VIBRATIONS OF DOOM
30 Issues! Took us roughly 12 years to get here, but here we are! As many of
you may know by now, and due to popular demand, we have encoded ALL the sound
files for our review CD's in RealAudio 5.0. Plus, for those in the media, we
are working on an alphabetized list of every band that we have either reviewed
or interviewed, so you'll know right where to go when you need tear sheets and
press kits for your bands.
Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963 USA
We've got lots of changes in store, so hopefully we can keep things interesting
BEHEMOTH "Thelema 6" (Olympic) SCORE: 86/100
"Satanica," the last Behemoth record I was able to hear, absolutely blew me out
of the water. I have recently gone back to listen to it again, and it still
manages to amaze me. This time around, the Polish obliteration crew have gotten
a bit more, shall I say, technical. Not always a good thing for a band this
brutal, but the intricacies of the higher end guitar work comes out in many
tracks, though they don't always sound great. However, be that as it may, the
first four songs start this CD off with a bang, picking right up where they
left off on the last album. 'Antichristian Phenomenon' shows us all, as track
1, what Behemoth is made of. Vicious screams, guitar work that's fast and
furious as hell, and lyrics that are very insightful and rather philosophical.
Nergal gives full lyrics this time and explains the meaning behind each song.
'The Act Of Rebellion' is easily one of my favorites, such a whirlwind of
destruction can only come from Behemoth! 'Pan Satyros' shows Behemoth in a new
light, namely that their viciousness is just as devastating SLOW, yes that's
right, they slow down the instrumentation here. From track 5 on, though, many
of the similar speedier structures are repeated, though as I said, on a tune
like 'In The Garden Of Dispersion' they can slow things down and still achieve
the desired effect. I was quite surprised to even hear a short acoustic passage
midway through 'Natural Born Philospopher!' There are 4 bonus tracks for the
U.S. release, and the best one here is their Sarcofago cover (which,
incidentally, is misnamed on the back CD cover). Those lower effected vocals
are truly evil to behold! (More info on that in the accompanying interview).
The Bowie cover 'Hello Spaceboy' was very weak though, and I did find the
choruses on 'Christians To The Lions' and 'Inaguration Of Scorpio Dome' a bit
weak, but overall this should definitely satisfy any rabid Behemoth fan.
Wouldn't you rather see Behemoth on the Marduk tour in the States than Diabolic
Contact: Olympic Records.
BENEDICTION "Organized Chaos" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 95/100
One of the last few CD's I got from Nuclear Blast that weren't chopped to bits,
this band's latest release really impressed the hell outta me. This time around
I think they have finally shaken off the Napalm Death comparisons which they
have been unfortunately plagued with their whole career. Their choice of
vocalist this time around displays a rather angry hardcore style, however he
does prove he can dip into some low end death metal vocals (witness this on
'Charon,' unfortunately he doesn't utilize this too often!) but overall this
has a thrashy, death metal meets hardcore flavor that really kicks ass! Only
one track didn't work very well, it was 'Easy Way To Die,' starts out with
some acoustic guitars and is a very slow track. It never goes anywhere and the
vocal delivery doesn't work here. The guitar work is quite thrashy and there
are plenty of rapid fire, choppy riffs at times, not unlike Obituary's faster
playing. In fact, I coulda sworn that 'Don't Look In The Mirror' was actually
Obituary's 'Slowly We Rot.' Some of their slower moments get extremely heavy,
like on 'I Am The Disease,' where he does some really guttural vocal effects.
I think they're electronically enhanced, and they work great. Such an evil
aura throughout this 6 minute song! Some of their tracks do exceed the 5 minute
length, but this is really no problem. Just check out 'Nothing On The Inside'
and their shorter numbers (little over 2 minutes) like 'The Temple Of Set' and
'Charon,' and 'Diary Of A Killer' has some interesting lyrics. All in all I was
very impressed with a band I haven't paid much attention to before, even though
I have "Grind Bastards" around here somewhere.
Contact: Nuclear Blast America.
BOLT THROWER "Honour-Valor-Pride" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 98/100
I was very excited when it was announced that Bolt Thrower was signing with
Metal Blade. This is simply a fantastic album, and proves that there is no
such thing as a bad Bolt Thrower album. When I first listened to it I was
caught off guard by the vocals, they picked up longtime Benediction front man
Gavin Ward, and I must say that his vocal style really fits. Bolt Thrower does
it well both fast and slow, and never gets too chaotic or out of control. Very
tight and technical death metal, oozing with class and some vicious guitar
work. And yes, metal babe Jo Bench is still in the band! 'Contact-Wait Out'
starts things off with a bang, and there's some really heavy guitar work in
here. The lead solos are what impressed me the most, as they are exceptionally
well done, and not typical 5,000 notes a second, show off like Yngwie would
do. I didn't really dig some of the faster guitar riffs on 'Valour,' but it's
really a minor point or two off. There's some viciously evil slow riffs going
on the track 'Suspect Hostile,' and it all flows together really well, is
tremendously varied from song to song, and there's not much more you really
need to know.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
BRAINDANCE "Redemption" (Progressive Darkwave) SCORE: 71/100
This band has one of the most exhaustive campaigning trails I have ever seen.
It seems like I got a new email every other week from this band, and they seem
to have had every magazine known to man on their email list. Though this disc
suffers from some mediocrity, it's not hard to see what all the buzz was about.
This band comes off like a more electronic form of Danzig meets Type O Negative
type of metal, being much more effective in the industrial department than old
'Zig ever could. The first 4 tunes are indicative of the creative genius of
this band. 'Refraction' starts this off and asks the question: Is it gothic?
gothic metal? electro-gothic-metal? Whatever. The vocal work definitely
stands out; though this guy can dip quite low, he never ends up sounding like
a clone of Type O's Steel, and whether his vocals are electronically enhanced
or not, one cannot say. And yes, there are guitars here too. Electronics play a
rather large part in track 2 'Resurrection.' They definitely know how to
combine catchy melody with sonic "metal" heaviness. After track 4, things start
to slide downhill a bit. 'Relentless' has some catchy choruses, but they do the
silly opening train noises and the lyrical framework was not as good as the
concepts they portray on the other tracks. Then there is a three minute track
of nothing but movie and T.V. samples thrown together in an interesting way,
but I don't think you'll want to hear it more than a few times. And why did
they think we wanted to hear a remix of 'Relentless?' It's not really a true
remix anyway, they just threw some extra samples in the song, it still has
the same lyrics and vocal patterns. Track nine is an instrumental that seems to
go nowhere, and 'Reflexion' had nice horror movie styled organs and good heavy
guitar work, but the songs was just slightly above average. However, the finest
feather in this band's cap is 'Redemption' which would have been the BEST track
on Type O's "October Rust" album had THEY recorded it instead. Great moods,
fantastic vocal work and amazing instrumentation, words cannot do this song
justice and you KNOW it's been digitized for ya. Though there aren't very many
"terrible" songs, this CD falls just short of the potential that blazes through
little over half this disc. I'm probably being just a bit too generous by the
71 score, considering that anything 75 and up is a keeper. Regardless, I will
spin this CD for the few great tracks it contains...
Contact: Progressive Darkwave, 215 Thompson St. Suite 11, NYC, NY 10012
Web site: http://progressivedarkwave.com
CARNAL FORGE "Please...Die!" (Century Media) SCORE: 64/100
I was so blown away by their "Firedemon" album, it was the definition of
precise sonic obliteration. By comparison, the newest cuts off of "Please...
Die!" are so speed oriented it seems to me to have lost a lot of focus. It was
a bit pretentious of them to start right off the bat just speeding away, and
it made for a rather sloppy start. However, a new twist on this record is the
very low death growling that is such an ominous force, it gave new life to
tracks like 'Fuel For Fire' and 'A World All Soaked In Blood.' The speedier
elements are presented in such force that it does take away the impact that
they delivered on "Firedemon," after all, it's what made songs like 'Covered
With Fire' and the title track 'Firedemon' just cave my skull in repeatedly.
Something got lost in the translation here. There are still incredible cuts to
be found here, 'Becoming Dust' most notable among them, with those choppy,
rapid fire guitar riffs that were all over "Firedemon" and more recently heard
in Invocator's "Weave The Apocalypse" album. I hear lots of previous album
influences, but not enough, and I guess it's hard to continue this style of
music without changing something to keep things fresh. Not every song is a
speed fest, though, the title track "Please...Die' starts things off at a
slower pace, and of course Jonas' vicious screams and vocal work can't be
ignored. They even had the balls to include some melodic riffs, though I think
the term they would use would be "harmony," on tunes like 'Hand Of Doom' and
'Becoming Dust.' I'm a bit more disappointed than the score would show
considering I ate the Century Media debut for breakfast on a daily basis.
Contact: Century Media Records.
CEVIN KEY "The Ghost Of Each Room" (Metropolis) SCORE: 23/100
The core members of Skinny Puppy always seemed a bit over the edge, and if you
have ever seen their live performances, you'll know exactly what I'm talking
about. Nothing could have prepared me for this jumbled up, horrid mess that
I still don't know exactly what genre it encompasses. I'll give points, albeit
a very few, where they are due, he does manage to pull a few decent ambient
synthscapes out, like on tracks 'cccc4' and 'Frozen Sky,' the latter is really
the only decent "song" (and I use that term VERY loosely) on this album. The
beat structures are among some of the wierdest I have ever heard, and I don't
know that that's always a good thing. 'bObs Shadow' starts this off with some
wierd ghost noises and a possible club piece, though it's nothing I'd want to
listen to again. Guitars of the distorted variety pop up on 'Frozen Sky,' but
overall this is just such a wierd composition that I can't find myself wanting
to pick it up again for any reason. '15th Shade' seems to be Cevin's attempt at
making some japanese noisecore make sense, thank god the instrumentation soon
bottoms out but the spoken vocals and guitar work does nothing for me here. I
think Cevin may have experienced creativity lapses, for this is such a mess.
Contact: Metropolis Records.
Web site: http://www.metropolis-records.com
DEW SCENTED "Inwards" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 85/100
For those of you looking for the follow up to Slayer's "Reign In Blood," you
may need look no further. A pretty consistent release through and through,
you'll find yourself picking parts of the thrashy guitar riffs apart and
naming songs for sure. The vocals around here border on hardcore and death
metal, which makes for an interesting combination. 'Bitter Conflict' starts
this out and it never stops from there. My favorite tracks are 'Life Ending
Path' and 'Locked In Motion,' those two songs have some of the best riffs and
I just love it when a band uses those start-stop-start riff patterns that are
seemingly seldom heard anymore. By the CD's end, though, you're wondering if
you can sit through ten tracks of this, as I said it really never lets up. The
band definitely takes a one dimensional approach and I think had I heard this a
few years after "Reign In Blood" came out I would have appreciated it even
more, however I think these days bands like Dark Tranquility, Soilwork and
even Opeth have done a better job of keeping the heavier side of things more
interesting with the myriad of elements thrown into the mix. Still, you can't
deny that it's not all a speed fest, when tracks like 'Feeling Not' and
'Reprisal' manage to slow things down a tad. Still, 'Terminal Mindstrip' is an
example of a song that was run just a little bit too long, at over 5 minutes,
with all that speed, it seems like much longer than 5 minutes. A damn solid
effort though, and proving once again that Europe seems to be the innovator of
hard and heavy music.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE "Death's Design" (Olympic) SCORE: 95/100
I've listened to this CD so much, I can do this review in my sleep. A licensing
deal from Avantgarde Music, this is produced by none other than Dan Swano. For
many of you who are familiar with Dan's work, I may have said all I need to say
to get you to run out and buy this thing. For the not so nearly convinced (and
you would have assuredly convinced ME that you haven't heard Dan's other
projects, like Panthymonium, Nightingale, Edge Of Sanity, and the hundreds of
other albums he's produced) this is a somewhat vicious black metal soundtrack
for who knows what kind of film. It's all Blakkheim's project, but Dan does a
few guitar parts, and I swear on 'The Inverted Dream' that that is Dan Swano
doing singing vocals! This is a massive 61 track CD, divided into 20 movements.
Lemme just run down the highlights: The 8th Movement, featuring 'Old People's
Voodoo Seance,' and 'Possession of The Voodoo Party,' features some wild
percussion, voodoo/New Orleans sounding guitar riffs, and Swano himself playing
excellent guitar. 'Spinning Back The Clocks' features some excellent guitar
work and sounds like, well, a clock ticking. Mostly black vocals are featured
here, but just as you're likely to hear singing vocals, don't be surprised to
find rich synthesized orchestration and the occasional electronica influence.
This is, after all, a soundtrack. The 16th Movement is most notable for the
Egyptian theme running amok, and the only bad part of the CD is the 7th
Movement, where the instrumentation is a little on the slow and dragging on
side. All in all, quite a diverse piece of work for black metal, and one that
not only kicks ass, but has the balls to change tempo, atmosphere, AND melody
with the song title. Can't wait to see what movie THIS is attached to. NOTE:
Digitizing for this CD occurs in movements, there may be 3 or 4 songs per
movement, but each song seldom dips over the 2 minute mark, many "songs" indeed
last no more than a minute.
Contact: Olympic Recordings.
Web site: http://www.olympicrecordings.com
DISINTER "Demonic Portraiture" (Morbid) SCORE: 61/100
Hailing from Chicago of all places, this death metal band pretty much relies on
speed to get them through the night. Blasting speed at that, almost at a
grindcore pace. They do have some interesting riff structures present when they
decide they don't always have to play at 100 miles per hour, making for quite a
few good tracks. 'Strength And Honour' is a good showcase for this, and they
don't mind bringing in the occasional acoustic riff either. There are some
dual vocals in place on many tracks, which was a key highlight, the throat
work wasn't problematic, like the instrumentation was. On tunes like 'Woven
With Pestilence And War,' 'An Eternity Of Pain,' and 'Whirling Spectral Voices'
it pretty much blurs together. There are some good tracks but their insistence
on speed is just something I can't handle. They are indeed a tight unit, able
to keep the instrumentation in check and very controlled, but even on a song
like 'What Once Was, Again Shall Be,' which proceeds at a much slower pace, I
found that the material just didn't strike me, but they do have potential. Some
of the higher end guitar work did strike me pretty hard, and they do a nice
job covering At The Gates' 'Blinded By Fear.' Just not into it but this is
better quality than most of the stuff I've received by Morbid so far.
Contact: Morbid Records, Postfach 3, 03114 Drebkau, GERMANY
Web site: http://www.morbidrecords.de
FAITH AND THE MUSE "Vera Causa" (Metropolis) SCORE: 92/100
Sad to say, this score actually undermines, in a way, just how great this band
is. Any clubgoers will instantly recognize 'All Lovers Lost' and 'Cantus' as
big club hits. And a few weeks after I was praising the newest Mission CD as
the best gothic release this year, this one is a definite close second. This is
a wonderful 2 CD set that appeals to diehard fans as well as those who have
never listened to the music of this amazing band. Though it is gothic, there
are celtic overtones, romantic and Medieval instrumentation, and even the
flutes, mandolins, string quartets and synthesizers tell you that they can
craft moods heavy and light. The score in and of itself is good, however were
it not for the remixes that grace CD 2 this would score much higher. CD 1 is
covers, compilation appearances, and demo versions, and I must say that some of
this stuff is amazing and is a great comfort to know it's finally being
released. This will be a long review so if you're not interested by now please
move on. 'Frater Ave Atque Vale' starts off CD 1 and is stunning. Multi vocals
from both male and female performers is all you hear, NO instrumentation
whatsoever. 'In Dreams Of Mine' shows Monica's vocals at their most seductive
and sensuous, her range and delivery are what really adds a spark to this band.
The instrumentation is nothing to sneeze at either, Mr. Faith being ever so
adept at many different moods. The only time you hear male vocals are on 'Soul
In Isolation,' which was good but dragged a bit long. And 'Hollow Hills' was
not a good cover choice, Monica just doesn't do the haunting, creepy style that
is more akin to The Bauhaus (who originally did the song). I've never been much
of a fan of Bauhaus anyway. Of the 2nd CD, there are 7 remixes, and only 2 are
worthy of mention, 'Elyria' by The Trace and 'Shattered In Aspect' by L'ame
Immortelle, who REALLY knows how to complement the vocals with the music. The
problem with the other remixes is you have industrial bands trying to "heavy
up" the sound of a band who isn't portrayed that way, and by the time the
hip hop beats of 'Scars Flown Proud' by the Cassandra Complex, I was on my way
out the door. The live tracks on CD 2 are much heavier than those on CD 1, and
a great addition to those who have been looking for a good live album. They
only do 7 live tracks, so if you're not into live albums, it won't ruin the
rest of the CD for you. This 2 CD set they did just right, and if it's being
sold as a single CD set it gets a much higher score. Also noteworthy is their
amazing cover of Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill,' and the original demo for
'Heal,' which was done on a boombox and actually sounds like an old vinyl
recording from the early 1900's. Definitely stalwarts of the scene, this 2 CD
set is very valuable to both fans and newcomers alike, combining many elements
to make this a refreshing and welcome addition to the goth genre.
Contact: Metropolis Records.
