VIBRATIONS OF DOOM
Just wanted to welcome all back to another issue. In addition to the sad loss
of Chuck Shuldiner, Exodus original frontman Paul Baloff died recently at the
age of 41. He was one of the men respnsible for the creation of one of the
most vicious and powerful thrash albums ever in "Bonded By Blood." He died of
a stroke apparently. 'Tis a shame that all our metal heroes are dying. Life is
definitely short, so let's enjoy every minute while we're here. And open minds
lead to new experiences.
Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963 USA
ANGEL DUST "Of Human Bondage" (Century Media) SCORE: 93/100
I've always appreciated the mixture of melody and dark, aggressive passages,
and Angel Dust have successfully created a vicious album full of melody and
thrashy riffs. The album starts out with a punch with the track 'The Human
Bondage.' Catchy choruses and in your face guitar work accentuated by nice
melodic keyboard work. Things continue on from here with 'Inhuman' which is
probably one of the darkest cuts here. There's quite a bit of aggressive vocal
work going on with this one. 'Disbeliever' I wasn't too crazy about, it's a
dark ballad style, and seemingly takes too long to really kick in, though it
does get heavier midway through. 'The Cultman' takes a similar turn, pouring
on the ballad like melody, but though I don't hate this song either, I'd
rather listen to some of the other standout tracks, like 'Got This Evil.' They
change from dark and heavy to melodic all in one breath, and the transitions
are not only flawless, they're quite breathtaking as well. There is a cover of
a Seal song 'Killer,' and it's much heavier than you might expect. And
finally, 'Freedom Awaits' could be a radio friendly track, with soaring vocal
work and dynamic song structures, though it's not your standard radio trash.
Century Media does it again with what has to be Angel Dust's best album to
Contact: Century Media Records.
ANGRA "Rebirth" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 78/100
Are you tired of power metal yet? Angra's comeback album is definitely much
better than the last few I've heard, one positive note is with their new
singer Edu Falaschi. He definitely has great range and carries the tunes
quite well, in fact the chorus work is so damn catchy that it makes Edu's vocal
work shine that much more. One thing I've always said about power metal is the
overabundance of the "power ballad," though here you encounter it as a build
to the song structure, which was quite refreshing for a change. Like on my
favorite track, 'Millenium Sun,' you have this nice piano interlude, and then
things kick up three notches and start rocking! 'Acid Rain' wasn't too bad of
a song, but I didn't like the multi vocal operatic style at the beginning. Some
of their "experiments" didn't sit too well with me, thus the lower score, but
it's still a keeper. Their take on classical composer Chopin's 24th Prelude in
C Minor, via 'Visions Prelude,' was very interesting, and is probably the most
ballad like of any song on here. 'Unholy Wars' had a rather useless tribal
chant thing going on, so I find myself hitting the skip button halfway through
this track, but it does prove they know how to mix melody and heaviness in a
song. 'Running Alone' had some amazing flute work, amazing especially
considering how fast the song is overall. 'Heroes Of Sand' had stunning chorus
work in and of itself, and though it's not a scorcher of a disc, it is leaps
and bounds better than the last thing I heard from them. I do wish some of the
songs were constructed better, but I still am able to enjoy quite a few songs,
and not many power metal styled bands have the balls to mix ballad type tunes
with overall heaviness and catchiness.
Contact: Steamhammer Records.
Web site: http://www.spv.de
APOPTYGMA BERZERK "Harmonizer" (Metropolis) SCORE: 32/100
Okay, well I'm not much of a synthpop fan, though I will admit I haven't heard
much of it. I did however enjoy Stefan's first foray into the field with the
album "Welcome To Earth," though some of the sappy effects were a bit overdone.
This time around I was surprised to hear a more complete album (by that I mean
minus the instrumentals that go nowhere and the wierd sound effects he calls a
"track.") A few of his songs even had the heavier instrumentation that I heard
on "The Apopcalyptic Manifesto," but it's cover for some BAD songs. 'More
Seratonin...' was really just extended instrumentation for 'Suffer In Silence,'
which is a bit club worthy, though it's nothing outstanding. One of my favorite
tunes from here was 'Unicorn,' which had some of the heaviest synths this side
of my favorite APB release "The Apocalyptic Manifesto." This track is ripe with
heavy synth and dominant beat structures, and the melodic female/male vocals
work quite well. I don't have much of a problem with Stefan's vocals for the
most part, in fact I was pleasantly surprised with his more shouted delivery on
'Until The End Of The World,' but he ruins it with those stupid robotic vocal
effects. He also has some stupid robotic female vocals on 'Photoshop Sucks,'
and what the hell is up with 'Pikachu?' Poppy instrumentation and the sappiest
lyrics this side of a Britney Spears album. 'Detroit Tickets...' Yep, you
guessed it, another useless tune, though the vocal samples, said to be pulled
from outside the club in Detroit, are quite funny. The instrumentation used to
back this is quite bland and unnecessary, he would have much better results
making the vocal samples ONLY, and making them easier to understand. 'Something
I Should Know' closes out the CD with the same syrupy lyrics and bad
instrumentation. The synth work is heavier at times than on "Welcome To Earth,"
but the song structures are quite bad. Hard to believe this is the same group
that penned such kick ass songs like 'Backdraft' and 'Burning A Heretic.'
Contact: Metropolis Records, P.O. Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105
Web site: http://www.metropolis-records.com
BURNING POINT "Salvation By Fire" (Limb Music) SCORE: 96/100
Man am I ever getting a LOT of good stuff in the mail these days! This is some
fantastic metal, I don't really want to call it power metal, since they seem
to have nods to Priest, Hammerfall as well as a style their own. The opening
riffs on 'Under The Burning Sun' will remind one of Hammerfall, but soon you
can hear the amazing vocal work, this CD is recommended for those of you who
like power metal but get tired of the fruity lyrics, overactive high pitched
singing, and just want to hear some great metal. This is somewhat melodic via
vocals, but the guitar work is nothing short of amazing. I've found myself
singing the lines from tunes like 'Lake Of Fire,' 'Black Star' and 'Stealer
Of Light,' the latter tune being one of their fastest platters served up here,
though it's not too fast. 'Fall Of Thy Kingdom' had some high end leads that
were of a fast variety and reminded me strongly of the riffs on an OLD
Testament song from "The Legacy" album. 'Signs Of Danger' has some heavy riffs
that somewhat overshadow the melody, and it's amazing how the melodic vocals
mesh with the heavy instrumentation. There is only one ballad, and it doesn't
stay that way for long, it's the title track and ends the album rather nicely
with some rather loud and dominant vocal work. Though our throatman is a
rather melodic singer, that doesn't mean he's a fruity one. As I said, if you
want traditional metal done right, this is the band to watch.
Contact: Limb Music
DEMIGOD "Shadow Mechanics" (Spikefarm) SCORE: 82/100
The cover of this album is quite disturbing, especially since I recently had
some dental work on my teeth. You have to see this cover to believe it, it'll
definitely make you wince! Anyway, what we have here is mostly death metal with
the occasional acoustic riffing and some rather melodic sung vocals at times.
'My Blood Your Blood' starts things off quite crushing and heavy, with some
very catchy chorus work and instrumentation that reminds me of the newest Bolt
Thrower, but not too slow! The death metal vocals remind me of Vader a bit,
but more on the lower ended side of things. The vocals have definite power!
Their fastest tune on here is 'Gates Of lamentation,' a tune I didn't really
care much for even though there are some slower parts, which is where this band
REALLY shines. 'In The Mirrors' is another vicious tune as well, and the lower
toned singing vocals manage to keep the heaviness intact without taking
anything away. 'Trail Of Guilt' is the track that will surprise the most, as
it has LOTS of very melodic singing vocals, almost alternative style, but they
are so damn catchy! The death vocals are still present here, and the acoustic
start to this song takes a little getting used to, but it's definitely
different! The last three tracks on the album are a bit of a letdown compared
to the rest of the disc; not to say they aren't any good, but they lose a bit
of the intensity the rest of the tracks (11 total in all) have. They get sloppy
on the last tune 'Burning,' where they do the acoustic thing and then suddenly
rip into some fast instrumentation that doesn't really sound as if it's all
on track. 'Crimson Tears' was a ballad piece that just didn't work well,
especially considering the death metal vocals don't suit this type of ballad
well. Though unsettling it may be, this disc will definitely get a few repeated
spins, and it shows that the death metal genre is not all dead, though it does
take a band like this and Bolt Thrower to keep my interest in death metal
maintained. A good solid effort with a few holes.
Contact: Spikefarm Records.
FALCONER "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 97/100
Falconer has done it again! Another great album that continues in the tradition
of their last full length, these songs are every bit as catchy and memorable as
the ones off their debut for Metal Blade. 'Decadence Of Dignity' starts the
album off in fine form, and once the guitar work crafts it's speedy melodies,
you recognize instantly the signature songwriting brilliance. Catchy choruses
of course are the mode of the day, and 'Enter The Glade' adds some heaviness
to the already catchy choruses. 'Lament Of A Minstrel' is this album's 'Quest
For The Crown,' complete with nice flute and tambourine melodies. This song
gives the medieval treatment to what would be known as standard metal fare.
And they do it again with 'We Sold Our Homestead,' which is a Swedish
traditional and a very sad tune at that, with the emotions of the lyrics
simply soaring to new heights by the masterful vocal work of Mathias Blad, who
fits this music so perfectly words cannot even begin to convey. The only track
I didn't care for was 'Portals Of Light,' though recently I have been admiring
the vocal work. This is somewhat of a ballad lamenting about lost love, and
not really my cup of tea, but at least check it out for the vocal work. 'Busted
To The Floor' ends the CD off in a masterful fashion, though I am puzzled at
the change in song name (see the interview last issue for the reason why - Ed).
Catchy choruses and strong song writing skills, coupled with an amazing
vocalist one has to hear to appreciate, Falconer has once again created a
masterpiece in the genre.
Contact: Metal Blade, 2828 Cochran St. PMB 302 Simi Valley, CA 93065 USA
Web site: http://www.metalblade.com
FORGOTTEN TALES "The Promise" (Forgotten Tales) SCORE: 67/100
Power metal from Canada with a female singer to boot that is just as beautiful
as she is talented. The problem here is that many of the songs don't seem to
hold my interest for any length of time, and for the life of me I can't really
lock it down, but I have a few theories. This was a tough CD to review and I
almost passed on it. First of all, the main guitar riffs on songs like 'Cold
Heart' and 'Sanctuary' are fast, but seem so by the book and basic that they
don't really inject any life behind the singer, who incidentally seems like she
is giving the performance of her life. The song structures don't really pick up
much either, leaving many of these songs sounding like there's not much to
drive them home into your subconscious. I did find the drumming skills to be
quite adequate for the job, but they too, at times, seem to play by the
numbers. 'Way Of Truth' started the CD off rather well, with some catchy
chorus work and of course the enchanting vocals of Sonia. She tries to pull off
the power ballad thing with 'Far Away,' but the instrumentation just doesn't
hold up. The members of the band obviously have skill and talent, but they just
don't seem to be creating anything dominant, and in this genre you really have
to write songs that have some hook, or something catchy that makes them stand
out or be memorable. Dynamic songwriters they are NOT, however I can't call
this CD a waste of effort, and I'm sure it will appeal to many who may see the
flaw in my near indecisiveness. Listen to the songs first before you buy, for
many may see my point entirely. Either way, the vocals are outstanding, and
the rest of the band has potential, however, this is not a CD I will be giving
repeat spins to.
Contact: Forgotten Tales.
Web site: http://www.ForgottenTales.com
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY "Epitaph" (Metropolis) SCORE: 93/100
This is one of a few titles that I missed somehow in the shuffle to get a new
publicist, but I am glad I finally got this! Well worth the wait I must say,
especially since the last two Front Line albums didn't sit well with me, in
"FLAvour Of The Weak" (how aptly titled) and "Implode." This album sounds, to
me, like a strong return to the days of "Tactical Neural Implant," still my
favorite Front Line Assembly album of all time. The guitars are seemingly gone,
leaving harsh electronics and dark atmospherics in their wake, and some very
catchy songs to boot! 'Haloed' starts things off with a bang, even going so
far as to utilize the melodic yet low toned singing vocals that a few songs
from "Tactical..." touched on. Then it's on to 'Dead Planet,' one of the
heaviest tunes this album has, complete with headbanging heavy percussion and
amazingly kick ass synth notations. The robotic vocal effects on the choruses
are an interesting touch as well. 'Conscience' had some rather sorrowful
lyrics and piano notations, everything here really fits well. It's one thing to
just throw down some synthesizer notes, but it's completely a different matter
when you can craft a soundscape that fits your vocals, lyrics and percussion.
A few of these songs do take a few minutes to kick in, in fact on 'Krank It Up'
I found myself waiting a whole 2 minutes before you hear any vocals. And I
still think that 'Everything Must Perish' was probably a bit TOO mellow for
F.L.A., but minor points considered, this is a very good album. Some of the
best chorus work can be found on 'Insolence,' even with the dark landscapes and
electronically enhanced vocals in parts. Still masters of the industrial genre,
this is the album that will show all that even after 10 years+ existence,
Front Line Assembly, minus Bill Leeb, is still a potent force to be reckoned
Contact: Metropolis Records
GATE 9 "Moon Ranger Gone Evil" (Underdogma) SCORE: 86/100
Haven't heard much from Underdogma since the "Judge Not" comp. The band's from
Norway of all places; who thought that stoner rock or doom metal could come
from the land of the black metal society? Anyway, they list their influences
as Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Orange Goblin, Hawkwind, Sleep, and all the
other bands I really dig, so that right there told me that I would enjoy this.
It is a bit rough in places, but the heavy stoner/doom vibe is there so we
can't be too picky. (By the way, that cover art is hilarious!) 'Dwarves Of
Might' is rather catchy and melodic, and the vocal work is rather unique and
carries the music along well. 'Autodidact' then takes the tempo WAAAAY down
and plummets it to the earth below! A very slow, lumbering tune that
incorporates interesting use of jazz guitar before pounding the heavy shouted
vocals upon the chorus. They don't leave things in limbo though, they do always
seem to bring out some faster instrumentation to keep things a bit varied,
which shows their diversity and maturity. 'Vivid Void' does the Orange Goblin
homage thing, rocking in it's own way, and utilizing cool acoustic riffery that
adds an edge to this track. The biggest drawback is with the song 'La Strada
Astra,' the vocal work here was just horrible and the song didn't add much
instrumentation wise. 'Empress Of Andromeda' was a slow tune as well, and I
was somewhat glad when the heavier, faster parts of the song picked up, the
vocals sounded like they could waver at any time, but it all held together.
'Mantra Of Doom' was interesting, but mostly an instrumental with some spoken
vocal samples that seems longer than it really is. 'Slaves Of Tide' was another
tune that the vocals sounded like they could go bad at any time. The vocalist
definitely needs to be careful with how the shouted vocals and the chorus are
done, as those are two key components of their sound. Thankfully they didn't
ruin things and at the same time made for a rather enjoyable piece of doom
metal meets stoner rock. They definitely learned from their influences!
Contact: Game Two Records, P.O. Box 5070, Fredericksburg, VA 22403
Web site: http://www.underdogma.com
HIGH TIDE "Open Season" (Black Widow) SCORE: 33/100
The most impressive thing about this CD, besides the fact that (according to
Bobby Liebling) these recordings were not only considered lost but all done
between 1970 and 1974, is that Simon House plays on this early recording.
This was Simon House's band, Simon being the famed violin player that toured
with Hawkwind for many years. What we have for the most part is instrumental
rock, utilizing obvious violin and guitar/drum/bass influences. Many of these
tracks are just downright hard to get into. 'Open Season' starts things off on
a sour note, starting off with some very odd guitar riffs before finally
settling down into something remotely resembling melody. 'Static In The Attic'
also displays a penchant for odd violin and guitar note combinations, something
tells me MUCH acid was dropped during the recording sessions. 'The Great
Universal Confidence Trick' is even worse, starting out with horrible
instrumentation and just getting worse down the line. 'Spindle' showcases some
wierd electronic noises, multi vocal chanting and some bad guitar. A few of
these tracks were recorded in the late 1990's, one of the best (starting out
anyway) was 'Turn Yourself Down,' which had some kick ass violin notations
and a dark and heavy vibe. However, at over 23 minutes, this song goes WAY too
long as it seems we're listening to a 20 minute plus guitar solo! The
musicians definitely have skill, but all this gets buried under a ton of bad
ideas and poor execution. The one huge saving grace is the singer, who
strangely enough sounds like a cross between Jim Morrison of the Doors and
Jethro Tull. In fact, 'All Of One Race' definitely reminds me of a Doors song,
and I wish there had been more vocal tracks. All in all, not really worth
having unless bad acid trip laced music is your thing... Or you've gotta have
every record that every member of Hawkwind ever did.
