And we keep rollin' right along! The world's oldest and longest running internet based music magazine on the planet, back for yet another issue! Gonna keep things short and sweet this time, address to send stuff is as follows:

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


AVENGER "Godless" (Deathgasm) SCORE: 82/10

"Support your scene," I'm always telling people. And while I'm taking an interest in a few local bands, I've done a great disservice to a man who has taken it upon himself to sign bands, release CD's and even book some shows. Evin from Deathgasm records, right here in Atlanta, has already released a CD by Czech Republic black/death metal chaoslords Avenger, and we missed deadline on it. THIS newest CD is pretty brutal. Instrumentation tends to cross the line between death and black metal, and not always successfully, especially when slower instrumentation is at play. But what's REALLY amazing is when the amazingly melodic and emotional guitar work rears it's head, though unfortunately it isn't utilized very often. Opener instrumental 'Enter My Darkness' and closing instrumental 'In The Death's Embrace' are just jaw dropping. I really would have liked to hear such slow and emotional guitar work throughout the CD, but I'll settle for the speed and crushing heaviness that opener 'Even To The Bones Marrow' puts out. Easily the best track on the CD, the guitar work almost reminds one of At The Gates, though more black metal oriented. And the vocal work is truly sick! And some of the more melodic guitar work is presented in a few spots. 'Before Storm' and 'Forever Against' didn't work too well for me, as you'll hear an almost doom metal like atmosphere and 'Before Storm' sounds too much like it's trying to be Obituary styled death metal. Of course, these two tracks aren't devoid of speed, but the overall guitar work leaves a lot for me to desire. 'The Return Of The Apocalypse' does return to the crushing speed, complete with choppy riffs and tight song structures that prove this band has perfected playing together as a unit (either that or they spent LOTS of time in the studio!) The lyrics and song titles are all in Czech language, but they were nice enough to give complete English translations. MY personal preference would be for them to lose the more death metal approach and keep the faster instrumentation and catchy guitar work that they are capable of. A good record all the way around, and quite brutal!
Contact: Deathgasm Records, P.O. Box 681415 Marietta, GA 30068 USA
Web site:

BURNING POINT "Feeding The Flames" (Limb) SCORE: 99/100

Unbelievable! Two albums in a row of sheer quality, high class power metal with an emphasis on POWER. Rippin' tunes, great vocal work that rarely ever dips into the high range, and great, classy tunes. Even those who don't regularly listen to metal will be impressed by the high quality of the songs. 'Into The Fire' starts the disc off, and it's a fast, ripping tune! 'I Am The Silent One' is a great example of the variety this band possesses, especially with the heartrending slow, high ended and melodic guitar work, not to mention the choruses, man, the choruses!! 'Quicker Than The Eye' sounds like it could have been on the first album, and here you probably notice for the first time the synth work opening this track up. Synthesizers are used here, but they aren't in the forefront very often; however they do back up the guitar work quite nicely and are more like a second guitar than a separate instrument. 'Malmikivi' was quite amazing for an instrumental, those lead solo guitar riffs are flying off the neck like lightning it seems! They even have the balls to drop some acoustic guitar work as well, on 'All The Madness,' which is almost a ballad like track but when the choruses come in, it will remind you of the most majestic of power metal bands. 'Feeding The Flames,' the title track, closes out this 12 song extravaganza in thunderous fashion, and though there's fast instrumentation and soaring vocal work, they can drop the tempo down a notch. My only (small) complaint is with the Alcatrazz cover 'Night Games.' They made it sound a bit like their own, but more knowledgeable music fans can tell this isn't quite a track that was written by them, though they do a rather nice job of making you think it's theirs. Probably the weakest cut on here, and that's saying quite a bit when I consider this one of the strongest and best pure pure metal albums to come out this year.
Contact: Limb Music.

DARKFLIGHT "Under The Shadow Of Fear" (Rage Of Achilles) SCORE: 94/100

I really dig this band. Apparently a one man project from Bulgaria, this is some VERY well crafted, um, dare I say black metal??? Well, the vocal work of Ivo is absolutely sick!! And you all know how I love my black metal, utterly sick and devoid of that "human" sound... Hee hee... Anyway, yes, the blackened vocals are quite harsh but it's the music that grabs you! Virtually absent are the guitars on this release, well, at first anyway. I've listened to this about 9 or 10 times and the guitars are THERE, but some of the heavier guitars are so processed they almost don't sound real. Ivo also utilizes some acoustic guitars, but the synths are the main instrument here. And what sounds like a drum machine, as it reminds me of the electronic drums Ground:Xero uses. All that aside, the songs do have a melancholic, epic and melodic feel to them, and the tempo of the tracks is usually quite slow, though not doom metal oriented. 'Moonlight Battle,' 'Black Spirit,' 'Under The Shadow Of Fear...' Quite fantasy oriented lyrics do abound. The lone ballad here 'To Die In Your Arms...' well, I usually shun the ballad, but this has such emotional instrumentation on it, it's absolutely amazing! It will take your soul to depths you never knew existed! Oh, and did I mention there's a female vocalist? She turns up on many tracks, but is never overused, and sounds wonderful. 'A Call For The Dragons' had some nice medieval styled trumpets to go along with the majestic and slower synths. 'Occult Rituals' had a rather dark atmosphere, and some haunting synths as well. I do have to say I thought some of the instrumentation on the ending track 'Alone Somewhere Beyond' could have been constructed a little better, but if you're a black metal purist you're going to avoid this anyway. It's amazing just how brutal and sick the vocals can be while adding mood, atmosphere, and melancholic yet serene atmosphere, and the instrumentation on this record paints the biggest and most amazing pictures you'll hear in music. A must have.
Contact: Rage Of Achilles Records, P.O. Box 20508, London NW8 8WT, ENGLAND
Web site:

ENSLAVED "Below The Lights" (The End) SCORE: 85/10

When I last heard from Enslaved, I must say I was NOT at all happy with "Monumension." This record is a drastic improvement and much more enjoyable, I must say. The black metal vocals are more in force here than they were last time around (where only like 3 songs had blackened vocals). I still say I'm not too happy with the strange chanting vocals on 'Havenless,' though, even if there is still a mixture of blackened vocals to be found within. The CD starts off with 'As Fire Swept Clean The Earth' showcasing just what is to be found within. Somewhat mellow and melodic synths opening up, to suddenly blast into a slower sort of heaviness. The structure changes, especially from lighter instrumentation to sudden sickness and heaviness can be a little unsettling, especially if you're enjoying the melodic structures like on 'The Crossing,' which really seems like two songs, and of course the beginning of 'As Fire...' Interesting to note that nothing here is really taboo for Enslaved now, especially when you hear acoustic guitars opening up 'The Crossing,' and of course the more melodic Pink Floyd styled instrumentation that spans a great length of minutes on the tune 'The Dead Stare.' But hey, 'The Dead Stare' reminds me MOST of tripy, Hammond organ and spacey guitar riffs that Hawkwind would be proud of! So you're getting music that seemingly spans the cosmos! Flute styled sounds on 'Queen Of Night,' only to drop into some Pink Floyd'ian styled sung vocals. The last three tracks had a few distractions here and there, especially the slightly twangy guitars near the end of 'A Darker Place,' and of course there's that sudden tempo change again on 'Ridicule Swarm,' though the eerie synth riffs sound a tad odd, especially since they continue for quite awhile before what seems to be some of their fastest instrumentation on record comes in. The vocal work is just sick, just the way I like it, and this time around they have a MUCH better handle on the more psychedelic and space rock oriented material. A very diverse piece of work, even if the formula doesn't work 100 percent of the time.
Contact: The End Records.

FIREWIND "Burning Earth" (Leviathan) SCORE: 78/100

When I first heard "Between Heaven And Hell," the first Firewind album (why oh WHY isn't this on Century Media) that features guitar virtuoso and Dream Evil member Gus G., I was amazed not only at a man who could give guitarist Joe Stump a run for his money, but also their lead singer who was so rough edged but surprisingly with a higher range that was clear as a bell. This album at first disappointed me to severe extremes. I was not looking at the song structures themselves, but the overwhelming lack of heaviness that just crushed many songs from their first album. Repeated spins proved to me that something MORE was at work, and that was namely the songs had developed some intense melodies and really emphasized more of Stephen Frederik's amazing vocal range. It really wasn't until I heard such crystal clear singing on tracks like 'Immortal Lives Young' and 'The Longest Day' that I realized fully this man's true potential. But back to the songs, the heaviness is still there, it's just not overwhelming like on their first full length. 'Steal Them Blind' starts the disc off and showcases the fact that the choruses are continuing to be a "catch phrase" if you will, and of course the lead guitar work shines all the way to the bank, but it's ironic that the heaviest track on the album is the lone instrumental 'Burning Earth,' and those lead solos are some of the fastest I think I've ever heard!! 'I Am The Anger' is a vicious tune, complete with the heavy handed vocal work that makes this track crush. 'Waiting Still' was another crushing tune, well, to start out with anyway. The guitar work starts off fast and furious but what REALLY pisses me off is how they tease you with the heavy parts only to drop into some rather mediocre melodies. In fact, the last 4 tracks of the album I really have a problem with, though don't get me wrong: these tracks aren't so godawful but they are a bit of a letdown. 'You Have Survived' probably bothers me the worst, especially with the rather odd lyrics (what is it "to bang your angry drum??") and the REALLY odd guitar solos that come off as just strange. 'Burning Earth' has great vocal work all the way around, and to be honest I think more people might be able to get into this if they haven't heard the first album. It definitely takes repeated spins to see but overall, I feel their first album was better. And this is said to be their "mature" record. I can still listen to it without cringing, but the power and fury of this band has already been documented well on their first album.
Contact: Leviathan Records, P.O. Box 745, Tyrone, GA 30290
Web site:

FUNERAL AGE "Fistful Of Christ" (Thousand Funerals) SCORE: 79/100

This is a pretty interesting seven song affair that comes out of the Grunge capitol of the world, Seattle. Yeah, I know, it's funny saying that but the one thing that's deadly serious is the instrumental abilities of this band. Which they would HAVE to be, since the songs here resemble instrumental pieces more than actual songs. There are quite a few vocal styles to be found on this EP, one is a harder edged, almost hardcore delivery that really fits the thrashier music well. There's also an almost black metal like scream that mainly pops up in the choruses, many of which are multivocal. 'Bloodshed Begin' is a short instrumental piece, showcasing some VERY tight musicianship, but the points REALLY come off due to a 7 song affair that has TWO instrumentals. As good as the instrumentation is here, what you often find for say a 7 or 8 minute song is maybe a minute or two of vocals and little else. It is a good, a damn good, effort but left me wanting SO much more. Listen to the awesome guitar riffing on 'Upon The Grave Of Angel's Wing' and it's pretty damn obvious they not only have their roots in 80's thrash, but a little black metal, hardcore and more. 'Requiem Of The Condemned' was a nice instrumental, complete with an opening bass solo! Nice to hear an art form that seemingly died with Cliff Burton and Primus! 'The Funeral Ages' closes this CD out very nicely, complete with (surprise!) female chanted vocals near the end of the track. 'Promised Land Of Lies' didn't sit well with me at the beginning, mainly in how the vocal lines and the main instrumentation were delivered, but soon much can be forgiven. I must say this was indeed enjoyable, even commendable, but there should have been lots more vocal work. It's extremely clear to see that were this a live unit, the singer would almost HAVE to be doing something other than singing. (Which he does, as Kevin Bedra is also the main and seemingly only guitarist). Commendable effort that left me wanting more, though the skills and musicianship are very well defined.
Contact: Funeral Age, 3847 24th Ave. W. Seattle, WA 98199 USA
Web site:

GORGOROTH "Twilight Of The Idols" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 90/100

Thanks to my main man Chris Miller for help getting this, since Century Media slash Nuclear Blast aren't helping me with their stuff anymore. Okay, I will stop the rant now, but needless to say this is quite a vicious release! It's definitely better constructed than "Incipit Satan," which I still enjoy, but this CD raises the bar on aggression and sickness! Sickness being those vocals of Gaahl's! And unlike his side project Trelldom, there's nothing here annoying or hard to take when he belts out those screams. He has a few other voices too, like on 'Exit-Through Carved Stones,' when he uses ultra low toned "chanted" type vocals, as if he's conjuring up the darkest of Cthulu mythos! 'Procreating Satan' starts the CD off in ripping fashion, and the tracks on this CD have a wide variety of tempos and styles. For all the speed of the opener, a track like 'Teeth Grinding' shows that Gorgoroth can keep it sick even on a slower track like this, especially when those lower toned spoken vox are invoked. I did have to question that almost silly ending track 'Domine In Virtute Tua Laetabitur Rex,' which was nothing more than a short organ styled piece that sounded more like it should be in a haunted carnival, and of course there was too much of an industrial noisescape ending the song 'Of Ice And Movement,' but they definitely keep it black. 'Blod Og Minne' is sung in their native tongue, and had really cool, militaristic beats not unlike what Mayhem did with "Grand Declaration Of War," and they also managed to use some evil robotic vocal effects. There are a few other odd guitar parts here and there, mostly the first few minutes of 'Of Ice...' but things overall work well together and the black metal purist definitely doesn't have much to complain about... Unless they think black metal is all about speed, speed, speed...
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

GREENLEAF "Secret Alphabet" (Small Stone) SCORE: 83/100

When I first listened to this, especially when I noted that it features a roll call of the stoner rock scene (members of Dozer and Demon Cleaner), I was VERY puzzled. This has elements of stoner rock in it, but if anyone remembers what Dozer SOUNDS like, it was one kick ass piece of plastic. Sure, on Greenleaf's debut to the world, there are straight up rockin' tracks like opener (besides the 1st "song" which is nothing more than a useless intro) '10,000 Years Of Revolution' and 'Black Black Magic' which prove that, if nothing else, these transplants of the stoner scene remember what goes into a good record and keeps it spinnin'. That being said, the guitar work majorly reminds me a bit less of what most stoner acts are doing, and this is NOT "Madre De Dios Part 2." For starters, 'Witchcraft Tonight' proves that stoner rock (maybe in THIS case just heavy rock?) can have a groove and be fun at the same time. Dig them cowbells, man! Tracks that really threw me though was 'Never Right' and 'The Combination,' probably because both sound MORE like rock than anything else on this CD. Okay, I'll elaborate. Simplistic instrumentation abounds on 'Never Right,' and TELL me that the vocal work doesn't sound like KISS! And I mean, EARLY KISS. (Yes, the Gene Simmons/Paul Stanley band). Lyrics and the whole atmosphere, it's like KISS is writing funky, let's sing about chicks again. 'The Combination' however, had the distorted/spacey vocal effects that just didn't work on this track. The melodic and warpy gits (think Orange Goblin's earliest work) screamed out to me for a more melodic vocal approach, which sadly it doesn't get. The almost Southern fried rock guitars (a trend I REALLY hate in stoner rock, see Dixie Witch, Five Horse Johnson and other country twinged bands on Small Stone) were quite difficult to take with 'No Time Like Right Now,' and what surprises me is how catchy the vocals and the choruses are. Like I said, I sometimes don't know how I think about some tracks. I DO know there's enough to hang your interest, ESPECIALLY when you hear a slow, almost doomy track like 'One More Year' (where the echoed and distorted vocals actually DO work) where they pull guitar riffs STRAIGHT out of Led Zeppelin's classic tune 'Dazed And Confused.' Still a keeper, especially since the "Let's keep kickin' ass" formula isn't thrown out the window, but don't expect all hard, heavy and fast. Spin it more than a few times and you'll see.
Contact: Small Stone Records.