GAMMA RAY "No World Order!" (Noise) SCORE: 94/100
When I first listened to it, I must admit it's the atypical power metal heard
nearly everywhere these days, most notably in Freedom Call, a band who I still
listen to quite frequently, when magazine work doesn't take over. One listen
to the multi vocal chorus lines from 'Dethrone Tyranny' and 'Damn The Machine'
and you can hear the similarities. However, they manage to craft catchy
material throughout, and still keep things heavy. Most notable is 'The Heart Of
The Unicorn,' which starts out with some heavy "Painkiller" era Priest guitar
work, then we all instantly know why Kai Hansen was considered as a replacement
for the mighty Rob Halford. Those hell bent screaming vocals, sadly, are hardly
found save in a few songs. No matter, for though higher pitched singing vocals
Kai does in spades, he's also able to dip lower as well, making tunes like
'New World Order' have more depth and dimension to them. As I said, they can
construct catchy choruses, and some of the heavier guitar work really catches
your ear. The few tracks I didn't care for were ender 'Lake Of Tears' and
'Fire Below,' the latter sounded a bit, well, campy lyric wise, and the former
track is more ballad like and not really in line with the rest of the CD. Sure,
harp all you want about how this has been done, but all in all it's a damn fine
slab of metal and one definitely can hear the older heavy Priest guitar riffs
creep in more often than not. Not a crappy song to be found. Kai's been doing
this a long time, ya know...
Contact: Noise Records.
GREEN CARNATION "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness" (The End) SCORE: 98/100
Holy moses! I have to admit, I wasn't very impressed with Green Carnation's
"The Light At The End Of The World," so I didn't pay much attention to the
fact that The End Records was putting this out, nor did it pique my interest
any more when I found out this was going to be one long song. 60 minutes long,
and what an album! The long length does nothing to detract from the amazing
ambience going on here, there's female vocals, saxophones, children's voices,
synth, sitar and a few other instruments. Dark metal to the highest degree.
This is where my reviewing skills were immediately put to the test. VERY
enjoyable CD, except for about 4 minutes of solos saxophones and a rather bad
female wailing vocal style, so a few points HAD to be taken off. Otherwise,
it's a rather daring effort, kudos to a man who can make a 60 minute song and
hold my attention for all but 4 minutes of it. I would have liked to have seen
it split up at least into a few pieces, but I can't complain very much at all.
Beautiful, heavy, and the Candlemass style of doom comes through in the guitar
work. Damnit if The End hasn't done it yet again. First Agalloch and now Green
Carnation! By the way, instead of breaking the track up into 5 segments, we
just strung 13 minutes of the track for you, so you can hear the continuity.
Contact: The End Records, 556 S. Fair Oaks Ave. #101-111, Pasadena, CA 91105
Web site: http://www.theendrecords.com
GURKKHAS "A Life Of Suffering" (Morbid) SCORE: 56/100
I'm such a sucker for brutal, sick vocals, especially of the death metal
variety, though lately I've been growing increasingly more disenchanted by the
genre. When I first started listening to this album, I was pretty taken with
it, however repeated listens soon revealed the limitations of this band. A
French trio that has assumed the military style gear takes a similarly
simplistic style to their music. Once track 1 abdicated the throne, it soon
became clear to me that there was not much variety to the song structures.
Many of the songs had the same rhythmic pattern repeated throughout, making
tracks like 'A Life Of Suffering' and 'Legacy' sound very limiting. They seem
to favor the speedier approach, though they do manage to throw in some good
riffing ideas, just listen to some opening notes in 'Born On A Day Of War'
and you'll realize that had this been planned out better, this would have
made for a more interesting album. I did dig the Cannibal Corpse styled lead
riffs which I'm sure pop up in more than one band's repertoire. I'm not asking
a band to make the most original death metal album around, but I do expect to
hear more than a few ideas repeated ad nauseum.'Kukri' had the most interesting
musical patterns of all, the eerie war intro helped things along, as did the
slower vocal delivery which made the speedy guitar work sound like it was being
slowed down as well. Good thing I take more than two or three complete spins
of an album, after all, when you pay 15 bucks or so for a CD, I'm sure you want
to make sure you don't miss anything. A little maturity to their musical
approach may make Gurkkhas put France on the map of underground death metal.
Contact: Morbid Records.
IN THY DREAMS "Highest Beauty" (Century Media) SCORE: 82/100
Right off the bat I can smell the limitations of this release. I'm such a
sucker for sick, twisted vocals (geez, didn't I mention that in the Gurkkhas
review?) and this album has plenty of them. It's rather a gothenberg based
style, though it touches on black metal and also has plenty of low growled
death metal vocals, which give things a nice twist. And damnit, I really
enjoy this stuff; though quite a few songs, most notably when you play 'The
Highest Beauty' and 'Spirits Forge' back to back, have melodies and riffs and
even vocal structures that run along the same lines. The death and screaming,
or black, vocals work quite well when they're presented together, but some
songs like 'Hatred' and 'Control' show that the death metal vocals by
themselves don't work well at all, especially in the context of two songs that
are presented at a slower pace than the rest of the album. Slower is not
necessarily a bad thing either, those riffs on 'Hatred' are absolutely nasty!
Stick to the Gothenberg based instrumentation and things run quite smoothly. If
you're not quite tired of this style of music yet, then In Thy Dreams keeps
things on a definitely heavy level, and some guitar melodies even stick out.
I quite enjoyed it despite it's obvious limitations. Licensed from WAR music
overseas, it fits right in with the rest of Century Media's roster.
Contact: Century Media Records.
LOUISA JOHN-KROL "Ariel" (Prikosnovenie) SCORE: 99/100
Absolutely fabulous. Words cannot possibly convey just how amazing this release
is. Prikosnovenie has put out some very unusual releases but this has to be the
most moving, emotional, beautiful and powerful CD I have ever heard. I am
almost ashamed to put a mere numerical rating to such an intense work of art.
Louisa John-Krol radiates passion, beauty, etherialness and strength from every
note that comes from her sensuous and seductive voice, and she plays a MEAN
mandolin as well. This was such a highlight I cannot possibly figure out where
to begin. 'Blackbird' starts the CD off in fantastic form, with some of the
most beautiful and richest string and synth work I have ever heard. Her voice
will melt even the hardest heart to liquid, all the while you're basking in
such a mellow atmosphere it has to be heard to be believed. Easily one of the
best CD's I have heard this year. 'Red Balloon' could easily be a club hit,
with percussion that borders on tribal, with amazingly mellow ambient synth
layers in the background, and is a bit more energetic and upbeat than some of
her other works. 'Anemone Falling' has some of the best ambient synth work I
have ever heard, I wish more ambient music like this would fall upon my desk.
And if that wasn't enough, she breaks out with some beautiful flute music, on
the track 'Tale Of A Thorn,' that nearly brought a tear to my eye. How could
you classify this? It's not quite folk, or even pop oriented, though it
radiates a power and class all it's own. There were a few distractions, though,
like track 4 'Nobelius Garden' where she does a few quirky vocal shrieks, but
it's still a rather mellow tune. I didn't quite dig the opening violin solo on
'Numb The Wren Tear' but I could have been unfairly picky. I am so enchanted by
this CD that I feel any more words I convey will cause one to loose the feeling
you'd get from simply listening to this. SIX tracks will be digitized, please
go and listen to this amazing artist who has touched the deepest corners of my
soul. Great relaxing stoner's music as well as those wanting to get away from
the chaos and frantic pace this world sets. Best listened to in a meadow or
forest (though not the forests of Norway or Sweden!)
Contact: Prikosnovenie Records.
Web site: http://www.multimania.com/prikos
MEN OF PORN "Experiments In Feedback" (Small Stone) SCORE: 12/100
If you're not into Japanese noisecore, bands like Namanax, Merzbow, and their
ilk, then you will have more than enough reason to skip this CD, and review,
entirely. Let's try and keep it short, there's other bands that deserve more
space. Men Of Porn have, to my knowledge, written ONE good song, and that was
'Pony Ride' off of the "Judge Not" compilation CD. Anyway, they seem to have
decided to do something different, so for starters we get a 12 minute version
of a Pink Floyd "song" I wasn't crazy about to begin with, 'One Of These Days,'
of course this version is minus any vocals. They do a Motorhead cover 'Sister.'
THREE TIMES! That's right, they decided to include three versions of this, and
the best one is the instrumental version surprisingly, and the feedback loops
that make this sound spacey are actually utilized well. Check out 'Loop,' yes,
all 13 boring minutes of the same small loop, what a waste of CD space! 'Capp
Street' had funny lyrics, and was one of very few saving graces for this album.
I really don't wanna say more, except to note 'Feedback II,' 'Feedback IV,' and
'Feedback VII.' Have I said enough?
Contact: Small Stone Records, P.O. Box 02007 Detroit, MI 48202 USA
Web site: http://www.smallstone.com
MORS SYPHILITICA "Feather And Fate" (Projekt) SCORE: 61/100
I'm a little surprised by this. Coming across as a rather gothic styled
project, the vocals of Lisa Hammer are quite beautiful, but there's something
amiss in most of the song writing. True to their credit, the husband and wife
duo of Lisa and Eric craft some rather unusual ideas within the gothic slash
darkwave format. There's a strikingly Arabic flair on the track 'Between
Feather And Fate,' as well as 'A Fever Dream,' though 'A Fever Dream'
definitely was the better of the two, showcasing some dynamic vocal range.
Many of the songs really failed to catch me, I can't say they were terrible
for the most part but they just didn't find a home in my brain. 'Glorious
Breath' was a tad on the mellow side, as was 'Fountain Of Tears,' but the
latter tune was definitely lacking in the instrumentation department.
'Nostalgia's Sea' was quite a nice mellow tune, one that I enjoyed, as well
as their best moment 'Only A Whirlwind.' 'The Chains Of Reason' was probably
the worst song on here, where the darker instrumentation and her vocals really
clash. Overall there are some nice moments but I think the experimentation
phase left the ideas running a little bland.
Contact: Projekt Records.
Web site: http://www.projekt.com
PENTAGRAM "Sub-Basement" (Black Widow) SCORE: 95/100
"If ''Review Your Choices'' made you sick, then ''Sub-Basement'' will take you
to the tomb!" This is a self titled statement from the newest of Virginia's
doom metal gods, and it fits. This is the HEAVIEST, doomiest Pentagram album I
have ever heard, and I absolutely loved "Review Your Choices." This also marks
the first album that has all new material, rather than releases of older songs,
at least as far as I'm led to believe. Check out the title track, this has some
of the most vicious and punishing doom riffs I've yet to hear on a Pentagram
album, and it blows away most other songs the heaviest of doomsters can come
up with. The closest this album comes to a ballad is in 'Out Of Luck,' though
the riffs are a little bit more uptempo, you'll hear an acoustic riff or two.
The first two songs really blaze by you, as they are no longer than 2 minutes
each (reason why we digitized 6 songs instead of the usual 5), and the first
tune 'Bloodlust' comes in rocking and 'Buzzsaw' has some very doomy, eerie
vocal lines. You even hear Bobby's classic Ozzy imitation on a few words of
'Bloodlust.' 'Drive Me To The Grave' was very cool, some of the most wicked
vocal intonations you'll ever hear from Mr. Liebling, and 'Tidal Wave' is the
classic Titanic tale told with brutal conviction from some thrashy guitar work.
Yes my friends, the guitar work is about the heaviest on the planet, and the
vocal work is nothing short of creepy and dark. Check the lyrics on the title
track too, they're quite fitting comparing our "underground" genre to an
"underground" living arrangement. The only track I really had a problem with
was 'Go In Circles,' the lyrical arrangements bothered me and it is an ultra
slow track. Those whammied guitar pieces sound really spooky though. And while
on the subject, the last track got a bit carried away with the lenghty fast
instrumentation that you might hear closing a concert, but overall this is a
tremendously enjoyable album, one that shows Pentagram in it's heaviest light.
Setting the standard for mind crushingly heavy doom metal for years to come.
Contact: Black Widow Records.
Web site: http://www.blackwidow.it
PROSCRIPTOR "The Serpentine Has Risen" (Dark Age Productions) SCORE: 41/100
I remember this side project from Absu member Proscriptor from awhile back, via
their "The Venus Belladonna" CD, which I have to admit I wasn't very impressed
with. This time around, things have picked up just a tad, though it's still not
a CD I would care to listen to again. The CD starts out with 'Tin Formulae,'
and it sounds very much like Hawkwind, with the spacey synthesizers and clean
sung vocals, though I can't say I'd stick around to hear it more than a few
times. Then out of nowhere comes 'Dauntless Pride,' which showcases some nice
acoustic guitar riffs and medieval synths that Mortiis would be proud of. The
acoustic riffs and keys mix very well together, and he does another nice piece
featuring melodic synths on track 5, 'First Point.' Why he couldn't have done
the rest of the CD like this is beyond me, for his "experimentation" pieces are
really hard to listen to. 'Witch Wife' is a prime example, he's trying to do
the industrial thing it seems complete with electronically enhanced vocals,
which just sounds silly. (And keep in mind, I still enjoy industrial music!)
The 'Devil Woman' cover was interesting, but not nearly enough to hold my
interest. 'Ossian's Cave' was the worst of all, sounding like some bizarre
noise piece that is mainly just annoying sounds thrown together, I guess he was
going for a ritualistic effect. Then to top it all off, there is another
version of 'Tin Formulae' but without vocals. Either way, not very much I could
Contact: Dark Age Productions, P.O. Box 743307, Dallas, TX 75374-3307 USA
SAXON "Killing Ground" (SPV/Steamhammer) SCORE: 77/100
I think Saxon's been releasing too many albums too fast! Hell, it was just
issue #25 when "Metalhead" came out and "Unleash The Beast" must have been a
year before that! This CD is more of a mix of styles, you have some slower
numbers, some tunes that just out and out rock, and a few throwaway pieces.
This disc still has some good tunes on it, but it's not nearly a favorite of
mine, though I only own three Saxon releases, all reviewed within these pages.
There's the usual intro that Saxon feels the need to put on every CD, then we
jump straight into 'Killing Ground,' which is a heavy tune in the vein of the
last two discs. 'Court Of The Crimson King' is a BEAUTIFULLY done cover, they
even added extra depth to it by utilizing some great multi vocal work. 'Coming
Home' was one of the throwaway tracks, I think lyrically they could have done
better as also with 'Running For The Border,' another tune I didn't care for.
'Dragon's Lair' was very unusual, it shows the English crew flirting with
speedier power metal the Italians are famous for. Nice choruses and fast guitar
work, but I'd really like to see them develop this style a little more.
'Shadows On The Wall' was one of the worst tracks here, don't get me wrong the
acoustic style and melodic singing was nice, but the heavier parts of the song
really bugged me, he tries to put some electronic effects on his voice it seems
and the choruses were weak. However, 'Hell Freezes Over' was one of my other
favorites, with choruses that stick in your head and great lead guitar work.
'Rock Is Our Life' closes this out in true headbanger's anthemic form, and
though there's quite a few tracks that really didn't work for me, a Saxon album
these days is still a good thing to have in the collection. A bit weaker than
the past two, but still has its moments.
Contact: SPV/Steamhammer, P.O. Box 721147, 30531 Hannover, GERMANY
Web site: http://www.spv.de
SHAPE OF DESPAIR "Angels Of Distress" (Spinefarm) SCORE: 95/100
Some might say I gave this a higher score just to be able to digitize all 5
songs for ya. Yes, a 5 song album just like the previous effort. Actually, I
play "Shades Of..." a lot more these days, and I think maybe THAT album should
have received a 95 instead of a 93 was it? Anyway, things have seemingly gotten
a lot more dynamic, the death metal vocals on the first few tracks are a LOT
more in your face, and the female vocals are featured a lot more than before.
One thing that upset me was the absence of the flutes!! They did add violins
though which was a tremendously effective new feature; as the melancholic
effects are drawn out more than the more serene atmospheres which graced the
first album. They do a great instrumental on the last tune 'Night's Dew,' and
it features great piano notations. 'To Live For My Death' features not only the
female vocals but marks the debut of actual male singing vocals! My few
complaints dealt with the death vocals on the title track: I mentioned how they
are quite dominant, but here they are a bit too overbearing on pieces of the
song, taking away from the instrumentation, but the passage in this song that
features some downright evil synth (horror movie styled organs) mixed with the
death vocals makes for one of the most brutal passages Shape Of Despair has
ever written. The death vocals get toned back a bit more from track 3 on, and
brings us back to the memories of the first album. Like with album number one,
this album features two to three fantastic songs, and the rest are good. The
difference here is that the "good" songs are a tad more enjoyable than the ones
on "Shades Of..." though it's such a close call that both albums could very
easily rate the same score. What a job these Finnish musicians have done, and
it's an extreme honor to bring you the interview we've been hunting for like
forever now! If Century Media has any sense, they'll be licensing this for the
U.S. market SOON! P.S. There are NO bad songs on a Shape Of Despair album.
Commit that statement to memory.
Contact: Spinefarm Records.
SIX FEET UNDER "True Carnage" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 18/100
God damn, do I have to review this? *sigh* The things I have to do for my
craft. Okay, well since we last reviewed and interview them, this Cannibal
Corpse slowed down style has really gotten worse. I mean, REALLY. First off,
Chris Barnes seems to be trying his best to keep people from understanding
what he's saying in his songs. And that new feature of his, the screech?