Contact: Black Widow Records, 16124 Genova, ITALY Via del Campo 6R
Web site: http://www.blackwidow.it
HYPOCRISY "Catch 22" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 34/100
Good lord, what the hell is this? I think Hypocrisy said it best when they
stated in the song 'Destroyed:' "I lost my dignity, I lost who I am." I think
all that songwriting and lyrical talk about aliens from their last few albums
was a hint that aliens had taken over the bodies of these band members and
forced them to create really bad music! The music of Hypocrisy today sounds
more like nu-jack-wigger metal laced with the downtuning of Korn and most
recently Brujeria, coupled with alternative styled singing melodies that aren't
really that melodic. The vocal work isn't much to speak of either, more like
screaming coupled with some strange singing style. They even bring out pianos
on 'Edge Of Madness,' and I gotta say it sounds really weak. The melodies here
just sound really bizarre coming from a group like Hypocrisy. I was really
somewhat interested in 'Turn The Page' for it's all out brutality and sheer
speed, about the closest thing to what Hypocrisy has done in the past, though
it ruined itself for me with the singing choruses. This just reeks of
commercialism, and I found myself just being disgusted by it all. 'Seeds Of
The Chosen One' had some interesting melodic guitar lead work, not a terrible
song but still disappointing nonetheless. Changing your sound and style is
always a tricky proposition, if it's done right it will be heralded as genius
or innovative; make the wrong move and it spells death or disaster. Case in
point: Metallica. And to get silly with this once again, I'll change the name
of one of Hypocrisy's songs: "Another dead end for another dead band."
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
IMMORTAL "Sons Of Northern Darkness" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 99/100
WOW! This and Moonsorrow are definitely, so far anyway, two of the best black
metal discs I've heard yet, and I get the feeling Immortal will win it hands
down for the best album of the year. After hearing Legion from Marduk complain
about Osmose Records (see issue #28 for details) I had a feeling that a change
in labels was forthcoming for Immortal. This record does not disappoint! I've
listened to it so much that the review comes easy. A point was shaved off for
the track 'Demonium,' the speedier start didn't sit well with me, it just
didn't seem to be constructed well. 'One By One' starts things off in brutal
fashion, and whether fast or slow, the songs here are ALL constructed with
musical variation and brilliance in mind. 'Antarctica' was rather interesting
with the opening shore sounds, though there are seemingly NO synthesizers to
be found. 'Beyond The North Waves' will INSTANTLY remind anyone of the classic
Bathory tune 'Shores In Flames,' and is constructed quite nicely. The title
track has nice melodic guitars, and I guess the reason this disc really hits
home for me is the fact that there are elements of thrash and death metal to
be found here. 'Tyrants' is probably one of their slower tracks here but
definitely not without power. Immortal may well be the best black metal band
in 2002, and I for one am glad to see them get the push they so well deserve.
Now let's see if Nuclear Blast America can put their money where their mouth is
and bring them over for a Stateside tour! After all, Marduk's been here what
would have been twice now.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
KMFDM "Attak" (Metropolis) SCORE: 83/100
KMFDM is back! After a name change (to MDFMK, how original...) the German
transplants now living stateside have decided to go back to the moniker that
made them famous. And also decided to return to the hard and heavy days of
industrial, showcased by some very vicious tracks on this new release. 'Dirty'
is probably one of the hardest hitting tunes on this album, complete with
vicious multi vocal choruses, a ripping set of guitar work, and distorted
vocal work that really hits ya in the throat! It was surprising to see KMFDM
resort to jungle and breakbeat percussion, and surprising still that it works
on opener 'Attak/Reload,' especially giving my general dislike for the style
in general. 'Skurk' is another explosive tune, that features the vocal work of
Tim Skold (another longtime stalwart of the industrial scene). Tim's vocals
on this track remind me a LOT of Jared from Chemlab, complete with kick ass
guitar work and catchy choruses, a trademark. One trademark that has popped up
again on this record is the female vocals. One trademark that I feel is out of
touch on this record, especially with a really dull track like 'Superhero,'
which also features silly lyrics and the jungle percussion I don't care to
hear. The female vocals also ruined 'Sleep' as well, making the track lose
quite a bit of focus, and when the heavier guitar work does come out, it tends
to make this sound noisier. Semi-ballad 'Save Me' sounded like it was ripped
right off of a Diatribe album, vocal work and all! Skold's vocals here are
amazingly mellow. There's quite a few more good tracks, several hard hitting
club tunes, and let's not forget 'Sturm & Drang' (Nine Inch Nails/Ministry
meets Rammstein?), 'Preach/Pervert,' and 'Risen,' the latter tune showcasing
what is probably the heaviest percussion on the CD. Look for KMFDM to rip shit
up this summer on tour, and I know that a tour to go along with this kick ass
return is going to be devastating.
Contact: Metropolis Records.
MENTAL HORROR "Proclaiming Vengeance" (Necropolis) SCORE: 22/100
This is yet another death metal band from Brazil that pours on the speed. This
is NOT a band I particularly care for. I will say this though, they definitely
have the production down, something Krisiun might wish to employ. The sound is
a bit dirty, and the guitar work isn't too clean, however these songs really do
nothing for me. After we skip the storm sounds of the intro, 'Burning Alive'
starts the disc off with blazing speed and a yell. The death vocals throughout
this disc are so unintelligible and the lack of a lyric sheet doesn't help.
The riffs, fast as they are, are quite simply one dimensional. Oh yeah, and
let's repeat the title of the song about 30 times. There are some black metal
styled vocals in intervals, though they don't appear very much. It is
surprising how fast they can play and manage to keep it together, but the song
structures are just SO boring! The instrumental 'Screams Of Tiamat' sounded
interesting at first, before you realize the guitarist is just showing off and
the track seems to never end, though this is a bit better than almost EVERY
other track on this record. 'Flagellum Forms' had some interesting
instrumentation to start off, but just as my ears started to pick up, the song
quickly dropped down the chute. 'Anguish Seas' and 'Proclaiming Vengeance' are
two other instrumental tracks, the latter being the best cut on the CD. If you
want to hear Brazilian death metal done hyperspeed, these guys are at the
bottom of the barrel. Rebaelliun is still the best, and Krisiun a VERY distant
second. Guess where these guys come in at.
Contact: Mecropolis Records.
MOONSORROW "Voimasta Ja Kunniasta" SCORE: 100/100
This is a top quality release! If you love Finntroll, you'll absolutely be
blown away by Moonsorrow. And even if you don't like Finntroll, you need to
check these guys out anyway. They have the accordion and jew's harp working
here too, though the atmosphere is so much more dominant than you'll find on
Finntroll. These songs, quite simply, kick ass! The black metal vocals are so
vicious, and the hammer really hit the nail and drove it in deep when I heard
the amazing viking style multi vocal choruses peppered throughout the disc.
Nice flutes start off the first track 'Tyven,' which is an instrumental that
is unbelievably mellow, but still quite dominant and majestic at the same
time. Then out of nowhere things get really vicious, and the accordions just
add a lot of fun while it's kicking serious ass. 'Kylan Paassa' REALLY threw
me for a loop, as the beginning sounds just like an Einherjer track. Though
many of these songs are quite long, they have much variation on the
instrumentation! 'Sankaritarina' is a fantastic way to finish out the CD, this
6 tracker, by bringing us the coastal shore sounds, roaring fire noises, and
some very majestic synths. Flutes in abundance. And me with nary a thing to
complain about. Viking/black metal that is neither and both at the same time.
And so much more. You'll really have to listen to the sound samples for this,
as I could go on and on all day about what is easily one of the best and most
innovative CD's I've heard all year (yeah, I know the year isn't over yet).
And yes, the lyrics and vocals are all in Finnish (I believe) but it doesn't
matter, and besides they were nice enough to give English translations.
Contact: Spikefarm Records, Box 212, 00181 Helsinki, Finland.
Web site: http://www.spinefarm.fi
MORK GRYNING "Maelstrom Chaos" (No Fashion) SCORE: 86/100
Mork Gryning. What does this name mean anyway? Sounds like a European
pronunciation of "more grinding." :> The CD I got has the most blatant piece
of false advertising I have ever seen. "One of the most brutal and violent
black metal release ever." Spelling notwithstanding, there are some brutal
pieces to this CD, but when you have a track like 'Bloodspring Mirage,' that
is basically an acoustic/synth laced instrumental, and singing vocals on a
song like 'The Darkness Within,' you might think there's something amiss.
No matter, because there's enough black metal viciousness to satisfy most.
It's not your typical black metal style that's for sure. 'Templars' was one of
my favorite tracks, especially with a vicious middle section and some fast
riffing throughout. There were a few tracks that didn't work well for me
though, most notably 'The Menace' and 'Maelstrom Chaos.' The latter track had
some very wierd sounding guitar notes, though there are some slower passages
inlaid with decent synth notes. 'The Menace' wasn't terribly bad, it is
amazing to hear VERY fast vocal delivery that seems to go on and on, I'm like
"Geez, doesn't this guy ever stop to take a breath?" And the final track
'Dodens Skald' the singing vocals didn't mix too well with the black metal
styled vox. Dig 'My Friends' which sounds at the beginning like Slayer's
"Dead Skin Mask." That one has some very dark and twisted vocal work on it!
And of course there's 'Forever Unhallowed Preponderance,' with some vicious
vocal work and nice instrumentation/vocal combinations. They definitely have
the brutality going on here, but there's enough musical skill to keep this
from sounding like just another fast black metal band.
Contact: No Fashion Records, Textilvagen 7, 120 30 Stockholm, SWEDEN
Web site: http://come.to/nofashion
OBTEST "Auka Seniems Dievams" (Ledo Takas) SCORE: 96/100
WOW! Lithuanian metal, well, it sounds at times like black metal with a
singer that sings on the low end, where it seems like he's almost growling.
This is some great stuff, and the instrumentation is superb. Very powerful,
in your face metal, one of the catchiest tunes here is the title track, one
I have been singing for quite some time now. The nice thing about this, even
though they sing in their native tongue, is the English translation right next
to the Lithaunian lyrics. These songs are ones that actually sound better in
the band's native tongue, especially since it gives it that heavy feeling.
The rapid fire vocal delivery on songs like 'Svarbiausias Musis' and 'Kruvinos
Pasvaistes' really adds to the black metal feeling than anything else, though
it's really all in the instrumentation. There were only a few gripes here, one
was with the song 'Anapus Nemuno,' which was a bit TOO much with the fast vocal
delivery coupled with minimal instrumentation, though it does pick up towards
the end. The other was with some of the monotone choruses on 'Eime Su Mumis,'
though these are really minor points. Check out the way they craft interesting
instrumentation and combine it with a heavy vocal style, those high ended
guitar parts really shine here!
Contact: Ledo Takas Records, P.D. 3080, Pamenkalnio 28, Vilnus 2026, Lithuania
Web site: http://www.ledotakas.com
ON THORNS I LAY "Angeldust" (Black Lotus) SCORE: 54/100
I remember getting a package from Holy Records, a rather unique label in
France, that contained a CD from this band. Quite simply, I wasn't very
impressed. What we seem to have here is gothic styled metal, though I must
admit upon first listen the first three tracks really stood out for me. I think
most of the reason was a song like 'Sick Screams,' which sounded more like dark
and heavy alternative, with some cool low ended vocals and catchy song
structures. 'A Light In Paradise,' track 2, had nice clean male vocals and was
a rather simplistic tune, but the way they repeated vocal lines in a song
really caught my ear. The gothic imagery doesn't start showing up until the
third song 'Black Cold Nights,' which had nice violin notes and the first
instance of harsher, almost death styled vox. Things slide downhill from here,
and I can't say many of these songs are terrible, but they don't ever seem to
go anywhere. 'Moving Cities' definitely progressed the downhill spiral with the
male singing vocals sounding rather whiny, and the lyrics here are extremely
repetitive. Sometimes the death styled vocals sound weak, though remember they
aren't really diehard death metal vocals. I started to get into the opening
music on 'Independence,' but as an instrumental it runs a bit long, and they
manage to ruin it by throwing some rather annoying feedback into it midway,
before playing the same note structures again. Oh, then there's that female
"singer" that they use on 'Angeldust' and 'Deep Thoughts,' she doesn't really
sing but her English is rather bad; that in itself wouldn't be so bad, but
her presence here is rather laughable, especially when you read along with the
lyrics. If they'd stick to the darker alternative style this would have been a
lot more enjoyable. As it is we're talking 3, close to 4 tracks tops that held
Contact: Black Lotus Records, Kon/poleos 72, 172 36 Himittos, Athens, GREECE
OUTER SPACE ALLIANCE "Outer Space Alliance" (O.S.A.) SCORE: 84/100
This unique project from Finland of all places manages to create some very
interesting electronic music. I dare not call it ambient, as there is some
rather dark passages in here as well as soem tunes that are more on the
techno side. They do claim to make spacey electronic music and I guess that is
something I can agree with. The album is a few years old, and there is already
another album in the works, but this is a good introduction to what these guys
are into. 'Anything I Want It To Be' starts things off with a nice cascading
synth landscape and some interesting vocal samples. The track gets more melodic
down the road. Then there's 'Comfortably Numb,' which is NOT the Pink Floyd
song but IS a great relaxing ambient piece. It does have a few beats that come
down later, but they aren't of any significant distraction. 'Textures' is yet
another great track that could have been on the Artificial Intelligence series
that Wax Trax put out years ago, and though it starts out, as do many tracks,
with some werid rumbling sounds or noises, it all comes together nicely once
the more mellow instrumentation kicks in. 'The Journey' is truly the darkest
cut here, still a bit ambient, but does convey effectively the mysteriousness
and supreme darkness of deep space. Tell me you can't visualize the galazy
while listening to this track! The only bad spots, besides the incessant use
of rather odd sounds and landscapes on the majority of tracks, are the tunes
'Dea Alba' and 'Dishwasher Deluge.' The dishwasher sounds on the latter track
were highly annoying, clinking dishes and wierd synth notes, I couldn't get
into this one at all. 'Dea Alba' was a bit TOO simplistic, with basically just
two dark notes repeated over and over. However, sticking around 'Lost In Space'
and 'Foo' round out the disc quite nicely, showcasing some nice piano notations
and even going so far as to utilize acoustic guitar that will definitely fool
you into thinking it's a rather electronic affair. Good stuff, and I'm looking
forward to hearing more.
Contact: Outer Space Alliance.
Web site: http://www.mp3.com/OSA
PALE DIVINE "Thunder Perfect Mind" (Game Two) SCORE: 94/100
What a CD! This band has the balls to go all out heavy, like on a track
'Amplified,' and then get mellow and acoustical, best seen on a song like
'Gods, Monsters, & Men.' This band plays a unique mixture of stoner rock and
doom metal, somewhat in the vein of Pentagram, but you can hear some Orange
Goblin influences on the 10+ minute track 'Amplified.' Great guitar work
abounds here! 'Magic Potion' has some really cool drug references, along with
some really nice hi end melodic leads. The only song I really had a problem
with was '20 Buck Spin,' which was originally done by Pentagram, but does
feature a few lines sung by Bobby Liebling himself! The vocal style of Greg
Deiner does not translate this cover well. A big surprise was 'Dark Knight,'
which was written by Pale Divine but has lyrics and vocals done up by Bobby
Liebling (of Pentagram fame, of course!) The title track had cool choruses to
boot, and there's quite a mixture of heaviness and melody to go around. 'Star
Child' had some rather interesting lyrics, and it's cool how they can pull this
off acoustically, and then crank it up during the choruses. Game Two is not
known for putting out tons of records, but when they do put out a release, it's
definitely one you stand up and take notice of. Check out the interview we did
this issue with them as well, for more Pentagram revelations.