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE "The August Engine" (Cruz Del Sur) SCORE: 94/100

Jim Raggi's Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Magazine had such high regards for this band, and I for one can EASILY see why! I don't know how he has taken to this latest album, but I do agree with one statement: This band is extremely hard to categorize, which probably tickles the band to death. 'The August Engine Part 1' starts the CD off with killer thrashy and heavy guitar work, and this is an instrumental. Nice use of start-stop riffs at the end to throw everyone off the track and not know when this song ends. And the band does keep you guessing all the way. 'Rainfall' utilizes some NICE acoustic guitars and piano notations, and the dual female vocals are quite soothing, fitting the name of the song quite well. Then 'A Room And A Riddle' showcases the very well done clean sung male vocals, which almost give the lyrics and moods a slight renaissance feel (think medieval). The instrumentation here really shines, and it stays varied whether it's a 5 minute tune or an 8 minute tune (More on that later!) 'The August Engine Part 2' proves that they can write catchy, slower material as well, and with this being an 8 minute tune, they give you slow riffing with nice male sung vocals, and of course some slightly thrashy guitar work, and hell, why not throw in an acoustic interlude that slowly goes back into the heavy guitar work? Acoustic guitars start both 'Insect' and 'Doomed Parade,' the latter track being one of my alltime favorite pieces, especially as well as the male and female vocals both get their own spaces to shine, and the alternating heavy/light musical passages are dynamic as hell and very well done. My MAIN complaint is with 'The Trial And The Grave,' which is a damn 11 minute long, drawn out doom metal passage with female vocals that just sounds rather dreary, and believe me, as nice as a lot of the instrumentation was, it was extremely difficult to sit through for even half the song. It was nice to hear the high ended guitars thrown in together with the slow and ultra doomy pace, but I just couldn't get into this, and the doomier sound just doesn't seem to fit Hammers Of Misfortune well at all. Regardless of this last track (there's only 7 songs), this will probably rank in the upper 5 percent of most people's picks for the year, and is definitely the result of many talented individuals with a long music career behind them.
Contact: Cruz Del Sur Music, C.P. 5109, 00153 ROMA Ostiense, ITALY
Web site:

KALMAH "Swampsong" (Century Media) SCORE: 96/100

Is there anything left subject wise in the swamp? These 5 Finns have crafted yet another vicious yet melodic album. The December issue of Metal Maniacs did a great job with the review of this album, so I'll sum it up differently: Great melodic and vicious black metal! A contradiction in terms you say? You obviously haven't listened to their past two releases. "Heroes To Us' starts the album off by setting the standard for the disc: fast, bordering on insane speed instrumentation, and vocal work that is just sick, the way this black metal maniac likes it! One thing I'm noticing more of is the lower toned death metal vocal work which usually rears it's ugly head on the choruses. Not your average, guttural death vocals, maybe due to the clear production which lets every note and breath shine. 'Burbot's Revenge' was pretty cool, utilizing minimal instrumentation during the vocals to let them shine. Lyric wise this was interesting, about a fish getting trapped in a net only to, well, I won't spoil the story for ya. 'Cloned Insanity' will have people saying, yeah, this sounds like 'They Will Return' from the album of the same name, except the guitar work here is so damn catchy you probably won't even care. (The choruses in this song are what sounds the same as the aforementioned song). 'The Third, The Magical' slows things down a bit, giving their more melodic side a chance to shine through. 'Tordah' was another favorite, and very nice use of multivocal shouts on the choruses I might add. 'Moon Of My Nights' ends the disc off in a rather strange fashion: the piano notes starting out and the more, well, let's say "emotional" matter of the lyrics might have you thinking ballad, but the instrumentation definitely says otherwise. The vocals are seemingly more death metal oriented, but the blackened vocals are here to stay. Quite an enjoyable release, here's to another album from the Swamplords...
Contact: Century Media, 2323 W. El Segundo Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250 USA
Web site:

KARMANIC "Entering The Spectral" (Regain North America) SCORE: 41/100

I'm still puzzled why this label would release this kind of project, especially after the Marduk's and other black metal fare. To make quick work of this review: Features Roine Stolt from The Flower Kings, along with 7 other musicians. Too many cooks spoil the broth? Definitely. For starters, anyone who hates the incessant wanking of progressive styled rock bands (do we dare call them metal? Read on) will absolutely "love" the 5 minute instrumental 'One Whole Half.' Guitar notes on this thing are horrible for the most part. And the 'Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major?' Nice little waste of a minute. The CD opens up by insulting our intelligence, going off into a stupid rant about a stupid, ordinary man who gets caught up in a stupid life on the internet. Or something to that effect. 'Entering The Spectra' is the first 'real' song, well, a long 12 minute track divided up into 7 parts. And this is where things get interesting. I'm not doubting anyone's musical abilities, especially when I hear some interesting guitar notes, but of course, they don't stick around long. And the xylophone solo!??! Need I say more? Whoah! 'The Spirit Remains The Same' absolutely floored me! Heavy guitar work, and an amazingly melodic vocal work, this track reminds me of some of the BEST work of Dead Soul Tribe, and here I am with jaw firmly entrenched on the floor! 'Cyberdust From Mars' may sound a bit cheesy at first, but it's the first enjoyable HEAVY track I've heard coming out of Roine Stolt's mouth since the best Flower Kings record "Back In The World Of Adventures" many years ago. Nice guitar work, slightly on the eerie side, and it has a bit of stoner's vibe to it. Too bad the rest of the record couldn't be like this. 'The Man In The Moon Cries,' all I gotta say is where's this guy selling his fruit at? 'Is This The End' would be a complete waste of 7 minutes, if I didn't hear some BEAUTIFUL, spacey ambient synths taking a minute or so. 'Welcome To Paradise,' another waste of 9 minutes. The bonus track 'Losers Game' was interesting, the guy singing sounded like he was doing his best Stevie Wonder impersonation (from Motown days), but I'm not at all sure I'm on board... A mish-mash of mostly bad ideas, and poor execution.
Contact: The End Records, 331 Rio Grande Suite 58, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 USA
Web site:

KILL 2 THIS "Mass [Down] Sin (Drome)" (Loudspeaker) SCORE: 06/100

Kill 2 This. I mean, I don't REALLY think I need to say anything else about this band. Best way to sum up this band is from one of the lines to their song 'Frame By Frame': "Something went tragically wrong." Well no shit, num-nuts!! What we have here are guitars that are basically bland and boring, bordering on Nu-metal, but geez even Nu metal can be heavier than this crap. Got a "singer" (and believe me, I use that word rather lightly) who sounds more like he should be fronting a hardcore band instead of singing, though surprisingly his more alternative style (though mostly annoying) has a decent range. The opener 'The Truth And Other Lies' is about the only decent song here, even though I don't plan on returning to it. The chorus work on this track is rather catchy, too bad same can't be said for other tunes. On a couple of tracks, most notably 'Winter Green' and 'Confused In The Computer Age' it was interesting that they tried to use Indian styled (think sitar like) guitar work, but it was horrible and badly done. The vocal style is ALL over the place, in fact their heaviest tune 'Suburbanality' is very hardcore oriented but even his hardcore shouted delivery is awful. Some dual vocal work that sounded really strange could be found on 'Spineglass,' not to mention the choruses which sucked. The slower instrumentation on 'Confused...' seemed to drone on, and that's the main problem I saw with the guitar work, not to mention the song structures: just dull and uninteresting. Rarely ever did the guitar work pique my interest. Metal? More alternative than anything else. Points go for the almost working first track and the crappy ballad 'Circles,' which had some surprisingly good synth layer work (which proves I did TRY and look past all the bad vocal work). Mall rats will probably love this, as will Nu-jack-wiggers, REAL metalheads will avoid this like, well, 'Typhoid And Swans' (with Herpes Simplex 15). Can I say WORST album of the year so far? Can you believe even STILL this "label" they're on is a division of Plastic Head Records? (Think Candlelight & Emperor)
Contact: (But why would you?) Loudspeaker Records
Web site: (Again, why would you?)

SARGEIST "Satanic Black Devotion" (Moribund) SCORE: 55/100

First off, lemme make this clear: I LOVE black metal. The sicker and more harsh the vocal work, the better I dig it. Raw and grim, true to early 90's black metal or laced with melodic synths and maybe some female vocals, violins, flutes, whatever, I DON'T CARE. So when Chris Miller recommended this CD, and actually bought it, I figured it deserved some attention. Lo and behold when Morbiund sent this to me, the vocal work attracted me IMMEDIATELY. That is, once I got past track 1, which was nothing more than a useless intro. And this CD hit me for the first few spins. As I started getting into this more, I started getting a bit annoyed. 'Frowning, Existing' had really BAD vocal work, as if our robed screamer was trying to inject some power metal shrieks in with the black metal vocals. 'Panzergod' had a rather bland instrumentation and vocal mix, a track I know I'd get bored with were any more spins to be attempted. However, the opener 'Satanic Black Devotion' has nice high ended guitar riffs, which you'll find throughout the disc, though as good as this particular track is, the death metal vocals you'll find really annoy you. Especially when the guitar structures change. And with 'Glorification,' you're kinda yawning through the first half with the slow and rather dull guitar work. Once the speed kicks in it's not too bad. I definitely want you to hear the track 'Sargeist' though, as this is probably the best track on the album (and even it has a few points taken off for the, you guessed it, slower passages near the end). And come on, admit it, the choruses of 'Black Fucking Murder' are just fun to sing, especially if there's some weak minded Christians around. Not a terrible CD, but they need to tighten everything up and of course, if it was all up to the deep, dark dungeon echoed vocals, this WOULD be better.
Contact: Moribund Records, P.O. Box 77314, Seattle, WA 98177 USA
Web site:

SPARZANZA "Into The Sewers" (Water Dragon) SCORE: 97/100

A perfect 4 for 4!! This French label has quickly become one of the best out there for releasing punishing, heavy rock, and the latest record from a band that already has a full length and a split CD out is NO exception! This time around, the faster, get in your car and race tunes are the order of the day, with opener 'Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things' and the title track coming out of nowhere to smoke yer ass! With the title track especially the vocals are loud, up front and in your face and drive this band perfectly! 'Pay The Price' slows things down a tad, but still asks you directly: Can you still bang your head to music that isn't quite metal? The answer is a resounding Hell Yeah!! Proving that the viciousness and rockin' atmosphere wasn't a fluke, track 4 'Euthanasia' starts the faster, ass kickin' guitar work cranked back to 10, and the highlights of the catchy and (sometimes) melodic multivocal choruses will have you hooked. 'Kindead' is another slower tune, reminding me a bit of one of the slower numbers from Honcho's latest release, also put out by the same label (Hmmm... Is there a formula for the Water Dragon P.R. people at work?) 'Kings On Kerosene,' yep, back to the fast rockin' tune that hopefully will be played in some movie during a high speed chase scene. And now here's a very interesting track: 'Little Red Riding Hood,' though this tune is slower, more emotional, and lyrics most UNLIKE the fairy tale. This Red Riding Hood's gone bad, and everybody wants her! 'Anyway' was the only track I had a slight problem with, I thought too much emphasis was placed on speed during the choruses, almost choking the tune and not allowing the heavier parts to properly sink in. 'Son Of A God' proceeds to crush, and before you can catch your breath, 'Sparzatan' (the song) throws some slightly southern rock guitars at ya before letting the choruses crank up the speed. Love the guitar solos on this one, they're bright, full, in your face and will have your heart sink in your chest about 3 feet!! GO GET THIS RECORD, is all I need to say. Water Dragon deserves the highest praise for their impressive roster of artists!!
Contact: Water Dragon Records.
Web site:

SUICIDE COMMANDO "Axis Of Evil" (Metropolis) SCORE: 98/100

If someone were to ask me who were not only the best, but also the sickest, heaviest and most evil industrial bands on the planet, two names would spring to mind: Velvet Acid Christ (also reviewed in this issue), and Suicide Commando. I haven't heard from Suicide Commando since their "Mindstrip" album, but lemme just say this is the most brutal release I've ever heard from them! Opener 'Cause Of Death: Suicide' is a good indication of how things progress. One small complaint was that it took about 3 minutes for the sick distorted vocal work to kick in, and the opening sample was a bit overrepetitive, but still I'm not skipping a minute of it! The percussion on this album is some of the harshest I've heard in industrial, and many tracks have that militaristic drum sound to them; no surprise since the lyrical topics often cover war and the misuse of power. The electronics in this CD are very cool, from the lighter ambient styled synths on 'Evildoer' to the darkest and harshest sounds on 'Reformation.' 'Sterbehilfe' is the only song on the CD sung completely in German (I'm assuming). The anti religious themes continue with tracks like 'The Reformation' and 'Plastik Christ,' the latter was very interesting in it's use of Gregorian styled chant samples. Many tracks on here are going to be great for the heavier clubs, even though they are a bit slower in scope than what many club tracks are geared for, but make no mistake: this is one truly dark and twisted group! 'Mordfabrik' seems to take a page out of black metal's book by showcasing an uncanny ability to mix great electronic melody and ambient like sound structures with that militaristic percussion and of course the sicker, harshly distorted vocals of Johan Van Roy. The vocal effects are not limited to harsh distortion either, Johan's robotic vocal effects work just as well when he's not trying to create sheer brutality. Just listen to 'One Nation Under God' and 'Face Of Death' for more proof. I don't really need to say much more, but if a death or black metal fanatic asked me to recommend an industrial band that had all the sickness and brutality of metal, with maybe a few anti religious themes, THIS is the only band I would recommend. This disc is HIGHLY recommended, no matter what you like, so listen to the soundfiles and GO GET THIS DISC!!
Contact: Metropolis Records, P.O. Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105 USA
Web site:

