Welcome one and all to another issue of the magazine. What is this now for us, like 13 years or so? Wow... Anyway, address is:

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

Let's do this thing...


ABDULLAH "Graveyard Poetry" (Meteor City) SCORE: 98/100

WOW! I have to admit, the last full length from Abdullah I reviewed I made a little mistake. (See issue #26 for details). Actually, the "little mistake" cost them a perfect 100, which is what I should have given them. This time around, I made damn well sure I listened to the album a LOT, this thing got no less than 8 complete rotations, back to front. And what an amazing album this is! The darkened intro 'Rune' doesn't do a whole lot for me, but it's not really a points-taken-off kind of affair. Then 'Black Helicopters' kicks in and the dark and heavy vibe comes to life yet again. The vocal work here seems a tad different, like it's up front and in your face, while the ultra clean and heavy guitar work adds an otherworldly presence that no one can mistake for anyone else OTHER than Abdullah. By the time 'Deprogramed' rolls around, something has changed. The tune is a bit faster and somewhat punk oriented, listen to the "wel-come!" chants that sound like something out of a Misfits (the punk band) chorus line! Then to hear some rock riffs, and late 70's to early 80's NWOBHM?!? Check out 'Strange Benedictions' and 'Guided By The Spirit,' man I can tell that there's been some perusal of early Diamond Head, Vardis, Tygers Of Pan Tang and the like from WAAAY back! A decidely British heavy metal flavor permeates the disc, and it's amazing that a band like this can alter their sound and style and STILL sound like Abdullah. 'Behold A Pale Horse' shows Jeff doing some of his classic emotional and soaring vocal work, while 'Pantheistic' is probably their doomiest here and still played slow, with such amazing builds and emotional heaviness, shit this could have easily been on their debut album! And as if to taunt me from the interview I did with them about their earlier days, they do this crushing black metal type of instrumentation on the last track 'They, The Tyrants,' that you have to hear to believe! Okay, the few points: Well, for starters, I didn't care too much for 'A Dark But Shining Sun,' and I have to say that the CD isn't the first place I heard them perform this song. It's not a terrible song but it's a bit too straightforward for even their standards, but the ending is much better. 'Secret Teachings Of Lost Ages' didn't sit too well with me, it sounds like Jeff's vocal delivery is a bit too forceful and the music doesn't back him up as well. Minor points really, and you can tell I don't "do the math" on a review, hell just listen to the sound files and see if I'm not saying this is a crushing sophomore record. The third record will be, according to "those in the know," the one to judge them by, and I for one am too busy with this gem to worry about THAT.
Contact: Meteor City Records, P.O. Box 40322, Albuquerque, NM 87196 USA
Web site:

ALKONOST "Alkonost" (Ketzer) SCORE: 92/100

Despite what may seem like a low score to those of you who have been reading my 'zine for a long time, this is a really good CD. The band hails from Russia of all places, and plays a somewhat folkish inspired style of black metal not quite unlike Finntroll, Moonsorrow, or Thyrfing, and you all know how I eat this stuff up. 'Years Of Prophecy' starts things off with high ended guitar work, which I absolutely love in black metal, and the vocal work is vicious as always. The melodic synths can be heard quite well in 'Sun Shine Our Land,' and this song also features some low toned sung male vocals, which are not too bad. They do detract a tad from the song 'War Is Closed By Us;' not only is it easy to tell their English pronunciation isn't the best, but the clean singing just didn't work as well as the blackened vocals. Similarly, 'Vortex Of Times' caught me totally offguard with the operatic female vocals which I really couldn't handle, despite the cool acoustic guitar opening of this track. The female vocals work wonderfully on the CD ender 'Life On Glory's Blade,' which incidentally was one of my favorite tunes, especially with the intricate higher ended leads and atmospheric synths. Speaking of synths, they do an ambient instrumental in 'Rain Of Former Days,' which I didn't care much for as it was mostly just rain and storm sounds and the opening synths were a bit too harsh for something that's supposed to be more atmospheric. There was some nice synths in there, just didn't keep my interest long. Sounds like I'm complaining but there's lots to love, especially the kick ass video clips, TWO of them, which they included in the CD. And I loved the lyrical imagery of 'Song Of The Smiths' and 'Holiday Of Fathers' as well. These songs are not the speedy atypical instrumentation found in the majority of black metal bands, but what they do, simplistically I might add, they do very well. Definitely listen to the sound clips.
Contact: Ketzer Records.
Web site:

AMON AMARTH "Versus The World" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 91/100

Amon Amarth has NEVER been known to make a crappy album, so this is definitely no exception to the rule. However, from the first note of 'Death In Fire,' it's clear that something different is going on, though 'Death In Fire' starts the CD off at a rather crushing pace that is both catchy, dynamic and brutal as hell. The guitar work has gotten a LOT more melodic with this album, and they are definitely bringing out the epic Viking feeling! 'For The Stabwounds In Our Backs' continues on with some slow melodic leads, and this track will probably be the one to surprise regular Amon Amarth listeners. They can still crank it up as well, though, and the vicious vocal work has some definite black metal edge to it at times. It's odd to hear just HOW slow they progress on 'Where Silent Gods Stand Guard,' and I do believe the song gets better as it goes along. 'Vs. The World' has some amazing lead solo guitar work, it's definitely a well written epic piece. The percussion, as well, has to be mentioned even though I don't really know how to write much about a drummer's work: It's very militaristic in spots, especially on 'Silent Gods...' and definitely makes you feel like you are participating in a Viking march to a foreign shore. Amon Amarth is good at crafting emotional guitar work that borders on the melancholy as well, take note of the lead work near the end of 'Bloodshed.' 'Thousand Years Of Oppression,' the christianity bashing song (see the interview that we did this issue), has some very odd vocal work that I almost didn't care for, and of course the slow start yet again, varying throughout the song from epic slow to fast and back again. It's all still very heavy, though it may take a few spins to get used to, but Amon Amarth has written a very worthy followup to the brutal "The Crusher" album a few years ago.
Contact: Metal Blade, 2828 Cochran St. PMB 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793 USA
Web site:

BARATHRUM "Venomous" (Spinefarm) SCORE: 33/10

VERY disappointed by this. This kinda reminds me of Khold, in that it's rather slow paced, almost doom metal styled black metal. 'Witchmaster' starts the CD off in rather bland fashion, and the black metal vocals don't really carry a certain viciousness that the genre is usually known for. And I love the way he said 'Master' over and over faded out ala Metallica. Well, I mean 'love' in a sarcastic way. 'Sinister Autumn' starts out in a rather midtempo pace, showing that it all isn't going to be slow and dreary, but the song never catches my interest. The vocals really don't have enough aggression in them to carry any of this further. After you hear a marching troop, 'Hills Of The Nurn' kicks in, with another slow, lumbering pace with overrepetitive verses near the end and very weak choruses. 'Black Flames And Blood' has very basic and repetitive riff structures, almost to the tune of one note chords. There's some faster guitar passages presented but the song never goes anywhere for my taste. 4 tracks have gone by and still nothing. 'Lucifer' finally presents us with a fast, vicious pace, but the vocalist screaming 'Lucifer!' at the beginning of EVERY damn vocal line ruined this for me greatly. Finally, track 6, the first really interesting song 'Would You Sleep With The Demon,' has a midpaced guitar structure reminiscent of 80's era metal, but take a look at the song name and you've probably figured out the lyrics are a bit ridiculous. 'Soaring Up From Hell' is a dull slow one, with laughable vocals and not much else I want to mention. The first real tune I enjoyed all the way through was 'Black Death,' and it is a fast one. Thrashy guitar work and vocals that get sick and vicious FINALLY. It's what I was waiting for. The tormented screams were a nice touch. Then the best track on here 'Gloomy Fallen Angel' brings to mind the catchiest and rippin' guitar work of early pioneers like Running Wild or something. Very 80's metal sounding guitars, and the "hail! hail! hail!' thing brings a rather anthemic feel to the track. By that time the CD is over, and the last track is obviously Barathrum's lame attempt to do a dark and eerie spoken word piece like Venom did waaaaay back on "At War With Satan." The guitars on this are a mess, and the vocals are just laughable. Spinefarm can do better than this, and judging from the three tracks I could actually get into, so can Barathrum.
Contact: Spinefarm Records, Box 212, 00181 Helsinki, FINLAND
Web site:

BATHORY "Nordland" (Black Mark/The End) SCORE: 94/100

First off, a small warning. Anyone expecting Bathory to be redoing the style and sound from their first two records, skip this review now. Anyone else, like myself, that actually enjoys good emotional, majestic and grand viking metal, read on. I must say I was not very impressed with the last full length Bathory album that I heard, and asked myself "what in the world happened to Quorthon's vocals?" This time around, the only song you'll hear that even remotely comes close to the bloodcurling black metal vocals heard within Bathory's first two discs is 'Dragons Breath,' and I must say that the vocals here are done better. Better than last record that is. The instrumentation is superb, from start to finish, and you'll even be impressed to hear him bring out some really nasty thrash guitars on not only 'Dragon's Breath,' but also on 'Broken Sword,' which probably contains the fastest instrumentation on the album. Quorthon's vocals aren't forced far into the foreground, and actually has very nice multi vocal Viking styled chant choruses throughout the record. The prelude starts things off rather majestically and symphonically I might add, before the title track portrays Nordland in all it's splendour and glory. This was a perfect record to listen to coming off of watching the latest Lord Of The Rings movie, and I dare say some of this music could have been found in the movie quite comfortably. 'Ring Of Gold' was a very surprising track, sounding quite folklorish with some awesome acoustic guitars and Quorthon doing some surprisingly mellow and melodic singing! 'Mother Earth, Father Thunder' had qutie a bit of the multi vocal viking chants as main lines in the chorus, and it was quite surprising to hear such jaw dropping flutes along with a jew's harp and shore sounds in the beginning of 'Broken Sword.' It nearly takes your breath away! Gotta love the horse galloping sounds in 'Foreverdark Woods,' especially the way the sounds travel from left speaker to both speakers, to the right speaker, sounding as if he's running right by you! 'Mother Earth...' in particular was a little unusual with the multi vocal viking chants, as this track had more of a Native American Indian feeling to it. The harsher vocals on 'Dragon's Breath' were a bit difficult to take at first, though on the choruses they do tend to be a lot stronger than his more recent effort at the "classic" Bathory sound. Many of the tracks are presented at a rather slow pace, more for swinging your mug 'o mead from side to side rather than throwing horns in the air and headbanging, but it's a very well done effort that I wholeheartedly appreciate. These songs don't have the dynamics and power that "Hammerheart" had (which I totally enjoy quite a bit) but what Quorthon lacks in sheer brutality and power, he makes up for with grand majestic atmosphere and emotional depth and power.
Contact: The End Records.

CATHEDRAL "The VIIth Coming" (Spitfire) SCORE: 53/100

With their Seventh Coming, it's clear they have LEFT Earache. Which is probably a good thing for the small label, as Cathedral has really gone downhill and has been sliding for some time now. Lee Dorrian's vocal work is EXTREMELY suspect yet again, though I must say the instrumentation has been seemingly getting better as of late. 'Phoenix Rising' starts out with bad vocal work, and that is pretty much the standard from the get go. Some of Lee's lower ended work is ALWAYS better than his attempts at higher ended vocal work. The guitar parts starting out 'Iconoclast' are crushingly heavy, and it's obvious that slow & low doom metal is a major influence here, but the tune is absolutely ruined by Lee's higher ended vocals. What a pity. 'Skullflower' was halfway decent, with Lee's vocal work actually staying in a more enjoyable lower range, though this track sometimes reminds me of Spirit Caravan's (R.I.P.) 'Black Flower,' which even live I thought was NOT one of their better songs. I loved the use of the trippy organ sounds (is that a Hammond Organ!??) in 'Nocturnal Fist' by the way, and yes the vocals are controlled a bit better. Their best song here though is 'Congregation Of Sorcerer's,' bad spelling aside, which is a TRUE dash of Celtic Frost worship, right down to Lee pulling off the "Oooh's" and "Heey-heeeey's!" damn near perfectly. 'Halo Of Fire' ends out the disc with some ultra slow and doomy guitar work, which I didn't care for much in and of itself, but Lee's vocals ultimately seal the deal. Even instrumentation wise, some of these songs aren't the most interesting to hear, like 'Aphrodite's Winter,' with the rather bland acuostic instrumentation, and 'The Empty Mirror' which had some halfway decent vocal work, but just didn't do much to grab me. If not for the heavier instrumentation and the nice use of 70's styled psychedelic synth work (especially the BEAUTIFUL organ solo on 'Empty Mirror') this would probably be a complete waste of time. If you can dig Lee's vocal work you may find you'll enjoy quite a bit more of this than I did.
Contact: Spitfire Records.
Web site:

DARK TRANQUILLITY "Damage Done" (Century Media) SCORE: 98/10

This CD definitely takes off where "Haven" left us, and it is quite a killer! I definitely can't wait to see them when they kick off the tour with Napalm Death, Strapping Young Lad and Nile. All out brutality is what we're talking here folks. Just about every track rages viciously at one point or another. If you're familiar with Dark Tranquillity then you probably know what you are getting here. 'Final Resistance' starts things off with some catchy chorus work, crushing heavy guitars, and the brutal vocals of one Mikael Stanne, and he powerhouses his way through the entire CD. 'Monochromatic Stains' was one of my favorite songs, especially the way it crafts great heavy yet melodic guitar work with crushing vocal work and choruses you'll be singing throughout the week! 'Single Part Of Two' has some dynamic synthesizer work interwoven with the heaviness, a nice mix of melody and heaviness that the Gothenberg scene has been known for for years. The instrumental track 'Ex Nihilo' at the end might throw some people off, as it's more synth oriented but the heavier guitars dispel any notion that D.T. is going to do more in the vein of "Projector," said by some to be one of their weakest releases. I really dig 'Cathode Ray Sunshine' as well, even the piano notes lend a powerful presence. One CD I was waiting on for quite awhile, and I was not disappointed by the wait!
Contact: Century Media Records.

DEAD SOUL TRIBE "Dead Soul Tribe" (Inside Out) SCORE: 46/100

I hear a lot of things on this CD that show promise. The biggest problem is this band is bouncing around all over the place with their style and sound. 'Powertrip' opens this CD out and crushes! It has a heavy guitar presence, a rather industrialized feel somewhat reminiscent of White Zombie at their heaviest, and cool electronic effected vocals, and did I mention some cool and funny vocal samples? I was hoping the CD would proceed in this direction, however, the following track 'Coming Down' showcases very melodic singing and an eerie yet melancholy feeling. The choruses show lead throat man Devon Graves belting out some intense and aggressive vocals, and this track works well to build up a rather eerie feeling. 'Anybody There' was a short, rather useless almost dark ambient track, and then the last halfway decent tune for awhile kicks in: that would be 'The Haunted.' There's some powerful guitar work here, but the problem is, like most of the tracks down the line, is the rather alternative styled singing vocals and the awkward melodic instrumentation. It's what I would call a half and half track. The ending is quite intense though. The singer really messes things up on 'The Drowning Machine,' and it doesn't help there's some very odd bass guitar work that is dominant from the start. And of course the whiny alternative styled choruses bother me as well. 'You' I really hated, get how he yells during the choruses and just sounds so out of touch with what's going on in the song. 'Under The Weight Of My Stone' was an acoustic ballad. Whiny alternative vocals once again. This guy has a decent and powerful voice, but seldom puts it to good use. 'Once' blew me away with the ultra powerful melodic emotional vocal and solo acoustic work that you have to hear to believe, but the alternative sung choruses almost ruin the mood for me. Regardless, it has some of the strongest emotional pull on the album. There's a few more tracks here that aren't too bad, especially the heavier number 'Cry For Tomorrow,' and if Dead Soul Tribe could lock into the ultra heavy emotional and just crushingly heavy, they would work very well. As it is, they bounce all over the place and really need to concentrate on one style. The CD says "file under metal," but there isn't a whole lot metal fans will appreciate even if they have recognizable talent.
Contact: Inside Out Music, 344-TB Oakville Drive, Pittsburg, PA 15220 USA
Web site:

DIONYSUS "Sign Of Truth" (Painful Lust) SCORE: 85/100

Damn, check the name of this record label! Yet another "supergroup" featuring members of Nation, Sinergy, and the vocalist for Luca Turilli's solo project. The vocals are definitely adequate enough, though I don't agree with the promo statement saying this is a band that "mixes the neoclassical guitar work and melodies of Nation with the harder stuff from Sinergy." I just hope by Sinergy they don't mean that crappy keyboard fronted Kimberly Goss side project, 'cause there's nothing heavy about THAT Sinergy project! Anyway, this isn't quite what I would call a barnstormer but there are quite a few damn good tracks, and it helps that songs like 'Anthem,' 'Holy War' and 'Pouring Rain' have some catchy and well structured choruses. 'Time Will Tell' starts the CD off in somewhat atypical power metal fashion, in fact with the opening synths an guitar work being so dominant, I thought for sure I was listening to a Freedom Call album! The instrumentation is not as fast as that of Freedom Call, even if the guitars are just as heavy. Good power metal fare there. 'Sign Of Truth,' the title track, is not one of my favorites but I'm not about ready to piss all over it. The main lines of the song, especially vocally, just kind of plod along, and the choruses don't really catch me. It's really 'Bringer Of Salvation' that knocked me to the floor, starting out very heavy and vicious, with some angry and dominant vocal work that caught me by surprise! Then to hear the multi vocal chorus and pre chorus work showed great initiative and dynamics, plus made for interesting diversity. Let's get the ballad type track out of the way, 'Don't Forget.' I think everyone knows how I feel about acoustic laced ballads like this, though I will admit at least the lyrics aren't all lovey-dovey crap. And the bonus track 'Loaded Gun?' Please, LEAVE THAT off the album. It sucks basically, and even has very weak choruses to boot. I had to rip a few points here and there, especially on 'Walk On Fire' with the odd lead solo, and 'Never Wait' which shows the vocal work faltering on what is mostly a fast tune. You can tell a vocalist of this sound can definitely mess some songs up if he is not careful in the way he constructs his singing. 'Anthem' had some very moving lyrics and being a slower tune relies much on the strength of the vocal melody and choruses. 'Pouring Rain' caught me more on the strength of the choruses than the main body of vocal/instrumentation work. I can see how this might appeal to some, but there are some tracks on there that might not catch with everyone. Still, a worthy addition to the CD collection. Of note: This is being worked here in North America through The End Records.
Contact: Painful Lust.

