Okay, yeah, the 'zine is late again... It happens... Anyway, I'm working out some things in my life so that I can dedicate more time and bring ya more CD reviews for next issue. There's only like 21 reviewed this issue... BUT, on the positive side, I know the next issue will be better. Hell, I say that every issue!

Wanna drop me some stuff? Address is on the title page. :> Okay, well here it is again, in case this magazine is coming to you from a different source than on my official website:

Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA

It's da krunk!!!


ARMAGEDDON DILDOS "Morgengrauen" (Electric Blue) SCORE: 88/100

I haven't heard from the Armageddon Dildos since their 2 album deal with U.S. based Warner Brothers was finished. And for those who remember the rather chaotic and heavy guitar laced industrial of their "Homicidal Dolls" and "Lost" albums, this may shock some people. Let me be the first to say that upon my first listen, I loved this record. While it certainly lacks the overpowering guitar work and sneering, sinister vocals, it more than makes up for it with sheer coolness and a laid back atmosphere that really works. Songs like 'Der Letzte Zarte Kuss,' 'Gotter Der Nacht' and 'Vergiss Nicht' are so laid back that you almost forget this used to be a harsh industrial outfit. The vocal work is very mellow and has a rather confident vibe, while still maintaining a strength all it's own. The instrumentation is quite well done also, check out a track like 'Raus' which definitely utilizes some trancey elements, and the guitars do pop up on 'Gotter Der Nacht,' however they are electronically enhanced and almost don't sound like real guitars. His penchant for the beautiful guitar solo shines through on this track, and it's truly a shame that this wasn't used more often! The biggest drawback I see is with the female singer which is incorporated on a few tracks. It ruined 'Life Like This,' with the only song on the CD sung in English. The vocal work here bordered on soulful, and to be honest the Dildos don't NEED a female vocalist. 'Raus' as well suffered from the female treatment, though not as bad, but this song ended up sounding a bit more house oriented. 'Spiel Mit Mir' and 'Der Glaube' show us some robotic vocal effects, and they were a bit hard to get used to on 'Der Glaube,' though it was interesting enough for the darker electronics on display. The last track starts off rather ballad like, well, for an electronic piece, but the atmospheric synths were almost ambient and landscape like, and the cool vocal work shone through to the end. Catchy choruses and a vibe that's really laid back and mellow all the way through, plus the German lyrics, and you'll find yourself wondering what Rannstein would sound like if they were a more mellow outfit. Keep in mind that Armageddon Dildos were doing it WAY before Rammstein became a household word. Oh yeah, and before I forget, one other thing that A.D. has done differently on this album: unlike most electro acts, no song even touches the 5 minute mark, with many songs (especially the good ones) not even lasting 4 minutes. Different, and unlike what I expected but HIGHLY enjoyable.
Contact: Electric Blue/Ausfahrt
Web site:

ATOMIC NUMBER 76 "Atomic Number 76" (Independent) SCORE: 48/100

The name isn't terribly original, but the sound emanates somewhere between old school Sabbath, 70's era rock and stoner rock; however the format isn't very appealing to me. 'Born With No Soul' starts the CD off at a somewhat lethargic midpace, and the clean sung vocals I thought were a bit too weak in many spots. Many of the songs here aren't terrible, but there are too many "average" songs to even warrant a score higher than 50. So what makes a 10 song CD with only 2 completely enjoyable songs rank close to average? Well, the guitar work is definitely commendable, but mainly during the lead solos or instrumental breaks like on tracks 'Devination' and '100 Proof.' 'Blind' wasn't too bad of a tune, with the more uptempo guitars starting things off and lots of really cool guitar effects right out of a Hendrix album. But it didn't impress me as much as '100 Proof,' which had a slow pace but some NASTY fuzzed out guitars and, finally, a vocal style that was a bit rougher and heavier, fitting this song well. 'Gas Hangover' continued peaking my interest, especially since the faster instrumentation kept things going while the louder vocal style, sung though it was, had nice distorted effects during the choruses, which were catchy. Not much else brought me to the table, though, as the song structures for the most part left me wanting more. MUCH more. And by the end of the CD, I was ready to kill whoever was playing that cowbell. The last track 'Alkihol' I thought to be an instrumental, one with rather annoying guitar riffs, until the slower pace brought the vocals around the 2:48 mark. These guys I suppose have the talents, but it's rather odd that if you go to their webpage, the only 2 songs they have MP3's of for you to listen to are the only songs I liked off the album. Wonder what's in store for album number two?
Contact: Atomic Number 76.
Web site:

BLOOD RED THRONE "Affiliated With The Suffering" (Hammerheart) SCORE: 92/100

Ya know, people are going to ask how I could like a project like this. It's death metal in the vein of Cannibal Corpse, however one important facet of this information sticks out: It is in the vein of my alltime favorite Cannibal Corpse album "The Bleeding." Cannibal Corpse, to me, was at their most powerful when Chris Barnes injected some slower passages and more eerie riffs into the music, and THIS record to me is how Cannibal should have sounded had Chris Barnes not left. The difference between that era Cannibal and Blood Red Throne is the massive amount of crushing guitar riffs. For every speedier passage, there are some amazingly heavy and thrashy guitar riffs that can't help but keep you going. For the ultimate in misanthropy, check out how the opening tune 'Unleashing Hell' starts off with the spoken vocal sample. Then the instrumentation blasts right onto the scene, with vocals that are somewhat reminiscent of Barnes era Cannibal Corpse. The vocals themselves are not the most extremely impressive but they get the job done. Every song you can hear some fast riffing, though not so fast as to sound like a mess, and then the slower guitars come along and these guys are masters of their instrumentation. Which should be seen as no surprise, since all the members of B.R.T. are affiliated with some of the most cult and underground black metal bands today! Surprising? Shouldn't be, considering the fact that many Norweigan black metal bands started out as death metal projects (see the B.R.T. interview for more details). There's sick and twisted lyrics, cool use of samples (the girl screaming her head off in 'Razor Jack,' and the near death gurgles of a victim on 'Mandatory Homicide.') and some instrumental passages (like the one on 'Bleeder's Lament') that will make you go, "Didn't I hear this type of guitar passage on the first few Cannibal records? There is a lot going on with damn near every song, so you won't get the same set of riffs and structures repeated 50,000 times in the space of 5 minutes. If death metal could be as well written as this stuff is, I'd be back to the genre in a heartbeat. Leave it to the black metal elite to show the world how true death metal is supposed to be done!
Contact: Hammerheart Records, P.O. Box 277, 63000 AG Valkenburg, NETHERLANDS
Web site:

DIXIE WITCH "One Bird, Two Stones" (Small Stone) SCORE: 54/100

I must say, I haven't heard of Dixie Witch before but it looks like a band that Man's Ruin might have experimented with. From what I remember about Small Stone though, I didn't think I'd dig it. Bands like Puny Human and Five Horse Johnson didn't sit well with me, though I must admit Dixie Witch is a bit better than the aforementioned bands. Utilizing fuzzy guitar riffs that sometimes work really well, what drags this disc down for me is the insistence on southern rock orientations, most notably in the lyrics of songs like 'Drifting Lady' and the twangy guitars found nearly everywhere else. The first song 'Get Busy' is probably the only song I can find nothing to complain about. The guitars can be heavy, and there are some nice guitar solos on many tracks. 'Goin' South' wasn't too bad, but what's with the lyrics sayin' 'Brother' every so often? The shouted vocal work seems to be a decent idea, and I can't say that the vocalist is doing a bad job, but many of the tracks here I don't care much for, even if I don't hate them outright. 'Makes Me Crazy' really drove me, well, nuts, as it's a slower tune (something Dixie Witch does a lot of) that has REALLY twanging guitar riffs and a vocalist that is trying to emulate the southern style. Give major points on instrumentation to the last few tracks, especially closer 'Traveler,' well, until the vocals kick in. Not a big fan of this style of rock music, if you are though (I assume people who dig Lynyrd Skynyrd) then you'll find a good home for this CD. Not a terrible release, but too many songs I couldn't see myself listening to on a regular basis.
Contact: Small Stone Records.

FAITH AND THE MUSE "The Burning Season" (Metropolis) SCORE: 70/100

When I got the double CD set from Metropolis from this legendary and cult gothic band, I was amazed at how much great material there was to be found. What sets Faith And The Muse, for me, apart from the rest of this genre is the insistence on beautiful, sensuous and melodic female vocals, inlaid with medieval type instrumentation that includes some orchestration and frequent use of a Mandolin. This record jumps all OVER the place, and as such is not quite the bona fide keeper I had hoped it would be. Track 1 starts off more as an intro than anything, and though odd, Monica's vocals hold up well. The next tune, 'Sredni Vashtar' is surprising as hell and probably the heaviest, most pure industrial track this band has ever written. This is a great tune, and besides having tremendous club potential, is the exception to the rule about F&TM and heaviness. The catchy choruses help also. From here things start to slide downhill, though I can't write some of this stuff off completely, and that may be due to the fact that Monica is a great singer. 'Boudiccea' is the next track of record, and this is a rather dark and dreary, dare I say brooding, type of gothic tune I'd expect from anyone in the genre OTHER than F&TM. The acoustic guitar work starts off nicely, but just like the Bauhaus cover from the double CD set, Monica does not do the haunting and dreary atmosphere very well. Even if there is some halfway decent instrumentation. 'The Burning Season' sounds like another dark piece, but here Monica's almost whispered delivery cannot be ignored, even if the track refuses to grab me totally. 'Whispered In Your Ear' would be a good club hit as well, and this is definitely a bit more upbeat and of course, this is more of what I prefer to hear from you know who. 'Gone To Ground' was the first song that REALLY made me wince, as it's set to a sort of sultry nightclub, maybe late lounge, type of instrumentation that did not work at ALL for Monica's vocals. She just doesn't do the wicked, dark and seductive thing very well. And then there's the electro punk tune 'Relic Song,' which was very out of place (even considering the fact that both William AND Monica both have rich punk backgrounds). It's not until track 9 that I start hearing the stuff that made me a F&TM fanatic, like the medieval mandolin and club atmosphere of 'Visions,' and the awesome multi vocal work and minimal instrumentation (with a medieval feel once again) on 'In The Amber Room.' 'Prodigal' is more alternative sounding and yes, clubworthy, but still a good tune, and 'Willow's Song' closes out the CD in a fashion where you hear acoustic guitars, Monica, and not much else. All in all, there's good stuff here, but not what I was hoping for, and not quite enough to warrant a definite keeper rating. Still, I suspect if you can handle better what I couldn't, you'll find this an indispensable part of your CD collection.
Contact: Metropolis Records, P.O. Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105 USA
Web site:

FALCON "Demo 2003" (Independent) SCORE: 38/100

I was rather interested in this latest project by members who you would think wouldn't come together to do a project like this. One exciting thing about this group is the welcome return of Cirith Ungol guitarist Greg Lindstrom to the music making scene. This project also features Darin McCloskey on drums, who of course is most famous for his work with stoner gods Pale Divine, and finally completing this trio is Perry Grayson formerly of Destiny's End. It's this last addition I have the MOST trouble with. The vocal work here is extremely hard to get into, and keeps me from enjoying the few great moments on this CD. First off, the music is said to be a return to the power trio's of the early 70's like Budgie, Trapeze, Dust, and even bands like Pentagram, Mountain, and Captain Beyond to name a few. I really don't think the band worked very long on this demo, and it shows. Opener 'Shelob's Lair' has lyrics straight out of Tolkien, which isn't a bad thing, but the instrumentation here is rather basic and straightforward. Almost TOO straightforward. There's nothing really dynamic about this song, which is sad considering who's playing. There are some opening guitar riffs on track 2, 'Downer,' even if the song structure isn't put together well. One annoying glare, especially on this track, is how poorly the transitions are from varying tempos on the song structure. You can tell these songs weren't rehearsed for very long. The choruses especially suffer the worst from the vocals here. There are, to be fair, some interesting lead riffs, but nothing I'd have to listen to more than a few times. Usually, for me, once the vocals are poorly done, it's game over. Now 'The Crying Of Lot 246' definitely had the best possibilities of all 4, and the vocals worked extremely well with the catchier and faster instrumentation, but most of the instrumentation is dreary and slow, and the vocals are absolutely horrid. More interesting high end guitar work starting off 'On The Slab,' the last track, but by now you probably know why I can't get into it, especially when considering that the instrumentation holds nothing much to cheer about. I'd like to see more development on this project, but the vocals are going to HAVE to improve.
Contact: Falcon, c/o Perry Grayson, 6442 Pat Ave. West Hills, CA 91307 USA
Web site:

FOREST STREAM "Tears Of Mortal Solitude" (Earache) SCORE: 100/100

All I have to say is: WOW! This is the highlight CD of this issue and what has to be at least one of the top 3 of CD's this year! But in which category? The bio on the back of the CD says it best: "Symphonic, blackened doom of the highest possible quality. Epic, majestic and suicidal, is a crestfallen classic." Sorry guys, but I really can't do much better than that. Many of the songs here easily surpass the 8 minute mark, but I guarantee you there is not ONE single dull moment on ANY track. Many of these songs run through damn near EVERY single human emotion ot be found: anger, sorrow, melancholia, despair, rage, beauty, and damn, I think this band ran out of emotions! There's no more that they could possibly touch! Here's an example: a track like 'Legend' starts off like somewhat fast paced black metal, with amazingly epic and melodic synths, only to add melodic piano notes within and they change structures in every song quite frequently. 'Last Season Purity' showcases their doom metal styled guitar work from the start, and upon first listen you never know what sort of instrumental variations are going to hit you. The synth and guitar passages mesh amazingly well together, putting over on you some of the catchiest and most heart rending passages I've yet to hear in music. This is a CD people should be raving about for years to come! 'Black Swans' has the opening flute like notation, and extremely rich instrumentation, and amazing lead guitar solos! You will be surprised to hear track 6, 'Whole,' as this is the first song to make use of amazing clean sung vocals, which they also do on 'Black Swans.' The vocal work is mainly black and death metal, with a few guttural passages on 'Mel Kor.' An amazing instrumental 'Steps Of Mankind,' a short one at that, closes out this album is great fashion, and I cannot say too much more about this amazing masterpiece, hailing from Russia of all places. This sounds to me like the most innovative creation that Mental Home could have come up with, had they advanced by several years. As it is, it's Earache and not The End Records that brings us probably the BEST band to EVER hail from Russia. The highest possible rating we can possibly give it...
Contact: Earache Records, 2nd Floor, 43 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018
Web site:

FROSTMOON ECLIPSE "Death Is Coming" (ISO666) SCORE:99/100

...And ready to crush your skull!! Holy shit, I knew this band had potential when I heard the awesome "Gathering The Dark" but this is quite easily my vote for at LEAST top 5 black metal releases this year! If you remember the review of "Gathering The Dark," you remember their penchant for amazingly written acoustic guitar parts, and this album has those, but they definitely utilize some intense speed! Listen to them blast away on tracks like 'The Black Tide' and 'World In Ruin.' The lyrics are bleak and misanthropic yet again, which makes 'World In Ruin' one of my favorite tracks to scream to. 'The Darkest Season Of Humanity' starts the CD off and it blasts right out of the box with nary a second's delay, only to suddenly drop in some rather dark acoustic arrangements. The track 'Funeral,' which is actually song #4, is a very good acoustic only instrumental and serves this CD WELL as a small 1 minute and 37 second breather for this record. The last three tracks start the songs off acoustically, especially 'Blindness' with some really dark sounding acoustics. The vocal work on the CD is absolutely sick and throat ripping, even on 'Blindness' where there is lots of "spoken" type vocals mixed in with the acoustic passages. 'Waiting For The Storm' is a fantastic way to close out the album, complete with epic instrumentation and a dramatic finish. This last tune is rather long, at almost 8 minutes, making it seem a tad bit longer with the essence of speed, but still worth damn near every minute. Each song has the amazing ability to go very quickly from blazing speed to maybe a slower pace or even an acoustic break, so you know the band is extremely tight. It will be tough picking out tracks to digitize for this, and I STRONGLY urge you to hear what is most definitely one of the STRONGEST and most innovative black metal albums this year!
Contact: ISO666 Releases.