SUMMONING "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame" (Napalm) SCORE: 99/100

This CD is probably a few years old, but it has been VERY high on my want list for months now. Once I finally got it, I was simply blown away. 'A New Power Is Rising' starts the disc off with some strange vocal chants, which were very bizarre to me, and this is really my only complaint with this disc. The instrumentation has nice medieval horn type sounds, and the thunderous, almost militaristic percussion which enables you to visualize the troops marching off to war in a Tolkien like Lord Of The Rings setting. I say Lord Of The Rings, because this album is full of references, from the amazing spoken vocal samples like 'In the darkness, bind them' (track 'In Hollow Halls Beneath The Fells') to the Gandalf like voice that speaks 'The Return Of the Seven Kings, and the robes of the five wizards!' (Which, according to my Ex girlfriend and Tolkien expert, is a quote from the novel which does NOT appear in the movie). The medieval synths are quite amazing, especially the horn like notes on 'South Away' and the almost mandolin like sounds emanating from 'Our Foes Shall Fall.' The vocal style is strictly black metal, and quite vicious, which of course is a trademark for Summoning, medieval instrumentation and all. There are heavy guitars present, though they blend so well with the synths that you almost don't notice they're there. These tracks are quite long though, but as many will attest, that's no big problem for me if I'm enjoying the instrumentation. 'The Mountain King's Return' is a rather dynamic track filled with rather majestic passages and plenty of heaviness! This is one dynamite release and is a CD that was definitely worth the wait, though we wish we could have brought it to you sooner. The PERFECT soundtrack to a Lord Of The Rings movie!
Contact: Napalm Records.
Web site:

TAROT "Suffer Our Pleasures" (Spinefarm) SCORE: 88/100

It surprised me to see a new Tarot album. Yeah, yeah, I know they've released stuff in the mid to late 90's as well, but I never knew about it. Hey, just because I have "Spell Of Iron" and "Follow Me Into Madness" in the classic albums section doesn't mean I know EVERYTHING! I'm only a music magazine editor for god's sakes! Anyway, enough drivel, anything you think you knew about 80's era Tarot will be pleasantly shattered right here and now, especially with the opening track 'I Rule.' Never mind that the sick and heavy vocal work gets a bit out of hand at the end of the track, Tarot has seemingly updated their sound for the Y2K. (Sorry, still don't know what to call the 2000 era. The oaties?) Ripping guitar work is the mode of the day, or so you think. 'Pyre Of Gods' starts showing us that the Finns know how to write some catchy choruses that actually make use of melody. The soaring vocal work of Marco really helps out, and it is a bit difficult for me to believe this is the SAME singer that graced both "Follow Me Into Madness" and "Spell Of Iron" oh so many years ago! 'Rider Of The Last Day' is where Tarot stops trying to hook today's modern music listener and actually crafts a slower tune that still has heavy and sinister overtones, and did I mention those bass guitar riffs REALLY stand out? The multivocal styled Beatles melodies were a nice touch as well. 'Follow The Blind' continues on much in the same fashion as the first two heavy tracks, but once again Tarot prove they aren't all about crushing heaviness. Come to think of it, newer era Tad Morose (ESPECIALLY via "Matters Of The Dark") REALLY springs to mind here, which might be an extremely unfair comparison considering who's been around longer, but those needing a reference check, there it is. The ballad like piece 'Of Time And Dust' I didn't care much for, even if the lyrics aren't chick like (you 80's metal fans know what I mean) and the vocals do go out of the normal ballad range. And for those who remembered the "Follow Me..." silliness with the country guitar at the end of one tune, they bring it back to BEGIN 'From The Shadows,' which was a fast tune that really didn't become a favorite, even though it's not bad. Acoustically, 'Painless' ends the album on an interesting note; when did you ever hear an acoustic song carried out with so much heaviness? Very nice comeback album, and you really should read the interview to see what these guys were doing back in the 80's.
Contact: Spinefarm Records.

THE HIDDEN HAND "Divine Propaganda" (Meteor City) SCORE: 82/100

The first few times I listened to this record, the negative parts threw me off far more than they should have, especially when you see the score. They threw me off more because this is Scott FUCKING Wino we're talking about here, only the man credited as THE godfather of the Stoner Rock genre. When Spirit Caravan broke up I was crushed, but thankfully I got to see them live and have it on videotape for posterity. And this release doesn't come close to the majesty and power that was "Jug Fulla Sun," though they do try. One of the most noteworthy things about this record is it's HEAVY... And I mean Heavy with a capital H! Those guitar riffs on opener 'Bellicose Rhetoric' are some of the NASTIEST and heaviest riffs I think Wino has ever been involved with. I say involved with because there's some new blood on this disc. 'Damyata' wasn't a bad followup, but those "ooooh's" on damn near every vocal line annoyed me. 'Screw The Naysayers' is a rather fast punkish tune that shows the world Winos' earliest of roots, but for all the speed, I would have preferred some heavier and slower riffs. Then out of left field comes 'Sunblood,' which is slow and melodic, with great clean sung vocals from Wino, and something that reminded me of the most beautiful parts of Spirit Caravan. When Wino throws some nasty doom riffs in the middle though, you know what he's thinking! I failed to see why there were two instrumental pieces thrown in, but they both work well, in fact 'For All The Wrong Reasons' is a fast, ripping tune from start to finish, and the surprise instrumental was 'Prayer For The Night.' Anyone who has listened to Datura's ending instrumental on "Visions For The Celestial" will recognize this type of mellow, relaxing and BEAUTIFUL tune, though it takes a few minutes to crank up. 'The Hidden Hand,' the title track, I didn't care for, as Wino's vocals and the strange instrumentation did NOT go well together, and it seems like on 'Divine Propaganda' as well, Wino's heaviest vocals are a bit hard to take. Regardless, there's much for the Spirit Caravan fan to rejoice about, even though I feel personally that this newest power trio still has much work to do to compile the sound and style perfectly. And by the way, there is one song that features another vocalist, 'Tranquility Base,' and done quite well too. Be on the watch for this band.
Contact: Meteor City Records, P.O. Box 40322, Albuquerque, NM 87196 USA
Web site:

VELVET ACID CHRIST "Hex Angel" (Metropolis) SCORE: 78/100

As far back as I can remember, I have always been impressed with V.A.C., as they have the ability to be one of the most evil and twisted industrial bands around (along with Suicide Commando). The biggest asset of Velvet Acid Christ is the tortured and wickedly dark and evil synth work, which really sets a creepy mood in their repertoire. Distorted vocals help this along, though on a few tracks (most notably 'Misery') the vocals seemed to get buried in the mix. That's not a hard thing to say, considering Brian's vocals are something like loud whispers in a way. 'Haunted' opens the disc up nicely, and of course the way cool movie samples are sprinkled throughout the disc. For the first four tracks, I'm really digging what I'm hearing. 'Pretty Toy' has the lonely, melancholic atmosphere working, some of the darkest piano notations I've heard yet on 'Hypoxia,' and of course the heavy percussion and minimal instrumentation that lets the twisted vocals have more of a presence on 'Collapsed.' By track 5, however, I'm starting to get a little disappointed: 'Misery' did not work for me much at all, and this seems to be (in my eyes) Brian's foray into hardcore techno and gabber. Those ultra distorted and over 100 miles per hour beat structures ruin a lot of the mood and atmosphere that V.A.C. is capable of doing. Not to mention the buried vocals. An instrumental right after that is what the doctor ordered, as 'East' is a sick and twisted piece of work, complete with tortured souls vocal samples. 'Dead Tomorrow' dragged the CD down again; it's the too fast percussion going on again, though it's not a total waste, especially towards the end, but there are better tracks. 'Eva' REALLY didn't work for me either, as the instrumentation is WAAY too light for what V.A.C. does. The electronics almost have a Japanese sound to them, and it makes the vocals sound a tad out of place. And ending track 'Evil' definitely needed more variety in the instrumentation department. However, despite (score wise) being the worst V.A.C. album ever, it's still a keeper. One listen to 'Convex' ought to convince you just how twisted and sick this band keeps things, and only 4 not so good songs out of 11 means there's plenty of stuff to keep you interested. The booklet is an even bigger prize, with some of the most twisted and diabolic artwork I've ever seen from an industrial band. This will scare the hell out of parents!!
Contact: Metropolis Records.

WIZARD "Odin" (Limb Music) SCORE: 95/100

"Drink the magic potion. Brewed by the wizards, mixed by the gods." Sorry, just got a bit carried away, especially by the last full length "Head Of The Deceiver." This album is a bit darker, and a lot more serious it seems, which at first I was constantly comparing to "Head..." saying it wasn't quite as good. "Head..." is a more fun record, but this newest release shows Wizard flexing it's power metal muscles and proving that they can write some HEAVY tunes. The higher pitched vocals make an appearance but are not overused; when they do show up though they add emphasis and effect. Fast instrumentation is the order of the day, though with very few exceptions it's not at a blinding pace. 'Loki's Punishment' has some very dramatic effects used both vocal and instrumentation wise, and certain songs definitely call for different moods, which Wizard definitely is able to provide. Picking up, according to the bio, where Manowar left off with "Sign Of The Hammer," these are definitely epic songs, with great choruses that you'll have no trouble remembering even after the first few listens. It's that good of a record! 'The Powergod' was the one song I couldn't take, however, and it uses higher pitched vocals a lot more than any other song. Couple that with the insane speed, and it leaves me hitting the skip button. Guitar parts are well done too, the solos on 'Dark God' especially are slow and quite melodic. There's some POUNDING thrashy guitars and bass lines on many tracks, especially on 'Loki's Punishment' and 'Dead Hope.' 'March Of The Einheriers' was my favorite track, especially since with the instrumentation you can actually visualize the Giants marching to the final battle. Also noteworthy is the song 'Beginning Of The End,' where the higher pitched vocals and soaring guitar work remind me STRONGLY of the heaviest parts of Priest era "Painkiller." And if you want to keep things from getting TOO serious, there's always the "Head Of The Deceiver" album inspired song 'Thor's Hammer.' Heavy instrumentation and dynamic vocal work, coupled with catchy choruses, will ensure that power metal fans need to have a copy of this on their shelves! Emphasis on POWER.
Contact: Limb Music.


DARKFLIGHT. Interview with Ivo via email.

  • Upon listening to the debut album "Under The Shadow Of Fear," it seems like guitars are almost entirely missing? Are you not a big fan of guitars, or did you want to create something a bit different from the normal black metal style?

    Well, as the guitar is my primary instrument, I can't say that I'm not a fan. As a matter of fact, I really like playing and listening to guitar oriented music. The case with the recordings of that album was that in some of the songs I did the keys initially and they sounded so amazingly awesome so I wanted to keep them that way. I actually applied some guitars later, just to check out how they'd sound, but wasn't really happy with the result (it sounded too overlayered) so I removed them. Another reason is I wasn't happy with the overall guitar sound.

  • While we're on the subject of guitars, the few leads I did hear on the record, were the guitars real, sampled, or synth arranged? It was kinda hard for me to tell.

    It is 100 percent real guitars. I don't think that it's possible to put something like that in only with samples or MIDI processed effects.

  • The closest comparisons I can make are to bands like Agalloch and Summoning, do you know of these bands? Summoning especially since their sound relies a lot on synths though they do utilize more guitar work.

    Never heard Agalloch, as for Summoning, I heard those comparisons before, what can I say? Speaking of song structures, there's huge differences between the 2 bands; their rhythmic section is far more "military," epic sounding. Unusual, until mine is much more standard. The synths are different, the melodies, the moods that the music brings, at least that's what I think. Summoning is a great band, I like some of their stuff.

  • I don't know if you agree, but I would say that Darkflight seems to sraw a line between aggressive/heavy moments and relaxing/melodic and atmospheric moments. I'm not quite sure I'm wording this right either... :)

    For me what is important is to put the right emotions into the music in order to fit the concept.

  • The female vocals are quite remarkable and not too overbearing, striking just the right mix especially with the lighter material. (And we all know how picky I am about vocal work!) Is she going to be heard from more often or was that just a one time deal? And of course I'm curious how you came to know her.

    Tatyana was a singer on my other band Dreamflight, that's how she got into this project. Unfortunately, we split up one year ago, she will no longer sing in my projects. We had some difficulties while making songs together, she didn't really feel my music and it was very hard to make the singing of the songs. We worked together for like 3 years and she just chose a different path; it was her decision and I didn't force her to leave. By the way, a lot of people dislike her singing in that album. I'm working with a new female singer now (a lot more experienced), but I don't know for sure whether I'll use such vocals on future Darkflight recordings.

  • The one thing that always amazes me these days is how synthesizers can be made to sound like nearly ANY instrument, and almost be indistinguishable from the real thing, especially with flutes, trumpets, and such.

    Yeah, but I still prefer the real thing! Hopefully one day I'll have the opportunity to use real orchestrations, but you know everything ends up with the lack of money.

  • I absolutely love the album cover, it was very striking and it surprised me to read that the artist worked at one time for Walt Disney! I looked at some of the artwork on his website and wanted to know how you came to work with Mr. Vacher and whether the piece was created specifically for you or if it's one he already had done that you chose.

    Actually, I chose the painting, it's called "Mount Of The Immortals" and the first time I saw it, I was really amazed! It fitted perfectly the album concept and especially the lyrics of 'To Die In Your Arms' with that lonely, tiny figure climbing up the mountain, it looks so desperate! Of course this guy has many amazing pictures, we contacted him and arranged the agreement to use the art for this album. For the readers here, check out his site and explore that universe, you won't be disappointed that's for sure!

  • Speaking of that track 'To Die In Your Arms,' it was very emotional and captivating, though I must admit one of the things I always HATED about 80's metal was the insistence of "heavy" bands to put a syrupy love ballad on the album to try and attract the females. THIS song you do, though, has lots of heavy emotions and it seems a lot different than most.

    It's one of my favorite songs on that album (mine too - Ed.) and it has nothing to do with the aforementioned syrupy love ballads. I've tried to apply a feeling of complete hopelessness and desperation, I hope I succeeded! I don't think that could attract any females with that one, ha ha!

  • So how do you see the evolution of black metal music from it's simplistic and cold, raw elements of the early 90's up to today, and how do you view the genre as a whole, especially when taking into consideration your work?

    The music changed a lot through the years and I think for good: all the limits are now gone, the competition is very strong, and there's plenty of new exciting directions... As for how this applies to my work, I hope Darkflight will become and will stay something original.