Contact: Game Two Records, P.O. Box 22640, Denver, Colorado 80222 USA
Web site: http://www.gametwo.com
PENTAGRAM "First Daze Here" (Relapse) SCORE: 97/100
Wow is all I can say after listening to this collection of songs that spans the
Pentagram years from 1970 through 1976, and you can hear just how heavy and
innovative they were as these are the original recordings. 'Forever My Queen,'
recently heard on their "Review Your Choices" album, is absolutely heavy and
a fantastic way to start this disc, especially for those unfamiliar with the
Pentagram story. Of the tracks here, 3 are found on "Review Your Choices,"
while 'Be Forewarned' is a great choice from the album of the same name that I
wasn't crazy about. Sad to say, '20 Buck Spin' was first heard by me from
another band (reviewed here later) known as Pale Divine, and I didn't really
care for their version, but here it's much better. Bobby "The Chameleon"
Liebling does his many vocal impersonations even this far back. 'Walk In The
Pale Blue Light' was a very interesting track, and 'Lazylady' has funny lyrics
pulling off this whole Jethro Tull vibe, complete with Bobby's amazing vocal
work. The guitar work of Vincent McAllister is nothing short of stunning,
check out his solo on 'Forever My Queen' and his amazing shred work on 'When
The Screams Came.' 'Hurricane' was a bit of a shock, Bobby doing his best James
Brown meets hard rock vocal impersonation, while the true gem here 'Starlady'
is very familiar sounding to me. No small wonder that Gene Simmons and Paul
Stanley from KISS wanted to buy this song, as it has KISS style written all
over it. 'Last Days Here' reminds me STRONGLY of a Rolling Stones tune, and it
definitely is a melodic tune, coming one step shy of a full ballad. 'Review
Your Choices' was a very prime cut, sounds great hearing a 70's version, and
sometimes I can't decide which versions I like better! Alas, the CD doesn't
quite get a full 100, simply because 'Livin' In A Ram's Head' was a bit too
overbearing on the instrumentation, I prefer the "Review Your Choices" version
better, and 'Earth Flight' wasn't up to par. However, VERY minor complaints
aside, this is HIGHLY recommended and will leave you swearing that this stuff
couldn't have been done in the early, EARLY 70's!
Contact: Relapse Records, P.O. Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA 19082 USA
Web site: http://www.relapse.com
RHAPSODY "Rain Of A Thousand Flames" (Limb Music) SCORE: 71/100
This was a tricky CD for me to grade. I have spent quite a few days with it,
and there are many things that puzzle me. Rhapsody is the kind of band that you
simply know what you're going to get and you know there's going to be much hard
work that goes into this. The orchestration, the choir male and female voices,
the rich symphonics, all that is still here, in fact there isn't much musically
that is wrong with this disc. However, when we start talking vocals, this is
where I have a bit of a problem. Let's start with track 1, the title track.
The instrumentation starts off quite fast, leaving me unsatisfied; even more so
when I realize that the faster instrumentation and the vocals of Luca just
don't work here, sounding rather sloppy. This flaw thankfully is soon corrected
with some nice symphonics and multi vocal work, but I can't help but be
annoyed. 'Deadly Omen' proceeds as an instrumental only piece, with some nice
piano and symphonic work. Nothing wrong here. Then we go straight into the 13
minute epic 'Queen Of The Dark Horizon.' Nice instrumentation, good multi vocal
effects. Then Luca's vocals, once again, start to take a bit of a nosedive. His
operatic style is a bit rough, and at times sounds a little strained; his
vibratto voice is not quite up to the task. Then more good instrumentation,
then the ballad singing like vocals are a serious distraction. Finally, we get
to one of the worst parts of the CD, which runs about 2 or 3 minutes of a 6
minute track in 'Tears Of A Dying Angel.' That narrator's voice, you know, the
one with the lisp, is doing some of the hammiest voice acting I have ever
heard! He almost totally ruins this track, and his commentary sounds more silly
than I have ever heard it. Even the unidentified language multi vocal chanting
is a tad off, but still, instrumentation wise this song holds up a bit. The
other instrumental 'Elnor's Magic Valley' starts out with some nice flutes, but
those fiddle notes are rather odd. I didn't rave over 'The Poem's Evil Page,'
especially with the odd spoken female vocals and the ballad like start at the
beginning. Last track 'The Wizard's Last Rhymes' clocks in at 10 minutes, and
once again shows the operatic vocals of Luca straining quite a bit. You'll
definitely have to listen to this CD a bit before you can make up your mind,
and while I do dig the instrumentation as always, much on this CD bothered me
to keep it from getting frequent spins in my CD player. Nothing here I'd grade
as absolutely horrible, but there are enough annoyances to warrant a lower
score. And no, I didn't give them higher points just because it's Rhapsody.
Contact: Limb Music.
ROYAL HUNT "The Watchers" (Century Media) SCORE: 98/100
What the hell is it with Century Media that consistently puts out great stuff?
I don't think I've ever heard anything from this band that I didn't like since
"Fear," and that's where this reviewer has a bit of a hard time. You see, this
is mainly a showcase for tracks from Royal Hunt's older albums like "Clown In
The Mirror," "Land Of Broken Hearts" and "Paradox," but this time performed by
the fantastic vocals of John West. The great thing about this album is it is
neither a live album nor re-recordings of older songs, but BOTH. This concept
works out very well, especially for people who want to have a little bit of
both. My only complaint with the live tracks (there are 4) was that only one
track from "Fear" was represented, but when I see the purpose this album is
supposed to have, this is allright. These songs sound so much better under the
new lineup, and John's vocals make these songs sound like they were written
while under his watchful eye. 'Message To God' has a very emotional and
serious message, which Mr. West brings out in full force. The sound is a bit
suspicious on the live tracks, though, as they are seemingly so perfect
sounding, even the mix is too good. Witness just how powerful the synths are,
as opposed to many shows where they are somewhat in the background. Aside from
that, check out the very moving 'Epilogue,' which is somewhat of a ballad, but
still retains the heavy guitar work and amazing melodies Royal Hunt is well
known for. The new versions are every bit as potent as the lice tracks,
especially some of West's best soaring emotional vocals on the pseudo-ballad
'Clown In The Mirror.' There is one new track here, which I'm guessing is
going to be on the next album, it is 'Intervention,' and if you remember the
opening of the album "Fear," you probably won't be surprised to see that this
track is long. It's long alright, around 14 minutes long! The synth work
dominates for quite awhile, and this is a massive track to take in, I dig it
so much better than the Blind Guardian 14 minute epic on their newest. There
are two versions of this song present, and the radio edit cuts off the most
powerful vocal part of this song, sadly, but if this will get Royal Hunt some
airplay then I'm all for it. Such an amazing album, I cannot WAIT to see this
band live, and another interview will surely follow. I'm astounded at how good
songs sound from albums I wasn't that crazy about (from the few tunes I heard
Contact: Century Media Records.
SOILWORK "Natural Born Chaos" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 100/100
Damn, three CD's in a row that have scored VERY high 90's! Many of you are
probably saying that this album sounds like the previous three, but so fucking
what! The songs continue to be as catchy as ever, the heaviness has gotten
heavier, and the melodies have gotten a lot more intense! There is now more
singing on this record than ever before, but the sung vocals are still
delivered on the choruses, keeping their heaviness intact. Not one bad spot to
be found on this album, definitely a keeper. You have the acoustic guitar
start to 'The Bringer,' and probably Soilwork's most melodic song to date in
'Song Of The Damned,' complete with opening synth notations that flow
throughout this track. 'The Flameout.' 'Natural Born Chaos,' and 'Black Star
Deceiver' still pack a serious punch, and you get catchy song structures,
vicious screaming vocal work, and intelligently worked melody without sounding
too syrupy or soft, definitely keeping things on the HEAVY side. I almost get
to the point here where there's nothing more to say without repeating myself,
but damnit if this isn't one of the most consistent bands I've ever heard in
my life. HIGHLY recommended, along with the other blockbuster releases we're
covering this month.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records (what are you waiting for! GO GET THIS!)
SPIRITUS MORTIS "Forward To The Battle" (Spiritus Mortis) SCORE: 84/100
This is one interesting demo! This is a sweet mixture of doom metal, slow
almost sludgy stoner rock, and Manilla Road styled power metal! And yes, this
kind of thing DOES work. The vocalist is very low toned, and with such brutal
riffs of the 10 M.P.H. variety, it makes his vocal work even more exceptional.
This thing all fits! Check out the opening riffs on 'Forever' and 'Sweet
Oblivion' if ya don't believe me. His vocal range does tend to dip higher, in
fact I was actually surprised at his range, since he is able to go so low. At
times, this higher end vocal work does distract from the mood and tone set
nearly throughout, in fact on 'Beware Of The Quiet One,' there is a passage
that contains just acoustic guitar and him singing, which definitely didn't
work as well as I hoped. Their choruses are quite catchy as well, like on
'In Pouring Rain' and the hilarious song titled 'Sleeping Beneath The Lawn.'
As a six track EP goes, this isn't bad at all, though it definitely has some
rough edges to it. And 'In Between' was about the fastest song of the bunch
and sorry to say didn't really fit with the rest of what the band was doing.
It got too fast for me near the end. Check out the eerie higher end guitar
riffing on 'Sleeping Beneath The Lawn,' which sounded like it was lifted
straight off of Slayer's "South Of Heaven" album. I forget which song tho so
don't ask! And though 'In Between' fails to hit the mark totally, it does
start out with a very cool Spirit Caravan/Obsessed feel to it. I can't wait to
hear a full album from these guys, as long as they keep it rough and downtune!
Web site: http://www.metalprovider.com/spiritusmortis
STONER KINGS "Brimstone Blues" (Rebel Breed) SCORE: 85/100
Calling themselves Stoner Kings seems a bit pretentious, especially since the
music here is much heavier than what I'd consider stoner rock. That being said,
the most interesting thing about this band is that you cannot easily lump them
into the stoner rock category, nor the metal category. They are a bit hard rock
based, but the guitar riffs are so damn heavy that it's the majority of the
weight of the album. The singer Starbuck, that gets even more interesting. His
tendencies run towards sounding like Axl Rose at times, and that is indeed a
good thing. Except when he gets out of control. More on that later. 'The Ebb
And Flow' starts this out with some bluesy rocking instrumentation, but like
on EVERY damn track here, the guitar work is brutal. Kinda reminds me of a
cross (loosely) between the hardest pieces of Roachpowder, Guns 'n' Roses, and
some of the heavier thrash bands out there. 'Tragedy Man' was a killer cut, and
the vocals get really vicious, though Starbuck can REALLY sing. 'Journey's End'
was most surprising, as it was quite a dynamic cut and had the most mellow of
instrumentation here, almost a radio hit, but damn it jams! The only problem
with this disc is that Starbuck's vocal delivery tends to get out of hand at
times, and you can tell he's just brimming with rock star attitude. He totally
ruined the ending of 'Goner,' and 'Cosmic Dancer,' well, just look at the song
title! Sometimes he's so caught up in trying to be a Guns 'n' Roses copycat
that he forgets to just let it flow naturally. His rougher styled vocals fit
the heavier music well, and it did take a few listens before I could fit all
this together, especially on the singing. 'Postmortem Blues' was a cool ender,
but he had to try and sing fast, and it didn't help the instrumentation section
was egging him on. He's a good fit for this type of music, though I wouldn't
call it stoner rock, it does jam and jam VERY hard. So guess where they're
from? Sweden, naturally. Kick ass all the way, vocal quirks or not.
Contact: The Stoner Kings.
Web site: http://www.stonerkings.net
TAD MOROSE "Matters Of The Dark" (Century Media) SCORE: 94/100
There is a similarity between Angel Dust and Tad Morose, and that is they both
play dark heavy metal that borders on thrash, but with amazing vocal melodies
and catchy choruses, more so than on the Angel Dust record (reviewed above).
This is a record I have been waiting to hear and for the most part I was not
disappointed! 'Sword Of Retribution' starts things off in great fashion, with
the heavy guitar work that is quite powerful and dominant. As dark as they get
though, the melodies are even better, though their darkest track here has to
be the title track, which features the very wicked guest vocals of Charles
from Lefay (formerly known as Morgana Lefay). 'I Know Your Name' is probably
one of their most melodic tunes, and they do manage to use dark acoustic
numbers, but this proves to be their biggest downfall. Witness the tracks
'Reason Of The Ghost' and 'Don't Pray For Me,' which are their two worst songs
on here. 'Reason Of The Ghost' plods along at a rather lethargic page, and the
choruses are quite bad, while 'Don't Pray For Me' has very odd instrumentation
work and some quirky vocal work at times. Both tracks, though ones I would not
listen to repeatedly, do have some nice moments, 'Reason...' does pick up
quite a bit near the end, though a bit too late, and 'Don't Pray...' does have
decent choruses. I found myself singing along to 'Etherial Soul' quite a bit,
especially with the dark acoustic passages and slower song structure (the
acoustic thing doesn't always hurt the band). And of course 'The Devil's
Finger' is proof positive that a "ballad" type song doesn't have to be soft
and sweet; this one gets quite dark and still has the trademark heaviness that
is TRUE metal through and through. Great record.
Contact: Century Media Records.
TIMO TOLKKI "Hymn To Life" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 37/100
I must say, what is this mess that Stratovarius member Timo Tolkki has gotten
himself into? I will admit that I was somewhat into the first "vocal" track
'Key To The Universe,' and quite amused by his Police imitation (the band that
featured former vocalist Sting before he went solo) on 'Now I Understand,'
but most everything else is throwaway material. Well, I did enjoy the ending of
the song 'Divine,' and the atmospheric instrumentation he used, but man some of
this is horrible! Take 'Father' for instance, his vocals are truly twisted and
the whole thing sounds like slow, torturous industrial with horrid vocals to
boot. 'Dear God' is yet another sad "ballad," featuring lyrics that most black
metal bands would want to use (he does the whole, "Why is God letting all this
suffering go on, why are we here, blah blah.") It seems like Timo has had some
rather unpleasant life experiences, just listen to him rant on and on about
how father abuses his family. 'It's Xmas Morning,' yet another "ballad" doing
more whining. 'Hymn To Life,' the title track, has the most basic
instrumentation you'll ever hear. One piano note, one word sung. This repeats
on for awhile, oh then there's about 4 or 5 minutes filled with some madman
raving about the world and people and feelings, some kind of crap I didn't
care to waste 11 minutes on. 'Are You The One' had a nice female singer, but
the lyrical content and instrumentation was so bland she would have been much
better off not doing this project. Stratovarius fans are HIGHLY advised to
stay away from this one.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
WARMEN "Beyond Abilities" (Spinefarm) SCORE: 84/100
The ability to create a solo album actually worth listening to is a feat that
not many have perfected. Joe Satriani actually made a guitar instrumental
album "Surfing With The Alien" that I could listen to from start to finish,
and never be bored with. That same principle applies here, as we see Janne
Warman, the brilliant keyboard player from Children Of Bodom, craft some
rather unique and invigorating songs. His synth work on ANY given Children Of
Bodom album is always exceptional, and this solo effort is no exception. The
most intriguing combination has to be the addition of Timo Koltipelto on vocal
duties, the singer of Stratovarius NOT to be confused with Timo Tolkki and his
crappy solo CD released (see elsewhere this issue for the review). His lyrical
contributions were a little strange, nevertheless it is great to hear such a
wonderful voice put behind such great keyboard playing. And every member
brought in to help out, be it skilled lead guitar, bass poundings, or uptempo
drum work, does a good job of holding this together. Each member also gets some
time to grab the spotlight for a minute or so, showing that Janne is not a
spotlight hog! It's just as much everyone else's contributions that adds to the
finesse of this album. The points drop off mightily for the two crappy songs
that we have to endure Kimberly "I'll give ya a blowjob for a guest spot on
your next record" Goss. Sorry folks, but her voice is NOT metal at all, it
sounds more like she should be singing backup for Diana Ross or Michael
Jackson! Her vocals are horrible on 'Hidden,' and how in the world does a black
metal keyboard player get talked into doing a Heart ballad cover 'Alone?'
Janne must have been persuaded in some kinda "special" way. That aside, there
is one other small complaint, and that is that the songs with vocals and
pure instrumentals should have been spaced out more to make for a more complete
listening experience from start to finish, he bunches up the vocal songs near
the beginning and you're hit with three long instrumentals at the end. But the
playing is top notch, and this is a solo album that definitely needs to be
heard. Just please, PLEASE leave Kimberly off the next one!
Contact: Spinefarm Records.
