothing could be further from the truth! One very unusual characteristic is their use of vintage 60's and 70's equipment, like the Mini Moog, the Rhodes-Fender, and the Hammond Organ, the latter a favorite instrument of mine ever since Hacienda (also reviewed this issue) put it to good use back on their debut "Sunday Afternoon." The vocal work has improved dramatically this time around, and the keyboard work is more spacey and psychedelic than you have ever heard from them. 'Nietzschean Conspiracy' is the only track without guitars, and is very slow and eerie, not to mention that it was co written by an ex black metal member! (You'll have to read the interview to see who) There were only a few bad spots on this disc, and that's not really surprising considering just how much they throw in there. 'Slaughtergarden Suite,' in addition to being way too long at nearly 11 minutes, has a wierd industrial vibe to it and the vocals don't mix well here. However, there is so much going on it may take you a few spins to get it all to sink in, though I remember digging this thing on my first listen! And finally, the track 'Scarlet Dream' had robotic effected vocals, something I usually don't dig, but here they just added the right effect. The most original and innovative black metal band you will ever hear, it's no wonder these guys have a cult following that goes all the way back to the very roots of the Norweigan Black Metal scene. Read the interview!
Contact: Century Media Records.

SONATA ARCTICA "Silence" (Century Media) SCORE: 92/100

I definitely enjoyed this album, their second full length. Spinefarm Records has proven to have considerably talented bands on their roster, and now that Century Media licenses and distributes these titles, the American market can finally catch on to what the rest of the world has been raving about. A Finnish group that released "Ecliptica" (reviewed by us some time ago) has definitely improved upon their style and sound. I'm still not crazy about the power metal scene embracing the ballad, which is touched upon here by the songs 'Last Drop Falls' and 'Tallulah,' though the vocal work is superb. Highlights of this disc have to be 'Sing In Silence' and 'False News Travels Fast,' with well built choruses and the trademark speedy keyboard and guitar solo riffs. For their second album they sure have come a long way, and their melodic side also gives way to some heaviness, most noted on 'Wolf & Raven,' which REALLY surprised me at just how heavy they can get! 'Black Sheep' was a cool tune as well, especially since it's mostly guitar dominated and has very catchy chorus work. 'The End Of This Chapter' showcases some surprising new twists, though it's only utilized on a few words: death metal vocals! Despite the cheesy man calls woman on the phone on a dark stormy night ala "I Know What You Did Last Summer," this is a good tune that shows Sonata going from a semi ballad to a heavy track. Much more dynamic and heavier than their last release, which I did somewhat enjoy, it does show that power metal mixed with melody doesn't always have to be fruity.
Contact: Century Media Records.

THE EVILS "Live At Studio X" (Skull & Bones) SCORE: 96/100

My history goes back with this band at least a year and a half. The first time I saw The Evils, a local Atlanta band, was when they opened up for Fear. And immediately I was impressed by how old school their punk sound was, not to mention the fact that they had some kick ass tunes. Plus, they did a Motorhead cover onstage! I asked them to send me a CD when they were done, it never arrived. Fast forward about 1 and a half years later, when they, AGAIN, opened for Fear, THIS time they did give me a CD and boy was it ever worth the wait! I must say I don't know much about Atlanta's history within the punk scene, but this has to be one of the best Atlanta punk bands I have ever heard, hell one of the best ATLANTA bands I've heard. The CD starts things off with 'Liberty,' and I must say it's strange to hear loud, rowdy, kick ass attitude and rough punks espouse the benefits of freedom in the U.S.A., but freedom to do what one wants must be the ultimate rebellion. Whatever. 'Goin' Down' shows the boys telling you that you're taking some damage, and with their fast riffs, great song structures, and choruses you'll be remembering long after the CD's over, you know that punk is alive and well in the South. 'No Rest For The Wicked' had some cool lyrics and a passion for the dark side of life, check out some of the cool lyrics like 'And the wolfman is my friend, until the silver bullet end.' And my favorite line 'Speed on brother, hell ain't half full. You wanna hang with me you gotta break the rules.' You can also hear some Misfits inspired 'Hey' and 'go, go' type multi vocal breaks. Only a few bad spots here though, the song 'Lovesick' was rather weak, especially with the lyrical content, and 'Rockers' was rather bad, notice that the choruses are just 'hey, hey, hey rockers.' I was a bit disappointed in this track also because the guitars were a tad overbearing. 'Attack' sounded like New Wave Of British Heavy Metal fare, until the vocals kicked in and then you know it's a punk song. Besides, when did punks start singing songs about riding motorcycles and goin' down a dusty highway? No matter, these guys do sport the "rock and roll band" moniker, and I guess that's the latest craze amongst new school punks these days, to try to be "rock and roll, baby!" Guess calling yourselves a punk band ain't the in thing to do anymore, well, don't let that stop you from remembering what punk is supposed to sound like: kick ass, bad attitude, and songs that never dip past the 3 minute mark, even with the excellent lead guitar solos that pop up.
Contact: The Evils, P.O. Box 5582, Atlanta, GA 31107 USA
Web site:

TRANSATLANTIC "Bridge Across Forever" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 53/100

It was pretty screwed up the way I had to review this thing. The CD is divided into 4 "songs" with each song containing several sub-songs. Except for track 3, that is its own song. Confused yet? Well, when you have 4 "songs" totalling 70 minutes, you might start to get the idea of just how poorly this is executed. Worse still, some of the "sub songs" simply regurgitate lyrics and song ideas from the previous "sub songs" before it. This is the "brainchild" of key members of Marillion, Spock's Beard and The Flower Kings. A seriously whacked out idea if ever there was one. Roine Stolt's influence is obviously the most dominant of the three, and one of the weakest links found here. The Flower Kings, to be fair, had one great album in "Back To The World Of Adventures" (reviewed here in issue #16) but since then have been progressively sliding downward. Later albums started getting progressively cheesier, and their fruity keyboard work has wormed it's way into several "sub songs," especially on the first "track." The vocal work isn't bad on many spots, in fact when the three of them harmonize it's done quite nicely. And the only thing that keeps this from dipping into the low to horrible range is that many tracks actually show us that instrumentation skills are possessed by these stalwarts of their respective genres in abundance. However, due to the length of these 4 tracks, it would have been far better had they split the songs up, like for instance the 26 minute track one actually has 5 subsongs, and 25 minute track 4 has 6 subsongs! I did like the saxophone on 'Silence Of The Night' (subsong 3 on track 1) and it retained a Pink Floyd'ish atmosphere which is ALWAYS cool. The biggest pleasant surprise was to be found on track 4, subsong 2, 'Hanging In The Balance' where they utilize some crunchy and almost thrash oriented guitar work! Even Stolt's "metal" vocal delivery, a style totally alien to him throughout his years of work with The Flower Kings, was in surprisingly good form. They should have stuck to this style instead of the fruity crap found damn near everywhere else. The ballad type pieces give way to some rather bad lyrics, check a sample from 'Mr. Wonderful' which manages to rip on both the Beatles and The Rolling Stones: 'His name is wonderful, and it's wonderful just to be near him, his name is majesty and his majesty is requesting your presence.' Oh and the Beatles reference from 'If She Runs:' 'It's hard, calming the Beatle inside of me, it's hard, missing my max and melody.' 'Lost And Found Part 1' has some awful vocal work, sounds to me like whoever is doing the singing is trying to go soul on us. Can't believe that Metal Blade didn't demand a heavier input from these guys, giving the name "Metal" and all in the record label title. Obviously this is the fault of Spock's Beard for the pressing of this.
Contact: Metal Blade.

VARIOUS ARTISTS "Guitars On Mushroom" (Zoomica Music/SPV) SCORE: 79/100

Those of you who aren't into electronic music may want to skip this section. Or you might want to see just what this is all about. It's trance, mostly of the psychedelic genre, or commonly known as goa trance, hell I get confused with all the genre tagging in what's basically techno. But this isn't your ordinary, slap happy soul induced club crashing techno. These electronic tunes have been fused with the mighty guitar, and make for an interesting album. To be sure, there are some duds here on this 2 CD set, most of the bad eggs being on CD 1. And the songs do tend to be long, though, but I always say if you're enjoying good instrumentation, length usually doesn't matter. (See Hacienda songs and the Beatles amazing guitar riff on 'I Want You.') One thing everyone knows I hate about techno is their damn insistence on what I term "ghetto beats," or that damn breakbeat/jungle percussion. It crept into a great ambient album from Galaxy and it almost makes me skip the first track 'Sexdrugs & Acidtrance.' 'Deep Thought' from the second CD had this, but it also had some strange tribal chants going on. Some of the tracks that weren't working for me just didn't have anything going on, and 5 minutes of a dead air track are bad enough, much less 8 or 9 or even 10 minutes of dead air! So onto the good stuff, of which there's quite a bit. For all you thrashers out there, the most dominant track is 'Killer State,' this thing has a dark intensity and guitar work that simply kicks you down and keeps stomping! The beat structures are dark and heavy. 'Breaking Limits' from CD2 is another one of my favorites, with some wild trancey and spacey instrumentation that just dominates and keeps things aggressive. 'Meteor' again from CD2 has dual guitar work, and is quite upbeat and trancey as all hell, which makes for a fantastic club tune. Check out the bluesy guitar riffs on 'Down At The Crossroads,' which also has some nice background commentary on Robert Johnson, and the guitar work everywhere else (on the good tracks) isn't used just to "fill in" holes in the music, it actually enhances good electronic music. Not many tracks have vocal work, and the vocal work is usually limited to movie samples ('Killer State,' 'V.D. Massacre) or spoken word pieces (like in the corny and cheesy tune 'Laugh.') Some duds over two CD's but overall damn good material that you can really appreciate. And as I said before, most ravers or happy go lucky techno heads will be very surprised to find out that the majority of moods presented over these 18 tracks, 5 of them unreleased, are quite dark and sinister, not at all what most people think about electronic music. Who says guitars and techno don't mix!
Contact: Zoomica Music, Vogteistr. 15, D-50670 Koln

VESPERIAN SORROW "Psychotic Sculpture" (Displeased) SCORE: 96/100

Record labels do get annoyed at me sometimes. In three months I manage to get many CD's from labels all over the world, and I can't cover everything I get. Most times CD's are passed over because they arrived past the deadline, or I had covered too many CD's from the same label, or I just didn't find the band interesting enough to cover. In the case of Vesperian Sorrow, we actually did get their first album "Beyond The Cursed Eclipse" and it did arrive past the deadline, which was a shame because their American blend of melody and vicious black metal passages makes for one of the most interesting black metal bands to ever come out of the U.S. of A. Their penchant for long songs notwithstanding (like the almost 11 minute opener 'Solitude'), you'd be hard pressed to find a band that plays this much synthesized melody corrupting it with such blasphemated viciousness. And these dual black vocals (one that borders on low growled death, the other of high pitched screechiness that would make Mr. Cradle Of Filth screamer dani cower in fear) are in a realm by themselves. Does the throat rippings come from one truly demented and talented man, or are there two screamers? Nevertheless, on a completely different note, the songtitles are most assuredly NOT of the typical black metal variety, like 'Nebula Design' and 'Spiral Symphony,' shit these song titles owe more to Hawkwind and The Kovenant than Emperor, Dark Funeral or Marduk! And I was pleasantly surprised by the accordian notes on 'Arena Unorthodox.' An accordian! Wonders never cease. The instrumentation is oftentimes a thing of beauty, and the guitar riffs are so clean and complex. Check the solo lead riffings of 'Solitude' and 'Nebula Design.' They even let the synths get a solo moment. Points had to be taken off for the last track, which is sure to raise ire for black metal purists. It's a synth piece with female vocals ONLY. And it didn't really sit well with me either. Century Media should surely take an interest in this band, who surpasses the works of Sigh and even the newer "artful" black metal bands like And Oceans and the rest. Far superior to most black metal bands of an American standpoint and we're awfully sorry we didn't review their first album, but it does take awhile for the psychotic genius of this band to manifest itself to the uninitiated. HIGHLY recommended. And hell, I forgot the eerie violin intro to 'Spiral Symphony.' Different and still vicious enough to kick your teeth in.
Contact: Displeased Records.