HELLOWEEN "Rabbit Don't Come Easy" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 45/100

The first time I ever started listening to this record I was surprised how much I actually hated it. I mean, "Better Than Raw" wasn't a perfect record, but it definitely had more dynamics, more strong and catchy choruses, and this record lacks MUCH of what made "Better Than Raw" one of my faves. I'm not extremely familiar with Helloween's back catalog, and it's been several years since I owned, and then subsequently lost, "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1," so I'm n definitely NOT an expert in all things Helloween. Despite that, there are some things I did pick up on right away, like 'Never Be A Star,' which is very easily THE best song on the album. Great choruses, nice vocal work, great guitar parts and song structures. This album is all over the place as far as styles go, and 'Liar' shows them trying to write a real heavy tune, and it just sounds too forceful. Forceful as in they're trying too hard, with the results ending up with rather bland choruses and an overabundance of speed. 'Sun 4 The World' had nice Arabic styled instrumentation starting out, which surprised me, and it was one of their better cuts, as was 'Back Against The Wall,' which had thrashy guitars and a heavier vocal style that DID work. Too many songs I didn't care for, 'Do You Feel Good' was one of their WORST, especially when the choruses sound so cheesy and the lyrics didn't help. CD opener 'Just A Little Sign' REALLY had some of the worst lyrics, especially when he says 'Something's growing in my pants as I look into her eyes.' Poppy choruses didn't help either. 'Nothing To Say' clocks in at over 8 minutes and is definitely TOO long for what they are doing here. 'Don't Stop Being Crazy' had nice symphonic instrumentation but by the time the guitars and syrupy choruses come in (the song title should tell you all you need to know) I was already jumping ship. I can see where some people might like this, but I miss the dynamics and the catchiness of the last CD I heard, many of these songs just sound like by the numbers power metal, without an emphasis on POWER.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

IPSUM "Mystic EVilution" (Ipsum) SCORE: 61/100

This was an interesting release hailing from the land of Switzerland of all places, and featuring both a guitarist and vocalist that are female, and quite attractive I must say. This is a somewhat black metal oriented band, though what threw me was just how brutal the female black metal styled vocals (that border on death metal as well) really are. The problem comes with the song structures themselves, as they do have the ability to change tempos and structures in the breadth of a song, but they don't really possess the qualities that push their music over the top and really get in your face. Many times, especially the way too long tracks (well over 8 minutes each) 'The Last Of Gethsemane' and 'My End,' they drag some of the instrumentation out and it really bogs the songs down. They have some interesting guitar work, in fact the opening track 'New Model Inferno' and also 'Shadowcrown' prove that the band has skills in the guitar riff writing department. The drums on this release bothered me as well, they sounded a bit flat, though quite well played. It's obvious that Michelle, the vocalist, is influenced by Immortal and Emperor, not just because her band bio states this but because the faster black metal instrumentation has promise, plus all that high ended guitar work that would make these tracks sound better were they worked in more. Michelle's vocal style, while interesting and unusual, just doesn't have that sick driving force that someone like, say, Carnal Forge or the screamer for Dark Funeral or Marduk has. The songs just never seem to go over the top, and while not really bad (save for the few awful guitar notes that pop up here and there), they most definitely need more work to make an album that I'm not picking through to get to the good stuff.
Contact: Ipsum.
Web site:

KATATONIA "Viva Emptiness" (Peaceville) SCORE: 44/100

Believe it or not, I think I am probably being a bit too generous with the score. Put simply, if I wanted to hear music like this, I would just turn on the radio to the umpteen number of bands who put out songs like Katatonia does here with tracks like 'A Premonition' and 'Evidence.' The latter song sounds a lot like the newer metal bands out there that get radio play that have to do whiny sung vocals in with the heaviness. Which, by the way, is rather insulting to those of us who call heaviness home on a daily basis. He'll take a song like 'Wealth' or 'Complicity,' drop some "metal" guitars just to prove to everyone he thinks he knows what metal is, then start some toybox instrumentation or acoustic guitars, and put in some clean sung vocals. I don't see HOW people who love the sideproject Diabolical Masquerade could EVER get into Katatonia. After 2 songs starting this disc out, 'Criminals' is the first song I could even get into, utilizing some explosive choruses and nice swirling guitar riffs. Hearing him say 'fucker' on this track is pretty funny though. And while we're at the guitar riffs, the opening "heavy" guitars on album opener 'Ghost Of The Sun' remind me STRONGLY of the guitar work that the band The Great Deceiver used, though to rather annoying effect. Katatonia seems to be trying too hard to say they can create a commercial album while still being "metal" or "heavy," and oftentimes it's coming across as WAY too forceful. His higher ranged vocals are annoying as hell too, like on 'Sleeper,' it didn't help that the haunting instrumentation didn't stay consistent. The closing instrumental 'Inside The City Of Glass' shows me that this band has good instrumental ideas, and I can't call ALL the vocal work crap, but this band reeks of radio friendly alternative or nu-metal at times. Most songs are like this: heavy guitar work to prove a metal stance, then dropping right down to alternative soundscapes and cleanly (TOO clean) sung vocals. Maybe heaviness on the choruses just to remind the metal buying public who's supposed to be grabbing this album. Sorry, but I'm not taken in...
Contact: Peaceville Records, P.O. Box 101, Cleckheaton, W Yorks, BD19 4YF, U.K.
Web site:

LEGEND "Still Screaming" (Monster) SCORE: 92/100

There are two bands known as Legend, and the confusion gets easier when you realize that both are now affiliated with Monster Records, and as a matter of fact, BOTH are digitized in the classic albums section. The band we're focusing on today hails from the U.K., well, the Channel Islands, and have had quite a buzz for years. Their three recorded efforts were firmly entrenched in the NWOBHM movement and I must say this new effort sounds like NWOBHM up to date with the current era! It surprised me just how heavy they can be while still conveying lyrics that might sound like they came out of the early 80's. 'I'm Not Angry' starts this disc off in FINE fashion, with some heavy guitars and fantastic clean sung vocals. 'GHB' unfortunately didn't impress me as well as I'd hoped, they utilized some Slayer type guitar riffs that sound as if they were lifted from "South Of Heaven," though the vocal work kept me from dissing this piece entirely. And while we're at the subject of vocals, lemme just say one word: 'Pompeii.' What a fantastic set of harmonized vocals that sound truly NWOBHM'ish, and if you want a reference point (besides listening to the actual song itself), my best references are from obscure 80's metal bands Wolf (with their tracks 'Medicine Man' and 'Rest In Peace') and Incubus (The U.K. band, check the songs 'Helen Of Troy' and 'Life Beyond The Grave.'). You want more surprises, twists and turns? 'Born In Chaos,' starting off with some mellow acoustic guitars that really hide what comes next: heavy guitar riffs and some low toned, angry, almost death metal styled vocals! Then the choruses kick in, and I have to say this is what Legend's newest release shines and blinds you with, those catchy and amazingly done choruses. My favorite track here HAS to be 'Take A Man,' with a rocking guitar start and amazingly sung vocals that bring 80's era Wolf to mind again. They actually redid one of their 80's tunes in 'Hiroshima,' which was originally found on their self titled album that came out in 1981. This time around, the tune sounds very doomy and much like the Sabbath hit 'The Wizard,' though not much different from the original version, all the way down to the snarling low toned passages here and there. Their guitar work, though quite intense and phenomenal, did tend to lose my attention in a few spots, namely the last 40 seconds of 'Generations Underground' and the aforementioned 'GHB.' Some of the songs dipped in at 8 minutes and over, and for some of the slower tunes this may have seemed like a bit much, but hey! There's a LOT to enjoy on this disc, and Legend is definitely BACK! Now I'm waiting for the U.S. Legend band to have "From The Fjords" officially released on CD.
Contact: Monster Records, P.O. Box 460173 San Antonio, TX 78246-0173 USA
Web site:

MELECHESH "Sphynx" (Osmose) SCORE: 93/100

This is an incredible piece of work. To listen to "As Jerusalem Burns," their first record, you hear primal rawness and overt hints of great things to come. Though I have not heard "Djinn," I find that this record definitely shows the style and sound of Melechesh in full. The guitar work is amazing. Thrashy, and blazing fast as hell, a track like 'Annunakis Golden Thrones' perfectly shows just how well the guitar parts are written. The fast dual axe attack comes swirling at you like a rabid desert sandstorm! And major points have to go out to the Middle Eastern/Arabic sounding instrumentation which is found a LOT more here than on their debut, while they managed to avoid the Egyptian style and sound that would get them tagged as Black Metal Nile clones (though people who would be unable to tell the difference might stupidly say this anyway). Their uncanny ability to play both slow and fast is evident in their maturity, though I must say it is also at times their biggest weakness. Melechesh works very well at the faster pace, and a track like 'Secrets Of Sumerian Sphynxology' is almost a complete downer for me due to the overtly repetitive guitar work. I had to take off some points too for the odd guitar work which plagues both the beginning and ending of track 5, 'Tablets Of Fate,' but there's no denying that the guitar work will never completely ruin a song. The vocal work absolutely shreds, check out the power metal screams you'll hear on opener 'Of Mercury And Mercury,' which is the best example of a black metal vocalist going from sick scream to power I have EVER heard. There's a few instrumentals to be found within, and the length notwithstanding, are excellent examples of their native style and sound. I love especially the swirling sands and somewhat Arabic chanting on 'The Arrival Ritual' and this has killer tribal percussion and a very dark and powerful feeling. 'Caravans To Ur,' the other instrumental, is all guitars and drums, and might I add that Proscriptor's drumming (of Absu fame) is nothing short of phenomenal and very up front and in your face. If not for the odd quirks the guitar work takes on a few tracks, this would definitely be one of the best and most powerful black metal releases of the year, in fact the voting is DAMN close... But I've never been one to do the "best of" year end thing anyway. Way too much here to enjoy!
Contact: Osmose Productions, B.P. 57 - 62 990 Beaurainville, FRANCE
Web site:

POWER SYMPHONY "Futurepast" (Evillot) SCORE: 83/100

This CD is a treat for fans, as it has lots of multimedia stuff on it, and 5 actual songs. Two of the songs, 'Army Of Saints' and 'Mother Moon,' are from an OLD demo that fans have been asking for for years. Two other songs, 'Nine Moons' and 'Infinite Machine,' are not only brand new tracks, but also the best on the record, AND an indication of where the band is headed (there are going to be, it seems, no more keyboards on the next release). 'Nine Moons' has great lyrics and is a perfect way to start out the disc, with Michela in perfect form as usual. Heavy guitar work and opening acoustics touch this off very well, and the heaviness along with the melody is in place. 'Infinite Machine' I found to be very catchy, especially the choruses, and the slightly thrashy but heavy guitar work definitely carries this through. Track 3 I didn't mention yet, but is an even more surprising treat, it's a GREAT Manowar cover for 'Blood Of My Enemies,' and hearing Michela cover this with strength and conviction in her voice is such a plus. The only weak link of this release is with at least one of the older tracks. 'Army Of Saints' I didn't care for that much, and Michela does some rather quirky things with her voice! The choruses didn't hold that strongly my attention either, but the last track 'Mother Moon' was very good instrumentation wise. It's probably the most melodic thing Power Symphony has ever done, and the acoustic guitars are utilized to good effect. A few vocal lines were shaky, but overall the material held up well. I don't know how Michela used to sing back in the olden days, but it's surprising that ANY way she chooses to sing would do nothing but sound great. So there you have it, and as late as I usually end up being getting this magazine out, I'm sure the full length is already ready to go... Pick this up anyway, it's good for the fans!
Contact: Evillot Records, Apt. 242, Via Antonietti 7, 20052 Monza (MI), ITALY
Web site:

STRAASHA/NUMENOR "Split CD" (Melancholia) SCORE: 92/100

This is the first CD release on this French label, and I must say it is very interesting and a great start for this brand new record label. Both bands presented here are quite similar in style, Straasha sings about the ocean, and Numenor sings about the cold majestic forest. Rather unusual for a split CD is the fact that Straasha gets 7 tracks, consisting of 4 "songs" and 3 instrumentals. It is the instrumentals that raise the eyebrows quite a bit, as the only thing you hear, besides the ocean sounds, are beautiful and majestic acoustic guitars and a cello, which adds a somewhat heavy yet melancholic feel to the tracks. Songs like 'A Revelation Beyond Dream' and 'Farewell To The World,' though, present nice high ended guitar work and the typical black metal riffing that is often times very catchy. Unusual still is the abundance of clean vocal work, which on the first track here sometimes sounds a bit off. The clean vocalist for Straasha is also doing clean vocals in Numenor, which was slightly more favorable for me, though not by much, as both bands are quite excellent. No cello in Numenor's work, and there are only 4 songs, but ALL contain vocals. The blackened vocals in Numenor's camp are a bit more harsh than with Straasha, which I enjoyed a great deal. 'A Journey Of Honor' contains slower paced black metal, but as with every song on this CD, they vary the speed and structure enough to make things interesting. This is a good thing, as the tracks 'Engulfed In Eternal Majesty' and 'Allegiance To The Dark Spirit Of Elements' tend to run over the 7 minute mark. Clean vocals are performed extremely well, and the majestic riffs catch you big time on 'Engulfed...' Quite an interesting release (Straasha's songs are presented in the form of a story divided into chapters) and I definitely look forward to more coming from this label!
Contact: Melancholia Records, 12 Rue Du Plateau 91700 SGDB FRANCE
Web site:

SYMBEL "We Drink..." (Angelisc) SCORE: 39/100

This is a new signing that forefathers of English Heathen Metal known as, well, Forefather, decided they wanted on their label. And I must say that there is no threat to Forefather's legacy as KINGS of the scene. The most interesting thing about Symbel is a very unique vocal style. Anyone ever seen the cartoon Dangermouse? This guy, at his somewhat lowest, scratchiest and almost hoarse style vocals, sounds like the frog faced villain Baron Silas Greenback! And as interesting as this was, I just couldn't find much to like about many of the song structures. They do the lyrical style that Forefather presents, and this isn't a problem in the least. They do attempt some very interesting musical styles, in fact on 'Lord Of The Hanged,' the vocals remind me of a rather weak attempt at Glenn Danzig era Misfits, complete with speed. The dark guitar riffs started off interestingly enough, and this may be seen as one of their heaviest. 'Wassel Grove' continues the Misfits styled pace with the chanting "whooahs" that we've all heard the Misfits do over the years, but here it just ends up weak sounding. On 'A Journey With Oak Staves,' I rather got into the odd flute type notes, and the Baron Silas Greenback vocals somewhat work here, even if the track doesn't sustain my interest as a whole. The guitar work, when doing solo and solitary notes, sounds very emotional and I really wanted to like this track. You will hear some odd guitar passages thrown within this tune however. I must ask if there is use of a drum machine, as some of the drumming sounds rather flat and mechanical, though until I heard Ground:Xero I wouldn't have known what a drum machine sounds like. 'Heathen I Am' is their catch phrase that REALLY sounds like a track The Misfits would have written, though of course not as good, it even has that slight punk vibe to it. 'Saecsen Drinking Song' kinda held my interest longer than it should have, as the synth notes are interesting and the rather upbeat tempo was infectious for a few minutes. The sung vocals didn't work well, further irking me. I would have expected better than this for a band like Forefather being of such high quality, but I assume with the vocal styles (very cool) and the quirky and sometimes slower instrumentation, this must be an acquired taste.
Contact: Angelisc Enterprises, P.O. Box 68, Leatherhead, KT23 4YE ENGLAND.
Web site:

TEMPLE OF BAAL "Servants Of The Beast" (Oaken Shield) SCORE: 81/100

This is a side project of Amduscias, who I remember having an album come here to the States via Metal Blade. It's rather old school black metal with emphasis on higher ended guitar work, though what really makes this band shine is the catchy guitar work, especially on tracks like 'Deathblessed' and 'Years Of Hatred.' I could swear I've heard those riffs in another band before, and this band won't win points for ultra originality, hell, they even do a slower Frost like medley on 'Slaves To The Beast', which I appreciated, even if the more singing like approach to black metal was a tad off on a few lines. Always good to hear even old school type black metal bands paying homage to their roots! The main problem I see with this band is twofold: They will either lose you by the rather straightforward attempts at high speed, witnessed by both tracks 'Backstab' and 'Ruins,' which incidentally are the first and last tracks on the CD respectively, or they can drag things out with the slooooow paced instrumentation, which they do on 'Towards Eternal Death.' Regardless of not being perfect, you can hear a LOT of structure changes just within a 3 minute mark on nearly every song, these guys aren't afraid to vary the tempo from slow to fast and right back again. 'Years Of Hatred' had some catchy chorus work (Hey, is that allowed in black metal?) and though they do the Frost tribute on 'Slaves To The Beast,' after about a minute and a half they go right back into fast riffing mode. Good to be getting stuff from Adipocere and its sublabel Oaken Shield, which I might add is a cool name for a record label. If you like raw, sick black metal, this is pretty good. And I must emphasize the sick vocal work, it's what I have truly come to love about black metal.
Contact: Oaken Shield, c/o Adipocere B.P. 02, 01540 Vonnas, FRANCE
Web site:

THROCULT "Soldiers Of A Blackened War" (Crash) SCORE: 76/100

This is a rather dicey score. First off, the band hails from the U.S., Colorado to be exact, and is one of the latest footsoldiers in the battle to gain ground for U.S. Black Metal. And while they can definitely create atmosphere with the eerie synth work and vicious screams, my biggest beef with them lies mainly in their insistence on bringing death metal into the fray. They are all over the place influence wise as well, which can at times be a distraction, but as I said there's enough bone crunching brutality to hold your interest over several tracks. 7 songs here on the CD and they had to run an intro for track 1. So really all we get is six songs. The intro was kinda useless, some multi vocal samples that sound almost like radio stations being switched around constantly. But let's go with what we DO have, which starts off with the first real song in 'Dark Cloud Holocaust.' Fast black metal interaction to kickstart, and the vocal work which proves to be quite vicious. There's lots of high end guitar work as well, though they tend to focus on speed for the majority of the tune. Then 'Hunted' kicks in, which has to be the WORST track on the CD. Nice haunting synth notes, guys, but waaaaay too slow overall to work with the vocals, and it just ends up sounding messy. Even the death vocals get annoying and they do have a tendency to use high ended riffs that annoyed the hell out of me. 'Hunted' showcases mostly black metal fare but by the middle of the disc you can tell they are going to showcase some death metal roots. 'Kill Or Be Killed' was rather a favorite of mine, with really grim and dark guitar and synth notes. Their higher ended guitar work gets out of hand in a few more spots on 'Eclipse Of The Blood Moon' and CD ender 'Ellipsis,' but the latter track shows us that they can write slower instrumentation and throw in a twist with some metallic sounding percussion (by metallic I mean like someone banging a metal pipe!). This last track had quite a bit of spoken word passages which added a bit more to my frustration, but overall the band has promise, and they definitely know how to write furious and blistering material. Not something that's high on my rotation list, but the band is young, raw, unpolished and most importantly SICK, so I expect greater things from their second effort.
Contact: Crash Music.

USURPER "Twilight Dominion" (Earache) SCORE: 95/100

This has GOT to be the best Usurper album EVER! You know for the most part what you are getting when you listen to at least the first half of the album. There are headbanger's gems and metal anthems galore, song titles like 'Metal Lust' and 'I Am Usurper' ought to tell you all you need to know about a band who worships Celtic Frost but does it in a different way. And Usurper has some of the best thrashy guitar parts I've ever heard, and they utilize them both slow and fast; their slower guitar riffs being some of their most crushing! Take a tune like 'Utopian Nightmare,' an obvious homage to Celtic Frost, right down to the song structures, but those riffs change near the end of the song, going for full speed and never looking back. 'Invincible Overlords' and 'Golem' show off a drummer who has this insane speed on the double bass pedals! And the vocals are down, dirty and rough, just like I like 'em! The vocal work also takes a few twists and turns as well, like on 'Lycanthropic' you hear an evil, almost robotic effect, and some demonic growling can be heard on a few cuts. Surprises continue abound on 'Golem' as well musically, I swear with the acoustic, Arabic sounding guitar work I thought for a moment I was listening to Melechesh! There are tendencies when things get out of hand for Usurper, in fact I can almost scratch the whole 'She-Devil' song, as the faster instrumentation and the vocal work really clashed hard, especially since our favorite growler decided to sing higher notes (not TOO high tho) than what he normally does. That being said, though, there was still some cool instrumentation to be found within. They do have an interesting song with lyrics devoted to Lord Of The Rings that at times sounded power metal based, at least in the guitar department. This is such a heavyweight album that the bad points don't stick around long enough to keep you from cranking this to the 10's! If you're a headbanger who loves sick vocals, evil thrashy guitar riffs and songs that crush with power, Usurper will definitely send you reeling. If this is what Usurper sounds like on Earache, their new home, then I can't wait for the next record. The soundtrack to the blackened apocalypse has arrived! No poseurs allowed!
Contact: Earache Records.

VINTERRIKET "Winterschatten" (Ketzer) SCORE: 80/100

I was very happy to get this in my mailbox almost weeks before the last issue went to press and I had already typed up both review and interview of Vinterriket. As you may know from last issue, Vinterriket plays mostly synth based music, largely instrumental until this release. And this is my MAJOR gripe to date with this newest record. His vocal work is definitely black metal styled, but if the shrieking, nails-on-chalkboard screams of someone like Dani Filth bother you to a great degree, the first two songs are not for you. And the sad part is that even with the heavier distorted guitars, there is some nice instrumentation to be found. I believe the problem, exactly, is this: Mr. Vinterriket seems to only know how to record instruments, especially of the electronic variety, and didn't really master the vocal recording process. His vocals almost sound buried in the background, and one suspects that the voice you hear on this CD is not a TRUE representation of how his blackened vocals really sound. All that aside, since there are 6 tracks, you still get more than half of a good record. The title track, which is track number three, starts things off with nice alternations of mood between upbeat and dark. Percussion is definitely used here, more so than the last record, but not all the way through every track. There are nice piano notes, and the ultimate Vinterriket song is track 4, 'Endlos Und Karg.' This track starts out with some of the most emotional and intense, yet simplistic, piano and synth notes I have ever heard. The pure definition of ambient in style and sound, the landscapes painted here are DEFINITELY ones that invoke images of sitting in solitude in the deep forests. 'Derschneite Waelder' has some very dark instrumentation going within, but also a melancholic tone as well. These songs, like the previous album "Und Die Nacht..." definitely have the ability to hold your interest when they clock in at over 7 and 8 minutes a piece. Ending track 'Das Ewige Eis' utilizes distant sounding yet simple percussion, almost tribal in nature. A very relaxing piece at that that may seem to some a bit too repetitive, but for these ears it's a landscape that holds MY interest for a good 8 minutes or so. Were the black metal vocals not a problem, this CD would score MUCH higher, as it is, there's enough material to warrant you keeping this in your constant playlists. And please, no Mortiis comparisons... :>
Contact: Ketzer Records.

WHILE HEAVEN WEPT "Of Empires Forlorn" (Eibon) SCORE: 99/100

A true fucking doom metal masterpiece, worthy of all the highest praise and respect it can be given. Would be definite pick of the issue if it weren't for the one point off that actually seems to belong to Forest Stream. Anyway, starting off, 'The Drowning Years.' Here we have nice bell notes, melodic synths, and then followed by slow and heavy guitar riffs. And when the vocals kick in, from here on out we all notice the stark and contrasting difference between WHW and the many other bands in doom metal: A sharp contrast between the almost upbeat and melodic vocal work of Tom and the moody, sometimes downright funereal instrumentation. This opening track, along with a few lines on the song 'Soulsadness' also show that while staying mostly midrange, Tom can belt out sime high pitched power metal style vocals. Needless to say this does not happen very often. 'Of Empires Forlorn' is probably the most unusual of tracks on this album, though it doesn't start off that way. There's the unusual mix again of ultra clean, melodic, upbeat and dare I say, epic vocal work, but by the end of the track we hear something from Tom that is not heard ever again on this CD: Black metal shrieks of a vicious kind! Granted, it's only like three lines on the whole song, but the instrumentation does change to match the vocal work, and it is a KILLER! There is a brilliant cover of Candlemass' 'Epistle No. 81,' and Tom does a damn good job of injecting vibratto into his voice, making this track sound all his own creation while actually almost upstaging the original performance! I swear, if Messiah Marcolin hadn't rejoined the fold, Candlemass would have found new and diverse blood with Tom doing the honors. 'Sorrow Of The Angels' has nice calming ocean sounds, before the melancholic bell notes come in, and here the synths get their own solo! Amazing how you can hear such sorrow and melancholy in the lyrics and the instrumentation, but almost uplifiting and melodic vocal work! Okay, so you may be asking why the point loss? Well, first off there are only 7 tracks. Not so big a deal, until you realize that track 7 is an instrumental 'From Empires To Oceans.' As beautiful as it is, it's mainly just a more symphonic reworking of track 2 'Of Empires Forlorn,' minus vocals. I would have REALLY loved to hear another tune with vocals, but all in all this CD has to be considered at LEAST in the top 3 of doom metal releases for this year, if not the top 5. The interview with them this issue will reveal still more details.
Contact: Eibon Records.
Web site:


ARMAGEDDON DILDOS. Interview with Uwe via email.

Regular readers of the magazine may remember when we had a review done in Metal Maniacs MANY years ago when we still had an ultra long web address. One of the bands that may have caught readers attention is the Armageddon Dildos, who I remembered doing ultra harsh industrial with guitars, like many of their brethren. I had thought this band long since extinct, and their newest release "Morgengrauen" is quite a surprise and a departure from their usual style, but oozing with class and coolness.

  • It's been a LONG time since I heard anything from you. Was there purposefully a long wait time between the "Lost" record and this new one? (Of course, I now realize I missed the "Speed" album which was released in 1997.

    After the "Lost" album and the following tour, we started to work on new tracks for the "Speed" album. In 1995 we left Zoth Ommog to sign with the major label Metronome. We recorded "Speed" during the summer of 1996 in London and Dusseldorf with Andy Gill and Bob Kraushaar. But we had bad luck because in November 1996, just when we came home from London with our new album, they decided to shut down Metronome. We got back the rights for the music and artwork but had to look for a new label. We signed on RCA Ariola in spring 1997. But the album and the following tour didn't work that good and so we left this label in Autumn 1998. In 1999, Zoth Ommog had it's 10th year anniversary. We released Re:match, a remix compilation of older AD-tracks and made a tour with some other Zoth Ommog bands. After this tour in the end of 1999, Dirk decided to leave the band. For me it was clear to continue with the Armageddon Dildos and the result of course is "Morgengrauen."