  • You know, I have seen a lot of people who love black metal say that keyboards and female vocals don't belong in black metal. I disagree of course, but along with appreciating heaviness and atmosphere, I still love sick, raw and cold black metal like Darkthrone and Marduk, early Immortal and the like.

    I love that kind of stuff too, but I prefer it more slow moving, with a doomy feel. Surprised? Heard a great band like that recently named Forgotten Tomb.

  • I've definitely heard of Forgotten Tomb! Interviewed them and reviewed one of their CD's awhile back. Kinda relating to the question above, I remember the industrial purists back in the day who said that guitars didn't belong in industrial music. I think Front Line Assembly and Ministry changed all that, but the point is, is that music adding new elements seems to scare people off, until it's put to practical use. In industrial music's case, the word "industrial" originally meant using tools of the construction trade to make sounds, rather like what Einsturzende Neubauten did in the late 70's.

    Maybe the use of new elements in music frightens some of the fans, especially the narrow minded traditionalists, but sometimes they don't know what they are missing really. And it's a shame of course. There's many different ways to approach something and it's really hard to keep your thing alive and original. I think positively for the experimentalism in music, but it shouldn't exceed the level where the music will be entirely lost with it.

  • I am curious how you came to work with Rage Of Achilles, because from all that I know about the label I am surprised to see they do more black metal now. They seemed to be more of a stoner rock label when they first started out.

    It happened accidentally. Duncan (the guy who runs the label) contacted us while we had our first demo "Obscure," he wanted to put 2 songs on his sister label Totentroll, which specialized in releasing underground fantasy metal in exclusively vinyl format. We agreed to do that and seeing the opportunity to show up something I felt motivated and recorded a big part of "Under The Shadow Of Fear" album, sent it over to the label and they really liked it and offered us a record deal for Rage Of Achilles.

  • Okay, here's a question I thought I'd throw out there. Suppose you wrote for a music magazine and you were told to review a music CD, giving it a score based on 0 - 100. How would you approach doing the review? I know for me, I cannot review a CD until I've listened to it at least 4 or 5 times all the way through.

    Of course listening to it 4 or 5 (even more times) and a longer period for appreciation at least one or two weeks. That way you'll explore and will get into the CD. It will be fair enough for the musicians who worked hard on the release. I really hate some pseudo journalists that are narrowminded and if they hear something different from their established perception, they just reject it... Openmindedness is the key.

  • Since you seem to be the only member of Darkflight, do you not have a need or want for other musicians? And how about if demand comes for Darkflight to play live?

    I need and want to play with other musicians, it's just that I have a hard time finding serious ones here in my area. It's really sad. I think that having at least one more person collaborating in the creation of the songs will make them sound much more natural and mature. And of course a full band playing it would be great. I had a demand for Darkflight playing live and it was in the U.S.A., funny huh? Plus some local events from people who didn't know the band status as well.

  • You mentioned you were working on stuff for a new album. What will it be like compared to this one? Will the female vocals be coming back, maybe more guitar? Any song titles or ideas you might want to share?

    More guitars and better production. The working title is "The Northern Campaign" and I'm planning to record it until the end of winter or maybe even late spring. I need more time to improve things, because now I really have to do something special! I have a very good idea about how it'll sound though.

  • Finally, tell us how you came to choose the name Darkflight for your band?

    Some people think that it comes out from the name of my other band Dreamflight but it's not. I started the first demo "Obscure" while reading the fantasy book of Adam Nichols "The War Of The Lords Veil," there was an old charm inside saying something like "flitters of the night, spirits dark in flight." I liked it and called the project that way.

    GREENLEAF. Interview with Danny via email.

    This is an intriguing combination. Suffice it to say that if ANYONE from Dozer is involved, it's gotta be some kick ass stoner rock. Well, that's what I thought until I put the CD on. They're definitely NOT rehashing the same old "stonahh stuff" but there's a bit more to this band than meets the eye. SO...

  • I'm rather surprised to learn that this band actually has 3 other recordings out! Any chance they'll be released through Small Stone or another American company? I know the 10 inch EP is sold out, maybe that could be rereleased too someday?

    Well, that's half true, we have TWO other recordings out. Don't know if there's any interest in them being reissued by an American company to be honest. I think that most people who are into us already bought the stuff from, say, Personally I wouldn't mind putting the 10" EP as like a bonus or something on our next full length. And the first full length "Revolution Rock" is still available both on CD and LP through and other stores.

  • Okay, so tell us how "Revolution Rock" and the self titled EP differ from the latest full length album. Or should I say, is there a certain progression that has taken place from your first release up to this one?

    I think all three releases differ a bit from each other. On the first EP, which was recorded very shortly after we started jamming together, we were pretty much trying to find each other musically. I like it though, I think it sounds very spontaneous and improvised. We just jammed! On "Revolution Rock" we started to write more "real songs" and also started doing more spaced out instrumental stuff. The rockier stuff was pretty much done when we entered the studio, but as far as the instrumental stuff went we had a very raw ground to build from. We didn't even try to complete 'em in the rehearsal room. We wanted to improvise in the studio and just see what happened. Now on "Secret Alphabets" we focused even harder on writing real songs, and I think you can tell. It's to date the most songbased release we've put out. I don't know if there's like a natural progression from album to album. How the albums turned out is pretty much decided by chance. We just write songs and at the end we see what we've ended up with.

  • How did you guys get together? I must admit I have "Madre De Dios" from Dozer but I never got to hear any Demon Cleaner.

    Good friends having a good time basically. Me & Tommi have known each other for about 7 years now. His cousin was in Demon Cleaner so Dozer and Demon Cleaner were like buddy bands and even released 3 split 7" records together. Anyway, Tommi and I noticed that we shared the same taste in music so we decided to jam together and see what happened. I also must say I really like Tommi's guitar playing and songwriting capabilities, so I looked forward to seeing how it all would turn out.

  • Is Greenleaf a full band with plans on doing tours and shows, or just a side project done for fun?

    It's more of a side project done for fun. Tommi's had Dozer for 8 years and gives it all he's got, which is quite understandable. We rehearse and do shows with Greenleaf when Tommi's available basically.

  • The one thing that really struck me was that you really can't call Greenleaf "Stoner rock," as I hear some other influences and songs that aren't just the fast and heavy, fuzzy guitar thing going on like in other bands. Where would you say influences for this record come from, and was this a deliberate attempt to do something different from the aforementioned bands?

    Oh yes! We've never aimed at sounding Stoner-rock'ish since both Dozer and Demon Cleaner can be placed in that category. The idea for Greenleaf was to do whatever we felt like doing. Me and Tommi really like old heavy 70's rock/hard rock and 60's garage psychedelic stuff, and draw most of our inspiration for Greenleaf from there. So yeah, we definitely tried to do something different from our other bands.

  • So why did Demon Cleaner finally call it a day?

    Internal differences as it's so beautifully put. We were all going in different directions musically so there was no point in continuing.

  • Okay, now back to the record, I was curious about the track 'One More Year,' man those opening guitar riffs sound like they were pulled straight from Led Zeppelin's 'Dazed And Confused!' Was that deliberate?

    Ha ha, I never thought about it! You really think it sounds like 'Dazed And Confused?' Maybe it does!

  • I'm assuming that it's Dozer's vocalist Frederik doing all the vocals, but that track 'Never Right' sounds like it's someone else doing a pretty amazing impression of (is it Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley?) the KISS singer from the 70's!!

    There's 3 vocalists on "Secret Alphabets." I'm actually a bit surprised that very few people seem to have picked up on this, cause Singe (the guy who sounds like Paul Stanley) and Frederik's vocal styles really differ quite a bit. The third guy is Peder of Lowrider fame (he does 'One More Year' and the hidden bonus track 'Kulingvarning.')

  • 'Witchcraft Tonight,' 'Black Magic...' You guys into some occult stuff here? Either way, I'm curious about what some of these tunes are written about, and why a lyric sheet wasn't included in the Small Stone CD release.

    Haa haa, no, we're not evil satanic nutjobs. It's just fun to write about stuff like that. Hardrock is evil music and should have evil lyrics, haahaa! And trust me, you don't want a lyric sheet...

  • Okay, I gotta know, since it wasn't written in the song list: What is up with the "hidden track," 'Kulingvarning?' Is that a cover tune from a Swedish artist I'm not familiar with?

    It's a covertune (but not at the same time). Peder of Lowrider had a band called Mossa which was a band who sounded pretty much exactly like the Swedish 70's hardrock band November. They only recorded like a rehearsal room demo I think. 'Kvinna Du Ger Mig Ingen Karlek' from the 10" EP is also a Mossa song. Anyway, they're cool songs and it would be a shame if they were to be unused and forgotten so he brought 'em with him to rehearsal and we rehearsed and recorded 'em.

  • You mentioned Peder Bergstrand and Singe, two people who are credited with being "co-conspirators" but not actually in the band, care to tell us about them?

    Peder's from Lowrider and Singe is some guy our guitarist Daniel Jansson knows and brought in. We first came into contact with Peder when we were all (Dozer, Demon Cleaner and Lowrider) on the Welcome To Meteor City compilation. We had a release party here in Borlange with the aforementioned acts and another Swedish band called Sparzanza playing live. It was a LOT of fun! Jadd and Aaron from Meteor City even flew over from the States to check it out! A night to remember for sure! Anyway, after that we stayed in touch with Peder and when the idea of Greenleaf came up we asked him if he wanted to lay down some vocals, and he did. It often works so that we call him in when it's time to hit the studio/ play live since he lives a mere 3 hour drive away.

  • How did you feel when Man's Ruin Records closed up shop here in the States? I know many of the bands I got to hear I would probably have never known about had it not been for them, and some of my most prized CD's come from that label.

    It's a shame. I have about 30-40 Man's Ruin releases I think. My favorites are Chrome and Helios Creed. Great great stuff. Those are two bands I probably wouldn't have picked up on if it weren't for Man's Ruin. But there's lots and lots of great releases from MR... Dozer (of course), Electric Wizard, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Nebula, etc.

  • So how is your record deal with Small Stone progressing? Are you planning on doing more records with Small Stone, and how did you come to be working with them to begin with?

    We only signed a one album deal, but if this album's successful then I don't see why we shouldn't continue releasing stuff there. It's all up to the head honcho Scott. We came into contact with Small Stone simply by sending them a little promo package. Normally we would just release it on "our own" Molten Universe label but since Molten put all of it's efforts and finances into Dozer's "Call It Conspiracy" album we needed another label and we had only heard good stuff about Small Stone, so we sent them a letter and a CD and apparently they liked it.

  • If you know, I'm curious about what Dozer is doing these days. After "Madre De Dios," I am dying to see another full length from those guys!

    You haven't heard "Call It Conspiracy?" It's been out for like 8 months or so! It's the first time Dozer's worked with a real producer, namely Chips Kiesbye, who's produced The Hellacopters, The Nomads, Sahara Hotnights among others. You really should check it out ASAP!!

  • Oh yeah, what's with the title "Secret Alphabets?" Sounds kinda cryptic, especially with that typewriter sitting there on the cover!

    We nicked it from a Doors lyric. We were in the car going home from a concert in Stockholm listening to The Doors, and right after Jim sang that phrase we were like, that should be a songtitle... Or an album title. The cover is to match the title. I wanted dark, simple and clean cut coverart. I read in a review of "Secret Alphabets" that the guy didn't know what to expect when he put on the CD because he really couldn't tell from the cover, which to me was a great compliment. I didn't want the typical stoner rock coverart with the big car, the longhaired bellbottom wearing chick smoking a 10 foot joint, I wanted something a bit different!

  • So where any of these tunes composed under the, ah, "influence" of the Green Leaf? I'm assuming that's how you got the name for the band.

    Here's where I drop the big disappointment on everybody who thinks we smoke day and night and just do music. None of us are frequent users of the green leaf. Alcohol's the ticket for us!

  • Okay, these are a lot of questions, I know, but if you have anything else you want to talk about, use this space to do it! Maybe you could say how much American involvement in other countries' business sucks! Haa haa. Or you could just talk shit about anybody else. Thanks again dude, good record!

    Thanks man! Glad you like it. When it comes to politics it's never just black and white and I get a headache just from imagining getting all the facts on the U.S. involvement here and there. All I care about is sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

    HALLOWS EVE. Interview with original bass guitarist Tommy Stewart via phone.

    Hallows Eve. When I lived in Savannah, it was one of the first metal cassettes I ever bought just by looking at a front cover and song titles. And I was NOT disappointed! To find out that they were from my home state Georgia was a really cool thing, also to note that Hallows Eve was Atlanta's first thrash band in history. Now that I've moved to the Atlanta area, doing a Hallows Eve interview became MORE of a priority, and of course we hailed them on the October 18th WREKage radio show. Of further interest is the fact that I'm trying to get Hallows Eve back together again, offering to do vocal work myself if Stacy Anderson isn't interested anymore. Definitely a feature interview, Tommy had LOTS of interesting things to say. I could have done an in depth interview with his WIFE alone! Without further ado...

  • Your wife tells me you're practicing bass for like 4 hours a day!

    On most days, at least that (amount of time).

  • I still see Skully (ex-guitarist, played only on the "Tales Of Terror" album) from time to time at shows, and he said something about a possible Hallows Eve reformation?

    WHAT!!?? (laughing quite heavily now).

  • Okay, I'll be honest with you, "I" kinda threw the idea out there, you know, because I know Stacy Anderson's been doing that wierd stuff now, but I've been listening to Hallows Eve since I was in high school and I know all the lyrics to the first two records. I was like, if nobody else wants to do it, I'll step up to the fucking plate and sing.

    I've thought about it a lot of times, but what it came down to, to me, was it needed David's guitars. (David Stuart - Ed.) Nobody really plays like him. He was seemingly being ignored, and I don't think people realized what a good guitarist he was.

  • Well, you could hear it ALL over "Death And Insanity" especially.

    Oh yeah. There was a song called 'Attack Of The Iguanas.' Originally, I threw out the title of that. I remember on that album, I think we had an $8,000 budget; $2,000 of it was spent on all of us doing our tracks, mixing and things, $6,000 of it was spent on David doing guitar leads. We just let him go on that stuff.

  • He was a perfectionist I guess.

    He was, he was way ahead of the rest of the band as far as knowing scales and other things. I always felt like it just HAD to have Stacy, and it just HAD to have David, no matter how I looked at it. Then when I got with Skully for a little while, for about 3 years we tried to get Legestrus Nosferatus off the ground. The thing with Skully was that we just could NOT find a drummer that could satisfy him. We had people come and go but they just couldn't do (what he wanted them to). They were nice guys and all.