WAYNE "Metal Church" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 88/100

After the disappointing Metal Church album "Masterpeace," founding vocalist David Wayne has left the Metal Church fold. So when he formed his own group Wayne, I thought it was a bit pretentious to call his latest album "Metal Church." That is, until I actually listened to the thing. David remembers exactly what true kick ass heavy metal is supposed to sound like, and with a few exceptions reminded us all just what we loved about Metal Church in the first place. Soaring vocal work, kick ass guitar riffs and cool song structures make for an enjoyable ride. 'The Choice' starts things off at a moderate pace, however the tune 'Nightmare Part II' is about as fast as it gets. 'Ballad For Marianne' was an interesting tune, showcasing some of David's more singing prowess, though not one of my favorites. And I didn't care for his cover of 'Mississippi Queen,' though I didn't like Sons Of Otis' cover either, but he does try to make it a rockin' tune. 'Vlad' had some rough spots on the opening vocal work, his vocals are a little unsettling, but once the chorus comes up things are in kickass form once again. 'Hannibal' was one of my favorite cuts on here, just balls out vicious and with eerie lyrics and fantastic chorus work that is a trademark from the old school Metal Church days. 'DSD,' or 'Die Satan Die' if you will, sounded like Black Sabbath's 'Heaven And Hell' Dio tune, and should give you a good indication of what Metal Church's frontman is all about. And let's not forget about the AC/DC inspired 'The Hammer Will Fall.' People have raved in the past about David's first solo project entitled Reverend, so for those who dig that band this one should keep you entertained long after Metal Church has fallen by the wayside.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.


BEATEN BACK TO PURE. Interview with Ben.

This might come off as a White Power interview due to the nature of us Southerners, but be rest assured everything will be explained below. The thing that makes this death metal/stoner rock combo so great is not just the lyrics and the overall kick ass quality of the music, but the fact that Ben is definitely not afraid to speak the truth AND his mind. Anyone who thinks the Confederate flag stands for racism has a LOT to learn about true history. I learned it in schools and so did Ben, so read below and keep an open mind before making any snap judgements.

  • I haven't heard of the label, Retribute Records, in fact this is the first thing I got from them!

    They've been around for a few years. This is the sixth album they've put out, and they have a few more releases coming out soon. They started out small, but they branched out and started buying ad space in Terrorizer, Unrestrained and Metal Rules, sending out promos and looking to gain more press. He's sending out more promos now than he ever has. He's aiming to make this his full time job now.

  • So who else is signed to his label?

    The band he put out before us was called Soils Of Fate, the next thing he's doing is a Visceral Bleeding record, perhaps a God's Iron Tooth release is coming out soon. He put out a band called Evanescence, they are with Rage Of Achilles now.

  • The best way I can describe Beaten Back To Pure to people is like a cross between Iron Monkey and Lamb Of God, with a little bit of Southern hospitality thrown in there. (and no, that's not a band.)

    I do like Iron Monkey, and Lamb Of God I remember them when they were Burn The Priest, they're from Richmond. I've seen them around at shows and talked to them quite a bit; the drummer knows our guitar player's girlfriend and used to hang out regularly. That's not a bad comparison, out of bands that are out there we could be compared to a lot worse. We get a lot of an Eye Hate God influence; every damn review we've seen we can't seem to get out from under that, and I don't believe we're even that similar.

  • Well, you have to admit, most of what's going on in your music is mostly, especially where the riffs are concerned, rooted in stoner rock.

    Yeah, maybe stoner rock on 11. Stoner rock I think is boring, all the bands sound similar, the clean vocals and all don't do too much for me. I try to stay away from that genre, but we don't get a lot of reviews that say that!

  • Have you heard Abdullah? As far as I'm concerned they are considered one of the best in the genre, but I wouldn't say they're exclusively stoner rock either. They have elements of doom metal in their music as well.

    I've heard the name, I think we're either gonna be on a compilation with them or playing out with them. I guess I shouldn't say I don't like stoner rock, we have a lot of friends in the genre like Slowhorse, we're friends with their drummer. I mean how many times can you regurgitate Black Sabbath, it's not any individual bands but the genre as a whole I suppose. I do like doom metal, and if it would cater to the doom metal style more then I think that would be more up my alley. There's some stuff on Rage Of Achilles I found interesting, like Kaptain Sun, Witch Mountain.

  • A lot of people say that the vocal work is awfully similar to what Lamb Of God is doing.

    Randy's good, but I don't think I hear that so much. The newer stuff we're doing are going to have more cleaner vocals in them. Maybe 25 percent of the time for this new one. Mainly just going lower and heavier, it comes across as meaner. And it saves my throat for the next night!

  • The guitar riffs too are pretty amazing. It's one thing to hear the growling, but those clean solos are well done. You have some great guitar work going throughout your songs.

    I've got every bit of confidence in my guys. They've been playing their instruments since they were little, of course they're all grown now. Vince has been playing his guitar since he was about 10, he does all the leads. This is really his first project that he's gotten out of the rehearsal room. Shit, he's been playing for about 17, 18 years now. Other people come to the table with ideas, but Vince is the one that crafts them into the Beaten Back To Pure sound. He's the one that goes home and twiddles the guitar, does some practicing, and comes to the practice room with 85 percent of our riffs.

  • I'd like to talk to you about your lyrics, because they seem to have a theme but the wording is rather abstract, maybe just a collage of ideas coming together to back the theme of the title?

    You're right in a way. I don't have any stories to tell or political messages to get across, it's more like a series of one liners. The song titles in the songs sometimes don't even line up. It's probably not a perfect way to do it, but it's how I do it. I guess you could say I write down indiscriminate thoughts during the day as they occur to me, whether it sounds crushing or tragic or whatever. When it comes time to write a song I refer to that and check to see if it has the right amount of syllables, then you got a line!

  • I know you had a line in there about the Civil War, with the song 'Antietam.' So I was assuming you had a lot to say about the South in general, since you're noted as being a Southern styled band.

    Well, the Civil War was an important battle for the U.S., despite what's happened to New York in the last few weeks (referring to the World Trade Center bombing - Ed.) I'm just glad we're starting to fire back.

  • I tell ya what we need to do with them, we need to round them all up, douse them with jet fuel and stick them in the top floor of a 100 story building, lock them all in so they can't escape, then make 'em wait 30 or 40 minutes before we slam a plane into their ass. Hey, let's make them feel what those other passengers and people in the buildings felt!

    That's a pretty good idea. I'd want to kill the babies in front of their families, kill the mothers in front of the husbands who committed the crimes, and line the streets with impaled women and children like Vlad the Impaler.

  • What a message that would send, eh? The thing that always struck me as odd about the Civil War, I remember reading in textbooks that everyone expected the North to win the war early on, and people were actually packing picnic lunches and camping out right on the battlefield to watch this first battle of the war as it went down!

    Damn, I never read that. I dunno if it was me I would be worried about stray bullets. At the time I guess they didn't think about it, it took too long to load up those muskets, hell you could only get off a shot at a time.

  • I know you proudly sport a confederate flag on your album, which I am happy to see. We've been going through hell down here, our governor actually snuck behind our backs and got the flag changed on us, so we didn't even have a say as people. The right to vote on our own flag was taken away from us.

    Geez, I didn't know that. I know South Carolina gave in, I didn't know Georgia did too.

  • One thing you have to note about the Confederate flag, if it's such an abomination, then why does the basic design borrow, in a sense, from the main U.S. flag?

    The rebel flag is such a pain in the ass anyway, it's so fueled by ignorance and people are basically just trying to see what they can get away with at this point. I'm not trying to generalize anything but it seems like they're saying we can make them give us free housing and food stamps, hell, let's see if we can get 'em to take that flag down that we don't like.

  • I look at this whole evil as the fault of the NAACP. Okay, here's a group that's obviously motivated by political power and money. I'm not trying to generalize or stereotype anyone, but you know how some people like basketball. This NAACP group that says they want to protect the rights and liberties of black people, they wanted to come in and boycott the NCAA basketball tournament right here in Georgia if the flag wasn't changed. And the fact of the matter, the bottom line is, what in essence they are really doing is costing the state hundreds of dollars in revenue for THEIR citizens they say they so badly stand up for. They wanted to cost hundred of Georgia's citizens jobs and money, money that some of these black citizens, not to mention white citizens as well, so badly need. They'd rather come in and hurt their own people over a flag.

    And that affects EVERYBODY, from the peanut vendor to the guy outside the stadium selling T-shirts outside the arena. It affects the lowest man on the totem pole as well as the venue owners and future millionaires on the floor. They have a really backwards agenda. You see, they want equal rights, AND they want affirmative action. That's not equal, that's like equal plus one. As long as they push for disparity, then there will never be equality. It's like the Native American Indians giving people a hard time about the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Braves, but they don't get the time of day in court, no one even listens to them. Maybe their numbers just aren't that strong or politically they just don't have any clout, but for all the hell they've raised they've never got anyone to fend for their wishes.

  • Even the NAACP would do well to remember the confederate flag served them as well. Despite what I said earlier, the flag was based on the design of the original U.S. flag because the Sons Of The Confederacy knew that even though they were breaking away from the original country, without carrying at least some of the ideas and thoughts that made America what it is, their own new form of government would have no backing. The original ideas and backbone of the original government had to serve some basis for their new government, and maybe no one wants to say it, but the Confederacy took those ideas from the old government incorporating them into the new. What the Confederate flag stood for basically was freedom from governmental oppression, it wasn't totally about goddamn slavery, it's about keeping the government out of your face and running your own life.