FOREFATHER "Engla Tocyme" (Angelisc) SCORE: 92/100

Wow, these guys put a new album out and didn't bother to tell me! Shame really, because the English duo have been cranking out some mighty fine "English Heathen Metal" for quite some time now, and I have seen little or no press for these guys. There's only 7 tracks here, which is a shame since two of the songs are instrumentals, and only 'Iron Hand' features any black metal vocals at all. And contrary to what you might think, 'Iron Hand' features SLOW and majestic instrumentation, which is featured throughout this disc. 'Engla Tocyme' starts things off majestic and grand, with nice shore sounds and fantastic multi vocal chanting passages, and the guitar work here is nothing short of phenomenal. The spoken word pieces which back the endings of this song, 'Fiefeldor,' and 'Forever In Chains' were a tad strange, especially since a few were in a language that was not recognizable English. 'The Swan's Road,' one of two instrumentals, sounded VERY old to medieval English, with some nice synth notes that emulated either flutes or recorders and cool trumpet/horn sounds, coupled with appropriate militaristic percussion. The other instrumental features guitar work on a slightly heavier scale (no guitars on 'Swan's Road' by the way) and is over 8 minutes long. While highly enjoyable, this reviewer thinks the track is a bit too long for an instrumental, especially given that there are only 5 songs with vocals on them. 'Forever In Chains' has unique lyrics, making us think about the plight of a king defeated in battle who will probably never be released from his cell. The low toned sung vocal work didn't appeal to me highly but the guitar work and higher ranged vocal work takes on a quite melancholy tone that matches the lyrics perfectly. A well thought out record that only disappoints me for the lack of songs and the seeming disappearance of black metal vocal styles, though if you liked "The Fighting Man," as I did, this should be a no brainer. Probably a lot better than the score reflects.
Contact: Angelisc Enterprises, P.O. Box 68, Leatherhead, KT23 4YE ENGLAND
Web site:

INSOMNIUM "In The Halls Of Awaiting" (Candlelight) SCORE: 100/100

Man oh man, am I ever glad to be proven wrong about the death metal genre. I have probably played this thing over 10 times now, and cannot find ONE single thing to complain about, even such a little thing to take points off for! This vocalist is clear and extreme in his death vocals, but they aren't the usual gurgling and growling usually heard in the stagnant genre, and the most amazing thing about this band is the guitar work. There is so much high end riffery going on that really creates melancholic, angry, and beautiful passages all at the same time. Like Extreme Spite Wing (reviewed below), they are not happy at all to stay locked down to the confines of the genre, which would appear to be melodic and dark death metal. 'Ill Starred Son' starts the CD off with acoustic guitars and whispered vocals before ripping it up, and 'The Bitter End,' being one of my favorite tracks, does some ambient and beautiful synths fading in before ripping it up with a vicious scream and fast but melodic higher end lead guitar work. This is such a masterpiece, you literally feel several emotions at once. 'Dying Chant' and 'Black Waters' showcase just some of the guitar work that is very catchy and you know you haven't heard an album this consistent from start to finish. I could go on and on about this release, especially 'Shades Of Deep Green' which contains one of the coolest lyrics I've heard: "What a cruel world, left for me to roam alone." Just feel the melancholy! They hail from Finland (big surprise) and definitely have a flair for Finnish old school literature, mysticism and the "misty shores and murky woods of Karelia." Definitely drawing inspiration from the land, I feel deep emotions every time I listen to this entire CD. And for all the melody and emotion, it's still a VERY heavy piece of work. Not to be missed, a definite highlight, especially if you get into fellow Finns Shape Of Despair.
Contact: Candlelight Records.

INTERNECINE "The Book Of Lambs" (Hammerheart) SCORE: 9/10

It's produced by Eric Rutan I believe, and I think involves a few members that have something to do with Hate Eternal. Crappy death metal that once again is ruined by anything to do with Eric Rutan (see - Hate Eternal, Dim Mak's latest, etc.). That's all I really need to say. I don't want to waste any more space to a band that doesn't deserve it. Plus, for some reason, I lost the original review and have to type it in again. Vox sucks, especially the dual vocal thing where one of the "vocalists" is doing a screeching, almost black metal thing. I think I may have liked a lead riff or two somewhere. Crappy death metal abounds. What more do you need to know?
Contact: Hammerheart Records.

MALEVOLENT CREATION "The Will To Kill" (Arctic) SCORE: 68/100

Another Malevolent Creation album. Wow. After all these years, and they now have Hateplow vocalist Kyle doing the honors, which is a good thing sound wise. Kyle can definitely breathe some life into songs that sometimes don't seem to do anything for me. Like 'Assassin Squad.' A fast tune, like so many others. Where Malevolent really shines is in their ability to mix up the pace instead of going the 100 M.P.H. train wreck route every song. The title track starts the album off in decent fashion, and I do like the added element of screaming almost black metal style through the choruses. Truth be told, there are times when this album doesn't bother me as much as the score would reflect, and to a stale and tired death metal scene, Malevolent can and do keep things a bit interesting, but damn it's nowhere near the power and fury of "Eternal," which NO Malevolent album has ever been able to match. One of my favorite tunes here has to be 'Divide And Conquer,' even if it sounds like it's starting off really crappy and too slow. I love the lyrics on 'The Cardinal's Law,' especially when they have the balls to slow down the choruses and make for a powerful tune. 'Burnt Beyond Recognition' ends the CD on a somewhat low note, though as I said there may be times when I can overlook when they are being "average." 'Pillage And Burn,' I am thinking the same thing, where the slower passages bother me a bit, and the choruses seem rather basic. Couldn't get much into 'Lifeblood' either, even though it starts out with some wicked opening guitars and drum fills. 'Superior Firepower' I was enjoying the middle to end parts, and you can see already how they jump around from song to song. I'm sure that wasn't their intent, but it's pretty damn close to being a keeper. I guess that score depends on what moods I'm in when listening to it, though there's so much else out there I'd rather be cranking consistently.
Contact: Arctic Music, 40 S.E. 9th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315 USA

MOURNING BELOVETH "Dust" (Sentinel Records) SCORE: 99/100

Man oh man, I haven't heard fantastic doom/death like this since My Dying Bride and more recently with Shape Of Despair. This very interesting doom/death metal band from Ireland definitely gives hails to the old school My Dying Bride sound with touches of the instrumentation you might hear from more recent Shape Of Despair works, utilizing some of the most vicious death metal vocals this genre has ever heard, along with a cleanly sung male voice that definitely can dip down low and remind one instantly of Aaron from M.D.B. The CD starts off HEAVY with 'The Mountains Are Mine' (have they been borrowing lyrics from Immortal?) and damn near never lets up. Clean and death vocals alternate quite frequently and make for an interesting listen, after all most of the songs here far exceed the 9 and 10 minute mark! On the opener I could have sworn I heard A.A. from Primordial doing spoken word. The guitars on this album are some of the most striking, emotional and powerful I have heard in awhile. Just listen to the way 'Autumnal Fires' starts out, which is truly one of my favorite tracks. 'Sinistra' was a great instrumental, one of the shortest tunes here at roughly 3 minutes, utilizing some very moving and deep acoustic riffs. 'Dust,' the title track, has some of the most vicious and sick death metal vocals you'll hear on this record, but they never get out of control. In addition, guitar lovers will have plenty to go nuts over with this track. There were a few extra tracks added for the re-release, which was originally pressed in 2000. 'Forever Lost Emeralds,' which was pulled from their 1998 demo, ends the CD quite well, though it's where the points come off, as his lower toned sung vocals sound a bit off, and the guitar work meshed against the death metal vocals didn't sit well with me completely, but still it's a track that does not sound out of place against the more recent material. Finally, 'It Almost Looked Human' is from their upcoming album "The Sullen Suleus" and if this track is any indication at all, I will DEFINITELY be bugging the label to make sure I get this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and for sure to gain one of the best doom/death releases of 2002, in a genre that does not put out a lot of releases.
Contact: Sentinel Records.
Web site:

MUCUPURULENT "Soulreaver" (Morbid) SCORE: 87/100

Ya know, despite having my fill (it seems) of death metal these days, and not usually able to get into grindcore or their sub genres; for some reason when I looked at the CD with it's old school Chevy car and the spider on the blacktop, plus the bio stating that these guys are "grind-and-roll," I expected something I might actually enjoy. And damnit, I know I probably shouldn't like a band that has a growler that sounds rather atypical of what many other have done in the past, but this shit actually kicks ass! I think it's the fact that I am reminded of Entombed so much, from their earlier days on up to their change to a more modern rock sound. The grindcore influences I don't hear much of, though I suspect it's mainly in the vocals. I think in any other band the vocals would not go over well, but here they actually pack a punch that makes tracks like 'Back To The Bones' and 'Spine Of Madness' really rock your senses! They did bring out some wierd electronic effects, thankfully they are kept to a bare minimum, IE two songs. On the opening track 'Again,' they sound like they're a little offkey on one spot, but it was nice to hear Mucupurulent trying out something different. I can't really fault any one track, but there are times when the guitar work can veer off into rather bizarre avenues, like on 'Back To The Bones' and 'Vermin' where the lead solo riffs are slower than normal, and sound almost out of phase. The shorter tune 'Like Gasoline' too had a penchant for some strange sounding guitar work. 'Nightcrawler' drops right in your face rocking all the way from start to finish, and they waste no time on much of the album. 'Unbreakable' definitely reminds me of Entombed, though the path these trailblazers forges ahead on is decidely different. As I said, I probably should NOT be liking a record like this, but in all it's simplicity, these German muensters definitely ROCK.
Contact: Morbid Records, Postfach 3, 03114 Drebkau, GERMANY
Web site:

NECROPHOBIC "Bloodhymns" (Hammerheart) SCORE: 87/10

It's been a LONG time since I heard anything from Necrophobic. And I gotta tell you, I've always been pretty pleased with their sound, mostly a sick and twosted, very dark death metal. 'Taste Of Black' starts things off nicely with some fast guitar work that strongly reminds me of some of the Bulldozer riffs from the "IX" album. 'Dreams Shall Flesh' storms on, with some vicious and sick vocal work! This guy's screams make this all worthwhile, and the song structure pounds at your skull all the while. 'Mourningsoul' startled me with some opening acoustic riffs, but the track soon rips into some fast instrumentation! There's lots of higher ended guitar leads as well, and they do prove that they can add some melody to the faster parts. As many of you know I'm not a big fan of music that blazes away just for the sake of speed, but the dark and evil vibe is retained throughout. 'Shadowseeds' is by far one of my favorite tracks, and not just because it is a rather slow and haunting tune, but the eerie and dark vibe is retained throughout, and the lower end of Tobias sounds really demented and sick throughout. I didn't care for the too speedy choruses of 'Hellfire,' as they sounded quite weak, and 'Cult Of Blood' sounded to me like too much speed was used, somewhat dulling the effect and intensity. 'Roots Of Heldrasill' was indeed interesting, written somewhat like an epic Bathory or even Einherjer style of tune, and of course they can definitely write slow tunes that have an epic feel. Definitely an album of diversity, though when they play fast, they certainly have the sick, evil vibe working hard. A punishing album all the way through.
Contact: Hammerheart Records.

REIGN OF TERROR "Conquer & Divide" (Leviathan) SCORE: 96/100

I most definitely enjoyed the last Reign Of Terror record "Sacred Ground." (Reviewed back in issue #29) This guy is amazing, and on this latest CD he seems to have gotten bolder, faster, and dare I say darker! As always, Joe Stump seems to have no problem letting other members of the band shine, unlike a certain asshole in the industry named Malmsteen, but this is still a vehicle for Joe's amazing guitar work. Unlike Malmsteen, Joe seems to have no problems with his vocalist, who is back yet again serving up some amazingly emotional vox work. Starting things off with the title track, it's obvious that the instrumentation has gotten a lot more sinister, and the vocal work matches this with amazing frequency. 'No Forgiving' soon picks up as a more power metal oriented piece, as does the most amazing cut on here 'Forsaken,' which I have caught myself singing to many many times. 'No Limits' has some pretty amazing opening guitar leads, and many of these songs are quite fast. There's only one instrumental on this album, as opposed to I think three on the last one, but it's a slower piece. 'The Meaning' does the slow paced thing like the song 'When Will We Know' from the last album, but is a bit more interesting even if a few chorus lines tend to drag. The songs presented here are quite long, though if you love great guitar work you'll spend the extra time admiring Joe Stump's amazing solos and speedier guitar work that would probably leave Mr. Malmsteen's showoff antics in the dust. Proving that a guitar virtuoso doesn't have to make an album all about himself, Joe does this entire body of work with class, dignity, and the willingness to let Reign Of Terror be a BAND instead of a one man show.
Contact: Leviathan Records.

RIOT "Through The Storm" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 51/100

I almost didn't bother to review this, after all I only have two or three Riot albums somewhere in the depths of all the CD's I own and I can't even tell you what they sound like. Riot ALMOST convinced me with the first three tracks on this CD. 'Turn The Tables' starts the disc off, and it proves that Riot really straddles the line between heavy metal and hard rock. The vocal work is a tad hard edged, while there is definitely lots of higher ended guitar work to check out. 'Lost Inside This World' has a good rocking intro with the opening guitar riffs, along with some catchy yet laid back choruses. There's even lots of higher ended vocal work on this to enjoy. Then comes 'Chains,' which is a bit of a slower tune, but the vocal work here is definitely powerful, and of course the choruses are what caught my ear. So then after that the album starts sliding downhill. 'Through The Storm' had some interesting multivocal work going on, but the song overall sounds most definitely like weak radio oriented rock. The main instrumentation/vocal mix just isn't to my liking even if the choruses aren't too bad. 'Burn The Sun' redeems this CD a little, once again walking the thin line between metal and hard rock. It's not a raging favorite but the more aggressive instrumentation helps this a bit. And let's not mention the sappy 'Let It Show' ballad, which reminds me a bit of Aerosmith's 'Dream On,' yet nowhere near as powerful. I wonder if this song was at the label's insistence to pick up some airplay? 'To My Head' had weak choruses and guitar riffs, hell weak song structure everywhere. 'Essential Enemies' you have to laugh at, with their industrial leanings (check the distorted vocal work). They are most definitely out of their element. Where is their element? Not with the campy, dinosaur sounding 'Only You Can Rock Me,' which you can probably tell from the song title is something your dad might "rock out" to. 'Isle Of Shadows' and 'Here Comes The Sun' end the CD off nicely as great instrumentals; 'Isle...' sounds like something that could have come off the latest Joe Stump record, while 'Here Comes...' is a fantastic tribute to the great George Harrison, though I would have liked to hear vocal work. 6 tracks out of 11, and I daresay a band who almost had me couldn't pull off the trick. Don't know now if I will check out those Riot albums I haven't heard yet.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