  • For some reason, the Atlanta area is seemingly devoid of drummers these days! The band I'm managing, Ground:Xero, is playing with a drum machine. They're like, "Screw it, if we can't find a drummer we can deal with, we just won't have one."

    The last time I talked to Skully, that's exactly what I told him, I said "You really ought to just break down and go get some programmed drums. For what you want to do, you're never going to get anybody who can do your music, the way you want it done." But that was the whole holdup for me, I told him he had to get the drum thing settled, and I also told him I wanted to play bass the way I wanted to play it, I didn't want him to tell me what to play.

  • It's really funny, I spent about 35 to 40 minutes talking to your wife and I didn't realize you guys went so far back! She told me that if I looked on the back of that Metal Blade re-release, of "Death And Insanity," and there she was, listed right there! I was like, "Damn!"

    A bunch of people came and visited us in the studio and I'd had it in my head that when we did 'Goblet Of Gore' for the chant "We the people shall destroy," I didn't want to dub one or two people over and over, I actually wanted to have a lot of people doing this. We suddenly had a lot of visitors in the studio and Brian Slagel even showed up.

  • Wow, I bet that was an honor!

    Yeah, it was! He sat in and mixed the album with us. He flew out here and hung out with us for a couple of weeks. So he's on there singing too. Everybody came in there and I just stopped what I was doing and waved everbody inside and said "Look, we're going to record now."

  • Now, I know you guys have been around for a long time, and I know that Skully was only present during the recording of "Tales Of Terror," and then he left the band. What was the whole deal with that, why was he out so soon?

    When we started, it was me, him and Stacy. I think he had a different vision of what he thought we were going to be. Stacy and I did most of the writing, but Skully did write 'Hallows Eve,' the song. Once we got to working on what was going to end up being second album material, he decided that that wasn't the direction he wanted to go in. At that time, I don't even think they were calling it death metal yet, but that's where he was going. At the time you could probably compare what he wanted to do with Celtic Frost.

  • Well, I think Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" came out in 1985, and then "Death And Insanity" came out in 1986. (Actually, after doing some fact checking, I realized that I was wrong... At least about the date Death's first album came out). What really got to me was Stacy's vocals, he could hit some high notes and then he could dip down really low, almost into death metal range. So that "Death And Insanity" album was no longer just speed metal to me... And that's the style of vocals I've been working on for over 10 years.

    When I first knew Stacy, who was in a band before Hallows Eve, I fell all over myself. I was in another band too. I was singing in that band. Basically what I did was fire myself, and jumped all over Stacy to get him to join our band. It took me MONTHS to get him to quit the other band but finally he came with us. And I took him to the side and said "I want to go in this direction." You know, at that time there were probably only 20 bands in the whole country that were, well, what was going to be called thrash metal.

  • At least, that you know of, anyway... (laughter here)

    Yeah, well, I think there were a whole bunch of people all over the place in corners that no one knew about. It was still the demo tape trading era, where real metal albums weren't even coming out yet.

  • I've just started hearing about bands from right here in the U.S. that I never even knew existed only recently. I have that classic albums section of the website and it's up to about 400 albums now. And of course, "Tales Of Terror" and "Death And Insanity" are up there.

    They're out of print now.

  • Well, Metal Blade did reissue "Death And Insanity" on CD.


  • Says here it was reissued in 1994.

    Yeah, at that time they did all three albums. I went to Media Play and asked to order all three albums, and they said they weren't available. But I know that we're selling something because I get my statements and I can see that we're selling a few hundred of something, mainly in Europe. In six months, there's several hundred sold...

  • Wow! What are your royalties like, if you don't mind my asking. How is that structured, because a lot of 80's bands I've talked to say stuff like "Yeah, fuckin' label put stuff out, we're not getting a penny," or "They reissued the stuff, and we're not getting royalties." I always hear from bands who say they're NOT getting paid, and Metal Blade went through a lot of legal troubles in the mid to late 80's. So it's good to see you're actually getting paid, it's kind of a rare story that I hear.

    I think a lot of bands might not understand how their own money works.

  • Yeah, especially when you spend eight grand on a record!

    Really, the whole idea was to get in and out without spending as much as possible. We went in on "Monument" (their third and final record - Ed.) and spent a great deal, and it ended up being a $30,000 process. And THEN we went out and we got some tour support. Metal Blade was always fair and up front with us, and I can tell you right now, we still actually; as far as the paying back money out of the band's percentage, or expenses, we're still in the hole for the three Hallows Eve albums cumulatively. I figured it out, and it's like, at the rate that it's being sold right now, I'll actually begin to make money when I'm in my 80's.

  • Man, that's a trip.

    To me, it's nice to make money and all, but I'm more about being an artist.

  • Now I know you've been busy doing some solo stuff and what not for awhile now.

    I did release, about 2 years ago, a solo compilation called "Spare Songs From Plaidville." That's literally what it is, it's a bunch of spare songs I had. 4 of the tracks on it are songs that were being worked on for a fourth Hallows Eve album.

  • Oh, wow, I'm REALLY curious about that now! You gotta tell me more about this. (laughing)

    There was a version of Hallows Eve after Stacy left, then I broke ways with Dave and there was some shuffling around. Actually, the name Hallows Eve still had a deal with Metal Blade and they were willing to continue with Hallows Eve. So I went and got three other guys, rehearsed all the old material, and we actually played a few shows! We played around here in Atlanta, we played at the Masquerade.

  • When about did this take place?

    This was between 1990 and 1993. We still had a deal and Metal Blade said they would recognize this new lineup as Hallows Eve. So we sent in a demo tape and they decided they didn't like it. So I got disconnected from Metal Blade and we decided to shop around for a new deal. We talked to like Massacre Records and we couldn't come to terms, frankly because I was asking for money.

  • The business has changed so much since the early 80's, you know all you needed was a demo tape and you needed to prove that you were out there and had a name for yourselves, but nowadays you can just email somebody that runs a small label over in France. If a band is really good, I believe that it should be too easy for a GOOD band to get signed. I know people sometimes want a big record deal and money, plus distribution, but sometimes that's not the reality of the situation.

    Right. With bigger labels, the distribution is what you're going to get out of it, but it takes so much promotion and so much money to put into something to make it a huge, multimillion seller.

  • Now you mentioned something about your drummer, what happened to him exactly?

    There were a lot of drummers, actually. Tym Helton came back, actually, the last time I saw Tym was like 10 years ago, I don't even know where he is. All of us that were in Hallows Eve were longtime Atlanta residents, we all grew up here. I'm sure he's still around, I'll probably bump into him one day. David is still around, every now and then I hear "I saw David the other day, blah blah blah" from somebody, in a club or something. Stacy's still running around, the last thing I know is he was doing his own business, running around in Atlanta.

  • The funny thing about Stacy Anderson, the last time I saw him he was actually ON stage in a band called Big Twin Din, of course they started out as just Din but had to change their name (due to the Cleopatra Records' signed electronic act known as Din).

    I liked that band.

  • Yeah, I did too. I talked to him briefly before his show, where he was playing on the Blockbuster stage at a White Zombie show. He gave me the impression that he just was not interested in ANYTHING to do with Hallows Eve. It was his whole vibe and attitude in general more than just what he said. Basically his opinion was that it was just so long ago. Even with all the heavy ass death and black metal bands today, "Death And Insanity" is one of those timeless records that can still be enjoyed today. And I don't give a damn what anybody says about it, they can kiss my ass!

    (laughing) There's a whole bunch of albums like that. There's a whole slew of bands that, if they had stayed together and kept plugging at it, they could still be out there now. I think you could get much better than opening slots in bars and large clubs, and get some occasional good opening slots for majors. Overkill is still running around...

  • God, after 13 years... It's amazing isn't it?

    Voivod pops up every now and then. Razor...

  • Did you hear the latest Voivod record? That was just a horrible album. If Jason Newstead had ANYTHING to do with the writing of that album, then he totally ruined that album for Voivod. Snake is back, but he's singing in a way that I almost don't recognize him. You remember that snotty, sneering kind of vocals he had on "Killing Technology?" He just does not sound like that at all, it's almost like he's trying too hard to sing in a cleaner, more alternative style. I'm sorry, but that HAS to be Jason's influence, and I DON'T like it.

    Snake's on another project I think, with a bunch of other musicians.

  • So I guess the million dollar question would be WHAT exactly would it take to get Hallows Eve fully reformed? I mean, I know that constant touring might not be a reality, after all we are older, have kids, lives, jobs and what not. Maybe even if just a recording or a few reunion shows were done.

    I don't know about a reunion, because like you said, Stacy's not even interested.

  • Well, I am! Omen did that actually, when they reformed, the only original member left was the guitarist. New vocalist, new drummer, and what not and they were actually working on a new record with that new lineup! Of course, with a reformation you try and get as many of the original members back as possible, I even talked to Skully about it, I said "would you be interested in playing guitar on this or anything?" I think he had to think about it because of where he's at in life right now. It didn't sound like it was totally out of the question for him. I would love to see it whether I'm in the band or NOT.

    The guy to get to do it is the guy who took over after David. He played in Hallows Eve for about as long as David! We didn't disband until '93, that guy's name was Pete. He learned the whole catalog, and that's the guy that might actually do it. He lives way down in Fayetteville, though. I tried to put it together.

  • (We started talking about WREK, the Atlanta radio show I guest on every once in awhile, and mentioned about how Pentagram could have been on a major label instead of Judas Priest [see issue #30 for details]). It's amazing in this business how that one second, or one opportiunity can be a turning point for anyone.

    I know everything would be different right now if I had something different at that one moment. I guess it happens to a lot of musicians, but for me, when Dee Dee Ramone was about to be run out of the Ramones, at the end of '88. Hallows Eve was on tour. We were up there in New York, and the very day Stacy quit Hallows Eve we were sitting on the side of the road, getting ready to go across the street to get something to eat. Stacy apparently got a cab, went to the airport and went home, refusing to come back. Even though we still had like 4 more shows. I called him at home, and he said, "No, I don't want to do this any more." He said lots of other stuff too. We got on the phone looking for every other singer in the world we could think of, and here we are ON TOUR! We were supposed to be playing places TWO DAYS LATER! I was at a place called the Cat Club. I was there and Joey Ramone came in and happened to sit next to me. The place is really surrealistic because there were all these people there that were really somebody. And here they were all sitting next to each other; a lot of them had nothing to do with each other musically. Hell, I stepped on Yngwie Malmsteen's foot coming in the door!

  • (what else can I do but laugh here!)

    Anyway, Joey and I started talking about stuff, and apparently he listens to a lot of kinds of music, because he was aware of who we were. He told me they were going to break ways with Dee Dee and asked me if I wanted to try out for the Ramones! It was at that moment, I just didn't know what to do! Because we had just signed a new deal with Metal Blade for 8 new albums! "Monument" was the first album (under the deal), and each of the three albums had successfully sold double the last one.

  • So apparently Metal Blade thought they were going to get a good investment out of this.

    Yeah! Well, I'm thinking I'm in this band and I'm a partner, and Joey told me what it would be like joining the Ramones at that point: he said you would not really be a business partner right off the bat, and it was kinda low money. So here I am thinking, I'm on tour, we're up and coming, and at that time, you have to think that in 1988, the Ramones were kinda downhill and weren't considered to be the legends that they are today. But back then they appeared to be over. It was really shaky as to whether they were even going to continue. So I told him no! (laughter here). We were headlining in New York, drawing 1,500 people!

  • Do you regret that decision? I mean The Ramones weren't playing the kind of music you were doing.

    We had major label distribution, and all this stuff was going on, I even called David Wayne from Metal Church! I figured he would because he wasn't doing anything, or so I thought. We actually talked with Metal Blade about John Arch!

  • Wow, I LOVE that work he did with the first Fates Warning record! Our time is soon running out here, but I wanted to ask you who was responsible for all the lyrics? There's been some really cool lyrics written over the three albums.

    Mostly it would either be Stacy or I, nobody else wrote lyrics. 'Horrorshow' was one of mine. I'm planning on putting out a solo album myself that will have a new version of 'Horrorshow' on it.

  • Finally, how did you get hooked up with Metal Blade, did you send out a demo or something?

    We were all really surprised, we really didn't even TRY to get on a label. They heard about us through some fanzines, and back then there was no internet so fanzines were VERY important. Everybody did all this trading by mail, and there was this huge network of people trading music by mail. Brian said that everyday there was something on his desk about us, he said one day some fanzine he was talking to started talking about us, he walked by the secretary (the girl who sat by the front door) and she was listening to the demo tape that we sold to people through the mail.

  • What was on that demo tape?

    'Valley Of The Dolls,' 'Metal Merchants' and 'Hallows Eve,' in that order. What you basically hear on the album, that IS the demo tape. ("Tales Of Terror," - Ed.) We just basically recorded 5 more songs and called it an album. But anyway she was listening to something and he asked her what it was, she said it was Hallows Eve. He said, "huh, I've heard of them." He said he went out on the streets, saw someone wearing a Hallows Eve shirt, got in his car and turned on the radio and there we were. So he called us up and said "Do you want to make an album?" I said, "oh, yeah, we're making an album!" Apparently we were just in front of his face so much.

    SAMAEL. Interview with Vorph at The Masquerade in Atlanta.

    Samael. To me one of the greatest black metal records to ever come out of the 90's was the third Samael release "Ceremony Of Opposites." They have strayed QUITE far from the path today, a fact many who have seen them since their most recent 2 U.S. tours will attest. Only two songs from "Ceremony," the rest of their live set being comprised of tracks from "Eternal" and "Passage" ONLY. I was a bit skeptical about this band and review, and the "disco dancing" done on stage didn't help matters. Frankly, I was VERY curious about how their next record will come off, as I have to admit "Passage" was a VERY good album, while "Eternal" was, to me, utter crap. Anyone interested in the future endeavours of this Swiss band, along with just HOW they got away headlining over Strapping Young Lad and Cathedral, should read on...

  • For me, it's been a long time since I saw Samael live, I think it was 1994? I know you've been back a few times to the States.

    We were headlining with Dimmu Borgir and Monstrosity in 1999.

  • How was that show?

    It was great. The new album "Eternal" was just out, so it was kind of a good introduction for us. We should probably have worked the States a little bit better afterwards.

  • It's been a long time since you had "Eternal" out, do you guys have a new record coming out? What's going on (with Samael)?

    We're going to work on a new record when we go back to Europe in October. Then we'll see, it'll probably be out next year.