WUMPSCUTT "Wreath Of Barbs" (Metropolis) SCORE: 76/100
I must admit that the last few Wumpscutt albums I heard didn't really sit too
well with me. "Embryodead" was the last one reviewed, and while it had some
good tunes on it, when I look back in retrospect some of the stuff wasn't
really up to par. This album runs along the same lines, though to a degree it
is a bit better than "Embryodead" (which should have gotten a lower score than
it did, I was just fascinated at the speed of some of the songs I failed to
notice that repeat plays didn't give me the same satisfaction). The album
starts off quite nicely though, with 'Opening The Gates Of Hell' showing that
Wumpscutt knows how to make some dark and diabolical industrial music. The
harsh overtones are there definitely. Then it's on to 'Deliverance' which is a
good club hit with some robotic vocal effects that go down really well. Of
course, it's the electronically distorted vocals of Rudy that gives this album
the dark edge. 'Wreath Of Barbs' is easily the best and most surprising cut on
this album. Acoustic guitar notes are used to stunning effect, and the robotic
vocal effects are surprisingly well done, this is a more melodic tune with
heavy beat structures that is rather uncharacteristic of what Rudy has done in
the past. 'Dr. Thodt' (pronounced Tote) was a rather unusual tune, featuring a
female vocalist who just speaks here. The lyrics do tend to get a bit strange
at first listen, but the sound effects and instrumentation are supremely dark
and will evoke feelings of old mad scientist/horror movies. There's quite a
few instrumentals and most of them are rather sufficient, but I would have
liked to hear more vocal interaction, and even less of the female vocals that
ruined a track like 'Eclipse.' Her speaking vocals are very vicious on 'Line
Of Corpses' however, where she gets quite harsh in her tone. As I said, it's
not a terrible album and is still enjoyable to a degree, but there are times
when I'm still looking for the dynamic spark that the first three tracks
contained. Oh, and there's the hit 'Christfuck,' lyrics notwithstanding, that
makes for an outstanding club type tune. I can enjoy this at times, but here's
hoping the next album is even more along the lines of the standout tracks on
Contact: Metropolis Records.
DARK TRANQUILLITY. Interview with Niklas Sundin via email from their studio.
That's right folks. Dark Tranquility is indeed working on a new album as we
speak. Their transition from the early days to the present has been a bit more
drastic than a band like, say, Soilwork, but it was good to be able to talk to
these guys as I have greatly enjoyed both "Projector" and "Haven."
I'm being told you are working on a new album, anything you want to
tell us about it, like song titles, influences or themes?
We are currently recording the new album, yes. We're still in the middle of
everything, so it's hard to give an accurate overview of the material and how
it sounds. After the mixing is done and we've had some time to listen to the
finished album it'll be easier to describe. Let's just say that it's somewhat
a continuation of "Haven" while at the same time featuring some influences from
our earlier albums. Soundwise it'll probably be a bit harder than the last two
albums, and there's more variation between the songs than what was the case in
It really amazes me when people say how Dark Tranquillity has
"changed," when in fact I still see you guys being as heavy as ever, just
adding some melody to certain songs. I'm sure that must frustrate you to a
Not really. It's all so subjective anyway. People perceive music very
differently from each other, and as a musician you'll always get to hear lots
of different opinions and impressions on your work. Sometimes they're very
close to your own opinion and sometimes they're way off, but you can't be
overly concerned about it. In my view we've changed a bit with each album while
still keeping a certain red line between the releases, but of course there are
people who think that we shouldn't even use the band name anymore since we
sound "totally different" from what we did in '93: just as there are people
thinking we're playing the same stuff as always.
When I look back at the album "Projector," I guess this is the
album that some people had a hard time with, especially 'Auctioned,' or 'Day
To End.' How do you feel about songs like those when you think back to the
writing and recording process?
They're not my personal faves, but I think they turned out pretty good in the
end. "Projector" was a strange but necessary album for us. The choice was to
either try something different out or to split up; we were extremely tired and
bored with all things "melodic death metal," so making another album along the
lines of what we've done before was never an option. 'Day To End' was a song
that Mikael wrote in '94 for himself and wasn't planned to be used on a Dark
Tranquillity album, but since "Projector" developed in such a special way, we
decided to try it out in the studio.
'Auctioned' had one of the most beautiful and awesome guitar parts
I've ever heard; that middle break when the riffs come rather slow and melodic.
I must say that you should definitely include more guitar pieces like this,
hopefully you know which one I'm talking about. It's the solo.
I think I know what you mean. As mentioned above, 'Auctioned' is far from my
favorite D.T. song, and I don't really think that part is so fantastic either.
It's all a matter of taste. I do like the production of the clean guitars on
"Projector" a lot; they're really moody and atmospheric.
You had quite a few albums out on Osmose Records before jumping to
Century Media. How was Osmose as a label for you? I know Marduk and Immortal
have been very unhappy with the way Herve was running things there; Marduk in
particular complained there was very little tour support outside of Europe,
plus he said Herve did not handle the business end of things very well.
Actually, we were always satisfied with Herve and his crew. They treated us
well and did a lot of good work for us. What happened was that the music on
"Projector" was so far removed from our earlier releases, so it wouldn't have
been a good choice to release it with Osmose. Even with our earlier albums, we
were the softest band on the label, and since "Projector" turned out to be so
different, we decided to search for a label that better suited the sound.
Osmose has always been focused on the more brutal end of the metal spectrum,
and it wouldn't have benefitted them or us to have that record on the label.
Speaking of touring, though, Marduk has been through the U.S., but
Dark Tranquillity has NOT, which leads me to ask why? Has Century Media not
offered anything for you guys to tour the States with? I don't know if it is a
question of finances or not; it just seems unfair that Marduk has played here,
and not very long after their Century Media debut, and were being brought back
a second time.
There are always lots of different factors deciding whether or not a tour will
happen, and it's always beyond the bands' control unfortunately. I think we
said yes to five or six U.S. tours last year, but all sorts of obstacles
prevented things from happening; lack of money (the In Flames tour a year ago),
lack of time for getting the visas in order (the Cradle of Filth/Nile tour last
summer), the last album being too old to guarantee additional sales from the
tour (the Moonspell/Lacuna Coil last December) and so forth. If it was all up
to the band, we would have made the U.S. debut tour years ago, but it's a
complex matter. Also, we all have day jobs, families and other obligations
which means that we can't take on every gig or tour that's being offered
either...but sooner or later I'm sure we'll be in the States. We just got a new
offer, for June or July this year, but as usual nothing is certain, so I'd
better not say too much about it.
I remember reading that you toured Japan with label mates Soilwork.
I am interested to hear how the Japanese crowds were (lucky bastards) and
maybe you could share some experiences about life on the road there? Did you
get into any of the Japanese bands over there, especially the doom metal ones
like Church Of Misery or Eternal Elysium?
I wouldn't call it a massive tour since it was just two gigs, but it was a
very special experience for sure. Everything's drastically different from here;
the people, the cities, the food... you name it! It's a very rare thing to get
treated like royalty and to have all the organizational matters running
perfectly. Nothing comes close to the professionalism of those people. We were
just there for three days and didn't get any opportunities to listen to any new
music, but I think that Sigh is a fantastic band. Apart from that I'm not very
familiar with the Japanese scene. There was a thrash band called Casbah that
released some cool demos in the late 80's, but I don't think they're around
Are you a fan of any industrial, gothic or techno bands? We cover
a lot of that stuff here at the magazine, and I know that there are other forms
of music that can be just as harsh, if not more so, than death and black metal.
Mayhem stated that their singer was really into Apoptygma Berzerk, an
industrial band from Norway.
I think that death or black metal aren't very extreme at all compared to some
other musical forms. In all forms of metal, you're still dependent on the usual
rock tonality and instrumentation and the usual song structures. I'm not a
fanatic industrial fan myself, but my alltime fave band is Einsturzende
Neubauten, whose early output is way more extreme, sonically speaking, than
what any metal band can ever hope to achieve. I think it's a bit silly when
people say that a high speed version of Iron Maiden with screaming vocals are
"the most extreme band ever." Not that extremity for it's own sake is nothing
to strive for, but anyway...
Which of the two albums do you prefer out of "Haven" and
"Projector?" I know "Haven" was definitely heavier in a lot of ways.
After a song has been documented on a record, it's old news and nothing that's
interesting to me anymore. I seldom listen to our own albums and I certainly
don't analyze them to any greater degree. I like and dislike all our albums
equally as much. "Haven" is more energetic and the songs go down better in a
live situation, but "Projector" has other qualities that gives it a long term
appeal. As for the new album, it will be a bit different as always but the gap
won't be as drastic as between "Haven" and "Projector."
There were quite a few demos and 7 inches you released, are those
still available? If not, did or will some of those songs be released on any
albums or compilations? Which demo was the one that got you signed to
If I remember correctly, a finnish 'zine editor went to the Spinefarm HQ and
played a rehearsal tape with some songs written after the last 7 inch EP ("A
Moonclad Reflection"), which got them interested enough to offer us a deal. We
worked very hard promoting the band in the underground and had lots of
rehearsal and live recordings in circulation as well as the demo and 7 inch
EP's. They've sold out years ago, and there are no plans to re-release them in
the near future.
I recently got to see the World Domination video that was put out
by Osmose. How do you feel about that live show? I remember the Dark
Tranquillity performance being especially good and I'm curious if you have any
stories or interesting notes about the video that most people won't know about.
Hmmm... Not really. The whole tour was a bizarre experience filled with strange
happenings that wouldn't translate well to print. It's a shame that it was the
Essen gig that was chosen for the video shoot, since almost all the other gigs
during the tour had better crowd response and turnout. Our performance turned
out pretty well, though, but it's not the most professional affair around.
Anyway, as opposed to most other officially released live recordings, there
aren't any studio overdubs or cheating. This is how we sound(ed) live.
Are there any bands on Spinefarm or Osmose that you enjoy these
days? Spinefarm continues, in my mind, to keep putting out mindblowing
releases. I really love Shape Of Despair, both of their CD's, as well as
Moonsorrow, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, and a host of others. Osmose hasn't really
been consistent lately, I think most of their great bands have left.
I'm not that up to date with the recent Osmose signings, but Spinefarm are
definitely putting out lots of quality stuff. When we were signed to them in
'93, they were mainly a distributor of metal and rock in Finland and the record
label side of their business was very small. They released 2 to 3 albums a year
or something. Nowadays they're putting out albums at a steady rate and have
grown much more professional in every way. The situation for metal in Finland
is pretty wierd, with lots of the bands entering the official charts and stuff.
Finally, how do you see the music scene where you are now? There
seems to be an endless flowing stream of bands coming out of Scandinavia, and
it seems like there will never cease to be either. I guess you found yourself
tired of the multitude of bands playing the "Gothenberg style." Do you think it
will be harder for bands playing this style to come up with new and fresh
Absolutely! I mean, one of the main reasons for "Projector" turning out the way
it did was us being tired of the whole Gothenberg sound thing, and that was
several years ago! The bottom line is that when we started out, this sort of
music was something innovative and fresh, something that sounded drastically
different from most of the other stuff around at the time. Nowadays there's
nothing original about playing "melodic death metal" (or whatever you call it),
and that has been the case for a long time.
IN AETERNUM. Interview with David via ICQ.
One of the most brutal ideas to come across in metal is the crossover between
death and black metal, however few bands do it as viciously as In Aeternum.
They have recently released "Past And Present Sins" on Necropolis, a collection
of songs that span their demo careers and rough mixes of their first few
albums, and it truly shows the evolution of the band.
I wanted to ask you first about the "Past And Present Sins" album,
as a few tracks popped up from a live show you did.
The live tracks were recorded from a show we did in Germany.
That was an interesting set of tracks, but I was wondering where
the crowd noise was? Hopefully the German fans were getting into the band.
These songs were recorded through the soundboard so that's why the crowd is
hard to hear. They definitely like the band, but I prefer playing in the East
of Germany instead of the West where they have been spoiled with too many good
I really was interested in hearing the demo versions of some of the
songs from "Forever Blasphemy" and my alltime favorite "The Pestilent Plague."
Were any of these demo tracks used to finalize a recording contract?
The only demo versions of songs from "Forever Blasphemy" are different
rehearsals. The song 'Demon Possession' from the album "The Plague" appeared
first on a 7 inch in 1999. So no studio demos were ever recorded for these
I gotta tell ya, my favorite tracks from "The Pestilent Plague" are
'Ultimate Warfare' and 'Demon Possession,' that ultra slow part where the
lyrics go "crushing, tearing, in the name of hell." That's one of the most
brutal parts of the album!
Hell yeah, I like those songs a lot. We haven't played 'Demon Possession' since
1999 so we will start playing that one on the upcoming shows. 'Ultimate
Warfare' has been a part of our setlist from the beginning. It's a killer
track, lots of Celtic Frost influences on that one.
As a rule, I think these days I'm more into black metal than death
metal, but the most brutal bands to me are ones that are able to mix death and
black metal together like you and Behemoth. Do you see the lines being blurred
more and more between bands that's it's hard to tell which style they are
Some bands can be hard to define, on the other hand I try not to. A band like
Nifelheim is obviously a black metal band and a band like us is a mix between
death and black metal. One of the best death bands ever must have been
Angelcorpse, too bad they quit! I think black metal bands of today have become
much too keyboard dominated and that was never the intention I think.
So where do you stand on this whole Brazilian hyperspeed death
metal coming out? Bands like Mental Horror, Krisiun and Rebaelliun. Personally,
I don't see what's so great about Krisiun, to me their albums sound a bit too
clean, maybe in the production work, and their vocal work leaves a lot to be
desired. Rebaelliun is the best of the Brazilian bands, and their albums kill
from start to finish.
I like them all, but the new Krisiun album wasn't too hot. I have yet to hear
the latest Rebaelliun album, I only heard 2 songs. Mental Horror I have only
heard a few demo songs. I did see Krisiun at the Wacken festival last year and
I must say they are great musicians. Their guitar player is killer and that
drummer is absolutely insane, he's so fast.
Are you pleased with some of the demo versions appearing on "Past
And Present Sins?" I noticed that more of your black metal style came out
during this period. Definitely Celtic Frost oriented as you said, though some
of the versions I wasn't as pleased with, especially after being blown away by
the sheer brutality of an album like "The Pestilent Plague."
I stand behind everything on that album, and I see your point on the old
material. When the band started in 1992 under the name Behemoth we were even
more black metal sounding. Too bad no songs from that time appeared on the
album. I wanted to put some stuff on there but the others objected. Now the
stuff is more death oriented, but the lyrics are still the same.
WOW! I didn't know you guys had named yourselves Behemoth. Why the
strong objections to material from that time period?
Mainly because I was the only member left from that time and they thought it
was a different band. That wasn't exactly true as we played these songs under
the In Aeternum name as well. We even re-recorded one song from the 2nd demo we
did, but with new lyrics as the original lyrics got lost.
Speaking of your lineuo, I noticed from your first album "Forever
Blasphemy" to your second disc "The Pestilent Plague" you went from being a
4 piece to a 3 piece band.
Yeah, only because the bass player couldn't play the new stuff. I even had to
play 70 percent of the bass tracks on the first album, so as you see we had big
problems with our bass player. He just wasn't good enough. This affected me
personally as he was an old friend of mine. So things have been a bit tense
ever since he got fired from the band 2 weeks before the recording of the
"Pestilent Plague" album.
Now I have been told you are working on a new album, any details
you want to share with us, like song titles, themes or concepts?
Well, first off we have a new lineup, and it's me on vocals and guitar, Daniel
plays 7 stringed guitar and Andreas plays bass. We are still searching for a
new drummer as the guy we had while recording the new album "Nuclear
Armageddon" quit the band after recording and two live shows. The title of the
album deals with the coming of a new race after the war. 'Beast Of The
Pentagram' is based on an actual happening in Scotland, with some guy who
sacrificed children to gain power. This happened in the 1800's, and he lived in
a castle called Hermitage.
Sounds interesting. Have you read the book "Apocalypse Culture II,"
it's put out by the same people who did the "Lords Of The Underground" about
the black metal scene.
Haven't read that one.
Well, in this book there is a story about a guy named Joe who
basically said that humans should be allowed to kill, and he's a misanthropist.
He believes that serial killer are a product that society has created,
basically, and since society created these beings due to abuse, neglect or
uncaring parents, getting revenge is a natural part of the process.
Everyone being mistreated of course has the will to get revenge. SO in a way
he's right. The world has created a lot of so called monsters, though some are
of course only normal lunatics who lived a relatively normal life, like the
Menendez Brothers, for example.
He says that although humans have the right to act against society,
society does not have the right, according to him, to kill these individuals,
because society created these beings.
Can't agree on that 100 percent, just imagine all these people still being out
on the streets killing everyone. What a sight, and I'm sure the police wouldn't
be able to do much about it.
