AMARAN "Pristine In Bondage" (Listenable) SCORE: 54/100

This is a very odd release indeed, featuring female vocals that sound more like they'd be better off on a Gathering record than here with a heavy, thrashy set of instrumentation. Many times, the female vocals, while quite melodic, are a bit TOO melodic for the instrumentation, like on 'Atropine' and 'Primal Nature.' The nature of the vocals tends to make some tracks sound a bit more commercial than they probably otherwise intended. I admire the effort but it just doesn't work for me much. Starting out, 'Atropine' has low toned guitars and many times slower and more melodic guitar work. 'Revolution Without Arms' proceeded to annoy me though the slower, heavier guitars were slightly cool. The solo instrumentation tended to piss me off though. And that's the thing, you'll hear some nice guitar work, whether heavy or more melodic, but the combination of vocals and instruments aren't consistent enough. 'Without Stains' continued the downward spiral of my annoyment, and the commercial leanings are all too evident. To be fair, though, a song like 'Crow Me' was a definite surprise, especially since the guitar work is slow, dark and very haunting, and somehow our more melodic vocalist managed to match the mood of the song with a bit lower toned vocals. This is probably the best tune on the CD, and if more of the instrumentation and vocal work was as consistent as this then this would be a much better CD. However, I do often wonder with the music on this track being as strong, if any vocal style would make this work. It's also painfully obvious that the vocalist was involved in lyric writing, as the lyrics do sound a bit "poppy," I guess you could say, as some topics seem to cover women's emotional relationship type issues. Believe me, it's not that I don't like female vocalists or their writings, but nothing really fits well even if I'm admiring quite a bit of stuff... This is really a hard review to write, especially since I may come off as prejudiced towards women musicians. This is NOT the case, as you may know I am a HUGE The Gathering fan. Maybe this will appeal to some, though I can't say it's a horrible record.
Contact: Listenable Records, B.P. 73, 62930 Wimereux, FRANCE
Web site:

APOSTASY "Cell 666" (Black Mark) SCORE: 61/100

This band has so much going on that much of the heaviness and brutality are, quite frankly, stifled. The most vicious aspect of the band is their vocalist, and even his vicious blackened vocal styles seem buried at times. There's lots of melodic, almost gothic keyboard work, even lots of higher ended lead guitar soloing, it just seems to me like they're trying to pack too much into each song. 'Crowned In Thorns' starts the CD off with very dominant synth work, even going so far to utilize both death and black metal vocals. These songs, for the most part, don't really grab me, and it took me quite a few listens to figure that out. The best track on the album is probably 'Beneath The Lies Of Prophecy,' especially with that funny but really sick vocal sample at the beginning. This tune makes the best mixture of melodic synths and guitar work, and of course the vocals help this along well. It's a bit of a slower tune, so that helps. 'Beauty Of Death' starts out very well, especially when they utilize the start/stop riff structure, and even the faster riffs don't bog things down. They do vary the pace up from song to song, especially the crushing slower vocal/instrumentation mix on '7th Throne.' This isn't a CD I can say I can't stand, there aren't really any lousy tracks on the album, it's just that for me there's just so much going on in each and damn near every song that the song structures themselves aren't holding my interest. Synth laced black metal, if it be your fare, will probably hold your interest longer than mine. I have been hearing better lately (nice production job though).
Contact: Black Mark Records.

AREKNAMES "Areknames" (Black Widow) SCORE: 97/100

Damnit, damnit, DAMNIT I wish I could give this thing a perfect 100!! This is one of the most amazing CD's, and the most innovative and original, I've heard this year. It's VERY difficult to pinpoint to a T just what their sound and style consists of, but let's just say some of their influences are bands like Trouble, Sabbath, Pentagram, Angel Witch, and from the NON metal aspect, they enjoy Silver Apples, Donovan, Iron Butterfly, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Vanilla Fudge... That list freak out out enough? Well, let's say that the heavier ends of the metal spectrum aren't as prevalent (though lyric wise this could compete with Pentagram and Trouble/Vitus) as the amazing synth and organ work (reminding me at times of the trippy yet psychedelic sounds of the Hammond Organ like I've heard on Hacienda records) of the 60's. 'A Day Among Four Walls' starts the CD off in most epic fashion, and clocking in at over 12 minutes there's not a dull moment to be heard. Lemme tell ya what's just in this one song: melodic male sung vocals, some heaviness with the guitars and some slightly haunting passages as well. Some nice Beatles styled singing, a beautiful Pink Floyd atmposphere like you'd hear on some "Dark Side Of The Moon" tracks, even some slightly doomy riffs as well. And this track ends so dramatically you'd think it was the end track! 'Wasted Time' starts out rather sinister, even with the melodic sung vocals. The bass guitar notes are almost crystal clear here! And for good measure, there's some spacey synth notations ala Hawkwind of all things! Louder sung vocals add an extra dimension of heaviness on 'Down,' though the trippy synth and bass guitars are a plus! And of course there's the Pink Floyd like ending. Organs definitely rule the day on this album! The few points come off for 'Boredom,' as some of the instrumentation tends to be a bit odd, but it's really cool to hear the duelling organs flowing in and out. There's more solo instrumentation on this track as well. Finally, though, 'Grain Of Sand Lost In The Sea' ends the CD in unbelievably stellar fashion, complete with all the dramatics and amazing vocal/music interaction. This is one CD that blinded me into left field, and possibly the most original CD I'll hear all year. Definitely it will be in the top 5 of CD's released in 2004, that's for goddamn sure!
Contact: Black Widow Records, 16124 Genova ITALY, Via Del Campo 6R
Web site:

ASMEGIN "Hin Vordende Sod & So" (Napalm) SCORE: 95/100

This is a most unusual and enjoyable release! You'll find no less than 4 different vocal styles, and many tracks contain at least these 4! You have the death and black metal vocals, clean male and female sung vocals, and at times some screamed male vocals as well! It's got a little bit of everything in it, fast death and black metal parts, slow parts, and some amazing acoustic passages along with folkish strcutres. Finding out that Asmegin started out as a Norweigan Viking metal band was not surprising in the least! You'll also hear flutes, a jew's harp, fiddles and pianos, and god knows what else! One of my minor complaints about the CD is some of the passages tend to be a little off, and the extremely fast double bass drumming in a few spots (most notably on 'Over Aegirs Vidstragte Sletter' and 'Vargr I Veum') sounded really unnatural. And I'm still not sure about 'Vargr I Veum' with the unnaturally fast instrumentation: It just didn't seem to fit well with the female vocals. The baby crying sounds got a tad annoying as well, but really these are somewhat minor complaints when you see how well everything is put together. 'Bruderov Paa Haegstadtun' was a rather vicious headbanging tune, with very sick death and blackened vocals, but of course it doesn't stay that way long, as some slower passages come in utilizing the ultra cool cleanly sung male multivocal choruses. Egyptian like synths can be heard on this track as well. 'Huldradans Hin Gronnkledde' was a very different track from most of the album; this is most definitely one of my favorites, as it has beautiful acoustic guitars and amazing female vocals as well, including some flutes (and my readers know what a sucker I am for flutes!) Violins and flutes make up the majority of the epic instrumentation on 'Blodhevn' and you hear some really crazed screaming vocals on here! All in all, this is a CD that you will play MANY times over and still hear stuff on the fifth and sixth spins you didn't hear the first time around. Very diverse and NEVER boring!!
Contact: Napalm Records, P.O. Box 1983, Port Townsend WA 98368 USA
Web site:

AXENSTAR "Far From Heaven" (Arise) SCORE: 92/100

When I first started listening to this record, I must say I'm embarassed by admitting this, but for some reason the songs 'All I Could Ever Be' and 'The Cross We Bear' started sticking in my head. I tried to remember who the band was that sung those two songs, because that's who Axenstar sounded a LOT like. It must have been too long since I spun that record, because the band in question was Axenstar, via their first release "Perpetual Twilight." And that's what makes this a better record, because long after you've forgotten the band name, these catchy choruses will be stuck with you for months! This album has more catchier songs than the last album, but also a few that I wasn't crazy about. Like 'Blind Leading The Blind' I thought didn't develop the song structures as well, though not a horrible tune. And unlike the first record, there's a ballad of sorts in 'Northern Sky,' though the lyrics aren't your typical radio grabber; in fact, lyric wise this is something I might expect some of Norway's blackest elite screaming to. Anyway, yes, there's an intro to skip through, then 'Infernal Angel' hits you square in the face with some FAST keys and guitar work. Lyric wise this is pretty sinister, not the lyrical input I'd expect from a band like this. Shatter my perceptions, they do! Choruses, as I said, are the mainstay of this band, and the catchy choruses are all OVER the place, from the amazing dynamics of the title track to the slower paced number 'Abandoned.' The lead solo on 'Abandoned,' in particular, really surprised me at how they can go from playing hundreds of solos at 100 miles per hour, then actually have the class and skill to play slower but more emotional notes to prove they're not all about "look how fast and skilled I can play!" 'Blackout' carries things home in a fine fashion, and though there are some similarities in some of the tracks, they're very memorable and I'm quite pleased. Album number three, however, may need to show a bit of a varying style.
Contact: Arise Records.

BLODSRIT "Ocularis Infernum" (Oaken Shield) SCORE: 98/100

It's amazing to me to hear black metal played this tightly and with strong melodic feeling! I suppose comparisons could be made to Marduk, but I swear this band uses more high ended guitar work and melodic, melancholic passages than many other black metal bands I've heard. Tracks like 'Tragedies To Come' and 'Dying Breed' prove that the potent speed is there, but something sticks in my mind from track to track. This band is TIGHT. I mean, so tight you can hear the progression! They'll take a song like 'The Glorious Rise Of The Flames' and open it up with some amazingly melodic and almost sorrowful guitar work, then drop some really intricate lead guitar work of the 100 miles per hour variety. Still, for the speed they present, they're not bashing away at their instruments just to prove they can do speed. No track here is shorter than 4 minutes, but by the same token, no track is longer than 5 and a half minutes, which means not only lots of 4 and 5 minute songs, but further study reveals a band that knows how long they should play for. To be sure, it seems like a song has three or four instrumentation patterns, but true black metal fanatics should have very little to complain about. You want the atypical antichristian blackened lyrics? Read the words to 'Dying Breed.' I dare say this is a very strong record, very polished and professional, without sacrificing the qualities that I love about black metal. One thing I was upset about (not taking off points for this) was it was VERY difficult to read the song titles on the back of the CD, as this is all light and dark brown colors on black backgrounds. Sick and melodic at the same time, and also it seems to me VERY majestic. Kings of the blackened forest, I highly urge you to covet the woodlands that they dwell in.
Contact: Oaken Shield Records (distributed through Adipocere Records)
Web site:

CIRCLE "Sunrise" (Ektro) SCORE: 31/100

I first got introduced to this band and label when I asked the mighty Natas about getting their latest electronic/experimental disc. I didn't get a chance to review it yet, but this is the other band on this label. Hailing from (as far as I can tell) Finland, this is one STRANGE release. 'Nopeuskuningas' starts the disc off somewhat promisingly, as our main vocalist screams his way through this rather long track. It was cool for the first few minutes, especially with the fuzzed out, rather rocking guitar work. He even screams like a Mexican in a few spots! Pretty insane and I had hoped the rest of the CD was like this. Although, to be honest, there isn't much variety on that opener, especially clocking in at 7 minutes! Acoustic guitars and horrible vox carry on the next track 'Satulinnut,' and this guy now sounds like he's doing Hindu or Indian chanting! There's even some wierd synth notes. I thought these guys were Finnish? Anyway, 'Hautain Takaa' continues on with wierd distorted beats and some halfway interesting guitar work, heavy in fact. The vocals do tend to get a bit odd again but they're half screamed and shouted. Oh, and dig the xylophone notes! Not too bad a tune but I'm not raving about it either, though I think the best thing about this CD is hearing the singer just go psycho! Tracks 4, 5 6 and 7 don't do anything much for me at all, though on 'Vaanen Valtiatar' the alternative like acoustic guitar work was interesting. 'Kylan Suurin Miekka' had heavy guitar riffs somewhat like Slayer, but VERY annoying, ruining the mood and even the crazed shouting/screaming can't save this one. Another 7 minute go nowhere track, and almost no vocals. One final highlight and I'll leave you to possibly peruse the sound files: Closing track 'Lokki' which, by the way, clocks in at 15 minutes. NICE Hawkwing styled spacey synth and acoustic guitar work, it's very stable but WAAY too long and ruins the even longer ending by overtly distorting the instrumentation. Not much here I'd want to sit through more than once, though if they could tone down the wierdness... Maybe they should just give it up...
Contact: Ektro Records.
Web site:

END "End" (ISO666) SCORE: 68/100

Had this been a longer album, this probably could have ranked a better score. It's misanthropic, cold and interesting black metal; especially since for all the seeming lack of synth in the more standard, old school black metal songs, they make nice use of haunting acoustic riffs and sound effects. Track 1, 'Sick,' is a total throwaway track however. Yeah, okay, the low toned chanted vocals are nice, but the strange industrial like noises and (remember this is assumedly the intro) other electronic noises make this a waste of time. So major points off and we haven't even gotten to the meat of the CD yet! Track 2, 'Pitiless Paranormal Reek,' is everything you could want in an old school black metal type of song, even down to the Celtic Frost like slower guitar work. The lyrical stances definitely show a disregard for humankind, and surprisingly enough, the acoustic interlude was quite good, and even fit the melancholic mood that the blackened forests can conjure up! 'Nails And Forests' continues the assault, but first you have to sit through an unnecessarily long intro. Might be good for Halloween, and kudos for yet more dark acoustic work, but still I'm waiting too long for the blackened sickness. Once it does kick in, though, I find that the slower speeds really help make for diverse instrumentation! And of course, more cool chanted vocals and dark solo acoustic riffs. 'Humanitarianism' rips right into things with speedy blackened guitar riffs, and once again we catch glimpses of Celtic Frost worship. 'Come Blackness Feed Me' was probably one of the least desirable tracks here, as the guitar work sounded very odd on the rhythym notes, and the whole affair seemed a bit overrepetitive. I do believe the second half of this particular song fares better, especially the blazing speeds the main body of the song takes on. The last track is an instrumental, and it's a very well done one; nice synths, a dark atmosphere, and even though seemingly a bit too repetitive, this would be a GREAT opening intro for a band before they walk out onstage. Almost a bit medieval sounding I must say. As an EP, this MIGHT be worth picking up if at a reasonable price, however, if the fact that it's an import picks up the cost, I would HIGHLY recommend listening before buying, if at all possible. With two instrumentals, there's not really enough material to judge this band fully on, but I think their next full length might hold more promise.
Contact: ISO666 Releases.

EUCHARIST "Mirrorworlds" (Regain) SCORE: 86/100

I was listening to this alongside the Apostasy CD (also reviewed this issue) and this is more what I'm into. It's going to remind a lot of people of At The Gates, but it's pretty vicious and the vocal work is a bit harsher in many spots. The title track starts things off in quite brutal fashion, well, after the wierd noises play out for a few seconds. A definite headbanging piece here, the whole album is quite sick like this. And the great thing about Eucharist is the vocals do as much to build the songs as the instrumentation does! 'Dissolving' proves that the guitar work doesn't have to be ultra high ended to retain the melody (though a few lead solos will add them), and the melancholic guitar work in spots was a nice touch. 'With The Sun' proves as well that they can crank it out at a slower pace so there's much variety amongst the song structures. 'The Eucharist' was a very good instrumental as far as instrumentals go; a bit long, but one you'd still enjoy. I didn't see how 'In Nakedness' really fit what they were doing; it starts out with scratchy vinyl sounds, and does add some nice saxophone passages, but all in all I would have preferred one more vocal oriented song. Especially since this is only an 8 song affair. 'Fallen' had me almost ready to give up from the start, as there were some really odd guitar riffs opening this up, but soon it redeems itself with the ultra sick vocal work we're going to know and love. Quite a kick ass affair, probably nothing you haven't heard before, but at least done with fury and conviction. I do wish they'd have put a few more songs into this one, as it stands there's only 6 songs with vocals on them.
Contact: The End Records.