RITE "Shoot Skull For Jackpot" (Water Dragon) SCORE: 95/10

Lemme ask you ONE question: Damn, can this label EVER put out a bad CD? First Honcho got rave marks, then the band Rollerball (who the label head, incidentally, said I wouldn't like because it's not quite "metal"), and now this Finnish group who sounds suspiciously like a cross between a dirty rock band and Motorhead, comes out and kicks me square in the ass... AGAIN! I tell ya, anything Water Dragon Records, a FRENCH label, puts out is gonna get high priority around here. And they waste no time getting down to business, as 'Bastard Song' quickly proves. No real stoner rock to be found on the majority of these tunes, as 'One Hell Of A Mess' quickly points out. The vocalist sounds a bit raw throated himself and even sings well, which makes the music sound that much heavier, it's as if he adds an extra dimension of heaviness. 'Surmanajo' is one of my favorite tunes, starting out with guitar notes a bit on the higher end, only to have one of the catchiest choruses on the record! 'Climbin' The Blacklist' starts out slower and more melodic, and even some crushing bass guitar lines to boot! This whole song, catchy and somewhat melodic though it is, will weight you the fuck down with the heaviness of it all. 'Sharpshooter' had some really aggressive, almost hardcore shouted chorus lines, adding yet another dimension of heaviness, while 'One Man Revolution' has the whole catchy lyric thing down pat while giving you the goods and not taking 5 minutes to do it! A few small downers here, especially on 'Human Fuse' where the tune rocks for the most part, but the choruses had some rather odd vocal phrasings, and the most points had to be given to the ultra slow 'Doomsday Machine,' where the sung vocals definitely sound a bit twangy or southern fried rock like, touching a nerve with me. The guitar work isn't bad but the song needed to be fleshed out more, though it does crank up towards the end, but it's rather a long road to get to that end. 'Damned If I Do' ends this CD up much the way it started, rocking all the way to the bank and kicking some serious ass in the process. So go get yer ass kicked!!! NOW!!!
Contact: Water Dragon Records.
Web site:

SAMUS "Desengano" (Crucial Blast) SCORE: 23/100

Damn near everything about this CD annoys me... The vocal samples that are pulled from god knows where are cool, and soem of the guitar riffs, but this band sounds like it is purposely trying to annoy. It's pretty sad when one of the best tracks on here is the damn intro 'This Is Bad Cabbage.' The band most definitely has a wierd and twisted sense of humor. 'The Happy Sultan' starts things off with some slow and sludgy guitar work which isn't too bad, but right off the bat you can tell the production is very low. The vocals, as bad as they are, are barely audible in spots. His shouting or screaming take your pick is accentuated by electronic distortion, which doesn't help in this case. Right when I'm thinking the guitar work won't be too bad, they throw in some bad twangy guitar riffs, like I said, as if to be annoying on purpose. They do this again on 'Bone Ape Tit,' stupid song name notwithstanding. The vocal samples that actually WERE interesting ("Put your finger in the air, in the air...") they had to repeat them ad nauseum, as well as many other parts. I'm guessing this is supposed to be some ultra doomy, slow sludge thing going on. 'Defenestration' held my interest, the last track on here mind you, with some cool Indian flutes and heavier guitar work, but they run this on quite a bit before they completely change gears and throw bad vocals and barking dog noises in the mix. Not to mention the wierd computer samples and odd electronic beats on 'Who's Pumping Estrada' that I thought would NEVER stop. I'm curious if anyone actually LIKED this at all.
Contact: Crucial Blast, P.O. Box 364, Hagerstown, MD 21741 USA
Web site:

SHIP OF FOOLS "Let's Get This Mother Outta Here" (Peaceville) SCORE: 99/100

Man oh man, am I ever glad to get something like THIS! It's a strange thing to see on a label like Peaceville, but it also is a band that defies description. Let me explain: 'Diesel Spaceship' starts things off with some nice spacey electronic landscapes, but they cannot be classified ambient music because they use real live percussion, and I do mean an actual drummer, not programmed electronic pads or sequenced drums. They definitely use guitars, and also quite a bit of flutes ('In The Wake Of,' with some awesomely beautiful middle eastern meets Egyptian passages) and saxophones ('First Light'). Let's see, who else in our history of music do we know that utilizes these types of sounds? Hawkwind, of course! The best way to describe a band like this is spacey instrumental rock. They are totally devoid of sung lyrics, though theer are TONS of vocal samples from various movies and whatever else they could find. These songs are quite long as well for the most part, but the instrumentation really builds and they definitely know how to keep your interest. 'L=SD2' had some of the funniest vocal samples, some being brought in from the NASA moon landing back in the 60's. 'Passage By Night' has a very heavy electronic element, and also some cool organ and synth notes. Despite the spacey ambience and electronica presented in abundance, they also know how to crank out the heaviness as well. Take a song like 'In The Wake Of,' where the guitar work adds a heaviness that brings the mysterious flute work out of the eerie shadows. My only complaint with this CD was in how it ended, I'm sorry but the ending scene from The Wizard Of Oz was way too corny, and it really makes me cringe when I hear it. However, theplayback of the last few seconds of the Moon Landing was truly epic, and a great way to finish off the album. Highly, HIGHLY recommended, and damn near a perfect score, as I am amazed at the ability to bring out heaviness and also a Pink Floyd type quality on some of their solo work (like on 'From Time.') I sincerely hope that more music like this gets made in the future!
Contact: Peaceville Records.
Web site:

SLICK IDIOT "DickNity" (Cleopatra) SCORE: 32/100

Geez, what a waste! I first learned En Esch had left KMFDM when I went to see them in Atlanta some months ago, and I believe that's why their performance was lacking quite a bit. This project is simply nowhere near the quality of music KMFDM has done, though En Esch is seemingly trying to distance himself from the "KMFDM style." Won't work here, En Esch. First of all, the guitars on damn near every track are about the ONLY highlight this disc has to offer, and they definitely remind everyone who knows about the KMFDM sound. Biggest detraction? Quite simply, the female vocals which are even MORE in abundance than KMFDM usually uses. Listen to how goofy the choruses sound on 'It Won't Do' to see what I'm talking about. En Esch gives a decent vocal performance, but put him up against the crappy instrumentation on 'I Feel Fine' and you see exactly what I'm talking about. 'Naomi' would have been nicer as an ambient instrumental, but when En Esch tries to put vocals to this, he sounds really strained and quite bad. There was some stuff I did like about this CD, but every time I found stuff to like, there was even MORE annoying stuff going on that pissed me off. Take 'Merci Beaucoup,' where there's some cool heavy guitar and the male/female vocals actually work well since the female vocals sound a bit more aggressive than usual on this disc. Then the choruses had to have some stupid lyrics on them, and while we're on the subject of stupid lyrics, check out the ones on 'Idiot,' around the choruses will ya?! 'Lazy' had this REALLY annoying rapper doing female vocals, which automatically rules this out. That pissed me off GREATLY since the guitars were so heavy. En Esch also had to water down the choruses like he was a fucking pop star! 'Idiot' is probably their best track, which is rather sad to say the least. 'Get Down - Give In' has really aggressive choruses, which sadly is their best trait. I definitely have to say I hear interesting things out of this band, but he needs to loose the crap and poppy material, and simply write better, more complete songs. Keep spinning your KMFDM discs, as I have a feeling En Esch will be back in the fold after this nightmare plays out.
Contact: Cleopatra, PMB 251, 13428 Maxella Ave. Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA

SOLITUDE "Virtual Image" (Spiritual Beast) SCORE: 88/100

This CD blew me away more than the latest Tank CD, and to me that's a bad thing, considering how long Tank has been around. But the first two tracks absolutely blew me away. When 'Virtual Image' opens up, there's some absolutely amazing higher ended guitar work, not unlike some of the catchiest NWOBHM styled guitar riffs from bands like Tank (via "Honor And Blood"), and early Running Wild. When the vocals kick in, though, they are downright VICIOUS! Mind blowing to say the least! 'You Wish' has even heavier guitar work than the previous track, and makes the rough and raw vocals that much more vicious. They definitely do NOT lack in the instrumentation department, as they also have the skill to craft amazingly intricate guitar solos as well. 'Two Faced In My Soul' starts things off at a bit of a slower pace, starting off with some darker acoustic guitars and melodic singing vocals which are decent, but not as good as the rougher vocals. However, they do great builds on this tune, and actually have some heavier parts which sound a bit more explosive than they otherwise might. There's two instrumental tracks on here, which I had to question (much like the Forefather review above) since there's only 6 tracks. For the kind of leads they're playing here, though, the instrumentation won't let you get bored, and their penchant for New Wave Of British Heavy Metal can definitely be heard with the seemingly endless crafting of higher ended lead guitar riffs on 'Beyond The Storm,' which is full of emotional lead riffs as well. 'Eagle Fly' ends the CD not quite as good as the previous tracks started, and it seems everyone has to do a song about an eagle these days. It's almost ballad like, and the one song I wish main throat man Akira would have taken a heavier approach to. Still, the instrumentation is quite adequate, and for a band from the land of the Rising Sun (IE, Japan), this came out of nowhere and smacked me upside the head brutally; I am still in awe at the first two tracks! On the same label that Tank's latest album was distributed through in Japan.
Contact: Spiritual Beast Records.
Web site:

SPITE EXTREME WING "Magnificat" (Beyond Production) SCORE: 92/100

The band makes mention of another band called Silentium that members were a part of, but it obviously is NOT the Finnish Silentium that is signed to Spinefarm. Seeming to hail from Italy (no other info can be obtained) they are actually playing somewhat old school black metal with more majestic sounding guitar riffs and slower, grander passages than the majority of black metal bands claiming to hail from the old school do. They also aren't afraid to throw atmospheric keyboards in the mix, though you will NOT find synths present in the songs that contain vocal work. 'L Inizio' is the instrumental that starts the album off, reminiscent of Bulldozer's 'The Exorcism' from years past; they do a nice multi vocal chorus chant and some church organ synths before they kick the heavy guitars up quite a bit on following track 'Acqua Di Fonte Di Gloria.' Tracks presented here are in three languages: English, Italian and the "phonetic" language that only one other artist I know of does: Paul Chain. And it's funny that Paul Chain also has a record out on Beyond Prod. The nicest thing about Spite Extreme Wing is their diversity, they have no problem slowing things down instrumentation wise, and 'Reminiscenza Di Illusione Lunare' is a perfect example of their diversity and willingness to go against the "black metal" norm. They actually have slower instrumentation when the vicious vocals kick in gear. The four English sung tracks are actually said to be done "live," though the sound quality is a bit below par compared to the rest, and actually sound more like typical old school black metal, but make no mistake: They do NOT stick to the original formula. 'In Battle' especially had some nice Celtic Frost guitar touches, and it was cool to hear a black metal instrumental. The ending track 'Viaggio Di Ritorno' is actually three instrumentals in one track, and sound VERY Mortiis like, except a bit darker and more warlike/symphonic, though they have no problem using melodic piano notes and the like. Check out the FAST acoustic interludes they do in the middle of fast black metal riffing on 'Lotusbluthen I,' only to slow the tune down to where you'd feel comfortable swinging your mead cup back and forth. Didn't like the growling transition phase between track 5 and 6, and I thought the guitars were off in a few spots on 'My Wandering Spirit,' but this is a CD that should most definitely appeal to those who dig a more medieval and epic black metal fare without the synths, female vocals, and other fruitiness. Synths as instrumentals are another story, and it is highly advised that Extreme Spite Wing be checked out.
Contact: Beyond Productions, C.P. 5057 Via Catalani, 16154 Genova, ITALY
Web site:

TANK "Still At War" (Spiritual Beast) SCORE: 80/100

Man was I ever surprised to see a new Tank album. Long since one of my favorite bands, and one that started out right at the beginning of the 80's, this new record was highly anticipated by me. And for the most part, Tank delivers the goods, but this album is not quite as good as past efforts like "Power Of The Hunter" or even "Filth Hounds of Hades." Part of the problem lies in their unusual approach to some of their songs, many are presented at a much slower pace than I'm used to hearing from Tank, and that definitely took some getting used to. 'The World Awaits' was one of the worst on here, sounding like it just drags on and on, while 'In The Last Hours Before Dawn' took awhile to grow on me, but finally did as it does a nice job of being a tune that doesn't quite hit ballad status, but still tells a rather sad but brutal story anyway. They do manage to crank the guitars out on this one, though they still go slow. Still though, this isn't a terrible album, and though Algy's higher ranged vocals are a tad bit off in spots, the album opens up with a bang, with the title track and their signature intitial song titling with 'T.G.N.I.D.' 'Light The Fire' was one of my favorites, for the blazing speed and the killer song structures and catchy choruses Tank is normally known for. 'Conspiracy Of Hate' is one of their heaviest; a fast tune of course, and the lyrics seem to deal with their hatred of Metallica, at least that's what I read into it. 'And Then We Heard The Thunder' is just as it's name suggests: a thunderous tune that definitely ROCKS! The guitar work here really rips it up, and Algy sounds as true to form as he ever has. 'The Fear Inside,' while not TOO fast, is somewhat enjoyable as a rather campy tune, and it's even funny to hear Algy do his beet ZZ Top impression at the end. The surprise hit of this CD is actually the reason I'm glad I have the Japanese pressing of this CD: The bonus track 'C-Ing Dub-All,' which really kicks serious ass, and I only hope that this song will make the way into a regular Tank live performance. 'Return Of The Filth Hounds' also will bring back memories from earlier days, with samples lifted from a few older songs. It's still a good record, though it will definitely take getting used to, and I dare say that Tank can still write some damn good songs. It's worth it to hunt down the Japanese pressing of this album!
Contact: Spiritual Beast Records.

THE BEAST "Fixed By The Devil" (Painkiller) SCORE: 53/100

Ya know, some people think lousy production jobs are no excuse in music today, and with people able to create stunning sound jobs on their computers, it would seem that a thin production is no excuse these days. However, in the case of The Beast, the production here does get annoying at times, but it also gives the music that medieval, deepest darkest dungeon regions feeling. There are definitely going to be complaints about the lyrics, as they are unintelligible except for the choruses, which pertains to the song titles in most cases. The instrumentation shows off some halfway decent guitar work, and the best track on here is easily 'Fixed By The Devil.' This tune showcases some vicious and dominant vocal work, screams and tortured soul shrieks that have to be heard to be believed. The drumming here is highly suspect, as it is indeed fast paced but sound suspiciously like a drum machine. As I stated earlier, the spotty production (which includes lots of tape hiss and instrumentation that gets buried in spots) really helps to form a dark, torturous medival feel, as if the entire recording was taking place deep in the bowels of hell. I really dig the explosive start (literally) of 'Black Ritual,' but the guitar work is very muddy and sounds almost buried by everything else, and even the vocal work should have been up front more. There's some nice guitar work to be found at times, but the production really buries this song. 'Satanic Dominion' is more of a spoken word, chanting type piece, despite the inability to understand more than half of what is being said. Production once again stifles this performance to a high degree. 'Leave' has a rather haunting landscape of sounds, and functions more like an intro than an actual song, as does the unnamed last track, which uses what sounds like a 1930's era German march type of music following the lead vocalist repeating 'Satan. Satan' over and over again. This should probably rank a lot lower of a score, but it's not your atypical black metal release from song to song. The sick vocal work is what grabbed most of my attention, and the obvious note that this guy can actually play his guitar. Might I also mention this is the side project from one of the Enslaved members.
Contact: Painkiller Records, Rue Le Halleux, 18C, 4550 Nandrin, BELGIUM.
Web site:

THE GREAT DECEIVER "A Venom Well Designed" (Peaceville) SCORE: 58/100

Despite what people usually think, I don't base a CD review on just the vocals alone. And this is a good review to show people that I actually DO look beyond whoever's singing/screaming/growling/whatever. I can sum up what's wrong with this CD in just one word: guitars. Well, that and some of the song structures. Take tracks like 'Poisoned Chalice' and 'Arsenic Dreams.' The guitar work has a lot of effects going through it, mostly reverb and echo, and it sounds very strange. The songs, as noted by Thomas Lindberg, are said to be less metal oriented, but that's a hard pill to swallow when you hear heavier guitar work on tunes like 'Destroy-Adore' and 'Leave It All Behind.' The vocals are just about perfect, Tomas from At The Gates fame doing his best to remain dominant and vicious, but his backing band isn't helping matters. What really would make this stand out is if the instrumentation would perform like they do on 'Pierced' and 'The Living End:' throw some good old emotional and melodic guitar work on there. Though it does give a somewhat alternative sound, it's such a striking contrast and actually meshes so well with the heavy vocal work that it's bound to improve the quality of the songs by leaps and bounds. And drop that electronically distorted "talking" series of vocals Tomas felt he had to do on 'The Demon's Lair' and 'Strychnine.' I did enjoy 'The Blade' however, once the odd reverberated guitars quit, and Tomas had some nice singing vocals for this as well. Some of the chorus work is where, especially on the worse tracks, you will find the best vocal/instrumentation interaction, but for the most part the guitar work makes this very difficult to sit through. Not a complete failure, however there's too many tracks I get annoyed with.
Contact: Peaceville Records.

