VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
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: http://www.listenable.net
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: http://www.blackwidow.it
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: http://www.napalmrecords.com
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: http://www.adipocere.fr
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: http://www.ektrorecords.com
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: http://www.osmoseproductions.com
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 Mil.se (MI) ITALY
Web site: http://www.scarletrecords.it
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: http://www.No-Colours-Records.de
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 Sup.re (SA) ITALY
Web site: http://www.mykingdommusic.net
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: http://www.season-of-mist.com
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
Contact: Functional Breaks.
Web site: http://www.fun-1.com
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: http://www.firebox.fi
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: http://www.warhag.com
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: http://www.willowwisp.com
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: http://www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
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
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
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
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
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
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
So this is pretty much a concept album from the first to the last
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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'
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
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! www.jacobhansen.com
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
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
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
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
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
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
Most of the instrumentation is synthesizer based it seems, with
guitars making up the framework, how do you see the importance of both guitars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
www.firebox.fi. It's too early to say anything about touring yet. We'll see
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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