    It's definitely NOT about slavery, less than 20 percent of the Civil War was fought about slavery. My girlfriend has a 12 year old kid who comes home with homework, and they're even teaching these kids differently about the Civil War than from what I was taught in schools years ago. They're trying to change history, basically selling propaganda. They're trying to mold the past, change it into a more palatable story, but hey the truth ain't always pretty.

  • I think the more time that goes on, the less people are going to be around that actually remember how it was in the textbooks and how it was taught in schools. They can afford to take liberty with the damn textbook.

    Well, I'm sure I got a watered down version myself 15 years ago. And it'll be worse about 15 years from now.

  • Even in schools I went to though, it almost had to be agreed upon that the war wasn't fought over just slavery, hell I think we'd rather just give up the slavery thing than have so many of our men killed. Maybe that general agreement came because I live in the south, but even still...

    I'm sure the Northern white men weren't that pissed off about the free labor down south, hell, they probably wanted free labor of their own. I mean Abraham Lincoln owned slaves! I read in addresses he made in Rutgers Library about his reasons for freeing the slaves; he stated the reason he wanted to free slaves was because he thought the idea of blacks and whites living amongst one another was a bad idea. He wanted to load them back on ships and send them away. That was his original idea, but there were excerpts from several different speeches. It's not what they teach now though I'm sure, the way you hear it now he would be happy to have a black man marry his daughter, have them over for Christmas and what not. Truth is very distorted, and 90 percent of the people in the world hardly ever question what is told to them anyway, especially when it comes from higher up.

  • The stranger thing is, like take this war on Osama. I mean you see the pictures of war, and the bombings and the pictures of targets being hit, you have the radio and TV and newspapers accountings, but really we have no idea what is going on overseas. Hell for all we know Osama is getting more U.S. funding for another hit somewhere else in the world. We gave him money in the first goddamn place to run the Russians out of his country.

    CREMATORY. Interview with Matthias and Harold.

    Without too much being said, it is a damn sad day to see a ten year act come to an end. Crematory had it's start with keyboard oriented death metal on their demos, and ended exactly the same way they started, with some noticeable improvements along the way. This is most definitely one of our feature interviews this month, and I am proud to say I have been a Crematory fan for quite awhile.

  • I've been a big fan of yours for quite awhile, my history with you goes as far back as "Just Dreaming," and I'm sure the most obvious question I have is, well, after 10 years, and I know what it's like to have a project last more than 10 years as this magazine is going on it's twelfth year soon; so I guess the big question is why after this long is the band splitting up?

    Well, there are good reasons for the split. I think the first reason is our private lives. We're not a young band anymore, and we reached a certain point where we have to take care of our private lives. You can't do Crematory on a 50 or 60 percent level because you always have to give 100 percent and we gave everything we had for the last ten years. It left us with no private lives, as we did so many tours for each and every record. We want to look forward to the future and think about our lives after the music business. Also, certain members are having health problems; for instance our bassist Harold has problems with his arms, and when he takes it further he probably won't be able to play bass anymore. You can't buy health for money, your health is one of the most important things you have in life. Crematory was tagged as Europe's leading gothic metal band, and the media, press and radio stations in Germany ignored us for a long time. We always reached higher chart positions with every record but we were ignored and got no acceptance from like MTV or major companies. If you want to do the big hit today you have to have acceptance from the media. There are no more goals for us to achieve we think, so we went as far as we could and want to leave Crematory where it is on it's highest level. We never had the opportunity to do support tours for bigger bands, though we don't know the reasons. There aren't many bands left in the gothic metal scene in Europe as it is. It seems like there is becoming less and less acceptance for heavy music in Germany anyway.

  • One thing I was upset about was that Crematory never got to play here live in the States. I figured with Nuclear Blast they would hook something up. I am curious though if any other Crematory members planned to pursue other bands or musical projects.

    We always wanted to tour the States but never got offered a tour. This was one of our biggest aims. As for other members, you never know. I am continuing with my second band Century which is less heavy but more gothic rock and synth pop oriented. Felix has another side project which he is doing very aggressive grind core and death metal, and Harold is thinking about joining his old band, reuniting them. Kathryn and Matthias aren't sure what they want to do with their musical future. We're going to continue music in some way I can say, but where we go I don't know.

  • It's very unusual that our lives parallel so well, because I have had quite a few times when I have looked at the magazine, and just wondering if I am being very effective, if I'm reaching a target audience or just being ignored. So in essence I have had to evaluate my life and music has been a big part of my life for so long. I have asked if there is anything else in this field I can accomplish.

    That's the main point, you have to evaluate everything that you are doing.

  • It's getting to the point where people like us that grew up on the 80's style of death and thrash metal are getting older, and obviously you're not going to be into the same style of music, but look at Dark Tranquility, they have still kept it heavier and added a lot of melody and singing vocals, but it's still hard edged. I think people's tastes change over time and it seems more and more difficult for bands to still be heavy and yet still progress as a band and actually appeal to a wider audience.

    Yeah, but you develop as a person when you get older. You change your mind and your opinions and your music develops. It doesn't make any sense to pretend you are 16 or 17 and do the same style you did when you were a teenager. I think this whole instance has come together in the music, and for Crematory it doesn't make any sense to record an album like "Just Dreaming." It was an ongoing process for us and always has been.

  • Well, especially with the last record you released, there were still some extremely dark and heavy passages within the framework, and I have been followed you since "Just Dreaming," where you were using keyboards! You've used keys since the beginning, and I've seen people on the internet who say, "well, I like Crematory's older stuff better," and I have to say, well, how far back are you talking about? Some of the earlier stuff matches up in the darker vein with what was done on your last record you put out

    A major influence on our last record was our guitar player Matthias; he stuck to the thrash metal guitar influences, all this influence from playing Metallica's early stuff. He brought in some new darker and heavier riffs. So we tried to combine his new style of guitar playing with our way of using keyboards and samples, and that's what made the "Believe" album.

  • Going back a bit, I noticed from the liner notes that your keyboard player has been with you since the beginning, apparently she was with you when you were doing demos?

    Kathryn was a guest musician on our first demo tape, and after that we decided to put her in the band as a fulltime member. She's a big part of Crematory, so obviously she's not a guest musician anymore.

  • That 2 CD set you released recently, your last recorded work for Nuclear Blast really surprised me. Rather than being in a cardboard sleeve, it came with full packaging, nice extensive color booklet and in a jewel case! I'm glad that was done at least so the U.S. fans would have a nice farewell present from you guys.

    That was actually our idea, we told them not to send any promo copies, or those CD's in a paper folder, we wanted everyone to have the original CD, the finished product. For this release you must have the original CD, the booklet, the photos and text, or otherwise it doesn't make sense to even do this. Our intention was for the press to have this especially so they could obtain the whole "Remind" experience.

  • Going back on your history a little more, I remember the self titled album you did that was all in German. I think from reading press releases you did that special CD as a thank you to your German fans.

    Especially on the "Just Dreaming" album we had a song with German lyrics. We always heard gripes from the fans "Why don't you do an album in German language," or they wanted more songs like that. They requested that so much, and Crematory is always a band that didn't care about what record labels wanted us to do or business people wanted, because we are a very fan related band. When the fans requested this we said why not give them what they want? It was a big chance for us, especially for the German fans, to get Crematory more popular. Historically, we got the German union in the 90's, and we have a lot of East German fans that don't speak proper English, who didn't have English taught in school. They didn't get along well with our English lyrics either, so that was a way for the East German fans to be drawn in further to what Crematory was doing.

  • I don't know if you're into German industrial bands like Das Ich and Wumpscutt: but I have always appreciated the German lyrics in music, and I don't know if this is going to be seen as an attack to you, but I have always thought that the German language is much harsher and really fits more brutal music than American lyrics do. So I really appreciated the self titled German album when it came out. Some Americans though I'm sure probably said "Aw, well, it's all in German, screw it."

    Well, the German language is a lot harder than English, and it also was a chance for Felix to express his feelings and emotions in the German language, it's his natural language. I think you can express your feelings in a different way when you do it in your native language. We kept on doing German lyrics on later records, so it has become a trademark for us. Actually, after the release of the German album, we got even more requests for more German sung albums, but we decided to still include a few tracks in German on newer records.

  • How did that self titled album do outside of Germany? Did you get to see any foreign press for it?

    We actually got some outside feedback, and they still said it was a good album. No one seemed to care about the fact we sang in German. In the U.S., Rammstein is very big there, and they also sing in German as well. I don't think the language limits your music if it fits.

  • Are you fans of any other bands in the gothic or industrial genre? I know you are Sisters Of Mercy fans, as you did a cover of their big club hit 'Temple Of Love.'

    Sisters Of Mercy are one of our old time favorite bands, they are huge in Germany. I know they haven't released an album in 10 years, but they're still big there. We are all big fans and that's why we did that cover, to show appreciation and show our respect to them.

  • I've been after this interview for quite a long time, I bugged Nuclear Blast for months and months for the interview, nothing happened, and now I just want to say I feel priveledged and it is an extreme honor to finally be getting to talk to you guys. I have been a fan of yours, like I said, since the "Just Dreaming" album, with subsequent albums all getting great reviews, and there is one thing I wanted to ask about the progression of your albums. The artwork on "Just Dreaming" is really intense, with rich colors and unbelievable graphics, but later albums have taken a kind of nosedive away from the colorful artwork, going for more simple themes. I mean "Act Seven" had a nice shield display and all but it wasn't the elaborate paintings and artwork that stood out like on earlier works.

    Thank you very much. Well, we changed our style in music, so we changed our style in layout for albums. You can't do always the same thing from album to album, so we decided to have less colorful artwork and colors. We changed our logo as well to a much more readable style, and we thought that later layouts fit better to the music.

  • "Just Dreaming's" cover was so wild looking, with that golden statue with wings, suspended in a cathedral overlooking some giant mouth! I am wondering what was going on in the mind of the person that painted this cover!

    Actually, I will have to hand you over to Harold, who is more in line with that sort of stuff.
    Yes, hello, this is Harold. The artist was like 65 or 66 years old, and lived in our neighborhood. He only drew stupid pictures, ha ha, but we got in touch with him through Massacre Records. We went through some of his artwork and tried to pick out something that would fit our music. We ended up buying about 5 or 6 from him, and they were used from the "Transmigration" to the "Illusions" album. I think this guy has died now. He was a strange guy, indeed, but he didn't want to see his originals. He wanted for one picture about 20,000 marks, it was too expensive. So we said, okay, we'll just buy the rights.