  • What was the origins of Armageddon Dildos from the beginning, and how is the lineup now? I remember seeing in band photos two members but assume that a live show would possibly need more members.

    Dirk and I met in 1986 for the first time, as we had the same rehearsal room. He played in a synth pop band called Head On Shoulders and I was the singer and guitar player in a band called Beat The Beat. We decided to start a new band. Only the two of us and electronic equipment. But it took us three more years before we started to work on the first AD tracks. It was only Dirk and myself on stage until the "Lost" album. A guitar player and a drummer joined our live shows during the "Lost" and "Speed" tours, and we will be four on stage now when we do a "Morgengrauen" gig: a female singer, a keyboardist, percussionist, and myself.

  • So tell us about the female vocalist you used on this latest record, and how you came to work with her? It seems to be the first time I have ever heard use of such vocals on one of your albums.

    Malin is a very talented singer from Stockholm, Sweden. I know her for a long time. She came down to Dusseldorf for the holidays when I was working with Mathis Black on the new AD songs in his studio. I asked her if she would like to sing some notes to one song and she said yes. All of us loved the result and so we decided to work together.

  • The new record "Morgengrauen" was a bit of a shock for me, as I was remembering the harsh industrial guitars and the heavy vocal work. I love the new record, but what prompted the change in style and sound?

    One reason is that I had to do a musical cut for myself after Dirk left the band. I wanted to create my own unique sound. Hard electronic pop music with E.B.M. influences (Stands for Electro Body Music - basically what Europeans call Industrial at times - Ed.) and pieces of modern dance grooves and sounds.

  • How do you view the industrial music scene these days? Here in the States, it seems like there are very few industrial labels left, and most of the labels that have folded are watching their acts go over to Metropolis Records, which seems to be one of the last U.S. industrial labels left!

    I don't know anything about this situation in the States, but here in Germany it seems that elektro or EBM music is coming back more and more.

  • Are there a lot of good industrial bands and labels coming out of Europe? People still show up in large numbers to any industrial shows that come to the U.S., but the shows are very few and far between.

    It's hard for me to tell because I have not been listening to industrial bands that much for the last few years. But you can go to elektro, industrial or gothic shows and festivals all throughout the year.

  • I know that several of your CD's have been released on Zoth Ommog, so why did you feel the need to switch to Electric Blue?

    I was without a contract after they shot down Zoth Ommos. I posted my new material to a couple of labels and after some meetings I decided to sign on Electric Blue.

  • I noticed that with one exception all the lyrics on your newest album are in German. Does this mean a possible end to writing songs in English? I would also love to know what some of the song titles are and what they are about, especially my favorites like Der Letzte Zarte Kuss,' 'Gotter Der Nacht,' and the title track.

    No, it does not mean that I stop writing English lyrics. But right now I feel more comfortable to write and sing in German. 'Der Letzte Zarte Kuss' means 'The Last Tender Kiss' and describes the last minutes of lost love and the last goodbye. 'Gotter Der Nacht' means 'Gods Of The Night' and 'Morgengrauen' means 'In The First Light Of Dawn.' A sensual story, a new love, the first night, a promenade on the beach and then in the first light of dawn...

  • So what sort of lyrical topics are you covering these days? I'm assuming that maybe your lyrical stances have changed along with the style and sound?

    Of course those major themes, like the wars for example in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the situation in Israel or Liberia. But also the problems that we have in Germany right now like a very high unemployment rate. And no, I don't think that I changed my lyrical stances because I always wrote about people in different situations and moods.

  • I'm very curious as to how and why the U.S. deal you had with major label Sire/Warner Brothers here in the States didn't work out, as it was a very high profile situation. I know the last time I heard anything, they were trying to bring you over here for a U.S. tour. Did that ever happen? And are there any plans to license the new record in the U.S.?

    The answer is easy: they shut down Sire Records and we did not get a new contract in the States. And yes, a tour was planned but never happened because the sponsor jumped off some weeks before the tour should start. Our band name didn't fit their product. There are (currently) no plans (to license the record here in the U.S.).

  • What can we expect in the future from you? Any chance you might be working on a new album or new material?

    I just wrote a couple of new Armageddon Dildo tracks and will produce them in the spring next year. Besides I have to work on the live set. We are going to play most of the "Morgengrauen" tracks plus a collection of songs from "That's Armageddon" until "Speed."

  • Lots of the tracks on this record would be great club tunes, do you ever write songs with the intention that they might be playable in clubs? Some bands I spoke with indicate that they just write what they feel, and if a song is selected for the "dancing masses," it's not totally their doing...

    In the beginning there are only some notes, loops, a good hook line or some words. I never know what it will be at the end. But when I see that a track is more suitable to be played in a club, I go that direction during the production or do a club remix myself.

  • When you look back at all your releases, which songs did you like the best, and which ones did you not like? I know 'Haut' got quite a bit of club play down in my old hometown of Savannah.

    I do not have one or more favorites. It always depends on the situation and the mood I'm in. But I do have one song that I don't like: 'Captured' on the "Lost" album.

  • I've always said that without the guitars in industrial, there are sometimes fine lines between sounding like hard trance and actual industrial. How do you feel that transition is made, as I know I hear lots of electronics in your music that sounds like hard trance or techno.

    I think you're right. Not only has the wall in Berlin crashed down. More and more musicians look around to see what happens in other kinds of music. Searching for new ideas, sounds, etc. to create their own sound.

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

    Too hot outside! Too many questions. I feel so thirsty, I better go get me a beer. Cheers and a big hello to industrial and elektro America!

    BLOOD RED THRONE. Interview with Tchort, once again, through email.

    It's amazing to me to see death metal making a comeback in some fashion, and the people responsible today are surprisingly IN the black metal scene. It's also noteworthy to point out that many Norweigan black metal bands started life as death metal bands, turning away from the scene when they thought it had gone soft. Tchort is also a member of Green Carnation AND sick black metal masters Carpathian Forest, so he's got his feet planted in three different styles of music.

  • With many members of Blood Red Throne firmly rooted in other black metal styled bands, what exactly made everyone decide to start up a somewhat old school death metal project? Now I am aware that many black metal bands had life as death metal projects (Old Funeral, etc.)

    I had my beginnings in music with Death metal when I formed Green Carnation in 1990. We released our first and only demo in 1991, making us one of the first death metal bands in Norway. When the idea behind Blood Red Throne came about, I had a wish to go back to my roots and continue where I left off with Green Carnation before joining Emperor in late 1992 and stayed with various black metal bands for so many years. The others had a passion for death metal but never had the chance to do anything about it, as there were very few musicians into death metal when we started BRT. We met each other through internet chats, friends of friends, etc. and despite different background we all wanted to play death metal like we do today.

  • Blood Red Throne to me sounds like a continuation of the style Chris Barnes started with the Cannibal Corpse album "The Bleeding," which is still my most favorite of Cannibal albums. The newer stuff with George from Monstrosity is not quite as powerful as this stuff, and Chris Barnes' Six Feet Under project is nowhere NEAR as satisfying to me. How do you feel about both bands? Personally, I thought injecting slower passages into Cannibal Corpse made the material that much stronger.

    I am a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, though I like the older stuff the best. Six Feet Under don't do anything for me when it comes to CD, but I saw them live at Wacken a few years ago and there they really got my neck going! And I think that is some of the key elements we aim for, that our music should be cool on CD but also give the fans a kick when they see us live.

  • For the uninitiated, please tell us all who is in Blood Red Throne and (besides yourself being in Carpathian Forest and Green Carnation) what everyone does.

    Mr. Hustler is our vocalist who we brought in for the debut album, just two weeks prior to recording. He had never held a microphone before this, as he originally is a drummer (still is). BRT was his first real band. Espen Antonsen came into the band when Freddy, our original drummer, had to leave because of work commitment that forced him to move to another part of Norway. He recommended Espen to us, and after a trial weekend he joined our ranks. He also plays drums in a black metal band called Slagmark. Erlend Caspersen was our fourth member to join, and I learned about him through an internet chat channel. He is a real talent and we are happy to have him in the band with us. Dod, our second guitar player, formed BRT and was soon joined by myself and reddy. His background is with several bands but I spent 3 years with him in Satyricon, which was where we learned about each others' passion for Death Metal, and where the idea behind BRT came from.

  • I remember something about you doing a Green Carnation tour some time ago. Have any BRT tours taken place yet, or will any take place?

    Well, we never did any tour with Green Carnation but we have done a couple of small tours with Blood Red Throne, and a full scale European tour. In September we are going to do a mini tour in Italy together with Gorgoroth, so we are keeping active with BRT, even though we have started to write on material for the third album.

  • Are you into Macabre at all? With some of the vicious topics, I love the way the music and lyrics of Macabre take a humorous stab at serial killers. I feel if we couldn't laugh about this stuff it would probably drive many people nuts!

    I have only listened to one of their albums and I only remember some crazy lyrics and a great drummer. Sounded like a band I should check out more for sure. And yes, I think it's important to have your humour also in this kind of music. We have great fun doing a lot of the stuff we do and it's what keeps us sane, I think.

  • Okay, so I have to ask, where did you get the vocal samples in a few songs? You know, the ones where it sounds like someone is being scraped with a knife, and the screaming victims and killings going on.

    One of the samples is from the uncut version of Hellraiser. All other samples we made in the studio with a microphone and a mini disc recorder. We feel it's cool to do something exclusive on the albums, to spice it up a little, and we had a gorgeous girl who came down to the studio, wearing a school uniform and pig tails, who screamed her shirt off, literally! Then we put it together with the broken glass track we taped. Stuff like that. The spoken intro was something I wrote for a song, and we got this American guy to say it while we recorded it. We took the mini disc with us to a bar and taped the background noise you hear on the intro. We just spent a little extra effort.

  • Are there any "actual events" that inspired some of the lyrics on this record? I'm also curious about the war like topics on tunes like 'Chaos Rising' and 'Affiliated With The Suffering.' So spill your guts, man!

    All I can say is that our lyrics come from dreams, fantasy, desires and real life experiences.

  • Going back to the spoken intro, I bet the opening lines of that on the song 'Unleashing Hell' will get many people going. I like to listen to that song when I've had to deal with stupid people all day!

    Yeah, I know what you mean, and in many ways, it's the same reasons how the opening came about. I mean, like you can tell, I put people talking in the background, so that it gave the statement depth and directed it more to humans in general.

  • So how did the split with Severe Torture come about? I know split CD's are a good way to get to hear about 2 bands for the price of a single CD.

    The split with Severe Torture is only released in the U.S. market. I understand that MCD's don't sell very well there, so it's a common thing to put together two MCD's and sell them as a full CD. If you like both bands, it's great, but if not it sucks to pay a full price for something you only want half out of.

  • I noticed on the full length "Affiliated With Suffering," there were a few bonus tracks not listed on the CD anywhere. With the advent of MP3's and music piracy, do you feel extra material on CD's should become more common? Maybe it would cut down on piracy, or at least make fans of the music feel they are being catered to.

    That's wierd, because the promos hold the bonus tracks, also in the booklet list, as well as the limited edition of the digipack. The jewelcase version doesn't hold the extra tracks on the CD nor the booklet, so what version you have of the album is unknown to me!

    I have always felt it's important to give people their money's worth, so we usually have long playing time or do something exclusive, like on the mini CD. People seem to forget that the artwork is very important to an album. Remember those great vinyl covers that you could put up on your wall? Well, we did an exclusive photo session for the MCD where I was buried underground for an hour with maggots and spiders, just to get the right shots for the booklet. And I think that's something that can be better worked on (by bands), the booklets and artwork, because that's not something you get from downloading MP3's. Take the latest Immortal album cover for example. It must be the most boring booklet I've seen in years! It has the front picture which is used EVERYWHERE in the media as a promo picture as well, and the rest of the pages looks like something they just copied and pasted onto a simple background. That's it! I mean, come on! Who cares about buying the album if you can have it for free on the internet? You are not missing out on anything! So by making the booklets special, and the covers into something cool that people will want to put up on their walls, I think you will have an increasing number of people who want to buy the actual album instead of downloading it!

  • By the way, what ARE the extra tracks after the end of 'Malediction?' One I didn't recognize but the last song sounds like it might be an Obituary cover.

    The extra tracks are 'Mercy Killings,' which is a Blood Red Throne song, and the last tracks is 'Deadly Intentions,' which is correctly an Obituary cover song.

  • Do you ever see the guys in Obituary getting back together? I know Trevor was busy with Catastrophic but I think someday the call might be heard from within them to regroup.

    Well, if they ever can make an album like 'Cause Of Death,' then I welcome them back, but the last I remember from them sounded like shit. Didn't he start to sing clean vocals on some parts even? I think I remember a rap song on one of the albums as well. I don't know maybe it was just a bad dream I had...

  • Okay, now I have to know about the cover artwork. How much blood (can you reveal the victim who shed this much? Haha!) did it take to actually get this thing comitted to paper? Or did you cheese out and do computer aided artwork?

    I am not sure if we used pigs blood or cow blood, but we had 5 litres of it, so there is no fake stuff used. Mr Hustler who is on the cover was freezing his balls off doing that photo shoot, drenched in blood for an hour in a cold basement only wearing his boxers. We always have a lot of fun when we have our photo sessions. Like the MCD when they buried me underground and I was almost choking. That's when I showed them the finger, FUCK YOU!! Dig me up! We used that picture under the CD inside the jewelcase. And on one of the autopsy pictures on the Affiliated album, with the big toe nail sticking out with the name tag. You know, simple humoristic details or that have its offspring in a funny situation.

  • I'm curious how long you've been around the black metal scene and if you ever knew any of it's key players, like Eronymous, Varg Vikernes or Dead from Mayhem? Have you read the book Lords Of Chaos? I enjoyed it but thought that it spent a little too much time on Varg himself, even though he was one of the key catalysts for what happened to the Scandinavian black metal scene.

    I knew Varg and Eronymous but I don't think I ever met Dead. I never got the chance to read Lords Of Chaos so I can't comment on its content.

    DATURA. Email interview with Craig Williamson.

    Datura. What a band! Based out of New Zealand, they released two INCREDIBLE masterpieces of psychedelic/stoner rock and then folded! What a pisser! So when I got the email from Craig a long time ago, I vowed that I would interview them once again, though we actually tried to interview them several issues ago. The questions got lost in the (e)mail, surprisingly, but once again it is a great thing, as we often do here at the magazine, to revisit time and speak with a band who created incredible music.