THUNDERSTONE "Thunderstone" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 93/100

I enjoyed this quite a bit. 'Let The Demons Free' starts the CD off with some fast drumming and great power metal styled singing, though I wouldn't be quick to lump this in with Helloween or Hammerfall, even if the vocalist has a higher range that he emits on occasion. 'Virus' is hands down one of my favorite songs on here, especially with the heavy and catchy instrumentation and lyrics that have had me hooked for weeks, and this is one of the few songs written about the web, computers or technology that have kicked this much ass in a long time! 'World's Cry' is a slower paced track, almost like a ballad but they crank up the heaviness early on, and I can appreciate this since it's not one of those syrupy ballads. At least not like 'Weak' is, though this reminds me more of a Dan Swano era Nightingale track than a full on ballad piece, especially with the lower toned sung vocals and the slightly heavier instrumentation that kicks in later. Besides, it's a bit too short for radio play anyway! 'Like Father, Like Son' is a FAST power metal piece, complete with a very speedy synth intro and I must say this has to be one of their fastest tunes. One thing that is very noticeable about Thunderstone is their penchant for a verse/prechorus/ chorus pattern that runs through just about every song, so they build up their trademarks and stick to them! The tempo and pace of the songs might change, but one obvious trait is their ability to craft memorable hooks and choruses. 'Spread My Wings' is probably my least favorite track on the album, though it's at the end of the CD so no big harm done; the orchestrated pieces are nice but this is probably the most ballad like of songs here. Regardless, there is a lot to enjoy on this CD if you're a fan of synth peppered power metal that definitely takes it's cues from power.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

TUMMLER "Early Man" (Small Stone) SCORE 87/100

Here they go again, another Man's Ruin band which I was hoping to see record another full length. And like the ungodly Natas, Small Stone has stepped in to lend a hand to those damaged from the fallout of Man's Ruin's demise. Like "Queen To Bishop 6," their first release, I must admit the vocals do take some getting used to (I'm still surprised I didn't review their first full length!) but after you hear the rocking instrumentation, it all comes together. Let me say again though, the vocals are VERY UNIQUE. 'Shooting Blanks' starts things off in the hard rocking, fuzzy guitar tones you come to expect from stoner rock bands of old. 'Arlo' showcases some hard shouted choruses and more fuzzed out, heavy and distorted guitar work. Like "Queen To Bishop 6," Tummler originally opted for 6 songs, but seems like Small Stone asked for two more tracks which are supposed to be hidden. They do a ripping cover of St. Vitus' 'War Is Our Destiny,' which is hard to screw up, to be quite honest. There's also another "unreleased" track from them. Had to take off some points for the rather odd instrumentation jam they did halfway through 'Arlo,' it seemed rather off key in a few spots, but overall the disc is pretty solid. The vocals don't grate here as much as they did one one spot from the last record, but the tracks do jam. 'Here's To Your Destruction' was a pretty rocking instrumental that opens up with some cool Sabbathy guitars ripped straight out of 'After Forever,' and 'Lost Sense Of The Cosmic' had some pretty catchy choruses and was a bit more upbeat than most of the tracks on the last album. To be sure, they still pull off the ultra slow and doomy vibe on 'Planet Moa,' and this is probably the track where the vocals will be most noticeable. Not quite as good as "Queen To Bishop 6," but still a good rocking album in it's own right. Can't wait to see them and Natas at the South by Southwest festival in Texas this year, right around St. Patty's day. March will be BUSY!
Contact: Small Stone Records.


AMON AMARTH. Interview with Johan Hegg.

  • So is there a good amount of snow on the ground over there?

    Actually, it just melted away this week, we've had some warm weather. Just last week we had 20 centimeters. It's been raining and windy as hell lately.

  • I have your new record which surprised the hell out of me because it's really melodic, especially where the instrumentation is concerned.

    That's one of the things we were sort of working with on this album, to make it more melodic, use more harmonies. It has a more epic touch to it. But on the other hand we didn't really want to compromise the heaviness or the aggression, so we to slow down parts as well. We needed to slow down to make things work with the heavier parts.

  • I know you have been with Metal Blade for quite a long time now. I'm trying to remember when they picked you up exactly.

    We were signed to a Singapore label called Pulverised Records. We released the mini CD "Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds" and Metal Blade did the distribution throughout North America.

  • I'm curious about how the lineup has progressed since the earliest days, as my history only goes back as far as "Once Sent From The Golden Hall."

    When we started out as Amon Amarth, we are three people still in the band. We changed one guitarist and two drummers, but the main backbone of the band is me, Olavi and Ted. We've been in the band from day one. Our first drummer quit just after the recording of the EP, and just before we signed to Metal Blade actually. Then we recruited Martin Lopez, who is now in Opeth, and he recorded one album with us on drums, which was "Once Sent From The Golden Hall," our first record for Metal Blade. When he left for Opeth, we recruited Frederik Anderson from A Canorous Quintet. He's the one who is actually with us today.

  • I didn't get a chance to see you guys when you came to the States, how well did that go over for you, as it was pretty recently when you were last here.

    It worked out pretty well, very well actually considering we were supposed to open up for Marduk, but as it turned out they weren't able to make it.

  • Yeah, this was like the third time they were unable to make it over here.

    Yeah, it's a shame. But we decided to go with it anyway and try it out, we had nothing to lose. So we just went for it and we managed to complete three weeks of the tour, and the last week of the tour was unfortunately canceled because of two promoters who backed out when they heard Marduk wasn't coming. But the tour went well otherwise and we had a great response virtually every night.

  • Where were your best shows at?

    We had three really great, awesome shows. The two Canadian shows, Toronto and Montreal was great but the best of the best was New York.

  • I didn't get to find out how you guys went down here, I'm in Atlanta, way far south. I wanna talk about the new album even though I don't have lyrics or anything, which I regret because the lyrics to an Amon Amarth album are really cool. I'm interested in a song like 'For The Stabwounds In Our Backs;' I know you guys have probably been through a lot of stuff and this sounds like a statement in perseverity.

    It's not so much about us actually, it's sort of about us and about what we've been through but not really. I wrote a song about the end of the world basically. It's a bit more far fetched you could say. It's where the army of the dead will arise and march against the viking gods at the final battle. That is what that song is about.

  • Are you into any other bands that do Viking stuff, like Einherjer or Bathory?

    Einherjer is pretty cool. Old Bathory is great, like "Hammerheart," "Blood, Fire, Death" and "Twilight Of The Gods" are awesome albums.

  • "Hammerheart" is one of my favorites. I tell you what pissed me off was, I did an interview with Manowar awhile ago (see issue #33) and I asked Eric what sort of Viking lore he was into, since they write lyrics about that all the time. And he told me the most he gets into it, is he likes the Minnesota Vikings football team. I've really been getting into the history and stories of the Vikings, they are very admirable people who didn't let anything stand in their way.

    As I was explaining the other day, they were just regular people fighting to survive in a very harsh environment. I guess they came from a culture where there was nothing to lose, basically.

  • It's kind of funny to me to think that the first person to actually step foot on American soil was Leif Ericson, a Viking. Everybody wants to hype that Christopher Columbus shit, but he wasn't really first, but he did officially plant the flag. It's wierd to think about the Vikings coming all the way across the sea like that.

    Well, they were of course afraid of sailing over the edge of the world, because they didn't know anything about gravity or anything. They followed birds and signs in the sky and stuff like that.

  • It's wierd that they were so far from home, it makes you wonder what they were doing this far out.

    They were actually looking for land to settle in. They actually found ruins and stuff. I heard that there's actually documents, well, they haven't been confirmed or anything, but it's said that the Vikings actually went as far south as Mexico.

  • Wow! That's interesting. I think they founded Newfoundland, and I thought that was as far as they actually went. That's still part of North America anyway.

    I was watching some documentary about it. They found scriptures or carvings or something from the Indian tribes in Mexico, they were telling stories about blue eyed gods coming over on these dragons. That doesn't necessarily have to be Vikings, but it sure does sound like it.

  • Dragons, yeah that would probably be their boats. I mean, all that was in America at that time was native American Indians so I don't see how you could mistake that for anybody else. Okay, now songs like 'Where Silent Gods Stand Guard' and 'Across The Rainbow Bridge,' are those songs related to any of the Viking gods or anything?

    'Where Silent Gods Stand Guard' is just a wierd story I wrote, it's about a serial killer actually. He dies with his victims and drinks their blood to make them slaves in the afterlife. It's pretty brutal lyrics for such a calm song actually. Which is sort of my intention, I wanted to do lyrics that were totally opposite to the music. 'Across The Rainbow Bridge' is about a man who has lived to face many dangers and hasn't been afraid to live. All of his friends has died and he himself is getting old and afraid of dying as a sick man. So he sets off to take his own life, as like his final act. He wants to come to Valhalla, which is his goal. My grandfather died of cancer and he was really very ill. And my other grandfather now suffers from Alzheimer's, and it's dealing with those feelings from a Scandinavian mythology point of view.

  • It's shame to think about what happens to people when they get older you know, I mean they say you're supposed to get wiser with age. Alzheimer's is such a scary disease to me.

    Exactly. Everybody deserves to die in dignity.

  • The other song I want to talk about is 'A Thousand Years Of Oppression.' I hope that's your christianity bashing topic. Ha ha!

    Your hopes are not in vain, my friend. Actually, the story behind that song is, my sister wrote the lyrics. She lives in Vancouver and she wrote me a story in English. When I read it I saw that this is exactly what I feel. So I knew I had to use it, I only had to do some minor alterations to make it fit the music better. The basic story is there, and it's 90 percent her words. It's about our right as Scandinavians to pay tribute to our heritage and our ancestors, to be proud of who we are, and who we've been. And it's about how Christianity took that spirit out of the Scandinavian people.

  • You mean more how they raped it from you and destroyed it, you know? That's how I feel. My premise is, and I don't know if you've ever been asked this or not, but I assume you're pretty close to a lot of the black metal bands in your area. How do you actually feel about the church burnings and things like that? I'll be honest with you, I feel that even though a lot of the members of that scene were somewhat naive and misguided, on the one hand I don't know that I could burn down churches and what not, but on the other hand it sort of seems justifiable to me.

    The christian church is responsible for a lot of atrocities. They are not one to point fingers and tell people what to do in my opinion. They are the ones who do NOT practice what they preach, they're damn hypocrites, all of them. For me, I don't really care about christians that much that I would do such a thing but I can understand the frustrations. I don't think I would do anything like that.

  • I think it was basically just something to gain attention to a group that might never have gotten attention otherwise, maybe done for shock value, but...

    Here in Sweden we have a lot of people knocking over gravestones and shit like that.

  • I don't see the point in that.

    I don't believe in that, I think you should be respectful towards the dead.

  • Well, I think christianity is going to have to answer at some point down the road for the crap they've done. My whole deal is, it's one thing to conquer us and tell us that we have to conform to christianity but to add further insult to injury and go and build something right on top of an ancient burial ground, if you believe in a god at all, that's not very godlike if you go by the bible and all. And that's how these people are supposed to live.

    How anybody can really believe in that crap is beyond me. I'm not religious in any way, I'm anti-religious. It doesn't matter to me if it's Judaism, Islam or christianity. I don't like organized religions. If you want to believe something that's fine. But organized religion... Come on, you can't be that stupid.

  • I really love the mythology of the Viking peoples, hell I would love to think that a place like Valhalla really exists.

    It's a nice thought, but I look on the Northern mythology more as a philosophy of life if you will, more like guidelines to live by. It's like advice from my ancestors on how to act in life, and how to behave towards people. The gods to me represent everything in us that is human actually. You have bravery and strength in Thor, you have wisdom in Odin, and you have treachery and deceit in Loki. It's like everything that makes us human basically.

  • I have always wanted to go to Norway, I was reading that in the forests of Norway you can actually feel the ancient spirits if you stand there for awhile.

    My heritage is actually Norweigan. Norway's a cool country, but I haven't been there for almost 20 years. I've been wanting to go back but it's damn expensive. Where I live, I live 20 minutes from Stockholm, but I can walk out in 5 minutes and I'm in the woods, in the middle of nowhere.

  • It's kind of sad here, where I live they're cutting down all the trees to build shit, and there's almost no forest areas left. We're probably not going to have a whole lot of open forest space left.

    They do that over here too. Including the suburbs, over a million people live in Stockholm, but it's not really a big town I guess. Look at New York, including the suburbs they have like 8 million people there.

  • And you probably have like 4 trees!

    Ha ha! Exactly. That's about the same amount of people that live in the whole of Sweden.

  • Did that shock you going to New York and seeing all that for the first time?

    Not really, you see a lot on TV. I've been to the States, and big cities in Europe. For us it was not such a big deal, I mean it's a big city. Being up in the skyscrapers and what not, was pretty cool.

  • A lot of people say that when Bathory came along, they were one of the first to start doing Viking oriented type metal (or even music for that matter), but I think credit has to really be given to Heavy Load for being one of the first. I have a few Heavy Load albums up on the classic albums section of my website.

    I would have to agree with you, but Heavy Load was not very well known. I've never owned a Heavy Load album, but I did have some old recordings. I would say as far as bringing it to the masses, Bathory were more successful. Bathory are one of the forerunners in a way for that kind of music.

  • Metal Blade mentioned that "Versus The World" is coming out in a limited edition with a second CD, do you know what's going to be on that?

    I know exactly what's going to be on that. It's going to be basically rare material, hard to come by and previously unreleased. It's going to include the mini CD "Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds." Our demo "The Arrival Of The Fimbul Winter" is on there, which we only released a thousand copies of. And then the previously unreleased demo "Thor Arise" is on there as well.

  • Why did that demo go unreleased?

    Well, at first we didn't like the end result production wise. The sound is pretty crappy, which you will hear when you listen to it, because it is the original recordings. It's a bit untidy, so we decided not to release it. But listen to it, you can see the potential for the songs, I really like the songs. For songs coming out in 1993 they were pretty different from the stuff that other bands were putting out. People have asked us during the years to release it and we were talking about doing it, but we couldn't find the original tapes, we thought they were lost forever. But then when we were going through some old photos for the bonus stuff for this album, we found the original recordings, and decided to put them on there. This is sort of our 10 year anniversary, and it's a gift for our fans.

  • Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap this up?

    More beer for the people! (laughs). We hope all the fans will enjoy the album and we'll see you guys on the road.

  • You guys have any crazy stories from the road? I am sure you get pretty good crowd responses at your shows.

    Where to begin, where to begin (laughs). One of the things that we usually bring up when people ask is, we were on a tour with Morbid Angel in Hamburg. Ollie was sort of standing, well, mostly leaning against a post at some stairs with a beer in his hand watching Morbid Angel. I was walking past him and I said "Hi, Ollie," and he said hi back. Then I went backstage, and when I came back like two minutes later he was like lying on the floor beneath the stairs, the beer was spilled out, and he had actually fallen down the stairs. It wasn't a high staircase but anyways we carried him into sort of a locker room and he was lying on a stretcher for the rest of the evening. The day after we were going to the next show, and Ollie finally woke up, and he was going backstage to have some breakfast. Everyone was smiling at him and he couldn't figure out why! His head was aching like hell, and he couldn't headbang for like 4 shows.

    CANDLEMASS. Interview with Leif Edling, founder and bassist.

    Anyone who doesn't know who Candlemass should probably stop reading this right now. Candlemass are credited for being one of the most innovative and talked about doom bands in history. They weren't the first but they were one of the best, and probably where the whole operatic vocals in metal music started. Once Messiah Marcolin joined up for the second release "Nightfall," history was in the making. The full lineup has returned, including of course Marcolin, and it was an honor to speak to a band I actually did a mail interview with back when I lived in Savannah and wrote for a friend's magazine titled "The Underworld Magazine," and now, some 13 or so years later, is our feature interview, and would be in ANY music publication.

  • I have been a big fan of the band ever since even the "Nemesis" demo came out, through "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" and up to the present day. I'm curious about how the reunion came about and how you were able to get everyone back together.

    It was a logical thing for us actually. We got the rights back to the back catalog and we decided we should release the entire back catalog by ourselves. Music For Nations were giving us crappy offers for doing it, so we decided to do it ourselves, and in that process we were talking to each other. Everyone was up for it, and we felt we should do some shows to promote the remasters. After awhile we started to rehearse and everything went very well. This prompted us to do some summer festivals and the whole thing became such an avalanche.

  • I know many Candlemass fans only know of Messiah Marcolin, but I actually enjoyed Johan Lanquist from the first record "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus," and I'm wondering if he ever did anything else in music, maybe he went to other bands or something?

    He was going well musically when we did stuff with him, but he was more into the pop field. He didn't want to sing hard rock basically, and since we found Messiah he's been doing his own pop stuff since that day. I heard he's still doing pop music, sending demos out with his songs, but I've never seen an album out or anything. I think he's driving a cab on night shift in Stockholm.

  • How do you feel about that record many years later? I mean besides that record and the Nemesis stuff, everything you've done has been with Messiah and he's been just awesome. The opera style really added an extra dimension to the music.

    I really liked Johan's vocals of course. I've been playing with different singers even before Nemesis. I really like Messiah's vocals and I did a couple of records in the 90's with a new singer (after Messiah) and the Abstract Algebra project. In Messiah's case, he sang all the Johan songs just perfectly when we tried him out the first time.

  • He actually does them a bit differently as well, he adds his own flair to the stuff. I mean you don't want to sound exactly like the guy you are trying to replace. I actually have the Candlemass Live CD that Metal Blade put out and I love the way he did 'Demon's Gate,' and 'Crystal Ball.' I really liked the way he did the ending of 'Sorceror's Pledge' when he did the female styled vocals. Lemme tell ya, it took a lot of balls to try and pull that off, especially live.

    Ha ha... I don't know if you've seen us live or not.

  • No, the only thing I've seen is that Three Way Thrash video compilation you were on years ago.

    Which is shit, actually.

  • Well, I liked it myself, maybe it was the fact that you only did so many songs. I'm wondering if parts of the video were pulled from the live set on CD Metal Blade put out.