FALCONER "The Scepter Of Deception" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 93/100

Like I said on the WREKage radio show: "Isn't that clever!" (Referring to the album title). This is an album I was VERY worried about after hearing that the amazingly talented and medieval minstrel sounding Mathias was no longer a core vocalist for Falconer. However, he DOES make MANY guest appearances all over this album, and at least THIS Falconer album is a great effort. 'The Coronation' starts the album off in typical Falconer fashion, and a fine one in that. Swinging your mug 'o' mead will become necessary to enjoy this epic fully! There's lots of dual vocal work to be enjoyed, which also presents a problem: You never fully get to hear the new singer in his newest role, but suffice it to say that his range is seemingly higher than Mathias and it will be indeed interesting to hear how the new vocalists' higher range will make future Falconer songs sound more power metal oriented. 'The Trail Of Flames' is definitely a fast song, and even the choruses have faster vocal delivery, which almost threatens to choke the catchiness out of them. 'Under The Sword' continues the fine Falconer tradition of sounding almost folky and ballad like (and I don't mean in a female grabbing radio syrupy piece either). I especially love the start/stop/start riffs on this one. One thing that threw me for a loop is all the guest vocals on here, there are even female vocals as well ('Hooves Over Northland' and they are most evident on 'Ravenhair'). Wolf's Nicklas Olsson also does a few lines on the title track, but sad to say it's the vocal performance via "Black Wings," which I really didn't enjoy on that album or on this one. The title track also suffers from a rather unnecessary 8 minute length, though for all the time spent on this track there are some good moments, especially the medieval acoustic/vocal passages. The weakest track to me was 'Pledge For Freedom,' as the song structures failed to grab me, as well as the rather weak choruses (it's a slower tune as well). Beautiful lead solos can be found on 'Night Of Infamy,' and closing out the CD is a beautiful ballad like track from Mathias, which consists of sparse but amazingly beautiful and melodic instrumentation and a fantastic vocal performance. Too bad that this "song" is only 57 seconds! A few weak spots on an otherwise fine effort, though I have to admit Mathias' vocals are going to be SEVERELY missed. Be that as it may, it seems like Kristoffer Gobel does a nice job, but the uniqueness of Falconer is definitely lost to the winds of time.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

FRONT 242 "Pulse" (Metropolis) SCORE: 21/100

Man oh man, WHAT is Jean Luc DeMeyer thinking?!? This sounds almost NOTHING like the same energetic industrial unit that churned out such amazing hits as 'Headhunter' and 'Religion.' Well, save for the dark tune 'Together,' with some REALLy dark electronics and rather sinister vocal style that I would expect from the Belgian electro pioneers who have seemingly been around forever. The most annoying thing about this CD is the fact that there's 11 SONGS listed but 20 tracks on the CD! He takes the opener 'SEQ666' and spreads it out over 5 tracks! It starts out with some wierd electronic noises and actually breaks down into halfway decent acid/trance notes, this might get club play in a more techno oriented environment but I don't think I'll be spinning it again anytime soon. 'Triple X Girlfriend' had wierd piano notes and you hear DeMeyer talking his way through the strangeness. There are so many wierd and strange sounds going throughout this, from the rather odd scratchy vinyl sounds of 'Matrix,' to the unintelligible samples of 'Pan Dhe Mhik.' DeMeyer's vocal work too tends to be downright annoying, especially some of the sung lines of 'Beyond The Scale Of Comprehension.' 'No More No More' I almost enjoyed, as it's got a rather heavy techno feel to it, a bit dark, but then the vocal "samples" I call them, come in and add a wierd element to the song that makes me shake my head. There's some good instrumentation on here, though not much to warrant buying a whole album's worth, and oftentimes what IS good is frequently ruined by poor execution and overall bad ideas. Stay away from this if you remember the good old club days of Front 242.
Contact: Metropolis Records.

HORTUS ANIMAE "Waltzing Mephisto" (Black Lotus) SCORE: 86/100

I didn't get around to this CD last issue despite having listened to it many times, and I felt it would be a shame to leave it out entirely. It took quite a few spins before I could fully appreciate everything (especially when the longest three songs are 11 minutes, 7 and 9 minutes!) but it's pretty obvious that Hortus Animae are combining all sorts of styles and structures into their black metal. Where Hortus Animae drops off in points are the songs 'A Lifetime Obscurity,' 'Souls Of The Cold Wind' and 'Welcome The Godless,' where they are doing some of their fastest instrumentation. It's not bad, mostly speedier black metal (except for 'Souls Of The Cold Wind,' which reminds me more of the grinding speeds Cannibal Corpse has unsuccessfully, to my ears, been reaching), but where Hortus REALLY shines is on their intricate, higher ended guitar work and the amazing use of keyboards and strings. Even 'Souls Of...' with the rather annoying first three minutes, never stays in the black for long, as they can take an 11 minute song and add so much variety and structure changes you never know what they'll do next! The "cover" (which is actually three covers in one song) is amazing, it starts out being a more synth based cover of Mayhem's 'Freezing Moon,' but throws out Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' in the mix, though this song is ruined by what sounds like some odd whispering and strange piano notations (it's obvious that this short part comes from 'Terzo Incontro' from an Italian artist I'm not familiar with). These songs have many good qualities, but the strangeness and unique instrumentation approach does manage to wince you for a minute or so. Be that as it may, 'Enter' starts the CD off quite well (since track 1 is a strange 7 second "intro,") and proves from the start the instrumentation is going to be quite diverse. Ender track 'A Feeble Light Of Hope' was a very cool instrumental that utilized some Hammond organ like arrangements, and you hear almost doom metal like instrumentation on 'Souls Of...' It does get rather amusing to hear faster violin parts on the tune 'A Lifetime Obscurity,' but all in all the synths can be melodic, creepy, dark, and melancholic all at the same time. Quite a diverse record, one that you should listen to at least 4 or 5 times to appreciate all that is going on.
Contact: Black Lotus Records.

IMPALED NAZARENE "All That You Fear" (Osmose) SCORE: 91/100

Despite not really being pleased with their last effort "Absence Of War Does Not Mean Peace," this was quite a pleasant surprise. Impaled Nazarene's unique blend of punk, hardcore, and what they term nuclear fueled black metal really shines through on this CD. The funny high pitched, almost puking like power metal yell proves that these guys don't take themselves too seriously, but still know how to write tunes that kick your ass. Lyrics on opener track 'Kohta Ei Naura Enaa Jeesuskaan' are all in Finnish, which is quite intense in it's own right, but all other songs are done in English. 'Armageddon Death Squad' picks up the pace rather explosively, with sick and killer guitar riffs and some "metal" riffing found within. Impaled Nazarene has written tunes on this CD that showcase more than just a speed riff fest. 'The Endless War' is a bit slower, more anthemic tune with good singalong choruses and almost viking like guitar work. One of my personal favorites is 'The Maggot Crusher,' with such powerful guitar work that just slams the hammer down! 'Halo Of Flies' I thought could have been done better, as it's rather straightforward and seemingly without a punch, and 'Urgent Need To Kill' had rather weak choruses and kinda plods along. Another pure metal tune with the anthemic touch is 'Recreate Thru Hate,' and lyric wise you know you're getting all the misanthropy, all the christian hatred and "we don't give a fuck what you think" attitude. Yeah, the Finnish dewds are increasing the use of the "f" word throughout as well. It's a record that has balls, while still showcasing their diversity and use of many different extreme styles to mesh together a sick and kick ass record. Eyebrows were raised at 'Suffer In Silence,' with the MUCH slower pace and almost tearful emotional guitar work (which they dedicated to their band mate who recently committed suicide, despite what initial reports said). Definitely a record I've enjoyed, so much so that we decided it's high time for an interview (which you can read in this very issue! In all it's sickness!!)
Contact: Osmose Productions, BP 57, 62990 Beaurainville, FRANCE
Web site:

INVOCATOR "Through The Flesh To The Soul" (Scarlet) SCORE: 95/100

This was the surprise hit of the year for 2003, in fact I dare say if I had to vote the best comeback album of 2003, it would be this one! The amazing thing about the new Invocator record is just how much very little has changed, despite the almost entirely new lineup. Only core guitarist/vocalist Jacob remains from the earliest of days, and it's obvious that the rapid fire thrash riffs and vicious vocal work are all Jacob's trademark for this band. THIS time around, it's very hard to mistake the Invocator sound that really blew me away from their "Weave The Apocalypse" album from 1993, but this record adds a new twist, one that I'm not 100 percent comfortable with in spots: actual sung vocals from Jacob! This occurs on tracks like 'The Chemistry Of Restlessness' and 'On My Knees,' but the few higher ranges on 'Flick It On' and 'Infatuated I Am' did unnerve me a bit. Be that as it may, there is a LOT more melody involved on this record, allowing the crushingly heavy parts a chance to breathe, and the sung vocal work surprisingly works very well for the most part. Only a band like Invocator could add a slightly new twist while keeping the core sound and style the same. After a short intro, the title track shows us what this band is all about, and the speed found within is quite simply amazing. Working itself up to a frenzy, everything is tight, controlled, and those machine gun-like guitar riffs are still in place. 'The Chemistry Of Restlessness' throws in some eerie guitar work, and not every song is played at a frenzied clip. Some of the lyrical content is a bit more emotional than we've seen from the Danish thrashers, but all in all it's a very kick ass disc, and one I've enjoyed SEVERAL times over. Never letting off steam but throwing some melody into the mix, this is a CD well worth hunting down.
Contact: Scarlet Records, Via Mattei 48, 20097 S.Donato (MI) ITALY
Web site:

IUVENES "When Heroes Will Rise" (No-Colours) SCORE: 88/100

Some people may be a bit put off by the overt Bathory worship, but stay with this one a bit and you'll find a bit more. Starting the CD off is an intro, and yeah, that usually means skip to the next track, but I have to admit, in a time where most intros utilize some somewhat melodic and "happy" synth, this tune makes use of some of the darkest medieval synth structures I think I've ever heard! A nice precursor to what follows with 'Return Of The Conqueror,' where yes, you're thinking Bathory's 'Equimanthorn' is playing in the background. Maybe a bit too obsessed with the speed, for this track doesn't take a break until, surprise, you hear guitar riffs that sound like they were lifted straight out of Venom's 'Countess Bathory!' Coincidence? I think not. Then comes one of my favorites, the title track 'When Heroes Will Rise,' and THIS is where you start to hear the differences. Nice epic, medieval synths and of course a slower structure, complete with simplistic but working choruses. And of course they throw you once again by pulling out dynamic acoustic riffs midway. An 8 minute song like this needs a few breaks though. The transition phases between acoustic and heavier riffs were a little rough though, and you can hear that the mix wasn't altogether top notch, but it's the songs that matter here. 'The Heritage Of Uralten' follows, yet more down 'n' dirty guitar work, and of course very sick Bathory like vocal work (I forgot to mention that our lead screamer is a DEAD ringer for Quorthon, screams and all!). And of course this tune continues making use of dark synth work. 'Lex Talionis' keeps the speed up, until 'Born Out Of Flames' slows things down again, bringing out more dominant synth work than the rest of the CD. This track reminds me of a perfect mix of sick, raw and primal old school Bathory and of course the more epic, Viking stuff. Had Bathory sounded like this on later releases, I think the old school diehards would have appreciated them more (though you can read MY comments on this with the last two Bathory releases I reviewed). Ending track 'Towards My Fathers Inheritance' was somewhat of a downer, as it clocks in at well over 10 minutes, and runs a bit too long for the simplistic variety the track displays. Not a terrible tune, but just way too long. All in all, though, I'd definitely love to hear more from this band, who I believe hails from Poland. Thanks to DeathGasm Records for the help in obtaining this one.
Contact: No Colours Records, Postfach 1119, 04767 Mugeln, GERMANY
Web site:

KLIMT 1918 "Undressed Momento" (My Kingdom Music) SCORE: 96/100

After the bad review I gave to Katatonia's latest CD, I got some pretty nasty feedback. Of course, giving it spins later I still stand by my scoring. And that prompted people to ask if I could even handle melodic music! (Of course, anyone reading this publication even infrequently all this time knows better). I must say, this release popped out of nowhere and is what Katatonia SHOULD have attempted to sound like. This is a wonderful, emotional, melancholic and melodic release, so all the tags like gothic metal, atmospheric, emotional, whatever do apply. The guitar work is both beautiful and heavy, utilizing both acoustic and heavier passages all within the same song! The vocal work is truly astounding, and if it wasn't for the horrible intro, this would be near perfect! 'Pale Song' starts the disc off and many songs start and finish like this one. What really surprised me were the almost blast beat styled double bass drum work that is in place on many tracks! The title track starts off with solitary acoustic guitar work and makes use of minimal instrumentation to drive the point home. 'If Only You Could See Me Now' and 'We Don't Need No Music' are fantastic examples of music that is not only relaxing, melodic and moving, but also containing extremely catchy and dynamically strong songwriting. You can tell there is much feeling put into this masterpiece of work. I had to take off a few more points for the odd vocal samples (in a foreign language again, and though I'm not an expert it sounds like French) starting my alltime favorite track 'We Don't Need No Music.' To end off the album, you'll hear amazingly fast instrumentation that sounds susceptibly like black metal, and you'll be saying this is the heaviest track of the disc. Vocals do come into play later, rather gothic sounding they are, but this was once a death metal band and they don't feel the need to let you forget it, even if this material is so far and above whatever they did in the past. Forget Katatonia, THIS is the emotionally charged masterpiece of 2003, and it's so much better than I ever thought this kind of music could be.
Contact: My Kingdom Music, P.O. Box 31, 84015 Nocera (SA) ITALY
Web site:

MACABRE "Murder Metal" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 91/100

Surprised I am to see Macabre, Chicago's favorite serial killers turned metal musicians, on a new label. (Their last, "Dahmer," was on Olympic Records, which at thatpoint had distribution through Century Media). This isn't going to be much different or diverse from what you've heard them doing in the past, with the exception of one of the most brilliant concept albums in "Dahmer," but it still retains the heaviness and viciousness Macabre has been known for. 'Acid Bath Vampire' starts things off in rather sick fashion, especially with the funny nyahh-nyahh type choruses that always seem to be poking fun at the subjects they write about. I LOVE the crazed British accent they do on 'You're Dying To Be With Me,' complete with CLEAN sung choruses as well. 'Fatal Foot Fetish' is a damn good song, one of my favorites and I actually heard this tune when they played the New Jersey Metalfest a few years before this CD got released. Sick yet cool downtuned guitar riffs start off 'The Hillside Stranglers,' though the 'I'm gonna strangle you' choruses sound like they were rewritten from 'Vampire Of Dusseldorf' many years ago off the "Sinister Slaughter" album. 'Werewolf Of Bedburg' is rather lengthy at over 5 minutes, and for a Macabre song this is long. 'Diary Of Torture' has some nice "metal" styled leads, and 'Dorothea's Dead Folks Home' is a treat, though VERY short. The last track, though listed at almost 13 minutes, is really two tracks in one. The accordion notes, wind sounds and sound effects carry on for a bit, and then they sing this, titled 'Fritz Haarman Der Metzger,' completely in German! Apparently this is an older song reworked, but after the end of this song, there's a somewhat hidden track (hence the 12 minute plus running time) that REALLY smokes! Almost blues like riffs and heavy as hell! I'm not sure I totally dig the way they do the German vocals, and they actually DID perform this track live when I saw them in Atlanta recently, but all in all it's still a solid album and totally representative of what they do best. It can't beat "Dahmer" in my eyes, but then again doing a better record than that will be a VERY difficult feat in my eyes.
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.
Web site:

SPOON WIZARD "Believe Or Suffer" (Functional Breaks) SCORE: 66/100

I had just heard of this group, hailing from England of all places, by mere chance. I was surfing around some electronica websites and listened to a sample of one of Spoon Wizard's songs. Needless to say it piqued my interest enough to review the full length. Let me just start by saying first of all I am not a huge fan of breakbeat styled techno, but here the heavier percussion works VERY well. And the CD starts off nicely enough, in fact with the funny preacher like vocal samples, I thought there was industrial involved! Very nice almost ambient synth work starts out 'Hardened,' and the song title alone hints at a harder edge electronic sound. By the second track though, we begin to see one of the reasons this CD doesn't score higher: rap styled vocals. And hearing the rap style in an Australian accent bodes for further embarassment. There are soma acid trance notes thrown in here as well, and female vocals (the track is called 'Seven' by the way), but I'm not on board. The other most annoying thing is just how repetitive the vocals are, take 'Cutlery Shuffle,' where the 10 and 12 sentence lines are repeated FOUR TIMES! Four times in a rap style before the song even ends! And Spoon Wizard's most BEAUTIFUL instrumentation, complete with multivocal chorals and amazing ambient synths, the song 'Shoe Monkey,' is absolutely RUINED by the lame rap vocals. However there is proof that (having 6 instrumental songs) the other tracks are very well done instrumentation, especially in a club setting. 'Spoonkey' was most notable for the acid/trance notes and the interesting use of horror like organ notes near the end of the track. Spoon Wizard has put some amazing instrumentation together, but they need to lose the rap styled vocals, as they really don't fit what they are doing, and it's totally unnecessary. As it is, not quite a keeper if you're looking for a complete album but there is enough to keep you busy, despite the fact that one of the instrumental only tracks has very bland and basic instrumentation ('Pantaloon.')
Contact: Functional Breaks.
Web site:

SWALLOW THE SUN "The Morning Never Came" (Firebox) SCORE: 99/100

What an amazing record! Firebox have been quietly racking up the points with each successive release, and this is probably one of the strongest doom/death bands to hit since Shape Of Despair and Mourning Beloveth! The songs, while still possessing the mournful and sorrowful sound, have definite moments of sheer anger and aggressiveness, weighing the heavier doomy sounds down that much more! 'Through Her Silvery Body' starts the disc off with melodic piano notes, which may seem a bit strange knowing what's on the rest of the CD. Nice atmospheres and such a vicious set of death vocals! 'Deadly Nighshade' then proceeds to bring sinister guitar riffs into the foray, along with some really dark leads! This song really brings out the Lovecraft styled artwork on the front cover (a point I mentioned in the interview I did this issue). The vocals on 'Out Of This Gloomy Light' are almost black metal oriented to start off, and I knew that there was almost nothing this band could do I wouldn't like. 'Swallow' even boasts some Opeth styled clean vocal work, though the lone point was dropped for the rather odd feeback, wierd spoken vocals and annoying baby crying sounds which I thought very out of place. Fortunately, that doesn't happen long. 'Under The Waves' REALLY freaked me out with the Candlemass like instrumentation ending, and the crown jewel in this CD is the amazing yet simplistic instrumentation on 'The Morning Never Came,' which is such a powerful and emotional track that oftentimes I start the CD off with this song and work my way down to the first song. The guitar work is crafted with care, and the sick vocal work helps paint a unique picture of darkness, horror and even melancholic atmosphere. VERY well done and I look forward to hearing MUCH more from them. Finland strikes again!
Contact: Firebox Records, Teollisuustie 19, 60100 Seinajoki, FINLAND
Web site:

TOURNIQUET "Where Moth And Rust Destroy" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 88/100

This has to be one of the biggest shocks of 2003. I have NEVER been a fan of Tourniquet, and when this CD came in I just kinda tossed it aside without even listening to it, as I haven't liked many of their earlier releases at all. BUT: One day I read an issue of Metal Maniacs and just glanced through the interview when I saw that not only did frontman Luke Easter recruit none other than Megadeth's own Marty Friedman, but then he also obtained the services of the most infamous guitarist in the doom metal genre, Bruce Franklin of Trouble! When I read this I just knew in my heart of hearts that this record would be damn good. And it is, believe me! The guitar work is extremely intense from track to track, however my biggest complaint is that Bruce Franklin only got to do solos on two songs, 'A Ghost At The Wheel' and 'Convoluted Absolutes.' No matter! The title track starts things off nicely, and amidst the emotional and melodic sung vocals of Luke, there are the thrashier vocals and almost hardcore shouted lines that really make tracks like these more than just a thrash fest or just a power metal gem. 'Restoring The Locust Years' shows Luke to be a veritable chameleon, as he not only pulls off James Hetfield like vocal work, but further down the line ('Architeuthis' and 'Healing Waters Of The Tigris) but he had me convinced that he snuck in Dave Mustaine from Megadeth for a vocal performance! In fact, 'Healing Waters...' could have been a Megadeth written composition, especially the way the guitar work and slower vocal lines are delivered. And hands down, the tear jerking emotional singing of Luke, coupled with the strongest instrumentation on the album makes 'Melting The Golden Calf' the album's strongest track! Downsides do exist tho, and to be honest only one song I felt to be out of place: 'In Death We Rise.' Here, Luke and company try their hand at slow, fuzzed out stoner/doom and though the violins are a nice touch (though they're better utilized on 'Drawn And Quartered') this track is not one of the 'Quet's better offerings. Some really odd instrumentation muddies up 'Architeuthis,' and looking at the 7 minute length this could definitely have been a better track had some of the odd pieces been chopped out. The odd opening to 'Healing Waters...' was rather interesting, after all, you almost knew with a song title like this some almost Indian or Egyptian riffs were coming. Still, though, for the few quirky shortcomings (some attributed to Tourniquet's rather "unique" take on power/ thrash metal), the guitar work will leave you dazed and amazed, and everything else just shines along with it. I'm curious what the next album will bring!
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

VHALDEMAR "I Made My Own Hell" (Arise) SCORE: 92/100

This may sound a little familiar to people, but it's power metal styled with rough edged vocals. Kinda reminds me of earliest Running Wild, before Rock 'N' Rolf decided he had to sing in higher ranges. Well, this singer hits those higher ranges as well (like on the title track) but does it so infrequently you almost wish for more! 'I Made My Own Hell,' the song, is one of my alltime favorite tracks on the CD, which is a rather anthemic, rebellious tune, and definitely has that boot to the balls sound we all REALLY listen to metal for. 'Breakin' All The Rules' starts pulling out the more power metal inspired instrumentation via the higher toned guitar riffs, though not losing that rough and tumble feel. 'No Return' proves that they can ALSO write catchy melodies, catchy choruses, and still kick your ass. I didn't care much for the almost plodding pace of 'Old King's Visions,' though, even if there is some nice guitar work. There's some spoken word pieces here I just didn't care for, and there are much better tracks to be found within. Like 'Death Comes Tonight, a slower tune that DID have some vicious and downright nasty guitar work, and with lines like 'Black leather, spikes, head banging, metal comes tonight,' there's no doubt where these metallians' loyalty lies. There were three instrumentals on this disc, not a total downer on a CD with 12 songs, especially since ending instrumental 'March Of Dooms' is filled with killer instrumentation, but I thought maybe scrap one instrumental and give us one more song? 'House Of War' could have been a Manowar song, especially lyric wise, as it does have all the power of a true metal anthem. Overall, though, there's really not much to complain about; and it's bands like this who, while not trying to be the most original band around, knows how to work with what they have to create a headbanger's platter you'll feast on for years.
Contact: Arise Records.

WARHAG "Sinister Grip" (Warhag) SCORE: 60/100

For those who have no clue about who this band is, just note that Kurt Phillips is involved with this project. Kurt, as many may know, was responsible for the legendary band WITCHKILLER who also released the mighty "Day Of The Saxons." This is noteworthy because Warhag does a song called 'Saxon's Return.' Okay, so aside from the interesting but could have passed for a full song intro in 'First Nations,' we start the disc off in FINE 80's metal fashion with 'Rage Of Angels.' This is an amazing track, with great soaring vocal work, nice clean, and I emphasize the word CLEAN guitar work, and overall catchy choruses coupled with intricate and actually interesting song structures. After I'm enjoying this, they have to go and ruin the mood with the tune 'Mean Mouth,' man what a downer of a tune! It's slower, though, with some rather poor lyrics and bad ideas within. They should have left this off the EP. 'Into The Castle' wasn't too bad a tune either, but after the smasher that 'Rage Of Angels' was, this is left as a decent tune. The vocal work is good, and sometimes seems like the main highlight of the song. The choruses are a bit weaker than the main lines of this song, making me wonder if their upcoming remixed album will have a different take on this track. (I still kinda dig it tho). 'Sinister Grip' was another track they could have left off, once that horrible opening yell comes in, this track tells me that our vocalist is maybe trying too hard to pull off heavier throat work? The choruses are odd too, and the song structure itself doesn't really work for me. The good vocal work you find in spots frustrates me even more, as this group seems to know how to write good songs, as we finish off the CD with a VERY Priest like set of guitar riffs and a definite Saxon like feel, especially with the lyrics. A good tune like this could have used a LOT more life on the multivocal backing choruses, though, as the other band members seem like they're going through the motions. Three songs out of six barely rates a half rating, though I know they can do much better than this. Is it worth buying? Not 100 percent, but if the price is reasonable enough, those three songs should tide you over until they release the full length.
Contact: Warhag, P.O. Box 24115, 297 Bernard Ave. Kelowna BC CANADA V1Y 1J0
Web site:

WILLOW WISP "Continuation Of Deterioration" (Future Corpse) SCORE: 26/100

Absolutely horrible. I definitely had to worry at a mention of being influenced by Marilyn Manson for starters. It's supposed to be black metal with some, uh, other influences. Anyway, let's make this short, I don't wanna spend too much time on this. Opener 'Iron Sadist' starts out with some awful piano notes, old school wind sounds, and what sounds more like grinding death metal with an awful excuse to write sick gory lyrics. Leave the gore to Cannibal Corpse (although, to be honest, even THEY haven't been excelling as of late). Vocal work? Absolutely horrid. The vocals alternate between unintelligible death vocals and shrieking blackened vocals that almost make me wish to hear Cradle Of Filth instead. The drums seem pre programmed, which doesn't really matter either way. Okay, next track: 'Heretic.' This sounds like it could have been written by Manson himself. Horrible as that may seem, it does have an electronic feel, and at least the heavier toned guitars become slightly interesting. Then the fast blasting pace comes and I've been out the door for 2 minutes already. A true electronic type piece, which goes for more of a gothic feel, pukes it's way forward with 'In Comparison To Eternity.' It's like they're trying to write a club hit, but failing miserably, mostly due to horrid vocals again. Another bland tune follows. More odd death and black metal vocals. The synths are about the only thing worth hearing here. Some nice piano interaction. They gain a few points. Closing instrumental 'Flammis Maledictus' becomes the only track I can sit through all the way without feeling any pain. NICE synth work, though it really doesn't matter does it? A short tune is the only saving grace of an entire CD, 5 tracks though they be. Nice effort, but it doesn't even come close to getting to the starting line. Apparently, this demo was on the heels of a deal with Full Moon Productions, one that never arrived. (Wonder why?)
Contact: Future Corpse Productions, P.O. Box 9352, N. Hollywood, CA 91609-1353
Web site:

WINDIR "Likferd" (Head Not Found) SCORE: 93/100

Take the viciousness of black metal and add a Nordic twist, a few folk elements both music and vocal wise, some synthesized passages, and fast, chaotic black metal blast elements. Whattya got? One hell of an interesting record, that's for sure. This seems to me to be the old school elite's answer to the synth laced gothic overtones of the black metal scene as it has evolved today. THEIR version of what majestic and well crafted black metal should sound like today. My main complaint probably comes at the expense of the old school sound, and it's tracks like 'Resurrection Of The Wild' and 'Despot' that draw the main point of my criticism: instrumentation that sometimes blazes away at TOO fast a speed. This isn't a huge drawback however, as the songs flesh themselves out very nicely with both slower and more midpaced instrumentation. 'Fagning' has one of the best endings on the disc, especially with the amazing sung vocal work and the "Swing yer mug 'o' mead" melodic instrumentation. 'Dauden' really does it for me with the higher ended guitar work that starts this song off, and of course the ultra sick and raw blackened vocals are a vicious highlight. Their structure changes are very proficiently done, listen to how easily they slip from blazing controllable speed to amazing melodic passages, all in the blink of an eye. I'm not sure what black metal veterans are involved in this project, but it's overtly obvious, all over the disc, that these Norweigan pioneers have been crafting and perfecting their art since the early 90's. A disc that comes highly recommended, despite the few areas mentioned above.
Contact: Head Not Found, Postboks 2010, Grunerlokka, N-0505 Oslo, NORWAY

ZYKLON "Aeon" (Candlelight) SCORE: 78/100

The second release from the ex Emperor members has been received a bit better than "World Ov Worms." For this writer, I can hear stuff I definitely like but I'm not as thrilled with it as many other CD's I have received. 'Psyklon Aeon' starts things off viciously enough, with sick blackened vocals and of course some death metal styled vocals. At least I can say even with the death vocals, they're pretty clear and strong, not guttural and unintelligible like many in the genre. I do dig the thrashy guitar work permeating this CD. 'Core Manipulation' slows things down a bit, well, in spots anyway. It's definitely a headbanging tune, and even the slower instrumentation/vocal mix is downright crushing. Lyrics especially give this a plus. 'Subtle Manipulation' carries the fast instrumentation to new heights, as this proceeds at a rather dizzying pace, but loses none of it's power. 'Two Thousand Years' wasn't altogether a great track for me, even if the lyrics and kick ass anti christian vocal samples made me wish I could get into this song more. The death vocals sound a bit strange here, especially considering the slower pace and it's like our main throat man is trying too hard to make his words come through clear. You'll find the ending track 'An Eclectic Manner' is way too strange for this band, with ultra melodic guitar riffs that don't work well with the shouted but somehow melodic sung vocals. Almost too commercial sounding, and the long drawn out ending didn't help. The lead solos blazing all over 'Electric Current' gave this an interesting touch, and one can't deny the Slayer type influence found on the guitar work within 'The Prophetic Method.' Not a CD I'd kick out on a regular basis, but good stuff to be found within, even if I am a bit indifferent to the ex-Emperor members' effort.
Contact: Candlelight Records, 2 Elgin Ave. London W9 3QP, UK
Web site:


FALCONER. Interview with Stefan over the phone.

Upset I was with this band, who had two amazing releases with their, well, what I have termed "Medieval Styled Minstrel Metal." Their debut album knocked me on my ass, and the second "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn," man that record was just as intense, if not more emotional especially in the subject matter. My sadness came at learning that the amazingly talented and extremely unique vocalist Mathias would no longer be in the band. Thankfully, the newest record "The Scepter Of Deception" still contains Mathias singing, and the new singer isn't too bad himself. We eagerly await the next record to see if Falconer can still hold my interest, though I can't help but think that album number 3 is Falconer's final curtain call (in this writer's eyes anyway).

  • One thing I must say, when I first heard that Mathias was gone, I was very upset and very skeptical if the new vocalist could even hold water to him. That's to me what made Falconer so unique, was that sort of traveling minstrel type of singer.

    I understand your point of view, Kristoffer of course doesn't have the same originality in his voice, but he can do what I sometimes wanted to do with Mathias. Like having a bit more rough vocals or singing a bit more bluesy. Mathias didn't really know what I meant.

  • Our biggest concern was can the new singer fill the shoes of Mathias, and of course we weren't really expecting Kristoffer to sound like him but frankly, we didn't know WHAT to expect. I did notice that Mathias performed a lot of vocals on the new record, so I'm asking if this was just a one time thing or will he be making more appearances on future albums?

    It's a one time thing. Since this was a concept album, after we parted ways we decided it would be nice to have him (Mathias) do a couple of guest spots on the record.

  • I noticed there were quite a few other guests, and it seems to me like this is the first time you've used female vocals on a record.

    We used them on the first album, but not that much. Since there were some female characters in the story, it made sense to use them.

  • I don't remember any female vocals on that first record.

    I don't think that the American market got the folk song we had that was sung in Swedish. I think it was mainly for the European market. It was called 'Eureka.'

  • Now I know the reason that Mathias isn't in the band anymore is because he didn't want to tour. In the last interview I did with you, you said you weren't sure that Falconer would ever tour. Now you've done some shows and Mathias I believe said touring wouldn't fit in with his schedule.

    We didn't want one guy to hold us back. He did tell another magazine that heavy metal wasn't his future. His big passion for life is musicals.

  • I'm really curious, though. If Mathias had said that he wanted to do touring and what not, would you have kept him in the band, or did you want to go in a different direction sound wise and decide on that at the same time, or earlier, of his leaving?

    If he would have answered me that when I offered him the tour, he would probably still be in the band. I don't know if it would have worked out in the long run, because he and the rest of the band are from two different worlds. He is in the theater world while we are in heavy metal, and in many ways they're complete opposites of each other. We didn't understand each other often, like when I tried to explain to him something in the music. With Kristoffer, I don't really have to tell him anything because he understands what I need. Things are easier now than they were before.

  • How does Kristoffer pull off the older stuff? I assume you have already played live with him? I didn't get to see you when you came to the States, but I am assuming a full length Falconer tour will happen.

    It's going to happen in Europe. I think he adds a personal touch to the old songs. Him and I sat down and came up with new ideas for the vocal parts. A couple of verses I think he'll push up one octave, because Mathias had a very dark voice.

  • I do have a bit of a bone to pick with you though, when we did that interview you talked about songs that were going to be on the second record, which was to be "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn." What happened to the song title 'Bastards To The Floor?' (laughing.) Do you remember telling me about that one?

    Ha ha! Nothing happened with that one! Okay, NOW I remember you. I think the song sounded better with 'Busted to the floor' anyway. We already had the lyrics and the concept done before that.

  • That coverart for "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn" is amazing, because it's very simplistic, and only a few colors, but it's amazing the attention to detail. It's very striking.

    As you see, all the covers are basically just one color. Like the first one is all grey, and the second one is all brownish, this new one I think is a bit too green.

  • It's really difficult trying to read the song titles on the back!

    There's really too much text, but there was supposed to be the explanations of the story.

  • I'm curious about this new record, because it does seem to follow a lengthy storyline, and seems to take place in Scandinavia.

    It takes place in Sweden actually. The story is true but it's been a bit modified through the years of course. And it's been a bit modified by me to fit in with the concept of the album. It's kind of like a Swedish Macbeth, and I knew the original story but it wasn't until I actually read Macbeth that I got the idea to do this story. I think there are at least three bands doing the Macbeth theme.

  • So this is pretty much a concept album from the first to the last track right?

    Yeah, it is, but when you say concept album, I think about this kind of strange kind of music with more short songs between the real songs. But musically, this is more like a normal album, where the lyrics tell the story itself.

  • I really hate that misconception about concept albums. You can write songs that sound musically different from each other but maybe tell a story straight through. Are you familiar with Avantasia?

    Yeah, that's one of the few concept albums I totally like.

  • Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking of, I mean with the different vocalists and differing instrumentation. And of course you don't have like 9 or 10 singers either.

    But of course, they don't have to perform it live either (laughs).

