VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
Our 40th issue!! We should be celebrating or something, I dunno... It's
amazing that for as many years as we've been doing this we're ONLY on our 40th
issue. Lots of surprising things to come for you this issue, including a bit of
80's metal interviews, which includes Hirax and Traitors Gate.
AIRGED L'AMH "The Silver Arm" (Black Lotus) SCORE: 100/100
WOW is all I can say. This is a Greek band on a Greek label doing a somewhat
loosely based (lyric wise) concept album about a Celtic legend (see the
interview for more details). The band describes their music as "Barbaric, epic
folk metal," which is rather limiting as the closest comparison I can make is
Blind Guardian meets Manowar meets English heathen metal masters Forefather
mixed with some of the heaviest thrash of the German scene. This album is most
definitely one of the best power metal albums released in 2004, and it's not
hard to see why. The guitar work is heavy, in fact many of the songs are
blindingly fast though the vocals never get out of hand. Speaking of the vocal
work, this guy can SING, but he also dips down into a lower singing range so
that the heavier parts are that much heavier. Tracks like 'Warp Spasm' and
'Dissention Seeds' are two of their heaviest tracks, though you'll find
yourself singing many of the choruses. Forefather comparisons are hard to
ignore, especially since the instrumental 'Armies Assemble' sounds like it
could have come straight from a Forefather record like "Engla Tocyme" or even
"The Fighting Man," with the thrashy and heavy yet still folkish sounding
guitars. And then out of nowhere comes the most beautiful epic "ballad" (and I
use that term VERY loosely) called 'Mourning Grief,' complete with amazing
acoustic guitars and fantastic sung vocals that soar near the end and will
probably bring a tear to the eye. Powerful stuff! If you liked the melodic
instrumentation of 'Mourning Grief,' then 'The Arrival' will start you off in
the same way, only to go heavier all of a sudden, and this is a track that
reminds me of some of the vocal melodies that Blind Guardian utilized. You
really have to listen to the sound files to appreciate just what this band is
doing, it's a POWERFUL piece of epic power metal... (though the term may not
totally apply here, but DAMN those guitar riffs are heavy!)
Contact: Black Lotus Records.
ANOREXIA NERVOSA "Redemption Process" (Listenable) SCORE: 91/100
Hmmm... Another band that has left Osmose... Anyway, this is a French black
metal band of all things, and right off the bat you'll know if you like this
or not. If you're a black metal purist you probably won't but I must say that
even though the synths have a more dominant presence over the guitar work, it's
some really dark electronic layers that actually complement the heavy tracks
well. I'm not sure at this late hour who to compare them to, but the pace is
most often very fast and they have an insane drummer. My main gripe is with the
rather odd singing vocals that pop up in more than a few tracks, though they
don't last long, but they do unnerve me a bit. 'The Shining' opens the CD up
almost with a bang, and the black metal vocal work is really dominant and sick!
Just the way we like it. Many of the songs do seem a bit lenghty, especially
since two clock in at over 7 minutes and the rest are between 5 and 6 minutes
in length. 'Codex Veritas' I thought was a bit overtly concerned with the speed
but for the most part these 7 tracks hit you hard and heavy. 'The Sacrament'
ended the CD nicely as a bit slower number, and overall I must say I was pretty
impressed by the sheer power and near insanity of this band.
Contact: Listenable Records.