  • Since you have been around since the early days, I'm curious as to why you left Massacre Records to sign with Nuclear Blast, I'm thinking because, especially nowadays, they are such a huge player in the metal market. You had quite a few record with them so I'm wondering if there was any problems that caused you to leave the label?

    When you sign your first record deal, it's obviously not the best you can get. We were very happy to get the first record deal with Massacre, at the beginning there were no problems, but when Crematory started getting bigger, we wanted to ask for more support from the label; more support, more money for touring, better layouts, everything had to go better in our opinions. The band had different ideas from our label, and after the German album our deal with Massacre was finished. Once we were off Massacre, we started getting many offers from many labels here in Germany. We chose Nuclear Blast in 1997 because Crematory was always a fan oriented band. I think we were the first band that Nuclear Blast paid for us to get the record deal. After that they signed bands like Manowar, Helloween, In Flames, Dimmu Borgir and other big bands came to the label. Nuclear Blast really grew up at that point, and and it was a good thing for us to see the band grow up together with the label. The president of Nuclear Blast was a good friend of ours, and the whole company worked very well for us. We originally signed with them for 2 records, and when it was finished we got even more offers from even bigger labels, but we said no, we were going to stay here. They did a very good job for us.

  • It's a good thing you stayed, I mean have you heard of the band Obsessed? They signed to Columbia Records and the label singlehandedly destroyed their career, left the members in debt and what not. These major labels are such sharks, they get an underground type band and they have no idea what to do with bands like these. So it's really a good thing you didn't hook up with a label like that.

    Well, it's the same way here in Germany. The main problem is that the major companies have enough money but no ideas on what to do with the band. For example, the band Atrocity was signed to a label and they got a lot of money from them, but they got no promotion or anything. The album is not really good on this respect. Atrocity are good friends of mine, and I think they could have done better. No traditional metal bands can sell records like the new metal type of bands, like Limp Biskit, Papa Roach, Linkin Park and stuff on a major label.

  • Nuclear Blast has always been great because they understand metal.

    No, they LIVE metal also. They are also fans, they understand exactly what we mean and they live metal music. They don't leave the money in their pockets.

  • Now I know you have clean vocals on your latest records, those aren't done by the same singer that does the death vocals are they?

    No. Those are actually done by our guitar player Mattias and have been since the "Act Seven" album. I don't think it's possible for one person to sing both styles.

  • Well, I do beg to differ, I'm sure there has to be a way to get it done. I know I have been experimenting with both styles myself, trying to do both higher pitched power metal vocals and vicious death and black metal screams. What I have found is that you usually have to sacrifice one or the other, like for example if you do mostly death/black style, your higher notes aren't going to hit as high, nor can you sustain them for any long length of time and have them still powerful. By the same token, if you do lots of power metal styled vocals interlaced with higher pitched notes being held, the harsh vocals have to be done very sparingly to keep the power of the high notes intact. I am sure there is a way to accomplish both.

    Well, that is fantastic if you can do that. No, Matthias has always done the singing vocals exclusively.

    DRAGONLORD. Interview with Eric Peterson.

  • How did you decide to be doing vocal work on this project? Have you been doing a black metal style for very long?

    It's been building up for me. When I first started out playing, I wanted to be a singer first, but I never had the knack or the look for it. I was a big Ace Frehley fan as far as guitar ability. It's always something I have enjoyed and had a lot of ideas for. My voice seems to fit this kind of music.

  • The vocals don't sound like your typical black metal vocals either, they seem to be rooted in thrash as well, and those screams... Hell, don't get me started on those!

    It's definitely got a little bit more melody even though it's like screaming. I guess you could say it's melodic screaming. A lot of my influences come from bands like Venom, some of the newer, more raw vocalists like the ones in Soilwork, and Darkane.

  • It says in the liner notes that you wrote all the lyrics and all the music, is this a project that you started and had musicians just help you out, or is this something that will become a fulltime band? I know that so far this band has received a lot of press.

    It's definitely not a one off project. It's a project, but it's a band, and obviously I'm still in Testament and that's a big part of my life. I'm really enjoying writing for this, and it's becoming very easy for me. Not easy like it's easy to do, it still takes time to write everything but it is something I enjoy. This style of music to me is more classical influenced rather than just thrash rooted.

  • I noticed a classical feel, especially with the synthesized pieces. How do the other guys feel about Dragonlord, are they planning to make this a main focal point for them as well? I know Sadus is broken up but Death isn't really doing much these days either.

    Steve is pretty much a journeyman bass player, he's really into it but he's tapped for a lot of the stuff he does, he's involved with a lot of other projects. It's probably hard to pinpoint what he's really into. The drummer John Allen is really interested and so is Lyle Livingston. I'd say us three are the main members of Dragonlord.

  • So I take it you are the "black metal scholar" in the band.

    I'm turning all the guys onto the black metal stuff. John is more into Morbid Angel, death metal stuff, whereas Lyle and myself are into old school stuff like Coroner, Bathory, stuff like that. I was a big Mercyful Fate fan and Lyle was getting into that.

  • Are you planning on trying to line up a tour for Dragonlord?

    As far as a major tour, we'll have to see what happens. I'm actually in the middle of trying to find management for this, but we are definitely planning on doing some shows in October. We'll probably do some west coast shows.

  • You can't leave the east coast out now!

    Yeah, definitely, a lot of our sales have gone through Chicago, New York, the Boston area.

  • It's a funny thing in the black metal scene these days, all the bands out there seem to be like a side project or "supergroup" thing, you know, where the guys in Old Man's Child were all in Gorgoroth at one time, or the singer from Vintersorg going over to Borknagar.

    Well, they're trying to make a living out of it, and everybody's trying to do what they can. Like Dimmu, they've got a great lineup now, they've got Nick Barker, and the Old Man's Child's guitar player. With Dragonlord, you've got members of Sadus, Death, and a local band called Cyberia which is one of the better symphonic/black metal bands in the Bay Area.

  • Now I know Chuck Billy has been going through some health problems, how is he doing these days?

    He's actually doing a lot better now. We did a benefit last week and it turned out really good. His cancer is down to 0 percent now, but he's still being monitored, so we don't know yet whether they will have to operate or not. He still has a tumor that is around his heart and esophagus.

  • I noticed you had the recordings done here in the U.S. but you had it mixed and mastered overseas?

    Actually, I went there myself, I brought all the tapes with me to Sweden to mix with Daniel Bergstrand, and I also did my vocals up there. It's a great studio and I've really enjoyed all the work that he's done in the past. It was a good chance for me to get out of town for awhile. He's done the Strapping Young Lad record "City," the last two Darkane records, and a lot of other small European bands.

  • The lyrical themes fascinated me on this record, it's rather unusual to see outer space themes covered by a black metal band, somewhat like what Kovenant was going for. Seems like you touched on that mainly on the first track 'Unholyvoid.'

    Space has always been a big fascination of mine, and what better way to express it than really dark, intricate music. It's a big universe, dealing with astrophysics, and the whole... final frontier... the song also tells us a little bit about how the universe will expire, and it's not with a big bang.

  • So are there any other plans in the works? Maybe a new album is being worked on, some ideas tossed about?

    Definitely, we're probably going to the studio again in March or April for a summer release of the new record. It'll cover more dark territory. It's still too soon to tell anything about it yet but there'll be a lot of cool guitar riffs, we've even got a lot of little keyboard parts we recorded that are really dark and classical like.

  • I know that your band Testament is signed to Spitfire, thus the deal with them, but I am kinda surprised that Century Media didn't pick this up, considering all the licensing and releasing of black metal they do here in the States. Is this a multi album license for Spitfire or just on an album by album basis?

    It's for a few albums. I never really got a chance to branch out the project to any other labels. Spitfire wanted it, and legality wise thery were more in line to sign it. It'll be interesting because labels like that they have so many acts, and maybe they could do a lot with us because they are more familiar with this type of music. This is pretty much Spitfire's only black metal band.

    HACIENDA. Interview with Marcus Finger via email.

    Many of you have seen this band interviewed twice in the magazine already. Quite simply they are one of the best electronic bands in the world, and I wouldn't dare call them techno, ambient, dub, lounge or even chill music, as they have managed to defy tagging and labeling for their entire existence. If you haven't experienced the type of music that Hacienda plays that always defies description (though "stoner's techno" is the label that we coined for their first release "Sunday Afternoon,") I strongly urge you to go out and check out their last three CD's.

  • The latest record "Third Door Left" marks the first time that Hacienda's music has been mixed with actual singing; how did that decision come about and is this the direction Hacienda is to take from now on?

    To continue our kind of music with warm and organic sounds, it was the logical next step for us to express our feelings and emotions and sometimes this is for the listeners much easier to understand when there are vocals in the songs. We now compose songs compared to the two earlier albums instead of tracks, and the next Hacienda album which is now in production will contain even more songs with vocalists than "Third Door Left." We organize little castings to choose our singers. When there is a wonderful female voice we ask her to try out some songs with us and when everything flows and she wants to lend us her voice for some songs we go into the studio. At the moment we actually have a casting where we want to find our new singer for the fourth album. We have a good feeling because there are a lot of good people we would like to work with.

  • You know we have interviewed you twice already, so I'm curious to know what other magazines you have been featured in. You mentioned that this album alone has garnered a lot of press already, and that your popularity has increased.

    There are a lot of German magazines like Raveline, Loop, D2000, Tendance, Piranha, InMusic, IQ and European magazines like Jazzthing, Rolling Stone, Acid Jazz Magazine, FutureMusic, and we even went into the regular women's fashion magazines as album of the month, plus some regular newspapers in Germany. Plus we've done a lot of internet magazines too.

  • I'm still hoping a proper U.S. tour will happen. What is the live setting like for you, I know you have done quite a lot of shows for this record, I'm assuming you will have to bring in guest musicians to handle all the sounds, and of course the female vocals would have to be performed.

    The live setting is very interesting, because we are six people at the moment on stage: Marcus plays electronic and analog synths and some samples, Jurgen plays the Rhodes, piano, organ, and analog synths. We have a drummer, a percussion player, a bass/huitar player and the female singer. It was really amazing for us to see people cheering and dancing to our music all over the world. There will be a tour throughout Europe and some shows even in Moscow and we hope to tour the U.S. in 2002 with our next album, as well. We need to set up a good time schedule for all that.

  • So onto specifics of the album, especially regarding that singing track 'Me Da Um Favor,' with the vocals I assume are in Spanish, that was actually a pretty heavy track!

    The vocals actually are sung in Portugese (also like on 'Sabor.') We liked the idea to do some songs in Portugese because our singer has lived in Brazil for a year and we asked her to write some lyrics for us.

  • The 'Mexican Dubweiser' track was rather unusual, seems like a take on a popular beer brand. You mentioned people wanted to hear another dub track but I can't seem to remember a dub tune from any of the albums, so I am assuming it comes from one of your many single releases?