The scariest thing about this book, which was published in 2000, is
the story about a guy who met this woman from the Middle East, who described
in detail how the terrorists would attack the U.S., even describing the
Anthrax attacks and how they would be carried out. When this guy went to the
FBI with what he knew, no one believed him or even took him seriously! This was
one full year before the terrorist attacks started!
That's definitely a blow for the FBI. I'm thinking this is just the beginning
of the end, and there is probably more to come. Fanatics will always be
around. I'm just expressing my own thoughts though, but we should definitely
leave this topic. Have you heard about the Morbid Angel tribute that's going to
be out on Hellspawn and Necropolis?
Actually, I haven't. What track are you doing?
We're doing 'Maze Of Torment,' which was recorded with the old lineup about a
year ago. Go to www.hellspawnrecords.com, they have more info about it.
When are you coming back to play the States?
I hope we can come over this year for a few shows. It all depends on our label.
We really want to do a tour there with bands like Sadistic Intent, Absu, or
Exhumed. Or any other good band. We should be heading out on the road in Europe
together with Gospel Of The Horns frm Australia. Maybe Destroyer 666 will come
along as well. We might do some Swedish dates with Lord Belial as well in May.
How is your deal with Necropolis Records structured?
This is actually the last album in that contract so we'll see what's going to
happen after that.
How would you say they've handled press for you? I know I had a
hard time getting you locked down for an interview, but otherwise Melanie does
a pretty good job with most bands here in the States. I kinda have to wonder
about the label though ever since Witchery took off like wildfire. It puts them
in the "Not so underground anymore" category.
They do a pretty good job I guess, but it could be even better. So this
interview was a lucky shot, ha ha! I think it's good that they have sold a lot
of albums. The label needs to grow and earn money. By doing that they are able
to put bands on the road and release killer albums. I don't care about the
"underground" tag on the label.
I don't really care about the underground tag either. I know both
Immortal AND Marduk are glad to be off Osmose and though Century Media is a
bigger label, Marduk was barely signed to the label and Century Media already
brought them to the States for a full blown tour!
The only problem with bigger labels might be that you can get drowned in all
the other bands. You really need to seel a lot of records and push them to work
for you. So it's good that Necropolis is growing in some ways.
Well, thanks for the interview, and thank Melanie for me when you
talk to her, she sent me a signed vinyl copy of "Forever Blasphemy" that you
signed and some other guy who's name I can't quite make out.
It was Joacim our drummer and bass player at the time. Keep in touch and bang
your head! Check the web site for info, it should be updated this week with
news and pictures of the new lineup.
KMFDM. Interview with Sascha.
Good to see the industrial pioneers back under their right moniker! A new
album, an upcoming summer tour, and a return to the heaviness and aggression
that KMFDM was always known for. What more do you want? Everyone should know
who this band is.
It's good to see you guys back as KMFDM. I didn't get a chance to
hear your MDFMK stuff, and I'm curious what prompted you to change your band
Well, it's not really that much of a name change, like if you called yourself
evets for awhile. There was a point when KMFDM had run itself into a bit of a
rut due to different visions and directions people wanted to take. I think it
really was more of the creative procedure. A couple of us didn't want to go on
in the way things were being done, and everyone was unhappy with the way things
turned out. During the making of the "Adios" record, it became apparent that
we were not all going in the same direction anymore. Skold and I then decided
to branch out and do a different kind of approach that involved less people
than KMFDM would have. We could have called ourselves any name we wanted to,
like the Sons Of The Vibrators, but that would have made it much more of a
departure and much harder to return (to KMFDM).
I'm looking into the credits and I'm seeing some of these members
that I don't remember seeing with older albums. When did you acquire Skold?
Skold came into KMFDM in early 1997. He was on the U.S. tour with us and we did
one album together.
My favorite KMFDM albums from the past were "Naive-Hell To Go," and
I really enjoyed "Angst." This new record though seems to be one of the
heaviest albums you've done to date.
It could be. I don't know, to me it's still too new to really have much of an
opinion on it.
Now I know you also have Raymond from his band Pig, and I'm curious
if Raymond and Skold had any sort of influence over the heavier direction that
this album has taken, it's really a brutal album and quite kick ass.
Whoever contributes to the album definitely has an influence on the content of
course. Raymond has been with KMFDM since 1984, and in this case the heavier
sound was not due to his input; his contributions to this record is strictly
as a vocalist. But it was definitely a conscious effort to make a pretty heavy
assault like kind of record, hence the title ("Attak.")
It must be rather strange to find yourselves on Metropolis after
having built a career on Wax Trax.
Let me tell you something: all labels pretty much work the same way, in one
way or another. A label is only a label if it manages to sell records, that's
what they're focusing on. Everything else is just the involvement that they
take into the creative process, trying to nudge you in a direction that they
want you to go in. That's what we don't like, so we stay with labels that
are independent and could give a shit about creative content.
Wax Trax has been there for you since day one, though, and I
recently went back and listened to the 3 CD Black Box set again, realizing that
industrial music has such a history with that label, seeing bands who are
legendary who seemed to start with Wax Trax. I don't know what the label is
doing now, their focus doesn't seem to be what it was in the past.
Wax Trax was a grand label, anything that came out on Wax Trax you could just
buy, even if you didn't know about the band, and it would be good. As far as
industrial goes, KMFDM have never touted ourselves in that genre, we've tried
to distance ourselves from that genre, because industrial as it stands has
two incarnations: one is the European industrial from the late 70's, early
You mean like Einsturzende Neubauten?
Yeah, like them and Throbbing Gristle. Industrial in it's first definition was
a form of music or art that used tools of the industry to make sounds. The
second incarnation of industrial was the American industrial that was a hybrid
of punk rock guitars with electronic elements that was driving, heavy stuff.
KMFDM would have always blown this genre out of proportion, because KMFDM's
influences are a sheer spectrum of musical variety, stuff we've covered through
the years and more than either definition industrial could ever be. We just
call it ultra heavy beat.
I remember that whole argument when Front Line Assembly first
started brining in guitars for their "Millenium" album I think it was. Their
fans were enraged by that, I guess they thought industrial was getting too
metal oriented, and thought that only electronics should be used. Which of
course gets rather silly.
It gets into some sort of realm of bigotry. Let things be what they are and be
surprised, is my motto.
So whatever happened to Wax Trax, are they still doing anything
In 1992, Wax Trax filed for bankruptcy protection, and then in 1993 they got
partially bought out by TVT Records. Also in 1993, one of the owners got
deadly ill from AIDS and died in 1995. By that time, TVT had basically
swallowed the entirety of Wax Trax. They proceeded to not sign new stuff for a
few years, but release albums from entities that were signed to Wax Trax in the
past. Basically, TVT acquired all the contracts, all the bands and commitments
from Wax Trax. Over the years, another contract and yet another, and another
contract had expired, and people had done their obligations. Wax Trax now is
merely a holding tank for the back catalog. One of the former workers at Wax
Trax has founded a new label called Wax Trax 2, or WT2. They're putting out a
lot of goth, romantic, industrial stuff. Their biggest success right now is
a band called Stormkamp (not sure about spelling - ed.), they're pretty active
and have a good roster with very small bands.
With the title "Attak," it seems like you're going for all out war,
proving to everyone that you're back in top form. The lyrics always got to me
as well, especially when you can write a song that says "KMFDM sucks," it's
obvious that you try not to take things too seriously. Some people tend to read
too much into lyrics, if a band does a war song, people say "Oh, this band has
a political agenda" or whatever.
With the advent of the internet, people are reading too much into a lot of
stuff. A lot of things have been turned upside down in terms of what is really
true and what's not, what is supposed to be serious and what is fun. You know,
whatever. I'm more happy to see that people are getting into the stuff than
judging books by their cover.
I've always been a big KMFDM fan, and maybe I'm sort of
contributing to the whole lyrics issue, but I did want to talk a little bit
about some of the lyrics on the new album, especially a song like 'Urban Monkey
Warfare.' That wouldn't happen to be a post 9/11 statement would it?
That was actually written way before 9/11, but that's of course always the
interesting part; throughout history or at least over a certain span of time
how things change and contacts develop that all of a sudden things are being
looked at in a different spotlight. 'Urban Monkey Warfare' is basically a song
about the stupidity of human kind and their constant engagement in warfare.
It's a basic theme. When lyrics are being written, I can't speak for the other
contributors but that song is one that I contributed. When I write lyrics it's
not so much really about saying "Well, what is this song going to be about,"
it's more like a free association of words, thoughts and stuff. I always end up
with a kind of paint by numbers scheme. Sometimes over a few minutes, sometimes
over a few days or weeks, the lyrics will shape up. Once its written, it's more
like written poetry or something. The real trick is to get a lyric and a track
to gel together and become a song. That's always the hardest part.
I really dig the track 'Dirty,' that's one of the heaviest cuts on
the album. I was glad to hear a heavier sound for the record, and I'm
definitely looking forward to the tour, do you know who you're going out with
We're not sure yet, we just changed direction last week. We had a tour in
Europe for May which got cancelled for a number of reasons, and then we began
booking a North American tour last Friday, which is slowly taking shape. We
just have a basic timeframe right now, we don't have confirmed dates as of yet,
but within a few days everything will fall into place. We'll definitely begin
on or around June 1st, and we'll be doing a counterclockwise run through the
United States for exactly 30 shows. We're looking into bands to tour with right
now, and it's tricky because some of these bands are commited to going out with
summer tours. As usual, we'll find someone that fits the bill perfectly.
Who would you like to take on tour?
I'd like to take Andrew W. K. I like his stuff very much. Are you familiar with
Surprisingly, I haven't heard of him.
I think they have a clip of his on MTV 2 right now. It's total give you the
finger type of punk rock stuff. Or I would love to take one of the bands from
the early days, like Front 242 or Laibach. I know Front 242 are commited to the
summer, they can't make it.
You're definitely coming to Atlanta right?
Yeah, it's going to be say between the 10th and the 20th of June.
Well, the 20th of June would be cool, because that's when my
That's cool because your birthday is one day before mine! I think actually by
the 20th we'll already be up in the New York/Boston area.
There was a CD compilation called "Retro" Wax Trax did for you,
which was a compilation of various songs from your different albums over the
years. One of the things that caught my eye was the original version of a song
that had to be changed from the album "Naive - Hell To Go." Can you fill me in
on the sample copyright problem you had with that record?
There were some samples from an orchestral recording by Carl Orff. We used some
of these sounds and there was a couple of sample copyright clearance issues and
stuff. It wasn't a big deal at the time, so we didn't do any other pressings
with that material, we just remixed that whole album, which in hindsight I
don't think that was a smart move. Obviously the original, orange cover "Naive"
is just way much better than the green cover.
Well, I actually liked the version I have, which of course is the
That's a bit of a toss up actually, The versions of 'Go To Hell' and 'Virus'
are definitely much more kick ass than the ones on the Orange one. But for some
nostalgic reasons I prefer the orange one.
Can you still find the orange cover CD anywhere?
You can find the orange cover CD easily on Ebay for between 100 and 200 bucks. I
do know some people find it in used CD bins for as little as 1 dollar.
The videos for some of your songs I really liked, the song 'A Drug
Against War' was one of my favorite videos, and MTV used to play it all the
'A Drug Against War' was one of the videos that definitely put KMFDM in the
spotlight videowise. Everything was just so awesome. It's something that could
never be done again, because Wax Trax was funding that video very heavily, and
animation of all sorts is really expensive. Especially in the 1990's, when
computers were so available but not all that fast yet. And not that cheap
either. All the animation for 'Drug Against War' was done by hand by Brute
himself and his brother. Brute does all the KMFDM art. They came to Chicago
and we rented them some workspace. They were just drawing away for months and
How much did that video cost to make?
Altogether, the total cost was like 100,000. The sheer manpower was absolutely
Do you ever plan on doing a video again? I don't know if you'd ever
be in line with what MTV is doing these days.
We are definitely NOT looking at MTV at all. We just released a little video
that was done by a couple of friends down in the Bay Area, but it's a far cry
from what we did with 'A Drug Against War.' It's not even an official KMFDM
video, there was no cost involved. A bunch of people from all around the world
are sending in videos and animated stuff, and as it gets ready it kinda
trickles out. If you go to the KMFDM.com page, there's a big red button on the
front page that links right to it, it's the whole video but it's in a quicktime
With computer technology these days, you can get a good and
powerful system and do animation, I've seen stuff these days that looked very
impressive on a home PC system.
Yeah, but it will look different because if you film stop and go kind of stuff,
I don't know the terminology in animation, but if you film picture by picture
by picture and let it roll, it looks different than if it's done on computer.
You get a certain smoothness and stuff that just doesn't look as gritty and
as cool. You can compare for example the 'Drug Against War' video and the 'Son
Of A Gun' video which was done four or five years later. It's the same guys,
the same brain, but 'Son Of A Gun' was done on a computer and it looks and
feels complete different. Instead of hand drawing and cool explosions, and
making them really comic like, you get these cheesy video fireballs, and they
just don't look right.
What kind of deal do you have worked out with Metropolis, is it on
an album by album basis of for a number of records?
It's pretty much one by one. If we like the collaboration, we will go on. It's
really too early to tell how things are going, the album's only been out about
Do you plan on doing any more side projects? I know there was the
Excessive Force record a few years ago.
There's in fact a couple of tracks that are being worked on for another
Excessive Force record. We don't know if it will be on Metropolis Records or
not. The 1984 "Opium" stuff is being released for the first time on KMFDM
Records in the next couple of weeks. Opium is KMFDM material that did not go
on our first record "What Do You Know Deutschland?" It was never properly
released, it was only a couple of cassettes floating around the Hamburg
underground club scene.
Wow, what is that stuff like?
It's pre "What Do You Know Deutschland" stuff, in a way it's a little more
gritty, harder than the first album with the perspective of actually really
making a record and stuff. We kinda held back on the super noisy stuff. In
hindsight now. almost 20 years later, may have been a mistake, because the
"Opium" stuff was really cool. It's going to be available through KMFDM.com
only. Still, though, we have not decided whether we are going to do any press
or promotion for this record.
You definitely should, I think when people get wind of this coming
out they are REALLY going to want to hear it. Have you made any statements to
the press about the record yet?
None whatsoever. It's been under wraps for awhile. Back in 1984 the mixing and
the whole technological surroundings was so, um, humble. We lifted all this
stuff off of the old tapes and remastered the album.
So I guess the tapes were in pretty good shape?
Actually, the tapes were in bad shape. Really bad shape. We had to bake the
tapes, which is actually what it sounds like; we put the tapes in a stove,
baked them at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time and then you
actually get a couple of plays out of it. But the tape and insides by itself
get damaged so bad from the baking process so you're lucky if you can get it
all off in one take.
Now what's the idea behind baking, is that if the tape won't play,
or if it has dropouts on it or something?
Tapes have a sort of plastic backing, and magnetic particles attach to that
backing. The magnetic particles and the tape separates over time, so the baking
glues them together for one more good play. Some people say you get four or
five plays out of it, we didn't though. We set everything up, baked the tapes,
and ran it through a machine, to salvage everything we could.
Did you use any computer programs to enhance the audio? Nowadays,
especially with Cool Edit and programs I use, you can clean up vinyl recordings
so that they don't have clicks and pops or scratches running through them.
Actually, one of the tracks for the vocal part, we had to use a somewhat FBI
speech recognition software program to filter out all the shrapnel and noise.
It was interesting to work with. Everything was recorded from the tapes into
a multitrack computer system, like with Pro Tools workstation. Then we
treated individual tracks, basically trying to maintain the individual
balances. We didn't want to remix the record per se, just remaster it. Now it
all has a real low end.
OUTER SPACE ALLIANCE. Interview with Arto Koivisto.
It's very rare that we actually get a chance to interview an electronic
artist, and of course I don't know of many that hail from Finland, more known
for black and power metal than techno, ambient or electronic music. The sounds
on their full length run the gamut from spacey electronic to ambient music, to
call them strictly a techno band would be doing them a disservice. Anyway, hope
you enjoy the interview, do check them out if you get a chance.
I noticed that your main web site is the MP3.com pages. How has
that site been as a tool for you, any sales statictics? Also do you plan on
doing your own web site soon?