Jesus, the first time I heard that I was laughing hysterically, cause I mean
it almost sounds like Beavis (from Beavis and Butthead fame, remember them?
No? Well, fear not cause if there's any justice in the world, Six Feet Under
will soon join them in obscurity). And I mean a horrible Beavis too. The video
clip for 'The Day The Dead Walked' actually gives you a visual picture of just
how funny that is. There are only a few highlights on this CD. One is the
vicious death metal screams of Karyn from the band Crisis, and sadly even that
gets old after a few lines. The other was hearing those wacked out Cannibal
Corpse style riffs on 'Impulse To Disembowel' you remember those whammied riffs
that sounded like no other? Ice-T does guest rap vocals on 'One Bullet Left.'
I said rap, so that probably tells you more than you want to know about this
song. And by the way, WHY does every other line puked up by Ice-T have to
include the word fuck in it? He says that wonderful "F" word more times on one
song than EVERY metal band on the planet! Geez! They do the slow
instrumentation thing, though every now and then they'll peak my interest just
a tad with some faster instrumentation. Check 'It Never Dies,' which had some
nice opening lead work. Overall the presentation is poor. PISS poor. And I
still can't believe these guys were picked to headline the metallenium
festival, though it's probably more a blessing than a curse that the better
bands like Witchery and The Haunted didn't show up.
Contact: Metal Blade.
SLEEPLESS "Winds Blow Higher" (The End) SCORE: 94/100
What is up with this label? Their dark metal seems to be raging these days,
Agalloch, Green Carnation, and Sleepless! This band sounds much like Tiamat on
their "Deeper Kind Of Slumber,' but much darker. They utilize melodic vocals
but usually on a darker scale, no growling or anything, but sometimes whispered
and sometimes low toned. The more melodically sung vocals tend to give me a few
fits at times, but they aren't too much of a detraction. And of course the
static filled radio sounds coupled with some BAD operetta style female vocals
really detracted from the song 'Change,' though it was just a small part of
the middle of this song. There are some nice ambient synths all the way through
this CD, and some catchy vocal work on 'Lying In Wait' and the title track
really helps to drive the point home. There's an instrumental as well, 'Rain,'
but I didn't think it was as good as the instrumentation of EVERY other song,
though it does pick up a little bit towards the end. There isn't really a whole
lot to complain about, though, but as I said it's mostly dark melodies, and
can get haunting at times like on 'Moments.' The End Records may not put out
30 or 40 releases a year, but you know the few records they DO promote are
generally of good quality.
Contact: The End Records.
SODOM "M-16" (SPV/Steamhammer) SCORE: 84/100
"Angelripper" and company have never left us. They take a trek down to the
jungles of Vietnam (see the accompanying interview) for a rather interesting
ride through the eyes of Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now followers. The
speed/thrash metal that Sodom has never strayed from has taken true to form on
this 11 track CD. There's a few wierd moments on this CD, like first the use
of the word 'Wierdcong' in 'Among The Wierdcong.' The best tracks though are
found near the end of the CD, especially the title track, which has catchy
choruses and some really evil riffs. 'Marines' is a great track as well, though
it seems like a tribute song to those warriors in camouflage, but has killer,
catchy choruses to boot. 'Lead Injection' makes nice use of start-stop riffs,
and I gotta say that especially on this CD more than any other, Angelripper
sounds exactly like Tom Araya from Slayer when he's yelling at the top of his
lungs. It's a real treat for the senses when Sodom pulls off some great movie
samples, and in Full Metal Jacket tradition he does a skullcrushing cover of
'Surfin' Bird,' a song that I didn't like in the movie but absolutely dig here.
Many of you will get a few laughs over his conversion before you realize that
THIS is the version that should have been in the movie. They do show us some
maturity and variety when they take 'Napalm In The Morning' for an acoustic run
at the start, though this tune could have been a bit better. 'I Am The War'
tended to suffer from some bad arrangements where the vocals on the prechorus
were concerned. 'Little Boy' was a bit strange as well, but overall you can't
ask for a better album from Sodom, unless you're still hung up on the old
days, though Sodom will not deny their past and will play many "Obsessed By
Cruelty/In The Sign Of Evil" tracks live to this day.
Contact: SPV/Steamhammer Records.
SOLARIZED "Driven" (Meteor City) SCORE: 48/100
I must say this is quite a surprise. Meteor City releases I have always looked
forward to, but this band really sounds more like Southern Rock meets stoner
than anything else. The guitar work is mainly what brings this down, that plus
songs that really fail to catch my attention. The twangy "suvvun" guitar style
is most notable on the instrumental 'Southbound,' but creeps into other tracks
like 'Angel' via the cowbell sounds, and the rather annoying 'Box Full Of
Dirt.' This CD starts out with a bang though, after you skip the intro, 'Dig
The Ride' rocks hard and fast, and reminds you of a good driving anthem. Then
the best song on this whole CD is 'Born Of Fire,' with some MEAN guitar work
and killer low ended vocals that accentuate the heaviest and most dominant
track on here. Even 'Chrome Shop' was a faster rockin' tune, one that I
definitely enjoyed the choruses on especially. From track 6 on, it all goes
downhill. The faster number 'Stab Your Back' was just mainly those three words
repeated over and over, and though some of the other songs weren't terrible,
they just failed to grab me. They try to do the heavier style throughout, but
the life and spark went out of this record after track 5.
Contact: Meteor City, P.O. Box 40322, Albuquerque, NM 87196 USA
Web site: http://www.meteorcity.com
THE FLESHPEDDLERS "Falling Into A Dream" (Wrecktus) SCORE: 4/100
Man oh man is this ever horrible! Even the most syrupy of synthpop bands would
be a welcome breath of fresh air after this mess! Track 1, 'Disco Song,' starts
this off with some of the most horrible vocals, cheesy as all hell lyrics,
and crappy casio keyboard tunes I've ever heard! There is not ONE song on here
I could even possibly listen to for any length of time. The 4 points comes from
the heavy chorus lines on 'The Crusher,' the closest thing to a real song,
which is very obviously Nine Inch Nails inspired. Horrible vocal work brings
down MANY songs, most notably 'Angie-Girl' and 'Kitty's Corner.' Check out the
bad xylophone sounds they used on 'It's Perfect.' They definitely love the
techno effects, and if matters weren't already worse at hand, they do this
techno country sounding thing on 'Inflatable Dreams.' The lyrics are unusually
bad, I get the feeling that the lyrics had to be approved by the band's parents
before being released, as they are REALLY sappy and REALLY bad. Please, no
more. I can't possibly endure writing any more, the first two listens were
near ear wrecking enough as it is. However, like the late great "poet" Frank
Zappa would say "Great googly moogly! I'd rather eat the yellow snow than
listen to this mess!"
Contact: Wrecktus Records.
Web site: http://www.fleshpeddlersmusic.com
THE MISSION "Aura" (Playground Recordings) SCORE: 93/100
Most of what I've heard from the Mission U.K., as they used to be called, was
via import compilation CD's. The first time I heard anything Mission related
was the tribute CD that Re-Constriction Records released a few years back. And
that, coupled with a few tracks played in local goth/industrial clubs in
Savannah peaked my interest enough to cause me to pursue what was termed their
comeback album. And what an album! The two compilation CD's I have had some
good tracks but there were some bad ones as well. As far as the gothic tag
goes, throw that right now out the window. Yes, it is gothic based, but it has
so much more to it than that. Their heaviest track here is 'Slave To Lust,' and
it has an amazingly heavy yet otherworldy atmosphere, especially since they
added rather Arabic sounding guitar riffs. All their choruses are catchy as
hell, and D.J.'s would be hard pressed to find an album that has no less than
SEVEN club hits. 'Evangeline' is probably their hit single type, though it has
rather dynamic and explosive atmosphere and it rocks! This is not the sappy
gothic of old on many tracks, hell on 'Slave To Lust' he actually carries out
the sexual anthem of frustrated males everywhere when he says that not only
does he want to fuck, but he's tired of playing with himself! Wayne's vocals
are definitely in top form, whether he's trying to seduce you one minute, or
show off his more melodic side in tunes like 'Dragonfly' and 'Cocoon.' There
were some rough spots on the CD though, for starters 'Happy' sounded a bit too
sappy and pop oriented, the lyrics really didn't help much. 'Burlesque' sounds
like it's trying to achieve the whole strip club feel, and trying to play on
the raunchier side that gothic music never deals with though this time it's a
big disappointment. They can and have wrote catchier material than this. 'The
Light That Pours From You' was another awesome tune, and you can tell that The
Mission have great songwriting capabilities. Formed from the ashes of Sisters
Of Mercy, I strongly suggest those of you into this style of music seek this
out, even though right now a U.S. licensing deal is still pending. Great music
for open minded people, and I must say this is THE best gothic styled album
releases this year, after such disappointments from many of the scene's long
Contact: Playground Recordings.
Web site: http://www.themissionuk.com
THE SATELLITE CIRCLE "The Satellite Circle" (Rage Of Achilles) SCORE: 91/100
How happy I was when this showed up in the mail! Along with Abdullah, this was
one of the most surprising releases for me last year, and though this doesn't
get a full on 100, it's still full of the cool 70's retro rock sounds done
heavy. For those of you that dig the EP with the long title they put up, lemme
say that this surprises on many fronts. Their heavier tunes have definitely
gotten heavier, and there are several examples of this. 'You Were Never The
King' has the fuzzed out, trippy distorted riffs that Black Sabbath would be
envious of, but they soon crank the heaviness out by leaps and bounds. You'll
hear some vicious shouted vocal work which is a staple of Satellite Circle
material. 'Remedy' continues on in much the same fashion, and they'll even
pull out a stoner's jam for ya on this one. Gotta love the echoed vocal effects
which pop up from time to time too. Then track three 'Black Mountainside'
REALLY struck me as odd. This is their first pseudo-ballad, though the acoustic
notations are very haunting and not at all mellow in a ballad sense, added with
the haunting singing effects of Jonas and I wasn't sure whether I would like
this at first, but soon it grew on me, or should I say creeped on me. Very
unusual and dark, though in a good way! Too bad I couldn't say the same for
the other "ballad" in 'The Beginning Of The End Of The World Part 1." The
acoustic riffs were echoed but didn't do much for me, and the singing vocals
didn't help the mood any at all, methinks that Jonas's vocals aren't quite
suited to the more melodic side of things. And his vocal work got the better of
him on 'The Thin White Line Between Happiness And Sanity.' He just didn't carry
over well here, though the instrumentation was quite adequate. However, the
skullcrushingly HEAVIEST song they have written to date is 'The Beginning Of
The End Of The World Part 2,' with a slow, almost sludgy feel, and there's only
one lyric line but you don't care, it's delivered with a sonically devastating
death blow. I've rambled on at length about this band now, but the goods were
delivered and they were delivered with force. A second interview will most
DEFINITELY be in the works. COUNT ON IT.
Contact: Rage Of Achilles, P.O. Box 20508, London NW8 8 WT, UK
Web site: http://www.rageofachilles.clara.net
WITCHERY "Symphony For The Devil" (Necropolis) SCORE: 95/100
How the hell they do it is simply beyond me. First off they are spearheaded by
the biggest campaign that Necropolis has ever done, then they actually get a
U.S. tour with Borknagar and Emperor, not to mention their first album got a
100 rating, and on top of all that they have to share Jensen with The Haunted
AND wait for Sharlee D'Angelo to quit gigging around with Mercyful Fate or
King Diamond, whichever Mr. Diamond decides he wants to do at the moment. All
of four albums in less than two years? And have their writing skills diminished
over all this time and overextension? Hell no! Admittedly, the "Restless And
Dead" album didn't quite live up to the crushing heaviness of the first album,
but this is yet another masterpiece in the gallery of all things Witchery. And
this album starts off with a bang, enter some storm sounds and vicious lead
riffs to mark 'The Storm.' 'Unholy Wars' proves that Witchery is capable of
writing catchy tunes and kick ass ones to boot. By 'Inquisition' and 'Omens,'
they have slowed things down a bit but added such an otherworldly, eerie
dimension that you just knew they had much more creativity in them than most
people give them credit for. They did manage to do one too many instrumentals,
but for a kick go listen to the instrumental 'Bone Mill.' There you can hear
Metal Church's 'Merciless Onslaught' (which was an instrumental song too: mere
coincidence?) and Faith Or Fear's 'Time Bomb.' Kick ass instrumental guys, but
please don't try and claim this all for your own. The other instrumental I
wasn't too crazy about, and the only other tune I would probably pass on is
'Called For By Death,' and this isn't a bad tune but doesn't have the spark
that other tracks have. There are two bonus tracks here, 'Enshrined' and
'The One Within,' so it's 12 Witching hour tunes that a true metalhead would
surely love. We'll be doing the "W" for a long time to come...
Contact: Necropolis Records.
WITHERED EARTH "Into The Deepest Wounds" (Olympic) SCORE: 82/100
Sometimes a band can be just so over the top with brutality that they forget
about catchiness and diversity. The last time, and actually the first time, I
saw Withered Earth they opened up for Marduk, and immediately I was impressed
by their performance. Their guitar work varies greatly from song to song, and
they definitely speed things up and slow them down in nearly the same breath.
'Remnants Of Unfruitful Existence' starts the CD off in a big way, and the
crushing lead riffs are what hits you first. They have some dual vocal work
going on with 'False, Emotion, Strain,' and the use of acoustic vocals mixed
with the death growls on 'I Am Despair' was a nice touch. Still, they are a
faster paced death metal band and with that in mind there were some things that
got out of hand. The opening riffs on 'I Am' were a bit too chaotic for my
taste, but once the track slowed WAAAY down it was one of the heaviest moments
on the CD. Some of the tunes that kept a fast pace throughout, most notably
'Colossus Nebula,' tended to lose their focus, but they still are a relatively
young outfit with plenty of potential. As long as they can keep things
interesting, I don't see why they can't be a player in the seemingly small and
overcrowded death metal realm.
Contact: Olympic Records.
BEHEMOTH. Interview with Nergal on Christmas day!
- I must say that your latest album "Thelema 6" had lots of personal
notes from you, telling what each song was about. I have been doing a lot of
research on the Thelemic culture and Aleister Crowley in particular (see the
Maudlin Of The Well interview for more details - Ed.) and have been fascinated
by some of his teachings.
To be honest I'm not some kind of expert or something in this matter. Crowley
as an individual is a kind of inspiration for me. He has brought some special
ideas to my life. It's mainly my friend, the guy who wrote most of the lyrics
for this album, he's totally into occult stuff and he helped me with the
lyrics and topics. His name is Kristofer and we spent a few days together
talking about life and different philosophies and history, and from this I got
so many different ideas and topics for songs. Crowley's ideas about will and
strength, the individual just fits perfectly to the nature of myself and the
nature of this band. I think some of these influences will go on the next
record as well. I know that there are limitations to what you can do oftentimes
with death and black metal, but one of the things Crowley used to say was that
limitation was one of the worst things that man can do. I like different things
in life, and Crowley never limited himself to one religion or mythology. He
mixed everything up you know, and that's how I am in life. I never limit myself
to one type of food, or music, or even one type of girl. I take everything
that attracts me and that is what Crowley did in essence for his philosophical
- Have you any concrete plans for the next record already?
Yes, we will try and record it in mid 2002, maybe in May or June. The album
will be called "Zos Kiacultus." This is just a working title though, and I'm
not sure if it's going to be the final title. It's going to be more aggressive
but on the other hand it will be more massive, more heavy. We will slow down
the slower parts, but the blasting parts will get even faster, and you can say
that there will be more variations within the structures of the songs. We're
not like Dark Funeral or Marduk, we'll do either fast songs or slow songs, we
try to mix things, do different ideas and make the music intense but still
interesting and catchy somehow. I don't mean catchy like in a pop song though.
- The U.S. version has 4 extra tracks on it, and I'm wondering, since
I know you are signed to Avantgarde Music, if the European version had those
tracks on there as well.
Those tracks were done just for the U.S. version.
- There was one song that struck me as odd, it was 'Hello Space Boy,'
and I was told that that tune was your taking a stab at this internet user that
was spreading a bunch of lies and garbage about you.
No, that was a David Bowie cover song. We just care about music. We signed the
U.S. deal a few months after the European release of "Thelema 6." We just
wanted to make the U.S. version more special for fans over there in case they
wanted to get the European edition. We recorded so many different songs, we
actually have more tracks like Slayer's 'Black Magic,' a King Diamond song,
even though some of them aren't completed. For me some of these songs are
okay, I guess big Behemoth fans will get into it. It's not that easy to play a
good cover song, and I think we're just average at doing this. When I mentioned
the idea to our drummer he wasn't into it at all, he's like "We can't do that
kind of song, we're a metal band, we can't do that crap!" He's pretty much into
old school black metal bands,but I did promise him that if it didn't work out
we would never do it again, and people have been digging it actually. They were
even more astonished to learn who the original song was done by. I just wanted
to keep it special. It's originally a very dark song. It comes off a David
Bowie album called "Outside" I think it was. A member of Lux Occulta brought
the song to my attention, and I wanted to see us challenge ourselves.