    Yes, we definitely like Budweiser beer and just exchanged the letters B and D. We haven't released any dub songs yet, neither on "Sunday Afternoon" or "Narrowed Eyes" but we did play live some dub oriented tracks. It's really cool music and we want to put one or two similar songs on the next record. A lot of people have actually asked us to do more dubby songs for further releases.

  • I also have to ask: What was up with the two 'incredible shocking DJ updates?' Those went totally over my head, being short and in another language besides!

    Those short breaks had their own ID number on the CD were only jokes with a friend who spoke, late at night, senseless German words. We thought it would be funny and added it to our finished album.

  • So it would seem that for "Third Door Left" your newest influence seems to be the lounge club acts, what some people might mistakenly refer to as the "lounge lizards." I am just thinking how radically different the songs were, and this time around are even less intended for techno/dance club audiences as they are more for late night lounge or jazz clubs. So there's still a rather mellow vibe going on, just for a different setting.

    We agree with you that the latest album sounds a bit different to "Sunday Afternoon" and "Narrowed Eyes," but the whole European and especially German music scene has changed a lot since the mid 90's and we developed our favorite sounds as well. Our music has this certain "JazznotJazz" appeal. In Germany it is still a growing scene with few producers that produce this kind of music, for example Jazzanova, Neanfield, Yonderboy and others. There were a lot of licensing proposals for songs off the album "Third Door Left" for compilations.

  • And to further tie some of this in, I remember the jazz clubs and some of the lounge scenes in the early 1920's and 30's was where pot smoking first came to play; I know jazz musicians from New York used marijuana exclusively to help them with their music. Any comments on this? (I knew in advance where this question would lead, but I just couldn't help myself! See the last two Hacienda interviews for more details.)

    Yes, we know that smoking pot opens your view to some things a lot, especially music. You can hear from another level. Many of our friends smoke during the production process, but we still don't smoke it because we think that we could not produce anything when we are stoned in the studio. You see that concerning this nothing has changed since 1996!

  • Though you said the tracks are less about mellow, relaxational vibes, there are still quite a few mellow tunes, like 'Nord-O.S.T.' and 'Poeme.' I'm also glad to see there's no limit to what instruments you will use, I really dig the piano and guitar work of 'Poeme.'

    We definitely don't want to limit our creativity by using only electronic instruments. For the next album we plan to work with trumpets, guitars, contrabass, live piano and string ensembles, but also mixed with a load of deep eelctronic and strange sounds that only synthesizers can produce.

  • You've been with Infracom! for two whole records now, they must be treating you rather good! My only complaint is that their U.S. presence is all but nonexistent, we really need to find a way to change all that!

    Yes, Infracom! is a really good and fair label. We told them several times to change their distribution ways in America and to find some partner-label that could be interested in licensing our albums, but nothing's happened so far. Maybe it is too difficult to get into the American market? We don't know. Infracom! changed their distributor in America last year and they say the sales have increased slightly. Maybe the best way would be to find a record company that likes our music and takes control of the American market and makes sure that everybody in the States that likes Hacienda is able to buy and listen to our music. We think our only distributor in the U.S. is K7 distribution. There is no record company that wants to license the current album "Third Door Left." It has been licensed to Japan and so we toured Japan in July, which was really an adventure.

  • You told me in email recently that you are doing remixing works and tracks with other artists? That must be why this interview is an issue late! Tell us about some of this outside work.

    Yes, we did a lot of remixing work this year for bands like Two Men Ahead, Billie Ray Martin, Vivid, Spike, Aromabar, Taxi, Phoneheads, Brown Smith And Grey and also we did some exclusive Hacienda tracks for some compilations here.

  • Plus, I was pretty excited to hear you have a "spliff-smoking side project" coming out in the near future?

    Oh yeah. That side project is a solo project from me and it is called Sanchez Mentiroso. It's a pseudonym-name. I collect a lot of ideas but there has been no time to produce a lot of tracks for this project yet. The music is a mixture of reggae, dub and a lot of electronics and samples like the "Sunday Afternoon" album from Hacienda. I hope to start producing all this when we finish our next album in April 2002.

  • It has been an honor to interview you for the third time in the magazine's existence. Is there anything else you want to add to the interview? I must say I am very honored to see my name in the liner notes of your last album.

    No problem. We think you are sympathetic and feel the music. We are planning to do a song with you on our next album. Could you speak something on a CD? Maybe some words about a thing that is on your mind? We make the music and you make the words. It should be spoken naturally. We think it's funny to make this try, the result is to be released on the next album!

    ROYAL HUNT. Interview with the vocalist .

  • Your newest album "The Mission" is rather a good album, athough in all fairness I have to say that there are many elements of the first album I heard from you, entitled "Fear," that pop up over and over again in this new record.

    Yeah, "Fear" was the first record that I sang on, but this is Royal Hunt's fifth studio album. I'm not really sure what to tell you about that, Andre writes most of the music; he wrote all of the music for "The Mission." So there are certain stylistic things that he does, that's sort of his sound and approach.

  • I'm not saying that this is a complete copycat of "Fear," don't get me wrong, but in the review I stated that maybe the key elements of Royal Hunt are so signature that when you hear a song out of the blue you can say, "Hey, that's a Royal Hunt song." Especially on 'World Wide War' you definitely hear influences of 'Faces Of War' from the "Fear" album.

    Yeah, some songs definitely do have that signature sound to it. He didn't use any of the keyboard sounds that he used for "Fear" however, and the guitar sound was completely different. I actually wrote a few songs on there, and one of them was 'World Wide War.' I think we got a fresh angle on this new one by having me write the lyrics, because Andre has been writing the last five albums pretty much by himself.

  • How did you tie it all in? I noticed of course there is a theme to the entire album, but I must admit I haven't read the book by Ray Bradbury. It is something I want to read eventually though.

    Andre and I spoke about the theme of the album and which chapters the song would sort of relate to, and get a general idea of what the song was going to be about. We just went from there.

  • 'Total Recall' struck me as an odd song, because I remember seeing the Armold Schwarzenegger movie and now I'm wondering, since the movie was a sci-fi theme, if it was somehow loosely based on the book.

    I have no idea about that one, but I did love that movie when it came out. I bet it was, but that's one of Andre's songs. It's one of my favorites.

  • The title track was heavy as well, it really stood out in my mind as one of the more dominant tracks. I thought it was a bit unusual that there were more instrumentals on this record, well, even though there were none on "Fear!"

    That was part of the concept of tying each song together with a short instrumental, to keep people from getting too bored in between lyrical songs. On "Fear," what they did was have like 5 minutes of musical interludes right in a song, and sometimes the hooks got lost.

  • Long songs don't bother me, especially if they are interesting enough to hold my interest. I gave that album a 100 despite that, the album really blew me away.

    There's a LOT of work that goes into those records when you think about it, both technically and musically. Nothing on those records is done by mistake. Everything's there for a reason. With "Fear," the first song has like 7 minutes of music before I even sing a note. Everyone was waiting for the new singer to come out, on the album, and I do the opening scream. Even in the first song I didn't really let it fly out until the end of the song. It was sort of a build up all the way through the album and then kind of bringing it down to the last song.

  • What's even stranger about "Fear" is the fact that there seems to be many different musical styles on each one of the songs, yet they all come together really nicely. Like you have a ballad type, then you have a more aggressive track like 'Faces Of War,' then a straight out rocking track like 'Cold City Lights.' It's amazing that different styles for the album all come together, and I think that's what stunned me more than anything else.

    That's what Royal Hunt is I think, having a bunch of different styles all blended into one, which gets put into the category of progressive metal or rock. There's a lot of different stuff going on even in one track. I'm using five or six vocal styles on a song, I'm doing R&B, metal, rock, blues, ballads, and it all ties together. But when you see it live it all comes across as really rocking. There's a lot of action on stage, everyone plays their ass off, and the songs come across very well live.

  • Royal Hunt hasn't played the States live yet have they?

    Not since I have been in the band. They did before I joined. Since I joined we had offers to play here but it always comes at a time when we're doing something else, like we'll be in the studio recording, and let's face it there's only so many opportunities to tour in the States for a band like us.

  • I know a lot of shows have cancelled due to the events going on in New York.

    Not only that, but the environment for our style of music is limited. There's only a few things that can come along, and it's usually been a case of timing. I have done tours before here in the States, but not with Royal Hunt.

  • Now I know you've been in other bands as well.

    I was in Badlands, I did Lynch Mob in 1998, their singer had quit on them and I did a kind of sub in for their tour, that was the last time I played in the States. What I'm thinking is that we should just create our own tour, as Royal Hunt, and take a couple of other bands on our level rather than wait for a good support slot, because that's really the only offers we've had so far. It would take some coordination to get three good bands out there, all on the same level but I think it's the way to go.

  • There's a progressive metal festival coming to Atlanta in November, maybe that kind of thing is where you should try for. There's bands like Kamelot, Symphony X, and Dan Swano's Nightingale coming over.

    Are these U.S. bands?

  • Well, Kamelot is from Florida, a couple of bands are coming from overseas, I'm not sure about Symphony X.

    Symphony X is from Jersey. It's a little easier if you can throw everything in a van and just drive it down. We have to fly everything in from Denmark, and get tickets for the whole crew and band are expensive; unless you have other shows built around that it's hard to go do a festival, a one off show like that.

  • Well, Jim Raggi from Lamentations Of The Flame Princess spent about 2 grand to fly Dan Swano down and the rest of his band members, and I'm assuming his equipment.

    That's pretty cheap if you think about it. You can imagine plane tickets, if there's five guys in the band to get them round trip, 500 is the absolute minimum for a ticket round trip. Usually those things are a combined effort between the promoter, the band, and the record labels. Most of the opening slots are paid for in this situation. If the band feels like the show is going to promote them then they'll bite the bullet and cough up some cash. For example, if you see a Judas Priest tour and there's an opening act, usually the opening act is paying to be there, whether the band is paying for it or the record label or the promoter.

  • I wanted to talk about the first U.S. deal you got with Majestic Entertainment. Majestic was supposed to be the Black Mark Records connection here in the States, and they haven't done a damn thing here since the "Fear" record came out. There was a new Nightingale record, a new Bathory record, tons of other Black Mark bands and I kept asking them when the new Black Mark stuff was coming out. Their promotion for "Fear" was shoddy, I feel like I was lucky to get the "Fear" record.

    I think they just fizzled out. We're on Century Media now, and they have given us a lot more press and bigger exposure. We're hoping this is good news for everyone. I think "Fear" was caught in between when the deals were signed, because they lost their singer and then when I came along they had all the music recorded and the deals were already in place. I think they just took what deal they had at the time. Majestic Entertainment is actually the management for Royal Hunt. For us it's a big step to get on Century Media because it also covers South America, and we've been neglected in both North America and South America since I've been in the band anyway. We do so well overseas because we get so much backing from the companies. They bring us there, we do the in stores, we meet the fans. There's a whole wall of our records and a poster up in the stores. Here it's like stores have one copy under the "R's."