It was clear that we'd have to have our pages somewhere on the net. Ambient
or experimental electronic music isn't that hot or "media sexy," so any
coverage we could get was and is a good thing. Besides, looking up bands from
the net is always a lot easier in general. At the time of registering O.S.A. to
MP3.com, it was an obvious choice since none of us had any hands-on experience
with sites that offer similar services. Later on we did have second thoughts
but decided to stick with the site for the time being until we can come up with
a decent site of our own, which we've been planning for ages. We would
definitely need a webmaster to handle all the related stuff in order to keep
the site running. Up until now all CD sales done through MP3.com can be counted
with the finger of a single hand so in that sense it definitely hasn't been
that good of a tool for us. Otherwise it has been quite decent, as we've made a
lot of new contacts, acquired more coverage for the band and such.
One thing I noticed about the full length release; the songs are
mostly in the spacey, ambient vein but there were a few tracks that seemed to
be a bit different from what the rest of the album is doing. Case in point:
'Dishwasher Deluge,' which I didn't like much (sorry to say), and 'The Journey'
which had a darker atmosphere that I really enjoyed.
Hehe. Myself I am not much into 'Dishwasher...' either. The album is not that
'whole' overall because the tracks on it have been done during a long time
period. To me it's more like a compilation of older tracks and try out sessions
made with friends (of whom some are also current collaborators).
I guess some small band history is in order, as in who makes up the
band, and are additional members needed for a live show?
Currently there are four members; Jari, Jarko, Joonas and myself. There are
also two contributing session musicians from Poeme, Tommi and Teemu. A few more
members will be joining the O.S.A. collective for the next album release.
I know you mentioned you did some live performances recently, so
I'm curious: is it all samples and DAT tapes, or is this stuff performed live
using synths and what not?
It's definitely NOT DAT tapes. We aim to make the O.S.A. live set as live and
improvised as possible. Usually we pack along a couple of samplers and synths,
a quitar(?), a shitload of effects boxes, a mixer and anything else which makes
some noise and that we think we might need. Before a gig, we usually practice
some tracks by jamming together and keeping track of what's good and what's
not. We try out scales, sounds, effects and sequences that fit the track in
question. This way everyone has some idea of what to play and where. The rest
is up to personal improvisation. During rehearsals everything usually sounds
crappy and chaotic, but when actually performing live in front of an audience
each individual has managed to pull himself together and the control over the
set has been a lot better. We also like to leave something at random, for
example, during our last gig at the end of one track Jari had a stuck choir
loop note on his S1000; it just kept looping and looping although it should
have died out. However, before Jari noticed this, Teemu had picked up the bass
note of the loop and started singing and speaking along with it through his
quitar pick ups. This in turn was fed through the effects pedals he uses and
resulted in an eerie, ghost like blur of mangled voice tones. I came along with
some sci-fi effects, Jari added some chord like sounds and the whole thing
turned out as a fully improvised "I'm having a bad dream and I can't wake up"
type of track. Lots of fun!
As far as ambient music goes, I don't really get to hear a lot of
it these days, mostly it's just artists I contact doing this stuff. Is there a
big scene for electronic music in Finland? What other artists from your area
aredoing spacey, ambient or electronic music?
I've gotten the impression that there are a lot of people doing electronic
music here in Finland. Most of it is done in small circles so it's really hard
to keep up with everything that's going on or what's getting released. Also,
most producers/bands don't keep that much noise about themselves so you need to
be always on the lookout, checking out new stuff without prejudices. I'd say
that the genres you hear about most here in Finland are electro, trance and
idm. Just to mention some names though: Ovuca, Dr. Robotnik, Giant Robot, O
Samuli A., Scape, Imatran Voima, Haltya, Op:l Bastards, Deliciound, Lackluster,
Decepticons, Mr. Velcro Fastener and Brothomstates are the ones that spring to
mind at the moment. A good site to start learning about finnish electronic
artists and the scene is www.phinnweb.com. Out of other finnish ambient artists
I'd recommend Folio (http://www.folio.aivo.com).
The CD I reviewed goes back to 1999, and also I have the EP but
haven't listened to it as of yet. Are there any future plans for a new album?
Yes, we've been working on a new one since last September or so. I had
envisioned that this new album should have been finished during January or
February but most of us have had so many other projects and stuff going on that
the deadline had to be extended. Looking at the progress of the new album it
also seems the deadline is going to extend a lot further. This is because we'd
like to see the next release following the O.S.A. concept a whole lot more than
on previous releases. We want to really do a tight package that succeeds in
combining all the different influences, styles, etc. that each member brings
to the project.
What other bands are you into? I really dig the psychedelic/space
rock bands like Darxtar, Hawkwind, etc. And I also noticed the stoner rock
scene seems to have a few bands from Scandinavia these days.
Among bands/artists which most of us like are Mr. Bungle, Aphex Twin,
Radiohead, Pink Floyd, MAW, Biosphere, Autechre, Kid Koala, and Bjork, but I
could go on forever with this list.
Where have you done press or seen reviews at? I'm not familiar with
many publications that cover ambient music, maybe you could let me know of
So far we've had reviews in mostly independent e-zines. Well, then there was
that Future Music think in April 2001 (of which we have a scanned copy at our
MP3.com pages). I think that most printed magazines which cover electronic
music include ambient in their sections, but otherwise checking reviews and
what not from the net is a far better choice. One good site to start with is
How were the vocal effects done from 'Anything I Want It To Be?'
Was that a vocal sample from a movie or another song, like many in the
electronic genre do these days, or actual vocals effected through maybe a pitch
shifter, processor or computer?
It was a bit of both actually: a vocal sample from a movie given some heavy
effects processing and sound programming. I don't remember the exact details on
how it was made, but I think I used at least two or three layers, some pitch
shifting, chorus and reverb.
The thing that really tripped me out was the guitar work on
'Confortably Numb:' when you listen to it you almost don't hear the acoustic
guitars, they blend in so well with everything else. There's a definite Pink
Floyd type of vibe going through it though.
I felt that the track sort of had that 'Confortably Numb' feel to it. It was
just the first impression I got out of it. When I did the track with Tommi we
weren't thinking of any Pink Floyd cross-references although we both like the
track in question very much.
With some ambient tracks I've heard, you can often hear the theme
pf the song playing in your head, especially with your song 'The Journey.'
When I hear that, i often picture in my mind the mysteriousness and vastness of
space, which creates some dark pictures. Did you have any images in mind when
you titled some of the songs, or do you often have to hear a finished song
before you can come up with a title?
Sometimes it's images, sometimes a feeling I get. But mostly the latter. In my
opinion, getting together a theme that you can hear in your head is, in a way,
vital to ambient music. For example, since you don't have lyrics (that for
example mornal pop songs have) which could be sung along, the role of the theme
is emphasized. It has to be sort of "catchy" so that one can hum or sing it.
More importantly, the theme must also provide the mood/feel that sung lyrics
tell. I'd say that prime examples of these would be Aphex Twin's "Selected
Ambient Works 2" and Biosphere's "Substrata"; both have a lot of excellent
themes, and of course both albums are worth checking out in case you haven't
heard of them.
Okay, what about the track 'Her World Seen Through The Glass,' any
reference to Alice In Wonderland?' That track ended up interesting in the way
that all of a sudden, here comes industrialized noise, as if the main character
is suddenly propelled back to the real world.
'Her World...' doesn't refet to Alice In Wonderland at all, but you're right
about the "back to reality" part. It's a bit hard to describe the idea behind
the track fully, but it has a lot of personal sentimental values, and not in
any cheesy sense. :)
Finally, some of the songs do have slight beat structures to them,
but I'm sure you didn't intend for any of these songs to play in clubs. I see
this type of music more suited for "chill rooms," not sure if you're familiar
with them or even if they have those in your area. It's basically a room that
plays mostly mellow, relaxing ambient music; some of the better ones have
couches, chairs, and stuff where people can kick back and relax.
Of course, we have chill rooms here also. If thinking about any rave or party
the biggest problem in general is that organisers don't put that much effort
when setting up the chill room, and the soundsystem in the main room tends to
leak to the chill room causing a horrible cacophony. Which of course spoils
most of the chill room atmospherics. About the intent, we're open to
everything. Actually, after the Future Music article was released, we were
contacted by a DJ from somewhere in North England who asked for permission to
make a one off acetate/dub-plate copy of 'Comfortably Numb' because he wanted
to include the track in his set. From what I understood he plays mostly
breakbeat oriented stuff so I'd say that it's only a matter of personal choice
ot taste where to play and what. Of course, it's hard to imagine anyone playing
a track like 'High Tide' in a disco or similar. But hey! If any DJ wants to
give it a spin (especially here in Helsinki), we'd be more than happy to
provide the track for testing purposes. I'd definitely love to see the reaction
of the audience.
PALE DIVINE. Interview with Darren.
When I first heard the new record man, I was really digging it.
Some heavy stuff there!
Did you get the promo?
Promo? No, Game Two actually sent the full packaging, which I
really dig because you get lyrics and everything.
Yeah, it's kind of inportant for us to get all that stuff in there, lyrics
and the artwork.
They're pretty good about stuff like that, it's really kind of
funny when you see labels like Century Media sending out these cardboard
sleeves and then a little independent label like Game Two send you the whole
enchilada; you get front and back sleeves, lyrics, artwork, etc.
That's the difference I think, because Game Two cares more about it. They don't
have a whole lot of money, they don't have as big a budget like Century Media,
Roadrunner, or those other labels, but they care more about their product. They
don't have a lot of bands signed to their label either, though, so they
definitely don't bite off more than they can chew. Game Two definitely focuses
on one project at a time, when they get the money together they put it out,
they promote it, and when it's pretty much run it's course then they go on to
the next thing.
What's funny is I got the new Pentagram record "First Daze Here,"
and the song off of there '20 Buck Spin,' I had never heard Pentagram do until
AFTER I heard your version of it!
Our version is more like the Death Row era Pentagram song on their first album.
The version that's on "First Daze Here" is the 73 or 74 version, it's a little
different. I have that on a demo tape. The solo on the end is a little
Now what about 'Dark Knight?' Is that a Pentagram song or something
you guys collaborated on together?
That's one of the first songs that Greg and I jammed out on 4 years ago, and
we could never really figure out vocal melody lines or verses. We never had
any vocal lines for it.
That's a HEAVY tune...
Yeah, it's a heavy tune, but the original tape we had of it was even heavier.
But anyway, we had corresponded with Game Two and Conan, we had planned to do
a 7 inch. The A side was going to be our version of '20 Buck Spin.' We couldn't
figure out what to do for a B side though. At the time we were working on a CD
as a self financed thing, and we didn't want to use any of the songs that we
planned to do on the CD as a B side, so we were like "What do we do?" So then
we said though we have this song and no lyrics, why don't we ask Bobby Liebling
to contribute some lyrics for this? At the time, Game Two was putting out the
pre-Pentagram Death Row album "Death Is Alive" vinyl, and Conan said, "Here's
Bobby's phone number, you're on your own." So I called him up and he was really
receptive to it, but he couldn't start on the project right away, he had other
commitments. About a year later he called pretty much out of the blue and said
he had all the lyrics down and was ready to do this. We weren't really happy
with the studio we were using at the time, and had thought about asking Bobby
to come down here where we were...
What studio was that?
It was just a small studio here called Four Star. We didn't like the sound we
were getting from them. So we decided to do this song up around where Bobby
was. We used Chris Kozlowski, who recorded for Internal Void, Spirit Caravan
and more recently Penance. We recorded the music down here, Bobby did his
vocals, and the final product was mixed by Chris. It came out pretty good, but
there are a few things I kind of obsess over, like the audibility of a few of
the vocals. I think 'Dark Knight' is like a cross between a Pentagram style and
a Pale Divine style, but the lyrics are DEFINITELY Pentagram style.
On that note, is there anything else you weren't really happy about
with the album? I noticed that some of the spoken samples could have been
better, especially on the song 'The Devil's Mark,' you should have gotten a
female vocal sample who sounded more like she was in pain than she was. Some of
the other samples you couldn't really hear as clearly.
Those samples are actually from a movie called "Mark Of The Devil," which is a
cult classic witchburning flick. It's kind of obscure.
Is that one of those Italian Fulgi flicks?
No, I don't know who did that, but I think Electric Wizard also took a sample
off the movie.
Ha ha, I wouldn't doubt it, they take vocal samples from a lot of
I was a little upset when we did our thing and then I heard Electric Wizard
do their sample, and I'm like, well, whatever. As to your question, I wish we
had recorded with Chris and had him do the whole thing from start to finish,
as we wasted a lot of time and didn't really get the sound we wanted. If you
notice the production on Pentagram's last album "Sub Basement" it sounds really
When I talked to Bobby Liebling I mentioned that I loved the last
two albums "Sub Basement" and "Review Your Choices," but I didn't like the
"Be Forewarned" album.
I heard that from someone else, too, a friend of mine. I couldn't believe it,
that's one of my favorite doom metal albums.
In the list of influences you mention being into bands like Black
Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Pentagram and what not. And I'm sitting there
listening to the song 'Amplified' and thinking how much it sounds like an
Orange Goblin tune. Are you a fan of theirs, I noticed you didn't list them as
a favorite band.
I like the first album; they're okay but I don't really like the more recent
Yeah, I have to agree with you there, I didn't like their last
record at all.
They're getting away from the dark doom and going into more straight up stoner
rock. The first song I ever heard from them was 'Aquatic Fanatic' and I thought
it was really cool.
Lee Dorrian really spearheaded this movement so to speak, after all
the Rise Above compilation was where I first heard Orange Goblin material.
Yeah, Cathedral were pretty much the trend setters for incorporating classic
rock elements into their brand of doom metal. Cathedral is definitely one of
the first as far as heavy, downtuned, Sabbath worship metal. Lee's vocals are
sort of bordering on death metal, coming from Napalm Death and all. The label
he ran put out a Dark Passages compilation that had a Count Raven track on it,
and it was the first band I ever heard that had a singer sounding almost
exactly like Ozzy Osbourne.
I'd like to see you play live, have you video taped any of your
We have one video of a show we did before the first Stoner Hands Of Doom with
a band called Phantasmagoria. The problem with videos is it usually takes me
awhile because I have to set up two VCR's and everything.
Speaking of the Stoner Hands Of Doom, I saw a big write up of the
festival in the new Metal Maniacs.
We played the first and second ones, and I didn't read the whole article, but
it was pretty interesting. We didn't play the third one though.
I really wish Metal Maniacs would cover more stoner rock bands in
their magazine, you don't seem to see much of that kind of coverage anymore.
You don't, and it's a shame because Rob sure put a lot of hard work into that.
He paid a ton of money to do the first one, and I felt bad for him, because he
really tried to make this take off, he really took care of all the bands and
all the bands got paid, as far as I know.
What songs did you do at the Stoner Hands Of Doom festival?
For the first one, we opened up with 'Amplified,' then we played 'Judas Wheel'
and 'Serpent's Path,' which comes off of a demo we did in 1990, I'm not sure if
you're familiar with it.
No, I haven't heard it, will it get re-released?
I dunno, I think we'll probably re-record some songs from that demo. The song
got pretty good response at the show. That song was also on the "At The
Mountains Of Madness" doom compilation that Richard from Solstice put out.
There were a bunch of good bands on that compilation, like Burning Witch,
Cold Mourning, Revelation, and Eternal Elysium who are now signed to Meteor
So why weren't you in the third Stoner Hands Of Doom festival?
It was just too far to go, we were actually supposed to do it, but it's too far
for us to travel. Having done those festivals before, we knew we weren't going
to make anywhere near what it would cost to get down there, stay there and
stuff like that. It's like a 36 hour drive.
They've got another stoner rock festival coming up in Youngstown.
We played that last year, it's called Emissions From The Monolith.
What's so odd about that festival to me is, even though I get a lot
of stuff from all over the globe, there's only about 5 or 6 bands I've ever
I was kind of surprised by that too. Last year it had bands like Penance and
groups that sort of had a reputation built up, and I saw the lineup this time
and I have heard a few of these bands, but none of them seem to be a really big
One thing that was a big blow to the stoner rock community was when
Man's Ruin folded. It seemed like most of my favorite bands were on that label,
they were putting out great stuff all the time, groups like Sons Of Otis,
Natas, Tummler, Dozer were all great records.
As far as Man's Ruin, you know when we were talking about Game Two and how they
really focus on each individual project as it comes out? It seems to me like it
really wasn't much of a shock when Man's Ruin went down, because I'd see all
these bands coming out, and they had taken on so many bands that it was just
overkill. They had really good distribution but I don't think the market at
that time was really receptive to stoner rock, doom rock or whatever you want
to call it. It always boggled my mind just how much stuff they were putting
Are you working on a new album?
We're working on some songs. Pretty soon we're probably going to do a 4 song
demo, shop it around and see what happens. I'm sure we'll probably do something
with Game Two again.