We did a Morbid Angel song and a Sarcofago song additionally as covers.
- The song Sarcofago is by the band of the same name?
No, it's a mistake. The song is called 'Satanas' from Sarcofago's first album
"I.N.R.I." Somewhere along the way I don't know what happened.
- That was such a vicious track, I especially loved how low and
guttural those vocals were, I'm assuming there was some kind of effects used?
It's called a pitch shifter. It just tunes down your vocals as much as you want
it to, and of course you can change the pitch and tone of your vocals. It's a
cool utility, it kept the barbarity and the nature of the song, because
Sarcofago was one of those favorite bands of ours. I grew up listening to
Sarcofago and they are very direct and brutal, they blew me away. They use that
sort of growling on their album as well. I just didn't want to put my original
voice on the cover.
- Now I wanted to mention the "Live Eschaton" video I recently saw
you guys in, I am assuming it's official though it's not available here in the
U.S. That was a really kick ass show you guys did.
We were doing some strange deal with a Polish label called Metal Mind
Productions. In our whole career there might be no other occasion to record and
release a professional video, so of course we agreed for almost getting no
money or no profits, as you may know it cost a lot of money to record such a
professional tape. The show had very few people there, because it was some kind
of festival where there were Theater Of Tragedy, Sins Of Thy Beloved and some
other gothic bullshit recording there as well on the same day, but there were
some other bands like Yattering from Poland, and all these bands were there.
It's kind of a surprise, hardly any other bands around have their own
professional video, but it seems to be quite the thing to do nowadays. To be
honest with you it's not a true representation of how we really are onstage,
I mean you can't see the sweat, the blood that we usually put into a
- It's still a vicious show though.
Yeah, thanks, that's cool but you should see us live, in a club where there's
about four or five hundred people. We are much tighter when we play live, when
you have in your mind that someone is recording a show, then you can't give
a hundred percent. You're trying to control everything and when you control
yourself you can't be your best. On that video we focused on playing correctly
and our technique.
- Well, I'd love to see you play over here, I think Vader is the only
Polish band I have seen live. It's always tough to get overseas bands to play
live in the States.
This is something that annoys me so much. I'm sorry but people just don't seem
to give a fuck about us, but we have received lots of offers, Australia,
Milwaulkee, and New Jersey we were offered to join Marduk in January and it all
failed because there was no one to take care of our business arrangements.
- Why didn't you talk to Marty at Olympic Records, I'm sure he could
have hooked something up?
Yeah, but those procedures take too long. When I work with my label Avantgarde,
when I email them, I get an answer the same day. If I don't get an answer, I
call them on my mobile phone. With the American label, it's much more difficult
to get in touch. I don't know why, maybe they have so much work that they don't
give a fuck about one Polish band, you know, because maybe they have like 50
other bands. I'd love to be in the States, I have so many friends there and I
am really curious to be there. I'm sure we could do really well over there,
the States have potential and Americans seem to love the death/black metal
crossover. It's a kind of new thing for people over there. I think people would
love our album, I know we have good distribution over there and we have been
getting good press finally.
- Well, when I talked to Marty, he's really wanting to push the
overseas labels, he signed Diabolical Masquerade too, and he's very supportive
of these bands; at least that's the impression I get when talking to him over
the phone. Usually the biggest drawback to getting overseas bands to tour here
is money, especially for a foreign band that isn't the headliner.
We'll do our best. I hope with the next album, it will be our sixth album, that
we can tour in the States. If there is no U.S. tour for this next album I will
seriously consider quitting this band. It's useless, because Europe has seen us
way too much, we have done 85 shows JUST in Europe this year! We've played
Greece, Portugal, and we are going to Norway in March, we've played Russia,
Poland, everywhere! And we're tired of the same clubs all the time. You can't
always tour because people will get bored you know? We have to play all the
time, especially live, in order to get better.
- Back to the "Thelema 6" album, I really like the song '23, The
Youth Manifesto,' it really spoke to me because the song seems to sum up the
fact that life is a constant struggle, and it's hard, yet there is still so
much to see and do in the world.
That's true. I'm just 24 now but I never give in, I try to do my best all the
time, and that's what the song is saying: basically not to care about the past
that much, just care about your friends but care for yourself in the first
place and carry on no matter what. It's a really simple message. I found out
later on that many people really related to the song and liked the message that
was in there. It's a very personal song to me and I wasn't sure if people
would like it or not. It's a different type of song for Behemoth, but people
actually loved it. As I said, on every album we make we want to do something
different, something new whether it be in the way of atmospherics or different
emotions, or a different style. It's a tradition for Behemoth now.
- There's a lot of words in the album that seem to be in another
language, and I assumed it was Latin but I guess it was Thelemic language or
No, it's not Latin. It's Crowley's words and these words are based on
numerology. I studied Latin for a year or so. It comes from Christopher, my
friend, who translated it for me. I just told him, "This song is about this and
that," and I gave him lyrics, which he translated into that language for me.
We'll do more stuff with that in the future, kinda like Nile does on their
- I'm a big fan of Nile, mainly because I have been into Egyptian
culture and mythology for a long time.
The guys in Nile are really great, I have to consider them one of the best
death metal bands, and we became great friends. They're very sympathetic, even
in big festivals, the Christmas festival we did in Holland, Karl invited me on
stage to sing one of their songs and it was really special for me.
CARNAL FORGE. Interview... Jari the guitarist.
- I gotta admit I was pretty blown away by "Firedemon" and I know the
press is all hyping this up and saying that it's for fans of old school thrash
metal, but it seems to go quite a bit deeper than that.
It's a mix of thrash, death metal and hardcore. It's not akways thrash metal.
- Now I know that one of the members is involved with the band Centinex,
how is that project progressing?
It's our vocalist who plays guitars in Centinex.I think they are recording a
new album sometime next year.
- Is he full time in Carnal Forge or full time in Centinex?
It's not really a fulltime gig for either, it's because he plays a total
different role. Playing the guitar in Centinex doesn't present a problem for
Carnal Forge, because he does write music in Centinex, however if he wrote the
music for Carnal Forge as well as doing vocals then both bands might end up
sounding the same.
- It's just so odd to see him play guitars in one project and singing
in another. Now I know that Centinex has already done a bunch of shows, so I'm
curious as to how that would work out for both bands if they want to tour.
He's a great guitar player, and we actually have done some gigs together with
the two bands on the same night. We did that in Sweden and he said that they
can do that sometimes but not for a whole tour!
- We just saw that kind of thing happen here, where The Haunted and
Witchery played together. There's Jensen on stage playing guitar for Witchery
and then he does the same thing for The Haunted. And he did this for a whole
I don't know how he managed to do that because when I'm done with a gig I don't
want to do anything except sit down and relax for half an hour and not talk to
anyone because I give 100 percent when I'm onstage so I have nothing left
- Are you planning on any U.S. tours for the near future?
We have discussed this with Century Media, and if everything goes as planned,
maybe we can come to the U.S. sometime next year. Nothing is confirmed yet but
they said they will try to get us on some tour or some festival.
- The bio mentions that you work in a mental institution?
I work there, my brother works there, and also the drummer. It's a pretty crazy
job I will say. It's not like every day is the same, it's always different when
you come there.
- Is it a source for any of the new material?
I thought it would be when I first started working there, but the people that I
take care of are so mentally ill, you have to try to make life as easy as
possible for them when you are at work. It's also frustrating for me myself, so
I try to leave the job at the work on my days off.
- I'm sure they have restrictions on how you have to conduct yourself
when you're there.
Yeah, you basically have to help them with stuff like making their food, and
sometimes they get really violent. All the doors to the kitchens are locked,
the knives of course are locked. The whole hospital is basically locked down
so they cannot go out without our permission or unless we are with them. It's
- It makes you wonder just what actually drives a person to these
Most of the patients are long time users of drugs and stuff, too much alcohol,
too much amphetamines. They just drugged themselves when they were younger, and
their mind state is, how do I say... Like if you let them out, for say 30
minutes or so, the first thing they do is go out and buy some drugs or some
alcohol and then they're back to square one all over again.
- The whole image I'm getting from Carnal Forge, especially with the
lyrics, is that they are the bad asses on the block that nobody can touch.
Yeah, but we're pretty mellow guys. This is the way we want the music to sound,
and we put all our aggression into the music.
- I noticed on the new record "Please...Die" there was a reference
to the New World Order, and I know you don't write the lyrics but do you know
anything about the background for this song?
Yeah, it's basically about how easily people can follow a leader if the leader
has the right charisma and knows what to say. People tend to listen blindly
to what he says and follow him and that's what 'Totalitarian Torture' is about.
- I have both your newest releases, but I never got to hear "Who's
Gonna Burn," how would you compare the three albums?
I would say our first record reminds me of the newest album "Please...Die"
than "Firedemon" does. When we did "Firedemon," we had a lot of problems with
our former label War Music, and everything took a really long time. Nothing
happened because on the release day for "Who's Gonna Burn," the album got great
response from media and stuff, but the company never followed it up, so we
waited and waited and got really pissed about everything. The "Firedemon"
album is a good record but it could have been a lot better if we had focused
more on doing the music and not being so angry at the label.
- To be honest, I think it's the anger that made it such a great
record! (evokes laughter from both of us). And I have to say I like "Firedemon"
a lot better, it's one of my favorite records. The new album seems like the
focus is on speed too much, whereas "Firedemon" seems to have songs that are
developed a lot more. That's just what I see anyway.
I don't agree with you on that point, of course many of the songs on "Please...
Die" are really fast, and that's the way we were into having the songs when we
did them. Also, one of the things we did more of were the melodies and also a
little bit more midtempo parts in the middle of the songs, because we thought
that the songs on "Firedemon" were pretty much similar to each other, We wanted
to have the newer songs have more personality. It's more a matter of taste how
you like it.
- One of the strong points for the new album was there was some death
metal vocals, pure death metal vocals as opposed to that insane screaming that
he does. This guy just goes nuts, and that's what made "Firedemon" so appealing
to me. I'm like, "Yeah, that's what it's all about."
Ha ha! When we did the songs we started to record and we said to our vocalist
you can take two weeks off from the studio, he has his own studio that he works
at. We told him he has two weeks and he can do whatever he wants with his
vocals, and then you have to bring it back and we'll say whether we like it or
not. This is the way it turned out and we liked it so much that we said we
would not change anything. He did a great job and this got him more relaxed and
that's why he tried all this different stuff that he would never try when we are
all in the studio together. He does all the vocals in one or two days, and this
time he really made an effort on getting the vocals really great. I think the
vocals on "Please...Die" are the best he has ever done. We will keep on working
that way, just giving him the tapes and letting him do what he thinks is best.
- With the bio stating you to be "the new generals of thrash metal,"
I'm curious as to what bands from the 80's you were into.
We listened to bands like Kreator and Sodom and what not, but the greatest
influence for me were bands like Testament and Slayer. I listened to those
bands when I was ten years old and from there I said I'm going to be doing this
- It's funny because I recently acquired some really rare vinyl from
a guy overseas, in Germany, and he specializes in 80's metal. He said that the
American people that he runs into are always raving about the German thrash
bands and the European people are always talking about how great the American
bands are. I think the thing is, for the people over in Germany, they never got
to see a lot of American bands and the reverse would be true for us, like I
would have loved to have seen Iron Angel, even Sodom once or twice.
I saw Testament like once here in Sweden. I never got to see Forbidden, who I
listened to a lot. Maybe that's it.
- I look at this festival sheet all the time and I see all these
great bands like Blind Guardian, Mercyful Fate and what not that do festivals
nearly all the time, these bands have never played here! I think we were lucky
to get Witchery here with The Haunted.
We have done a lot of these festivals and tours, but we have yet to play the
DUNGEON. Interview with Buddy Hughes via email.
In our ever expanding quest to bring you interviews with many of the 80's most
talented metal bands, there are literally hundreds that escaped notice of all
but a few diehards. Dungeon is just one such band, that only released ONE
album, self produced and very limited edition; this "Fortress Of Rock" album
is a very difficult one to pin down. We recently spoke to Buddy about all
things metal, of course, and being from the 80's he of course had much to say
about the state of music back then and now.
- I hate to start an interview this way, but it is almost absolutely
necessary, since many of my readers know of you only through listening to the
album "Fortress Of Rock" through the classic albums section. Can you please
give us a brief history of the band and how you came to be?
Jon and Dave Story hail from Minnetonka, Minnesota and now are currently living
in Rochester. Dave played drums and Jon did guitars. John Lockner was our bass
player and was from Fairbault, now living in New Hope. I of course did vocals,
being brought up in Maple Grove and now residing in Crystal. Jon and Dave
formed Dungeon in the 80's and had a different singer and bass player when
formed. In fact there is a thank you to Ranch Suade as he was named on the
album. Dungeon did a lot of covers starting out, blending in originals to play
the club circuit in Minneapolis. We did a LOT of Ozzy, Dio and Black Sabbath
tunes, even some Riot songs. We cut a demo which prompted a pre-production of
the album in a 16 track studio named Danger Studio. Dave and Jon's parents
funded the album and we recorded it in 1985 at Control Sound in Minneapolis
with a friend of mine doing the engineer work (Jeff Bjork). Now after the
record came out on our own Medieval label, which was Dave's brain child, Dave
and Jon's mom and dad managed the band and took all the gig proceeds for
payback. John Lockner and myself never saw a penny. I paid for a thousand
copies and they sat at Dave and Jon's parents house and I don't know to this
day what they did with them all. I never saw any revenue from that either. We
gigged to support the record and got a lot of recognition from Europe but bad
management from the parents never got us across the Atlantic. Never let parents
manage a rock band! Later on, Jon Story started a head trip and wanted to be
the singer, bassist and guitar player and Lockner never got on the recording
and exited the band. I left shortly thereafter. Jon somehow has the masters to
that and as you can see on the album he takes all the credit. Dave and Jon are
now devout Christians. I am now in a band called Hatecrime, and John Lockner is
in a band called Gemini.
- You mentioned that this is the only album you ever released, but
were there plans to record a second album, or any other material?
We started working on a second album, which I funded, and we cut four songs. We
did the 4 songs until Jon's ego took over. We did have some label interest in
Europe but bad management sealed that fate. My band Hatecrime is looking at
doing some Dungeon shows and remaking some of the Dungeon tunes to lower
tuning. Hatecrime is also working on new material to shop.
- Did you see a lot of press worked for "Fortress Of Rock?"
We got a lot of good press out in Europe, and from Hit Parader as well.
- Are there any plans to re-release the first record, maybe remaster
it on CD?
I thought about the re-release. Dave and Jon have the masters and being
Christian or not, they would probably want all the revenue and John Lockner and
myself would get the shaft again. If I could I would do it. Our current drummer
for Hatecrime is a Dungeon fan from way back and totally into doing the
project. The guitar player's style is very similar to Jons and we have the
recordings on CD and are currently working on it.
- So I guess it seems unlikely that two of your former members would
even be considered on your end for a reformation of the original Dungeon?
Dave and Jon would write lyrics for Dungeon based on their Christian beliefs
and that's not what Dungeon was about. John and I tried that about a year ago
and that was the response we got from them.
- What was the scene like for you when you were playing live? Also
I'm curious as to what other bands were playing in and around your area at the
Bands like Impaler, who are still around doing albums and Regime... We had a
hell of a good time. There were a lot of hair bands as well. We always had a
great time gigging. It was different back then, you didn't have the dreadful
disease and the drugs were really good. Not that I indulged in that sort of
thing, but I was known to tip a few pints. We played some kick ass outdoor
festivals that I will never forget. I really connect to old Sabbath and singers
like Ozzy, the guy from Riot and stuff like that in the old days. I did really
dig a lot of underground bands as well.
- I'm curious about lyrical input for this album, anything you can
tell me about the songs, especially a song like 'Screen Queen' which seemed a
bit out of place (from the song title's aspect) with other titles like
'Infernal Regions' and 'Eternal Contract.'
Jon wrote 'Screen Queen' about an experience in a movie theater. 'Smash Palace'
is a party song about the Hell House where we partied and practiced. We got a
bunch of our friends down to the studio and partied and recorded the background
tracks. Jon takes the writing credit on 'From Under A Rock' whereas I was
developing my vocal style here and there and the end result is what you hear on
- I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but "Fortress Of Rock" is
seen as a highly collectible and desirable piece of vinyl to obtain! Did you
know that a collector in Italy of all places was the one responsible for
bringing this gem to me on CDR format? There's also a German web site that has
a review of your album and the cover artwork and collector's price!
Me and the current bass player for Hatecrime go to a lot of clubs and people
always recognize us from Dungeon and tell me how much they loved the band and
ask if we were ever going to do a reunion. I brought this fact up to Paul, and
he went to search on the web for a CD format of the record just for the hell of
it and bang! There is a bunch of sites with the album. I was amazed! We have
some interest from Metal Blade Records. Our drummer Paul knows the Vice
President of the company and he really dug the demo and they want to hear more.
Paul also knows Tracy G. who was with Dio for most of the 90's and did some
drum tracks for his current demo.
- Care to add anything to the years' long debate about unplayed vinyl
versus CD recordings? With all the enhancements in audio technology, programs
are able to clean up and restore old vinyl, even eliminate the scratches and
pops from records. I spent quite awhile with many records getting them to their
best and most restored condition.