  • ONE copy if you're lucky.

    Yeah, and it's buried under the "R's" section. Who goes flipping through the "R" section anyway? It's a business I guess. That's why we keep going back to the countries where we do good business. We try to fan out from there but you can't spend that much time in those areas because there's no money in it.

  • What do you think about services like Napster, well, Napster is pretty much gone now but there's services like Audiogalaxy and Imesh where you can still download full albums.

    I think it's fine if eventually people can get paid for their work. I was in Russia last year, we played in Moscow and I swear I never signed so many bootleg CD's in my life. That's like the whole country is surviving on bootlegs, it's so out of hand, and South America is like that too. You see your own album, and it's kinda like Pet Cemetary where you see the cat come back to life: it kinda looks like the cat but it stinks a little and it's not really the cat. The bootlegs are kinda obvious, the pictures are in different places, the colors are different. You can't really get mad at the fans because they bought it for two dollars, they still love you and love your music, hell they love you enough to come to the in store and have you sign it and they show up at your shows.

  • Some countries, especially poorer ones, hell take Russia for example: they didn't really have a metal label until Metal Agen came around, and it was a tough market for metal music, but the fans wanted to hear this stuff. I know even in South America, there's TONS of metal fans, they are down there in droves. So yeah, maybe some of your fans in these countries have a bootleg CD, but here they are, by the hundreds or the thousands, and they all paid like 20 bucks to get into the show to see you play.

    At the very least you can say the music is being listened to. And that's really why we did it in the first place, because we love music and hope that the people love what we do. It's not the worst thing I can think of that could happen.

    SIGH. Interview with Mirai Kawashima.

    If you know about this Japanese band, then you know they have a cult following all over the world. What you may NOT know is just how close this band was to MANY members of the Norweigan black metal scene in the early 90's. Mirai knew all the players, and besides being THE most innovative and original black metal band around (and has been since the early 90's), he has great stories to tell that are only just now being realized about a scene that was so shrouded in mystique and controversy.

  • I hate to actually admit this, because I love the new album a lot, but when I got "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams," I didn't really like it. I think it was the vocal work, it sounds different this time around.

    Well, I do not have any intentions to change my vocal style. I do think that "Dream Dreams" might be the weakest release we have done, and there are several reasons for this. We had a lot of trouble with Cacophonous Records. The sound was too clean to me, I don't say it is a bad sound, but it wasn't powerful enough in my opinion. This time we used a new studio that was owned by a Japanese stoner/doom metal band, and he knew how to get the heavy sounds we wanted.

  • When you say a Japanese stoner rock band, are you referring to Eternal Elysium? I know there are a few great bands coming out of Japan these days, like Elysium and Church Of Misery especially I really dig a lot.

    Eternal Elysium's vocalist is running that studio now, and they're a great band. Church Of Misery are good friends of ours. Very heavy band. Japan has quite a few metal bands, playing death or black metal, but most of them are just content copying Western bands and it's quite difficult for them, I think, to get a record deal.

  • What actually happened with Cacophonous? It was amazing that for such a small label you still managed to gain a worldwide cult following. I know they have been a part of your career for quite a while now.

    When we were with them, so many people told me they couldn't find our CD's at the local CD store. Cacophonous had really bad distribution, so they didn't do almost anything to promote the album. When we did "Hail Horror Hail" in 1997, we tried to escape the label, and Century Media was actually interested in us back then. We tried singing with Century Media back then but unfortunately we had a contract for three full length albums with Cacophonous and they said they would sue us if we signed to Century Media. We came to the conclusion that doing another album with Cacophonous and trying to leave peacefully and legally would be much faster and easier than trying to fight them in the courts. Cacophonous went bankrupt after "Dread Dreams," but it seems they are still involved with something nowadays.

  • I wanted to go back to your first album, I was just reading in the bio that your first album actually came out on Voices Of Wonder instead of Eronymous' label Deathlike Silence. You've been doing this avantgarde style of blackmetal ever since your inception in the early 90's, and I'm sure you were pretty shaken up over Eronymous' death.

    I often spoke with Eronymous over the phone, in fact three days before his murder I spoke to him. A week later I got a letter from Samoth of Emperor saying he was murdered. It was really shocking because I had just talked to him days before! He was a very interesting person, and he was full of ideas. I always adored his work.

  • What's so surprising is how you came to be known in a scene that was secretive and seemingly off limits. Just the fact that American journalists were not usually able to interview these bands, plus the fact that the scene was so limited to the area in which it grew up from, it makes me ask just how in the world you were actually able to get in touch with Euronymous in the first place!

    We actually sent our demo tape to Dead, who was the ex-vocalist of Mayhem. But it was Eronymous who wrote back to me because Dead killed himself. Eronymous wrote me and told me that Dead had killed himself, so he said he was the one that would be writing me. He happened to like our style, because in the early 90's, so many people were dismayed about grinding death metal, which had become trendy, but there were still some bands interested in doing 80's type of stuff like we were doing. Eronymous always liked the thrash metal of the 80's and I think that's why he was interested in signing us.

  • Were you close to other black metal bands? I know you mentioned Mayhem a lot, I wasn't sure if your dealings with the whole scene were limited to a few bands.

    We used to be in touch with lots of Norweigan bands, I was talking to Burzum, Enslaved and stuff. Older bands in the early 90's knew each other, and all the bands were in touch with each other. At first there were probably like only 10 black metal bands in the world, but a little later there were more. Everyone was quite cooperative and supportive of each other. I didn't really know any true evil, dark and misanthropic people in the scene in the beginning, because everyone was very friendly and things were really great.

  • So how much did you know about the infamy that surrounded the whole black metal scene? I have received conflicting reports; in major press and magazines over here, it's been reported that this whole scene is involved in church burnings and rather crazed incidents, whereas according to a Therion interview I did, all of that was just hype started by one or two member of the "Black Metal Syndicate" trying to gain some press and notoriety.

    Because I live in Japan, I couldn't tell if what they were saying is true or not. When I got the mail from Grishnack, he told me that he burned another church or something, and during a phone conversation with Eronymous, I was told that the phone was being tapped. It's not something that's easy to believe, but now I know that much of that which happened really was true.

  • I never got to hear the first album, but I assume you were doing a mixture of thrash and black metal music?

    It had some synthesizers in it, but it's more straightforward and primitive than the stuff we are doing today.

  • I have told people that Sigh sounds like if The Beatles had played black metal back in the 60's. What really amazed me, and I think you hear this in full force on the song 'A Sunset Song,' was when the Hammond organ kicked in! The only other band I know who can pull out a Hammond Organ and just jam with it is Hacienda, but you guys definitely pulled out the vintage 60's and 70's style equipment.

    This time I wanted to add the feeling that some 60's and 70's rock bands. Many of the bands of this era were very ambitious and they were always trying to take various styles of music, like Indian music and Irish, whatever. These bands were very ambitious musically and always took advantage of the latest state of the art technology, mostly in the synthesizers that came out in that period. There are lots of things in common with us that were common in bands from that time. I wanted to create something spacey and psychedelic in our music.

  • I did notice a sort of Middle Eastern influence you guys threw in on one of your songs.

    Yeah, there is some Middle Eastern music, like from India. It's hard to explain in English, but it's not real Indian music, it's a feeling. The Beatles played Indian music in the 60's too but it wasn't real Indian music, it was more like their interpretation of it, like their image of India.

  • If this performance goes live, will you be using synthesizers to emulate like the Hammond organ and what not? I know if you're up on stage it might be difficult to actually bring all that vintage equipment with you and still have room for yourselves. Plus, I know that nowadays synthesizers can emulate just about any instrument there is, including guitars.

    I use a digital Hammond organ, it's sort of like emulation. For other instruments, like the Minimoog and the Fender Rhodes, I use the actual instruments.

  • I'm really curious to the lyrical stances of some of the songs, because even though there are psychedelic overtones and influences, the song titles seem to be in line with what normal metal lyrics would be.

    Most of my lyrics are based on my personal views of life and death. These days I'm writing about the horror which lurks in our daily lives, because this is sometimes much scarier than, say, someone writing about zombies or occult topics. Some of the lyrics on the new album are talking about the fear of death, and sometimes the fear of getting old, the fear of losing someone you love, etc. You can't avoid getting old, unless you die young, and I'm going to lose the ability to play in a band and my voice when I get 60 or 70 or so. I feel lucky too that I'm alive on a day to day basis. When you watch TV and watch details of a person who gets murdered, you might think that the victim was someone special, but he or she is probably not. There's a possibility that you could be a victim today, hell you could die in a car accident tomorrow! The third track on the album, 'Nietzschean Conspiracy,' was written by Baard Faust, an ex Emperor member. I got an email from him last year, he told me he was writing the lyrics for Samoth's band Zyklon.

  • The twanging country guitars from "Dread Dreams" really unnerved me but I do wonder, with all the different styles of music you've used in the past, is there anything else that might turn up on a future release? I'm sure you probably will leave out the rap influence though (hopefully)

    It's very hard to tell about the next record, but at the moment I'm thinking about making the next record sound more ethnic, and more exotic. Maybe it will be more drugged out, with lots of echoes and delays, definitely more psychedelic stuff. I can't promise anything because I usually change my mind so easily, but at the moment that's what I'm thinking of.

  • I wanted to wrap this up by jumping topic a little bit, are you a big baseball fan?

    I'm sorry but I don't follow the sport, though I do know a little bit about it.

  • Well, I'm a huge Atlanta Braves fan, and I've been hearing a lot of stuff about Ichiro (the Japanese baseball player that signed to the Seattle Mariners)

    He's a very famous Japanese baseball player here. Is he popular in the U.S.?

  • He's extremely popular here, this guy has been phenomenal. It's been a big focus of American press here.

    Really? In Japan it is reported that he is very popular in the U.S. But you know, everything in the newspapers and on radio is excess rated so I was not sure if it was true.

  • No, believe it, believe it definitely. The team that bought him right now (at this writing about three weeks before the postseason ended) is being considered one of the best teams in about 50 or 60 years, and they have done so well. Ichiro played in the Allstar game and is probably going to win not only Rookie of the Year but also MVP of the year. The thing that surprises me is we would have American ballplayers that would get sent to the Japanese leagues and that would be considered like a death sentence for them, Americans said that the Japanese couldn't play baseball, but the American players would come back and tell everyone that those Japanese leagues are very tough. Now everyone seems to want to pool talent from Japan for their own ballclub, especially after the success of Ichiro and Sasaki.