  • I was looking at your web site today, and I was impressed at how well done it was. Very rich graphics and layout.

    We had another webmaster before but he really didn't do any work. So like when something new would happen and we wanted to update it would end up being like 2 months too late.

  • On your merchandise section, you should really get more t-shirts with the album cover artwork. I know I'd buy them!

    Metal Blade has printed t-shirts and longsleeves for every album. I asked them to reprint the t-shirt from the first record, and they told me that it's not a new album so they won't print the shirts. And I know that many fans want the shirts from the first album. Metal Blade is supposed to print shirts for the new album but I haven't seen anything yet. Maybe around December or something.

  • You guys played the Six Pack Weekend here in the States this year, how did this go?

    It went very well I think. And it was so strange to go over to The States and see that over a third of the bands were from Sweden! (laughs)
  • Ha ha! Well, with all the music that's coming out of Sweden these days, is that any real surprise?

    Maybe not. It was a real honor to be able to go to the U.S. and play a gig. That was a rather expensive gig. I don't know how they managed to get money to do this.

  • How is your deal with Metal Blade these days? I'm sure you've got interviews lined up all day long.

    The European promotion seems to be over now. I haven't had any spare time to do anything else. This damn hobby had better start to pay off soon! Because I can't really let go of any more of my spare time.

  • Well, I'm hoping that Metal Blade gets off their collective asses and puts you on a regular U.S. tour!

    I hope so too, and I spoke to someone in the U.S. office of Metal Blade about this, and of course it was about the money.

    HELLOWEEN. Interview with original bass player Markus.

    Okay, does Helloween REALLY need an introduction? Formed around the early 80's, and considered to be a SERIOUS influence on a TON of bands, even going so far as to spawn Gamma Ray and influencing hundreds of smaller bands from Axenstar, Thunderstone, etc. etc. etc. They were in town recently and put on a good show, and despite not having toured the States in many, many years, people still knew who they were and turned out en masse to fill The Masquerade in Atlanta. Despite sound problems that creeped in later, we had a rather enjoyable chat.

  • It's good to see you guys over here in the States. You have been over here before, haven't you?

    We were here doing like 2 tours, in '88 and 89. One was with Armored Saint and Grim Reaper, and the other one was with Anthrax and Exodus. That was supported by MTV, when metal was big on MTV. Things have changed a lot (laughs).

  • It's kinda funny to think about when you guys started out, you had "Judas," and "Walls Of Jericho," and what not...

    (pointing at my "Walls Of Jericho" shirt), see there it is right there! (laughing).

  • Ha ha! Exactly. I've listened to "Rabbit Don't Come Easy," and my favorite so far which is "Better Than Raw." I'm wondering how you see the progression from the early 80's to now. I mean, we all know Kai isn't in the band anymore...

    We've always kind of experimented with what we did, actually. We have records like "Chameleon," which is SO different from all the other stuff, not sounding like typical Helloween, but then you have "Pink Bubbles Go Ape," which is not really what Helloween was doing before either. Having all those records in your back catalog is nice to have something different in there, I think. With "Masters Of The Rings," we started going back to where we came from.

  • Of course, with the new record, the first thing that grabs you is the title, you know "Rabbit Don't Come Easy." And to me it was a shame because I know "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" was a decent record and everyone seemed put off by the title. Didn't you get a lot of flack for that?

    Record companies and management came and told us "Hey, you need to do something serious." (laughs). That's what we tried to do with "The Dark Ride." It's serious and dark of course, but it didn't put Helloween into the right position because we're really not that dark or that serious, you know. We just keep everything within the blink of an eye, and it's metal so it's gotta be fun. The title "Rabbit Don't Come Easy" Whitey came up with an idea that a man pulling a rabbit out of a hat looks easy. We had some problems with the drummer for that record because he came down with the Epstein virus, it infects your system you know? And you get very tired and your power is just gone, you can't really do anything.

  • Is he alright now?

    There's no doctor that could tell us how long it will affect your system, so we had to change the drummer. We were sending him home after like two tracks. For like a month we were waiting and trying to get him on tape, so we had to carry on. We got Mickey Dee in for like 5 or 6 songs. Then we got him back after we did all the guitars and vocals and stuff and it still wasn't happening! So we had to call Mickey back again, and that rabbit wouldn't come easy in the very beginning. We had to make a cruel decision to have another drummer.

  • When "Better Than Raw" came out, it seemed like that was your first American record deal in a LONG time. Then it suddenly seemed like it just vanished as quickly. Do you know what happened with that? I believe it was with Velvel?

    I honestly can't remember!(laughing)

  • Was it just a distribution deal?

    I think it was, it wasn't really a contract or anything. After this we got on with Nuclear Blast Records.

  • How is that deal for you, because I know they have contracts and distribution worldwide.

    It's not bad, we have to build it up after we haven't been here for such a long time you know, you have to come back and play and let the people know that you are actually still around. Those are the people thinking, "Oh, Helloween, are they still around?" You know? We never have given up or something, we've been always there; constantly doing records, touring, studio work, writing and composing and stuff, but we haven't been HERE so many people don't think we're existing anymore. We've been here for like 3 weeks or so.

  • My question was, can this tour do really well, because it's just Helloween headlining and only local bands opening up. Like you said you haven't been here in years. The thing that really gets me is that there's all these bands coming out now like Axenstar and Thunderstone that are very influenced by Helloween, they even cite you as influences. It's pretty obvious. Of course, Helloween was doing this kind of stuff way back in the day.

    As I said, we have to build it up. Some shows we have like 400 people there, and like in L.A. we have some 800 or 900 people in the Key Club, we'll be going back there to do the Key Club again. New York was great, we had about 8 or 9 hundred people. We just have to figure out what places are very good for us.

  • Well, this is such a huge country.

    Yeah, yeah, that's what it is, and you never know where the places are that are supportive; you just have to go there and find out.

  • I talked to the guy from Halcyon Way, and I thought it was funny because he said that Helloween doesn't think they're that big a deal here. And I just thought that was funny, I mean isn't Helloween used to playing like 30,000 seat stadiums over in Europe every other weekend? (laughing)

    Actually in Germany we do like a thousand each night. And then there's better places like Spain and Italy, where we may have between 2 and 3 thousand. We did a whole European tour, now we are doing the States, and after this we go back to Japan.

  • Do you like the small, intimate club settings more or do you prefer doing the massive festivals?

    It's alright, it doesn't bother me a bit. I've played in front of 20 or 40 thousand people before, and I'll play in front of 400 people if it's necessary, to go back there and build it up. I still enjoy it. There's still something to achieve here.

  • So what do you think of the resurgence of Headbanger's Ball? I know here in the States they're talking about bringing more of the underground bands on the air, but I don't have MTV2 where it plays, so I don't know what it's like these days. What's Headbanger's Ball like overseas?

    Headbanger's Ball was years ago, and I don't think it will happen over there again, at least not in Germany. The interest in Heavy Metal from the media in Germany is something we laugh about. Although there's a big scene and fanbase, it doesn't get into the media.

  • Well, didn't you have a couple of videos and a radio hit for 'Hey Lord' with the "Better Than Raw" album?

    Well, it's more like some places in Spain, and Japan does this of course, but Germany itself wouldn't play videos from those bands in general. You wouldn't see them or hear them. It's strange.

  • I want to talk about that 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys' video that I saw from you awhile back. That was a great video, I remember seeing it back in the day. Have you done anymore videos recently?

    Yeah, there's like a DVD coming out soon, sometime this year. We've been working on it, Andi did all this stuff on his computer with editing and what not. We're bringing out all the clips from Helloween. I think it's 9 or 10 clips, and then we add photographs, touring clips and stuff. This is actually the plan, Andi is still working on it. That's what we have in mind.

  • How long is your setlist tonight? I know you have so many albums to pick from, so I'm wondering how you choose the songs?

    It's like an hour and fifty minutes. We do old stuff like 'Starlight,' 'Future World' and 'Dr. Stein,' and of course 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys,' the song itself. It's always a fight because from tour to tour we don't want to repeat ourselves too much, but then you've got enough stuff to do something different for the next tour.

  • So you change the setlist from city to city?

    NO, not from city to city, actually from tour to tour! Therefore, we're too lazy! (laughs)

  • What are you doing off of "Better Than Raw?"

    I don't know. You almost have like a 2 hours set and 4 shows in a row, and then you have one off and then another 3 in a row, and it's a bit tough to keep this 2 hour set for the voice. We usually leave it up to Andi which songs are going to be kept out because of his voice, he's gotta go through it with his voice so it's his decision. I don't know...

  • I really dig songs like 'Hey Lord,' 'I Can' and 'Push...' It's really funny because "Better Than Raw" hit me with the diversity of songs, like 'I Can' is kinda commercial but still kicks ass, and 'Push' is really, really heavy, and then 'Hey Lord' could be a radio hit!

    It all fits on the album the way we produced it and the way we play it. You can have those songs with that heavy attitude and then a bit more commercial type of thing, that keeps doors open. It's nice to be able to do this.

  • (a band playing onstage started to interfere with the interview). I think we're about to lose sound here, but one last thing I wanted to add, are you on good terms with Kai Hansen, who is now in Gamma Ray? What happened with that anyway?

    Yeah, he just didn't want to work so much anymore. And then he started up Gamma Ray, I was doing the German leg of the Gamma Ray tour because Kai's bassist was in the hospital because he had a bad knee in some operation, and I said I'd do it. We have a good relationship.

    IMPALED NAZARENE. Interview with Mika Luttinen via email.

    This is probably one of the craziest interviews I've ever done. (Well, it at least rivals the Mayhem interview we did at the show they played here in Atlanta). When I first heard the new album, I was not expecting it to be this good, and it's pretty fucking angry too! For some reason this band brought out the psycho in me, so some of these questions are pretty harsh and insane, so be forewarned, goddamnit!!!

  • As long as you guys have been around, since like what 1992, those other crazy Scandinavians like Mayhem, Darkthrone and the like were pretty much in their infancy. Did that whole murder and mayhem of the black metal scene affect any of the Impaled Nazarene members? And were any of you friends of the bands involved?

    We started in 1990. Mayhem is a much older band, they have been around for ages. The scene was very much death metal when we started and after what happened in Norway, it became huge trend everywhere (except in the States where it became a trend years later). We just said right away when all this was going down that we are not part of this kind of crap. You know, whatever, it is past and I don't care. I was in touch with Euronymous just before he died.

  • I'm curious about the song 'Ghettoblaster' that was on the album "Suomi Finland Perkele." What I'm wondering is if this word has a different meaning in Finnish, because over here it's the huge portable stereos that certain, ahem, inner city kids used to perch on their shoulders to listen to mainly rap music... Maybe you see where I'm going with this...

    How politically correct of you to say "inner city kids." Yes, we know what ghettoblaster stands for and that is why it is used as a very much sarcastic way. It is my turn to be P.C. and say that we refer to planet earth as ghetto on this song. It is unbelievable but this ghetto culture (if one can call it "culture," that is left for open debate) has also plagued our own society here in Finland. Last year, the biggest selling album in Finland was Pikku G (Little G), 16 year old RAPPER who is hardcore christian as well. Yes, he raps in Finnish. Something should be done.

  • You guys have so many albums and EP's out. What would you say is the best or most favorite I.N. album? I know a lot of people, especially the "black metal elite," would probably say the earlier stuff...

    And what makes them elite?? Sure, some folks prefer old shit, some prefer newer stuff. My fave is our new albums without a doubt. Finally managed to cross old and new Impaled Nazarene with an excellent production.

  • How are you feeling about the corpsepaint issue these days? Seems like you wore it again recently after what seems to be many years. I was kinda pissed to see Dark Funeral over here and Caligula walking on stage in a fucking ratted up Tshirt and dreadlocks!! What is he, Jamaican or something?

    Personally, I don't care about corpsepaint. It is just plain irritating when you use it. We used it for a show, there was a book about Finnish heavy metal history and since we played at a publishing party, we decided to wear the corpsepaint as it was about history. It was interesting back in 1991 or so but once it became a trend, it was time to move on.

  • And what the fuck's up with France? First some communist youth movement tries to ban the Suomi album, then some brats kill the power at a show! Then you can't announce song titles with the word 'Satan' in them and even the merchandise is banned??? First off, I'm wondering WHY the French would listen to the rantings of communist kids anyway, and I'm curious if you've been back since all those events, or plan to?

    If I remember right, there was some nationalistic bullshit going on in France at that time: black metal fans desecrating graves and wearing swastikas or whatever. Our album comes out, has our national symbol on the cover, blah blah, we became the perfect scapegoat for them. Nothing major happened, they took "Ugra-Karma" out of the stores instead of "Suomi Finland Perkele," that was such a farce. Two years later you could find all our CD's back in stores again. Any publicity is good publicity. We have been playing in France lots of times since then and we will have a French tour coming up in May.

  • VERY cool to see the anti christian lyrics presented in the way you do them. So from your standpoint, what do you think would be a fitting punishment for that dottering old fool the Catholic Pope? One of the things he did that REALLY pissed me off was to come out and apologize for the Holocaust! That fucker's so old he was probably around when the world war was going on!

    Let us not be fools and think that the pope runs the whole show (I'm not, but it STILL pisses me off - Ed.) I think very few are actually aware of how much power the catholic church still has on the world. It is sick. Just fucking nuke the whole Vatican and get rid of them all. Do you know the Catholic sect Opus Dei? They believe that they must feel the pain everyday (to remind them of the suffering of Jesus or whatever crap). They whip themselves, wear spikes on their arms (spikes pointing to flesh) and so on. I don't know how many kings and queens of Europe actually belong to this sect but I know it for a fact that the Belgian king and queen are part of it. That is so fucking sick!!

  • How is your relationship with Osmose Records, because it seems like you've been on the label since the beginning of time! Do you have any comment about the bands Marduk and Immortal that actually left Osmose? I did an interview with Marduk, and Legion was VERY unhappy at the way Herve handled their whole affair.

    I don't see any reason to comment about this, it was their decision and if they were unhappy I am sure they knew what they were doing. We cannot complain, Osmose has been very fair to us over the years. They believed in us when our sales dropped ("Rapture," "Nihil") and now they are happy that we are back on the track. We are more friends than business partners. We will do our live album still for Osmose and then we will see what happens. We have received offers during the years but they have all sucked compared to our deal with Osmose.

  • Well, tell me, does Herve still hate Americans? He's such an enigma these days; I'm actually surprised he's letting The End Records work press and publicity in the States for Osmose. Have you had any contact with The End? Oh, and be sure and tell Herve that not EVERY American is a beer drinkin,' truck drivin,' NASCAR lovin,' wife beatin,' trailer trash wannabe with a hubcap for a planter...

    Yes, I have been in touch with The End, they seem to do their shit well. I can understand that Herve is very cautious with yanks. He has been ripped off three times really badly. I am just happy we finally have a license with a company that is serious and do their job well. Maybe it can help us to get over there again.

  • You guys have had a bunch of lineup changes, but one lineup change in particular I was curious about was the departure of Jani Lehtosaari; I remember he wanted to concentrate more fully on his record label Solardisk Records (which I ALSO remember you had a few EP's on). First off, wouldn't having stuff on Solardisk be considered a breach of contract from Osmose, and secondly, now that I read Solardisk has folded, is there any chance Jani might someday return to Impaled Nazarene?

    This question is totally pointless. (DOH! - Ed.) Once you are out, you are out for good. We can record EP's for other labels if we want to, we have been so long with Osmose that we have certain freedoms to pull stunts like that. I am more than happy with our current lineup and I hope this lineup will last for a long, long time.

  • Alright, what the fuck's wrong with me... Why didn't I like "Absence Of War Does Not Mean Peace" anywhere near as much as the new record "All That You Fear?" Maybe it's because there's more pussy metal lead guitar riffs on this new one? Haa haa!!

    I don't know. This is a more brutal record, that's for sure. Faster, better played and better produced. Still the fact is that it was AOWDNMP that put us back on the right track, it has almost doubled the sales of "Nihil."

  • By the way, I really dig tha new record (like you couldn't tell!) There sure are a lot of maggots crawling over the coverart of this thing. Are you guys going to outdo Lord Worm from Cryptopsy and start eating maggots live onstage? (I imagine that might make ya sick though).

    Poor Lord Worm. We met him at Montreal, back in 1998. Fucking cool dude, he wanted to challenge us for a drinking contest. So we said yes, of course (this was before our show). Two hours later, Mr. Worm is puking his guts out in the toilet and passes out. We were ok and went to play. Maurizio from Kataklysm was saying to him, "you cannot win, I have seen these guys the night before." That was so classic. I am glad he is back in Cryptopsy, he is a great singer.

  • I was actually surprised to see that you did videos for a few tracks! How did this go over with the MTV like atmosphere that has invaded the European version of MTV? (Unfortunately, the fucking rap metal core shit has all but taken over American MTV). And do you have any comment on the resurgence of Headbanger's Ball here in the States?