    No, no. The Three Way Thrash thing is from the Hammersmith Odeon from London. The Live CD is from Stockholm, and that Stockholm show is actually coming out on DVD in a couple of months time.

  • Now I know you guys played at Wacken this year, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to go, but we got wiped out from the New Jersey Metalfest earlier this year. Next Year's New Jersey Metalfest you should REALLY try and play, I mean the biggest thrill and highlight for me was seeing Diamond Head do their first ever U.S. show in over 20 years.

    We were in contact with a couple of American festivals, like the Milwaulkee Metalfest. We got an invitation to a festival in Florida I think for November or December, but we have had some pretty lousy offers so we didn't go.

  • Well, the Jersey Metalfest seemed to run so smoothly and I don't think you'd want to play Milwaulkee. Not that I've ever been or anything but I've heard such horrible things about it, especially this year and one of the previous years.

    I heard that the organization was pretty bad. Actually, that was the thing that happened to us at Wacken as well.

  • Damn, Wacken was bad!?!? That's definitely NOT what I've heard about Wacken festivals in the past!

    Yeah, they seemingly lost their sponsor from the Rock Hard Magazine I heard. Bang Your Head, With Full Force and Wacken are the three biggest festivals in Germany, though widely spread geographically in Germany. They're all promoted by Rock Hard and it's mostly the same organizers. Quite a lot of things happened at Wacken this year, there were quite a lot of bands that were upset. We were waiting for over 4 hours to be picked up at our hotel by the organizers and they didn't show up until about 6:30, so we missed the signing at Rock Hard's tent, we missed TV interviews for German and Finnish TV, we missed so many interviews. We didn't have a dressing room when we got there, and they moved the showtime without informing the audience. There were people there who had come from Portugal, Germany, Spain, The U.S., even Central and South America and they missed the show, they missed the Candlemass show.

  • Well, I can understand the delays and stuff when you have three and four stages, but it seems like the European metal festivals have more bands that I want to see than some of these American festivals. Candlemass would have definitely been my highlight, but I also wanted to see Falconer and stuff like that. It's pretty sad though when the Europeans can't get it right!

    Most of the festivals in Europe are organized great, things are in order a bit better here, and you get surprised when something is not working, you get REALLY surprised. In Germany and Switzerland, Sweden and stuff those kind of problems rarely ever happen. The organization is flawless. No problems exist in getting video or photo passes, you get picked up by the time you want to be picked up at. I just don't know what happened at Wacken.

  • So how did your performance go down?

    GREAT. All the gigs have been fantastic. We played Bang Your Head in the southern part of Germany, we played With Full Force in the eastern part of Germany, and Wacken in the west. We had people from Rock Hard, Metal Hammer to show up, and it's just been an incredible summer for Candlemass.

  • Well, it just goes to show that the people have been wanting this to happen for so long, and for me it is an absolute honor to be speaking to you for this interview.

    It's been great, and we feel rejuvenated somehow, because we do great live shows, we've always been a great live band. We have a super sound engineer that gives us a great sound, which is important. We always seem to sound better than the other bands. It's important because when you have a crappy sound it doesn't matter how god you are onstage.

  • How do you feel about the last few records you did before you reformed Candlemass with the classic lineup? I have to say I did like "From The 13th Sun" but I didn't get to hear the one after that. I thought Metal Blade should have at least tried to release one or two of those records over here.

    We weren't connected to Metal Blade, I mean those records came out in 1998 or 1999. We had the deal with Metal Blade until 1991 or '92. That's the reason why (the records never came out here). We only had Music For Nations as a label even for those records.

  • I think Metal Blade felt that it wasn't Candlemass without Messiah Marcolin.

    We haven't been in touch with them for 10 years you know? We broke the deal with Metal Blade back in 1991.

  • Well, I did talk to Metal Blade about you guys getting back together, and asked if they would be willing to release a new Candlemass album. They said that they would be interested but only if Messiah Marcolin is back in the band. To them, that was what made Candlemass different from a lot of the other doom styled band. I mean, Metal Blade put everything out that Messiah Marcolin was involved in. Would you be willing to talk to Metal Blade again if they showed great interest? I am assuming you're going to work on a new album?

    No, actually, we're not. We're actually looking for a deal, so if someone is interested in giving us a deal they're pretty much welcome. Things weren't so good with Metal Blade when we parted ways. We did so many shows and interviews this summer and all of it without a record deal behind us. We haven't had time to do anything with a new record, we've been touring and gigging and working constantly since winter. We actually have the remasters of older albums out now and we actually think we came back at the right time, we have something to offer the fans. Some bands who are reuniting and going on and on for no reason. They're not even releasing decent records, so if we do a record we sure want to make it really, really good; otherwise it would be no point. We wouldn't have done this reunion if we felt we would be bad onstage or give an average performance.

  • Now you mentioned you had the remasters out, what label did you go through to do that, or did you just do it yourself?

    We went with a Stockholm label, Powerline GMR. I don't think they have U.S. distribution, I think they're just doing it by mailorder. They are out everywhere in Europe. They look really good, have you seen them?

  • I heard they look really good, they even have bonus video clips.

    Yeah, there's quite a lot of sleeve notes, photos in the inner sleeve and they are super nice.

  • Do you plan on redoing the Nemesis stuff? I know everything Candlemass did was put out, but Metal Blade didn't really make a big deal out of the Nemesis reissue way back when.

    No, we're thinking about it but I'm not sure we're going to do it. That record never sold many copies, so I don't know if we should do it. Some people like it but some people think it's crap.

  • Some of the topics I wanted to touch on towards the end here I actually asked you years ago, back when I was writing for another music magazine in Savannah called The Underworld, I don't know if you remember that interview. I sent you questions by mail, man this had to be around the time that your "Tales Of Creation" or "Ancient Dreams" album came out. The lyrical themes seemed to be a bit different once Messiah jumped in the band, and I remember there was a lot of talk about the song 'Samarithan,' which seemed to deal with issues of spirituality. People thought maybe Messiah had christian influences.

    Hmmm. I don't know what to say, those lyrics were about good and evil, and some topics were more about good than evil. I was just a big horror and fantasy freak more than anything, but it wasn't any religious input that was overdone. I was just into good tales. I write most of the material and I did most of the lyrics. Messiah wasn't really into writing lyrics so someone had to do it.

  • I remember you had a nice fan club set up, and one thing I have always wanted was the shirt design you did for "Nightfall." Not many people are aware of this, but some of your album covers actually featured Thomas Cole's artwork, and I actually have the original painting from "Nightfall" on my wall. Are you not doing the fan club thing anymore?

    We did two of Thomas' covers. But we don't have any fan club or anything, it's a pain in the ass to run it. We had it before and it's way too much work to run it. We have a German merchandise company doing our merchandise now, and they are sending out catalogs and things so people can get T-shirts from all over the world. And what I have heard is that they are selling a lot of shirts during the summer. I think it was Metal Blade that did the design for the "Nightfall" shirt. I think Nuclear Blast might have some shirts for Candlemass, but I don't know. They're online, I know that.

  • Of all the stuff you've done with Candlemass, which album do you like the best?

    It's a close race between "Nightfall" and "Epicus..." some days I put on "Nightfall" and some days I'm in an "Epicus..." mood.

  • Some people I talked to weren't as crazy about "Tales Of Creation" and "Ancient Dreams" as they were with "Nightfall" and "Epicus..." How do you feel about those last few albums with Messiah?

    "Ancient Dreams" didn't turn out quite as good as we thought. It sounds better today because it's remastered and it has the sound that we were aiming for NOW, today.

  • Well, what's wrong with it before?

    It was pretty weak soundwise I think. We wanted to remix it, we were going to mix it in a different studio but the label put out the rough mix instead, which pissed us off quite a lot, to say the least. It should have been mixed properly but it never was. We kind of got the reputation back with "Tales Of Creation." We haven't talked to fans in over 12 years, and when we went to England, Scandinavia, France, and what not, you realize that we didn't have the status back then that we do now. Today we've reached a kind of status way, WAY beyond the point where we thought we would be today. People don't talk about "Ancient Dreams" or "Tales Of Creation" as a bad record anymore, everything is more song oriented, where they say "I like these songs from Ancient Dreams," or they ask "are you playing 'Mirror, Mirror,'" and what not.

  • So what exactly are you playing live these days? You guys do seem to concentrate more on the "Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus" days, and I remember the Metal Blade Live CD featured only a few cuts from that record.

    Well, I can tell you, when we played Greece in the beginning of the summer, and we played for an hour and 45 minutes. When we played Stockholm, we played for 2 hours. So we played the entire "Epicus" album, almost the entire "Nightfall" record, and of course various stuff from "Ancient Dreams" and "Tales Of Creation," so you get a lot of doom for the value of your money.

  • For the most part, I haven't seen very many bands play longer than an hour and a half, even the metal festivals here like New Jersey and Milwaulkee, the headliners were gone before an hour and a half even hit! So to see you guys playing sets that long is pretty cool.

    You can't really do that, if there's three bands on the bill or you're on a tour you're on stage for an hour or 75 minutes at the most. It's too hard, too much of a strain on your body to do that every night. And for most bands, the crowd can't take it either. I couldn't see Pantera doing 90 minutes, I think my ears would fall off. And with bands like Kreator and Destruction, you can't take it for more than an hour anyway, that style of speed is just too much. With us touring now and people haven't heard us for 15 years or so, they just want to hear a lot of material, a lot of songs. We feel a fucking rush being out on the road. You know, taking a break in mid set and then going on for another hour.

  • So it seems to me like you are looking for that good record deal before continuing on with another new record.

    Yeah, if we don't have a good deal pretty soon, we don't know really if we're going to continue or not.

  • I think you should regardless, even if you have to put it out yourself.

    Yeah, but you need money to do that, we don't have money! We need to do a good record and if you want to do a good record, you have to have the pre-production and you need to go in a good studio, you have to mix it in a very good studio, which costs a lot of money.

  • Well, nowadays I have to differ, because bands these days can turn out some amazing recordings at home; the local band I'm working with Ground:Xero put out an amazing quality recording using home equipment and computers. I was very impressed. You can tell it's not quite Woodhouse or Black Sun studios but it's impressive, and it's getting cheaper to do things at home and still get a very good sound.

    I can do that, you know, I have friends with the home studio and I have friends WITH studios and I can do everything I want recording wise. With a Candlemass record though you can't even come close. You have to wipe 90 percent away with a Candlemass record because it has to be so damn good. You have to be more than bloody good with a record like that, otherwise there's no point in releasing it.

  • Well, like I said times have changed from how recordings were done back in the 80's, things are different these days. You wouldn't be willing to sit down for like 6 months and work on some material, then use a demo to shop to labels who could probably finance you the rest of the money to complete and properly master the album? If the material is that good I'm sure any decent label would jump at the chance to have this released the way you want.

    You can do that, and if we're going to do this we have to have an album out until next summer, to go out again and ride out the waves that we created with this tour. I don't think we can wait until next autumn or next winter to do that, that would be pointless and stupid. The DVD will come out in a month's time or something, and there should be a live album out by Christmas (2002 - Ed.) There will be another DVD coming out in April or May of the 2 hour performance in Stockholm, stuff like that. Then you need a record, you know?

  • Final question before we wrap this up: any other doom metal bands you listen to these days? I remember when Messiah sang in Memento Mori for awhile.

    I listen to many things, I have been getting into the newest Queens Of The Stone Age, I like the new Hellacopters CD. I don't think there are too many good doom bands around these days, unfortunately. All the doom stuff I get in my hands when we're in Greece, England or Germany, they just sound the same, ploddy, miserable stuff people have been releasing for 10 years. I still think Electric Wizard is pretty good. I like their last two albums. I think they're now doing something with the concept that nobody has really done before.

    OBTEST. Ee-ee-mail interview...

    One of the coolest Lithuanian bands I know released one hell of an album and I recently took it upon myself to delve a little bit into the history of a country that few may have heard of, but there definitely seems to be a scene there. A quite enlightening interview that will give you a bit of a history lesson as well as insight into a band that composes fantastic war metal epic pieces in their native language. Read on...

  • Give us a little history of the band Obtest, and who is in the band right now.

    The lineup is the same all the time, and through the last two years we have changed two bass players, so now we are a four piece band. Obtest started at the end of 1992, and have released few demo tapes, a few EP's and few CD's. Also played a couple of gigs around. Our debut CD "Tukstantmetis" was released in 1999, our second CD "Auka Seniems Dievams" was released in 2001. Now we are working on a third album.

  • Do any of the members speak English? The Lithuanian language is very interesting and I was wondering if there are any plans to do songs in the English language. It was nice to have English translations of the songs in the booklet as well.

    Strange question. All of us speak 3 or 4 languages freely. Our first songs were written in English, but since the first album we prefer native Lithuanian language.

  • I am curious about the scene in Lithuania, as I do not know of many bands from your area.

    Nothing unusual, like everywhere. Now we have some active bands, it's Dissimulation, Shadowdances, Anapilis, Eudine Seythe, Nahash.

  • The style of music Obtest plays borders on black metal, though the instrumentation often contains elements of speed or even straight ahead power metal. How do you classify Obtest's music?

    It's the business of critics, not ours. You listen to our music, you name how it sounds to you. We call it Pagan metal, and it describes more concept than music itself.

  • The lyrics of Obtest intrigued me most of all, since the lyrical themes often run similar to some of the Norweigan Viking lyrics; dealing with battles, themes of the native country and what not. What exactly inspires the lyrics for Obtest?

    Our lyrics are based on real historical facts and legends. The sources of this are some medieval chronicles, like Petri De Dusburg "Chronica Terrae Prussiae," Vygandas Marburgietis "Naujoji Prusijos Kronika," Henrikas Latvis "Livonijos Kronika," etc. Also a lot of studies on history. The new songs are written with a touch of mythology. We sing about all things that were sung ages ago by our forefathers. Our songs are "new folk," new songs about things which couldn't be forgotten in any nation.

  • I'm curious about the ancient history of Lithuania, and the title track mentions "offerings to the ancient gods." Tell us a bit about the sort of religion and mythology of ancient Lithuanians, are there any religions or philosophies that have been in your country from ancient days?

    Lithuania was the last state in Europe with official pagan religion. Our grand dukes were buried by pagan traditions; there were some sanctuaries, sacred woods. People were strong enough spiritually to fight against the christian orders from the west Europe. In the second half of the XIV century Lithuanian grand duchy became one of the biggest states in Europe, and it was pagan. The christian orders and the neighbor states were not able to conquer it, so they started to press economically, by trade. It was forbidden by the pope "to trade with pagans, to sell them steel and weapons." Lithuania fought with the christian world for 250 years day by day. Wars made a bad influence for the economical development of the state, so the day came to fight diplomatically. The differencce of becoming christian in Lithuania and other European states was this: the christian orders from the western Europe came to our lands to conquer it and make all slaves, and people fought for their freedom, and won it. Lithuania was officially christianized in 1387, but whole Lithuania was still pagan in the XVIth century, people did not change their attitudes and traditions. The year 997 is important, because it was the first try-out to start christian missions in the land of Balts. This try failed. The christians did not come here 200 years.

    (As for mythology), Lithuanians believe that the underground world is ruled by Pikuolis (in English: Poccolus), or Velinas, at the later times this Velinas became the christian devil Velnias. The middle world is our world, there people and other beings live. This world is ruled by goddess Medeine (Zemyna). She is a two faced woman: Medeina is her wild face, it is woods, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. Zemyna is a more human friendly face; it is valleys, cultural plants, meadows, and the land itself. The upper world is ruled by the Perkunas (Thunder god), he is the analogical god like in all indo-European mythologies. He is taking care about all warriors in his palace 'Dausos.' Christianity was not able to erase these beliefs from the people's minds, so these myths transformed in other ways. Perkunas was assimilated with some archangel, Velinas was turned into Velnias (Devil). There are a lot of stories where Perkunad and Velinas are fighting among each other, and Perkunas always wins. This was the influence of Christianity, but such myths were recorded 20 to 30 years ago. They reached our days lightly distorted, so they could represent the whole sense.

  • I would like to know a little bit more details about the song (titled in English) 'On The Other Side Of Nemunas River 1283.' This seems to be a rather important event in your people's history, and if I understand it correctly, has something to do with an invasion of your people.

    (In this) year, Lithuania was invaded by christian order from the west, and then great wars started and lasted for 200 years. It was hard times.

  • 'Make Thy Foe Kneel' (once again English translation for those of you who may not have the album) was interesting to me as well, especially when I see that there was hatred for the Russians in this song. I know from Bosnian men that I talk to, the Russians are severely hated by them and I am wondering if this is still the case for Lithuanians?

    In the past, Russia was always afraid of Lithuanian duchy, but history changed and we were two times occupied by Russians, so they made here a lot of harm. So we don't like Russians here much, moft of them are colonists and communists.

  • So when and how did metal music become known in Lithuania? Are there decent shops in your country that carry music from the U.S., Europe and all over the world? I'd also like to know what sort of music is normally popular with the masses in your country.

    In 1985 through the 90's metal bands appeared in Lithuania, and all metal music fans. (???) The first metal band in Lithuania was Katedra, and they play even now, but have released only two LP's. We have general music stores where you can get records from all over the world.