CATARACT "With Triumph Comes Loss" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 96/100
I haven't been this overwhelmed by a band's debut American release since Carnal
Forge's "Firedemon" knocked me on my ass a few years back. This is a Swiss
hardcore outfit that says to have a heavy, dark metal influence (like Slayer
or At The Gates), but it might as well just be raging hardcore for all the sick
vocal work and wicked guitar riffs. This album starts off crushingly heavy and
never lets up until the last song, the title track, which I must say is a
rather weak attempt at doom metal oriented hardcore with some odd guitar riffs
I couldn't get into. The nice thing about Cataract is the fact that all the
songs vary up the pace and tempo a bit, though mostly they can utilize an
effective fast tempo to their songs. I can really hear some of the metal
influences on a track like 'Skies Grow Black,' but overall it's just crushing
hardcore. Before you're tuned out completely (if you're not a hardcore fan), at
least check into their consistency from track to track. There's some violent,
oldschool hardcore going on with 'Saving Shelter' here, and of course the
multivocal shouting on the choruses adds yet another dimension to their brutal
sound. There isn't much that needs to be said, quite simply Cataract satisfies
on all counts, and if you need further proof, radio station WREK DJ Holly, who
is a virtual walking hardcore encyclopedia, gives her endorsement.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
DREAM EVIL "The Book Of Heavy Metal" (Century Media) SCORE: 95/100
Even though I don't get anything from C.M. anymore, this was one CD I felt I
had to check into, as the last two Dream Evil records were of such high
quality. This one is no exception. Gone, however, are the amazing male and
female operatic styled choruses which made songs from "Dragon Slayer," their
first full length, quite intense. The only song on this record resembling a
tune from that era is 'Chosen Twice,' which is damn good in it's own right.
This time around Dream Evil concentrated on making more simplistic, heavy,
anthemic metal tunes, which are easily identified by song names like 'Let's
Make Rock,' 'Crusader's Anthem,' and of course 'The Book Of Heavy Metal.' The
guitar work is, once again, heavy as hell and the highlight of the disc. The
HEAVIEST tune here is 'M.O.M.' which is initials for 'Man Or Mouse;' a
hilarious title for such a crushing tune. I did have to wonder at the end of
the CD why they made an attempt at two ballads, though 'Unbreakable Chain' is
a great metal anthem ballad, if ever there was such a thing. The vocal work is
nothing short of energetic and full of range, check his highs on the ending of
'M.O.M.' and you know this guy is full on metal (he even shouts it at the
beginning of the opening track, in case you thought you were getting some
soft rock crap by mistake). The song 'No Way' is a bit too fast for my tastes,
but to hear Niklas pull off one of the best Ozzy imitations this side of the
Barking Moon makes it worthwhile. Catchy choruses, heavy guitar work, and a
singer that can soar, what else do you want in a real metal album? The only
thing that I am sad about is the fact that Gus G is no longer a part of this
band, as his solos and lead work are, as usual, some of the highest caliber in
the metal world. The bonus DVD is nice but nowhere near what I expected, as I
would have loved to have more concert footage instead of pointless goofiness,
but all in all, buy this for the kick ass metal music! And 'Let's Make Rock!!'
Contact: Century Media Records.
EWIGKEIT "Radio Ixtlan" (Earache) SCORE: 94/100
Anyone who knows my history with music KNOWS I can't pass up a CD like this.
It's said to be "A Dark Side Of The Moon for the death metal generation," and
though I don't agree totally, I can see the Pink Floyd influences; in fact,
some are almost blatant, like the track 'Journey To Ixtlan' where you hear the
heartbeat samples and the church bells. For all the influences mentioned, they
forgot the more spacey sounds of Hawkwind, which you REALLY hear on opener
'About Time.' (Not to mention the addition of some Dr. Who theme notes
strategically placed within this song. Of course Mr. Fog also collaborates with
ex-KLF member Jimmy Cauty, which would explain this a bit more). The vocals are
more black metal oriented for the most part (which explains my disagreeing with
the statement made by the label on my promo copy) and there are some nice
clean sung vocals as well. The percussion is seemingly ALL electronic, though,
which adds yet another dimension to the music, and the mixture is catchy and
striking; hell, most of the music is VERY well written. Some eerie synth notes
can be heard in the latter part of the disc, and I was most annoyed by the use
of the wierd Indian styled chanting that threatened to ruin the good vibes of
'Journey To Ixtlan,' likewise, the wierd female vocal samples made 'Strange
Volk' nearly unlistenable for the first few minutes, but the instrumentation
soon put things right again. All in all it IS a possible new direction for the
extreme music scene, and it's catchy, diverse and fiull of beautiful moments,
especially the amazing CD ender 'The New Way,' which ends this CD off properly.
If you're openminded enough, this is a fantastic journey.
Contact: Earache Records.