As long as it sounds good and kicks my ass, it doesn't matter. Just let it
- When you look back on the 80's era of metal, compared to what's
coming out today, how do you parallel the two scenes?
Personally, I feel that some of the metal from the 80's has gotten much heavier
over the years and evolved to a certain degree, but metal bands nowadays
definitely want to pay homage to the greatest era that heavy metal has ever
- I couldn't agree with you more on that statement. Anything else you
want to say before we wrap this up?
I'd like to say thanks for reminding me of Dungeon and what a great band and
time it was. Check the current website at www.hatecrimesite.com and let me know
what you think of the current band. You can download MP3's on the site and pop
me an email. As for Dave and Jon Story, there are no hard feelings. I hope
their beliefs eliminated the greed and ego from their life that inevitably
broke this once flourishing band up. And to the parents for sweeping the
careers of their sons and Dungeon members under the table just to break even. I
think there was a lot more music that could have come from the band and if the
proper people were behind us at that time you would have heard a lot more from
us. By the way, where are my one thousand fucking albums I printed Mr. and
Mrs. Story!! I hope they got them to the fans out there and they are not
collecting dust in Rochester, Minnesota! Rock on!
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL. Interview with Toby.
- You guys must have had a LOT of material floating around to release
not just one but TWO CD's!
We did. The reason we did two albums, we had a bunch of reasons actually, but
one of the reasons was to clear out all the old stuff that we had.
- I didn't realize that this was older material...
It's a collection of everything that we've ever done. Our first album was stuff
that was done in late 96 or 97, and these two were everything after that up to
the time of their release.
- Your record label obviously took a very big chance letting you
release two albums simultaneously.
Our label is really cool, it's great that they have faith in us to be able to
pull this off. It's not like our last record sold great in the market, but they
just like our band and they were pleased and really supportive. You know that
Opeth is doing a double album release next year.
- Damn, I didn't know that.
There was this recent press release that Opeth decided to do that. I guess
Music For Nations has some question about whether that would be a good idea or
not, but maybe they look at the fact that if Dark Symphonies can do it, and we
can do it and nobody knows us, and few people know of Dark Symphonies,
basically if an indie label can do it then a label as big as Music For Nations,
with Century Media behind it, can make it happen.
- Of course, the way you write and compose your songs, the first
thing people will be doing is comparing you to Opeth anyway.
I've heard some comments like that, but I don't see that as accurate. I guess
the biggest comparison is that both of us write long songs, and switching
between heavy and clean vocals, but I consider Opeth like a guitar player band,
you know what I mean, like the focus is really on the guitar, and our band is
not so guitar oriented.
- It seems to me that more of the focus on your band is dealing with
free form jazz oriented passages, not that you're doing it improv of course but
sometimes it has that feeling to it.
And what do you mean by jazz exactly?
- Well, like any other style of music, jazz is really difficult to
pin down and categorize. I guess the way some of the instrumentation is done.
People say that a lot and I tend to disagree just because I don't listen to it.
I don't like it. I also think that a lot of times people will just immediately
say jazz when they hear horns and drums together. Obviously before jazz,
though, horns were used in classical music and then when you add horns and
drums together you get swing, big band and jazz. I really believe it's a
specific form of music, it's a culture thing as well as a sonic thing. We
definitely don't have any of the jazz culture, and I think that people who
love jazz, play jazz and are jazz fanatics might be insulted if we said we
used jazz in our music.
- I'd say it's really up to interpretation, as you can borrow
elements from different genres of music. Maybe classical is closer to what you
are doing, especially with the string sounds.
I don't think you can segregate the genres in our music when you listen to it.
It's like over 23 years of listening to music and subconsciously collecting
what I like and dispersing it into what I make. It'll never be like 'here
comes a classical section, here comes a jazz section.' The influences are more
subconscious than anything else.
- I listened to "Leaving Your Body Map" for the first time last
night, previously I had been working on the "Bath" album since I'll review that
first, and of course there are differences but they are structured in similar
fashion. There were some songs when I thought clean vocals should have been
used instead of death styled vocals, but I guess it depends on the mood of the
So which song was that?
- I think it was 'Garden Song.' I guess it was because the
instrumentation progresses, for me it's not so much what the lyrics are
saying, but how the instrumentation goes. I'm wondering how people who are
really into death metal are going to take this.
The metal scene is really split between people who are close minded and are
only going to listen to death metal, and people who are open minded towards
just about everything. I think metal is fortunately one of the genres of
music that is accepting of lots of different types of experimentation because
metal is extreme, and anything you can do that's extreme or rebellious even
within the scene is the very essence of metal. Like in some of the meathead
magazines we have been called gay because we have mellow and emotional stuff.
- Lemme guess, in Grimoire Of The Exalted Deeds? (Laughter comes from
both sides of the board)
No we didn't get reviewed in the U.S. publication, but the Czech version of
The Grimoire really were into us. Actually, Bill Zebub from the U.S. Grimoire
set up a show for us in Jersey which was really cool. You never know what
people are going to like!
- It's just funny because they called Ayreon gay, but I guess they
said that because Ayreon doesn't have any death metal vocals in their music,
so it's automatically gay.
I talked with Chris Barnes (from Six Feet Under - Ed.) and you'd expect him to
really be hating this stuff, but he actually compared us to really mellow
bands like Red House Painters, who are this awesome trip hop indie rock band,
and I'm like wow, Chris Barnes is into this stuff? When we played the
Milwaulkee Metalfest, some people put up their middle finger and walked out of
the show, but one comment that journalists make is that we're a breath of fresh
air in the stagnating scene. And I think that's interesting, because if every
journalist is saying that the scene is stagnant, and every fan KNOWS the scene
is stagnant, then why isn't something being done about it?
- Well, you're talking to someone who has no problems putting on a
gothic, industrial or even a techno album, but still enjoys the harshest death
and black metal there is. But you'd think that there would be more open
mindedness in the scene, especially with the internet, concerts and magazines,
after all, metal is a lifestyle for many, and it offers it's own breath of
fresh air to the corporate MTV meets radio world that offers nothing for
intelligent, like minded individuals. I mean even a large publication like
Metal Maniacs is still underground, and there's plenty of good, openminded
"death" metal bands that can still be considered underground.
Conversely, the way that backfires, is that the extreme underground scene
offers these people who are outsiders a place to belong and a sense of
belonging. Once they belong, they kind of stay really tight in that scene and
they want to be secure in their belonging, so they don't really venture outside
of it once they're there.
- One thing I wanted to talk about is something I've been researching
lately, especially with Behemoth's new album it's something I will be
mentioning when I do their interview. It's strange to me that Behemoth named
their album "Thelema 6" after the religious, well, I guess you could say
philosophy that actually started with Aleister Crowley. I opened up your
booklet to the "Bath" album and I actually noticed a quote from a Crowley book
"Diary Of A Drug Fiend," which I haven't read yet. I have always stated in
interviews that were it not for the "opening of doors" so to speak that so
called "recreational" drugs like marijuanna and LSD provide, we would not have
heard the world's greatest music by bands like The Beatles and Pink Floyd.
One thing I want to say about that, the purpose of that quote is not really to
make a point of the substances that could be used as focal points, but the
focus is on the other state of being. We call our music Astral music, and the
whole idea behind that is that art, music and lyrics, any kind of art exists
somewhere outside of you. It's not so much that you've created the art but you
are finding it. There's a theory that all artists visit this kind of astral
plane, this place where all this art is and they bring it back with them. It
doesn't matter how Coleridge got to this other place mentioned in the book,
where he dreamed of Kublai Khan, but he's experiencing this thing that already
existed, and when he awakes he doesn't remember all of it because he was
startled out of this other place. It's basically your job to communicate what
you've found in this other world to the physical world you inhabit.
- Do you believe in any of Crowley's works, or was this just a quote
that you thought was insightful?
I don't practice his magic or anything like that, though Byron does. What I do
agree with Crowley is the whole Age of Horus thing, where we are in an age
in which you are supposed to follow your will, basically what Thelema is. Your
whole point of life is to discover what your will is and fulfill your will.
"To Do Thy Will..." That's what a Thelemite is, they just basically do what
they are supposed to do. I like to believe that as a musician I am doing what I
am supposed to do. I feel kind of like a Thelemite myself.
- I did a lot of research on the Thelema culture online, I know they
have a church in California. I read over some of their readings, their thesis,
and it's unusual because a lot of their writings are extremely long, and
there's a lot of names thrown about, especially from Egyptian mythology.
Everything I know about it I learned from Byron, who actually studies it, and
he reads everything to me. I haven't read much of their works, I don't know
the specifics of it, but their basic practices appeal to me, as I stated.
- Your album covers kinda threw me, the "Bath" cover shows a roadmap
to the planets, whereas "Leaving Your Body Map" has a bathtub on the front!
Seems in a way that the covers were switched.
They're not switched, the word bath does not necessraily mean bathtub. There
were two points with that, the first point was simple and obvious, we wanted
to show that the albums are connected to each other. The more complicated
point was to break down associations that your brain automatically or
subconsciously make, like bath = bathtub. Like in music, it's seen as major
chord equals happy, and minor chord equals sad. And as an avant garde band,
music can have another purpose than to just entertain. It is supposed to kind
of teach and progress and be a springboard for ideas. At one point it's just
us trying to break free from associations. There was an artist who did this
kind of thing, he would paint a series of images and then put a word under
them, and the word would be totally different from what the image actually was.
Like he'd paint a pipe and the picture under it would say "this is not a pipe,"
so it's really NOT a pipe, it's a painting OF a pipe, but immediately your
brain sees the painting and goes "oh, that's a pipe." It's just a vehicle to
help you figure out how your mind works, to get people to think more and help
you be in control of your mind. One Crowley exercise that Byron is doing now is
realizing little idiosyncrasies and habits that you have throughout the day,
for example if you shake your toothbrush off everytime you use it. You notice
stuff like that and you train your mind NOT to do it and become very very aware
of what you are doing throughout the day. Once you're aware of EVERYTHING that
you do, you're in absolute control.
- Your music definitely does a LOT of that kind of thing, where I'm
saying he should have used clean and you're using death metal vocals instead.
I guess this also paralells into life as well, for instance when I was a kid I
was raised Catholic though I never had the insight to think that there was
anything wrong with that. Later on, after I saw the corruption in the church,
that incidentally had been going on for hundreds of years, I stepped away from
that, but not everyone has the ability to see beyond the scope of the visions
in front of them. Most people accept what they have because they were born with
it, or it's been in their family for centuries or even generations. You can't
really blame them, if that's all they've ever known, and sometimes it takes
another person to point out things to them they can't otherwise see.
It's the same thing in music, but also with the people over in Afghanistan.
Any issue over there, they believe one thing and they don't know anything else.
Music may be trivial compared to what's going on in Afghanistan, but you can
make that associationn with just about anything in life. Everyone has these
things that they have been ingrained with about music that aren't true. Like
I noticed how you said, "oh, I was listening to that and felt like you SHOULD
have used different vocals." You never SHOULD be, you just do. Like if there
were rules, then it wouldn't be art.
- And our genre really isn't meant to follow rules anyway. 'The
Ferryman' was an interesting song, I've always been into Greek and Roman myths,
but I am a HUGE Egyptology buff. I noticed Crowley borrowed a LOT especially
from the Egyptians, in the Thelemic theses, many different gods and goddesses
from Egyptian culture were used.
Crowley borrowed from everywhere though, not just Egypt.
- In your lyrics, though, you've borrowed quite a bit from classic
literature, names like Shelley and William Wordsworth, which people know by
heart. It's great to see such diversity in your lyrics, I mean in death metal
how many times can you write death and gore lyrics without getting bored? Nile
fascinated me with songs based on Egyptian culture, but one has to wonder if
that subject will ever run its course, where you have tons of classic
literature at your disposal.
Byron's influence as far as lyrics go are definitely focused on the Romantics.
All the lyrics we have on our records are original, well, except for 'The
Ferryman' of course. The quote you saw from Crowley, quotes are put their for
a reason. First off, one thing you'll notice is that we also quote video games
along with the Romantic novels. The point of that is to say WHO is to say that
one form of art is more valid than another, why is literature more valid than a
video game. Aside from that, remember when I mentioned that art already exists
in another place? The quotes from particular people we added because we feel
that they tapped into the same places that we feel we tapped into. They are
good examples of people who are in touch with this other dimension.
- So you have my curiosity raised, what video games did you quote?
We quoted Swordquest: Fireworld from the Atari video game system, and we also
quoted Final Fantasy 1 from the original Nintendo. That stuff was a great
influence on us as far as our creativity. Video games were a big part of our
childhood and the way we developed.
- Finally, I'm curious as to how you hooked up with Dark Symphonies,
they have't been around all that long, I think this is their 13th release?
They somehow found us, I don't know how that happened. One day I got an email
out of the blue and this guy was like, "hey, I heard your stuff can you send me
a tape of a whole bunch of your stuff." We had some old, OLD realaudio samples
on one of our old websites, we didn't plan on doing anything with the music at
all. I sent him a tape and was like 'Whatever, screw this guy.' He wrote me
back and said he wanted to sign us, and I was still like 'Whatever,' and
finally he called me! So finally I agreed, and I thought about it. I said "Why
not?" I wasn't planning on doing anything with this anyway. The really early
Maudlin Of The Well stuff was just me and Byron and I never thought I was going
to have a band, and before we know it we're asked to play Milwaulkee! And I was
like damn, I gotta get a band together!
PENTAGRAM. Interview by phone with Bobby Liebling.
Hacienda. Snog. Pentagram. What do these three bands have in common? They are
of a select few, though distanced by genre of music, that have appeared in
interviews in this magazine more than once. The last Pentagram interview we did
was through email, though the way I constructed it I have been told that it had
to be a phoner. Well, this is an extreme honor, and in the next few weeks and
months, if the words of the U.S.'s TRUE originators of doom metal ring true,
you will be hearing a buzz in nearly every underground and popular metal based
magazine. And it's about damn time too, having roots as far back as 1970. Our
second feature interview, enjoy.
- The new album "Sub-Basement" is a great record, and it actually is
kind of a milestone because it's the first Pentagram album that actually has
all new material.
Well, believe it or not, it's not all new material again. It's the same as all
other albums, it's half and half.
- Damn! After I already wrote the review that way! It says in the
liner notes all songs were written in 2001.
No, no, it wasn't WRITTEN in 2001, it was all published in 2001 though. If you
look on "Review Your Choices" it says all the stuff was published in 1999, but
that's not new stuff either.
- So what stuff is new and what's old?
All the stuff that I wrote myself was all written between 1971 and 1974.
- Damn, that goes back quite a ways!
Ha ha ha! It's just like on "Review Your Choices," same deal.
- I think it's a tough call between "Review..." and "Sub-Basement."
I like both records, but "Sub-Basement" is so damn heavy.
I think "Sub-Basement" is the first real album we've ever done. That's my true
honest heartfelt opinion, the first real Pentagram album ever. I never wanted
to brag about an album before, but the production is so superb, and I have to
say that "Review Your Choices" is so muddy and dirty, but we wanted to get that
older sound. We have that style on this record but we have the production
clarity from "Be Forewarned." I dunno, to me it sounds like a 100,000 dollar
budget. Plus, all the material is so crushing I absolutely LOVE it. I'm so in
love with this album I can't say enough about it. It took a lot of work to do
this one, and there's a lot of overdubs in it.
- The guitar work is so amazing, man, especially on the title track.
Joe just goes off on those guitar solos.
Joe's been playing guitar for about 20 years. I don't know how long you've been
- Well, I have to be honest with you, I wasn't crazy about the album
"Be Forewarned" when I first got it, and that was the first Pentagram Record I
heard. Maybe it was the timeframe in which I listened to it, because I was
heavily into speed/death and thrash metal at the time.
"Be Forewarned" had one thing that messed it up, and first of all, did you get
the LP or the CD?
- I got the CD version. It was on Mayhem/Fierce I think.
Yeah, they were nobody when they started, and now they're a giant owned by
Sony. They folded and resurfaced and now they're like a major label. We were
the first band on that label.
- One thing that really upsets me is the fact that I have to get the
CD's from Italy, and you'd think there'd be a good distribution base here in
the U.S. I don't really see them pushing this album like they should be.
Oh, they're really starting to, believe me. It's also the first Pentagram album
that has massive U.S. distribution. I can find it here in every store, I called
30 record stores and 20 of them told me they had it in stock, 5 of them told me
they were expecting it in and 5 more can order it. You see, Southern Lord is
distributed by Caroline, and that's the number one independent distributor in
- I'll have to check in the record stores to see how it's doing. I'm
assuming it has been out for awhile.
See that's the thing, you're looking at a pretty new product. The album didn't
get put into record stores until December 11th. It's just starting to get
circulated. The vinyl version hasn't even come out yet. The vinyl is going to
be REALLY limited this time.
- What's the vinyl version going to be like?
It will be very limited, and they will be numbered this time. There will be 700
copies on black, and 300 copies on red vinyl. The red vinyl will probably,
depending on the cost, have... you know all the bricks on the wall on the
cover? They will be embossed on the record itself. It's gonna be a hellfire
expense and the vinyl will be hard to get as there will be NO reissue. I'm
only allowed to get 10 black and 5 red copies permanently.