  • What do you think about the black metal scene from Norway and Sweden, and I'm interested to know your opinion on the huge amount of press and publicity that the church burnings and murders got in Norway?

    It was 10 years ago. These guys were young enough, and so were we. Interesting, what they achieved today? Their deeds were crazy.

  • Ledo Takas seems to be only releasing music coming from within Lithuania, anything you want to tell us about your record deal, or your plans for the next record?

    Ledo Takas is oriented world wide, not only within Lithuania. We plan to release a new 7 inch EP "Juodvarniu" with 4 new songs. This one is dedicated in memory of Martynas Mesauskas (Anubi), a great artist and musician. And this year we plan to release a third album.

  • I know you guys did a tour in October with Bestial Mockery and Grief Of Emerald throughout Europe, how did that go?

    The tour was o.k., we played in Germany, Holland, Slovenia and Finland with Skyforger and these Swedish bands. Everything was going well, (and we gained) a lot of experience. The clubs we played were from half to full.

  • Finally, do you have any sales figures for "Auka Seniems Dievams?" Also, I'm curious as to what press you have received for the album, as I haven't seen a lot of write ups about it.

    We received many good reviews, but some of them are not so good. Some people appreciate us for originality of sound, music, etc. and some blame us for shitty quality, bad vocals, and boring music. It's everyone's personal choice and attitude.

    PRIMORDIAL. Interview with A.A. Nemtheanga.

  • I really love your newest CD "Storm Before Calm," and I must admit that I wasn't as crazy about your previous effort "Spirit The Earth Aflame." I'm wondering how you feel about the transition from the last album to the new one.

    Um... I'm not exactly sure. I mean, "Spirit..." had a lot more time taken on the song writing and that kind of thing. The new one was a little bit more instant, and we wanted to make things heavier and with a more direct sound.

  • It sounds a lot more aggressive.

    The songs are written in a shorter space of time and sort of kept a sort of undiluted aggression. We especially worked hard on the guitar sound and tried to get a better drum sound. Also we didn't want to make the same album as last time.

  • I remember reading something you wrote in the liner notes of the new record; you said the previous record was like an awakening, sort of. I wasn't that crazy about the last record, and I really can't figure out why I didn't like the last release as much.

    It's not that the style is drastically different. We don't change our style drastically. Each album in a sense is a continuation from the last album. We do make sort of, I guess you would call it a natural process of evolution in the songwriting. By now we have collected a body of material that is 4 albums and a long mini CD and people are beginning to have their favorites. So trying to compete with previous albums, or people's favorites is difficult. You get people who like the more sort of bleak stuff on "Journey's End" and people who like the more agrressive stuff on "Storm Before Calm." I stroll around the internet and go to various chat rooms every now and then, just to have a look at what people are saying.

  • I never got to hear the first two records, so I'm curious as to how they sound compared to the previous two.

    What happened with those really, they were re-released by Hammerheart Records. They were re-released last year to fill the gap between "Spirit..." and "Storm." A lot of people were finding them hard to get, but Hammerheart USA for the last album really didn't do a particularly wonderful job, and I don't think very many copies of either of those two re-releases made it to America.

  • Well, I know a lot of times it's very expensive for labels to service re-releases to the press. But in a case like yours, if not many people had a chance to get the albums, then I would think those would be essential reissues.

    It depends really. Both did okay on their respective labels when they were released on Cacophonous and Misanthropy. But "Imrama" is from 1995, recorded in 1994. I guess it has it's roots most definitely in black metal but there's still some normal vocals and other things going on. The songs are a little bit shorter and it's a little bit more, kind of comtemporary metal. And then you have "Journey's End" which is a bit more complex, kind of bleak and melancholic, even more so than "Spirit The Earth Aflame."

  • That's what I liked about it, especially because I love black metal but I love a band that does clean and black vocals. That becomes too stale if you don't learn to vary things up a bit you know?

    We've been doing that since 1993 since our very first demo. I always wanted to do that, I wanted to make more use of my voice than just monotonal black metal vocals.

  • There's one song that really stands out on this record. It's called 'Cast To The Pyre.' I love that opening line that you read. I read that passage to my girlfriend, and not to be stereotypical or anything, but she told me that people from Ireland have had a really rough life. There was lots of wars, a famine and stuff, and some of the people were repressed. And a lot of the lyrics have very strong emotions, which I was really glad for, to be able to hear music like that.

    As far as I'm concerned, that's what we try to do with music, or Primordial. There's too much music out there just for the sake of music, or the sake of a good tune, nice ear candy. And it's not that we're rebelling against that, we have always been that way. Music has always come from a pure, passionate and honest place. To be honest, we're here on a very small island with a very rich and diverse musical culture and it's had an influence on us.

  • And history too.

    And also a very rich and bloody history. And so all these things come together to influence us. To be honest we really can't make music any other way. We can't sing shit about zombies (laughs). Or horror films. It's always been this way since the beginning of the band. It speaks to people because there's so much crap out there.

  • Just to hear the old English again, I'm sure it would be a bit different in your native language. I have never been to Ireland unfortunately, but I assume people there speak a good amount of English and Irish.

    Actually, English is our first language. So we speak English. There's a song on the first Primordial album in Irish and there's bits and pieces here and there, what we call Irish. Other people outside might callit Gaelic or something. It's not something we've planned, but I've always taken a big literary influence throughout my life. From people like William Yeats, and we have done a poem of his and put it to music, it's the last song on the album. We've actually tried to put together a song like this for years, and this time we just had an idea in the studio, we said let's build it and see how it goes.

  • I am curious as well, are you familiar with Absu? I know they are a lot more black metal oriented, but just reading their lyrics for their "Tara" album, I'm a big history buff and I love things to do with history.

    Yeah, I'm familiar with Absu, I do like their music a bit.

  • Are there some events or things in history that have influenced you directly, especially on this album?

    A lot of times with Primordial, we try and leave a certain gap between having some sort of direct meaning and what the listener can interpret. Every song has a sort of cryptic definition or cryptic explanation from me behind it. We're not essentially quoting history books or anything, of course there is a huge amount of Irish culture and mythology. If you take Absu's "Tara," we've all been to the places they are talking about and I can recognize a lot of the terms and the lyrics. We wouldn't do that with Primordial.

  • I've seen quite a bit of press on you lately. I've seen a couple of articles in Metal Maniacs even.

    Ah, I haven't seen anything.

  • You don't get Metal Maniacs over there?

    We do, we used to get it quite a lot but it doesn't seem to make it to the same shops over here.

  • It's really good that there is a Hammerheart Records over here in the States, because for a long time it was very hard to get stuff, and Hammerheart is a label that has put out a lot of good records that I really enjoyed. I'm definitely glad to see that U.S. presence now.

    It has been a problem because America is such a vast country. And for a band like us to sell a couple thousand copies in America really isn't much. But it But yet it does take quite a lot of effort to do that. And also there's a musical shift between America and Europe. When we were releasing albums like "Journey's End" in Europe, it seems like everyone in America was into death metal. I think the tides are slowly shifting though.

  • Well, black metal seems to be picking up steam here in America these days.

    In Europe it's not that black metal has particularly gone anywhere, it's just that it has ended up being diversified. So the "pure" type of black metal is not what it once was, except for maybe within the underground.

  • What I really love about Europe is how they still take hold to the 80's metal, which I have integrated into my site from day one. It's a shame because I've heard that MTV in Europe is pretty crappy these days, but the Europeans are people that don't just hop on the newest trends, like here in America most people know nothing other than what's on MTV and pop radio.

    There is one thing that people overlook when talking about trends and MTV, a lot of people forget that for the rest of Europe, English is their second language. So they have their own native TV shows and their own native press, amd they have a very different attitude. In a country like England for example, you can only be into say traditional metal if it's from an ironic point of view. Whereas when you go to Italy people like them simply because they like the music. When Iron Maiden comes through they are viewed as a classic band, and the whole village mobilizes and goes to see Maiden. It's not a big deal, you're not viewed as an anachronism for being into Manowar. Manowar scored what, two top ten singles in Germany with their new album. The musical shift in the beginning of the 90's in America did change an awful lot, and it drove metal underground. But I think it's coming back to a small degree.

  • I've had discussions with bands that have said stuff like "How can kids today listen to stuff like rap and hip hop," but you really have to think about the kids who are growing up today, you need to think about who their parents are. Their parents probably still listen to metal; Ozzy, Slayer and stuff like that. So obviously they want something different, they don't want to be listening to what their parents are listening to. But once that passes, it gets to the point where maybe metal will be picked up again.

    I think the thing in Europe is that metal never had such a downsizing as it did in America. It was always still around. It's smallest time was probably around 1995 or 1996. It never took such a massive beating as it did in America so it never had to climb back up so far. Manowar was still selling records, Iron Maiden was still playing to 15,000 people even with Blaze Bailey singing. Metal was so big in America in the 80's that it had a long way to fall. But bands like U2 don't sell what they did in 1986 either.

  • Not many of the bands that were around back then do well these days anyway.

    All music is eventually suffering from low sales because of the internet and because of the fact that there's so much more diversity in music. The big stadium bands of the 80's, well, I won't say they are a thing of the past because there's still bands that can do that, but it's not the same as it was. And that's not just for metal either.

  • So what is Ireland like as far as the political scene and the economy and what not?

    The north and south of Ireland, they're not really two different countries but they're different places. There's a lot of troubles that people hear about on the TV on the north of Ireland. Primordial is from the south of Ireland. The history is interlinked but they are different places under one island. At the moment Ireland is a very expensive place to live, because the last 6 - 8 years we've undergone an economic growth, probably the fastest economic growing country in Europe with the youngest population. There's a certain section of the society that has a lot more money than it used to. It's an okay place to live if you have money. Outside of Dublin, the traditional Irish culture is still being preserved, but inside Dublin it's becoming a more cosmopolitan city like many other cities like Paris and London and that kind of thing.

  • That's the same type of problems we have here in Atlanta, I've watched areas that were nothing but farmlands and forest in the south just grow up with buildings covering nearly every square inch. And that's how I always pictured Ireland if I went to visit: with vast countrysides, nice places out of the way, and sometimes I think that what's going on here is just a bit too unsettling, and areas growing up too fast. All this commotion and chaos. Where once you might have had 100 acres of forest, now you have mass traffic, and maybe a huge shopping mall.

    You have to understand though how small Ireland is, it's a tiny, tiny place. Traditional Irish culture though is still alive. When we were poor we had a little bit more to struggle for and had a bit more to fight for, we made much better music, much better art. We had in my view a better approach to life, and writing. There's a generation of people a little bit younger than me who are very shallow and conceited. Very greedy, they take a very greedy view of life.

  • They become too complacent. April was talking about a lot of inventions happening because of struggle and stress and things like that. War, famine and stuff like that tends to bring out the creativity in people.

    When we were poor we gave the world things like Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, and proper music. Now all we give people is just shit, you know? (laughs).

    REIGN OF TERROR. Interview with Joe Stump.

  • So where are you calling from?

    I'm in Boston now, but originally I'm from New York. I've lived in Boston for awhile.

  • Do you like it up there?

    It's okay, I'm a New Yorker though but Boston is close enough.

  • Are you a Red Sox fan?

    No, I'm a Yankee fan. I don't like any of the Boston teams. I have nothing against them but being born and raised in New York, I go back all the time, so I'm a huge Yankees fan.

  • You guys give us trouble every year it seems; I'm a very big Braves fan.

    Yeah, well the Braves and the Yankees both got knocked out early this year.

  • You know, sometimes I wonder if baseball is scripted out like pro Wrestling, I mean how could you explain the biggest teams in baseball all getting knocked out of the playoffs so early this year? Can you see where I'm going with this?

    No, I don't think so because two big market teams like the Yankees and the Braves, obviously you'd want them in the playoffs because those are two teams that would contribute to higher TV ratings, you know what I mean. Even though most people would go, "those guys are always in the playoffs," they kind of expect to see them, they're used to seeing them there. Not just in Atlanta but I know a lot of people all over the country like the Braves.

  • Yeah, it's always been amazing to me to see the Braves playing in other people's stadiums and seeing the crowds go nuts for a visiting team!

    Exactly. I think two big market teams, everyone wants to see them in the playoffs.

  • I got the new record, and I'm really impressed with it because I loved "Sacred Ground," and the new album is darker and heavier in many spots.

    It's definitely heavier. All the stuff that I write still has the Blackmore and Malmsteen influence, or like all my favorite guitar players who usually are the old school European players. Some of the writing has that Euro kind of vibe to it, and in the past on my solo records and various things I've always had elements of either that old school traditional style British metal or the thrash style stuff in there. You take some of those dark, classical kinds of things and mix them in there with some progressive thrash type elements.

  • There is a good mixture of styles in that record, "Sacred Ground" wasn't your first release with Reign Of Terror was it?

    No, the first two Reign Of Terror records were released in Japan and then released in Europe on Limb Music. Limb is a much bigger label in Europe so "Sacred Ground" really got a lot more press in Europe than the previous two Reign Of Terror records.

  • "Sacred Ground" got some good press over here, especially in my own publication. Were your first two records on Leviathan here in the States as well?

    No, Leviathan would take the import versions of Reign Of Terror's first two albums and sell them in small bits, mostly through the mail and to some stores. They were never officially released in the States. Limb officially released "Sacred Ground" here in the States and Limb is a great company over in Germany but they didn't do the greatest job with the record here in the States. One of the companies they used for distribution went out of business shortly after the record came out. Obviously though the record got a lot more of a buzz than the other two Reign Of Terror records.

  • What were the first two records like compared to the last two? Album title names would help too, since I didn't even know about you until "Sacred Ground."

    Up until "Sacred Ground," the band was always known as Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror. And then on "Sacred Ground," I changed it to just Reign Of Terror without my name in it because in Europe there's been a lot of connotation that it's just a guitar hero record. The "guitar hero" thing is not that huge in Europe, and someone would be more apt to buy the record if it was somewhat power metal oriented. The first record was called "Light The Sky" and the second one was called "Second Coming." And the first one was kinda similar to "Sacred Ground" but maybe even heavier.

  • Wow, now I have GOT to hear those records.

    Maybe with some thrash stuff, double bass stuff, some Malmsteen and Impelliteri stuff going on, some heavy Deep Purple and Rainbow influences. The first one actually had a cool cover of 'Highway Star.'

  • Wow, I remember when Metal Church did a cover of that song, it was really cool.

    Yeah, I remember them doing that too. This kid Brian Sarvela sang on it and he was a good singer, he was one of those guys where on some of the stuff he'd sound like Bruce Dickinson, and on some of the other stuff he'd sound like Sebastian Bach from Skid Row or something. He'd mix it up and he had that high register like Mike did. And on the second record I had a different singer, Brian, who was darker and heavier, sounding a bit like Ian Gillian in spots. A bit raspier he was, with a thicker sound to his voice. It was neat in a more retro, Deep Purple'ish/Rainbow vibe. But there was speed metal stuff in there too.

  • Now I know you said you had a different singer on each of the first two records. What happened with them, because you don't seem to have the elitist/ego personality like Yngwie Malmsteen has. I don't know if you read all the way through the review, I've had a BIG problem with Yngwie in the past.

    Yeah, I read the review. Did you mean personally with him or...

  • Well, I was pissed off at the interview we did with Lizzy Borden, and he was pissed that he wasn't able to do a full show, Yngwie had to control (see issue #27) every aspect of his performance, right down to the stage show! That's just wrong.

    That does seem wrong, especially because for so many years when Yngwie was younger, he was always touring and opening for bigger bands in the 80's, like bands like AC/DC and Triumph, where he was the opening act. You'd think he would remember back when the shoe was on the other foot. Obviously Yngwie is doing his thing and he's a monster in that style of music; it's rather ridiculous to think Lizzy Borden could be threatening Yngwie's thing... All the Lizzy guys from what other people have told me were totally disgusted by the whole tour.

  • I was disgusted just by watching him play. I saw Yngwie recently before the Lizzy show when he opened up for Dio and he was more humble on that tour, but when he headlined and had Lizzy opening for him, he was just wanking all over himself. He was saying shit like "I wrote this song myself, about myself," and just being a jackass. I left the show after like half the set because I was disgusted with him. I hate that son of a bitch, and everything he stands for. That's ridiculous when you suppress talent like that. If a band comes out and kicks your ass then you should respect that fact and understand that THAT is the nature of the business. You should be willing to work harder to put on a better show.

    It definitely helps if you give the guys who play with you some room to do their thing, it's only going to make the tour come off stronger.

  • I mean, if Yngwie is the headliner, people are coming to see him anyway. The people I talked to were there to see Yngwie anyway, I mean it's his name on the tickets, his name is what is selling the show. It's not Lizzy's name on the ticket that is making the big draw, right? I respect what Yngwie does as a guitar player, as a human being I think he SUCKS. And I'll be very honest about this.

    I know a lot of people I have run into have had really bad experiences with Malmsteen anyway.

  • With your new album, I will say I prefer your style of guitar playing a lot better. There's some solos I'm hearing off the record that just have my jaw on the floor. It's one amazing fucking record.