  • Are you still going to be working with Century Media?

    No. We just delivered them two different things, whether they released them or not, this is no longer our business. We are free now. We do not get along, and a lot of people know that.

  • The market in America is so strange. I'm hoping there's a big turnout tonight but a lot of shows, you see they don't really sell out. I'm sure over in Europe you probably sell out to like 20 or 30 thousand people a night.

    (long pause)...Well, that would be nice! I wouldn't mind that. (much laughter here).

  • I don't really know, I mean, I know you are from Switzerland, so I assume you've played there a lot.

    Not that much really, we have played a lot in Germany, because that's where the base for Century Media is. So we had the chance to have a lot of shows, and Germany's pretty close to us.

  • Well, if you're not on Century Media, how did you manage to get this tour?

    That was one of the problems with them you know? We said we wanted to do this tour, and they would say to us that we do not have a new record, so that will not make any sense and they will not support a tour. They didn't give us ANY support for this tour at all. At least we were able to do this tour without any help at all.

  • Can you give us any idea what the new record is going to be like? Do you feel like the older stuff is something that's been done and is in the past? Is it going to be more electronic oriented or more back to the roots black metal?

    I think "Eternal" is more electronic than people may have a taste for. We touched on it a bit further than we did on "Passage." The new record, I cannot say a lot about it, but definitely we'll have more guitar and it'll be more upfront. It will be a more guitar oriented album I believe.

  • If I'm not mistaken, I think Century Media has reissued the entire back catalog? How did you feel about that, because I think they did a pretty good job.

    Okay, if you think so, that's good. We were kind of invited to participate on it, but we were into trouble with them at the time, so they just decided to do it their own way. We did not have a word to say about it.

  • What was it like to work on Osmose Records?

    I don't have much to say, because actually we were the first band on Osmose, so they did not have any experience and we didn't have any as well. It was like both sides covering the business and trying to find their way.

  • Are you looking at potential labels TO sign with?

    We'll see. It's an open field right now. We're going to start working on the new album, and once we have something to present, we will try to do some shopping.

  • I look at lyrics on songs like 'Celebration Of The Fourth,' and my favorite of course is 'Baphomet's Throne...'

    We're not playing that one tonight.

  • You're not?

    It's very sad, because there's a bunch of people who are asking for it.

  • You must be tired of playing it. I guess you're trying to rotate the setlist?

    Kind of, and we actually only try to play as much new stuff as possible.

  • 'Flagellation' was a rather interesting track. To some people it might be a fetish song, but I see it more along the lines as a statement that to suffer and endure pain only makes you stronger.

    I think at a certain point you can always find a way to avoid pain. Being a teenager you know you will have to fight, face certain things in life. So you might put yourself in certain situations, or inflict yourself, just to prove to yourself that you can do it. But at a certain point it is a lot smarter to avoid the problem and go into it in a smoother way.

  • Were you ever in contact with anyone from the Norweigan black metal scene, like maybe Eronymous?

    Exactly. That was the guy I was working with.

  • There's a good book called Lords Of Chaos that chronicles the rise of black metal in Norway, and it really surprised me just how many people Eronymous was in touch with.

    He had that shop Helvete, and many people would go to his shop to get the newest stuff in Norway. At the time we had a 7 inch EP that we produced ourselves, and he was selling it in the shop. So I had been in contact with him "business wise." We didn't really have the same connection that many other people had though.

  • How did that affect you, when Eronymous was murdered, and Mayhem went through several different lineups and a couple of singers? Plus the church burnings as well.

    I didn't feel concerned by it. Whenever you push something to the extreme, you have to expect to pay the price for it.

  • "Ceremony Of Opposites" took a pretty harsh stance against christianity. How do you feel about that today, because I know your lyrics are quite different these days.

    Well, I think at the time I wrote the lyrics for "Ceremony..." I was pretty pissed off against the whole education I had. But at a certain point I knew I would have to deal with it and i just tried to take the best part of it and work myself my own way. Bitching against something doesn't bring you anything back, anything good. You have to fight for what you think is right, that's it. Not against something, FOR something.

  • I was really amazed that you landed a headlining slot, especially since Cathedral's history goes so far back, and Strapping Young Lad has been over here a few times already.

    Cathedral hasn't been here in a long time. Just like Cathedral and Strapping Young Lad are like ying and yang, and we kind of fit somewhere in the middle. It was originally just us and Cathedral in Europe, and then Strapping Young Lad got on the bill later.

    SINISTER ANGEL. Interview with Gregory Bolton.

    Unbeknownst to many collectors out there, Sinister Angel actually hails from my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. What may be even LESS apparent is the first and probably ONLY interview ever done with these guys will reveal that their history has far more importance and significance than even I, or anyone else for that matter, may realize. This is the same band that released a 4 track EP privately that ended up in the hands of a few European record collectors. Last time I checked, this EP was listed as being worth around 100 Euros. Laugh out loud along with me and discover how much this band has to do with the rise of another Atlanta based band, also reviewed in this issue...

  • I really want to start off by asking about the fact that you know Tim (the drummer) from Hallows Eve! I'm really curious about how you guys knew each other, especially with Tommy Stewart and Stacy Anderson.

    The deal with that was, in the early, early 80's, me and Tommy, and Rick from Sinister Angel, Stacy Anderson... Stacy got in there about the time I did, they already had a band called Warrior together. We got in there and started doing that deal, we played some pretty good local shows at the time with bands like Quiet Riot, Humble Pie and stuff like that. After that, everyone basically went their own way, and Hallows Eve started off from that. We basically went into Sinister Angel not too long after that, moved to California, and that's as far as that got at the time.

  • I thought you guys were always Atlanta based?

    We were, but we did that little EP that you have, and that was done here. We did it actually off of Buford Highway.

  • Wow, I actually live very close to Buford Highway!

    You know John Tyler? He had a studio over there, and now he has like a CD pressing company or something.

  • I was about to say, because for a private recording, that EP had a really crystal clear sound. The one thing I remember about it the most was, you could really hear those cymbal hits! (laughs)

    No doubt! Rick was playing one of those North kits. It's kinda curved, like an elbow shape. He played louder than anybody I've ever heard in my life. We did that deal and we got the bass player Jim right before that, and Bill the singer who is still with us of course. We went down there to MBI with Bill and Rick, basically to figure out recording techniques, studio stuff. We did that mini album just as like a demo to find a singer, we really weren't doing an album. We did 1,000 presses for nearly nothing and that was it.

  • What was with the move to California? Was it due to the better music scene out there?

    Oh yeah, at the time definitely. It was just the thing to do, kind of young and stupid and ready to go. They had much more of a band scene out there. So me and the bass player drove out there a couple of weeks before the rest of the guys.

  • So what happened while you guys were out there, it seems like you didn't do anything else after that EP came out?

    We didn't! We got out there and we played, we lived out there for about a year, year and a half maybe. Bill had to move back, so we said, okay. We ran into a couple of other singers here and there. We had the bassist from Black Oak Arkansas out there, that was a trip because he was from Tennessee, so you could imagine what that was like! (laughs). We did that and it just fell apart. We kinda flopped around a little bit and Rick and I moved back. Jim stayed out there for awhile. I don't know exactly what's happened to him since tho.

  • It's kinda amazing that you have most of the original lineup back together.

    We didn't for a long time you know. We came back and we did other bands, Rick and I were in other bands that didn't do anything. And a few years ago I had finally talked to Bill, me and Rick have been best friends and we talked all the time. I called Bill and said let's do something. He has this 500 year old 12 track (laughs) and said let's see if this thing still works. We did a few things here and there, and then we started getting pretty serious about it a year ago. We bought a digital board and what not; I work for Yamaha so I get pretty good deals on this stuff. We got guitars and electric drum kits.

  • (laughing) You guys aren't having drummer problems are you?

    Ha ha, no comment!

  • The reason I ask is because I'm working with a band from my area called Ground:Xero, and they've had so many problems finding a drummer they just said they were going to use a drum machine. The Atlanta area is seemingly so devoid of drummers, so that's why I was rather shocked when you said you knew where Tym Helton (Hallows Eve original drummer) was!

    Well, that's just because of Yamaha, he was there before I was, for like 8 years. He and I did a band before. We got the digital board and all, anyway, and Bill is like an engineer in Mississippi at a 24 track studio. We recorded about 9 songs or so and the hard drive got fried! Everything we did was gone. This was about 3 months ago. We've already re-recorded which is pretty good because we actually have a better drum sound, and it's really paid off. We really know what we're doing now. I think we have about 5 songs redone.

  • You got any song titles or themes or anything that you've been tossing around?

    We have a song called 'Sin' which is pretty good. There's a song called 'Lucy' which is about Lucifer. (laughing) I kinda got a brain freeze here. Kinda along the lines of like Alice Cooper's "Brutal Planet," kind of along those lines. Not really heavy, heavy, but it's got balls.

  • It seems to me a shame that a band from the U.S. has very little imformation on it anywhere on the internet. The first time I heard about the band, was a little site called Metal Treasures, I think over in the Netherlands or something. There was a Japanese site that had the name and a picture of the album cover, and maybe one other site. That was it!

    I know. I freaked out the first time I got on Ebay, and I said what the hell? I punched it up and it was on sale there. It was sixty four dollars! I said, Jesus Christ! I still have about 3 boxes of them!

  • You've still got some of the records!? Damn, I'd love to have one of those!

    You would definitely be one of the first ones to get one. I've got those and Rick, Bill and I signed one of them, and we decided to see what an autographed record would go for. I've got that sitting in there, and I took pictures of it.

  • How did that do, how much did that go for?

    Autographed? I have no idea, we haven't even sold one. I've never sold one. I don't know who's selling these other ones. I remember years ago some guy from Texas called me, and I think I sold him about 50 or so of them. There was also some guy in Chicago I think who was selling them as well.

  • How did you go about the distribution of that, because I know you said you had, what about 1,000 copies? It's amazing when I hear that there's still copies left.

    Yeah. It wasn't on a label or anything, so there was no push, no financing or marketing, stuff like that. We figured, well, we'll take them to California, throw some out at truck stops or something (laughs). We went out there and we'd play like The Roxy and The Troubador, and just sell them. Of course back then, they were selling for like $5 or $10 bucks.

  • The material is really good, and I've always wondered about bands that just come out, put out like a 4 track EP or something, and that's all you ever hear from them! So I'm wondering, did you just not get any decent label offers, or was there just not enough interest or what?

    Well, at the time, the only offers we got were from like Belgium, West Germany, Poland...

  • Wow!

    Stuff like that, the Polish label was like, why don't you come over here and be our first heavy metal band! It was a little tough, and then plus the singer left, and we kinda had different directions on our music and stuff like that.

  • How is the new stuff going to be compared to the EP? I know you mentioned a heavier Alice Cooper type of sound...

    The EP had Iron Maiden kinda written all over it. That's what happens when your bass player was a Steve Harris freak. But you know, back then you couldn't beat it. It sounds corny but I think it's going to be pretty damn original sounding. I guess kinda like groovin' metal. With some slow parts...

  • And then it also picks up pace?

    Oh yeah.

  • That's what really impressed me with the EP. I've gotta be honest with you, I grew up listening to heavy metal in high school, I'm 32 now with roots in 80's metal. One of the things that ALWAYS pissed me off about 80's metal bands were these bands with these kick ass, rocking songs, and then they have to throw this ballad chick grabber thing on there. The first time I got this Sinister Angel EP, I'm looking at the song 'Love Breeds Misery' (intense laughter here from Gregory) going; yeah, here it is! Here's the chick song and then all of a sudden I hear the (heavier) guitars, and I'm like, YEAH. That's what I like. It sounds like, let's fuck with people a little bit.

    We were in the studio the other day, and we said, let's dick around with that a little bit. So we may even do one of those old ones again. Actually, we're thinking about doing 'Street Light Glamour' again.

  • Yeah, that's a really strange name for a song (evokes intense laughter from Gregory here). I'm really curious about the lyrical input for some of these.

    That's one that I wrote. It's just kind of your basic, modern day Jack The Ripper kind of deal. He like wears a mask and has a gun, it's like this guy running around glamorizing death, I guess. (Says in a sinister tone) "In the city streetlights!" You know, actually we did two other songs that weren't on that EP. Those are pretty neat too.

  • Are you going to rework those?

    I dunno, I don't know what we are going to do. As soon as we can get this new stuff done, and I've got a guy working on a website. That stupid hard drive failure really put us back. Dude, I was crying, I was in the store and over at Bill's house was all the stuff. I called him and I was like, "uh, ah, are you sitting down?" (laughs). I've got the masters and like the quarter inch reel. I don't know if it's even in one piece anymore. It's packed away and kept cool but...

  • You never know about technology over time.

    I still have those two songs. We may just try to redo it, and when we get the site up, just try to put that EP out on CD, just for the hell of it, and maybe put those other two songs on the end.

  • Make sure you keep the original vinyl versions too, because I'm sure people will want those strictly for collector's items.

    (laughing) I don't think that many people care as much about the album as much as they do for it being a collector's item.

  • That's what I was thinking too, because I'm looking at the Metal Treasures site right now and they're giving it a declaration of value at around 100 Euros. I guess they didn't realize that you still had like three boxes of them left! (MUCH laughter here)

    I think I have like 3 boxes, with like 50 in a box!

  • You should sell those!

    That's what's going to happen.

  • I'd even autograph them, there's plenty of room on that front cover to do so! (MUCH laughter again from both of us).

    I really don't want to get started too much on the web site until the new stuff is finished, so we can just throw it all out there.

  • It's really sad when I see a lot of Atlanta bands, I mean, they'll play shows opening up for bigger bands, release a CD independently that will get some airplay on WREKage, but they never seem to progress very far past just playing live here in this area! I think back to many Atlanta metal bands, and Hallows Eve was probably the most successful, along with maybe Mastodon today.

    As a matter of fact, I saw Tommy (Hallows Eve - Ed.) at Alice Cooper down at the Tabernacle a few years ago.

  • And you didn't mention that you saw Tym (Helton - Hallows Eve drummer)?

    I think he knows that I seem him, like all the time! I mean, I work with Tym. I think I told him this, but it doesn't mean he may have remembered.

  • When you did that 4 track EP, did you get any kind of press at all? Writeups in magazine, etc?

    Not that I remember. That could be one reason that it might be something a little more to get your hands on. When it says Private pressing, I mean that's IT! Basically if you get an album and then move, and nobody knows where you are and stuff. We were young guys, 2,200 miles from home and just struggling.

  • Is there any chance you are going out for label interest with this new record? I would hate to see this get largely ignored like the EP did.