- I'm assuming those 5 red are already gone. I'd love to get one of
those, what label is doing that?
It's import ONLY, Black Widow will be doing it.
- I'll have to talk to Massino, hopefully he can give me one.
Massino will hook you up, if you talk to him, apparently you already are. You
see, today I finally gave him the okay to give all magazines my phone number.
I am going on an all out binge. First of all we have an incredible amount of
promotion for this album done already, which we've never had. The first
pressing of the new album sold out worldwide in ONE WEEK. We of course were
limited and we're a cult band, so we don't press a lot of copies. But I will
say this, it's close to ten thousand, and they're already pressing over
- It's funny because there was a post on the internet, the topic was
"which albums are you looking forward to hearing in 2002?" and I said that come
January 13th, not only will you be able to read a review, you'll be able to
hear six songs from that album.
Wow, that's way cool! Which six songs are you doing? Tell me.
- We did 'Bloodlust,' 'Buzzsaw,' 'Drive Me To The Grave,' 'Mad Dog,'
'Sub-Basement' and 'Tidal Wave.' Those are the ones I thought were the best,
and I had a very hard time picking out the best. Usually for CD's that score a
95 and above, I digitize 5 tracks, but I said fuck it, this is my 30th issue,
so I will do six.
This is your 30th issue? Wow, this is our 30th year anniversary! This year in
- And you're gonna come to Atlanta right?
I hope so. We're trying to get things off the ground and do some touring.
- You guys have always done some very limited shows, and I wanted to
ask about the Stoner Hands Of Doom festival you did recently...
Oh god, I don't wanna talk about it.
- Damn, was it that bad? Because I saw the live photos in the booklet
and I thought maybe that's where those came from.
No, we didn't play, first of all, did you mean the one in Texas?
- I'm not sure where it was.
We played at a place in Maryland but it didn't come off, and it's the first gig
I missed in 38 years. I got lost FIVE times on the way there, and showed up for
one song. I have NEVER had that happen in my whole career and I've been playing
for 38 professional years. Of course, everyone said it's the drugs, Bobby's all
messed up, you know the usual Bobby Liebling rumors. What actually happened was
I really got lost. We kept not finding the Harbor tunnel, and everytime we did
find the tunnel, we thought "well, we're at the tunnel we must have went too
far." Little did we know that it was on the other side of the tunnel, and I've
lived here my whole life. We were actually supposed to go through the tunnel
and end up on the other side. I got there for one song, and that was 'Gorgon's
- SO what is your touring lineup like?
Before the last few records, it was Marty Sweeney on bass, Victor on guitar,
Joe on drums and I was singing. Until Joe said on "Review Your Choices," "just
let me play everything, that way we don't have to mess with anyone else and I
can get it all done the way you want it." And I said that sounds good.
I don't know if you know but we are finally signed with the first U.S. label
we've ever been with. We signed with Relapse Records, and we will be doing
"First Days Here," which is the first legitimate, properly mixed and mastered,
authorized compilation album. Not the Hard And Heavy Rockville Music bullshit
- I was just about to mention him because a lot of people have had
BIG problems with him. Church Of Misery was especially upset about one of their
albums that wasn't supposed to be released that Marshall put out without asking
He's in for the shock of his life, because I'm filing a class action, million
dollar lawsuit against him. Literally for a million dollars, because he's been
bootlegging Pentagram stuff for ten solid years.
- He's been bootlegging a LOT of bands' stuff.
He's bootlegged over 60 products on CD AND on vinyl. he has a contract for
absolutely NOTHING. You've seen how long his list is. He has no permission to
release anything on there whatsoever, ever, in any way shape or form.
- I'm just curious as to how he got away with this for so long!
Because we've let him slide. I sold him a copy for his enjoyment, to listen to,
and then he goes and sells it. I used to be all messed up, doing drugs, and I'd
sell him a copy of a tape, and he'd think that if you sold him a copy he'd have
the right to release it. Which is a moron, but I guess I was even more stupid
for selling it, but you can't blame that. It was an unfortunate situation.
Internal Void, The Obsessed/Spirit Caravan, and us, we want to go after him
lock, stock and barrel.
- This is an unusual position here now, because when I did an
interview recently with Scott Wino (from Spirit Caravan/The Obsessed) he didn't
really have anything bad to say about him, he did say however, and I quote:
"He's one motherfucker of a business man." Whatever that really means, but I do
think he credited him for giving his band their start. Not exactly sure on
Well, yeah, Marshall did help out The Obsessed, years ago. But Marshall thinks
if he's putting out something by you then he's helping you by promoting you.
- Well, not if you're not getting any money.
He's never given me five cents. 60 products, I've never seen one cent, not a
penny. And this is pathetic to me, I don't care who puts it in print and I love
when I see in print to boycott the guy. Because it's not slander. The products
are all illegal. I'd like it stressed that Marshall has NO PERMISSION to sell,
reproduce, sell or have any commercial gain from any Pentagram or Pentagram
related products. I'd just assume to see the guy's whole company go six feet
under. As far as I know from our lawyers; we finally have attorneys and Relapse
is helping us with that greatly thank god. Black Widow is joining in with them
and we're going to take him to the cleaners. I want EVERY copy of everything
he's ever pressed or burned by us. That's a LOT of stuff. I'll settle out of
court for half a million dollars NO LESS. I think a million is fair because I
know he's had to have made that much JUST off of our stuff alone. That's if he
ONLY made 1,000 copies of each thing. His prices are exorbitant, his pressings
all stink, and his covers are even worse. He's a pirate and a bootlegger. I'm
not trying to be a millionaire or anything, I don't expect to become famous
tomorrow. I've been in this business too long, but goddamn I gotta pay my rent,
I gotta eat. Every cent I've ever made is in his pocket just about. So I'm like
just give me my money!
- I want to talk a bit about the new record, especially the title
track "Sub-Basement." I'm sure you have heard of martin Popoff, writes for
Brave Words And Bloody Knuckles.
I'm familiar with him, yeah.
- I'm not a big fan of his though, mainly because of his reviews. But
the point to this was there was a review of a Hawkwind CD he did, and I'm a big
fan of Hawkwind...
You know that Hawkwind has some stuff coming out on Black Widow right?
- No, I didn't know that! I was under the assumption that Hawkwind
broke up. The last album I got from them had this Captain Rizz guy and it
sounded to me like Hawkwind was trying to go hip-hop oriented or something. I
thought they were gone after that.
Their new album was just issued on Black Widow. They also have a Simon House
solo album as well as reissuing the High Tide album, which is hard to get. High
Tide is Simon House and Tony Hill, actually it's four people. They have a
violin, guitar, bass and drums. Also, there was an album in 1968 called Sea
Shanties. That's been reissued through Black Widow as well. They found all the
missing tracks and reissued it as a double album. High Tide are like Black
Sabbath on violin.
- Yeah, I actually got that from Black Widow. But the thing that
intrigued about the title track, Martin Popoff made statements about Hawkwind,
basically saying to Hawkwind fans that hopefully they'd go back to the basement
where they crawled out from. And I noticed that a lot of the underground metal
scenes are somewhat lurking in the basement so to speak.
That song is my autobiography, that's what it was written for. You know, "Ever
since I started out I been slinking in the pit." Saying I'm out of step and out
of time. I say screw 'em all though.
- Well, you have been credited with being the very first doom metal
band that was based in the U.S., and I think that is something that I don't
think anyone should have a NEED to dispute.
I appreciate you saying that, and a lot of people do say we invented it in the
U.S. I have been playing the same kind of music without changing or
compromising at all since 1971.
- About the same time Black Sabbath came out, incidentally.
Exactly. I've always loved what I'm doing. It's like "They call me a dinosaur
relic, stuck in the twilight zone. Sticking in the sub-basement keeps me lit to
the bone." I live by those words, I really do. I'm a big little kid man, I
don't wanna grow up.
- I don't blame ya one bit.
If I grow up then I might get old.
- The world's harsh enough as it is anyway without having to fight
through it. I really loved the Ozzy imitation vocals you did on this record and
in the past. It was quite amazing. Your voice is like a damn chameleon!!
You hit the nail on the head my friend. Thank you so damn much. NOW you have
become famous in my book. I really, really started to stretch it and just go
for it on "Review Your Choices" and "Sub-Basement." On "Review Your Choices"
I would say there are five singers on that album.
- That's the impression I get, though that's too modest a figure.
In "Sub-Basement" there's three, probably four. I really let loose because I
finally let my blues voice come out, especially on tracks like 'I Am Vengeance'
and 'Megalania' from "Review Your Choices." 'Downhill Slope' too.
- 'Out Of Luck' kinda sounds that way too (from the new album).
'Downhill Slope' was a beautiful song, it was wild because out of all this
doomy, heavy stuff, here's this awesome ballad type song.
It's a heavy ballad. I have a solo album I'm going to start on in February, my
first solo album. It's going to be entitled "I Call The Shots." Gotta get a
little egomania going there. (laughter erupts from both of us). I don't know
who is going to do it, Relapse or Black Widow. I'm hoping Relapse will be able
to afford to pick it up and do it, because Relapse has fantastic distribution.
- And I have yet to get ahold of ANYTHING from Relapse, much less
speak to anyone at the label.
My main man who just picked me up and signed me just got promoted to the head
of retail. His name is Pellet, you should talk to him.
- Back to the compilation album coming out on Relapse, what's going
to be on it?
A lot of stuff you've heard on bootlegs and what not...
- Well, the only "bootleg" I have is the Death Row vinyl album that
came out on Game Two Records.
That's a bad recording but goddamn it's heavy! The whole recording was done
with one ghettoblaster and one microphone. If you're familiar with the album,
it's got the original versions of some of the songs. That was very limited,
there were only 1,000 of those. I have two copies of that, and two test
pressings for sale. If anyone's interested. they're blank label pressings but I
will autograph those. There were only 30 test pressings made.
- I'm just curious as to why some of these songs took so long to
release, these songs go so far back.
We didn't have a recording contract. We didn't have the space to put this stuff
anywhere and nobody seemed to have any faith in the band. With all the old
stuff, I wrote everything; music, lyrics, everything. Now I just write lyrics,
and I'm really proud of the lyrics I've written for the last two albums. Joe
does all the music now. All the cowritten stuff of course was written in the
last year and all the stuff that's just me was done about 30 years ago. And
they all blend together smoothly.
- One last thing, my tape's running out here, but I recently read in
Metal Maniacs where they were talking about the gig you did with Blue Oyster
Cult, and I'm just curious to think if we could go back in time and change
history, if the band Pentagram would today be a household word like Judas
Priest is, since they were the ones that got signed to CBS/Columbia instead of
They got signed instead of us. Our stuff was shelved, because we were picked up
by CBS/Columbia and Pearlman of Blue Oyster Fame. We did do our demos in New
York for CBS, and like I said that stuff has been shelved.
- It was that particular show that you were supposed to play with
B.O.C. that the record label executives were supposed to be at, signing Judas
I would think we would have been big, and that whole thing was over a dispute
in the studio. Pearlman was crazy about us, and Murray didn't give a damn.
Pearlman couldn't show up to the session so Murray, the staff producer for
Columbia, did our production. He really didn't give a damn, he produced it
crappy, and did a lousy job. He didn't pay any attention to the band and
eventually, since I have a hot temper, I blew my cookies. It's a shame, but
there's nothing you can do about it. I don't care because we have since turned
down every major label three times. EVERY one.
- I look at the whole Columbia deal with Scott Wino and it makes you
not want to sign with a major label. However, it's the major labels that can
make your band a household word, but they're so damn tricky to work with.
It's a catch-22 thing, it is, and Scottie knows he got the raw end of the deal
on that. He did get a lot of money, and he screwed a lot of it up. He's a good
buddy of mine and a good dude, but he used the money like I have so many times
for no-no ville like I call it. He took the check for the whole thing ya know?
I won't let anyone write me a check for over $3600. It might be 20 checks, but
it has to be $3600 and under a check.
SAMAIN. Interview with Ralph Veety.
From the very beginning of the existence of this magazine, SAMAIN is a band
that I have been into for quite a LONG time, despite their release of only one
album. I couldn't think of a more appropriate time for the band to be
interviewed, here in our 30th issue, since after all we took our magazine name
from the title of their album. LONG overdue, we present you with a classic
- Except for being able to hear your album on my web site, I'm sure
that many readers are unfamiliar with your band history, so maybe you can give
us a little info?
Samain was formed on December 17th, 1982, two days after Bernie Eams had left
Bronx (which featured Brand - guitar, Eams - bass/vocals, Gombik - drums, and
myself on guitar) and about a month after the split of Laissez Faire (Henning -
drums, Ancaster - vocals, Herod - guitar and Manietta - guitars), and after
Bertram, playing guitars, left bored by the Nobi Koehnke Band. The name of the
band was inspired by a scene out of the Halloween II movie. So those are the
"facts" of the birth of Samain. The story was more complicated because of the
personal and musical situation in Hagen and Germany. Some years ago the New
Wave of British Heavy Metal had begun to sweep over Germany with bands like
Saxon and Iron Maiden, but they had to fight against "Neue Deutsche Welle"
(New German Waves) which was very strong those days. Nearly everyone had said
that Samain won't have any chance to get known with hard rock. The Rockpalace in
Hagen was the main meeting point for metal fans of the area, and so Samain soon
had lots of fans. When Samain moved into the "dungeons" of the Rockpalace to do
their rehearsals I joined the band in November 1983. To that date Samain had
done some gigs which weren't very successful but Eams, Ancaster and I wanted to
change that. The last concert with the old lineup (Ancaster, Bertram, Eams,
Newman (since Henning had left in October), Herod) was as supporting act for
German band Trance which were quite popular in Germany. Ancaster once said:
"Eams & Veety reuinted to create a new sound." In fact, Eams as main composer
wrote the songs for my style of playing. In the summer of 1983, everyone of the
band could hear what Eams played because of a project, called "H.M." (Heavy
Metal), which should be an opener act for Samain, but with musicians Eams,
Gombik, and myself it was to show Hennig and Herod HOW to play the songs. The
only H.M. song to survive was 'Malodorous & Lonely,' which was included on the
Samain shows. Peter and I had contacts to lots of people like Karl-Heinz Osche
(manager of Trance), Gordon Biel (A & R manager of Roadrunner Records), and
lots more, so we took our chance. In March 1984 we recorded the first studio
demo "Thunderbolt Giants" which was completely different to the live tape
"What The Seers Ordered" (with our old lineup). It had lots of airplay on
several stations, and Gordon Biel gave it to British Forces Broadcasting
Service (BFBS) and to Cees Wessels (chief of Roadrunner). At that point "the
train left the station."
- I know lots of independent bands were signed to Roadrunner back in
the 80's, and they must have been a huge force to be able to sign so many bands
from all over the world. Of course you had Mausoleum too, who has signed just
Roadrunner Records chief Cees Wessels came from Phonogram Records and he
wanted to enforce the metal movement which began to be successful after Iron
Maiden's chart breaker 'Run To The Hills.' So he tried to get as many metal
bands as he could get. Germany had been awakened from the NDW nightmare. Most
bands did thrash, speed and early forms of black metal but Mad Max (from
Muenster, the lead singer Vossie sings in the background of our album on
several tracks) and Samain preferred melodical metal. Mausoleum Records
preferred thrash and stuff, Roadrunner wanted more bandwidth, so Mad Max and
Samain signed with Roadrunner.
- The story of Samain takes several twists and turns over the course
of ten years or so. What is curious to me is why there was only one Samain
album recorded, when your lyric book I have seen has lyrics for so many other
songs? Were there other demos recorded before the "Vibrations Of Doom" album,
and did they have the same songs as the one and only album?
The story of the "official" Samain started in 1982 and ended 1986, less than
five years of an active band. When Eams, Newman and I founded Take Care in
1985 (Eams left Samain in February 1985, Newman and I in July '85) we started
recording with four Samain songs from which only one is left on my tape but it
wasn't Samain style anymore but following the new wave adult oriented rock.
After the split of Samain Peter tried with several former members to reform the
band but it didn't work. He ended up living in Los Angeles in 1987, then he
went to Japan and the Philippines. He returned to Germany in 1991, and he still
wrote lyrics and a book on Samain. Exactly nine years after we first founded
Samain, Peter and I met on December 17th, 1991 and we both knew that Samain was
still alive, both in us and the fans, and since 1994 we have tried to do an
anniversary gig because lots of former and new fans want to see us on stage
once more. The first try of a real reunion failed, though Peter and I recorded
some songs throughout the years since 1991. Some friends helped us. In 1992 and
1993, Ancaster, Eams, Newman and I recorded a number of songs in Eams' studio
but we couldn't get together for real, and unfortunately the tapes are lost.
That's the reason for the lyrics in the song book which aren't included on any
tape, record and video. On "Vibrations Of Doom," only one song is missing:
'Engine's Working Hard.' It didn't fit into the VOD-revelation and time was
running short. The pre production tapes were done in only two days and so it's
only those songs that are on the album. There are lots of rehearsal outtakes,
and most of the songs of the song book are on them. Other songs are only on
rough takes and only for recordings for the future. I will probably work on
some of these to put on the Samain web page.