  • First off, for some of our non informed readers, we need a bit of history here. In a small area like New Zealand, how did the band come together, and how difficult was it to find members that were interested in a style and sound like this one?

    I got the band together after I left a Black Metal band I was in at the time (???) called Azazel. Things went slow for a couple of years; members came and went, and it was really difficult to find anyone who was interested in what I had in mind musically. So after a few years, the guys I'd been jamming with, Jon & Brent, started getting into some cool music, music I'd been playing endlessly for three years. So it kinda started from there, getting all cosmic and stuff.

  • I know much about the music scene in Australia, from metal bands like Hobbs Angel Of Death, Destroyer 6666, Bestial Warlust and what not to gothic bands like Ikon. But what was the music scene like in New Zealand, and did any of the "bigger" bands ever play in your area?

    Yeah, lots of so called "bigger" bands come down here, always have. But the music scene here in New Zealand has always been an unknown thing, quite underground, mostly though very commercial and bland. Just the same shit that happens in the U.S. but on a much smaller scale, so the decent groups that get known are few and far between.

  • I'm still listening to "Visions For The Celestial" on a semiregular basis, and I'm wondering how you feel about it compared to your first release "Allisone" on Cranium?

    Well, they're two very different things in my mind. The first album "Allisone" is very young sounding, like we didn't know what the fuck we were up to or anything, it took two days to record, etc. etc. But there are some feelings on that album I prefer to the second. "Visions..." is my "I'm going to make an album that is unique even if it kills me!" I guess I put the other guys through some crazy stuff to get their minds where I felt we needed to be going, but it was hard. Often they didn't like some of the effects, didn't like some of the song choices, didn't like the mix, blah blah blah and it went on and on!
    I guess I still love both albums equally, they just came out during different times in my life, maybe that's wierd?

  • Lyrics are something I'd like to talk about, because as heavy as you were, the lyrics seemed to reflect more the "peace and love" attitudes of the American psychedelic era 1960's, but also there's a somewhat calming, spiritual side to the lyrics. So obviously I'm extremely curious about tracks like 'Sunshine In Purple' and 'Euphoria.'

    I've been into a lot of obscure acid-psychedelic-kraut-heavy sounds for a long time, and some of the things I've heard have been really interesting to me. And within these sounds are some radical views lyrically, so I suppose over time these feelings filtered through to my lyrics and how I felt in general. 'Sunshine In Purple' and 'Euphoria' are really reflections of how I was feeling. 'Euphoria' is more a stream of consciousness-astral light-higher key type thing. 'Sunshine In Purple' was more about some things a stoned friend of mine told me about from a drugged out party.

  • I guess I'm also curious as to why you never put lyrics in your CD booklets.

    Well, I don't like to be too obvious about anything with the music and what goes with it: artwork, photos and lyrics. So I didn't want to be taken too literally with the lyrics, you know, to be possibly taken the wrong way. I guess I was looking for a mystical feeling to come across, and by printing the lyrics I thought that might have hindered the ideas.

  • Speaking of the artwork, I've always been curious about the artwork for "Visions..." as it was a very magical and interesting piece of work. Did the artist create this piece of work specifically for you or did you choose from a gallery of his works?

    The painting was done in the mid eighties. Richard from Cranium Music showed me some of Franz Landls' work and I was completely blown away by it! He was very nice to us and let us use the piece for the cover that I had picked; I felt it went very nicely with what the lyrics dealt with and the feel overall that I had in mind.

  • How did you come to be interested in stoner rock and psychedelic types of music? Were there any good shops in Zealand where you could obtain music released from the outside? I'm also curious to know some of the bands you get into with this style of music.

    I got interested in this kind of music ages ago, after I left the black metal band I played bass in. I started with the regular stuff and got more obscure along the way. Then I met Richard Stockwell who was starting up a psychedelic mail order shop, so that helped a LOT! He was the only one around who knew anything about what I was interested in musically, there were NO stores around selling stoner-psychedelic-eastern spaced out sounds. But now there are a few around, but not many. I usually get my music overseas, I listen to a lot of stuff, varied styles, but I guess relevant artists would be Leaf Hound, Black Cat Bones, Free, early Hawkwind, Gong, Erkin Koray, Human Instinct, Spacious Mind, Laslo Hortogagyi, Klaus Schulze, Celtic Frost, Word Of Life... I could go on and on!

  • Speaking of Richard Stockwell, what happened with Cranium Music? It seemed like he was struggling but at the same time he was always running sales, and there weren't very many places in the world dedicated to this type of music to begin with.

    No, not too many places at all, especially when Datura started up, but then the so called 'Stoner' scene hit. After that it was much easier to get people to listen to 70's rock music and the like. Cranium? Yeah, he had been struggling for a long, long time. I think it was the case of trying to do too much too soon; with all the releases and the record label it slowly sent him broke. But Richard had never lost hope of keeping it going, not until the last and then he just completely quit.

  • And you mentioned Hawkwing as well, I remember reading that you actually got to see them live! What was that like for you? I remember when they played down here, well, it was Nik Turner's version of Hawkwind and it was a very memorable show, the visuals were fantastic, complete with flashing black lights, and this awesome liquid lava display that floated around the room.

    Hawkwind are cool! We saw them a couple of years ago, nice friendly guys... No rock star egos or anything; really really good shows too, crazy light show, fire breathing, we had a blast! We got to have a smoke with them too, but unfortunately, Datura couldn't support them because Jon was at the Gold Coast (Australia), plus things were pretty low for the band at that time, but they heard our album and bought some copies so that was cool.

  • So was there any "partaking" of certain psychedelic drugs, maybe some green grass? I know personally that especially with marijuana, certain doors can be opened that are otherwise unobtainable in the normal sense. Just look at classic albums created by bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Type O Negative, and maybe realize that these albums might not have turned out the way they did were it not for some influences.

    Yeah, only pot, at the time of recording "Visions..." anyway. But a lot of other things which have influenced the way you'd look at things. "Visions..." was recorded in a very peaceful farm house in the country which might have had an effect on the proceedings, but only in performance: I wrote those tunes in my flat which was in the city... where a LOT of pot was consumed...

  • You had a band Lamp Of The Universe I believe it was, at least at the time of this writing. You also mentioned another band you were working on, tell us about that, and is Lamp going to be an ongoing thing?

    Yeah, Lamp Of The Universe is actually my solo project, I play all the instruments so it's not a bad thing at all. Just me at home alone recording in the spare bedroom. It might be an ongoing thing, I'm not sure, see how I feel I suppose! And yes, there's another band I've started with, don't know what's going to happen with that either. It's like Datura, but I'm playing guitar instead of bass. Who knows? The guys I'm jamming with at the moment are: Raj on the bass, and Jon Burnside (Datura) on drums, so with me that's 2/3 of Datura right there! So we'll probably have a sound very similar to what's gone on in the past. So far the songs we're rehearsing are heavy and rockin' with that psychedelic edge that seems to follow me around! We plan to get an EP out by the end of the year or early next year, so I'll keep you posted.

  • Finally, why did Datura break up exactly? It's such a shame to me, especially after all the great coverage all over the world (especially when you consider the geographic location and the inherent difficulty in getting more "mainstream" coverage) and of course two great albums! Are you on speaking terms with any of the former members at all?

    Yea, I only talk to Jon the old drummer. Brent the guitar player went all wierd, he quit playing almost immediately after "Visions" came out, brought a big, flashy new car and became a briefcase wielding businessman! Why we broke up is too hard to pinpoint, lots of things really. I know I was definitely fed up with what was happening within the band at the time, the label was fucking us over too. It felt like everyone was, or were... we weren't getting paid, lots of stuff really. So two or three months after the album came out I quit the band to go solo. I'd had enough. Then we tried to get back together and Brent told us he had finished playing guitar!

  • Were you ever invited to play live outside your home country? There is a Stoner Hands Of Doom festival done here every year, and Emissions From The Monolith would have given you great exposure here in the U.S.

    Datura were invited to play overseas on a few occasions; in the U.S., Germany and Australia, but it all fell over after we decided to give it a rest. We nearly went to Australia at the beginning of 2000 but by that stage I was ready to kill them in their sleep!

  • How is the country of New Zealand today? Anything specific that people should look for if they decide to travel over there?

    New Zealand's alright, everyone's Rugby mad but it's always been like that. It's very peaceful here or it can be if you want it to be. There's a lot of space geographically to "get away from it all," but like any country there's the busy cities too.

    DREAM EVIL. Interview with Gus G., guitarist extraordinaire... Via email...

    Dream Evil has put out two great records, both we were somehow able to get despite Century Media deeming us unworthy of further cooperation (yeah, yeah, I know, I'm probably beating this horse to death, but damnit, if they didn't have such good bands!) Not much needs to be said, except for the fact that they play power metal with an emphasis on POWER, and if you know anything about Century Media's roster, you know most of what they put out is worthy of attention. SO: One email to the official web site and I was surprised to hear back from Gus G., who I might add sent the replies back in exactly ONE DAY. Thanks again.

  • I actually have both Dream Evil CD's in my collection, and I have to ask which one you like better? Personally, though I love many of the songs on "Evilized," I have to claim that "Dragonslayer" is my favorite.

    I love both our albums, but I think "Evilized" is a more mature record and more focused musically and lyrically.

  • I have been informed that you no longer live in Greece, residing instead in a city near Gothenberg. Was this so you could be closer to your new bandmates, or just because the music scene is better?

    Actually, I lived in Sweden pretty much for the past 3 years. In fact, I spent all of 2002 in Gothenberg. I had my own apartment there, but since January of 2003 I moved back to Thessaloniki, Greece. I've been away from home since 1997 pretty much, and I felt that I needed to come back. It feels good to be back in Greece, but still, I travel to Sweden all the time, because of our activities with Dream Evil, plus I tour with my other bands too. Of course, there's no doubt that Gothenberg and Sweden in general has a much better metal scene than Greece!

  • Fredrik Nordstrom is a top notch producer and I know he's worked with several bands, is there a band he produced that you are most fond of?

    I really like Fredrik's work with Dimmu Borgir. I think that's the best he's ever done. Of course, his work with In Flames and At The Gates is also remarkable.

  • So how did you come all the way from Greece to be involved in this project with Fredrik?

    I met Fredrik in 1999 when he was in Greece for vacation. He was then producing a Greek band called Exhumation and since I was a close friend of that band, I met Fredrik through them. Me & Fredrik hang out a lot and I decided to take a trip to Sweden while Exhumation was recording their album in Studio Fredman. I stayed in Fredrik's studio for 2 weeks and after that I found a roomate. That roomate was Jesper Stromblad of In Flames. I stayed in Sweden for a few months, and then me & Fredrik wrote some songs and eventually started Dream Evil.

  • Now some people may or may not be aware, but you have another band (which we reviewed a few issues back) called Firewind, which band do you see as a priority? And will Firewind ever do a tour?

    Well, the past few months I have been working and recording the new Firewind and I must say that this will be more of a priority for me, from now on. Although I'm a founding member in Dream Evil and my style is part of the D.E. sound, Firewind is "my baby." We have a great new album coming out soon, and we will definitely do our best to try and tour as much as possible. However, touring will also depend on sales of the album.

  • What I love about Dream Evil is the really strong and anthemic songs, like 'Fight You Till The End,' 'Kingdom Of The Damned,' 'Heavy Metal In The Night,' etc. Of course, there are also a few ballads, something I usually don't like in metal; you know how 80's metal bands always had the "let's pick up chicks" kind of ballad that plagued these bands? I must say that 'The Chosen Ones' was VERY well done, and more medieval and majestic in scope than what I've heard in so many 80's bands. Were you conscious of this when writing this last song?

    Well, to get this straight: All of us in Dream Evil LOVE ballads!! That's why we got 2 or 3 ballads on "Evilized." That says it all. We don't really look at them as "chick songs," we just want to play good music. However, it's true that it's the ballads that attract the girls and I've seen that happening many times. 'The Chosen Ones' is an epic bombastic song and that was the feeling we tried to create, so it's definitely not a chick song!

  • As dark as the second album "Evilized" was, there was a song like 'Made Of Metal' that showed off the fun side of the band. As powerful and heavu as you made the album, I'm sure you feel that the fun side of things has to come out sometimes as well, I mean most people would not still be in a band and making music if they didn't enjoy it!

    I agree with you. D.E. is a fun band most of all, and we were never serious about being so metal and all that. Sadly, there have been people that don't understand or get our mentality and they think we're idiots! But that's not the case with 'Made Of Metal.' That song expresses the whole mentality about being true to the music you like and the life style you've chosen. For me especially, playing Heavy Metal is my whole world, so this song is my hymn. Yes, there's a dose of humour in there, but the message of it is pretty clear: "I am so fucking metal and so is my wife!" Stay true to what you believe in, and live the life you want to live. We are metalheads and we scream it out loud!

  • So are Dream Evil currently in the studio working on any other recordings? I know "Evilized" has been out for quite awhile.

    We're currently preparing a Mini CD release that should be out this Autumn. It's called "Children Of The Night" and it will be a very cool package. It will feature previously unreleased tracks, an acoustic version of the song 'Evilized,' the edit version of the single 'Children Of The Night,' and the video clip! And all this for the price of a CD single!

  • Many people have said you are an amazing guitarist, including people within the industry. Who would you consider your "guitar gods?" Personally, I really dig Joe Stump who fronts Reign Of Terror right now, not only for his whole attitude, but also his playing and the fact that he's a very cool, laid back guy. I can understand why people say Yngwie Malmsteen, but I met the guy and his attitude and whole presence stinks, personally. I had a VERY bad experience with him when he came to Atlanta.

    It's amazing that a lot of people from the industry have said such good things about me and some people have helped me very much in my career. It's cool that you mention Joe Stump, because I feel the same way about him. I actually took some guitar lessons from him back in '98 when I lived in Boston for awhile! Joe is a very nice guy and he remains true to the music he's playing all these years... I have great respect for him. But the guitarists who are my personal "heroes" are Michael Schenker, Uli Roth and Yngwie. I don't really care if all those Yngwie stories I hear are true, I just like his guitar playing and his music. That's all that matters to me. My connection to Yngwie is more spiritual I would say, as our life's stories are similar. He left his home when he was 19 to go to the U.S. to play music and I left Greece to go to America when I was 18, for the same reason. Of course, I ended up in Sweden though, ha ha!