    Headbanger's Ball is not back in Europe. I mean, even if they were playing just fucking Judas Priest and stuff, it would be better than this rap and hiphop shit they do now. There are some stations in France and Germany that do play extreme metal videos. This is the reason we do videos. Actually, when we did the 'Karmageddon Warriors' video, MTV in Europe played it a lot, I guess like 6 or 8 times in a row. That was very surprising.

  • So where would you say your fanbase is the biggest? It's pretty impressive to me that you've played places like Mexico, France (of course, we all know the Osmose office is there), Russia and the U.S., but I don't remember if you stated you ever played Japan?

    We had a Japanese tour in 1999 with Ritual Carnage. It was the best trip ever. Unbelievable country. So far we have done 30 countries (including Australia, new Zealand, etc.) on four continents. We do really well in France, Italy and Germany.

  • Alright, I guess we covered a lot of stuff here. So what do you think the end of the world's gonna look like? Fire and brimstone shit, or maybe we'll get burned by the sun due to ozone depletion, or maybe a nuclear holocaust will create undead nuke zombies eating every human in sight...

    Fire and brimstone and locusts would be the coolest of course but I guess it will be the ozone depletion in the end that will kill the planet.

  • Do you believe in any of that hellfire bullshit? Like the sinners burn in a lake of fire for eternity? Maybe devils in red suits with pitchforks and horns looks cool on metal albums, but hell I don't know if I believe that image of Satan even exists...

    I am a nihilist, I believe only in death. If I am wrong and indeed there is a Hell, well, I hope I have served Satan well enough and get a good seat with all the horny sluts for me...

  • So what are your views on Satanism? Are you of the majority opinion that was fashionable in the early days of black metal that Satanism was too "All encompassing?" (where LaVey said even the most common housewife could be a satanist) Or does Satanism even have a place in your ideologies? I like the survival aspect of Satanism, especially the part where it says that man is his own god and man doing his own will is his own law. Fuck answering to sheeplike christian organizations that are mainly out to grab your dollar!

    I still think LaVey was genious and I can totally relate to his views. But like I said, I am nihilist. If people want to be part of this or that form of Satanism, go ahead. The big problem is that all of them are fighting against each other AND that there is always the high priest or whatever. You will obey, you will follow and you will pay money. The basic idea of satanism is excellent but I cannot really see it to happen 100% unless you move out to a totally isolated area and grow, hunt and fish your own food. Easy to say I am my own god but are you really? This is one of the reasons I identify with Nihilism.

  • It's been floating around the internet for many years, but one of the craziest quotes listed comes from where you said "I have to go now, The Bold And The Beautiful is on TV." That was pretty funny! Or do you really watch that show? (Shit, nothing Impaled Nazarene does surprises me anymore). Some of those soaps, I do have to admit, have some really hot females on there!

    I used to watch it everyday, I am serious. Not anymore, I don't have time to watch TV anymore. But there is one member (who shall remain nameless for now) who does watch TBATB everyday. Trust me, your "black metal elite" watches that kind of shit too, they are just so mega evil and don't admit it. They would lose their face in Polish ug or something. Keep on rocking in the free world, boys!

  • Are there other forms or styles of music you enjoy? I know black metal "purists" frown on keyboards or techno/industrial stuff (which I dig), but actually Euronymous was into bands like Kraftwerk and some ambient stuff from back in the day, so I wondered what else you might listen to.

    Since I have no street credibility left (if I ever had any anyway), my faves include Pennywise, The Offspring, lately I have been listening to a lot of Misfits "American Psycho," fuck it rules. I listen to Rammstein, Laibach, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry. Let's put it this way, I listen to music I like.

  • Impaled Nazarene isn't really a strict black metal band these days either, come to think of it. Maybe a better term for I.N.'s music is just fast, aggressive, loud, raw and sick as all fuck! How does that sound for a press release?

    Sounds good to me. We have not claimed to play black metal since 1993 or so. We call our shit nuclear metal. Mix death, black and thrash metal, add punk and crustcore with totally nihilistic and anti religious lyrics and you have us.

  • A'ight goddamnit, anything else you want to rant and rave about go ahead. Whatcha eatin' and who ya fuckin? Whatever you want to mention use this space to do so. Come to America and destroy the bullshit christian capitalist sheep who are so easily led over the cliff...

    I ate pizza today, had a close encounter with my right fist. Next to happen on our camp: Live album will be recorded on the 23rd and 24th or April here in Helsinki at Nosturi club. Will be out September/October probably. Thanks for the different interview, this was really a pleasure! Drink Vodka and be free!

    INVOCATOR. Interview with Jacob Hansen via email.

    When Invocator's "Weave The Apocalypse" first came out on Black Mark Records many moons ago, I was pretty blown away. When I reach for the record now, even 10 years later, I am still pretty damn impressed at the guitar work. The news of their breakup after "Dying To Live" was hard to take, but with their recent reunion and subsequent release "From The Flesh To The Soul" (also reviewed here), I was a very happy camper. LONG overdue, this is one interview I have wanted to do for MANY years.

  • First off, I must say it's great to see a new Invocator record out after what seems like years of inactivity! How did the reformation come about, did you decide you were tired of not making music anymore?

    Yeah, I was tired of not playing music at that time, and really felt like it was time to play heavy music again, so I just took it from there. I started to write some songs for this project, which I didn't know what was to become. It wasn't really like I wanted to form a band, because I simply had too many bad experiences from being in one in the past. It took all my time, and with my full time job as producer, I simply hadn't time to meet twice a week in a rehearsal room. I met Flemming who just ended his own bands Autumn Leaves, and I asked him to join in on this project and he agreed. We immediately clicked, and wrote 5 or 6 songs in no time! We recorded one song with programmed drums, and I put on some vocals just to see what happened, and it hit us that the similarity with Invocator was striking! So after a few discussions about pros and cons, we decided to revitalize the name Invocator and form a band.

  • The new record "From The Flesh To The Soul" is interesting in that it marks the first time (for me) I've heard higher ranged singing from you than on past records. Was this an attempt at adding new dimensions to the Invocator sound?

    Yes. I always wanted to do this, but I didn't get the time, and I don't think I had the courage to try stuff like this out, and our drummer at that time wasn't really into that kind of singing. This time I recorded all the vocals all by myself, which made a huge difference. I could try things that would sound silly the first 2 or 3 tries, and then afterwards could come out quite cool. I'd never have done that if somebody from the band was there while I was recording.

  • One of the most striking features of Invocator has always been, to me, the machine gun like guitar riffs and the unique vocals, both of which seem to be attributed to you throughout the years. This was VERY evident on "Weave The Apocalypse" but those two elements are hard to miss even on the newest effort.

    This is how I write songs. I didn't do that much on "Dying To Live." That was composed by like 50/50 of each guitarist, but on the new album I've written maybe 75 - 80 percent of all the material, and this is how it sounds when I write songs. I am heavily into those bands that put good riffs above all. And my vocals, well, they're sort of like Ozzy in terms of "either you love him or hate him."

  • I'm curious about the rather sinister cover art on the new album, it looks like some wicked experiment that might have been conducted during World War II or something. Care to give us any details?

    I gave the title to Chad Michael Ward and he came up with this idea. We all liked it, and I really wanted the cover to depict darkness and heaviness in some way. What Chad came up with really did the trick. I wanted this album cover to show that you shouldn't expect a new "Dying To Live," although I feel that the new album is a mixture of all our albums to which we've added 50 percent new features, if you follow.

  • Follow it I do, and while we're on the subject of cover art, I'm curious as to what that design on the cover of "Weave The Apocalypse" is, it was rather a neat piece of work.

    Yes, it was done by Dan SeaGrave, and it was one of the last covers he did. He was a part of the major death metal movement in the early 90's, and we just - again - gave him a title to work on. I don't know if he really got what this title was about, but I really liked that cover. I saw it as some kind of machine of the apocalypse. Part human/animal and part machine, very dark!!

  • Why the change from Black Mark Records, where you had been for your first few releases, to Scarlet? I'm curious if you can tell me what kind of deal Scarlet has given you, as I also remember you had a one off deal with Die Hard Records.

    Black Mark was okay, but they never really cared much about us. We had to find studio, coverartist, etc. by ourselves. No help from them. As we moved from Black Mark to Die Hard, we thought things would change, but it really didn't. Where Black Mark had our albums spread all over the world, Die Hard only released "Dying To Live" in Scandinavia and Germany. No licensing to the States or Japan, which sucked. They did nothing. They paid a great deal of money to the studio where we recorded, and we had nothing. I think I made 7 interviews for that album, and so far I've made 30 for the new album. And "Through The Flesh To The Soul" is out in Europe AND Japan, and the States are coming.

  • It's rather funny, but when I look back at your discography, it seems like nearly all the demo material you put out eventually gets released onto your latest full length. In fact, I noticed that some of the tracks on this new album were cut as a demo CD. How was the 2002 demo distributed? Was it sent to press and labels only?

    The 2002 demo was only made to get us a deal, and it was only sent to labels. Maybe you're thinking about our CD "Early Years," which included our first 2 demos in their original state? That album is only for collectors, ha ha!

  • Okay, so then tell us about that "Early Years" CD. I noticed you didn't list in on your homepage. Was this unofficial, without your permission? A sample track listing I saw seems to show many of the two demo releases' tracks.

    It was originally released by Die Hard and featured our 2 demos + 2 cover songs (Dark Angel 'The Promise Of Agony' and Artillery 'Eternal War.') I think that EFA, some German label, released it later and it went into Nuclear Blasts' catalog.

  • How would you compare the first two 80's era demos to the stuff you released later on? I've never heard the demos but would like to.

    Ahhh. They were very "young" sounding. I was 17 on the first demo, and I didn't really know where this was heading. We sounded pretty much like a soft Kreator. German inspired. And on "Alterations" we tried to be a bit more death metal.

  • One thing I was always curious about was the track 'Desert Sands' off of "Weave The Apocalypse," especially that ending vocal sample. I have been told it was a spoken word piece by Charles Manson, if so where did you pick up the sample at? Were you ever fascinated by the whole trial and incarceration of Charles Manson? It was a pretty dark time in our history.

    Our drummer was very fascinated by this guy. He bought a documentary made in jail by some journalist, and that is where this sample comes from. It sounds cool to me, but I can't say that it interests me. Now that I am a father, I hate to turn on the news and just watch how the world loves to see sex and death. It's getting worse. In Denmark there's the children's programme from 18:00 to 18:30, and at 18:30 the news starts with pictures from mass graves in the Middle East and other death and horrors. If I don't turn on the TV, I would never have heard about some guy in god-knows-where who killed another guy in Burundi, which actually really doesn't do anything for me. I mean, that stuff does not educate me or broaden my horizon a bit! It's just death for death's sake, and it's getting worse! You can't say "fuck" on TV but you can show pictures of 10,000 dead children.

  • I have to admit, I really don't know of many bands that come from Denmark, except for maybe Mirage and King Diamond. Any other bands currently active in Denmark we might need to know about, and how is the scene there today?

    Oh yes, it has a pretty healthy music/metal scene these days! Older ones are Pretty Maids, Konkhra and of course Mercyful Fate. How about Royal Hunt, do you know those guys? (Of course I do, but forgot they were from Denmark - Ed.) They sell 300,000 copies! Mostly in the Far East though. And newer bands include HateSphere, Manticora, Wuthering Heights, Raunchy (my personal domestic faves), Mnemic, etc. Check my homepage and you'll be stunned!

  • Some of the lyrics on the new record (as far as I can tell since I don't have the full packaging so no lyric sheet) seems to deal with more emotional issues; I noticed lines like 'In the language of the lovers' and stuff like that, so I'm curious with an album title like "From The Flesh To The Soul" if the songs here deal with more emotional issues.

    Oh yes, they do. As I already said I've become a father and I only want to sing about things that are close to my heart. It's love and hate and relations. I won't go deeper into it, but yes, it's emotional issues...

  • I don't know if Black Mark is still as active as they used to be, but I do remember they were responsible mainly for the issuance of Bathory releases and merchandise. Were there bands on Black Mark you enjoyed in the past, and any bands from the label you like today?

    They are still active, but they've deleted our 2 albums from their catalog, bastards! I think that "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" and "The Return" was pretty amusing. I never really liked black metal. It didn't do it for me. I'm a musician and a large part of the black metal movement was more like anti music. I mean, they didn't play anything on their instruments - I will burn for this haa haa! I liked the bands that are still around and sound good. But that's a mere 10% of the "black metal movement." The rest are gone. Nobody cared after all the blood and makeup was gone. Well, I liked Edge Of Sanity who's still on Black Mark. There were a few albums, but generally Black Mark never had a strong A&R department. Seemed to me as if Boss just signed whatever he ran into. Including Invocator, ha ha.

  • When I remember your albums (although I only have "Weave..." and the new record), I know that "Weave..." is still my favorite, what are some of your favorite Invocator tunes?

    I love 'Through The Nether To The Sun.' Straight to the bone with a neat chorus. That's my type of song. "Don't bore us - get to the chorus" style. I think the new album is even stronger in that respect. I think "Weave..." is also the best Invocator record, if you don't count the new one in. It was great in all kinds of aspects; the cover, the sound and production (for that time) and the distribution was quite OK.

  • Since it seems to be that you are the only constant in the band from the early days, how are songwriting, lyric writing and what not handled within the band? Did any of the newer members have any input with material?

    Oh yes, Flemming wrote a lot of stuff for the new album, and so did Carsten. Gundel came in a bit late, so his input was limited. And the lyrics are written by Claus Larsen, a friend of mine. Except for 'On My Knees,' which I wrote. I just felt that it would be better to have a good writer doing this, and him being a part time writer, I trusted that he could do it. I think he did excellent. You know, it's the same as getting my car fixed. I don't try to do it myself, I go to somebody who's good at this. The same with those lyrics. I'd hate if some of them turned out cheesy because I didn't put as much energy into the lyrics as I do with the music, so I chose Claus as a main writer, and I gave him some titles and minor ideas.

  • How have press reactions been for this new record? I know if it wasn't for The End Records working press for you here in the States, I might not have received this new record!

    Ahem. Maybe Scarlet's network isn't very good in the States, but in Europe they're quite big. But the press has been very positive. It's not easy to be a reuniting band right now with all these classic bands - some better than others - reuniting. I think it's even harder for us than a new band, but people really like the new album, and we're not just a rip-off of old Invocator albums. It's as if we never disappeared. We kept up to date with our music, although it still sounds as Invocator, and that's really what we wanted to achieve.

  • Why exactly did Invocator break up? I was very sad indeed when I first found out many years ago...

    The chemistry was very bad. (The chemistry of restlessness? - Ed.) We stopped being friends, and frankly none of us liked to be in the band anymore, so we decided to stop the band. It was a mutual decision and it felt good.

  • One final question, are there any future Invocator plans you care to tell us about? Maybe you are working on new material or planning future gigs?

    We just played 15 shows in a row in Denmark. That was great and something no other metal band had ever done before. We had 45 minutes of live appearances played on national radio (5 million listeners), and the title song off "Dying To Live" is featured in a new movie which runs all over Denmark, and hitting Scandinavia soon. So things are happening. The album is getting great reviews, and we will start working on new material within this month, so hopefully we can enter the studio in the summertime. I can't wait!

  • If there's anything else you want to talk about at length we missed then feel free. Maybe you want to mention some movies you saw (I just finished seeing the last Lord Of The Rings movie). Thanks again!

    Hmmm. I just had my second child - a little girl - 9 days ago, so I'm really not gonna freak over some movie. I experienced something I will never, ever forget - TWICE! And the feelings of becoming a father is so great. I could go on and on. What I'm trying to say is that you haven't experienced the grandeur of life if you haven't become a parent. Thanks for this excellent interview!

    SUMMONING. Email interview with Protector and Silenius.

    Summoning has been extremely consistent from album to album. Their last two records we reviewed, "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame" and "Stronghold," are hands down two of the best Tolkien tribute CD's ever created. By that I mean lyrics, music and themes that celebrate the trials and tribulations of Middle Earth. Black metal vocals and mostly orchestrated type symphonics, with a few guitar riffs thrown in, Summoning sounds like no one else in music today. We are proud to feature this rather lengthy interview in our pages, as Summoning is truly making music of massive and epic proportions.

  • With the popularity of the Lord of The Rings movies, and of course your ties to the themes, I would think Summoning should be more popular than they are right now. I do know you have a pretty good fanbase, as there are several fan websites that have sprung up.

    Silenius: Seeing it from the point of view that we never have played live and that we never put ourselves as people in the center of the band we are satisfied with our popularity here in Europe but you are right that for example in America we are nearly unknown to anyone. Nevertheless both of us have full time jobs and Summoning and our other projects are just full time hobbies of our rare spare time, so seeing it from this point of view maybe we have reached more success than many other bands who placed their music in the center of their lives.

  • What did you think of the movie adaptations of the novels? I for one thought they were very well done, especially certain battle scenes and the Balrog, however I also realize that many scenes were left out of the movies.

    Silenius: I think all three of the movies really have blown us away. Peter Jackson has done a real excellent work but of course it was obvious that the film version never could be a one to one translation of the book and of course it was never the idea of Peter Jackson to top Tolkien's literature with the film.