    We definitely are. That's the point this time around, to do what we like to do and get a good sound. Just shop it around out there. Working for a living wouldn't be a good way to go (laughs).

  • So where are you guys located now? Are you IN Atlanta or one of the suburbs?

    We record over in Stone Mountain, that's where our studio is. I'm in Acworth, and we're all over the place.

  • I'm in Suwanee, I don't know if you know where that is.

    Yeah, you're living near the old Falcons training camp (Our professional football team - Ed.)

  • Well, it USED to be their training camp. Anything else you wanna say before we wrap this up?

    Not much, just tell everyone to keep their eyes and ears open, we're going to come out with some kick ass stuff.

    TAROT. Email interview with Zachary.

    Well, to be honest, with two great albums from the 80's in "Spell Of Iron" and "Follow Me Into Madness," this could have very easily been another interview with a classic 80's metal band. HOWEVER, as you may have already seen in the review section, Tarot are back with a brand new studio album! It definitely kicks some ass, and shows a side to Tarot I haven't seen in their first two releases (which, by the way, are up in the classic albums section). They ALSO have been making music throughout the 90's, a fact that was unbeknownst to me.

  • It's great to see a new album from Tarot, especially after how enjoyable both "Spell Of Iron" and "Follow Me Into Madness" were. Also surprising was just how heavy the new record was; did you feel you needed to write music that sounded more heavy like today's stuff?

    No, it was not the conscious choice, our music has been growing to the way it is today little by little. Actually we never think which direction our music is going, we just do it.

  • Speaking of the heaviness of this record, it was interesting to note that the heaviest tracks were at the beginning of the record, and the more melodic stuff near the end; was this to try and hook people who are into heavier music and maybe don't know of Tarot from the 80's?

    The order of the songs are always the problem when everything else is ready and we just thought this order could be the best way to keep listeners' interest up through the album. Of course, the opener always has to be the heavy, catchy track in metal albums. As I said earlier, though, we don't want to make music by any trends, so there's not much calculating in this album.

  • I have both albums "Follow Me Into Madness" and "Spell Of Iron" on my website, and my big question is this: Will the two albums ever see a reissue on CD? I know one time they were both reissued but it seems even the reissues are sold out!

    There has been talk with our former record company about rereleasing our first three (albums) and live album maybe next year, but this is not in our hands, so we have to wait and see what happens.

  • I remember reading one review where the writer was upset about the song 'Blood Runs Cold - Happy End' from "Follow Me Into Madness," you know, the slight country guitars; and then you put those at the beginning of 'From The Shadows' off the new record, which I thought was funny as hell! Did you do this as a response to this guy? Or just something you thought to do that was funny like in the past?

    It was funny surely. I haven't read that review, but if somebody was upset for that it is really strange. As you know, country music is very far from our material, so we thought it would be a funny thing to start one fast track by playing country. Actually, it is my brother Marco who plays that part, somehow he had this little piece in his mind and we let him play guitar there.

  • One trademark of Tarot seems to be the "evil hand," though on this album the hand has these wicked snakes coming out! Was the album cover meant to be reminiscent of older album covers?

    Yeah! We met this artist Toxic Angel and we gave him a couple of ideas; burning human, icy area, etc. and he came up with this frightening hand there, so that was it. We are very pleased of his work.

  • Speaking of older album covers, why did you not use the original vinyl artwork on your website? The cover you have on there seems to be the reissue cover instead of the original cover with the famous hand!

    You mean the second album cover? ("Follow Me Into Madness," yes - Ed.) It was so bad that even the Japanese company changed it for the Asian market and when we released the CD version in Finland we used the same cover. Those vinyl versions are so rare today that even we don't have them.

  • It's almost hard to believe that the vocalist on this new record is the SAME GUY from the very first album! Was it difficult for him to learn how to sing in a rougher style? I loved the coughing he did after the song 'I Rule' as if he couldn't handle it anymore!

    Marco has always been very skilled with his voice, as you can hear how he is singing in Nightwish; very melodic and very rough. Some of these new songs needed a rougher style of singing and it was no problem to him to vary his voice. By the way, this coughing in the 'I Rule' (song) is done by Peter James Goodman actually, but the idea was exactly what you said.

  • I'm curious about what the 80's metal scene was like for you. Did you do lots of tours inside or outside your country? I am curious about bands you played or toured with, and any funny stories you have to tell from the road (I remember reading how Metallica's roadies were impressed at the huge size of your Marshall Stacks!)

    It was a whole different time compared to today. In Finland we had lots of little stages here and there in the middle of nowhere. You could do about a hundred gigs in the year playing in the forest stages wondering where the hell all those people are coming from. Today most of those stages are closed. Pity. Metallica's roadies ordered empty cabinets for the show, but we brought them 24 normal cabinets and I think they didn't like to carry them onstage, hee hee! Those days we were in many festivals where was headlining bands like Twisted Sister, Accept, and many, many other great acts. The 80's was all partying, those were the days.

  • It seems like it has always been you and Marco as the main core members of Tarot from day one. Is it difficult for the two of you to agree on what styles and sounds go on each record?

    We never have problems with the style but of course we have to discuss what kind of sounds, mixing and so on we are going to do for the new one. James is one hell of a producer and he is the main guru of sounds when we are in the studio.

  • I remember when you used to be called Purgatory, but the only other Purgatory I remember from the 80's was the one that released their one and only album "Tied To The Trax," and they were from the U.S. Did your label really think there would be a problem with a band from the U.S.?

    The reason to change the name of the band was that late in the year 1985 we got our first record deal and the company asked us to change our name to something easier to pronounce for Finnish people and in some drinking session we ended up with the name Tarot. Nothing more in that!

  • What are future plans for Tarot? Any song titles or themes for the next record you might be working on? Hey, while I'm throwing out straws, any plans for a U.S. company to license this record or bring you to the States for a tour? I don't see why Century Media wouldn't pick up this record.

    Of course you are always writing new songs, but it is far too early to say which are for Tarot and which are not. This time we want to give Marco enough free space to concentrate on doing the forthcoming album for Nightwish. All right, Nightwish is on Century Media in the States, so maybe they are interested in us in the future, who can say?

  • What sort of record deal has Spikefarm offered you, and how are they doing for you as a label?

    I'm sorry, but contract details are classified, hee hee! The deal is really good for both of us and it is for this "Suffer..." album only. If everything goes fine we'll do another contract for the next one. We don't want to hang in five year/five album contracts and great thanks to Spinefarm they understood our situation.

  • I'm not going to go too much into what the songs mean, but one track that caught my eye lyric wise was 'From The Void,' especially since I have been studying astral travel recently; I'm curious if you have as well, and I'm curious about your beliefs where the human soul is concerned.

    I'm not the right person to analyze Marco's lyrics, but I know he has been all his life a big sci-fi and fantasy fan so that is the source. He also mixes his own ideas and experiments of real life into those, so this is all I can say. My belief of the human soul...what the question...what can I say, I don't actually think about it much, but I like to believe there's something else than worms after death.

  • Finally, what do you find you miss the most about the 80's era of metal? And what did you hate most about it? For me, the one thing I REALLY hated about 80's metal was all the "heavy" bands that felt they had to write a ballad type of love song!

    Hee. Even we had heavy ballads in our records, but they were not love songs. What I miss from the 80's... This may sound strange but I really liked this Glam look somehow, maybe it is an influence of heroism or something? One thing I hated was so many untalented shitty bands got the record deals and they cried out loud in every magazine and media they are the best of the best, then they faded away.

    THE HAUNTED. Interview with Jensen at The Masquerade in Atlanta.

  • This is like your third time over here in the States isn't it?

    Yeah, I think so. It's our third or fourth tour, but we've done a few odd festivals as well.

  • What festivals?

    We did the San Bernadino metalfest.

  • Who all was in that?

    Testament, Witchery, all kinds of bands, I can't remember.

  • So you pulled double duty again, eh? (laughing)

    Oh yeah. It's not a problem, man.

  • Yeah, that's cool. I mean, you're on for like, what 30 or 45 minutes?

    No, it's a Koshik festival. Headlining bands get 10 minutes each. Testament got 2 songs.

  • What kind of festival is that???

    Haven't you ever been to a Koshik festival?

  • I went to the New Jersey Metalfest, but most of the bands got 35 minutes, even early on in the day.

    That's because they're paid to play. So he won't cut them because he'd have to pay them back, and the bands that actually sold the tickets, he can cut them because they have already done their part.

  • Every band played at least 35 minutes. Even the bands that sold tickets. What it was, most bands got 45 minutes and the bands had to set up their equipment within that time, so it got to be about 35 minutes playing time. Headlining bands I think got around an hour and 15 minutes; maybe you're thinking of the New England Hardcore and Metal Festival?

    No, that's the best festival in the U.S.

  • I don't know, I thought Jersey was great last year, that was the show that had Diamond Head, Nuclear Assault, Saxon. That's why I was there because I'm a big fan of that 80's metal.

    So am I. I know when we played New Jersey Metalfest, Sentenced came all the way over from Finland for a one off gig to play 4 songs.

  • Damn, that almost seems like it wasn't worth the trip! Anyway, there's a song on the new album called 'Shithead' I really love, and it's dedicated to some guy, which I thought was odd, can you explain that a little bit?

    Marco wrote those lyrics, shithead is obviously a nickname for a heroin addict. His best friend's brother was a heroin addict, and he was alive when he wrote the song and recorded it but he died before the album came out. So it's an anti-heroin song.

  • The new record is quite awesome, I'm really into it. It seems like you delve into a lot of murder themes!

    Not too much, though people have labeled us that. I think it's the album title "The Haunted Made Me Do It" that's sticking out. We cover a lot of topics. There's a double meaning in songs, like if there's a song that says "I'm sneaking through your room and stabbing you in the back," that could be like about your best friend...

  • Like a two faced person. Did you do any of the lyric writing on this album?

    No, I hate writing lyrics! (laughter). I'm a guitar playerman, that's how I express myself.

  • I really like the song 'Godpuppet' a lot. I notice, well, especially with Witchery, there's some slight anti-christian themes. (turns to Chris) Don't worry, we're not going into that again!

    I don't have anything against religion, and Marco wrote most of those lyrics...

  • Oh, I DO.

    I'm sure you have a lot more trouble with church going people down here, and censorship...

  • I was actually surprised that bands like Mayhem and Dark Funeral came over here and didn't get run off. It just seems to be mainly right here in the southeastern U.S. where you have all this religious fanaticism and shit. I know it's prevalent all over the world, but damn, it's what people want to do, it's their business, leave them the fuck alone!

    We don't have those kinds of problems over in Sweden.

  • It seems like every time I turn around, there's yet another band coming out of Sweden! Also it seems like many band members are pulling double duty (in other bands).

    It's a small country, there's 9 million people there. There's a lot of bands and it's...

  • It's a pretty tight knit family?

    Yeah, you'll always get "Hey man, let's do something one day;" it's not like I mean, you live in New Jersey and this other guy lives in Orlando or something. You can easily drive to Stockholm or Gothenberg, which are the two major cities.

  • The last time I talked to someone from Sweden, they said that there was a lot of bands from the region, but there weren't a whole lot of places to play. Has that changed?

    No, there's never been a... Well, the late 80's there was a scene but there's no scene now. Everybody's in a band and everybody's on tour I guess.

  • So I'm guessing that you guys are pretty much a priority for Earache, because I mean damn they've brought you over here to the States like 3 times now...

    No, no, no. We don't get help from Earache. We paid for our own tickets.

  • No help from Earache at all? That's surprising. What is your deal with Earache, do you work with the U.S. office and the U.K. office or what?

    We deal with the one that we are in, if we're touring in the U.S. then we deal with the U.S. office.

  • (Chris Miller throws a question in there): One quick question: When you were doing the Witchery and The Haunted tour, how was it to play the whole tour, with both bands, night in and night out?

    60 shows in one month. One hour each? No problem. I mean AC/DC they play 2 hours at least every night, and what is he, like 45?
  • (Chris again): Shit, 45? Try 55!! (much laughter).

    Once you get going, you know? It's like a marathon; it's the first hour that hurts, then you just keep going, you know?

  • What are you guys playing live mostly? I'm not asking you necessarily what you are playing tonight... I'm just curious how the set list goes.

    We have three albums out, a third of the live set is from every album. You know, there's good songs on every album.

  • LOTS...(laughing)

    Yeah. The "One Kill Wonder" album we wanted to perform a live feeling to it. It's more aggressive I guess, it's the way we sound live.

  • Your merchandise lady mentioned you had a DVD out, and I noticed that the track listing looked almost exactly like the track listing from the album. In addition to the live video footage you also get a live music CD all in one package!

    It's from the Japan tour with In Flames. When we came to the Tokyo show, we found out that In Flames was recording the show, so we asked them if they could just throw in a few tapes and record us as well. So we came totally unprepared and just recorded the whole thing, visually and audio. At first Earache put out the live CD and then they did the DVD. The thing is, though, if you don't agree with the label, they will do it anyway, they'll do it without you having anything to say about artwork; no input at all. The live album "Live Rounds In Tokyo" came with "The Haunted Made Me Do It." So the fans said why should we buy this when we already have the CD? And then they released the DVD, which had the visuals. It's the live CD with visuals.

  • It seems like you're not really pleased with Earache.

    Well, we are. This last album they've done a whole lot for us.

  • Well, they need to. I mean touring is great and everything but you really need to have records out there. And to be perfectly honest, I have seen The Haunted records in regular music stores I've been in. You have to get the labels to go to magazines and say "you want to do interviews?" go to record labels and do sound scan, find out how many copies of the record are being sold. I've seen bands that have great press and promotion for the first record, then when their second album comes out, there's almost nothing done for the band, and people are like "What, I thought you guys were dead," you know what I mean?

    Yeah, well, what can I say? Labels are sketchy.

    WIZARD. Interview with Snoppi the drummer via email.

  • I must say, I am pleased with the new album "Odin," but it seems a bit more, shall I say, "serious" than "Head Of The Deceiver." I do like "Head..." a bit more though, mainly because those songs are a bit more, let's say, "fun." How do you view the progression from "Head Of The Deceiver" to the latest one?

    I know what you mean. The new album sounds more "professional" because it is cleaner, the sound is not so raw, everything can be heard very well. Also the voice is much more "professional." Some people say it's more commercial but that's bull. We don't even earn money with our music! It's hard to explain the progression between both albums. For me nothing was new. We did the songs like we did them the last 15 years. I think the most influence is that we recorded with Piet Sielck, and he had a big influence on the sound. That's all. Perhaps you would understand, if you listen to our songs live, that there is a big difference between the old and new songs.