  • I did read in several interviews that you had been in America quite a bit. Anything about this big country you like or don't like? For me, living in Atlanta, the traffic is a nightmare! It takes you literally 45 minutes to go 6 miles on some roads! But I'm sure you've been in European cities maybe where traffic was bad?

    I lived in America for almost a year. My uncle lived in Florida for many, many years and I've also lived there for some time. But after a few months in the U.S., I felt that it wasn't the right place for me to stay. While America is huge and you can find and do everything there, I just couldn't adapt myself to the American way of life... but it was an experience though!

  • How have sales been for the two albums, and where do you see the most interest and sales coming from?

    I don't know how "Evilized" has sold worldwide, but I know it sold better than "Dragonslayer." I think our main market is Japan and Germany. However, it looks like we sold quite well in the U.K. with "Evilized!" Now that's strange because the U.K. is definitely not a market for us! So we're going to do a one off headlining show in London this September.

  • So I guess the big question is, when will we see Dream Evil on a U.S. tour? I am sure you have played lots of festivals and concerts around the world, so if you want to relay highlights that would be cool. I'm sure the Japanese market is eating this stuff up!

    Well, here's a thing that a lot of people think they know, but they have no idea: Japan. It seems like everyone can make it big in Japan! Wrong. Actually, the Japanese fans are very different from European or American fans and much more selective. There's a lot of bands that are big in Europe, but they never had a career in Japan. I think the Japanese audience doesn't only want soft, melodic catchy music. And they don't only want aggression. They like acts that mix all of this together in their sound. We have toured with several bands, like Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Kamelot, Masterplan. We have done some very good shows in Japan, especially our last tour there was a complete success. I remember last summer our appearance at the Wacken festival and most shows on our tour with Hammerfall were great! In regards to coming to the U.S., we would LOVE to play there, and hopefully we will manage to do that with our next release.

  • Any American bands you are fond of? I know power metal here in the States has a following, but it seems still it's not as big as death metal and black metal, which is on the rise here. Are you into any black metal bands at all?

    I like Queensryche. I've been listening to them a lot lately. I also like some black metal bands like Dissection and Dimmu Borgir. I've also played with Old Man's Child. That was a nice experience and a lot of fun! I played 2 guest solos on their latest CD, which I really like.

  • Are you able to sit down and listen to your own music? I've always wondered with some bands if they can actually sit down and listen to the music they wrote, whether they be guitarists or vocalists. I think it might be different for a singer to listen to his own voice than a guitarist who listens to another guy singing and him playing.

    Oh yeah, there's definitely a difference! I personally feel wierd when I hear my albums and especially when I hear myself play. Sometimes I can be amazed and say "hey, this sounds really cool," and sometimes I feel like "this is crap!"
    It's hard to be subjective on your own music, sometimes it's good to step back and not listen to the album for some time and then go back and listen to it, when the head is more clear. I can express a more "round" opinion about Niklas' voice than Niklas himself. The same goes for my guitar playing. Whenever I get out of the studio with the finished master CD in my hands, I definitely cannot express an opinion about my new album until weeks later. I guess it takes time to grow on you. The feeling is SO different when you create the song and when you hear the final version of it mixed and mastered. I think the magic of the song is when the artist creates it. That special moment is what it is, a lot of times.

  • So how has Century Media been to you as a label? And do you ever feel you might be getting lost in the shuffle? After all, Century Media does put out a LOT of records from different bands. Though on the positive side, the U.S. office brought Marduk to the States for a U.S. tour, and their newest record hadn't even been out two months here!

    Century Media is a very good label and they've been very nice to us. They really believed in Dream Evil from the very beginning and they have done good promotion for both our albums. We are one of their best selling bands.

  • How is Snowy Shaw working out as a drummer for you? I don't think he is still working with King Diamond anymore, but then again I wonder about all these other musicians that have been or are still in other bands.

    I think Snowy is probably the best drummer in the world! The guy can play anything he wants... from jazz and bebop to black metal. The cool thing with him is that he's not really a drummer. He's an artist. A true musician. He's an excellent songwriter and he's also good with photography and graphic design. He's what I call multi talented. It's great to work with him.

  • So finally, how is the writing of the albums done? I noticed, especially with "Evilized," that the writing of both music and lyrics is spread out between damn near everyone in the group! Are there any songs you wrote lyrics for you want to describe? What sort of influences does the band draw upon to write lyrics?

    In Dream Evil, we all write music and lyrics! Sounds strange, but it's true. I think that's rare today in bands. I wrote all the lyrics and music on 'Break The Chains,' which is a song that talks about freedom, something that I think is very important in our lives today. Feeling free to do what you want with your life and beraking the chains that bind you is definitely an achievement. A lot of people don't do what they want with their lives, and that's misery. I don't want to live like that, so this is my message with that song. I also contributed lyrics to 'By My Side,' 'Made Of Metal,' 'Fear The Night,' and 'Children Of The Night.' On "Evilized" most of the songs have realistic messages, as opposed to "Dragonslayer" which is an album about a king and a dragon. So I think this is a step forward for us and there's definitely some nice positive messages in the album.

    MELECHESH. Interview with Moloch via email.

    Much has already been said about the latest full length "Sphynx," which was kindly sent to me by Proscriptor here in the States since Herve apparently STILL does not like American publications. Please distance Nile comparisons from Melechesh, as the Middle Eastern/Arabic influences are easier to disseminate if you read the lyrics and obtain some knowledge of old world cultures and mythologies. I'm no expert, but I know enough to conduct an interview FULL of questions that should keep this from sounding like the lame "What are your favorite bands," "Where have you played before," etc. type of questions that sometimes become a standard when I know nearly nothing else about a band. Enjoy.

  • I am curious about your deal with Osmose Records, how many albums is it for and how well are you dealing with them? I ask because Immortal and Mardul both had very bad experiences dealing with Herve, especially after the interview we did with Marduk (see issue #28).

    We signed a three album deal with Osmose: "Sphynx" is our third album as a band and a second album for Osmose (after "Djinn"). Things have been going extremely well 'till now. We don't always have the same vision of things, which is normal; bands and labels usually don't see things the same way, the band being mainly concerned with it's release while the label can sometimes have other priorities. But, for "Sphynx," they have been very supportive and understanding concerning all the logistics, studios, etc. So our relations with Herve and all the people who work at Osmose are very good. As for the other bands you mentioned it's really none of my business to discuss it in an interview.

  • The new album is fantastic, and though I have only heard "As Jerusalem Burns" (their first album) before this one, I am wondering how you view the progression from your debut album to the newest release? You can definitely hear MORE of the Middle Eastern sound than ever before.

    Every Melechesh album must have it's unique touch. "As Jerusalem Burns" is very old material. "Djinn" was a huge step forward in our "Mesopotamian Metal," that is where you really started hearing all these middle eastern sounds. But "Sphynx" is much more mature, more professional than both. Don't get me wrong, I love our first two albums, but you can hear in "Sphynx" the result of our ten years of existence; the maturity residing in the the song structures, the interpretation, the sound, the concept, everything. So yes, there's more middle eastern sounds but they are one with the extreme metal that we deliver.

  • Speaking of Middle Eastern influences, was it difficult for you to come up with instrumentation and sounds that didn't sound rather, "Egyptian?" Because you know how close minded some people are, and I would fear that they'd say you were trying to sound like Nile, like "The black metal version of Nile."

    Yes, I do know how close minded people are. But what surprises me is the way the lack of intelligence shows itself in their critiques. I don't need to even say that Melechesh is different from Nile, you simply need to listen to BOTH bands. I really like what they do, as they (like us) too. Other than mutual esteem, nothing musical or conceptual relates to both bands. Now why do people compare us both? Simply because in their small little mind they see it as the same "Eastern" thing. Never mind that both lands existed on two different continents and have different cultures (language, religion, political system, traditions, etc). So it's basically ignorance of history in general, but also ignorance in culture (there is the "west" and the "east"), of music, and finally of both bands and what they are trying to accomplish. What frustrates me is not the comparison in itself, but the fact that people can sometimes be so fucking ignorant!

  • I am curious about how you got to working with Proscriptor, and is that not difficult for you to put together albums with band members that are so far away? Did Proscriptor visit you in your country for the writing and recording of "Sphynx?"

    Most of this album was written by Ashmedi (guitars/vocals) with some contributions from Al'Hazred (bass) and myself for a couple of tracks. What happens in the following: Ashmedi and Al'Hazred program the drums in Al'Hazred's studio, they record guitars and bass and then they send us the demos. Each member rehearses alone, and I usually travel to Holland in order to meet up with the other two members (I live in France). Before the album we'll meet up for a month and rehearse intensively every day, as we changed a couple of things, finished others, completed some details, etc. And then we went into the studio.

  • With members in three different countries, is touring even a remote possibility? And will we ever see Meleches in the States? I know with Proscriptor; Melechesh and Absu would make a good billing!

    Yeah, we will tour, it's not an easy thing, but it will be done. The problem is that the last time we played live was in 1998, so we just need to get the habit back! Melechesh and Absu would do a great billing, but I believe that it will be impossible for Proscriptor to handle that much intensity.

  • I'm curious about the origins of some of your Middle Eastern philosophies and religions, as I know a bit about Sumerian culture, which predated Egyptian culture by quite a number of years. It's rather interesting as well when I read a website about the Annunaki and saw that they were said to be an advanced race from the tenth planet in our solar system that had actually brought about the advancement of the human race! (There's a song on the new Melechesh CD called 'Annunaki's Golden Thrones').

    That's the whole thematic that we deal with in "Sphynx." It's a theory depicted by a certain Zecharia Sitchin, and that has its sources in Mesopotamian mythology. Now it depends on how you interpret the whole thing, (though) I believe that Sitchin's vision is closer to fiction than reality. And even in the band itself we see things differently! While Ashmedi is closer to Zitchin theory I'm more interested in the philosophy that lies behind the myths. The Annunaki's, the Seven Sages, Anzu and the Tablets Of Fate, hence, all these myths that we mention on "Sphynx" deal more generally with the time when humanity began; with the place of man in the cosmos, his relation to something that transcends his being (the gods), etc. Every myth is full of sense that you can reinterpret even in the present world. But of course, aesthetically, mentally and even spiritually, these myths can bring more in terms of music and inspiration.

  • And somewhat on the point mentioned above, with the album title being "Sphynx..." Forgive my ignorance but wasn't the Sphynx mainly an Egyptian creation? I know the Egyptian culture followed shortly after the Sumerian legacy and maybe there were similarities in the two, but the Sphynx statues and pyramids were obviously still standing...

    Even if the early Mesopotamian civilization (Sumeria and Akkadia) existed before the Egyptians, I don't have an exact answer to the origins and to when the Egyptian Sphynx was built. But who cares really, it's not a question of who came up with it first. We chose the title because it's a creature that is important in Mesopotamia, and that for us he held a specific signification. It is the creature that portrays that knowledge that the gods were thought to have brought to mankind. And I think it's the Greeks that perceived the symbolism behind this mythological creature. In the tragedy of Oedipus written by Sophocles, it's the Sphynx that formulates the enigmatical question of "what is man." I believe that the Mesopotamian Sphynx asked a more fundamental question: "what is humanity?"

  • I have the reissue of your first album "As Jerusalem Burns" on War Is Imminent Productions, which was a very cool re-release because of the killer video for 'Hymn To Gibil.' Why did you feel the need to reissue this album, which I also had on Breath Of Night Records? Why did you not resign with Breath Of Night? I'm assuming they're out of business now as I have heard nothing more from them.

    Breath Of Night Records didn't want to reissue the album, for reasons that I do not know. So the album was only pressed once in 1996, and that's it. After we released "Djinn" in 2001, War Is Imminent contacted us and asked our permission to re-release it. We accepted, so we remastered the album and added all the bonus material. It was good to re-release the album to show that Melechesh had been around for some time, and also because it was a good album at the time that didn't get the attention it deserved.

  • I loved the videos you did, especially the 'Hymn To Gibil' one, plus the new one off of "Sphynx" was kick ass as well. How did you come to do these videos, as I'm sure they must have been expensive to produce. And where were the locations for 'Hymn..' shot at? Were these videos ever shown on any MTV style networks, maybe local TV shows in your country?

    Actually, it was a cinematographic school that contacted us and wanted to do a documentary about Melechesh. So they had professional cameras and all. They did their show, and we asked them for a clip in return. But the assholes didn't do it, but we still had the shots, so we sent them to War Is Imminent and they edited the clip. It could have been much better because we had over four tapes of material that is unfortunately not in our hands. The clip was shot in a club in Jerusalem, in the studio of that cinematographic school, in the old city of Jerusalem, and the desert of Jericho. The documentary (that had a version of the clip) was on local TV, but nothing more.

  • The Israeli scene seems to have more going on these days! I recently did an interview with Nail Within, and I'm sure more bands will be brought to light. One band which seems to have been overlooked from Israel is Bishop Of Hexen. I have their "Archives Of An Enchanted Philosophy" and no one from Israel seems to know of them! I am aware, of course, that you have been moved from Israel for some time now.

    I remember when they released their demo, we were in touch then, but there has been no news since. You know, it's been five years that we left this country, I probably know as much as you do of the present Israeli scene.

  • One thing I read on your web site was an article about Anton LaVey, especially concerning his book The Satanic Bible. I do have to ask, since you do not seem to be fond of him: Is there any way that you can see his work as maybe a starting or reference point? I know that LaVey borrowed some things in his writings, but also did Crowley and some of Crowley's teachers. Besides, in the late 1960's/early 70's here in America, there were not many other persons responsible for defining what is Satanic or "non christian," so I guess in a way we needed some sort of starting point to build upon an opposition to Christianity.

    The article was not written by us, but by someone else. I partially agree with that article because LaVey is nothing very original, but I must respect the fact that he created a whole church. And actually, I do agree with some of his interpretations of Satanism that I see more as a philosophy than a belief. We put up the article because we thought that it could trigger something for the people who read it, not because we have something against LaVey.

  • How fond are you of black metal's uprising in Scandinavia and what of it's ideals and philosophies? In some ways, even though I could never burn a church or commit murder (simply because here in America these actions would precipitate a death sentence by the courts), I see where Christianity should be held accountable for their atrocities against other religions and cultures. They nearly destroyed every evidence of Viking culture in Scandinavia, which was definitely NOT in line with the Christ they preach incessantly about.