FISSION "Crater" (Napalm) SCORE: 94/10
Napalm Records seems to be getting the run of the magazine this month. And for
those of you (like myself) who have been utterly disappointed at Vintersorg's
descent into nearly unlistenable wierdness over their last two studio albums,
THIS new band is for you. It's a good thing that Vintersorg's newest record and
this one are reviewed and sound clipped in the same issue. Fission was
originally a project started by Vintersorg's guitarist, and the main man who is
ALSO known as Vintersorg decided to lend his vocal prowess and various other
things to this project. If you loved "Cosmic Genesis" (from Vintersorg) but
wished for even more black metal vocals, this album satisfies on ALL counts.
Nearly EVERY song starts out with a cacophony of blackened vocals and some
vicious guitar work that borders on thrash! I'm a little miffed at the first
"track" being a noisy and useless intro, then they do the same thing again on
track 7 'The Core - 118 Protons Of Insanity.' However, speedy though the tempos
are, we cannot forget what made Vintersorg so diverse in the first place: clean
sung vocals! It makes tracks like 'Crater,' 'Accelerator' and 'Magnetism' so
damn catchy and, well, near brilliant. There's a few times when the clean sung
vocal work goes up too high and sounds a bit strained, like on CD ender
'Syndrome' and 'Eremiten,' the latter track incidentally the ONLY song on the
CD sung entirely in Swedish. There is quite a bit of synth work as well, adding
to the otherworldly dimension that fits the lyrics and subject matter of the
songs quite well. The PERFECT and most natural followup to Vintersorg's
brilliant "Cosmic Genesis" album, if Vintersorg has become too wierd and offkey
for you then I HIGHLY suggest you stick with Fission. Interview with Fission
also is found in this issue.
Contact: Napalm Records.
HANZEL UND GRETYL "Scheissmessiah" (Metropolis) SCORE: 89/100
This is a followup record I have been waiting for, and it seems like the band
has solidified the two additional members it so badly needed (especially on the
live front) in drummer Jon Osterman and bassist Anna K, who is more noted for
her previous work with Drain S.T.H. Surprisingly, this record goes to a much
more metal oriented sound, with the guitar work getting much dirtier and
heavier, as if they were trying to compete with Ministry's heaviest of works!
After your atypical church bells and melodic synth intro (albeit with some
hilarious "preacher" vocal samples,) this CD kicks into high gear and stays
there for the most part. 'Fikk Dich Mit Fire' starts us off and the vocal work
from our favorite angry woman Vas is some of her most vicious yet, and it's
utilized all over the CD. German lyrics are more prominent than on any other
CD as well, though there's quite a few English lyrics to be found. Male vocals
are also utilized a bit more, and they take on an almost death metal oriented
tone on 'Kaiser Von Shizer.' 'And We Shall Purify' is probably the most metal
oriented song on the disc, and it shows where their new direction is focused.
Granted, the CD ends on a somewhat lower note, but to hear the heavier guitar
work thrown into the 'Hallelujah's of the tune 'Hellalujah' is beyond
hilarious. CD ender instrumental 'Purity' has some nice high ended guitar work,
but as good as this CD is it seems like it needed a few more heavy tracks. I
was disappointed a bit with 'Burning Bush,' it sounds a bit too hip-hop laced
with that school cheer you all did when you went to pep rallies in high school.
Probably their most vicious work to date, it follows "Uber Alles" and
"Transmissions From Uranus" in your collections quite nicely. For those of you
trying to bring extreme metal fanatics to the HuG side, THIS is the CD to start
them off with.
Contact: Metropolis Records.
HIRAX "The New Age Of Terror" (Mausoleum) SCORE: 100/100
After hearing many disappointing 80's metal bands try and write a killer record
for the Y2K era, Hirax comes back blasting your fool fucking head off with this
masterpiece of a record! Let me first start by saying this is THE best 80's
metal band to come back and record a vicious record EVER, even outdistancing
the kick ass Exodus effort by several points! There's two instrumental tracks
on here, something you would think I'd give points off for, except they're both
amazing! 'Massacre Of The Innocent' is filled with slow, eerie and crunchy
thrash, and 'El Dia De Los Muertos' is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL and emotionally
charged instrumental that, while brilliant, left me begging for more song
length! These tracks barely clock in over 4 minutes, but Hirax knows how to
write a record that gets in, beats you senseless and then gets back out! 11
tracks in little over 37 minutes. 'Kill Switch' starts the thrash frenzy off
with Slayer like riffing and precision, and lemme say those guitars are blazing
like guns through EVERY song. Katon's vocals are a rather unique mix of singing
and shouting in a rather diverse way that only he can deliver. It's a damn
shame that it's an African American metalhead that shows the rest of us stupid
white crackers how to play balls to the wall REAL fucking American heavy metal.