    Now many Japanese baseball players are eager to play the major leagues in the U.S. The Japanese baseball players always get paid big money over here.

  • And Seattle paid so much money just to get the rights to sign the players, and they took a huge gamble on that and could have easily lost. So for them to say for like a million dollars or so you will be able to get the rights just to negotiate contracts with these players, not to sign them YET, which could easily run into more millions of dollars. The gamble Seattle took was a very steep one but it has paid off.

    SOLACE. Interview with Tommy.

    From what I have been able to surmise so far, if it's on Meteor City, you can bet it kicks some serious ass. First Abdullah came and blew me away, not only getting a damn near 100 (which it should have been a 100) but also making the top five "Best of" list for 2000. Then along comes Solace, who ALSO graces the top 10 list of "Best of..." and you know it would be a damn shame if I didn't at least make an attempt to interview them. Tommy is about as open minded as they come when it gets right down to music, and a collector to boot. We had a very long conversation, much of which sadly went down while my tape had run out of room. One of the best and brightest in the stoner rock genre, if you still feel comfortable calling it that.

  • I am hearing you are recording another Solace album?

    Actually, we just got finished tracking all the instruments. We were in the studio October 15th, 16th and 17th, and tracked out ALL the music. We're just waiting for our singer Jason, who has a little bit of writing to do lyrically. We're gonna get him in the studio as soon as possible, and hopefully we will have this thing out in early 2002. You gotta mention this, we actually got Wino to be on our next record! Yeah, he flew in here and we had him do some stuff, we got him to do a guitar part and some vocals. To show you how great this guy is, we found out he just did some vocal work, that guy from the Foo Fighters is doing a record with a bunch of musicians, he even had the guy from Voivod on there, and he paid Wino to do this guest spot. So we told Wino when he came down that we couldn't afford to pay him anything to be on the record, and Wino said, "Even if you offered to pay me, I wouldn't take your money dude." I mean, he took a plane here to where we were recording! I wanted to at least give him a little bit of cash to get something to eat, maybe catch a return flight, and Wino just said, "dude, put your money away man, I can't take your money."

  • That just goes to show how cool he was, I remember when I met him at a Spirit Caravan show in Spartanburg, he let us videotape his show, he even let us hang out backstage before the show, and they had bought chinese food to eat, asking us if we wanted some! He even asked us when we wanted to do the interview, and had no problems talking about his days in The Obsessed. He's a phenomenal person, and it was an extreme pleasure for me all the way around.
    Speaking of your last record, it was definitely killer. Is that a good practice for you guys, to do the lyrics and vocals last? Was the first album written that way?

    It's a wierd situation for us, basically the band works most of the stuff out beforehand, and then we give the music to Jason and he does his thing. Then it comes back to us and we might retool or rework it. It's not like most bands that work everything out at the same time, we just give everything to him and then he lets us know how it should go.

  • So I would assume that you write the music yourself?

    I write about 95 percent of it, but hey, all input is welcome. It's not an authoritarian thing where like, I write the music and you guys just follow along. It just so happens that this is the way it works out. Everybody has equal say in how it goes, whether things are added or subtracted. It's a democracy around here, really, but it just happens this way more often that not.

  • Some people would say that's a good thing, because when you have too many people involved in the writing process, you'd spend all day arguing and disagreeing on stuff and hell, you'd never get a record written!

    That's true, because before I was in Solace I was in a band called Flatrocket. And it was with Chris and Keith from the Atomic Bitchwax and Shane from Nudeswirl. Basically everybody was a writer, and we'd literally spend a week going "I think we should add this, and let's do this," and this little three minute song would end up being an eight minute, off the wall tune with like 800 changes. It got so crazy that we couldn't even remember how the song went by the time we were finished! Needless to say we didn't last very long, it was more like a battle of wills. We had interesting shows to say the least.

  • Well this is odd, and now I have to ask you, because there's some long songs on "Further" too! Of course, there's not 500,000 chord changes crammed into three minutes.

    I've never met a riff I didn't like to beat to death. We don't consciously set out to do that, and before we go into the studio we don't time songs out or anything. We would be in the studio with 2 inch tape, worried about how much time, and the engineer is like "What's the next song, how long is it," and I'd go "hell, I dunno, we'll know when we get it all down," maybe it's 4 minutes long. Then we'd get done and the engineer goes, "What are you crazy, that thing is eight minutes long!"

  • I know that this record is not like most I've heard in the stoner rock genre, and I know there's been a few bands I've said that about lately, most notably Abdullah...

    Which I think, by the way, are completely fantastic.

  • Those guys have blown me completely away. When I got the "Snake Lore" demo, there were a couple of songs I wasn't completely impressed with, but their full length was simply astounding. I should have given it a 100.

    A lot of stoner rock bands, to me, they just wear their complete influences on their sleeve, they mimick their influences instead of trying to incorporate their influences and mold them together. I mean, we don't just listen to stoner rock, we listen to everything from 70's riff rock to thrash metal, punk rock, and we try to incorporate all those kinds of influences and mesh it into one thing.

  • That's what I try to do, I mean since day one practically I have been covering more than just metal, there's techno, industrial, gothic, and even punk and hardcore.

    I hear ya man, I've been reading your magazine for awhile.

  • What really surprises me about this album is there's this really mellow passage coming on in the song 'Followed,' and I'm floating along with it, then all of a sudden out of nowhere it's like Biohazard jumped in there or something! And it's making it so much heavier, and most stoner rock bands don't take that style of music to that level, most of them are content to just keep it mellow, keep the stoned vibe going. The heaviness of the song just slams into you suddenly.

    That's the effect that we're going for. We like the aspect of dynamics in music as opposed to having everything hitting you over the head with a sledgehammer or having everything lulling you to sleep. We like twisting that form and not knowing what comes around the bend. We'll start it off one way, and wind up going in a different direction. You'll never know when you hear one of our songs what's going to be coming up next. A little surprise here and there is good.

  • Do you know anything about what some of the lyrics are talking about?

    One of the things you'll notice, if you look at the record, there's only like 4 songs that have lyrics...

  • Yeah, that was something I was going to ask you about...

    He writes from his heart, all of his stuff is very introspective and personal to him. So basically, that's why we write the way we do. We do our thing, and he does his thing, and the end result is Solace. Jason's VERY protective of his lyrics. Just to get the lyrics that are actually printed on the CD was a big struggle. He really didn't want anything in there which is why there's only 4 songs with printed lyrics. His ideology was that he wanted the lyrics to be left up to people's interpretations. Obviously when something's written down and you read it, it's just sitting there on a piece of paper, and it doesn't speak to you the way it does when you hear it, you can interpret it in different ways as opposed to reading the words.

  • There's a really cool sample you used on the song 'Suspicious Tower,' it's a dialogue about the difference between men and machines. Where the hell did you get that sample?

    Ha ha. You know, about 50 people have asked me that already. To be honest with you, I do a lot of garage sales and thrift shops. I was in a Salvation Army here in Asbury Park, and I would always buy these kooky old tapes, and I walked into this store one day and there was a bunch of tapes in a box, they wanted like 2 bucks for the whole box. So I took them all home, the tapes were all hand written on, there was all this wacky stuff, it looked like old D.J. stuff from a college station, some old demos and stuff. One tape had some wierd sound clips and they were strung together with some wierd organ music. I was thinking how cool this was, but I have no idea where this was from.

  • It sounds like it came from a science fiction movie or something!

    It might be from a Twilight Zone movie or something.

  • I know where you might be able to find out, believe it or not there is a sampling list on the internet. They have this humongous database, and it's every sample pulled from every song they can get their hands on. And they tell you what movie and what record it came from. Are you familiar with Velvet Acid Christ?


  • Well, you know they have samples all throughout their songs, and I went to this site and sure enough, over like 5 albums, they had EVERY V.A.C. song cataloged, what samples they were using, how the sample goes and what damn movie it came from, and in some cases what actor spoke the lines!

    That's amazing. Did they have anything on there from Buzzoven?

  • I didn't see anything, but this list is so huge, you had to search either by artist name or by the sample!

    That's pretty crazy!

  • That's how things have gotten these days, if there's anything in this world that you're into, it's on the internet somewhere, you just gotta look for it. Except for bands like Axe Witch, which of course the only info you are going to find is on my site. (shameless plug. It evokes much laughter though).
    Okay, now I gotta ask this question of you, it seems like every time I get into a new stoner rock band, hell, are all you fuckers from New Jersey or something?

    Ha ha! Jersey, the area we come from, is a cool little spot that has cool bars that allow local, live and original music. You go to places like that around the country and you'll find cover bands, D.J.'s and dance music, all that stuff but around here, I've been playing in heavy bands for a long time. It comes in circles, and there's been a core group of people that have been here since day one; you know the guys in Solarized, and of course Monster Magnet has done their thing. There's always been good heavy bands from Jersey. I was actually in a band called Godspeed back in the day, and we did tours with Black Sabbath, then there was Nudeswirl, and Daisy Cutter were the guys in Solarized before they called themselves Solarized. There's this cool little bar called the Brighton Bar where everybody congregates and there's always been a happening, fresh, original music scene. Everyone here has cut their teeth on the heavy, Black Sabbath type of rock.

  • I just got the Scene Killers project, where Jason did a few songs, and there's two songs Jason is singing on. 'Pit Of Your Soul' I really liked, but I hate to admit I didn't like that last song he sang on, I don't know if it was because the instrumentation in the background, I think it's the wierd electronic effects used on his voice.

    That's actually his other band, that last song. The 'Pit Of The Soul' song, I don't know if you know it or not, but that's MY side project Rot Gut. I have an alias, I'm the bad guy on that.

  • I guess Steve needs to read his liner notes better. Now I did remember there were a couple of Drag Pack tunes there, and of course everyone knows that the big sell is supposed to be the fact that there's Monster Magnet members on there. Meteor City, by the way, has been amazingly consistent these days. I'll never forget that first package I got, it had the Abdullah full length, Eternal Elysium, and your first record in there.

    I think that's just Jadd's love of heavy music, which really shows through. He's not trying to cash in and ride some scene or something, the dude obviously digs this stuff and he loves these bands. I think I was the one who told him to send you some stuff, I was on your web site and I was reading a ton of your reviews and I said "This guy knows his stuff." So I told Jadd, I said you gotta send this guy some stuff, send him our new record, and I guess he put you on his mailing list.

  • You talked about being into 70's rock, what sort of bands from that era do you like? I know the 70's is more known for disco and crap music, but there were some standout bands like Hawkwind that came about.

    I'm always on the prowl for old, obscure 70's stuff. I'm a semi serious record collector, I picked up the first Gun record, Truth and Janie, Buffalo, I just made a bunch of purchases on Ebay. It's stuff that's getting rarer every day. It's crazy though because if you go searching for old 60's and 70's psychedelic rock, some of those records are going for hundreds and hundreds of dollars! I'm in the ten to fifteen dollar range!