    I don't see things that way. It's not the sayings of some preacher in the desert some two thousand years ago that killed the Viking culture. Men destroy what men create, this is the cycle of history. The reasons are always the ones of a will for power; God or his prophets are nothing but a mask. Being an Atheist I cannot hold God responsible for the death of the Viking culture simply because for me it's nothing more than a word made of three letters G-O-D. Atheism and Satanism is also a rebellion against religion, but after awhile you stop seeing things in a conflictual way. That's because you've reached a point where these aspects of religion that you grew up with are totally banished from your system. That's my position at least. After being destructive you need to be creative.

  • I'm a huge Egyptology buff, and find the gods and goddesses rather fascinating. How do you find Egyptian culture and mythology these days? Have you anything to say about the book The Necronomicon? I haven't read much of it, it's on my to do list, but I know the version you can buy in bookstores today is said to be a rather incomplete version of what was originally written.

    I don't know much about Egyptology actually, nothing interesting that I can put in an interview at least. Concerning the Necronomicon, it's a long story, and no one can authentify any version of this book. But in the many versions that you CAN find of it, you can easily figure out the influence of the Mesopotamian belief system. Now, (is it) novel or real manuscript? There's no real answer to such a question.

    USURPER. Interview by phone with Rick Scythe.

  • It seems like the new record "Twilight Dominion" is getting tons of killer press from people, some are going so far to say it's album of the year! Have you seen any of the press statements about the record yet?

    Yeah, a little bit, I try to see whatever's out there. I don't go all over the internet, but it's cool that people are appreciating the record.

  • I know last time I talked to Dark Funeral they were having problems with Necropolis, and I guess you did too as you moved over to Earache.

    Basically, when we signed with Necropolis, we were coming off of a really small label called Head Not Found out of Norway; it was Metalion from Slayer Magazine's label. Necropolis was a good, logical step for us because it still had that cult, underground feel to it, but yet there was a little more money for a budget and the most important thing was they were going to push us to get us on tours. That was something we really wanted to do. We seemed to get a little bit lost in the shuffle, as Necropolis seemed to be getting away from the real original extreme underground stuff, and going more for the typical death metal stuff. We just didn't fit like we were fitting in any more. Then there were a lot of people who were working there that didn't support Usurper at all. We went to Europe in 2000 doing a tour supporting Cradle Of Filth, and when we got out there they weren't making the bus payments, making things really stressful. We got back from that in the Winter of 2000 and we knew we had to leave this label. Our contract was about up with them anyway.

  • Speaking of tours, we missed the last New Jersey festival you guys were supposed to play at this year, but we've been dying to see you come down to Atlanta! It seems like Usurper has never traveled very far south.

    We were supposed to all the way back in 1997 with Dark Funeral.

  • We saw Dark Funeral down here in Atlanta awhile ago though.

    It's been hard for us; for touring, we pretty much have to take what we get offered. We start that tour Saturday with the Metalfest and going out with Epoch Of Unlight. Unfortunately, that tour doesn't go very far south.

  • Was the reason you left Head Not Found, was that to get better distribution for your albums? I mean, between Chris and I we have "Diabolosis" and it's pretty hard to find but still available.

    It's really hard to find. When we signed with them, we knew it was just going to be for one album, you know it was an underground thing, and our demo was only out for about six months at the time. Back in those days, I'm sure you remember, no one really did much stuff on the internet, it was all tape trading...

  • Well, actually, I've had my magazine online since about 1991, 1992 or so. And still running!

    Yeah, but I mean the majority of people did the tape trading, spreading of flyers and things like that. That's what we did with our first demo, and we sent out about 1,300 copies all over the world. Now it doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but when you're actually sending out 1,300 tapes all over the world, that's quite a bit of activity in six months for such a small band. And Head Not Found offered us a deal, and Metalion's so legendary, he's been thanked on (Celtic Frost's) "Morbid Tales." We said this was the perfect label to put out our debut album. It wasn't anything much more than that though, he was very upfront with us, he didn't have any kind of money for a big recording budget or a tour.

  • I noticed there's some different themes running around with this record, it surprised me to hear a song like 'The Oath Of Silence,' and I was like, "Damn, a Lord Of The Rings track!"

    Ha ha! With this record, we feel we've captured the essence of what we've done in the past and where our heads are at now. We feel we haven't really lost any momentum or changed our style. We perfected these songs to play live on stage, because some of our older stuff is kinda hard to pull off live. A song like 'Oath Of Silence,' our vocalist wrote the lyrics to that, he's really into "Lord Of The Rings." He's been bothering me for a few years now to do this.

  • Especially after the movies came out...

    Yeah, well he was into it before that, but once the movies came out, he was REALLY insistent then. He told me how he wanted the music to be more like an epic; bigger music and epic and a longer song with a lot of dynamics to it.

  • What would you consider some of your older stuff that was hard to play live? I don't really see what you would have a problem pulling off live.

    It wasn't like we COULDN'T pull it off live, but sometimes it's really hard to get the headbanging going; a song like 'The Ruins Of Gomorrah' off of "Diabolosis," to me that's a good song to listen to, but live it's like 8 minutes long. Live you don't really want to break down that momentum. We had a lot of songs that were REAL long. When you only get a 40 minute set opening for somebody you can only play like 5 songs or something. That's what I mean by that. It wasn't that we couldn't handle playing the actual parts, it was more like the energy and the feel. 5 minutes for a song now, for us, is like a longer song.

  • The CD is seemingly divided into two parts, and I'm curious about what the Chronovisor is all about. I really dig the song 'Vatican Time Machine.'

    That's basically a time machine that was actually built in the 50's called the Chronovisor. It wasn't something that you could go into and actually travel back in time, but it was some wierd thing with this scientist-priest, who invented this device that was almost like a T.V. monitor where you could tune in ferquencies from past years and kind of view them. He viewed all these things from the bible that didn't really happen quite the way that they are portrayed now.

  • Wow, so this is based on a true story!? I haven't ever heard about any of this.

    The Vatican, it's such a wierd thing, because this guy was actually working for them; he was a priest and a world authority on occult arts and sciences, and he was also an exorcist. And those are things that the church really frowns upon. You know, the occult stuff, and anything that actually has any kind of logic to it (laughter breaks out on both sides - how true this point actually is - Ed). This guy was on the inside and he really expanded his mind. This album has a feel to it, a certain feel like you know, back in the day when everything was on record and tape, you had a side one and side two, and obviously side one has an opening track and a closing track. Side two had the same thing, you opened side two with an actual opener. And it seems like a lot of CD's that are coming out are like 10 to 12 songs and kind of stagnant, they lose their feel to them. We felt this album had the dynamics where the ending song on side one was 'Gollum' and side two starts off with 'The Descent.' So instead of labeling it side one and side two we have two chapters. For us it's like the two aspects of the band, the total diehard metal aspects of the band, and the references from the past that we thought were cool.

  • You did that with "Skeletal Seasons" too where you talked about the werewolved and man-beasts and stuff. That was some cool stuff!

    I'm glad you appreciate it, you know that album seemingly gets overlooked by a lot of people.

  • The thing that amazes me so much about the records, I mean everyone says it's the whole Tom G. Warrior/Celtic Frost thing, but not really, and of course there's the Ooorah's and Heeey's, but the thing that really blew me away was he's doing all these rough vocals and then out of nowhere comes these high pitched, almost power metal screams!

    It's cool to hear you say that, because that's how we feel as well. We don't feel like the Frost influences are a direct ripoff, I mean guys like them and Black Sabbath, they wrote the book on Heavy Metal. For us to deny that as an influence is just stupid. A lot of critics hated "Skeletal Seasons," I know the label didn't like it...

  • Necropolis didn't like it!?!??!

    Oh no, they couldn't stand it, they gave us a lot of shit for that because they had a big budget...

  • Well, to be honest, there are a couple of songs I didn't care much for but the album overall is pretty damn good.

    We actually gained a lot of fans with that album, and to this day people love those songs. That's why with "Twilight Dominion" we feel that we captured some of those dark elements, some of those werewolf stories...

  • Yeah, I like those! (laughs)

    You know, things like that. But also we wanted to have that upfront feel like "Necronemesis" had. That impact.

  • Now, that's one thing we may have to disagree on, because I wasn't really impressed with "Necronemesis" as a whole. I hate to say that but I have to be honest with you.

    It's okay, I mean we put everything we have into everything we do. We know that each album that we put out has it's own feeling. There's people that didn't like "Skeletal Seasons" that love "Necronemesis."

  • (laughing) - You can't even figure it out can you?

    Right, exactly, so we don't even try.

  • I have to say that "Twilight Dominion" has to be, hands down, THE best Usurper album ever made.

    And I appreciate that, definitely, and that's how the whole band feels.

  • Now I don't know how much this has been mentioned in the press, but I remember reading at one time you were considered Chicago's most hated band? (MUCH laughter here). I'm wondering how in the hell that came about?

    It was kind of like a gimmick. It wasn't something that we did, we just got labeled with that. This label from Chicago, R.I.P. Records, they put out "Diabolosis" on vinyl. They did that and they also helped us with a lot of press and promotion back in the early days when we were on Head Not Found and even before that. They were kind of like our management but they weren't real big time. What happened was, back in 1995 or 1996 Chicago was sort of closing down all the rock clubs, and the few places that had them, local promoters were actually making bands BUY tickets off them. We had promoters offering us to play shows, and we just said fuck you to all of them. At the same time there were a lot of bands that were coming out, basically your typical death/grind bands, ones that didn't have much substance that were just buying into this. These promoters to put up posters and flyers and stuff, saying "oh yeah, Chicago's most loved band," and we just thought it was kinda funny, all these people bragging about how great they were, meanwhile they're buying all these tickets. So we figured we'd just be, instead, Chicago's most hated band. Because we weren't kissing anyone's ass or taking any crap from anyone. The press then just kinda picked up the ball and ran with it. Of course, it doesn't even mean anything now.

  • It's really a shame, with as many albums as you have out, that it's taken such a long time for you to get tours down.

    No question about it. We've been to Europe a couple of times, and those were pretty good tours. We just got back from Los Angeles, played a big festival out there, but we haven't really been on a full, like 5 week U.S. tour, we just do sections. We did a west coast tour at one point, did some east coast dates and some Canadian dates, but it's never really been this cohesive tour. It's just what we get offered, because Usurper's still just an underground band where if we try and go out to headline, the impact level is not going to be as high. We have to team up with somebody who's a bit bigger.

  • Well, I do remember you did a tour with Manowar.

    Yeah, that was a good tour. Havoc Hate opened up the tour. The bands all got along, which is always important; With Manowar, they're such an established act that you don't know what you're getting yourself into. They might not give you a soundcheck, you might not get enough stage space: what can you do? But they were REALLY cool about that; they made sure we got a soundcheck, had enough lights, and were always kinda there for us for whatever we needed. They treated us well, paid us well for it, and we have no complaints.

    WHILE HEAVEN WEPT. Interview via email with Tom Phillips.

    Absolutely amazing. As many of you have seen, when we cover bands of the doom metal genre, few and far between they may be but fantastic they usually are. And this is one that came out of nowhere and hit me on the head! An excellent rendition of a Candlemass tune included, their latest CD "Of Empires Forlorn" was one of the highlights of this issue and we HAD to have them in here.

  • I must admit I had not heard of you guys until one of the members of Arghoslent thought I had covered you in my publication. Are the guys in Arghoslent in your area, and how do you all know each other? I must admit I love their latest CD "Incorrigible Bigotry!"

    I've known Agrhoslent for more than a decade now. Not only do we come from the same Virginian extreme metal scene (which was very much inter-supportive at one time before being divided in the mid 90's by a lot of backstabbing, shit talking and jealousies), I've also been in a couple of other bands with some past and present Arghoslent members such as Grand Belial's Key and Twisted Tower Dire, plus a couple of us were involved with the Sinistrari Records label (who released our first MCD "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken" in 1994). We still live in the same general vicinity and remain in semi-regular contact, although both bands tend to do their own thing these days, having little interaction with the other D.C. area groups. Musically, Arghoslent is one of my favorite bands still to this day; I think they are one of the best Death Metal bands of all time, primarily because of Halac's unique riffing and the overall distinctive songwriting. I agree that "Incorrigible Bigotry" has some amazing moments, but "Galloping Through The Battle Ruins" is just as killer in my opinion. Arghoslent is the epitome of battle metal: epic, brutal and glorious, and probably the only band locally that exerts an influence on me.

  • Now, you mentioned something about not subscribing to Arghoslent's politics or philosophies, maybe you could elaborate on that? Even I'm not quite sure what they are!

    They've received quite a bit of criticism for their extreme political and philosophies - I appreciate the strength of their convictions, but ultimately, I really don't care about anything besides the music personally. People are entitled to embrace whatever political, social, and religious views they believe in, but like I said, I don't subscribe to ANY school of thought in those respects; though I may occasionally exert an opinion on specific subjects, generally it is irrelevant to me. I do appreciate and agree with their musical philosophies however: maintaining integrity and the underground aesthetic as well as true expression without compromise.

  • This album seems to be the result of several older songs and I suppose some newer tracks. How different are songs like 'Sorrow Of The Angels' and 'The Drowning Years' from their earlier counterparts?

    What's interesting about your question is the fact that 'Sorrow Of The Angels' is actually an older song that first appeared on the aforementioned (and out of print) "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken" MCD in 1994, so that should give you some indication of where we come from. The songwriting process has been the same for years: the basic structures develop strictly through revelation usually via an emotional catalyst, they are never contrived or forced into being. Once I feel the skeleton of a song is complete, only then do I take the composition to the table to flesh out the arrangements. Musically, the primary influences remain intact (Candlemass, early Fates Warning, viking era Bathory, Kitaro/Klaus Schulze, classical music, etc.) and for simplicity's sake it could be said that While Heaven Wept has always been an Epic Doom Metal band; although personally we feel we are more diverse than that, I proudly hold high that banner. There is no question that we have diversified within our own parameters (which have expanded slightly over the years) considering the vast differences between songs like 'Voice In The Wind' and 'Of Empires Forlorn' for example, but ultimately this album is essentially an evolution, not a departure. Probably the main quality that distinguishes some of the newer compositions from earlier works for many people is this "aural paradox" that some of the songs exert, where feelings of deep tragedy and glorious triumph are evoked simultaneously, whereas everything else in the back catalog is completely bleak, depressive and hopeless.