What's Game Two doing these days?
They have a Skynyrd tribute, which was supposed to come out 6 months ago.
They're doing that but I'm not sure what else they're doing.
I was looking through your CD booklet, and one thing I noticed that
is similar to Abdullah was the use of the woodcut designs in the booklet.
One of my favorite designs in your CD booklet was the guy sitting on the throne
and is holding the sword, there's 6 different candles in the picture?
The Albrecht Durer prints. I got that out of a book of all his woodcuts. We
tried to incorporate some of those pictures with the lyrics in our album.
The song 'Star Child' was rather interesting.
People said it reminded them of old Angel Witch, but had more of a stoner vibe
than a traditional metal feel.
I like the instrumentals too, some of these stoner rock bands that
claim to be so heavy; many of them don't have the balls to do a beautiful,
acoustic type thing in their music.
We thought it worked pretty well for the album.
So what sort of theologies or influences are you into? A friend of
mine who looked at the lyrics wondered if the topics were Christian oriented?
No, not specifically. Generally, we just try to keep some positive vibes. Now
Victor Griffin's band Place Of Skulls, they're overtly christian. Some of his
songs are blatantly christian.
Finally, what does the name Pale Divine seem to represent to you?
It's a big reflection of the lyrics. There's a sort of theme behind it,
basically it's about people that were one time divine, children of God, and
they got sidetracked along the way.
TAD MOROSE. Interview with the vocalist Urban Breed.
Power metal that's actually heavy, dark and thrashy? This is the new style of
power metal, well, it's not actually new but no surprise that Tad Morose has
been around for quite awhile. The new album "Matters Of The Dark" is very aptly
named, and along with the newest Angel Dust are among two of the most
surprising releases Century Media has put out this year.
How has press been for the new album? Have you gotten any feedback
for it yet?
People really like it so far, but there are some people out there that
absolutely hate it.
That's unusual. You don't sound like you are bothered by this.
I'd rather have it that way than have people say "It's okay."
I guess I understand that, you'd rather have a strong reaction one
way or the other. To be honest with you, I don't see why anyone wouldn't like
this album. It's everything that metal is all about; it's heavy as hell, and
it's also got the melodies, and that's what really drew me to Tad Morose.
The older fans are the ones that really object the most to this album, because
they're more into the progressive kind of stuff, with progressive time
signature changes and what not. We didn't put that kind of thing on this record
so I guess that's why they didn't like it.
"Undead" was the first album by you that I really started getting
into; I have a few older albums on Black Mark but I'm almost ashamed to admit
that I can't remember what it sounded like! I think that came at a time when
I was getting all this stuff from labels at once.
Ha ha! It might not be such a good idea to buy the entire back catalog of a
band anyway, especially if you don't have the time to listen to it. You should
just get one album, wait awhile and then buy another one.
Well, I have even less of an excuse because most of these CD's were
given to me by the label for free, so that really makes me look even worse!
But I think you had about three or four albums with Black Mark?
I think it was three full length albums and an EP of sorts. Actually, if we
had increased the EP by a minute or two it would have been a full length album.
Some people go one way or the other, either they want it really
heavy or they want it really melodic. Anytime a metal band can come out and
give you the best of both worlds, I think that's a great thing. Who wants to
hear the same type of metal all the time, or even the same type of music!
Well, you can always switch albums! If you're that kind of person, I mean. I'm
pretty much into both ends of the metal spectrum so that's why you hear both
types on my album.
What prompted the move from Black Mark? I know there is no
distribution here in the U.S. for Black Mark, hell the last thing I got from
Black Mark U.S. was the last Lake Of Tears album!
I just know that we didn't think they were a serious label anyway. If you
wanted to reach them it was kind of impossible. If you needed to discuss about
something you would call them and they would say "can you call us on Sunday,"
or maybe they'd say "We'll call you back." Like that would happen. After Black
Mark we were really wary of labels as a whole, and it took us a whole year
before we let the other labels know we were free. It took another year after
Century Media showed interest, we actually read and re-read the contracts over
and over to make sure everything was in order.
You kind of have to these days, for sure, to make sure you aren't
getting screwed on the deal.
But then again, you can understand it too, because if you're playing metal then
you're not going to sell like a million copies normally. If the label wants to
make some money then they will have to be rather sharkish. No matter who you
are talking to, it really matters who you are and how many copies you've sold
in the past. In the end, though, Century Media has been great to us so far.
Did you have any kind of vocal training, or did you just wake up
one day and decide you were going to start singing?
Ha ha! I did have some vocal training, actually, I had two years of classical
What is that exactly, it's not like opera is it?
Well, it's a bit like opera, but you don't have to sing opera stuff. If you
are doing that kind of style you can't have any leakage in your throat which
you normally get with singing rock and roll. You have more air coming through
and your vocal chords don't close perfectly. If you use, let's say excessive
force to get something out there, your vocal chords will react and they will
be a little bit swollen. You will get leakage.
One thing I was trying to figure out is that diaphragm breathing.
I understand the concept, where it happens normally when you are laying down,
but it's quite difficult, especially when you have to stand up! I have yet to
be able to translate that to actual singing.
That's pretty much why you have to do the classical singing stuff, it does take
awhile though. A vocal chord coach will make sure you know how to do it. When I
first started out I was like, "hey, shouldn't I use my lungs?"
I wanted to talk a bit about the albums, I really dig the cover,
well, what I got to see of it from the cardboard sleeve.
Actually, I think the booklet was the best part of the packaging. The artwork
on the promo is actually the finished artwork.
Well, what I really miss is having a lyric sheet, it really helps.
Well, you shouldn't really worry about it, because Century Media got things all
wrong anyway, even though I checked stuff and told them what is wrong, to
correct it. They didn't though, you know how things go.
The Undead album seemed to have some Egyptian imagery going on,
which really fascinated me.
Sort of, from some points of view. Actually I did the cover myself and that's
what I wanted. This time around we tried to stay away from the Egyptian and
Arabian stuff because we said we've done it, we didn't want to get stuck there.
Let's talk about some songs on the new record. What's interesting
is the title track that had some vocal duties with Charles from Lefay, and
Lefay was on Black Mark as well. I haven't heard much from Lefay these days.
We got off the label easy, because we kinda whined about it, and in the end
they just said "Oh, all right." We were obliged to do another album for them
but we ended up not having to do it. It helped that they were kind of worn out,
because Lefay actually took them to court and fought about things. Black Mark
actually lost, the only thing Lefay had to do was drop the Morgana part,
because Black Mark owned the trademark for the name anyway.
Why would a label want to own a band name if there's no band? What
are they gonna do with the name anyway, just make T-shirts?
Ha ha! Actually, the other half of the band had old members and Black Mark made
them do another album, that Black Mark actually released. The reason you
haven't heard anything from Lefay lately is because they had problems with
alcohol and stuff. They are putting things back together again, and I think
they're doing a show or two in Germany or Switzerland with Edguy. Then they're
going to start working again, so you may hear from them again sooner or later.
Chris is like me, he actually hates being in the studio. But actually when we
were doing this song together he thought it was fun and he felt like he could
do another album.
So what is a song like 'I Know Your Name' saying?
The lyrics are totally made up. I don't think I've ever told anyone this
before, but it's a complicated lyric. It's about a stalker, basically, he's not
too nice a person. But if you pick the title of the song too, and you're
familiar with Egyptian mythology, then you might recognize that Egyptians
thought that if you knew someone's name then you had power over them. So
that's where the title came from. And the stalker would obviously know the
name of his victim.
How about 'Devil's Finger?' I'll make that the last song I ask
about lyric wise.
It's about the idea of blaming someone else for things that you do really. Of
course there are circumstances and things like that, but you shouldn't blame,
like, the devil when things go wrong. The Devil's finger is the Devil's
influence in this case. And the verses are really just a story put together
around this concept.
I'm sure you remember the big case about Judas Priest, where the
kids commited suicide and the parents wanted to sue the band, you know, someone
is always looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame. Something bad happens and
someone is always looking for someone to blame. Bottom line, this is a fucked
up world, and there's always bad things happen. And eventually stuff like that
can lead to a cycle of violence, you know, like the guy that killed this other
guy, someone's going to want revenge and get him, and that person incites
someone to action, etc. etc. This goes on and on and what have you got?
You've got Beruit all over again!
When I look at the bio, it says that your sound is influenced by
Black Sabbath and Savatage, I hear a very strong Savatage influence in the
music, especially in the vocal work as well. I'm not saying you're a Savatage
Savatage was great, and actually if we're trying to look for Savatage
influences, we'd have to look more to Charles from Lefay, he sounds more like
them than I do I think.
I really haven't liked any Savatage albums after "Hall Of The
Then we're definitely alike, because that was the last album I gave a close
listen to anyway.
Tell me about some of the lyrics for the album?
The first song 'Sword Of Retribution' is about a board game, I don't know if
you've heard of Games Workshop. It was pretty close to when we started
recording the new album and a friend of mine brought around a game called
Battlefleet Gothic, and we had a lot of fun playing that.
I watched a lot of people play Warhammer, they'd set up this huge
table and position troops and miniature figurines around it, one guy set up
this battlezone out of a gas station and had a warzone around it. It was neat.
That's a new one, I haven't heard of anyone putting up a gas station. Mostly
what we did was put up bunkers, fortifications, and stuff.
The game I was really into was Magic: The Gathering.
I did play that a bit, I still play it but very seldom because I don't have the
time. I did play that New World Order, that was a Steve Jackson game. I really
dig the wierd sense of humor that game had.
Is there anything about "Matters Of The Dark" that you didn't
really like, from the production to the lyrics, vocals or what not?
Well, as I stated earlier, I hate being in the studio! Yeah, though there are
some arrangements, I wanted to shorten down 'Reason Of The Ghost' towards the
end, things like that. It doesn't help thinking about it. Actually, if we had
more time in the studio we would probably have changed the arrangements as
As much as I love the album, there are two tracks I didn't get
into, and one was 'Reason Of The Ghost.' The other was 'Don't Pray For Me,' I
think it's that slower arrangement that really threw me off. It seems to
strain the vocals a bit, especially on 'Don't Pray For Me.'
I can relate to what you're saying. Still though it was fun doing it. I did
like singing 'Don't Pray For Me' normally. But I know what you're mean, it's a
bit slower than what we normally have done.
I did love 'I Know Your Name,' that song was VERY catchy!
That's one of my favorite songs too. It's not everyone's favorite though, and
we all can never agree which song is the best.
So as we wrap this up, how in the world do you all come together
and get the sound locked down when everyone is into different things?
Well, we do have some common ground as well, and that's what makes us work. We
pretty much like the basic, good old heavy metal stuff; Maiden, Rainbow, Black
Sabbath, and Priest. I enjoy listening to bands like Yes and stuff, and Chris
likes to go towards the other end of the spectrum, with some growling music.
Not necessarily death metal, but maybe bands like Soilwork and such. When it
comes to how to get along, we don't have any arguments on the road or hanging
out, but when we go into the studio we end up fighting it out!
VESPERIAN SORROW. Interview with Mike V.
Aren't you guys playing some festivals this year?
Yeah, we're actually playing the New Jersey Metalfest this year. It's actually
a really cool festival. We played it last year as well, and they put us on
right before Opeth and Vintersorg. We got a really big response. There's like
three different stages, two of which have seating, and the third is this big
I'm going to try and make Jersey this year, of course it all
depends on my friend and getting the money together.
Have you ever been to a metalfest?
No, it seems like every year I plan to do one but something holds
me back, usually lack of finances. You really don't want to do a 16 or 17 hour
drive by yourself anyway.
The cool thing about the Metalfest; even though there's sort of a hint of
corporate takeover, one thing that is cool is that you will see like 50 bands
that you've never heard of.
Or for me maybe ten or 20! The magazine thing you know.
Well, you'll hear most of the younger bands, 10 or 20 bands you've never heard
of. You may not like some of them but some of them will blow you away. Plus,
you can find just about any CD you want there. You should definitely go.
I got your new album "Psychotic Sculpture" and was wondering if you
were sending out the full packaging on this, since all I got was a photocppy of
a front sleeve and a CD.
It officially got released in October through Displeased Records, and they did
a pretty good job with it as far as packaging goes. We're not really sure how
well it's doing, we don't really hear a whole lot from them since we're in
Texas. We've seen about 10 good reviews of it.
It's kind of a shame to me, especially with black metal becoming
quite popular here in the U.S., that a U.S. based record label hasn't stepped
in and released your music here, maybe like Century Media or Necropolis.
That's what we're hoping for, we're pretty much free from Displeased after this
record, and we're hoping to get on a bigger label that can distribute us all
over. Displeased is probably pumping the hell out of us in Europe, we get a LOT
of response in Europe, but very little here in the States.
Has Displeased brought you over to Europe for any tours?
We played in Europe one time, in Leipzig. There was a gothic festival over
there. I don't think Displeased had anything to do with it though, I think it
was something our manager set up. We're still waiting for them to throw us on
a huge festival like the Dynamo or something.
One thing that surprises me most about Vesperian Sorrow, especially
with the so called "black metal elite" who think female vocals, keyboards and
what not do not belong in black metal, is just how vicious and in your face
the music has always been. It's fast, and even with synth passages and what
not it still reminds me of old school black metal but just more advanced.
That's pretty much our goal, we're not really big followers of the whole corpse
paint scene. I am one of the youngest guys in the band as far as how long I've
been in the group, and these guys are some of the darkest individuals I have
ever met. I think this really shows up in the music, but we're not anyone who
does the whole Satan worshipping thing. What does come out is all sincere.
Since I'm doing the keyboards, I'm not really a big fan of the little twinkly
sounds or the boring gothic keyboards, I like to put in a little bit more.
Female vocals are something we have experimented with just a little bit...
Yeah, I saw that with the track 'Odyssium.' I'm sure you guys took
a LOT of flak for that!
Ha ha, there's a long story behind that one, but...
Well, that's what the interview is for, so if you want to go into
For what it's worth, I'll go into it a little bit. It was sort of an
experiment, we're the kind of band that likes to do something to, well, not
necessarily piss people off but something that will throw people for a loop. We
decided to put that on there as something that we saw and saw in the black
metal community as different. That was the idea of our drummer Chris. The
vcoals were done by a friend of ours, and she did a really good job. That was
one of her first experiences in a recording studio. We did take some flak on
some reviews, but some people absolutely loved it.
(The topic sort of keys off towards different non interesting
areas, and then somehow we wind up to a question about the Atlanta based band
Lilitu). Are you familiar with the band Lilitu?
They're sort of indirect friends of ours. Their artist is also our main
artist, his name is Daniel Long. He's actually become a good friend of ours. I
met him on the internet, when I was looking for the perfect artist for
conveying what we wanted on our album cover. He ended up being one of the
coolest dudes I've ever met. He's a very intense guy, constantly working on
his art. He's mentioned that the Vesperian Sorrow and the Lilitu art got him
the biggest responses of almost everything he's ever done.
Now what about the first album cover, what was the deal with the
artwork for that?
That was actually before I was in the band.
And they still had keyboards even then!
Yeah, they did. Actually, it's always been a major part of the sound. They've
always been about, or should I say not about, the typical things in black
metal, I mean we don't sing about death or gore or anything like that...
Yeah, thank goodness. I mean after awhile you get sick of that,
okay fine, you hate Christianity, fine, let's move on. I understand the angst
and the aggression, the lyrics needing to fit, but damn there's a whole world
out there full of sick stuff to sing about!
Current events you know?
Oh god. I'm just waiting for the black metal band to come out with
the Osama Bin Laden thing. Wondering when that's gonna happen. I'm curious too
because as misanthropic as some black metal bands are, I'm wondering what their
take on this whole situation is, I haven't had a chance to talk to any bands
about that yet.
I remember some band I read somewhere, I think they are either from Germany or
Norway. I better not say who because I can't exactly remember what band. This
interviewer asked them what they thought, and they were saying, "Well, I can
sympathize with all the people that died but it's really the U.S.'s fault for
getting involved with other people's business." I was really surprised at that.
Well, being a U.S. citizen born and raised here all my life, I hate
to say it, but they are somewhat right ya know? Okay, we bombed the fuck out
of Afghanistan but at least we're trying to go in there and help the people.
And if the world can't see that them fuck them. You gotta do what you gotta do.
If someone breaks into my goddamn house, I'm going to stab him, wrap his
throat in barbed wire, whatever I have to do. You mess with my stuff and it's
on, and nobody should look unfavorably upon me for protecting my turf. The
law here actually states you have the right to kill this person because he
broke into your house! Whatever they get they got it coming to them.