  • I was curious as to why your CD releases don't contain lyric sheets? I have seen a few fan sites that have loose translations and adaptations, but have yet to see a lyric book (although, keep in mind I only have a cardboard sleeve for "Stronghold," though I have the full packaging for "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame").

    Silenius: It is a kind of infamous tradition of us not to put the lyrics inside the booklet. It all began with our first release when we simply lost our lyrics somewhere in the studio and were not able to reprint them. Later on we simply continued with that to keep the booklets as simple and basic as possible. Meanwhile we put most of our lyrics on our website and what I forgot to mention is that most of the lyrics always are taken from Tolkien's poems directly or similar famous fantasy writers.

  • I am VERY curious about many of the spoken word samples on the album "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame," since the booklet doesn't mention where these samples come from. Can you mention a few? I know one line 'The return of the seven kings, and the robes of the five wizards' was said to be from one of the novels only. It ALSO sounds like the character who plays Gandalf in the movie, so I'm curious to know as well how those voices were done.

    Silenius: All the spoken word samples are not taken from the movie but from a British Lord Of The Rings broadcast. Most of the samples are spoken either by Gandalf or Saruman; the last outro sample for example was spoken by the Lord of the Nazgul. The intro speech was taken from the black language and means "One Ring To Rule Them All."

  • Tell me a little bit about how you chose the title "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame." It rather reminds me of the very beginning and very end of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy where the hobbits are writing the stories about their travels.

    Silenius: In former times we mostly just took one word as an album title (often a word which was the song title of a previous album), mainly taken from Tolkien's world. Later on our song titles turned out longer and longer and the same goes for the album title. The album title "Let Mortal Heroes..." is nothing else than a homage to Tolkien meaning nothing else than his fame will still stand high on the top when others like us for example are already dead and gone.

  • Most of the instrumentation is synthesizer based it seems, with guitars making up the framework, how do you see the importance of both guitars and synths?

    Protector: Surely the synthesizers are dominating in Summoning. They play the main tunes and also the drum sounds; but anyway the guitars are very important for us because they add the metal element to the music. Without the guitars the rough vocals would not make much sense anymore and without the vocals the music would simply turn into a darkwave style. But because I am already making dark wave music for the Die Verbannten Kinder Evas I want Summoning to remain a metal band. I always like to keep strict borders between my projects so there will never be a real, fulltime Summoning release without guitars on it.

  • And while we're talking about the songs' framework, how do you see the importance of the black metal styled vocals? Are you still a fan of black metal, be it early or later period?

    Protector: As mentioned before, the black metal vocals are also important for Summoning. The main power of Summoning is the combination of "ugliness" and beauty. Without the rough vocals the music would again become darkwave and the border to DVKE would be lost. We both still respect black metal very much, but due to our limited time we both focused on different musical fields (Silenius on industrial/noise music and I on dark electronic music).

  • How do you view the progression from album to album, and which disc is your favorite? As much as I liked "Stronghold," I really like "Let Mortal Heroes..." even more.

    Protector: Our first CD "Lugburz" was a quite pure black metal release with only very few synths on it. It was chaotic and unprofessional but anyway it was our first black metal step as musicians. With "Minas Morgul" we discovered our own typical Summoning style: slow with mighty keyboard drums instead of real drums, and with much more epic tunes. "Dol Guldur" was rather a "copy" of "Minas Morgul" but seems to be the favorite release for all of our "old" fans. "Nightshade Forest" was just a mini CD not a full release. With "Stronghold" we wanted to bring back a bit more guitar dominance and started to create also more complex guitar riffs. The polyphony of the keyboards got lost a bit so that this release can be called our most rock and commercial one. With "Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame," we brought back the polyphony of the keyboards but anyway kept the newer guitar style. We also increased the loudness of the drums so that the release is much more epic again.

  • Has Summoning ever done, or considered doing, a video? I know that would be a very interesting thing to see.

    Silenius: In the past years we started to make video clips two times. The first time we tried to make a video on our own at a time when not even our first album was released. We wanted to make this on our own because of a kind of advertisement for labels but everything broke when we fired our drummer who had good connections to the guy who made the video. The second time Napalm ordered to make the production of a video clip to 'Marching Homewards' from "Minas Morgul" but this time the production company went bankrupt and nothing ever came out of it but a loss of money. Basically we are still interested in doing a clip but in the moment if it will come out or not.

  • One thing that has always amazed me about Summoning is the use of very strong, militaristic and dominating percussion. I'm curious if real drums are used or even electronically enhanced. I have heard some industrial bands that use wicked distortion and echo effects on their percussion and it's so much more powerful sounding than regular drums.

    Protector: For me the drums are also very important in Summoning (actually they are my job). They are only taken from my synthesizer what suits for our taste much better to Summoning than any real drums. Real drums are better for bands who mainly want to "rock," but because Summoning rather spreads an epic feeling and typical bassdrum-snare-hihat rhythms would totally not suit; I prefer the power of mighty tom-toms and kettledrums as basic for our rhythms, rather than hectically metal beats with hundreds of breaks in each song.

  • Has Summoning ever played any live shows? If so, how are they set up and do you have to use session musicians?

    Protector: No, we never played live. First because we think that the music of Summoning is not good for live purposes. It spreads the feeling of a fantasy world, but seeing two normal, mortal sweating people on a dirty stage would simply destroy all illusions we ever created with our music. And second, we see ourselves rather as components than as musicians. This means that playing a song is not so satisfying for us than to compose a new song. So we prefer to create new songs than to practice old ones for live performances.

  • How is Napalm for you as a label? It seems to me like you have been with them since your very first album, how did you come to work with them and what is your recording deal structured like? Obviously you have a multi album deal with Napalm as you're on like release 7 or 8 now?

    Silenius: It is right we have been with Napalm since the very first time. Max and the rest of the crew are very good friends of us and as long as we have the musical freedom we want we would not change the label. Musicalwise our own taste differed a lot during the last years from those of Napalm but that is not really a problem for us. Summoning got a record deal with Napalm in consequence of the fact that Abigor already had one and so we had good contacts to Max to make advertisement for Summoning. We know that Max didn't like our music in the beginning but I think meanwhile he has changed his view a lot! :>
    For a long time we had no record deal at all but meanwhile everything became so professional with the label that we have one for the next three releases.

  • I remember there was mention of the Austrian Black Metal Syndicate some time ago, what was this collaboration about (I believe Pazuzu was a member?) and what did the group accomplish?

    Silenius: In the beginning, the ABMS was a kind of institution in which all black metal followers, tape traders and bands helped each other to promote their stuff; nowadays it sounds ridiculous but you have to imagine that 10 years ago the black metal scene in Europe stood in its childhood (except Norway of course), but outside Norway there was nothing and so the black metal maniacs in Austria in that time could be counted on two hands. On the other side we had no possibility to make easy advertisements over the internet because it didn't exist at this time.

  • Looking back, if you have seen all three Lord Of The Rings movies, was there anything you thought should have been added, or something about the movies you didn't like? Personally, I really enjoyed the extended editions of The Two Towers and Fellowship Of The Ring.

    Silenius: Although the third movie was one of the longest I still felt the space was too little to make all the details of those epic battles and happenings so everything seemed to be compressed. But the first two movies stand beyond criticism. Only the commercial ending songs from Enia to Annie Lennox are very poor.

  • Some time ago before the LOTR movies were to start viewing in theaters, there was talk of Blind Guardian doing the soundtrack, but I always thought Summoning would be a better choice. Were you ever approached about the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, or did you make an attempt to contact those doing the movie?

    Silenius: Well, the fact is that Napalm really sent the Summoning CD to Newline Cinema but of course it was obvious that no metal band would ever have the chance to make the soundtrack for this kind of music. I think even for Blind Guardian this task would have been 10 feet too big. All in all I think that metal music would never have fit to the film, but I could have imagined that our music could have fit with some new orchestral arrangements played by a real orchestra. Nevertheless, as I said earlier this would have been far too complicated and big for us.

  • I noticed that the character of Silenius has changed a bit from the earlier photos. Love the green headed monster character that he portrays. Tell us about how the Silenius and Protector names came about for the two of you.

    Silenius: I don't think I have changed at all. All of my photos have the basic content that no one can see how I look like so I see no big difference in just making photos of my hands like in "Minas Morgul" or wearing a wolf mask like on the latest CD. I like to make mysterious photos far away from the usual boring band photos with the band standing somewhere around wearing metal shirts and looking stupid into the camera. The only thing that has changed in my private life is that I no longer have long hair anymore, but this doesn't stop me from making good Summoning music in contrary to some people's opinion that short hair means to be a kind of metal mongo not being able to make metal music anymore.

  • Finally, there is one CD that has been recently released that I don't have, and it's "Lost Tales," can you tell us about this? I hear it's two tracks and rare material. Also, I'm surprised that some of the reviews haven't been favorable, it was rather bold of you to put even the not so good reviews on your site!

    Silenius: This mini CD contains two old unreleased tracks from the time when "Dol Guldur" was released. Both songs have remained in their original tape versions, meaning no guitars or vocals are added, just some spoken word sample from a Tolkien broadcast again. The whole release was meant to be a total die hard release or a collectors item for those fans who don't want to miss a single track Summoning ever created.
    Protector: We think a review section would not make sense if we only would put good reviews on it; it should rather represent the average opinions of our releases and not try to fool the readers that Summoning only gets positive feedback.

    SWALLOW THE SUN. Interview with keyboardist A. Munter via email.

    Doom/death bands these days are definitely NOT a dime a dozen. When a band does decide to cop this style, it's usually done with very effective and pleasing results, to say the LEAST. This latest offering from, geez, where else, Finland, offers up a masterpiece album, this being their first release. SO, without further ado, I strongly urge fans of Mourning Beloveth, My Dying Bride, Shape Of Despair, and the like to check them out.

  • When I first saw the front album cover with that dark house, the first thing that popped into my mind was an H.P. Lovecraft story I read awhile ago. So obviously I'm curious about the selection of coverart.

    The cover art was made by Tuomo Lehtonen. We gave him some ideas and guidelines to start with, but otherwise he was free to do whatever he wanted. And we were very impressed even with the first sketches he had made, which were then improved based on our ideas. He did an excellent job, and I'm sure that you'll be seeing his artwork in the future.

  • Well, is that cover an artists' rendition of a real place, or just an artists' imagination? I think it'd be pretty cool if a house like that existed!

    I think that there's some photographic elements in the picture, and some are computer generated, or so I've heard. So it could be that the house does really exist, even though not in an environment exactly like that. But I don't really know about that.

  • I really liked the fact that pianos were used in spots on the album, are there any instruments you would never use on a Swallow The Sun disc? Furthermore, are there instruments you haven't used yet that you might consider for a future release? (I'd love to see you make use of flutes!)

    Using flutes didn't cross our minds at any point, but we seriously considered using a cello in some places. I even got a player for us, but then we ran too short on time to make proper arrangements for it. We don't have any plans considering the instrumentation of the next album yet, so we'll just have to see what we will include there.

  • How do you decide the tone of the music and where each set of instrumentation fits? Do lyrics have anything to do with how the music is structured?

    Usually the instrumentation and arrangements are decided by all of us. Raivio did the basic song structures on 'The Morning Never Came,' but all players have added their own thing on their instruments. I was actually somewhat surprised how naturally the songs took form when we started playing them! Lyrics can have some effect on the music structure, though not often. That can be heard especially on the song 'Swallow,'as the lyrics are affected a lot by horror B-movies. That can be heard from the song structure, which is quite soundtrack like.

  • What exactly inspires the lyric writing process for this album? I know just trying to deal with surviving life, money problems, war, and the general chaos of life is enough to make one depressed! Were there any personal situations that might have brought to life some of the lyrics?

    The lyrics are more about fictional stories than about real life events. They are inspired mostly by classic horror and ghost stories, but there are some apocalyptic tales there within them. There's not really any personal experiences.

  • Okay, so let's talk about some of the song titles' themes. I'm especially curious about the song 'Under The Waves,' as I seem to remember a Lovecraft story that deals with an underwater sea creature.

    Most of the songs are about dead, beautiful women who either stay dead or come back haunting you, or the end of the world. The song 'Under The Waves' is a story about a psychopath killer who is tormented by the voices of his victims, whispering from a lake he has drowned them into. And he waits for the winter to come, as the ice will dim their voices.

  • Tell me about the song 'Deadly Nighshade.' I thought at first that maybe you spelled the title wrong (since Deadly Nightshade is a poisonous plant) but then realized maybe the title was misspelled purposefully as to be a play on words.

    No, it was misspelled, hee hee. The promo CD and the first pressing of the album had the misspelling on them, but it has been corrected later. After we noticed that a typo had gotten on the covers, we realized that you actually could take it as playing on words, but too bad it wasn't our purpose!

  • The song 'Swallow (Horror Part 1)' was an interesting title, was there another part to the song already made, or will part 2 be upcoming on a future record?

    Yes, there will be part 2. It won't be similar to part 1 as a composition, only some minor structural similarities can be heard, but the common thing with them will be the themes of the lyrics: B-movie inspired horror stories. I really don't know if there will be a part 3, or any further parts.

  • I hear some black metal vocals as well as death styled vocals and surprisingly, some clean throat work. Does one person do all the vocal styles, and is it difficult to maintain such an extreme vocal style for the length of an album or live show?

    Yes, Kotamaki does all the vocals on the album. I've been playing with him for some time now, and he has advanced quite a lot from his first recordings, even though he had a good voice even back then. But I think that he has got a good technique, so growling and screaming doesn't strain his voice too much. When playing live, Raivio will do some of the clean vocals.

  • Now I did notice that the clean sung vocals weren't used very often, was there any particular reason for this?

    It was clear from the beginning that most of the vocals would be growls and stuff, but (we) wanted to include some clear singing also. They are placed on the album so that they would help the album sound balanced. It could have become boring if there were only growls and screams throughout the whole album (No it wouldn't!!! - Ed.). But the main emphasis is on the growls.

  • What would be your favorite song off this new release? (And how does the rest of the band feel about their favorite track?) I know for me my ultimate favorite tune is 'The Morning Never Came,' and I often start the CD player on the last song and work my way to the first track on the CD.

    It's hard to say which is my favorite, but if I had to pick one, I'd probably go for 'Hold This Woe.' It has a strong feel to it and an excellent chorus. I like to listen to the album from the beginning to the end, because I think that we found rather good order for the songs, the album is structured nicely.

  • How is your record deal with Firebox structured? Are you satisfied with the job they have done for you? They sent me the latest CD, so obviously they are working the U.S. market as well, which oftentimes gets overlooked by smaller labels with smaller budgets. Are they planning on providing tour support?

    They are a new and quite small label, but they are very professional, and thus we are really happy with how things have been working out with them. The promotion has been great, if you consider how many promo CD's they have sent out. They have distribution in many countries, and also distribute records here in Finland. You can find their distributers from their website at It's too early to say anything about touring yet. We'll see what happens.

  • Any plans to play out live, maybe some overseas tours? How many shows have been done since your inception? And besides Children Of Bodom (who recently were touring here in the States), what else is going on music wise in Finland?

    We have actually only done 3 shows with Swallow The Sun, for now. We are now on a booking agency, so there will be a lot more live shows in the future, and hopefully a tour. I think that touring overseas might be a little hard at this point, but other parts of Europe are not out of the question. But it's too early to say anything definite, so we'll just have to wait and see. All the shows can be found from our website. The music scene in Finland is quite vital, and there's lots of promising new bands here. You might want to go to the links section on our website, there's some bands that are definitely worth checking out. Most of them have some samples on their website.

  • Bands like Mourning Beloveth, Shape Of Despair, heck, MANY bands in the doom/death genre have really long songs, how do you feel about tunes that clock in at 8, 9 and even 10 minutes long? I can listen to tracks of such length, if the music strikes me in such a way, even if the song structures change very little over the course of an entire song.

    I think that the length of the song doesn't matter, if it serves the composition, and the structures don't have to change that if the instrumentation is interesting. The most important point is, in my opinion, that there has to be some kind of progression in the song, even though the progression can be extremely subtle, to keep it interesting. I do listen to various styles of music, so I do understand the feelings and the interest that can be achieved by minimalistic approach to songwriting.

  • Rather than asking this as an obvious question, I'm curious about the band name Swallow The Sun, what does it mean to the band members? After listening to the record it's very obvious to me that all the songs aren't about total darkness.

    Well, we came up with when doing some heavy drinking at a local bar. Luckily someone of us was actually able to remember the name at the morning. I like the name because it raises questions, it can be interpreted in many ways and it connects to various mythologies. And when living in Finland, you don't really see much sun during the autumn and early winter.

  • Finally, I'm curious because after checking out your website, I see that other members of the band are in another group called Plutonium Orange. Tell me a bit more about this other band and what they are like? How much of a priority is Plutonium Orange compared to working in Swallow The Sun?