  • And of course I would like to know how you feel about some of your older releases.

    My opinion of our earlier releases is that everything from the first decade was strictly developmental when compared to the "Of Empires Forlorn" album, where we have truly come into our own, having developed a distinct, signature sound; not so much in musical style, but the quality of the production and the density of the arrangements.

  • So what of the songs that didn't make the latest album "Of Empires Forlorn?" Will they be resurrected later on in some fashion?

    Originally, "Of Empires Forlorn" was going to be a MCD released on the Miskatonic Foundation before we opted to release it through Eibon Records, who also released our 1998 album "Sorrow Of The Angels." Rich Walker (TMF label head/Solstice mastermind) kept insisting we include more and more new songs, which we tried to oblige him with, but I also always intended to include some older compositions that had evolved as well (and initially appeared on long out of print releases) which led to an impasse. I've always maintained a very clear vision of what I want to do with While Heaven Wept, and my personal satisfaction overrules any other opinions or logic. So I discussed the situation with Mauro of Eibon, who has always supported my ambitions regardless of how irrational they may be (laughing), and he subsequently agreed to release "Of Empires Forlorn" (which had by then evolved into a full length release) exactly the way I had envisioned it. When it comes to While Heaven Wept, I know exactly how I want every release to be arranged long before it is realized. A Anyway, aside from a few surplus tracks recorded during the sessions for "Of Empires Forlorn," there really weren't any songs leftover that "belong" to this particular era; these bonus tracks are being released on different pressings of the album (which is being licensed to various labels for different regions) as well as on forthcoming vinyl singles. We actually had most of the next album "Vast Oceans Lachrymose" written by the time we began recordings "Of Empires..." but I knew none of those songs were meant for the current release. Of course, there are plenty of songs "in the archives" considering our 14 year existence, but whether or not any of those will ever be recorded or released is another story altogether.

  • I'm curious how the deal with Eibon came about, and is it difficult being a U.S. based band dealing with a somewhat small, Italian record label?

    I've been in touch with Mauro since his old band Ras Algethi released their first demo (which in fact came out about the same time as ours), and over the years we developed a very strong bond and lasting friendship. So when he decided to start Eibon Records with the release of Canaan's "Blue Fire" (his band that had evolved from Ras Algethi), While Heaven Wept signed on immediately without hesitation. It was an obvious choice considering the premise of the label, the fact there was so much trust and empathy between us, and because we adore each other's music. Eibon is really an "Anti-label" in that the focus is strictly on art and expression, not profit; Mauro only releases music he believes in and likes, with no concern for financial gain. In the beginning Eibon never advertised or pressed promos, as all the music was very dear to heart and not meant for every shit wearing a Cradle Of Filth shrit, so the whole approach was very much anti industry. Although recently Eibon has begun pressing promos, the values are still the same, and I appreciate the fact that Mauro continues to defy this industry that is impregnated with greedy, jaded and apathetic corporations. Around the time of "Sorrow Of The Angels," some of the band members cajoled me into pressing for more promotion and such, which went against my instincts, and I regret that brief period, but otherwise I've always been 100% satisfied with Eibon. After all, who could complain about having your heartfelt creations being realized as a true work of art (Eibon is known for its extraordinary graphics as well as extravagant digipacks and other unique packagings)?

  • I must admit I was very impressed with the Candlemass cover 'Epistle No. 81,' though it seems to be (to me) a bit shorter than the original! What made you decide on this more obscure track than, say, something off of "Nightfall" or even "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus?"

    I've never been one to opt for the obvious path, and covering 'Solitude' or 'Samarithan' would have been just that. That aside, I'd wanted to do an arrangement of 'Epistle No. 81' for the last 6-7 years because I felt that it is a very beautiful and moving composition. Of course it should be noted that it's not actually a Candlemass song to begin with, it's a traditional Swedish hymn composed by Carl Michael Bellman. Our arrangement was done with the utmost respect and reverence for the Swedish people, so hopefully we did 'Epistle No. 81' justice. The reason it seems faster than the Candlemass version is because unlike them, we did not use a click track when we recorded it so the momentum shifts throughout the song, as if we're rushing to the grave (laughing)! I personally think it feels more natural this way, but I don't know what Leif Edling thinks of it; however I am curious since he hates their version of it, which is admittedly more rigid in comparison. Either way, I certainly have even more respect for Messiah, as it was extremely challenging for me to sing.

  • By the way, the way you did vocals on that song, if Messiah hadn't rejoined Candlemass, I dare say you would have been a killer replacement! Had you ever considered this?

    Well thanks man! I don't really consider myself to be in the same league as Messiah personally (or Geoff Tate, John Arch and Steve Perry for that matter), but I do know all of the songs from the "classic era" intimately. I don't think I would be very comfortable stepping into those shoes however, as I prefer to sing my own lyrics to my own songs. And even then, only because I lived through what I sing about, thus able to convey things better than just about anyone else. I really only started singing for While Heaven Wept by default since we could never find the appropriate vocalist locally; I am a guitarist first and foremost (been playing for about 20 years), but even there I think our other guitarist first into that role more proficiently. I really consider myself more of a songwriter/arranger these days than anything else. Anyway, taking the vocalist position in Solstice was about as far as I'd go in terms of singing someone else's lyrics, as they never had a particularly distinctive or "signature" singer and all of the vocalists have had similar ranges to mine. I don't think I could ever join Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus as they just would not be the same without Messiah, Johan or Rob respectively, but I would not mind a guest spot!

  • So what did you think of the Candlemass stuff that was released after Messiah left?

    The Candlemass that existed after Messiah left was a completely different band really; the neo-classicism and gothic imagery was replaced by more of a bluesy, Sabbathy vibe not that far removed from Leif's other projects like Abstrakt Algebra, Krux, or even some early Nemesis. While I really do like those albums, generally I don't perceive them as Candlemass proper, so I was elated when the classic lineup reunited, and even had the honor of hanging out with them and seeing them live again at the Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles Six Pack weekend in Cleevland this year. Fucking killer show indeed (especially when you factor in the reunited Trouble, who performed a nearly show stealing set just before them). As a footnote, I actually prefer the session vocalist on "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" Johan Lanquist to even Messiah, as I think his performance was very soulful and bereft of the operatic histrionics that sometimes overshadowed some of the Candlemass songs.

  • It was absolutely amazing to me to hear that you had once played with the mighty U.K. band Solstice. I still listen to their "New Dark Age" album quite frequently, and even interviewed them once. Sad to hear they broke up, but how did you get involved with them?

    Well, first of all I'd like to inform you and your readers that Solstice is back together again, and we'll be releasing a new EP called "To Sol A Thane" sometime in 2004 I imagine. That's right, I've rejoined the band and we'll be returning to the pure epic doon metal of the "Lamentations" era. The new lineup is a veritable supergroup consisting of members of While Heaven Wept, Twisted Tower Dire, and The Lord Wierd Slough Feg along with main man Rich Walker. (Fucking-A! Can't wait! - Ed.) Anyway, to answer your question, I first became acquainted with Solstice through our mutual friend John Perez (Solitude Aeternus/Brainticket Records); he sent me a dub of the "Lamentations" album in 1995 because I kept getting told how much WHW and Solstice sounded alike, which I did not believe because I'd only heard the Dutch and Floridian bands with that name, neither of which sounded anything like us. Needless to say, I was blown away by the similarities and the amazing songs on that album, and then I contacted Rich immediately, who also realized recently our parallels. I happened to be heading over to the U.K. with my college's choir to perform there, and subsequently ditched them to travel up to West Yorkshire, meeting up with Rich and the rest of the band. We got on very well immediately, and I jokingly said, "hey if you ever need a singer, just let me know" after Rich expressed concerns about Simon Matravers' performances.

  • Did you write any material with Solstice or do any tours with them?

    Well, just days afterwards in London where the band was playing, Rich told me Somon had quit and offered me the job. I accepted immediately, as I loved the album and recently recorded "Halcyon" EP. I returned to the States for a couple of months to get my affairs in order, then returned to the U.K. in early 1996, whereupon I moved into the Solstice stronghold. We ended up drinking more beer than rehearsing or writing, but we were already blueprinting material for "New Dark Age." We did a handful of shows that were lackluster at best, partially because I wasn't really comfortable at the time being that it was my first time that far away from home, and my my general inexperience as a frontman proper. Plus we were undergoing lineup changes as well. This was all further complicated by financial problems, record labels going under, and the fact that the new WHW album "Sorrow Of The Angels" was still pending. Once I returned to the States in midsummer 1996, WHW began recording "Sorrow Of The Angels" and it just seemed less and less likely that I'd be able to regroup with Solstice any time in the near future (especially considering my transatlantic flights would be paid for with their recording budgets, which I definitely did not want to do), so they carried on with Moz and I finished off the WHW album. Fast forward to 2002, after Solstice called it a day, and Rich decided he had more to say, and wanted to regroup with musicians he knew he could rely on, that believed in the music as much as he did, so I was once again asked to join and that's what I did.

  • The blackened vocals near the end of 'Of Empires Forlorn' really surprised me; it was such a crushing thing to add! Did you do those vocals yourself, and why not do more black metal vocals on tracks in the future?

    Yes, I did the black metal vocals too, only because that particular passage really called for them, being the riff was something you'd hear on an old Slayer album or maybe even the first Deicide. When I first started doing the vocals in 1991 after our original singer Brendan Galvan left, it was somewhere between Paradise Lost and Emperor, with the extremely low, guttural approach intermingled with the caustic Black Metal screams because I had not developed my clean vocals at all during that time. That was only a brief experiment, as we went right back to clean vocals when Kenny Thomas joined on guitar and vocals later that year. Although I had always been a fan of thrash, death and black metal, I decided relatively swiftly that those vocal styles totally obscured the emotion in the vocals and lyrics, which are important facets in While Heaven Wept, so we went back to the Queensryche/Fates Warning clean approach. It's entirely possible that we'll incorporate more aggressive vocals if the music calls for it, but generally the same realization I had some 12 years ago still rings true: when it comes to music of sadness and despair, you'd be hard pressed to get the right emotion from the music if you are screaming and grunting. However, for something more violent or aggressive, I'm definitely not averse to screaming bloody gore!

  • Speaking of black metal vocals in doomier styles of music, are you familiar at all with Forest Stream? They are an incredible band on Earache Records, but they aren't strictly doom metal. They DO use a lot of atmospheric keyboards and stuff though.

    Aside from the Lunaris album I haven't bought an Earache release since Morbid Angel's "Blessed Are The Sick." I've heard of Forest Stream, but I don't actually own any of their music. What is funny about you mentioning them is for as much as the true doom bands differentiate themselves from doom/death, they in turn differentiate themselves from bands like Forest Stream! As a listener, I don't care about what categories a band falls in; if it's good music and makes me feel something, then I'll listen to it, which is what I suggest to everyone. The whole issue of categorization is more of a personal thing for the musicians and militants directly involved than anything else - it affects marketing and promotional strategies as well as solidarity, but when all is said and done, good music is good music. The only reason I even bother to discuss these issues at all is because my friends and I have been directly affected by the ludicrous amount of misinformation spread through the media and Internet. I'd certainly be interested in checking out Forest Stream nonetheless, but I have to be honest with you, after 7 years working for Tower Records, and 15+ in the underground metal scene, I have become a bit jaded, and it takes a particularly innovative sound or a group with obviously strong convictions to hold my attention for more than 30 seconds.


    So much for the 13th being a good number for me... Maybe I should change the release date yet again... Regardless of that fact, thanks to everyone who gave me support during this trying of times. You'll no doubt notice that there aren't as many CD reviews this time around, well, the job situation isn't 100% conducive to doing reviews, but I still get to play the 'tunes while at work, so it's not as bad as it could have been. Gonna work immediately on the next issue and try and make it a better one!

    While we're on the subject, (what subject?) I just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas about getting shows booked in the Southeast U.S. I am apalled at the lack of good shows here in Atlanta, seems like all the high profile shows never make it this far south. Unless it's death metal. :< Let's see, Usurper has never played here, neither has Cradle Of Filth, well, at least until Ozzfest rolls around. Ozzfest IS coming here, but I'm not really interested in paying money to see Ozzy and Voivod. (Not a Cradle of Filth fan). And besides that, after the dismal failure that was Voivod's brand new release, I'm afraid they might not be playing much live I'd like to hear. I actually thought about trying to get the booking job at the Masquerade here in Atlanta when the position was available... Maybe it's still up for grabs, I dunno... I could promise that better shows would be coming to Georgia.

    Before I forget, in case any of you haven't noticed... With the Forest Stream CD we reviewed this issue, we went ahead and added an extra minute of length to the digitzed sound files, since this was the highlight of the issue (easily). We have thought about 4 minute files instead of 3 minutes, but with all the space the classic albums section is taking up, I need to conserve space when and where I can. I am looking at new homes for the web site, one of the conditions however is the amount of storage space we have. Currently I have 4 gigs, which, once the classic albums section hits about 600 or 700 albums, it will be time to find a new home. So I'm currently looking, and hoping that good web providers will drop their prices over time. I still have at least a year or two before this becomes a serious problem...

    Finally, the band I'm (ahem) managing, Ground:Xero, has a new CD getting ready to be released. With this new set of songs, I am almost assuredly going to have this band signed to SOME damn record label! Given that good press all the way around has been given (even some nods of praise from Andreas at The End Records, plus a VERY nice demo review in Metal Maniacs), I see no reason why the next Ground:Xero effort shouldn't be either on The End or a few other labels which I am not at liberty to name yet... And while we're talking about The End, I have to give mention of great praise for Andreas going outside the roster of his own label to bring promotion for labels all over the globe. He's worked records from Osmose, Black Lotus, AFM, Moonfog, and quite a few others. Some stuff I would have never gotten to hear had it not been for Andreas. Thanks as always goes out to all the labels, especially the overseas labels, that have continually supported me. Labels like Adipocere, ISO666, Folter, Spinefarm/Spikefarm, Eibon, and too many others to name.

    Well, that's about it for this issue. Special hello goes out to Beverly Jones, don't know if you'll be reading this but definitely appreciate all the love and support. It's about the only thing keeping me sane these days. That, and my son William... Everyone else, keep checking out the newest stuff the music scene has to offer, and remember, if it ain't on MTV or popular radio, then it HAS to be good!

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