    Thanks, man, thanks a lot. With this record there's a ton of guitar stuff crammed in there. There's very lengthy solos and very lengthy instrumental sections. With this record I definitely wanted more of a "guitar hero" record. Still, it's a band thing but it's my record. So I want to do my thing obviously.

  • Yngwie had a killer vocalist on tour that I really liked when I saw him with Dio, and by the time the next Yngwie tour rolled around, that singer was gone! The guy had long blond hair and he was kick ass, I guess he had too much of a stage presence and Yngwie fired him! Just something else that pissed me off about the guy.

    Yeah, that was Jorn Lande from Ark. Our keyboard player played with Yngwie for a while, and he was there when that whole thing happened with Jorne and Yngwie. That was actually over getting paid, those guys were out on the road doing the Dio thing, or it was after the Dio tour and Yngwie was headlining. They were dicking Jorne around for money and he was supposed to get a weekly salary. It was like 3 weeks since he got paid and he said he wasn't going back onstage until somebody cut him a check. He had finally had enough. So that's actually what happened.

  • Oh, well, I had heard it was over egos and what not.

    The whole band, other than Yngwie, they were all in this band together called Ark. And I don't think Yngwie liked that. Ark was supposed to do a tour that was going to intersect with part of the Malmsteen solo tour, and I think there was a lot of crap over that as well.

  • I remember "Sacred Ground" having like two or three bonus tracks, but weren't most of the extra tracks instrumentals?

    WHat happened was there was Limb Music wanting different tracks, so I actually recorded the two instrumental tracks after the record was already done. Japan had gotten two vocal bonus tracks, and Limb said "where's my extra tracks?" So that's when I went in and recorded the extra stuff.

  • Well, you know how the Japanese are, they demand that they have bonus tracks on just about EVERY CD release that's released everywhere else. I can't tell you how many CD's I have seen over in Japan that have so much extra stuff.

    Well, do you know why that is?

  • Well, I've been told it's because the Japanese have problems with piracy and the high cost of imports overseas.

    Well, what it is, a CD in Japan costs like 30 or 35 bucks, you know? So what they like to do, the Japanese always demand that the release of the record there comes out first, because if a CD comes out in Europe or the States at the same time, the Japanese will buy the import version (European or American) of the record because it's cheaper. So that's why they give them the extra tracks and the nicer packaging as incentives so people in Japan won't buy the import versions.

  • I know that the Japanese people also are a lot more dedicated to this style of music. Have you played over in Japan?

    I was over there in 1997 and did some clinics and press stuff. Not like a full band tour, but doing some solo playing and what not. It was cool to be over there, but the bottom dropped out of the economy in Japan several years ago, so everybody is making a lot less money over there. With the last two Reign Of Terror records, if I had released those records over 5 years ago, my advance would have probably been twice or three times as much. I think Dave told me record sales are down like over 50 percent in the last few years.

  • From what I hear, Japan doesn't seem to be a difficult market to break into. I know Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity have already toured over there a few times, and Dark Tranquillity has yet to make a full U.S. tour here (but they will have by the time you read this).

    Actually, things are really gravitating towards the heavier bands in Japan; a lot of the power and neoclassical metal used to be bigger over there, but now it's bands like Arch Enemy and Children Of Bodom, Soilwork and In Flames.

  • Do you like bands like that?

    Yeah, I like Arch Enemy quite a bit, Children Of Bodom is cool.

  • You seem to give the people in your band free reign to bring out their best qualities. I'm especially glad you brought that vocalist from "Sacred Ground" back for the new record, because he definitely fits the heavier and darker stuff you're playing now. It's obvious to me that egos definitely aren't getting in the way! (laughs).

    Mike's a great singer to work with. He had his own band Obsession that...

  • Wow, was that the same Obsession from the 80's?

    Yeah, I mean especially people that know about metal, that's where he came from, he's almost returning to that kind of vibe for the new album, and he even sang on three Yngwie records. Before he sang with Yngwie, he also sang on a few Loudness records, late 80's to early 90's period. "Soldier Of Fortune" and "On The Prowl" kind of thing. He did the Obsession and the Loudness thing before he sang with Yngwie, and I was really happy when he got together with Yngwie. I thought that was a perfect match. So he's done a ton of stuff, he's a world class guy as far as singing goes. I've been hanging with him and have been friends with him since 1998 or 1999.

  • So who writes the lyrics and comes up with the themes?

    Mike does. I write the riffs and where everything is going, you know "This is the chorus, the prechorus, the verse." The whole thing is set in stone, arranged and finished, and then Mike write the lyrics and melody lines. And of course like certain kinds of chords and the way the riffs are going lend themselves to certain melodies and all that. Mike is a pro so he's great at that type of thing, and of course he did the same thing with Yngwie too.

  • Did he tell you anything about what some of his lyrical influences and topics were? You see songs like 'Mark Of The Devil' and 'Sacrifice' and stuff.

    'Mark Of The Devil' is influences by this old, 1970's horror movie named 'Mark Of The Devil.' It was like before The Exorcist. And I think he was watching it one night on T.V. when he was writing lyrics for the record. I'm trying to think, I don't know what 'Sacrifice' is about. Mike has a good way of writing some of those gothic kinds of things but not in a way that sounds too goofy, Dungeons And Dragons type of things (laughs). You know what I mean? It's not over the top as far as that whole thing goes.

  • I actually like the title track 'Conquer And Divide.' But I really like 'No Limits' where it says 'If you don't like what you see come and kiss my ass.'

    I think that's cool, that's one of my favorites on the record too, somewhat an old style Rainbow/Deep Purple kind of thing, the riff rock kind of thing, except it's more speed metal.

  • The one track I couldn't really get into from "Sacred Ground" was 'When Will We Know.' I guess it was just too slow for me compared to the rest of the album.

    It's one of those midtempo, sludgy kind of gothic kind of things.

  • It's funny because 'The Meaning' off of the new record "Conquer And Divide" reminds me a bit of 'When Will We Know,' except I like it more for some reason, I guess because there's a lot of kick ass guitar work on it.

    (laughs). I think 'The Meaning' has that nice melody and the interesting instrumental section, and the lengthy solo bit, and then some of the riffs are cool. I mean 'The Meaning' is definitely a stronger tune than 'When Will We Know.'

  • So has Reign Of Terror played out live lately?

    Not lately but like on the last record we toured a bunch. We went out by ourselves for awhile and that was okay. Then we went out with Steel Prophet and Helstar for a bit and that was okay too. (He puts emphasis on "okay").

  • That sounds like an 80's revival right there.

    It's a bit tough in the States, so it would be great, we would destroy on something like the Hammerfall/Dio tour. That would have been awesome. Something along those lines. And plus I tour by myself too with the instrumental thing. If you go out in a package you have a bigger audience, you have a few people bringing in outside fans.

    THE MISSION U.K. Interview with founding member Wayne.

    This interview was a long time in coming. I attempted to track the band down three different times, that stretched to a period of a year and a half I believe. Anyone not familiar with this band might be intrigued to know that The Mission formed out of the split from Sisters Of Mercy by two of it's members and has just as dynamic and strong a track listing as many of the best Sisters Of Mercy songs. Their history dates back quite far, and it was a surprise to me when they put out a new album last year. (which we reviewed). A lesson in the earliest of gothic bands, you might be surprised to hear what Wayne thinks true gothic oriented music is.

  • I have the new record "Aura,"and I really love it a lot. It seems to be a lot more mature, well, not to say that your previous stuff was "Immature..." (MUCH laughter from everyone here). Damnit... You know, a lot of the songs on the new record go so far beyond what the gothic genre is categorized as today.

    Well, I've never really considered us to be gothic anyway, but it's an easy point of reference for a lot of people. It has as much to do with our history as anything else. You say it's a mature record, but I'm 44 years old, you know? I do think over the years you get better at making records and better at the art of writing songs and being able to articulate what you are going to say. I think it's a good Mission record.

  • Most of what I own by The Mission is mostly from compilations; there wasn't a whole lot of U.S. release for your songs. That's really a shame because the Sisters Of Mercy stuff is available everywhere. So what is your deal with Metropolis Records, is that just a licensing deal?

    It's just a licensing deal for this album, but there are options for Metropolis to pick up the next album if things work out. It's only been out for a few days, here in the States.

  • Here in the States, anyway, I've had the album for about 6 or 7 months now!

    It came out in November of last year (2001 - Ed.) in Europe. Here in the U.S. it was out for not even a week. In some respects the timing of the tour is not optimum because usually the record companies work the record for quite a few weeks, but the tour was already booked you see...

  • That's what I was about to ask you, because I thought you might want to wait a little bit longer...

    WELL... We wanted to, but we... it's a long story basically, but when we released this in Europe, and had licensees in place; we were starting to talk to U.S. companies about licensing the record, and then September 11th happened. That put a big damper on things obviously. At that point we had an April tour booked for the U.S. but because we couldn't get the deal sorted out in time, we moved the tour to June thinking we could use the extra two months. Again, it didn't happen. So we move to September, and we eventually got the deal done. However, it always takes longer than you anticipate. By that time the agent said that we could not cancel this tour again, we already canceled it twice. We wouldn't be able to move it, as promoters wouldn't touch us. So we had to do the tour, which is a bit unfortunate because we were not able to maximize the promotional packages at this point. But we're here! We're here, touring and playing places we haven't played in a LONG time. It's been like 12 years or so since we've been here. We were in New Orleans last night...

  • I was going to ask you how the tour has been so far, I know it was just getting underway...

    Shows have been great. Audience attendance has been a little slow in a lot of places, but again I think that's as a result of promotion not having kicked in yet.

  • And maybe too not being in people's faces for so long.

    Yeah, that doesn't help. Also, in Europe, when we went out and played with the new record at the beginning of the year, there were a lot of young kids coming to the shows. Young girls and kids in the front singing along to all the words on the new record and then we played old songs and they didn't know what they were! (laughter breaks out with everyone). And that is something I have never, EVER experienced before in my life. It's going to take time, America is such a huge place.

  • That is unusual. And it's really hard to break in here unless it's MTV or pop radio oriented, which we despise to a great degree of course!

    It's changed an awful lot here in the last 10 to 20 years.

  • So how much of the new record do you play live? What's the set list like?

    Live? We play 4 or 5 songs from the new record.

  • Do you play 'Slave To Lust?'

    Yeah we do. (laughter breaks out from Chris.

  • I gotta ask you the inspiration for that song, I love it. It sounds kind of obvious reading the lyrics, but that's... That's a pretty bold song. I like that.

    When I was writing the songs for this record, I was falling in love. You met my wife I take it? She's doing the lights for us tonight.

  • She's doing your lights?

    Yeah. We're keeping it all in the family. (laughter again). But that was where a lot of the inspiration for the songs for this record came from. I think it's fairly evident. There's a lot of very sexual lyrics on the record.

  • When you look at what gothic music "claims" to be, you know a lot of it deals with vampyrical topics, and the whole dark thing, but it can also be very sexual and emotional. I think a lot of people miss that, and there is a lot of negative connotations about the gothic scene.

    A lot of people perceive it as being doomy, miserable and dark I think.

  • You can say that about metal too though.

    You can you know, but historically if you look back at some of our greatest hits, you look back and you see some of these songs are very positive songs, with very positive messages. And that's been a popular misconception of The Mission, that we are a dark goth band. But in actual reality, for me, I think we're essentially a rock band that makes more positive songs.

  • Just maybe a rock band with a gothic edge.

    Yeah, as I said before, a lot of it has to do with history. And some of our song titles have been a tad incriminating, especially our earlier song titles like 'Serpent's Kiss' and what not.

  • Chris Miller: It's easy to label things, isn't it?

    It's people that like easy points of reference.

  • Well, gothic and industrial have a long standing history of sort of flirting on that edge of blasphemy. Not as much as some of the death and black metal bands of today, but the early goth bands like Christian Death for example, with their album title like "Jesus Points The Bone At You," if people are extremely christian oriented they would take a big offense at that.

    Yeah. Well, if people want to take offense, they'll take offense. You mentioned the song 'Slave To Lust,' I did have a big issue with the record company with that song because of the open lyrics. You know what it's like, (points at Chris), you know what it's like. When you've been away from your loved one for awhile, (pause) when you get together, all you want to do is fuck. (intense laughter here). Then you get that out the way, and then you want to make love. That's basically what the song is saying.

  • My girlfriend loves that line in the song where it says, what was it "I'm sick of masturbation, don't wanna play with myself. Don't wanna go to hell, don't wanna go blind." Ha ha! She loves that line. That's her favorite line in the song.

    Yeah, you brought up religion, you're told that if you play with yourself you will go blind...

  • It's kind of funny how religion is seemingly tied into everything these days, we rebel against all that. You look at the constitution of the United States, we've got "In god we trust" on the dollar. And they talk about the separation of church and state, that's what this country is supposedly founded on. But the fact of the matter is, it's on our money, you're told to swear before God before you get on the witness stand in court, so where is the real separation between church and state?

    When you pledge allegiance to the flag too. I've lived here for about 5 years in California, and I find it all very severe really. There's a point to being patriotic and a point to being proud of where you come from, but it seems like indoctrination.

  • Now I want to jump topic a bit, especially because it seems like Chris and I do the Christianity bashing thing on just about every interview we've ever done...

    Well, I won't bash christianity because, I know all the bad things that it stands for, but I was brought up very religiously also, and I do know the value that it has for people in their lives. And that is not something you can begrudge, that is their belief.

  • Now, I was curious, I don't know if you listen to metal at all, but I'm wondering if you have been paying to a lot of, especially the death and black metal trends and how the gothic overtones are being more indoctrinated in their music than ever before in the past.

    Not really, I don't listen to a lot of new music. I will turn on the radio and listen to what's on the radio occasionally, but I find so much of it just so generic. You know? Perfect performances, sonically they're great sounding records... But no soul. I miss the character, I miss the personality. I miss THAT. I'm not a big metal fan, I never was. It doesn't matter what you call it, it's music. Either you like it or you don't. And I think all this kind of breakdown in genres is ridiculous...

  • It gives us journalists something to do I guess... (laughter).

    As soon as you say one band is this, then it restricts them.

  • Well, it's kind of a double edged sword, because somebody reading my magazine, and there's going to be a lot of people reading my magazine who don't know who The Mission are. So we have to give them a reference point. And a lot of bands in interviews they come out and say "Yeah, we don't want to be called stoner rock anymore because of all the lazy journalists, blah blah blah," but you have to have a reference point.

    I have no problems with what anybody calls us. I've been called a LOT of fucking things over the years, so I've developed a thick skin. Goth, is the EASIEST point of reference for us I think. And I can sit here and say "no, we are not goth" or whatever, but you know, the reality is that over the years is that it has been THAT audience that has been the most loyal to us. It's that audience that still enables us to make a new record. And if someone was to ask me though, someone who has never heard The Mission, what we sound like. I would say, well, you know you have your record collection, and there's a gap between Led Zeppelin, The Cure, and U2. We're in there. That's where I would put us.

  • I'm a little familiar with your history. The first time I heard The Mission was from a club in Savannah, they played quite a few cuts which prompted me to pick up this album (holding up the Sum & Substance compilation CD). For those that aren't quite in the know, who left Sisters Of Mercy and how did the band originate?

    I was in The Sisters, as a guitarist, and the original bass player from the Sisters, Craig we basically had a falling out with the singer and we all didn't get along on a social level. To me, being in a band is as much about the social aspect as anything else. I know there's a lot of bands that manage to go out there and tour, work together and make money, but they hate each other. And I never wanted to be in a band like that. So that's basically why we left, but there's other reasons.

  • I remember the story in the lyric booklet where you were talking about the first time you had a hit single, and you were trying to get into a club: they didn't believe you were in a band that had just put out a hit single!

    It still doesn't work! (much laughter). I find you still have to pay.

  • Chris Miller: So where in England do you live?

    I don't actually. I actually live in California, I have lived there for the last 5 years now. I recently got married again, and we spent a lot of time in Brazil, with her family...

  • That's why you were in Brazil when the publicist told me you were in South America! Because we were trying to set up a phoner for the longest time, and they were like "Nah, he's in South America," and I asked, "Well, when is he coming back?" He said, "I don't know!" Now I know why!

    We spent some time in England as well with my family.

  • Chris Miller: The reason I asked is because I went to England a year ago, and I loved it.

    It's too wet. (much laughter).

  • Chris Miller: Well, it actually didn't rain when I was there. I was in Scotland and it rained there but in London it was sunny for like 4 days straight.

    (At that point Wayne is interrupted by a member of his band)I think I am needed on stage for a soundcheck, guys.

  • Anything else you want to add before we wrap this up?

    Um...Liverpool football club. (laughs). They're gonna win the league this year. Allright? Cheers.

    WITHERED EARTH. Interview with, um, a few of the guys in the van.

    It seems to me whenever we jump on some band's van to do an interview, it usually turns out to be hilarious as hell. And as usual, this interview features Chris Miller and myself talking to, at first, Chris and Adam, two core members of a death metal band that really stands out from what the rest of the genre is doing these days. Sludgingly, almost doom metal slow, or blazing away at speeds that would put Chuck Yeager's solo flight to shame, it was a very cool, very up front and funny as hell interview I hope you'll all dig. Chris Miller and I were in rare form that night, I think I took too many funny pills.