    Raivio and Pasanen are in Plutonium Orange, and that could be described as a metallic rock band. They started as a stoner rock band, but have moved towards more metallic sound. Actually, we all play in various bands, and so Swallow The Sun did starts as a project, but around the time of recording the demo, it became evident that it was rather a band than a project, so nowadays it has no project-like qualities.

    THE HIDDEN HAND. Interview with Scott "Godfather of stoner rock" Wino.

    Many misconceptions have arisen about The Hidden Hand as of late. Scott Wino of course has moved on past Spirit Caravan, and he had plenty to say about the state of the world we live in today, as many of his song topics deals with things most people have no clues about. Heavy as hell is his new effort with The Hidden Hand, though it doesn't make me entirely forget what a monster group Spirit Caravan was. Our second interview with Scott, and an enjoyable chat we always have had.

    (Scott wants to start the interview off with a question). You do Vibrations Of Doom, right?

  • Yep, that's me...

    I read a review of our record a few days ago, and whoever reviewed it got everything wrong, basically saying I sang these songs I didn't sing. That's been happening SO much in the press that I'm a little turned off by it.

  • Well, I only noticed that there was one song you DIDN'T sing on...

    That's totally untrue. The other bass player sings on half the record, he sings on the Hidden Hand theme, he sings on 'Screw The Naysayers,' he sings on 'Damyata.'

  • Good lord, he sounds a lot like you then!

    We made a mistake by not putting it on there, because we thought for sure that everybody would be able to identify the difference in voices. But nobody got it right. So many reviews got that wrong.

  • There's one song I'm really getting into called 'Tranquility Base,' about the fact that maybe we didn't land on the moon?

    Some guys that used to work at NASA found this film, it's a controversy and I'm not sure if I believe that or not. It was interesting that right around the same time they were trying to deregulate the FCC, and to me that was just like another push by the right.

  • Well, there was a radio show done by talk host Art Bell, and actually I talked a little bit about this with the Subhumans in another interview; Art's guest was talking about the fact that Neil Armstrong actually did not want to do interviews about the moon landing. I mean if it was me, if I walked on the moon, I'd be wanting to talk about it to EVERYBODY.

    Well, a lot of those astronauts saw things out in space that they never want to talk about. I've been doing a lot of research, things that come across Art Bell shows and stuff. There's a lot of controversy about what's happening on the moon. We've spent billions and billions of dollars on like Star Wars programs, and nobody really knows where that stuff goes. There's lots of people who say we've had a space station on the moon for a lot longer than people know. Whether that's true or not we don't know, but that's kind of the pretext of The Hidden Hand, we're trying to inspire questions.

  • The thing that really struck me the most, if we put a man on the moon 40 years ago, WHY haven't we been back? The theory that's behind why we haven't is because there's Russian spy satellites in space that can pretty much track our every move...

    Have you ever heard anything about those wierd towers that the astronauts supposedly saw on the dark side of the moon? They look a little bit like natural rock formations but when they were photographed and looked at more closely they were like wierd, really tall spiral towers. That stuff's been covered up. The fact is, we're spending a LOT of money for defense that's going for these wierd projects that are totally covered up, nobody knows what's going on. I read a book called "Weapons In Space" and this details all this money, and all kinds of actual hardware that we've been launching into space for the last 10 or 20 years. And it's all covered up, and nobody really knows where it's going. My whole philosophy is that you can't believe a single word that the government tells you. So you have to dig a little deeper.

  • Yeah, really. All you have to do is just look at the Waco situation and even some of the stuff that's gone on since 9/11.

    Just look AT 9/11. There's so many unanswered questions with that. Things like why the FAA's timetables are different, why they didn't scramble the jets from Andrews; when you look at all that and then look at these neo-conservative right wing websites like the Project for A New American Century and stuff like that. In their manifesto they're talking about how it's going to take like a Pearl Harbor calamity to enable the right wing to push forward with their agenda, which is of course the Project For A New American Century. Basically, they're laying it all out right there! They're waiting for a major cataclysmic event to try and stir up American nationalism so they can force their own right wing agendas, which I think is VERY dangerous.

  • Did you ever read a book called "The Apocalypse Culture?" Well, it's published by Feral House, and is a very good book. I kinda put it down and haven't really read it, but a short while back I picked it up and looked at the copyright date, which was towards the end of the year 2000. I finally read through it and of course, a lot of the stories looked really hokey; stuff about Presidential sex cults, crazed artists and things like that. But one story that REALLY stood out in my mind was the one a university professor told. He had a student who I think was from Pakistan, and she gave explicit details to him about how attacks on America would take place with the next couple of years. She described in great detail about how they'd use the crop duster planes to launch attacks and how the Anthrax vaccines were carried into the country! And I went holy shit, you know this book was published well before the 9/11 attacks. And this guy went to the CDC, FBI and nobody believed him.

    The investigation into 9/11 has been totally stonewalled by the White House. They're claiming national security, but what they're actually trying to do is sanitize everything before they release it.

  • Because they know they were wrong. That book "The Apocalypse Culture" is one of the best books I've seen that actually chronicles someone who TRIED to tell this story and they were suppressed.

    Man, I've gotta find that book...

  • Like I said, I thought the other stories were kinda hokey way back, but here's a story that turned out to be true, and it makes me wonder if those OTHER stories they write about in that book are true or not. It's pretty scary!

    The people in power would really stop at nothing, in my personal opinion, to advance their agendas, because they really feel like they are better than everybody else.

  • Well, I wonder, because when that stuff about Roswell came out, the argument was made that if details about like aliens and stuff came out, it would send the people into a panic and chaos would spread, but it also makes me wonder if these people are really trying to protect the public or just really trying to cover up the fact that they're doing things they shouldn't be doing.

    Definitely because they're doing what they shouldn't be doing. In this interview I think the most important thing for me to say is that the people who don't vote, even if you think it's worthless and won't make any difference: the only real way to get our country back is to show the people in power that we can turn out in such large numbers that even if they fix the vote (which they will)... In Florida they fixed the vote through Choice Point, a company they hired to change the voting rules, and you can read about that. Anyway, if you turn up in mass numbers, look what happened in Georgia, in Yugoslavia. Eventually the people got so pissed off they stormed the gates and said please step aside because we are with the popular revolt. I really like a lot of things that John Edwards has to say.

  • Now when you say what's going on in Georgia, do you mean the province in Russia or the State of Georgia?

    I'm talking about Russia.

  • Well, here's what happened in my own state. There's been such a big deal about the Confederate flag here in Georgia, and people were so upset that Governor Roy Barnes just stormed his way in and changed the state flag without so much as a chance for the people to vote on it, that he was overwhelmingly voted out of office, in a state where his party has controlled things for over 30 years! Sonny Perdue was the first Republican governor Georgia's had in god knows how long!

    Zell Miller voted with the Republicans all the time, he's basically a Republican claiming to be a democrat!

  • I get to the point where I hate politics. It's like if you're democrat or republican you're supposed to have certain views either one way or the other. I wish they'd just absolve all the bullshit political parties and just vote for the people that have ideas you like. Fuck politics.

    I know, but the thing about it is, that's EXACTLY where they want to go. Too many people say that, and young people stop voting and then when more and more people stop voting it's going to be easier for these politicians to disenfranchise the voters and take more of the vote. People always talk about Ted Kennedy, "Oh god, what a liberal," you know? He does have some liberal ideas but I really believe that people like him and Robert Byrd are really standing up for the American people. It's a concerted effort, almost like a Right Wing takeover. And people are going to have to wake up sooner or later.

  • I suppose more people need to get involved sooner or later.

    I heard some guy calling into C-SPAN the other night, and he was from Alabama, and of course he's going (said in an almost southern drawl) "Man, you don't know how hard it is to be a democrat from Alabama!" But he had some really, REALLY good things to say, and it just goes to show, or to DISPROVE, all the stereotypes you might believe about the rural south.

  • Yeah, I get that shit all the time...

    There's a LOT of southern people down there that REALLY know what's going on. But the majority of people there are like totally brainwashed, christian zealots that are like "Bush is doing a great job, and he's the best president we've ever had." Come on! This is the WORST president we've ever had, and you don't have to be a college graduate to figure it out!

  • On the whole Bush issue I've looked at a lot of things. The one thing that I do have to say, hey, weapons of mass destruction or not, I'm sorry but Saddam Hussein was getting a little nuts down there. And the fact of the matter is if we let him go on we could have had another Hitler on our hands.

    What about Khadaffi, the ayatollahs in Iran, they were closer to the nuclear weapons that Hussein was. What about North Korea. The reason they picked on Saddam in the first place was because of the fucking oil. Bottom line. They're having problems now because they didn't realize how bad the infrastructure was, they didn't have good intelligence in that country. They were preparing on just going in there and starting the pumps. Why Saddam Hussein? Why not North Korea? The people that really HAVE the weapons of mass destruction are being totally left alone. Everybody knows it's the oil, it's like a big joke.

  • Well, I guess we should talk about music a little bit! (laughing) Because seriously, I could talk about this stuff all day long.

    (laughing) Well, that's cool, and I'm glad. It's nice to talk to somebody who's a little bit more informed. It's pretty important. A couple people that I've read say stuff like "Oh, you should stay out of politics and just concentrate on music." These are pretty urgent times. It's hard to NOT talk about this stuff. The music is pretty much a universal language, and it will get you through hard times, but at the same time it's important to have a voice and let it be heard.

  • I have to ask you now, what exactly happened because Spirit Caravan was doing some really good stuff!

    We were, but unfortunately, we had a problem and it basically came down to personalities. It's pretty unfortunate. But it's kinda like the age old story, where the partying came before the music. You know, I don't wanna be the guy who tells somebody not to do something. That's not my job. I kinda feel like within the band if i have to tell somebody "Hey, slow down," or "hey stop doing this," and then they feel like because of that they're not having fun, then I don't wanna be in that position. Nobody should be putting me in a position to where I have to defend the integrity of the music. There was also some respect issues too, and that respect includes not getting so fucked up that you stop playing in the middle of a set and start headbanging with some dude up front! We could go on and on about this.

  • It's been awhile since I listened to the first few Spirit Caravan records, but I do remember Dave Sherman did a song, maybe it was 'Retroman?' He was doing the heavier vocal styles and I know Dave has a new project now but I haven't heard it. So I thought maybe that was the reason because he was doing the more, well, I don't want to say death metal vocals...

    He's always been trying to creep that death metal vocal style in there. He knew that me and Gary didn't like that, we'd already talked about it a bunch of times, and he'd get really loaded and he would get up there and sing like that. See, we made an agreement that we weren't going to bring that aspect into Spirit Caravan. He did it all the time. We were in Europe, and instead of singing these really nice songs live, he would try and sign in that death metal style. If he wants to play death metal, he needs to play in a death metal band.

  • Well, I have to be honest, it doesn't hurt to branch out, and I have to admit, 'Retroman' was pretty kick ass. I mean, I love some of the sickest and most brutal death and black metal bands, fuck I love it all. But as much as I liked 'Retroman,' I couldn't see a whole album from Spirit Caravan like that. One song isn't bad.

    It really comes down to the group wish. I mean, if there's three dudes in the band and two dudes want to do a death metal song, then it's like a democracy. But if out of the three, if two guys don't like it, then it's pretty much an agreement. Sherman can go sing all the death metal he wants. He talks shit about me, and it's just the same old story. He'll tell you one thing and then do another. He's an okay dude but I just can't take him anymore ya know?

  • I'm really sorry about that, because I loved the fuck outta Spirit Caravan, and when I saw you guys play in Spartanburg, Dave seemed so serious, I mean he was getting into the music and he looked like he was having a good old time.

    Well, I appreciate that. What I've found with the Hidden Hand with these guys is that total camraderie. Add that to some serious intellect and a bit more technical playing skills, and you have what we have now. I don't feel like I went back, I feel like I went up. To me it was a hard decision to make, but I feel I made the right decision. I defend my decision because I've done a lot since Spirit Caravan went down. I did the Place Of Skulls full length, The Hidden Hand has done a single, we've got a 12 inch coming out, a couple of compilations, I did the Probot song with Dave Grohl and Lemmy. I'm just trying to do as much as I can and still be productive.

  • I love The Obsessed, and I love Spirit Caravan but I gotta say, and I wanna know how you feel about this, because I feel that some of those guitar riffs on the new Hidden Hand record are some of the heaviest you've ever done.

    I love that record, man, and we're a pretty new band that recorded that album pretty quick. I'm glad you feel that way and I think so too., I think it's some of the best stuff I've ever done. But I'm really excited about our newer stuff because you know how it is, I think we're growing pretty fast. So stay tuned, because I think it's gonna be good.

  • Now I don't want to harp on Spirit Caravan too much, because I know you want to move forward, but that last Spirit Caravan record "Elusive Truth," how do you feel about that record because personally I felt it wasn't as good as some of the earlier stuff and I'm thinking maybe problems you had with other members started to creep in and affect the recording of the album.

    We had a lot of problems on the production of that record, we actually mixed that record like two or three times. Those dudes were all about making it a real trebly, surreal kind of mix. They did one mix that was rejected by the label, the label was like "Look, we can't put this out, this doesn't even sound like you guys." They wanted this real bright, trebly production. We didn't really have the drum sound, the drum production was weak. We tried to re-record a couple of older tunes, and that's good in theory but a lot of times the more spontaneous stuff, the first stuff you do is the best. On the double CD that's coming out, all the songs that we re-recorded, we took out and substituted with the originals. Like also too, that original cover artwork for "Elusive Truth" was horrible, and all the guys were like "Skulls, skulls, skulls," and I thought it was one of the worst covers I had ever seen. The biggest problem was that I didn't stick to my guns enough, I'm the kind of person that really cares what other people think. I wanted it to be a democracy, I wanted the other people in the band to be happy, and a lot of times I didn't stand my ground, and I gave in. So we had the lousy coverart and the band complained about the mix but they would never BE there for it. If you're going to complain about the mix of an album, take a day off from work and come down to the fucking studio and DO something about it. Too much complaining and not enough dedication.

  • One final thing, I wanted to ask you about the last track on the Hidden Hand album. I don't know if you've heard of Datura or not?

    Datura, yeah, I have.

  • That last track on the Hidden Hand album reminded me SO much of a song from Datura's "Visions For The Celestial," the last track on their album, you know, that long, really mellow instrumental that you can just put on and relax to, it's kinda spacey and trippy like on Datura's record.

    That came about as we were sort of jamming in the studio. Me and Dave had that groove running and Bruce came running in. He plays bass but he's also an engineer. So sometimes he goes in the control room and moves mikes and stuff. He came running back in the room and went "Wow, that's cool as shit, we've gotta record that!" It was one of those spontaneous things, and we did a few little overdubs and I was already going to include the text from the Prayer For The Night that you could read to while you're listening to the track, so that's what we called it. That's the kind of band the Hidden Hand is, and we went to Europe for two weeks last July. For a European audience you really have to be prepared to play for like 2 hours. They want encore after encore, and they feel let down and disappointed if you just leave a short set. So we included a couple of long jams because we didn't have enough material. This freeform jam came out really cool. That's the kind of band The Hidden Band is. I've never done that in any other band, so it's fresh and kinda cool.

    TOURNIQUET. Interview with Ted via phone.

    I have to admit, I have NOT been a fan of Tourniquet in the early days. As I stated in the review of their latest album, if I hadn't accidentally read the interview in Metal Maniacs, I might never have listened to this CD at all. Which would have been a shame, but just reading that Marty Friedman and Bruce Franklin were involved, a light went on in my brain and said, "This record HAS to be good." Aside from that, I decided to put my anti-christian views in front of Ted to see his take on things. He IS a christian, but some of the things he has to say about religion and music in general may shock you.

  • So how's it going?

    Fine... Sorry about the Falcons this year... (referring to our Atlanta Falcons football team - Ed.)

  • Ah well... You know what, there's enough with the Atlanta Braves to go around.

    There is, isn't there...

  • They're one hell of a team, I gotta tell ya, those Braves

    They definitely are. Those final couple of playoffs they really didn't do so well though, you know?

  • Well, the thing that upsets me about the Falcons is, I still live in the town where they had practiced for, god, like what 20 or 30 years? It's a town called Suwanee. They go to the superbowl and all of a sudden they think they need a bigger place to practice in. The hypocrisy of it all really upsets me.

    They wanted more and more eh?

  • I got the new record, and I must say it's very impressive! My biggest question is how in the world you got Bruce Franklin and Marty Friedman BOTH to be in the band! That must have been a bit difficult!

    Actually it wasn't because they've both been friends of mine for years. For a short time I played in the band Trouble, so that was no problem, Bruce and I had remained friends for years. He lives in the Chicago area and I live in Milwaulkee area which is only a few hours drive. And Marty, I met him years ago and he's been aware and respected our music for many years. We had lost our guitar player so I called Marty up and I said we'd love to have you help us out here and he said I'd be glad to. He flew out here for a few days and we had a blast.

  • I wasn't aware that you played in Trouble!