I agree totally.
I wanted to talk about some of the song titles from especially the
first album, it seemed like there was a lot of space imagery and things like
that, and that fascinated me.
With Donni our singer, he's the kind of guy who is always thinking about
something different, and we all realize just how small we are in the universe.
We're just curious and always wondering about what's happening next, or what's
around the bend or in another universe. It's just a general outlook or view
that we've had towards making this music. We're just off doing our own thing,
and we know some people will accept it and appreciate it.
Were there specific sources for some of the lyrics? I'm looking at
stuff like 'Spiral Symphony' and 'Nebula Design' and I'm wondering if you're
going in the way of Vintersorg on their "Cosmic Genesis." His whole album was
about the wonders of creation and I guess giving praise to the creator of the
universe. He won't say God specifically, but I guess he means whatever his god
is. I'm wondering where your theology runs along those lines.
I guess similarly along those same lines. Donni is also not someone who will go
around preaching things; he's very firm in his beliefs, and with something like
'Spiral Symphony,' I think he starts with a concept and then he'll step in and
listen to the way the music's being written. It's usually just a few of us that
are writing the music at any given time, and he'll sort of cater the words to
the way the music's going. The whole concept behind "Psychotic Sculpture" was
to sort of delve into the various places in the mind where there's fear,
there's terror, there's peace, insanity and insomnia. Anything that is
conscious or not, every human feels it at some point. Some of the song titles
might be more catered to what any one of us thought about when we heard the
There was a festival, I know you are from Texas, and this festival
a while back I think had Kult Of Azazel and Bloodstorm in it...
There's been a few festivals here in Texas, it seems like the black metal
thing is really up and coming down here, and that's really good to see.
Well, I looked on this bill and I saw a few Texas bands, and I
said, damn, why isn't Vesperian Sorrow on the bill? And when I looked closer at
these bands, I went, I know why, because they play with keyboards!
Ha ha! You're probably not far off from the truth, I think that was the San
Antonio festival. I don't know what really went down with that festival. For
some reason we either weren't invited to play, or if I remember right there was
another festival set up the same day that we DID play at. It was in a small
town called Victoria Texas. It was one of the craziest places we have ever
played believe it or not. The very first time we played there, when we were
still trying to make a name for ourselves, these kids just went nuts. It was
this swirling room, about 200 kids just going crazy. Through a band that we
met there called Sincerely Yours, they set up a good two or three shows, one of
which was a major 2 day fest. There was a band called Employer/Employee, which
is a sort of crusty/hardcore band from Austin, they're good. Another band was
called Suburban Terror Project, which is over the top hardcore minus the
straight edge B.S. I think both two fests were scheduled on the same day, so
they actually moved the date. Most of the bands here get along on a certain
level, but I guess there is some genre limitations.
So are you guys working on another album?
We are working on material for the next album, hopefully we'll get it recorded
within the next year.
And is that going to be on Displeased too?
It's hard to say; at this point we haven't had a chance to discuss the
technicalities, the whole contract thing with Displeased. I'm not sure how much
time we're given for another record. We were contracted for two records, so
album wise we've fulfilled the contract. Where we want to get with the next
album is further up, and that just goes without saying for any band; we need
to kick it up a notch as far as exposure.
I've dealt with Displeased in the past, and they have some good
bands, but they just don't seem to really have a strong way of working them.
Something I haven't talked about much extensively in interviews, though, are
you familiar with Spirit Caravan?
Yeah, I know of them.
Scott Wino went into detail about his contract with Columbia,
where the label had basically screwed him out of about 30 thousand dollars,
basically talking about the corporate end of things. So I'm wondering; you're
in the States, the label is in The Netherlands, how in the world do you work
out contractual obligations, I'm sure a lawyer was involved somewhere down the
line, how were you able to do all that?
It's a tricky situation, basically the way it's handled with metal in general,
a lot of stuff is done by internet these days. We threw back and forth a few
ideas, we would go "This is what we would like, what can you give," and they go
"Well, we see what you want, but this is what we can offer, this is what we
will offer." The reason why they say contractual obligations is because we're
sort of obligated to take what they give.
So I guess it's between that and taking nothing. I guess the best
strategy for bands would be to go in there with a midline expectation, and then
shoot higher than that so that they can get it lowered down to that midline,
Exactly. And I don't know how many bands actually realize that, and I have
known about a lot of bands that are like "Oh, yay! We've got a contract!" And
they're just waiting to sign, the pen's up in the air and they're signing their
life away. That's when you get the Scott Wino's or whatever who are going, "Oh
shit! You mean we don't get anything?"
WARMEN. Interview with Janne Warmen.
It was really great to see you work with Timo Koltipelto from
Stratovarius, how did that come about?
It was really cool, he's going to release his solo album too. It was a nice
exchange, I agreed to play keyboards on his records, and he does vocals on my
Are you guys going to do any further collaborations for any future
I really hope so, because it was fun working with him and I am a really big
fan of Stratovarius. I hope to do more stuff with him in the future.
I really wish he had done more vocal tracks on the record. Did he
give you any idea about what the lyrics on his two songs are about? ('Singer's
Chance' and 'Spark.')
He wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music. The thing is I'm kind of an idiot
when it comes to lyrics, I really don't care about lyrics, as I never listen
to them. I'm more into the production, the playing, arrangements and what not.
I really don't care about lyrics. I gave him free hand to do whatever he
wanted on those tracks.
Now when you talk about Timo's solo album, was that the "Hymn To
Life" album that was just released on Nuclear Blast?
No, you're thinking of Timo Tolkki, the guitarist from Stratovarius. Timo
Koltipelto's album hasn't been released yet. Koltipelto is the singer of
I wasn't crazy about the "Hymn To Life" solo album. Though one
thing that was interesting was that a few songs reminded me of the Police,
have you ever heard of them?
Yeah, I have. I think Tolkki's solo album is a bit admirable in that he had
the courage to release something so different from Stratovarius, but I don't
like the music at all. I don't know what he was going for with that. The song
'Father' sounds really strange.
Those vocals are so horrible on that. Now that I think about it
though, Stratovarius is a more guitar oriented power metal band whereas you
are doing the keyboard thing, and I thought about how perfect a mix that was,
what a killer combination. I'm just wondering why the keyboards weren't used a
lot more during some of Timo's songs?
I really don't know on that one, though that's a true observation.
Are you planning on doing anything with Warmen or is this just a
side project for the purpose of releasing an album? I know you do keyboards
regularly for Children Of Bodom.
I hope we are going to do some gigs in Finland pretty soon, and maybe some
festivals in Europe this summer.
Are you into any other forms of music like techno, industrial or
things like that? I figured being a keyboard player you could probably
appreciate some of the other styles of electronic music.
You probably shouldn't print this, but I've been doing some techno stuff for
What kind of equipment do you play, because I noticed in the back
of the album you mentioned you didn't use any Korg or Roland products. I
wondered why that was?
I had this sponsorship deal with Roland Scandinavia, and it really sucked. I
gave them a lot of promotion and I got nothing from them. Then the same thing
happened with Korg, they suggested to me a deal and I did some promotion for
them also, and got nothing from them. I use a lot of Akai professional stuff
like samplers and stuff. Actually, I will use some Roland and Korg stuff
because I have a bunch of their stuff, but I will combine them to get my
sound, but it's mostly emu and Akai stuff.
I really love the Hammond organ, it's an instrument that I have
enjoyed from quite a number of artists.
I would love to have one but I don't. I think the problem is that nowadays if
you want to do a nice organ sound you should really have an original Hammond.
I hope to get one oneday but they are really expensive here.
What keyboard players are you inspired by these days? I know
you've heard the old argument about black metal bands shouldn't have
keyboards, but Children Of Bodom has always been heavy.
I sure know that argument. One of the main reasons I got into this business
was Stratovarius releasing their "Visions" album. I'm a really big fan of
that band. I think their keyboardist is number one in metal. Nowadays, in
the heavy metal scene I really don't like anybody else, but I almost think of
myself right behind him or something. In my opinion everyone else seems to
have some problems, maybe they are playing with shitty sounds or play crappy
scales. I like the legendary keyboard players like Emerson from Emerson, Lake,
and Palmer, and Rick Wakeman.
It's really cool that you're into 70's rock, I know everytime I
see interviews with Opeth, they're always talking about Porcupine Tree, and
Captain Beyond and what not. I guess a lot of keyboard players today owe their
sounds and styles to artists from that era, synthesizers weren't all that
popular back then.
I totally agree, we really should appreciate those guys because they kind of
started what we are doing right now.
The only thing that really bothered me about the Warmen album was
Oh! (this evokes a LOT of laughter from Janne, I suppose he was surprised at
the question - Ed.)
I've heard a lot of, well, funny things about how she's been
involved on different people's albums, and I'm just wondering how in the world
she talked you into doing a song like 'Alone,' which didn't really seem to fit
That was her idea, and I kinda liked the idea of playing real piano on the
song. I always wanted to bring that onto an album. I don't know, I kinda like
her singing on this song, I dunno, I don't have a problem with it. I kinda
admit that it is a strange song to be on the album. It was originally done by
I know she's done lots of keyboard work with different black metal
bands, and I've heard some funny stories about how she was able to convince
people to let her do stuff on their albums. I don't know if I should go into
that here or not (Obviously, he's not getting the point I'm trying to make in
a rather subtle way), but her voice to me is just not metal oriented. It
sounds more to me like she should be backup to Michael Jackson.
Well, I kinda like Synergy's album "To Hell And Back," but not her latest one
and not her first one. So that's why I had her singing on this project. It's a
matter of opinion. She's kind of a friend of mine.
It's amazing to me to hear those keyboards, nowadays you have
guitar solos but it seems like keyboard solos are getting just as much
importance too. It sounds incredible to me to hear keyboards that are playing
notes just as fast as any guitarist.
That's something I intend to do here, I'm trying to prove that there's not only
guitar heroes; if you have a good enough keyboard player he can play all the
The song 'Dawn,' doesn't that singer Pasi have another band?
He's in Throne Of Chaos. It's actually kind of a funny story, because we had
that song 'Dawn,' and we didn't have a singer for it. One weekend I was
drinking in a bar in Helsinki and there was this strange guy who was very
drunk. He was singing really loud and I went up to him and told him he was
going to sing on our album and he said "Okay." So that's how I found him.
So he's in Throne Of Chaos now?
Well, after he did the song for us, then he joined Throne Of Chaos. I don't
think he's done anything else beforehand.
So what's going on with Children Of Bodom these days?
We're working on a new album right now, we're rehearsing like hell, like every
day, about 4 hours a day. It's tough for us, but so far the new songs are
sounding very good.
I know Children Of Bodom were supposed to come to the U.S. but
something happened, they ended up not getting the tour.
Something we really want to do with the next album is a full U.S. tour. We just
got an offer for some festival in April (The New Jersey Metalfest) and there is
a possibility we will play there (They never did make that show - Ed.) We've
been talking about playing some gigs in Finland with Warmen, hopefully we will
get a nice offer for a tour with Warmen as well.
Who else on Spinefarm are you into? Just about everything I've
heard on that label is absolutely awesome, from the two Shape Of Despair
records, the new Kalmah, hell the new Moonsorrow is absolutely amazing!
That's great to hear. The one thing that's very important I think for these
albums is that they're all mixed at Finnvox, which is the leading studio in
Finland, and it's definitely the thing to say for your album. The guy running
that studio has a great thing going on.
I see so much work coming out of his studio, that it tells me one
of two things: either this guy is really good or there aren't a whole lot of
studios in your area!
No, no, I think he's really one of the best (Mikko Karmila). We have a lot of
studios and stuff going on here, but he is so good that so many bands are
coming from abroad to mix their albums. He's very busy all the time. If you
want to do something with him you should really work it for like half a year
So what kind of deal do you have worked out with Spinefarm for
this? Like with Century Media, Devin Townsend has a few side projects outside
of Strapping Young Lad, and he was having trouble getting the side projects
released, and I'm sure Spinefarm probably wants you to concentrate more on
Children Of Bodom than Warmen, which is probably considered more of a side
That's always a problem with project bands. For me, Warmen is just a more real
opportunity to release my own music and songs, and it's really fun to do. All
the musicians are really good friends of mine, so we all have a lot of fun with
it. I know it's not going to sell a lot because it's kind of this strange,
instrumental stuff. I don't really have a lot of expectations for this, it's
just a fun thing for me to do.
Nowadays it seems like the black metal scene and the Gothenberg
scene are rather similar, I mean you know how like At The Gates had members in
In Flames and members played in Dark Tranquillity that played in other bands,
of course with Warmen it's Children Of Bodom picking up members from Synergy,
Throne Of Chaos, and of course the Mayhem members that have ties to Borknagar,
Old Man's Child, Mayhem, Emperor and the like. I'm wondering how you keep up
with all that? Are there just not enough places to play live so that you have
to swap bands or what?
Ha ha. We kind of had the same situation going on in Finland. Like Alexi from
Children Of Bodom is playing in Synergy, and other guys are doing other
projects, so yeah it is tough to keep track of everything.
So are there a lot of venues where bands can play in Finland? I'm
assuming there's so many bands in Finland thatconcerts would always be
interesting. I've heard people say stuff like "Well, I've seen this band like
20 times or so already, why should I go see them a 21st time?"
We have a few pretty nice venues in Helsinki. One new one that was just built,
and one that is rather legendary, called Tavastia club, that's the premier
rock and roll club in Helsinki where everyone's gold disc parties have
happened. Last time we played there with Children Of Bodom it was sold out.
We have been trying, as Children Of Bodom, to avoid playing much in Helsinki,
as we are from here you know. We don't want to bore the people over here. All
the foreign bands that are on European tours always come by Helsinki. It's a
good city to live in if you want to check out some nice bands every now and
There's been quite a lot of good stuff coming out lately. So we're a bit open
minded around here, in case you haven't figured it out in 10 or so years. We
recently had a chance to attend the New Jersey Meltdown festival and it was
our first festival and a roaring success. Besides the usual gripes, like the
festival stages running behind at some points during the day, plus the very
short set times bands actually have to play, it was very enjoyable. The
Convention Center in Asbury Park, NJ is a perfect place to hold an event such
as this. Three stages, two with adequate seating, and no stage can usually be
heard over the other. The amount of classic 80's metal bands performing there
was an insane treat! Just to finally be able to say, "I saw Diamond Head live,"
gives enough bragging rights to last years. Plus, not to mention the riveting
performances by first time American visitors Artch, Nightmare, Witchfynde,
and stalwarts of the scene Nuclear Assault, Saxon, Manowar, Vesperian Sorrow,
and my favorite performance on Saturday had to be Abdullah's lengthier set due
to an earlier band cancelling. I can break the festival down into more detail
later if any of you wish, so drop me a line.
Some people have asked me constantly why I don't just update the web site when
I get new reviews/interviews, or why I only have like 30 CD reviews when I put
out an issue every three months. Well, for starters, I don't survive off of the
magazine, wish I could though! The fact is, I am a dad for the first time, plus
I work 40 hours a week, and do miscellaneous things. Secondly, each and every
CD I review I have literally spent time with. I don't do the play a CD once or
twice and then try to number it, after all, think about the last time you went
and spent 15 or 20 bucks for a CD. Did you spin it just once or twice? Hell no!
I'm not happy doing a review unless I've listened to each CD more than three or
four times, and besides, when you sit down to write a review it's really good
when you can visualize the song in your hear just by looking at the song title.
Quality over quantity, and I guarantee the CD's that score 90 or above
consistently are the ones that are in my CD player on a constant basis. How can
I expect people to go out and buy what I myself am not familiar with? My
commitment to quality is something I have disciplined myself with over 10 plus
years. Know that I put as much work as I can into each and every issue, so that
you'll stick around for the next 20 or 30 issues.
Finally, I just want to use this space to thank some people who have been
influential in my life, whether it be due to music or other things: Chris
Miller, a true black metal warrior who helps me keep on track, Pentagram and
Hacienda for thanking me personally in the liner notes of their albums,
Abdullah for great music and another album to come, Charlene VanSant for
keeping the faith and helping me keep my possessions (not to mention my
sanity!), all the publicists who have gone above and beyond the call of duty,
like Melanie at Necropolis, Matt and Crew at Century Media for the endless
stream of promos, those at Necropolis, Spinefarm, The End, Meteor City, and
numerous others, and finally to my son, William, who is destined to be a true
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