  • That's a funny thing, I was on Ebay myself looking for some rare and out of print metal myself, and I saw a vinyl version of Dungeon's "Fortress Of Rock" that someone wanted 60 bucks for! So I went searching and I found a guy in Italy through a web search that had this album on his list, and I emailed him asking if he could CDRom burn this for me. That's how the Dungeon album ended up on my classic albums section. I utilized Cool Edit to clean up any scratches and pops from the vinyl; that's what's so amazing about technology these days, you can use software and make even the scratchiest records sound like CD quality. You could never even tell that this recording came from vinyl. What's so funny is these people that are wanting to buy some of this stuff, they have no idea if they'll even like the record when they get it, heck for all we know they may never even play the record once!

    I was on Ebay looking for Hellhammer's first album. It's a damn three song EP and it's going for 38 bucks! I was like, you're kidding me, this is too much money for a stupid record.

  • And it's been repressed on CD too!

    Yeah I know! I'm like the king of dollar records. Where I live there's a few cool little record stores. And there's the Salvation Army, which every once in awhile you get some good scores. It's cool to walk in there and you see like a Sir Lord Baltimore or a Captain Beyond record for 99 cents and you go, "Oh, yeah!"

  • The thing about stuff like that is it's all in the eye of the beholder. Somebody who just wants to hear the music, they're not going to care if they get it on CDRom or on vinyl. My whole thing is, I have stuff that has been burned to CD from other people's vinyl, but hell, you can't go out and buy this stuff, and a collector is not going to get rid of it for anything less than an exorbitant price. That's what so great about the internet, it makes this stuff more obtainable, and it shrinks the world down to a more accessible size for you. I mean, there's so many bands all over the world, that's why I started the magazine, because other than magazines and press and demo tapes, who the hell is going to hear these bands? There's much more than metal out there. There's so many other bands that 99 percent of the U.S. population will never hear.

    I'm with you one hundred percent. These bands need all the exposure they can get, and we need more people that can spread the word. I wish more people would expand their minds to other music, to me it doesn't make any sense to get stuck in a rut and only listen to thrash metal, or only listen to punk. There's so much more stuff out there it boggles my mind that you wouldn't try to absorb as much of it as you can. As you age a little bit you find things out on your own and you tend to open your mind a bit.

    SNOG. Interview with David Thrussel at the Riviera show in Atlanta.

    One of Australia's best industrial bands is still around, for those of you who missed out on Snog's first ever U.S. tour (and yes, we have the video footage from such a rare and momentous occasion, we have been waiting for roughly 5 years and three albums now). We did an interview with David all the way back in issue #20, back when "Buy Me I'll Change Your Life" just came out, and we decided that this was a band worth doing a second interview with. So enjoy. Things aren't as wacky as they were in the first interview, but more insight to their "Dear Valued Customer" is gained, as well as a few other things.

  • It's been awhile since we heard from you, the last record we got was "Third Mall From The Sun." I'm wondering if you have any upcoming album plans?

    I think "Third Mall.." is our best album yet. I like "Buy Me, I'll Change Your Life" (the album before that - Ed.) too, and we also did an album of remixes recently. We're halfway through the new album and maybe in the middle of next year it should be out. I can't tell you any details about it, but we do have a lot of songs written. We've got to go back to Australia to work on it. Right now we already have 27 songs written.

  • The last time I interviewed you we talked about about M.A.C.O.S., the Musicians Against Copyrighting Of Samples, and we talked about the creation and ideas behind "Buy me I'll Change Your Life." I wanted to go back and talk about "Dear Valued Customer" a bit more, because at the time when I interviewed you I wasn't extremely familiar with it. With the upcoming show though I had been playing the CD a lot, it's been a favorite of mine. A song like 'Skinhead' caught my ear recently, and I'm wondering what skinheads in Australia are like!

    You know, it's always hard to judge people by the way they look or what clothes they wear. You can make some rough approximations some of the time. It's not really a song about what group or social tribe they belong to, it's more about the mental landscape of some people. And in a way it's quite a lighthearted song, it's not meant to be a serious treatise or analysis of those sort of ideas and things. It's satirical.

  • Well, in the song, when you say "I'd rather be dead than red," did you refer to rednecks? (evokes strong laughter from both sides).

    Ha ha! No, the idea was to turn around this phrase "I'd rather be dead than red." It's sort of a McCarthyist era, communist "red scare" type of idea. I was just making a bit of fun with it, I'm not that in fear of communism, but I'm also not really in fear of capitalism either. They both have major pitfalls though. I'm not a great fan of either of these systems.

  • And that's a theme that you've worked all throughout "Dear Valued Customer." You say it's lighthearted but I noticed that "Dear Valued Customer" had some of the strongest "attacks," even in a lighthearted way, than some of the newer albums did. You even went so far as to attack Christianity in the song 'Hey Christian God,' which of course has been a very common theme in not only industrial, but in black metal as well.

    Probably a bit too common if you ask me. Really the idea of "Hey Christian God" was sort of an attack on Christmas. I'm not so fussed about people's individual beliefs or belief systems, or faiths. In a way it's not my business what people believe. I just find this whole Christmas thing very offensive, this mass marketing of faith as just another marketing tool. It's a most depressing time of year. I had to do a little bit of attacking of Christianity any because I couldn't help myself. (see issue #20 for more details - Ed.) Some of the songs on "Dear Valued Customer" are more obvious, so I don't know if I'd agree with your assessment of newer albums not being as biting as "Dear Valued..." Like "Third Mall From The Sun" was a bit of a political record, but some people have different definitions of what is political or what is hardcore politics. "Third Mall" is probably our most political based. I think the other records have, well I wouldn't say subtle, but there are other attacks.

  • 'Langley, Virginia.' I was always curious about how you pinpointed a small town I have never even heard of myself as a song title.

    That is where the headquarters of the C.I.A. is. I wanted to see it blown up, so to speak, give them a bit of their own medicine. I know many people around the world are not as kind to them either, I'm sure they'd love to see someone return the Karmic favor.

  • I never realized that the C.I.A. had such a far reaching effect around the world, from a U.S. standpoint. I know... (He cuts me off before I can mention that I was aware of their involvement in the Bay Of Pigs operation in Cuba to overthrow Castro.)

    The C.I.A. caused a coup in Australia about 25 years ago, in 1975. This was a few years after they violently caused the removal of the government of Chile. At the time I had a name for the C.I.A., I called them Capitalism's Invisible Army, because they always seemed to, perhaps "accidentally," seem to do what was best for big business.

  • Well, the only thing I remember the C.I.A. being involved in was the Bay Of Pigs operation.

    Ah, they've had a long and glorious history before and after that.

  • I guess I need to go back and do some studying then.

    Let's see there's a book called "The C.I.A.'s Forgotten Wars." It's really good. I saw another little book you can get, it's called "The C.I.A.'s Greatest Hits."

  • Ha, ha! I love the title on that one!

    Let's see I saw it in a bookstore yesterday. Where did I see it, oh yeah, it was a in bookstore in Little Five Points.

  • Wow, I know where that is. Right here in Atlanta. It's funny to think about Castro, he's actually outlasted what is it now 10 U.S. presidents? He's still down there doing his thing, ever defiant in the face of the U.S. I wonder what's going to happen to him in the future?

    That's quite ironic isn't it. Good for him I say, that's actually a really valiant effort. He's a hero, I think. Well, he's an old man he's going to die soon. The talk is always that his brother Ralf will fill his shoes, but he's quite up there in years too. So I'm not sure, but it will be a tense period of time.

  • Now I saw on the web site that you were doing TWO U.S. dates here, with Atlanta of course being one of them. But apparently you did a string of shows out West or something?

    Yeah, after the New York show, we headed out West, to San Fransisco, Portland, Seattle, L.A., Tampa and then here. The response was great, full houses all the way.

  • There's an industrial scene here in Atlanta, but the live music scene isn't as good, there's quite a bit of clubs spinning music in the area though. Metropolis seems to be the last American label that's doing anything with industrial music here so I don't know if industrial is a dying scene.

    That's not strictly true I guess, but I am rather happy that they seem to have cornered the market.

  • Well, like Re-Constriction Records is gone, Wax Trax doesn't seem to do anything anymore, and KMFDM resigned to Metropolis! I always thought it would be MDFMK, but I guess Sascha and company decided to bring KMFDM back.

    I guess a lot of the industrial music never had much top 40 potential. Lots of American charts are dominated by top 40 hits. I think Snog music is kinda pop oriented, the newer stuff especially, it's MY vision of top 40. It's hard to get radio play for songs like this, your chances of seeing MTV play are almost nil. If our music is acceptable to people that's great, if it's not accessible to people that's just life. We make the music we want to make.

  • I know as far as Australia is concerned, most of the bands I knew from the music scene down there were mostly metal, like Armoured Angel, Alchemist, and Hobbs Angel Of Death. The only industrial or electronic bands I know of are you and Ikon, who are also signed to Metropolis.

    There's been more signings that are not as mainstream, you can talk about Severed Heads, about SPK. Australia is on the other side of the world, and it's quite a ways away. I've known some of these bands, but I didn't think they were very well known here. I remember Hobbs Angel Of Death. I didn't know people knew of them here at all.

  • So the lineup you have with you tonight, is this the same lineup that appeared on your last couple of records?

    We have a lot of people appear on our records, the last couple of records we've had like 10 people play on them. It varies, but we can't bring everyone with us to play live, generally they have other things going on in their lives.


    Not too much to say this time around. Each issue seems to speak for itself I suppose. We're going to try and go back to earlier issues and bring them up to speed a bit. Mainly I want to put the interviews and reviews in alphabetical order, so it will make things easier to follow. I wanted to somewhat keep the flavor of how I did things in the past, but I realized that some people that are following a link froma search engine to a specific review might have trouble finding what they are looking for. It's all in the interest of space man.

    On a personal note, I'd like to take a moment to remember the tragedy that happened to our nation on September 11th. I don't think any of us will forget the terror that those bastards brought to our home, our land of peace and security. I have no doubt that we will get the job done and bring to justice those responsible, and hopefully prevent the senseless destruction of our property and our people. I know religion is responsible for much evil in the world, but now it seems WE are looked upon as the evil ones. Who can really say who has the better sense of judgement? Regardless of a person's religion, race, creed or national origin, there is NO sense in needless killing of anyone. This world has truly gotten out of hand, I think...

    Anyway, I'll end things here. I hope to see all of you around for another 11 years or so, I never thought a project I started this long ago would still survive. I think the magazine has taken on a life of it's own, despite the multitude of times that I thought I just couldn't continue on. Until next issue, remember to keep an open mind about music, and support your local music scene, if there is one.

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