  • Tell us about this mini tour you just did.

    Chris: We played in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where we got shut down playing the formerly christian bookstore. The cops saw us metalheads having fun and they shut us down.

  • How did that come about?

    Adam: I had a friend who just wanted to put on this show. They couldn't get a buyer so they rented out an empty bookstore and put the show on.

  • So you guys have a new record coming out, you should tell our, like 4 readers, wait, I mean 400 something readers, about it.

    Adam: There's no definite date out right now, probably sometime next year (2003 - Ed.). It's going to be called "Of Which They Bleed." It's already recorded and everything, we have to get the artwork together and get it mastered.

  • Any song titles?
    Chris M.: You played a couple of those new songs tonight right?

    Chris: Yeah, we played a few live. Some titles are 'Calculated To Create Terror,' 'Only Weakness Is Inhuman,' 'Caverns Of The Mind,' 'Only Weakness Is Inhuman' 'Imperial Tribulation,' 'Lifeless, Soulless, Hated And Feared...' (evokes tons of laughter from everyone).

  • I like that title!

    'Of Which They Bleed' title track... That's all I can remember off the top of my head. It's the first album with our new drummer extraordinaire Brian Spade.

  • I gotta say, that album cover is probably one of the most wicked covers I've seen in awhile, where you see tons and tons of skeletons lying on the floor, as if they make up the ground! It kinda seems like from the song titles, to the packaging of the album, everything seems to be revolving around a theme.

    Chris: Travis Smith did it. We basically just told him the theme of what our lyrics are about. You know, the shittiness of the world. And he just went off. We sent him all the lyrics and he went through them all, that's what he came up with.

  • I like the little preacher with the snake coil coming out his feet, is that Jesus or some holy figure?

    Chris: Just some holy figure, there in his peaceful world which is in ruins, basically.

  • So whattya say Chris, you wanna do the christianity bashing topic again? (talking to my cameraman.). (This of course evokes lots of laughter.)

    We did that with Marduk, and we did that with Dark Funeral. Caligula from Dark Funeral got on the bus and he was all pissed off about the church burnings, and I'm like 'What the fuck are you bitching about, you're sitting there singing about Satan and you're pissed off about the church burnings?' I know he was all messed up on mushrooms and Jagermeister that night though. He was probably "christianized" at that point.
    Chris M.: What was so funny is he had dreadlocks that night.

    Chris: Yeah, he DID have dreads on that tour.

  • He's sitting there asking me if I'm mexican because I'm wearing a bullet belt, and I'm telling him it's a tribute to 80's metal bands.
    Chris: I'm sitting there thinking 'What's with the dreadlocks, are you Jamaican buddy?

    Chris: So what's the Christian topic then?

  • Just, you know, talk about... fuck it.

    Adam: Organized religion is pretty retarded.

  • Well, I've read the lyrics a few times, but I didn't commit them to memory, sorry. I'm just curious about how that all ties in, especially with the cover.

    Chris: It's pretty much just that. It's saying humanity is going to be the end of the world, it screws everything up, and it's so much of a myth.
    Adam: They want to tell you what to do but then they want to bang little boys.

  • Awww, man... (much laughter even though it's the sick truth). It's true though, and Christianity has been responsible for so many evils throughout history...

    Chris: Yeah, look how many wars they've caused.

  • The thing that pisses me off is they follow the shit blindly. Ask someone, "why are you a christian?" They'll say stuff like "Well, my mom went to church, and my mom's mom went to church," that's not really a good enough reason. People say to me all the time, "I can't believe you hate christianity," but we have the Inquisition, the Holy Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials... How much longer do you want me to go on with this, I could go on all day!

    Chris: Christians are some of the most evil, backstabbing people in the world.
    Brian Spade: I don't believe in any of that crap, I think God was made up to give people something to have hope in, have faith in, and Satan was made up so everyone can blame the bad stuff on.
    Adam: I believe there's good and evil in the world, but it just happens, it's just nature.
    Brian: It's what people make of it.

  • Chris Miller: You guys planning any big events any time soon? Any chance you might be doing New Jersey next year?

    Adam: I'd like to do the New England festival. It's really kick ass, we went there like four times and played there twice.

  • Chris Miller: Carnal Forge played there didn't they?
    Me: Shit, I wish... "FIRE! DEMON!"

    Adam: They have had some of the European bands in the past.

  • We opted for New Jersey this year because of Diamond Head, Saxon, Nuclear Assault...

    Adam: I heard Jersey was better than Milwaulkee...

  • New Jersey was KILLER... We started to go to Milwaulkee because of Tad Morose and Angel Dust... I did an interview with Candlemass, and Leif Edling told me Wacken was a mess this year. I couldn't believe that, I mean Wacken? This is the European Mecca for shows! Come on! What New Jersey and Milwaulkee are to the U.S., this is what it is for like the rest of the world. I mean what else do we have besides Jersey and Milwaulkee. (much laughter)

    Adam: Nothing really, just a bunch of smaller shows here and there.

  • What's the deal you guys have with Olympic Records? Because I noticed your first record didn't come out on Olympic, and I wanted to thank you guys for handing me that because I never got to hear it.

    Adam: The deal with Olympic just kind of came along. Things are going pretty cool so far.

  • Marty's a pretty cool guy about working his bands. Of course what pisses me off is he needs to bring Behemoth over here! (Which will be happening by the time you read this).

    Adam: That's just a licensing deal.

  • Well, I know, but he's working a lot of the Avantgarde stuff. He set up the Behemoth phoner for me, even though I had to call Poland. Vader should bring Behemoth over here, but I think Peter's scared that Behemoth would blow them off the fucking stage though!

    Brian: I think they might! Behemoth kicks ass.

  • Definitely, that "Satanica" album is vicious.

    Chris: We were supposed to play with them in Buffalo, it was printed on the flyer and everything.
    Adam: They were on for the Incantation tour, but something happened.

  • Chris Miller: The "Mountains Of Ice" tour.
    Me: The "Mountains Of Ice" tour???
    Chris: With Immortal... (laughs)...
    Me: "The cold frozen winds.... THIS VAN IS MINE!!!" Seriously, what have you guys been listening to? You got a CD player in here?

    Adam: Yeah, we got one. Everything from Excess, some grind stuff, lots of Entombed... What else? Stuff that's not metal like Queens Of The Stone Age, Dixie Witch, Iron Monkey.

  • Ah, stoner rock! I love that stuff... I was really sad to hear about Justin passing away...

    Chris: Justin? ....
    Brian Spade: Timberlake?
    Chris Miller: Ha ha! That's what I was going to say! Stay metal...

  • Isn't that the lead singer's name? Because I did an interview with the lead singer from Orange Goblin...
    Chris Miller: That's the lead singer from N-Sync... That's pretty sick...

  • The lead singer from Iron Monkey passed away, that dude sounds like Beavis. I think he had a heart attack or some shit, no wait, maybe it was kidney failure.

    Brian Spade: Probably when he was singing all those vocals of his... (laughter)

  • You had a song called 'I' I think it was that was dedicated to someone or something?

    Adam: Ian? Yeah, that was... (LONG pause) Ha ha...
    Chris: (whispers under his breath) God damnit...
    Brian Spade: Do we really want to get into that?
    Adam: That was our old drummer Ian, that was his kids' name, and he wanted to dedicate a song to his kid. Which...
    Brian: I think that's as far as we're going to take that one.

  • Yeah, you mentioned you had a new drummer for this new album.

    Chris: (points to the guy sitting up front in the van) That's him... The guy reading the porno mag.

  • Dude, the pages are all sticky, ewww....

    Adam: We just got it, it hasn't had time to get all sticky yet.
    Chris: ...But it will be... (much laughter)
    Brian: I don't think it'll take that long.

  • Why did you guys have to get a new drummer?

    Adam: We were on the Vader tour last year, in Virginia Beach, and he decided he wasn't having fun anymore. So he just booked on us right there.

  • Did you finish the tour?

    Adam: No... No drummer, we couldn't do it.
    Chris: Raul from Impaled was going to try but it was too short notice. He couldn't do it. We had too little money.
    Brian: We were better off taking our losses... But it worked out good in the end, we're a much better band now, more solid, and other things which we won't go into.

  • I like the record a lot, and it's very technical. A lot of death metal bands I can't get into these days, because it's either too guttural or all the care about is speed. The thing I like about Withered Earth is you can be blasting away... And the drumming was killer tonight...

    Brian: (after a slight pause) thanks man.

  • Just thought I'd say that... (laughter). I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. But seriously, hear the fast blast beat going on and you guys slow it down to where it's almost doom metal. It adds an extra dimension to it. A lot of death metal coming out just seems so stale.

    Brian: It's monotonous is what it is. I'm not putting it down or anything, but we like to switch things up. We have a lot of different backgrounds musically...
    Chris: Dude, why don't you just jump back there and rip??

  • Yeah, really man, get your fucking ass back here!! (much laughter).

    Brian: There's not a lot of room back there, I'll just sit on this dude's lap.

  • Chris Miller: So you guys all grew up in Rochester or what? Are you like high school friends?

    Adam: Only me and that guy (points to Chris). Toby was in a band that we always played together for like forever doing shows called Bughouse. It was more of a rock kind of thing, very kick ass.

  • Chris Miller: How is the scene out there?
    Me: Damn, dude, that's what I was just about to ask!!

    Adam: It's up and down you know, some days there's killer shows, some days they suck. High On Fire was just playing in Rochester.

  • Man, I missed them when they came here, because I didn't want to go see them in a club about the size of my hand.

    Adam: I didn't go but I heard it was packed, and very kick ass.

  • It seems like the New York area would be a little bit better show wise. I don't know what CBGB's is doing these days, but I heard from someone last night at The Mission show that CBGB's doesn't do anything anymore, they just book local bands. No real decent shows to speak of.

    Adam: It's tough everywhere. We were all booking this tour, just us, Phil and I from Forever Underground Records. So many clubs don't wanna book metal bands, they're all doing DJ's and stuff. I guess they gotta make money too or whatever.

  • How is this new record going to be compared to the one that's been out on Olympic?

    Chris: I think this new one has a lot more energy to it.

  • Ha ha! Shit, that's saying A LOT! We were listening to the record on the way up here, and we were like, if they just get up there and shred, man!

    Chris: Now we have Brian and Mark's influence on this one. So it's two new influences making it different.

  • So you're saying that before the writing was just a few of you?

    Chris: No, it's always been all of us pretty much, but on "Deepest Wounds" it was me, Adam and Toby, and now Mark and Brian are added with us.
    Adam: Everybody has thrown in too, I wrote some guitar riffs, Brian wrote lyrics, so it's everybody throwing in some stuff.

  • Well, with a band effort, especially as technical as this record was, does one guy come up with this drum part, another guy comes up with this guitar part, and you just try to mix it all together to see how it sounds, or is there a process of elimination where someone says, "Okay, these parts are cool, these need to go..." etc.

    Chris: We'll play each other what ideas we all might have.
    Adam: It usually starts out with the guitar riffs. And then we'll throw out a few riffs, see what we got. Throw some beats on it. The last thing I do is put vocals over everything. But when it gets to that part, I might say "do that part 4 more times," or "do that part a couple of times less," you know just to fit whatever lyrics we have to it.

  • So I'm curious, besides the religious thing, what else you drew on for lyrics?

    Adam: Actually, Chris wrote most of the lyrics for that album.
    Chris: From books that I read, stuff that came out of my fucked up mind. (much laughter).

  • What have you been reading, just curious.

    Chris: I like books on dictators and stuff.

  • Like Stalin, Hitler and stuff like that?

    Chris: Genghis Khan, Napoleon. And then just stuff I see going on in the world. Basically.
    Adam: Flip on the news, there's plenty of inspiration.

  • It gets to the point where I don't want to watch the news anymore. I see a news broadcast I'm like "news, fuck." CLICK. It's depressing, and I knew people who sat in front of the TV during 9/11 for like 4 days, I don't see how a sane person can sit in front of the TV through all that.

    Adam: Now there's a lot of stuff coming out about conspiracy theories and stuff, that we knew this stuff was going to happen and did nothing about it.

  • Yeah and there has been for years: look at Waco and the whole Kennedy thing! I mean with the kind of rifle that Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly used, there's no way he could have gotten a shot off that accurate.

    Chris: It wasn't him, it was the Mafia. Because he wanted to take down the Mafia.
    Adam: You don't fuck with the Mafia.
    Chris: They helped put him into office and then they wanted to take him down. That's THAT conspiracy theory (much laughter).

  • There's a friend of mine who used to live in Brooklyn, he's a big Yankee's fan and we get into arguments all the time because I'm a huge Braves fan, but he's talking about how almost everything you can buy, from the clothes you buy in the corner store to the food, the Mafia controls a lot of businesses up there. But then again there was that big article in the paper saying they had brought down the last of the mob bosses, and I'm like, I don't know...

    Chris: Yeah, it's like they're still around, but I don't think they're as ruthless as they used to be, it's not like it was years ago in New York and Chicago and stuff... I dunno...

  • Century Media is distributing Olympic titles these days. I wondered how you feel about them these days? (long pause). If you wanna bash them, go ahead, they're not sending me anything anymore, so fuck it! (much laughter here).

    Chris: We got no beef with them. They got Scar Culture, a band I know pretty good. Those guys are getting put out there pretty well. They seem to pump their bands, putting them on tour and all. That's all you can really ask for.

  • Chris Miller: No more cardboard sleeves, Steve?
    Me: shit. I do like how they're working power metal. That's one thing about Century Media I like. Some people seem to think power metal is dead with the 80's but if you look over at tours and the scene in Europe, that's just NOT true.

    Chris: No definitely not. Especially in the last couple of years, all the new power metal bands coming out.

  • Anything else you guys wanna ramble on at length about?

    Adam: Nah, not really, ha ha... I think I'm gonna go get a cheeseburger or something.


    It's been a rough year for me so far, I've had to deal with problems and turmoil on EVERY front, from rent hikes on my home, to problems with my ex girlfriend and baby's mother, to a court case against me pending, to severe crises and cutbacks at my job. It's a miracle I could get this thing out the door at all, albeit a month and a week late. But, after looking back at all this, I can see that there are things about the world that are going to change. And I don't like what I see. Businesses are going bankrupt, companies are filing chapter 11, massive numbers of layoffs are occuring, and I wonder how long it will be before things cave in. Literally. The world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket.

    Anyway, on to other less sobering news. You will probably see less and less coverage of Century Media artists and releases in these pages. After over 10 years of working with the label, hell I remember when Century Media FIRST got a U.S. office. I played phone tag with the record label all of this year and part of the last. Got told EJ was supposed to make the decision about publicity personnel, who gets added or not. Talked to EJ, the company is deciding and voting on it. A month goes by. Emails go unanswered, phone calls get more and more vague. Loana says I have to talk to EJ again, EJ says I have to talk to Loana again. Round the bend. I send out more emails that NO ONE at Century Media says they got. BOTH have been on my mailing list for months. Yet no email I ever sent has gotten through. Finally, after talking to BOTH EJ and Loana one more time, Loana sends me a nice email saying that the company has decided (STILL no idea who makes that decision) not to add me to the press list. Ever. And no amount of phone calls or emails (apparently) will change that decision. This is a shame. And disgusting, considering there is probably not ONE magazine ANYWHERE in the world that has continually supported this label since their day one opening. Don't believe me? Issue #4, Comecon "Converging Conspiracies" review. Ask Loana or EJ if they even REMEMBER the band Comecon. Tiamat "Wildhoney" review. Issue #8. On up to the present day. I may have reviewed other discs too in some of the issues that are missing. I don't really know what else to say, except I have noticed a growing trend with Century Media these days to project an air of "eliteness" in the U.S. metal scene, what small and struggling scene there is. This is most noticeable by them deciding what overseas C.M releases will be worked for the States or not. (See the Holy Moses review issue #33 - Ed). I really don't know what else to say. We will be here long after EJ and Loana are gone, and believe me, labels change publicity personnel about as much as people change socks. Metropolis I had a similar issue with one of their publicists who was EXTREMELY snotty and didn't seem to know what her job was, or how to do it for that matter. She's gone and the label and I are back on track.

    Don't really know what else to say here, except to answer a question that has been put to me a few times recently. Some people seem to have an issue with the fact that there are so many positive reviews, and not a whole lot of negative reviews. Well, the simple explanation for that is I would much rather give coverage to stuff I love, which I in turn listen to on a regular basis. Besides, I'm usually a straightforward guy, either I like something, or I don't. It's not too often you see a ton of reviews sitting in the middle range (50 - 60's), even though I can see bands making good and bad songs both on a record. Besides, I can only review so many CD's each issue! And as I stated in earlier issues, I do take liberties with the numerical system, as it's not done by a mathematical formula except as a last resort (which I haven't had to do in quite some time). You know how a record makes you "feel," especially after repeated listens. And these records, guaranteed, have been played AT LEAST 4 or 5 times.

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