- So where is everyone located, and are you still playing together
these days? I know you recently talked about doing another album as well as the
Our one and only album was recorded by Ancaster, Eams, Herod, Newman and myself
and the first gig after the recordings were with lineup Ancaster, Eams,
McKinnell, Newman, and Veety, like you see on the back cover of the album.
Ancaster lives in Hagen, is a master and teacher of martial arts, a writer of
cooks, and he sings. Eams lives in Iserlohn (25km from Hagen) and stopped his
musical activities since 1997. He doesn't even use his studio equipment since
then. Herod lives in Iserlohn as well, he married in 1986 or 1987 and sold his
equipment. Newman lives in Iserlohn too and has a design studio. He does
design work for CD's and stuff. He also plays in a blues band called "D.C. And
The Cruisers." McKinnell is our last Iserlohn resident, he works in a music
equipment store and plays in a cover band, and I live in Hagen, still playing
guitar and working too much for b2b online shops and systems.
There is no real Samain band but actually Peter and I are working on a new
concept. As second guitarist we have Mike Brand who wrote the first version of
'The Metal Breaks My Senses' back in 1982 with Bronx. We intended to get Andy
J. Deborra for the job but we can't find him anymore. For some reasons
McKinnell won't play, same goes for Herod, Dicky Hank and Fred Bertram. We do
hope Bertram changes his mind for an anniversary gig to play HIS song 'The Seal
Of Jidda.' on drums there is Newman for official gigs; recordings will and have
been done by several drummers. Eams will play bass on an anniversary gig, other
projects will be done with other players, and for recordings it's Mike & me
playing bass. When Peter and I decided to relive Samain just to record and
fulfill our's and oru fan's dreams we rehearsed some with Mike and it went
GREAT, but because of mine and Peter's jobs we can't do a "real" band, but
recordings and an anniversary gig will happen. The new recording I have been
talking about will be real in 2002 or 2003. It won't be with a label contract
but we intend to sell it, perhaps with a well known German distributor.
- I hope to be getting soon that CDRom disc with your concert on it!
Any details about that show you might remember?
After it was decided that we wouldn't be recording our second album in Canada,
as well as having to pass on a tour of Canada with tours with Lee Aaron and
possibly Rush, Eams left the band. Had the tour happened, Eams might have
stayed on but this made it official. And that had consequences, as we had to
cancel the follow up tour through the south and north of France, and also a
three month tour through Scandinavia. The gig on May 3rd, 1985 could not be
cancelled, so the hard rock festival with Tyburn, Brainstorm, Mad Max and
Samain happened. Peter and I planned the festival but the hall owner broke the
contract and so we had some very uncomfortable days. Half of the road crew was
ill at home, and we had new roadies who did an absolutely bad job (you can
notice me on the video working on amps... they plugged in the wrong amps and
speakers). And there were other problems. Anyway, after being stressed since
early morning Samain could take the stage at 10 PM. Peter and I didn't want to
play anymore that day; our moods were bad and so it is amazing to view and
listen to the video. Not too good but not too bad anyway. We had a couple of
copies but they were goen one day and we thought we would never get it back
again. Similar thing happened to the tape and video which were taken on May
27th, 1985 in Ludwigsburg. One year ago Peter gave me a little box as a
"special birthday gift." When I opened it I had a video in my hands. May 3rd,
1985. It was only 6 songs long but I was absolutely thrilled, I couldn't
believe he had found it at last. A week later he phoned me and said he had
ANOTHER surprise. So I went to him and we visited a former Samain roadie. He
had the nearly complete gig as 2 huge .mpg's.
- DO you have any other memories from other shows or tours you did?
We mostly played as a main act with bands from the regions as supporting acts.
Other bands were Trance, Saints Anger, Steeler, Mad Max, Meanstreak, and the
mighty Destruction. Of course this is a short list. I have not too many
memories of stories behind tours, etc. This should be Peter's area. Besides
being on stage or coordinating or arranging dates with the press and magazines,
I preferred to walk through the cities we went to. Oh, and I noticed you had
the band Saints Anger digitized in your pages. The guys in Saints Anger were
good friends of us in Samain back in the 80's. When we were in contact with
Karl Heinz Osche, manager of Trance, we did several gigs together. Roadrunner
had no interest in them but they could sign at Mausoleum. We both waited for
our releases to come out, and Saints Anger won. Their album came out a few
weeks before ours. The band came from Speyer, an old town in Germany's county
Rheinland-Pfalz. And man! They really could party! When we were at a party of
theirs for a festival (e.g. with Saints Anger, us, and Steeler) or just for fun
in their rehearsal room, it was absolutely "liquid," loud and very funny. I
can't remember another band we had so much fun with!
- I'm especially curious about the lyrical influences running through
the songs. I know with tracks like 'Thor' and 'Seal Of Jidda,' it seems like
there is a recurring Norse mythology theme running through several songs. Also,
I'm wondering about the tune 'Thank The Aerosmith,' I'm sure that's not a song
about the band Aerosmith...
It has nothing to do with the band Aerosmith, though Peter and I like them very
much. Peter had a time when he started to write myth lyrics. It wasn't his only
topic but in the 80's everyone seemed to remember myth topics only. When you
take a look at the lyrics page of course you will see other topics. Peter
however is the best one to answer that question. Eams didn't talk much about
how he got his ideas for the songs he wrote, but there are exceptions. 'Seven
Tears' is influenced by a Judas Priest song 'The Hellion,' as he once said to
Peter. I don't know how Eams came to write 'Gonna Swing My Chariot,' as he
wasn't big into rock-a-rolla. But I can imagine that it was influenced a bit by
Thin Lizzy. Eams loved the band and so do I; they had some riffs with hidden
rock and roll styles.
- The style of metal you played was unusually melodic in a world of
heavier speed and thrash metal going on at the time, and was quite refreshing.
When you look back at that one album, how do you rate it compared to what was
being released at the time and what is being put out today?
I didn't hear the album for years, but then I got a Canadian version and found
that the sound was much better than on the German or Dutch version. None of us
liked black, death or speed metal. I guess the "fastest" most up beat we heard
was by Iron Maiden. We all liked to hear a melody and so we wrote that mostly.
When I listen to the album today it sounds a bit antique but not bad. And still
I can't just sit there but have to nod with the beat. I wouldn't say
"Vibrations Of Doom" is an album you HAVE to own but I heard lots of recordings
of those days which are very boring. A clue: pitch your record player so it's
faster...you will hear different songs. But seriously, we played the songs a
lot faster as you recognize on the video. When I read your album reviews I
don't know the bands in most cases. Our radio stations here don't support metal
or it's too late on the air. Kinda funny but a friend of my son give me CD's
from time to time and so I get to know newer releases. It's time to go to gigs
again, there has to be real good bands and I'd like to know them.
- One of the saddest things to me was that the album never got
released here in the U.S., and I'm wondering to this day why? The closest we
got of course was Canada. Do you remember much about the deal with Attic
Roadrunner didn't believe in Samain selling albums in the U.S. but the number
of sold copies in Canada was very high, nearly impossible that it was just
Canada. We received some 3 to 5 letters of American distributors who wanted to
distribute the record in the U.S. So we asked Roadrunner and they replied that
the album was sold in the U.S. in license of Attic. There are lots of second
hand copies in the U.S. and I asked some how they got the vinyl. All except one
replied they bought it in a U.S. record store.
- The web site you created is quite nice and very extensive. Has it
put you in touch with people from your area who remember the band, and have
they shared any special memories with you?
Thanks, and I hope I have the time to translate it all into English. The first
to react on the page was some American guy named Steven Cannon, who definitely
doesn't live in my area. Seriously, yes, some people emailed, wrote, phoned me
or Peter afer they found the pages on the net. Probably I think I wouldn't have
the video if there wasn't the page. Carsten Mueller was a former Samain roadie
and he came to the site. That made him remember of old times. He phoned Peter
after that, and so his "return" to Samain started. But there were more like
former fans or bands we played with.
- So what else is in store for Samain in the future? I for one would
love to hear all those unreleased songs that never made it to any album.
As long as Peter and I are that involved in our jobs, we won't have time to
relive a real active band. But surely there will be at least one gig. Those
things need too much time that we can't spend right now. Another story are
recordings. From time to time we record a song or fragments at studios or home
studios. Until today it's only rough takes and I won't put them as outtakes on
the site. But you and all who are interested in Samain will have the chance to
listen to more songs in the future. There will be MP3's and/or RealAudio files
of quite a number of studio and live recordings of Samain songs. Some have not
high quality and some are not played to well, but anyway it will be a kind of
thank you to all fans and curious people. The first ten songs will be online
probably by end of January. taken from 'Today You're A Lion' (studio) and 'From
Now Till Doomsday' (live); most of them aren't on the V.O.D. album, so you can
listen to "new" material of those days. You will notice that Samain changed
its style from 1984-1985. More songs will follow.
- Anything else you would like to add before we wrap this up?
At first let me say I find it great you still like Samain though the album's
release was back in 1984. You will be the first to know when things happen with
the band and maybe, if there's an anniversary gig one day, you can have the
chance to come to Hagen for that. When I read the lines above it always sounds
as if nothing would happen with Samain, but that's not true. Mike does
rehearsals of Samain material so we don't lose time when complete rehearsals
for a gig will start. In February there will be talks with several concert
organizers for realizing a Samain gig in 2002 or 2003. Peter and I haven't got
the time to do it on our own as we did in the past, so it will be the job of
others. Thanks for your support.
SHAPE OF DESPAIR. Interview with J.S.
The most original doom/death band I've heard in quite awhile can be compared
to, some may say, bands like Winter and Disembowelment, but what sets them
apart from ANY of these is their use of female vocals, flutes, and most
recently violins. Their only two releases are of extremely high quality, and we
are fortunate enough to talk with the founder, who goes by the initials J.S.,
who enlightens us a bit more on the activities of Shape Of Despair.
- Talking a bit about your first release "Shades Of..." we were under
the impression that this was pressed from an unreleased demo and that the band
was no longer around, according to the bio, so naturally I was a bit surprised
to see a new recording from you.
We never made a decision to end composing music for Shape Of Despair. We kept a
little pause after we made those songs back in 1995 for a few reasons like lack
of rehearsal spaces and so on. I don't remember anything else, maybe we just
didn't want to rush anything so we just looked and wandered around. The first
thing in 1998 was to release a demo tape for ourselves, just to hear how it
would sound after a few years. Then after we got a deal with Spikefarm we
decided to record it again with a lot of better sounds and with a female
singer. I had prepared some songs before that in 1997 (which you can hear on
the "Angels Of Distress" album) which I wanted to record for a full length
album. And after that year I have made songs all the time, slow and carefully.
I've had to hurry to record anything and of course songs grow better from time
- I noticed that all of the songs, as mentioned before, were written
well before the CD's were released. In the case of "Angels..." these songs were
written between '97 and '99, whereas the "Shades Of..." CD I was unsure about.
"Shades Of..." songs were written in 1995, as I mentioned above, and we used to
rehearse those songs with only guitar, bass, and drums as those were originally
written for guitar. We were pretty unsure how it would sound when adding all
the synth lines and female vocals. We never tested the growlings before we
entered Hellhole studio to record "Shades..." so I guess it was a pretty
intense experience for us.
- Speaking of the recording process, I know that for "Angels Of
Distress" it took nearly 4 months to complete compared to your first release
which took only 2. Was there a set schedule you used for the recording, or was
it just harder to book enough studio time? Also, was money a factor in the
timetable of recording the CD's?
We had a planned budget for this album as for our previous album so we knew how
much studio time to spend and so on. As for Hellhole studio, the guys who run
it have their own jobs which takes a lot of their time. I guess they get more
money from their real jobs so maybe it is because of money... We had to
schedule the recording time in the way that every one of us could appear and it
usually was after working hours and usually on weekends we spent more time
there. And some days some of us called and cancelled a few recording days, so
it was a long shooting schedule with a lot of patience demanding. But this is
just what we wanted after all, to take this all slowly and carefully so we
could rehearse between recordings and so on. And after all Hellhole studio was
meant just for themselves basically since they have their old doom band called
C.O.D. and they planned to create a little studio to record their own stuff in
there. Never for publicity. For now I think there's a few bands who recorded
their albums with them, Babylon Whores to name one.
- The new CD definitely sounds more dynamic than the last one, though
I loved "Shades Of..." One thing I am upset about is that the flutes are gone
from the new disc! Why were they omitted, are there plans to bring them back?
Also, what changed the decision to make the death styled vocals more dramatic?
I just thought that the flutes wouldn't work for this album's soundworld as for
example the violin, which does drive this depressive and really melancholy
touch which we try to express, and I've always loved the sound of a violin. I
guess we won't record flutes anymore in further days since all the new material
which I've now done (or undone) doesn't really need it anymore. I think it's
better to attach some new sounds to music. And to say about the growlings, I
guess it's just Pasi's own natural deep voice which shines through this music.
We didn't have so many choices after Toni's departure to find a replacement for
him, so Spikefarm just made a call to Pasi to see if he was interested in this.
I've always liked Pasi's voice and this was the time to get it all out of him.
I think next time we will have a better result on this, with more time to
- With this album and the last one, there was really no information
about band members, not their names, faces or anything like that! Why just the
use of initials?
We just didn't want that! There's nothing to hide, really, and there's nothing
to reveal. Perhaps later we can have admiration for our beautiful faces and
- It was brought to my attention that certain members of Shape Of
Despair are currently, or have been in, other bands. Would you care to tell us
Tomi Ullgren plays in Thy Serpent and sacrifices most of his time in Rapture.
Samu Ruotsalainen plays in Finntroll and in many other bands as well, though I
don't remember those names at all. And Pasi Koskinen is well known in Amorphis.
Pasi has recorded now his "child's" (Ajattara) first full length album on
Spikefarm also. I myself assist Rapture and have a few other bands which sooner
or later will record something small, perhaps later an album would be great.
Those bands aren't so close to the doom style so it's a bit relaxing to play
something else for awhile.
- Since you write all the lyrics AND the music, how do you go about
the vocalist's performance? Are you particular about how each line and sentence
is sung, especially since I noticed there are clean sung male vocals this time?
No, I give free hands to Natalia and Pasi as to how they'll perform themselves
in this. It's a bit typical when I have some songs ready, I hand those to
Natalia and she will prepare herself before we record those. We'll discuss
these vocal lines more in the studio and I'll give my own opinions and try to
guide her to a right direction to make us all satisfied for the result. But all
the vocals which are sung goes directly through me so I'm the "filter" in there
so to speak. Of course when I've done all the music and so on, I think it needs
someone to direct what to do, and this time it's me.
- The death metal vocals are a little easier to pick out this time
around, but with this new record there's no lyric sheet like the last one had.
We wanted the whole package to look very simple so we dropped the lyrics out.
If someone wants those, they are available in the web site. We wanted these
covers just to reflect the music with some pictures, not too much words to
- Seems to me like you only write 5 songs an album! I have told
people it's much easier to write 4 or 5 good songs than to be under contract
to have to do 9 or 10 for a full length album. You also seem to spend a lot of
time recording and mastering these songs too.
Well, for now it's been a bit of a coincidence to have just 5 songs in both
albums, I guess it doesn't have anything to do with my "lucky" number which is
5 also! Ha ha. Anyway, I think that on our next album we will have more than 5
songs, unless we make a tradition of this for ourselves. I guess it's up to a
person whether it's hard or not to make more than 5 good songs. There's a lot
of bands who succeed in that. When it comes to recording and mastering, we do
not spend a lot of time with it. It would take about two weeks with all the
recording and mixing if we would have the chance for it, so it's pretty
standard time after all.
- The songs on "Angels..." don't seem to be as long as the ones on
your first record, which believe it or not doesn't bother me at all. I can
always enjoy really long songs especially if they can hold my interest, I love
the way in the first album some of the most intense passages, especially with
the first two songs, are repeated so I can enjoy them at length. The first
recorded instance I can remember of this is with The Beatles' 'I Want You
(She's So Heavy)' where they play the heavy guitar riff at length until the
song suddenly ends.
Don't remember that song. Didn't some old band record this once also, for some
compilation? Well, when we recorded our demo for those "Shades..." songs, we
didn't write down any changing parts. We just played along with it and changed
the riffing when we felt like it. I guess it should be done all the time in the
same way since I myself at least am very satisfied with that result. It's just
how you wanted that to be. I like also if someone really repeats some lines but
there's not so many of those bands around. I guess though it would be pretty
boring listening to like fast grind stuff when they would repeat one riff like
4 minutes straight ahead. Sometimes it might work though.
- Do you have to be in a certain mood to write this style? I know
sometimes with music like this it's a depression type of mood, especially with
some of the lyrics I read on the first album. The music helped in times of
my own depression, and I was wondering if you might suffer some forms of
depression, I myself suffer from chronic depression at times and sometimes this
can be an interesting way to carry out lyrics.