    I did. It was when the "Run To The Light" album came out, and their drummer at the time was Dennis Lesh. I guess it just wasn't working out with him, but I was in for a few months, we only did two or three shows I think. We were supposed to go on tour with Motorhead and then it was Savatage and then it was someone else, but I had to bow out because there just wasn't time for me to do the band anymore. But they're a great band who's got more stuff going on now. It was a lot of fun to play for them, their early albums and songs like 'Pray For The Dead' and 'Psalm 9,' 'Run To The Light.'

  • Yeah, definitely, definitely. It was really good for me to hear they got back together. I know a lot of people thought Trouble was a christian band back at that time. Did you ever get to hear the side project of Bruce Franklin and Doug Pinnick Supershine?

    Yeah, I did. I thought it was great, I thought it sounded like what it was, a cross between King's X and Trouble.

  • You know, I've never been a big fan of King's X, though I have appreciated individual songs here and there. But when I heard that project, I said this is what I'd rather hear more of Doug doing. One of the things that I was a little upset about with the new Tourniquet record, and I told Michelle at Metal Blade about this; it was a shame that Bruce Franklin didn't play more on the record. You really only hear him on two solos, other than that you'd never know he was on the record.

    There's a lot of Marty on those, that's for sure. Who also obviously has his own signature sound. Either one of them plays two notes and you instantly know who it is. Well, maybe Bruce can do more stuff in the future.

  • Are you going to be working with both of them again?

    I don't know. I think that was just for this album, and we're still auditioning guitar players. It's really been tough to find the right guitar player.

  • Did either one of them say they'd be happy to be back?

    Oh,I don't know we didn't really talk about it. I think with Tourniquet from what people tell us, all our albums sound different from each other. If not them, there's a lot of other guitar players I'd love to have record on an album.

  • You guys have been around so long it's amazing that Metal Blade stuck with you this long. I think you're probably the only christian metal band they have on the label right now.

    I think so. They used to have a couple of other ones. We have only been with them, officially signed to them, for the last two albums. Early in our career, in 92 and 93 they distributed a couple of albums but we were never signed to the label.

  • Weren't you on R.E.X. or something back then?

    We were on Frontline, which is another christian label.

  • They aren't doing anything these days are they?

    No, they went belly up.

  • That's a shame because they had some really good bands.

    They did. We actually purchased our first seven albums back from them which was really good for us.

  • Are you going to reissue them?

    We did. We reissued the first three, we reissued "Stop The Bleeding," "Psycho Surgery" and "Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance." Those have been doing really well, and instead of 4 page black and white booklets they have 12 page all color booklets, new liner notes and live tracks and demo tracks. Fans have really gobbled them up.

  • Are those going through Metal Blade?

    No that's strictly through us. It's on Pathogenic Records, like our side label. We had those out before we resigned to Metal Blade.

  • Any chance we might see Torniquet live?

    We sure would love to start playing live again. We've been getting so many requests to play and we love playing live. But, we gotta get the guitar player thing going again.

  • Well, just tell Bruce and Marty to pack their stuff and be ready in an hour! (laughs).

    That tour would be all set right?

  • Do you think they'd do it?

    Oh, I don't know, it was never even a consideration. They both have their own things going on, and I respect that. Marty's in Japan most of the time or maybe just somewhere...

  • What is he doing nowadays? I don't know about him doing any bands now, as I know Megadeth isn't doing anything.

    He has a new solo album out I think it's called "Music For Speeding." It's on Steve Vai's label. It's a great instrumental album. He's doing clinics and I think he's playing with some very famous pop artists over there.

  • What is your deal with Metal Blade, how is it structured?

    I think we're going to have to look to the future now, to see if we want to continue with them and vice versa. I certainly don't have anything but positive things to say about everything about Metal Blade. The people over there keep their word, they're great to work with and very professional. I can't think of anything negative to say about them at all. Brian Slagel has always said, you know, "If you're Cannibal Corpse you're gonna sing about one thing, and in Tourniquet you're going to sing about something else."

  • Well, here at Vibrations of Doom, we try to keep all the politics and religion stuff out of the musical reviews; when it comes to the music, if it's good music that's really all that matters.

    That's really what their attitude is, you know if it's good music and people like it and it sells then we're not about to tell you "No, you shouldn't be talking about this or whatever." We have never changed our message and we're not trying to shove it down anyone's throat. And like any other band, you talk about what's important to you.

  • Exactly. And a lot of the lyrics, especially on the new album, seem more story oriented anyway.

    I've always been a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe and allegorical writing. It's not to try to cover anything up, it's a more original way for us to prevent, you know, what you've been talking about. We've never been much into the, you know, change and rearrange from wrong to right and into the light lyrics that have been used like 6 million times over. We try to be a little more creative lyrically and musically.

  • It really is a shame about Frontline and R.E.X. and labels like that: I know a lot of metalheads say why are christians playing metal music, but there were a lot of really good, christian metal bands back in the day. Did you ever get into bands like Deliverance, Vengeance Rising, Seventh Seal and groups like that?

    Oh sure, I mean both of those bands (Deliverance and Vengeance Rising - Ed.) were on Frontline at the same time we were. I knew all those guys pretty well.

  • I don't know if you followed this at all, but I remember when Roger Martinez was on a Bob Larson talk show with the lead singer from Deicide; he had his own ministry and christian metal band and then he just totally went in the opposite direction! I don't know if you ever thought about that or followed that at all...

    I don't really know enough about it, and I certainly would not want to hurt Roger at all. I'd just let him tell it the way he wants to tell it. MY feelings with Roger was that he's always been a really nice guy, a very nice person. The rest of it he'd have to let you know what's going on.

  • I just thought that was so shocking to me, after seeing what Roger had done for so long. There must have been something he saw that was so shocking to him it just turned his stomach. And that's what I see, too, I mean I've been doing a lot of studying and what not, and there's a lot of stuff that Christianity has done in the past that I'm afraid they're going to have to answer for in one form or another later. Especially all the wars that have been fought, the inquisitions, the holy crusades. Even some of the stuff that went on in the churches early on, the priest scandals. A lot of people are very turned off by christianity in this day and age.

    That's put very simply, and really being a christian is not about worshipping or looking up to a person because the bible is very clear that we're all sinners. And I don't care if you're a pope or a cardinal or even a pastor of a 10,000 member church. We're all sinners and we've all fallen short of what God wants us to be. And that's why being a christian is about looking to Christ and looking to God. Christian or not, people will always let us down, and I think that's the problem. People confuse things, like when people see priests molesting young boys and stuff. That's not to be confused with the God of the bible who is perfect.

  • Well, it's going to confuse a lot of people who see this stuff, because now they're saying, "Okay, well who do I turn to?" "Who's the person that tells me or guides me?" That's what these religious people are supposed to be, they're supposed to be guides...

    To be honest, there are a lot of christians that you can look up to, and there are ministers and pastors that like for 40 years have had the same ministry. They've been faithful to their wives, and not done anything funky. The main thing is not to put your trust in anyone but in God. It's really about being a real person and not trying to come off as better than anyone else.

  • And that's what a lot of christianity is extremely guilty of in my eyes, you know these people are like "Come to church every Sunday, put your money in the basket" but then they thumb their noses at everybody else. It's very sickening to me. One thing that was cool to me, you mentioned playing the Milwaulkee Metalfest. With some christian bands, they enjoy playing their music but they've also made it part of their mission. I know some people have said to Christian bands, you know, "Why do you get up there and play with bands like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide?" But if you're trying to reach and talk to people, you're not going to stick to just playing christian metal festivals like Cornerstone and what not. That's all well and good, but who are you really reaching? The people who are there, they want the alternative to the secular music, but if other people go out and hear your music, like it and dig what you're saying then you've pretty much gone into the other places.

    Right. That's it exactly. There's an example of Christ in the bible which is so clear about that. I mean the Pharisees kept asking Christ "How can you hang out with the pharisees and the tax collectors, the adulterers and what not."

  • Why preach to the choir, they're already there! The thing that really hit me most about the album was the title "Where Moth And Rust Destroy." My look on it is, yeah, you've a nice car, nice house, fancy stuff, whatever. But you can't take it with you when you go, it's just going to stay there and collect, well, moth and rust I guess.

    You could be the king of England or a homeless person on the street, and when you go the only thing you're going to be left with is what you did with your life.

  • Tell me about the song 'Healing Waters Of The Tigris,' that was an interesting song to me, especially the whole concept, because I know that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were part of the Sumerian and Mesopotamian culture, so I'm curious how you tied that all in.

    When I wrote that song it was before all this stuff started with Saddam Hussein and all that. It's interesting that he was actually captured right along the Tigris there, his palaces were right there and so on. It wasn't intentional though, but a lot of people have asked me about that. It's always been an interesting theory for me, kind of where civilization started, you know? It's the historical story about the city of Ninevah, which was thought to be impenetrable. It had huge stone walls, and it was thought that nothing would ever harm the city and no one would ever get in unless the river flooded, and sure enough the Tigris river flooded and knocked a huge hole in the wall. It kinda goes along with the album's concept that you can't put your trust in worldly things, and they thought a stone wall was going to hold their life together.

  • That song blew me away because it sounds like it was lifted right off of a Megadeth album like "Rust In Peace." I mean, the vocal work even sounds so much like Dave Mustaine I was asking, did you get Dave to sing on the record too? I mean, don't you agree?

    Enough people have said that it kinda sounds like something that might be done on a Megadeth album. Once again, not intentional. I'm a big fan of guitar riffs and I start by writing the guitar riffs and a lot of Megadeth stuff was seriously guitar riff oriented. People can't believe it's all one vocalist sometimes!

  • When you look back at the earliest of records that you did, and you look at what you're doing now... I know the earlier stuff was a lot more in the thrashier heavier vein, but do you see yourself going in the direction you are now on future releases? (referring to the more power metal influenced style on the new record "Where Moth And Rust Destroy"). He has an amazing singing voice, and I was not really wanting to say power metal, but just to say I guess doing more singing melodies.

    He doesn't even know whether to comment on it, he acts surprised that people really like the vocals. If you say thrash, it means different things to different people, like some people consider thrash cut time or a lot of rhythm changes. A lot of other people hear thrash in the vocals. I think there's quite a bit of yelling vocals, if you would, in the last two Tourniquet albums. There is still a lot of thrash to be heard. To me the new album has the heaviest guitar sound without a doubt, it's the first time I've used those 30 year old vintage Orange amps.

  • It's funny you mention that because the Orange and Green amps, those stoner rock bands are really starting to get into using those. Bands like Orange Goblin, Sons Of Otis, and stuff... I don't know if you listen to any stoner rock and all.

    I really like the band Sleep. I love that sound. I'd love to check those other bands out because I like that sound and style. I've actually heard of Orange Goblin but never heard their stuff.

  • Do you listen to a lot of other styles of music? I know you are probably kinda picky about lyrics and what not, does that bother you sometimes especially some of the more hateful black metal bands?

    Yeah, I do. I'm not really picky when it comes to lyrics, when I like something I don't really read the lyrics, they just go by anyway. I think it's good for us too, because like if someone asks us "Hey, have you heard the new Morbid Angel album," we can at least comment on it. With Metal Blade I always like to get ahold of the new releases to see what other bands sound like. And like I said, it's mainly just to hear what it sounds like, and a lot of it sounds very good (referring to black metal). A lot of it is mediocre too, kinda bland and have already been done.

  • I've been getting into the Tourniquet discussion board a lot lately and it surprises me just how many people are being torn about loving metal or this band and that band but don't listen to them because of the satanic imagery and lyrics or whatever. I guess everybody has to pretty much judge whether they should or shouldn't listen to an album depending on how they feel.

    More than how they feel about it to, to be honest, a lot of it does have a negative effect for people for their own lives. Like they say "when I started listening to this stuff I have these lyrics rolling around in my head all day and it's just not good for my thoughts." A lot of people say that and for them that's great. There's certainly plenty of music out there, and you're not forced to listen to anything.

  • A lot of black metal that I listen to, their lyrics I can relate to because they talk about the hypocrisy of the churches and stuff like that, and that's stuff I can agree with to a degree. But some topics do get overdone to death, and whether you're a buddhist, satanist or whatever sometimes these topics get overdone to death. There's so many other things to sing about.

    And a lot of people legitimately have a lot of anger in their spirit, and they want to get it out.

  • And that's probably a better way to do it other than burning churches and killing people, you know? I mean, the whole ideology behind the black metal thing was that christians had practically wiped out their heritage and culture, you know, and then to make matters worse they buitl their churches and temples on their burial and sacred grounds. Like Varg Vikernes said, no matter how naive they were, they wanted to "see what lies underneath."

    So there's a more historical part to it than they just don't like christians.

  • Well, whether that was a coverup statement or not, or even if they were a little naive, the fact is that probably three out of four members of the Scandinavian bands wears the Hammer Of Thor around their neck, so there you go.

    Yeah, they do that a lot for sure. We definitely want to play in Norway, we've had a lot of response from there. We played there one time, and it went pretty well because it was a christian festival (laughs). It's such a beautiful country.

  • The last thing I wanted to talk about was that song 'Drawn And Quartered.' Until I started reading up on that, I didn't realize just how gruesome a method of execution that was! You know, pretty much pulling their limbs out and stuff, it's pretty gruesome!

    Yep, having the horses going in different directions (while the condemned is tied to them). It's portrayed in movies like Gladiator and stuff like that.

  • And 'Ghost At The Wheel,' I guess we could talk about that a bit.

    Luke wrote the lyrics to that one. It's kinda talking about how we all have a friend or something that seems to lose themselves to another person, or they lose who they were. And you just want to wave your hand in front of that person and say "Hello, where did you go?" And a lot of people can really relate to that. It's like the people have lost their character.


    As many of you already know, I am now the new lead singer for Hallows Eve. This is a job I have lusted after since the early 90's when I still lived in Savannah. We are planning on rehearsing and doing local Atlanta shows, with the odd and occasional festival appearance here and there. One thing I want to stress to all of you: The magazine will NOT be overshadowed by what I'm doing with Hallows Eve. BOTH are equally important, though priority will be given to Hallows Eve if it becomes lucrative enough. I am going to do my best to take my 13+ years of music magazine experience with me when it comes to the writing of a new Hallows Eve record, if indeed it gets that far. I can promise you that if I have anything to say about it, the fourth effort will be a vicious mix of "Tales Of Terror" and "Death And Insanity." I have made it clear to both Tommy Stuart and Skully that I have no fond memories of "Monument," but if enough fans want to hear a song or two from that particular album, then live it WILL BE DONE. I am most interested in making sure Hallows Eve fans get a great experience live, and I will do everything in my power to make Hallows Eve one of the best 80's metal bands to record today.

    That being said, there's not much going on in the life of yours truly. I do want to say I am rather incensed at the lack of support from labels these days, interviews are still the most difficult deals to get going from nearly ANY label. I send out letters and updates quite frequently, but seldom ever hear back from anyone. I would love more feedback and input but it just ain't happening. I would love to call these people on a regular basis, but with my finances in dire straits, it's not possible.

    I must say, I have been extremely impressed at a lot of what's come out this year. SO far, Areknames looks to be one of the most innovative and original groups I've heard this year, and it's still early yet but this will garner the top 3, if not the top 5 of my year end picks. Speaking of year end picks, I don't usually take part in this year end - year beginning ritual, but there's a few shocking events that happened for me. Shocking event number one is Jim Raggi (from Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Magazine) actually MISSING an Opeth show! Shocking event number two, which has already been chronicled in the magazine, is the amazing Tourniquet album, and I guess shocking event number 3 was when I could officially and actually announce to the world that I was the new vocalist for Hallows Eve. It's still taking awhile to sink in, and I won't really feel a part of it until I get on that stage and throw 100% of my soul into a performance. And too, the feel of seeing your name in a CD booklet and maybe front cover will be the solidifying effect. It looks to be a very promising year for yours truly, and I can't wait to see what develops.

    On a final note, there are quite a few people who ask me how come they never see my tear samples from reviews in any of the magazines of press kits from record labels. In the 13 years I have been around, I have been thanked and seen my name in CD booklets only 4 times now, one was with Hacienda, one was with Frostmoon Eclipse, one was with the CD reissue of the Ripper "And The Dead Shall Rise" album... Damnit, I KNOW there's a fourth but can't think of it right now. Anyway, one big problem, especially with sample tear sheets or reviews, is that we publish every three months. So by the time we get an album and the review hits the web, it's been a few months. Also, we do get CD's in sometimes two and three months before release date, but we have never been one to play an album quickly and then write a snap review to send in. Why? Well, when you buy an album in the stores, do you just play it one time, and if it sucks throw it away forever? Of course not! You keep trying to find something good in it, and of course the more you play a CD the more qualified you are to judge it. I make it a rule to NEVER review a CD I haven't listened to AT LEAST 4 times or more. I want quality reviews in the magazine, even though I feel very disadvantaged because I am so open minded when it comes to music of many genres. Maybe someday I'll see that sample review in an ad running in the middle of Metal Maniacs, but for now I'll just be satisfied that when I put a perfect 100 score on a CD or even a lowly 20 or 30, it's with the knowledge that I pretty much know this CD backwards and forwards, I've played it at home, while driving in my car and at work. Quality over quantity!!

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