  • Whereas the lyrics on "Head..." seem to deal with the whole "Metal is the law" attitude, the lyrics and songs on "Odin" seem to deal with the Norse gods and rather tell a story song by song about the rise and fall of the gods.

    No, the "Head..." was the third album in a concept about the Wizard, the four thunderwarriors, battles, metal and so on. But not every song was in this concept. We wrote in general very many lyrics about heavy metal. The Odin album is a concept album about Odin. It describes the story about Odin, who knows that the world will go down (Ragnarok), but he can't do anything against it (that's why he looks so sad on the cover). At the end there is a big fight between mankind and the valkyries, and all die... Liner notes are written in the limited edition, so if you are lucky and are interested in the story, you get one of those limited CD's!

  • One thing that puzzled me, I know your third album "Bound By Metal" was reissued by Limb Music, but I would love to see your first two albums "Sons Of Darkness" and "Battle Of Metal" reissued; is there any chance that will happen?

    Yes, Limb Music asked us if they could re-release the two albums together with the next release. But at the moment we don't want to re-release them. They are sold out, and that's okay. Lucky people, who got an album. Sometimes you can get one of them at Ebay very cheap. :> I don't know if very many people want to own the album.

  • What was the record label you were on for the first two records, and why did that association end? I know many diehard Wizard fans (like myself) would love to hear those two discs!

    It was my own label called Bow Records. Because of the fact we were not interesting for metal labels in 1994, I founded my own. But at that point of time we never expected to seel more than 50 copies of one album! It was unbelievable when we realized that there were people who also liked our music. With our third album we got a deal with B.O. Records, so we did not need my label (without distribution) any longer. I would have loved to sign other bands, but for this I did not have enough money. And if I try to do things, I want to do them good and not half or bad. So I gave up my label.

  • One thing I have always liked about Wizard songs is the tunes themselves have great sung lyrics and catchy choruses you can have sticking in your head. Was this an inportant concept in writing albums? I'm curious about what goes into the making of a Wizard song, and are there ever any ideas that are rejected, as maybe not fitting of a Wizard song?

    Puh, that's a good question! Yes, we care about that you can sing the chorus very easy. So people remember these songs very well. We like this kind of music. Also if we wanted, we could not play another style of metal. I can't explain it. When composing songs, you don't think very much about it. It's there or it is not there, the feeling and the rhythym. You know what I mean?

  • Would it surprise you to know that your three available records on Limb Music are somewhat readily available here in the States? I know I have seen "Head Of The Deceiver" and "Bound By Metal" in a few record stores here, and I actually bought "Odin" at a Tower Records here in Atlanta!

    That's very great to hear! I often get emails that people can't get our CD's. (Especially in Italy, Sweden, or Norway). So it seems that the distribution in the U.S. is better than in some countries in Europe.

  • The track 'Unicorn' from "Bound By Metal" was a cool song, and as far as I know, probably the closest thing to a ballad you have ever written. I don't know how you feel, but one thing I always hated about kick ass 80's metal bands is their insistence on writing a sappy love ballad, something to try and get radio play or to get women to come to their shows.

    Ha ha, so you did not listen to our CD "Battle Of Metal." There are very much ballads on it, and the bad thing is that they all come one behind the other. So there are about 20 minutes (from 74) where only ballad sounds are played. I like these songs very much, but I guess most fans don't like them as much as our hard songs. But that's okay. We are not limited to playing certain songs. If we like it tomorrow, we will compose 3 ballads for the next album, ha ha! And believe me, we never got airplay with our "Battle Of Metal" album, or more women (at our shows).

  • Speaking of 80's metal, besides Manowar which I am sure is your obvious first answer, are there any rare, classic or obscure 80's metal bands you can still listen to on a daily basis? Me I like stuff like Iron Angel, Hobbs Angel Of Death and I have lots of this stuff on my website to listen to!

    Of course we listen to Manowar (especially our bass player Volker). But for me they are not everything, they are one good band from a lot. I can't say that I listened very much to "unknown" bands in the 80's. I never had very much money to buy albums, and if I had, I bought the albums of usual main-metal bands like Slayer, Testament, Kreator, Sodom, Metallica, Anthrax, Helloween and so on. I know, it's not very "insider like," but I can't change it. Also today I can't spend very much money for CD's, so I only own about 400 or so.

  • How do you feel about Manowar these days? I must admit, I liked some songs off their newest release "Warriors Of The World," but not the whole album. Some feel that Manowar has gone a bit downhill these days, not really writing the epic songs that people know and love from the past.

    I can't say very much about the new album, because I never listened to it. I only know the songs they play on MTV here in Germany (or VIVA). I also liked the song, but it was no "song of the year." Just a good song, nothing more and nothing less. What I see is that they are in shows like "Top Of The Pops" or "Popkomm" in Cologne (Germany), and I don't like that very much. But they have to decide by themselves what they do and don't do.

  • Well, one Manowar album I really like parts of is "Into Glory Ride," a record that Manowar doesn't seem to keen on playing live. I really dig 'Gloves Of Metal' and 'The Warlord' off that album.

    I don't know what songs they play live. I only saw them one time, and that's a long time ago. I own the album "Into Glory Ride," but I did not listen to it for a very long time, so I can't say what songs I like most on that album. The strongest album for me is the "Kings Of Metal." But today I also like "Fighting The World" (when it came out, I hated it because of the sound samples).

  • I have since heard you are getting ready to work on a new album. Any song titles, ideas or themes that will be on the next release?

    Yes, we work on new songs and have finished 3 (at the time of this writing - Ed). It's very hard to decide what lyrics should be used. We don't want to write another concept album, and also we don't want to write each song about metal and kill posers and such themes! Of course, also nothing political. So it's hard at the moment to get the right ideas. The musical stuff is like it always was, just Wizard typical heavy metal. There will be no big changes.

  • I remember reading you have a big fan club down in South Africa! How in the world did that come about? Do you have any idea about how many fans you have down there?

    Oh, the person who wanted to do it emailed me and asked if he could do a Wizard fan club. I said that he can do of course whatever he wants, and I would give him always the latest news about us and info material and so on. So he started it, but after awhile I never heard from him again. That's a bit disappointing, he also didn't update the site.

  • Tell me a bit about your artist. I really dug the kick ass artwork on "Head Of The Deceiver" and of course "Bound By Metal," but the coolest art yet is found on "Odin." You had used Jorg Scheibner for your previous two releases, and I'm wondering why you switched artists, was it before or after you saw a concept idea for "Odin?"

    The concept is completely from us (as it was for "Bound By Metal" and the "Head..." albums). So we tell the artist exactly what he has to draw. We changed because our label wanted to (I don't know why, I was very satisfied with the artwork of Jorg Scheibner). We first wanted to take the artist who also made the Rhapsody covers, but the guy moved from Cologne to Asutralia and he was so busy with that, he could not finish it in time. So we contacted the new artist who made the "Odin" album. I also like this album, I think he has done a good job!

  • The website you built seems to be doing quite well and is even animated! I am curious how you see the internet in getting the word about bands out; I know back in the 80's it was all about tape trading, fanzines and word of mouth.

    I like the internet very much. I programmed everything on our site by myself (including guestbook and forum). For me it's a great medium to use if you want easy, fast and cheap information. I am online 24 hours a day, and I use it very much. My job also has to do with the internet.

  • How has the band lineup been since day one? It seems like from what I've seen, the lineup has stayed consistent; at least from "Bound By Metal" to "Odin," the lineup hasn't changed, which is a rarity for many bands!

    Yes, we never changed our lineup. We were first 6 metalheads, but we kicked out 2 guys and we other 4 stayed. So we made metal together since 1989 (somewhat about that year, I don't exactly know when it was). We are just 4 friends who like metal and who play different instruments so that we can build a band. We like to drink and play together, so why should we change our lineup? We are friends from when we were young, so it's not only a business relationship between us, but real love and respect between each other. And that's a great feeling, you can believe me. Of course I know that this is very, very rare in the history of bands.

  • In a past issue where I interviewed Manowar, I was a bit disappointed to find out that as much as they sing about Viking heroes, lore and mythology, they aren't really into the whole theme other than to write about them in songs, so I'm curious how you view the Northern Nordic warriors. I find myself fascinated with them and have done lots of reading and studying about them in an attempt to learn more.

    I have to say that I don't know much about that theme. I am christian, and Odin is not my religion. But the lyrics were written by our bassplayer Volker Leson. And he is absolutely fit in this theme, Odin is his real religion. He really believes in these gods around Odin (for me it's bullshit, but everybody can choose his own religion). So he has also studied very much in these stories. If you have special questions or want to share opinions, feel free to mail and ask him: (Of course, everybody is free to mail him).

  • FInally, please tell us about your deal with Limb Music? How many albums have they contracted you for, and do you know if they plan on bringing you to the U.S.?

    We have signed for four albums, so we have to do 2 more for them. At the moment it does not seem that they want to bring us to the U.S.

  • Have you ever been to the States before, whether just visiting or on any other business, and if so, what did you like and hate about America?

    I was there a long time ago. I read an offer in a metal magazine (Metal Hammer). I think it was about 1995? A drummer was searched in Los Angeles, and so I decided to fly directly to that office. They were very surprised when seeing me, they never expected that such an idiot like me would come to USA for this job. Unfortunately the job was not free anymore, so I had 1 week holidays and enjoyed Venice Beach with a friend of mine. It was very interesting and I liked it very much. Of course, there are also themes that I don't like about the U.S., but those are mostly political and I don't want to discuss them here. That would take too long and would have nothing to do with heavy metal. In general I like the U.S. very much and would be very happy to visit your country again, in private or with the band!


    Someone asked me the other day what I thought of certain publications, mainly Metal Maniacs and Lamentations Of The Flame Princess, and I thought I would use this space to "pitch a little fit" about what I see wrong with reviewers these days...

    Let's start off with Metal Maniacs. I have to admit the band coverage has gotten a LOT better since Ms. "Holy Vegan" Katherine Ludwig left the fold. I seem to remember a very distinct lack of coverage for black metal bands back in her day, and of course M.M. finally spoke to Glenn Benton from Deicide. Today it is a big thrill for me to be able to read cool interviews with bands like Carpathian Forest, Behemoth, Dark Funeral and what not in M.M., though the coverage admittedly comes many years too late... Still I pick the magazine up every time a new issue comes out. And my REAL bitch is with the reviews section each and nearly EVERY damn issue. Here's why. First of all, you have like 8 or 9 reviewers every issue, and how the hell are you supposed to get used to that many different tastes in music? Here at Vibrations of Doom, I realized very quickly that in order to be effective as a reviewer, you can't have 30 people all writing reviews, especially if you REALLY depend on magazine reviewers to tell you why a CD rules or sucks. Here's a great example of what I am talking about: Let's take the newest Nothingface CD, on TVT/Wax Trax Records. I'm sure if you sat those 10 reviewers down in a room, even if the record sucks total ass, you'd probably still find ONE reviewer that likes the record. And this "person" is the one M.M. would pick to do the review. In Nothingface's case, the record label they are on is a rather large one (think Mortal Kombat soundtrack) and probably put lots of advertising space behind the disc. So are you REALLY getting an unbiased opinion? Granted, some reviewers I can agree with, but you never have the same guy reviewing the same stuff on a regular basis. Let's see their track record for the last 7 or so issues: BOULDER "Reaped In Half." They raved all over the place about this CD, while I thought it hellaciously sucked. An older Sixty Watt Shaman release they loved to death, while I thought, once again, it sucked. And of course, how can ANYONE in their right minds think the new Nothingface is anything more than just rehashed Nu- metal? Granted, I have seen reviews I could agree with, but the point is you'd need SEVERAL issues' worth of reading to really understand what each reviewer's styles and tastes are. Not so here. And one more bitch, this goes out ESPECIALLY to Mr. Martin Popoff of Brave Words And Bloody Knuckles: We are not impressed that you spend hours upon hours reading the dictionary for new words to dazzle and impress. Instead of trying to cram as many four and up syllable words into a review, how about telling people how the music "SOUNDS." What it makes you feel, hell, tell people what sounds and styles they'll hear. We don't really need to see an entire page of words the vast majority of us will never use in a year's time. Some of his reviews I've just looked at and went, "You know, this guy really doesn't say anything half the time." I don't know what his writing is like these days, but that book of his "The Big Book Of Heavy Metal" or some such wording, it just seemed so ignorant of the history of music a lot of times. Like giving early Sodom albums a 0, slagging off the greatest Hawkwind albums in history; sounds like he hates death and thrash metal right? Well, towards the later end of his book, funny how EVERY Century Media release ranks AT LEAST a 7 or higher. Funny too when you notice that the back of the book has, Geez, a Century Media CD sampler... I'll leave you to ponder that thought...

    Finally, Lamentations Of The Flame Princess... Jim Raggi is a pretty good, pretty HONEST guy. I mean, he does an interview with Agent Steel and ADMITS that his knowledge of 80's metal isn't really that intensive. But damn, this guy seems so cynical and jaded sometimes! This guy hasn't been doing a 'zine NEARLY as long as I have, and if anything "I" should be the one going "Damn, all these bands sound the same." And as much as Jim loves power metal, to see him slag on Edguy, Avantasia and other Power metal records really shocked and surprised the hell out of me. Of course, I think from Jim's standpoint, he's looking for bands that are doing something above and beyond just the basic 4 chord guitar riffs, singing, drums and bass guitar riffs. Throw in some folk melodies and a set of bagpipes and he'll look a bit harder at some of this stuff... Now don't get me wrong, I'm not ragging on Raggi here (Hee hee) but one still has to admit his interviews are a lot more in depth and cover a lot more than the standard, everyday questions that EVERY metal magazine asks. I try to cover a lot of intellectual and philosophical ground with bands, because let's face it folks, a LOT of bands really have interesting things to say. Even the ones writing gory lyrics. And people really want to know what makes their favorite musicians tick. Hell, some probably even want to know what these guys eat for breakfast. Let's put these musicians on common streets and sidewalks and make them seem like normal, everyday people just like us. Maybe that barrier between the audience and the performers make these people seem larger than life, but let's also be honest: these people have bills to pay, just like us, these people go grocery shopping, have wives and girlfriends that they love (or guys and boyfriends), they have religious interests, they have opinions on politics, and every once in awhile, I do an interview with bands and I really LEARN something from them. I have done interviews where the bands actually learned something from ME. Granted, this ain't no classroom, but damn I try to keep chats interesting, even when the interviews are done by email.

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