Yes, at the time when I wrote "Angels Of Distress" I could say that I was a bit
depressed by everything that surrounded this life. It was a big relief to
express your feelings through music, I guess it also helped a bit to leave your
thoughts somewhere else than inside your mind to circle around, though I think
this music does it for you. But these of course are quite personal things so
it's quite interesting to find how this kind of music affects "positive"
people. It depends a lot on what mood you are in when composing music. These
songs wouldn't be finished without some "negative" emotions. I can't say yet
what kind of songs our new ones are going to be, but there's some changes since
I'm not all the time wrapped around depression.
- There aren't too many doom/death metal bands that employ strings
and female vocals, violins, and flutes. It seems that your music goes for a
doomy effect but also throws in beautiful and mellow passages in there as well.
Disembowelment and Winter come close to a description of what you are doing but
even those bands don't come close to your actual sound. Some of the doomy
elements of Candlemass I hear too, but more in slight.
We haven't thought of ourselves as being doomy as the others compared, at least
I haven't made these songs to fit into some category. It's safe to say Shape Of
Despair doesn't settle yet into some category and it's nice to always explore
something new for yourself. I've heard Winter a few years ago and didn't like
it too much, but maybe I should have listened to it with more interest than
just as background music for a few seconds. It also plays a big difference in
where you are and what mood you're in when listening to something new for
yourself. I haven't heard Disembowelment yet. I've heard Candlemass a few times
and I think I should check them out again.
- I was especially glad to see a website for your band, especially
since before your new album there was almost no band info available anywhere!
Our web and cover designer from Demonlovers' society were working on this
web site at the time we released our new album but we didn't manage to have the
information for our covers on time. Maybe that's why people thought we wouldn't
continue this anymore... Not correct. It's always been that the music is on the
frontline for us, not ourselves. Always let the music speak for itself.
- What can we expect to see on future albums? Is there another album
in the works, and if so can you please bring the flutes back? :>
Ha! Okay, if you want I can bring the flutes back. Well, perhaps not after all.
We'll just have to see what kind of music we're going to release. There's a
possibility that we won't add flutes or violins at all, but I don't really know
right now. I've done a few songs already but these are pretty much unfinished.
There's some shorter songs and some songs which reminds a little of the songs
on "Angels Of Distress." And then there's a few non-metal emotional pieces
also, not sure yet if they'll fit together, but we'll see. Overall, though,
that familiar atmosphere still stays within these songs.
- Are you familiar with the deal Century Media has inked here in the
U.S. with Spinefarm? They have already distributed Kalmah, Naglfar, Sonata
Arctica and a few other releases Stateside. Hopefully they will pick up your
new album as well. What sort of deal do you have with Spinefarm and how did you
come to pick them as your label?
That choice was pretty quickly done. I wasn't sure if Spikefarm would drop us
after the first release because we aren't a real popular band with big sales
around the world, but they don't seem to be bothered by this at all. Instead,
they are pushing us all the time to continue this what we are doing right now.
And as Spikefarm is a Finnish label we can easily stay in face-contact and
solve all the problems quickly if there are any. Right now we made another deal
with 'em which consists of two more albums.
- Do you care to mention anything about the themes behind specific
songs? One of the most striking lines comes from the track 'In The Mist' from
"Shades Of..." where the singer says "They raped my soul." Intense stuff!
It would be much better for our previous singer to tell about these lyrics
since he made these. But it's impossible right now since I have heard nothing
from him in a year now. All in all those lyrics deal with melancholy,
misanthropy, fantasy and of course death. There's implications of a bleaker
nature within these texts as it was a strong inspiration source for us at that
time of composing. Those lyrics do reflect some images and visions we had back
then... and some perverted mind states. After all those texts reflect something
for myself as they probably do for some others in their own ways...
- Anything else you want to talk about as we wrap this up?
I think this is enough for myself also. This was a long interview so I guess I
will just prepare myself for a smoke... or two and leave you to advertise our
website and stuff...
SODOM. Interview with Tom "Angelripper"
Any words I say about Sodom wuld probably be a waste, since anyone who knows
anything about German metal knows that Sodom, along with Destruction and
Kreator, are one of the biggest and best thrash metal bands in existence. Their
newest album "M-16" proves that in spades, and we caught up with Tom, the
original founding member, to see where Sodom is at today and to reflect a bit
on the glorious days of 80's metal.
- The Sodom tradition of war themes hasn't died down, though
lyrically things changed quite a bit after the debut album "Obsessed By
We changed the lyrics after "Obsessed By Cruelty," in the beginning I was
really obsessed by Aleister Crowley, occult themes, and black magic. But
afterwards this gained me nothing, so I changed the lyrics, and wanted to write
about things that really happened in the world. "M-16" was an album that
allowed me to describe how bad the war (in Vietnam) was.
- I was intrigued by the movie samples,I recognized a few myself.
Yeah, there were some from Full Metal Jacket and one from Apocalypse Now.
- Speaking of Full Metal Jacket, there is a cover you have on "M-16"
of 'Surfin Bird,' it's a song that I always thought was somewhat out of place
in the movie, but you guys did a kick ass job making it shred!
I like the original song. It's from '65, and to me it brings out the spirit
of the sound during the Vietnam War. It's a very old band, a rockabilly band
called The Trashmen. We styled it in our way when we covered it, I wanted to
do it originally the same way it was done, with acoustic guitars and
contrabass, but the producer kept saying, "come on, you have to do it your way
with metal guitars." This song was recorded after the official sessions, live
in the studio, and the sound is really amazing. We've played this song live
before, and people really dig it, I think it's going to be a live classic.
- I read that you actually went to Vietnam and toured a war museum,
which I thought was rather unusual for a country to display such a horrific war
encased in display exhibits.
It's really funny, but the Vietnam people want to make support through tourism
because lots of people actually go over there. It's quite interesting, you can
see the guns, the traps, all the weapons, and it was set up kinda like a park.
The most interesting for me was the park for the people, we visited a special
hospital for Vietnam veterans, but we got little information from the people
there, they don't want to talk about, they say the war is over. One guy said
something about 400 American soldiers got killed, but he didn't want to talk
about it. He said they were just looking forward to the future. We wanted to
play a concert over there but we didn't get a chance to because of the
political system in place there, they've never allowed any European or American
bands to make music there. Also, there is a metal scene but it is still in the
deep underground. They don't know much though, they don't know bands like
Motorhead or AC/DC, and it is forbidden to have long hair and hear the music.
We did play in Bangkok, that was no problem. It was one of the best shows we
played, we had fans coming from Malaysia, from Indonesia, and they know all
the songs and all the lyrics. They get them from bootlegs and the Internet.
After our European tour we want to make a small Asian tour and we will try to
play Vietnam again.
- Well, how do you feel about that, because I know that a lot of
people have gotten ahold of your album before it's hit the stores.
I saw at Ebay a lot of people had the promotional copy of "M-16" for sale. And
before it was released, you could download songs off of WinMX and other sites.
I think the real Sodom fan is going to buy the album, to get the original cover
and lyrics. If you download an MP3 file it sounds really bad. I know bigger
bands like Metallica really hate it, but I don't see why because these bands
are millionaires practically. I like stuff like Napster, for example, I was
looking for the original song 'Surfin Bird,' you can't buy their album anymore.
I never download the complete albums anyway.
- It's really funny, because the bigger bands who are really popular
and selling a lot of records anyway don't really need to worry about stuff like
Napster. And it's the smaller bands who really benefit from services like this.
The smaller bands figure, or should figure, if one guy who has never heard of
the band gets ahold of a song of theirs and likes it, then that's one more fan
the band will have that they might not have gotten anywhere else.
It's basically another kind of promotion. I think the problem why bands don't
sell enough records is because the the records are too expensive. In Germany
the new Sodom album is about 30 marks, which is too expensive. I think things
like Napster and WinMX is just good promotion. For some users in other
countries, like the ones in Malaysia and what not, they cannot get the albums
anyway, they aren't released in their country. I talk to the fans and they say
that they get the stuff on the internet. If they cannot buy it legally then
what can they do?
- Back to the Vietnam trip you took, I remembered reading that you
actually got to see the underground tunnels that were built by the Viet Cong?
This is just designed for the tourists. The tunnels were rebuilt a little bit
higher, so that it's easier to go through. It's almost like a park, it's
getting really commercial. You can also visit the battlefields and see the
tanks that are still standing in the fields. We also talked to U.S. Vietnam
Veterans and they want to go back and see the places where they fought.
- Now I know with your album "Code Red," you were actually on
Pavement Records, and of course now you are with Steamhammer exclusively here
in the U.S. Were you aware of the U.S. distribution deal?
In Germany we were with Drakkar Records, and they never released it worldwide.
They tried to get other companies in different countries and for the U.S. they
gave it to Pavement.
- It was a shame too because Pavement never did anything with the
record, I tried to get interviews set up and they never happened.
I talked to them when I visited the U.S., I was with the band Desperados and
we actually went out there. I went to the company to talk to them and I told
them I wanted help to get better promotion, for a U.S tour, but they have done
nothing. With SPV, the albums are released worldwide.
- With the album "Code Red," I read that the title track was based on
an American military punishment code, and I didn't really understand the
concept for that as it was explained to me.
The album wasn't really a concept album about this, but it comes from a lot of
Vietnam war movies. It happened in other cultures as well, even Germany.
Americans call it Code Red, and Germany has no special name for it. When I was
in the military in 1984 and 85 it went on all the time. It's basically, well,
it's hard for me to explain, but it's like if a soldier doesn't give 100
percent in the service, or he is a liar in his troop, he gets punished from
his other comrades, and the General will say nothing, okay they can do what
they want. It happens also in German military service.
- How was your stint in the military? I know the one thing I always
found odd was that over here in the States, you didn't have to serve in the
military if you didn't want to, whereas overseas you were pretty much forced to
serve in the military. I think some countries might have changed this since
Well, here in Germany I had a choice, to either serve 12 months in the military
and if I didn't want to I could have taken a civilian job, but the civilian job
I would have had to do for 2 years. So I chose the service. It wasn't bad, but
the worst thing was I only got about 200 marks a month.
- What's that in American dollars?
About 100 dollars. But you get your bed for free, your food for free, what do
you really need much money for? I met a lot of good friends, we drank a lot of
beer, and the months went really fast, it was really crazy. The bad thing was I
had to cut my hair, it was a real problem. If you remember the "In The Sign Of
Evil" album you saw pictures of me with short hair, that was the time I was in
the service. I had really long hair before they cut it.
- You haven't done any touring here in the States in quite a long
time. I'm not sure if you've ever done a full length U.S. tour in your history.
Never a tour, we did a show for Milwaulkee Metalfest though, and it was really
bad. That guy Jack Koshick he does nothing. We just played half an hour, and we
were told we couldn't bring our guitars because he had no papers, no work
licenses and stuff. We were given really bad guitars and a really bad bass, and
a really small drumkit. Just to play half an hour he only gave us $500 for a
show. When we go to America we need someone who is really serious, who wants to
support the band and wants to do better promotion. When we go onstage, I need
stuff, I need pyrotechnics if possible.
- I could have sworn I heard that you played here back in the 80's
when the "Obsessed By Cruelty" album came out.
Never. We played in Mexico and South America, but never in the U.S. I don't
know why because even the first records afterwards, like "Persecution Mania"
and "Agent Orange," were really successful here. Also, a band like Kreator has
played the States like three times. I'm sitting at home and my main interest is
to play and make music. If nobody's interested then what can I do you know?
- Now going back to the first few albums, I must say that you speak
pretty good English, but looking at the lyrics to "Obsessed By Cruelty," it
seems like you had a little trouble grasping English concepts, especially on
songs like 'Volcanic Slut' and 'Witchhammer.' 'Volcanic Slut' was especially
Yeah, that one was really funny. Ha ha! I don't stand 100 percent behind that
album's lyrics. This was another time and all the lyrics came from my sick
brain. I just wrote it in German and someone helped me to translate, but not
really, you know what I mean? I think "Obsessed By Cruelty" is really funny,
but it seems to me that a lot of new bands these days seem to get inspired from
- A lot of black metal bands I know really dig "Obsessed..." and also
the "In The Sign Of Evil" EP. The vocal style sounds a bit like black metal
anyway, so maybe along with Bathory you can be credited with the vocal style
that goes hand in hand with black metal these days.
Lots of popular black metal bands say that those are the best two Sodom albums
ever. What can I say? Okay, well we changed after "Obsessed..." and we got a
new guitar player Frank Blackfire, and the album "Persecution Mania" to me is a
really great record. On "Obsessed..." we couldn't really play, though I still
like it and we still play songs from it and "In The Sign Of Evil" live today.
- Yeah, I started to ask you if you still played any of those songs
live. What songs from those two do you do live?
We still play them of course. Why not, it's a big part of our past. We play
'Witching Metal,' 'Blasphemer,' and we made a medley from the "Obsessed" album,
there was 'Deathlike Silence,' 'Witchhammer' and the title track in it, plus
'Pretenders To The Throne.' We cannot play every song from that album because
when I listen to it I sometimes cannot realize what I've played this time. I
got a new guitar player and a new drummer, and when they listen to "Obsessed"
they hear nothing. The guitar player was like "What have you played there, it's
really, really heavy."
- I know you mentioned Aleister Crowley as an influence in your lyric
writing for "Obsessed By Cruelty," but I am curious to lyrical input for songs
like 'Witchhammer,' 'Equinox' and the like.
It was all mostly inspired by Crowley. I read Aleister Crowley's book "The
Beast 666," there's another book called "Equinox," which was really strange.
It's difficult to explain how I got the lyrics down from this. In the end
though, like I said, I got nothing from most of this. Crowley had a rather
sick brain, he was somewhat of a psychopath.
- Well, he did have some radical ideas for his time, but there are
bands out there that find lots of relevance in his words in today's day and
age. For an example (which also occurs this issue I might add) are you
familiar with Maudlin Of The Well?
Yes, I have heard of them.
- They actually quoted Crowley's "Diary Of A Drug Fiend" book, and there
is one big thing Crowley said that I agree with, he talked about how a person
under the influence of certain drugs could free his consciousness and tap into
a level he might not be able to tap into otherwise. When I do a lot of writing,
I do it under the influence of marijuana and I have looked back on stuff I have
written and wondered just how I came up with these ideas.
But if you read lyrics from these new black metal bands, like Dimmu Borgir or
Cradle Of Filth, the lyrics have gotten really cliched. They're writing about
nothing, it's just fantasy, even true metal bands like Manowar, Saxon, or Judas
Priest are writing lyrics that are nothing. For me it's really important to
write the best lyrics as I can, as much as my English will allow. The lyrics
are about 50 percent of the package. A lot of Sodom fans don't read the lyrics
though they know the lyrics to the German sung songs like 'Bombenhagel' and
'Ausgebombt.' Most people don't even care about the lyrics.
- I always thought that the music was more important than the lyrics.
There are bands that I like that I don't really care for the lyrical stances,
but let's face it: No one cares what the bands are saying if they don't like
their music. If a band has good lyrics then to me that's just a plus.
Well, with this new album, people are saying "Aw, come on this is a war album"
but it's actually an anti-war album. And nothing else you know. I describe the
war, and I write the lines that are based on historical fact but in a lyrical
way. I am really interested in history but I cannot write lyrics about World
War II or about Hitler.
- I wonder why that is?
Because I will get a lot of misunderstanding about Germany, and from Germany.
Some people would never understand it. We get a lot of problems with
'Bombenhagel' and the German initials in a song. People say "Why would you play
this," and I say why not because I'm German! Germans have a big problem with
this as well.
Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who helped me out with the classic
albums section. I got so many contributions from people the world over, Italy
and Brazil in particular, that it will be a daunting task to get it all up
online. We have to watch our bandwidth though, as we have come dangerously
close to exceeding it recently. Hopefully Spaceports will implement a plan soon
to increase bandwidth for the site at an affordable rate. Vibrationsofdoom.com
of course is a paid site and is doing very well.
Recently I have enjoyed being a dad, it's been an overwhelming experience. It's
also a tiring one as well, as he has seemingly limitless amounts of energy.
However, there's nothing like it in the world, and it also is a scary
experience as well. Think about the world your son or daughter might enter,
it's enough to make me want to barricade the doors and forbid anyone to go
I hope the soundfiles are a little better customized to each and every
individual's tastes. Please note that even the '*' songs doesn't mean that
those songs are the absolute worst on the CD. I just figured if you liked my
best tracks and hated my worst, then you'll be able to figure out better just
how my tastes and yours are similar or different. 4 songs is quite a lot, but
it's still no comparison to hearing the entire album.
Lastly, I want to thank some people personally in this space. A very warm and
personal hello to Treva, who seemingly is one of my biggest supporters. And
before it sounds too godlike, let me say I am a big fan of hers as well. :>
Hello to Chris Miller, the black metal commercial we're working on will
hopefully come to completion soon for the world to see. Special thanks above
and beyond to Ralph Veety from Samain, and to Hacienda for letting me be on
their next record. Thanks to Massino at Black Widow for the thanks and greets,
though you could have put my magazine's name in the credits. And finally, to
the many people too numerous to mention here who sent me CDR's with timeless
and extremely rare metal recordings. Oh, and thanks be the readers, who keep
thing thing flying over 10 years now.
Oh, and parents: Ask me sometime about the black metal lullaby you can sing for
your kids. It's actually better than the corny ones used by the masses.
Now CLICK HERE to return to the main menu!