Everyone should sit up and take notice, because hands down there's no filler
material ANYWHERE and ALL the songs will leave you shaking your head in
amazement. From the start-stop thrash riffing of 'Suffer,' to the skull
pounding rhythms of 'The New Age Of Terror,' to the primal screams (though a
bit subdued, maybe due to the tight production) of 'El Diablo Negro,' this is a
record that cannot be ignored. If you've been let down by many of the 80's era
thrash bands trying to write a vicious record, let Hirax restore your faith in
the gods. Sing along with 'Unleash The Dogs Of War' and know that metal can
indeed give you killer music with singalong choruses.
Contact: Mausoleum Records
HOCICO "Wrack And Ruin" (Metropolis) SCORE: 82/100
This has to be the ONLY industrial group I know hailing from Mexico. Many of
you may remember the review we did of their "Signos De Aberracion" CD waaay
back in issue #33. The songwriting has improved remarkably, and they have toned
down on the number of lengthy instrumental pieces, but there are still a few
that distract. Opener 'El Infierno Que Viene' starts the CD off nicely,
however, as an instrumental intro. And then 'Tales From The Third World' starts
our musical journey off with a bang. In case you forgot what this duo sounds
like, their songs are very dark, eerie even, with some of the harshest
distorted vocal work in the genre. Many of the tracks here are clubworthy,
including my alltime favorite 'Born To Be (Hated)' which is not only anthemic
in a way, but a very explosive track utilizing melodic synths as well as the
harsh and dark ones. This is probably the best club hit on the record as well,
and yes it still kicks serious ass. Some tunes here are a bit slower in scope,
though they utilize the dark and evil atmosphere to great effect, especially
with the Velvet Acid Christ vibe permeating some tracks. You'll need to get
used to the fact that 90% of the songs here are AT LEAST 6 minutes in length or
damn near close to it. However, 'Oracion Nocturna' is WAAAY too long at over 8
minutes, especially for the most minimal amount of instrumentation. And the end
track 'Padre No Nuestra,' short though it is, is too noisy in a way. Even the
hidden track is far short of anything I'd want to hear again. Still, when you
hear all the good stuff this band has to offer, I guarantee you'll want this a
lot more than their first U.S. release.
Contact: Metropolis Records.
KORPIKLAANI "Spirit Of The Forest" (Napalm) SCORE: 87/100
It seems like Napalm Records has a penchant for releasing really good folkish
metal these days, I mean we have the brilliance of Asmegin, Falkenbach,
Battlelore in a way, and it goes on and on. This Finnish group will remind some
of Finntroll and Moonsorrow, especially since they utilize the 'Humppa' sounds
on a few instrumentals, but where they differ vastly from the two
aforementioned groups is that their lyrics are entirely in English! 'Wooden
Pints' starts the CD off rather well, with cool violins to boot, and it's a
pretty energetic metallic folkish drinking song, complete with cool lyrics! (I
must admit the Nordic in me really came out with lines like 'And they fight and
dance 'till the morning!') 'Before The Morning Sun' had some rather rock star
like guitar riffs starting out (I guess more arena rock like Van Halen or some
popular songwriting groups) and the fast fiddle quickly proves that their
sound is quite varied from track to track. The vocal work is rather rough edged
which works really well, especially on tracks that might have smaller amounts
of the more metallic sound. There's quite a few instrumentals on here as well,
but since there's 14 tracks it's not a big distraction, even if the opening
fiddles on 'Hullunhumppa' were quite wierd and took some getting used to, but
after all it's finnish drinking polka sounds! The faster instrumentation is
done really well too, and it's wierd how natural some of the fiddle parts
sound! 'Hengettomilta Hengilta' could have been left off the CD though, as a
somewhat irritating low toned spoken word piece, and closing instrumental
'Mother Earth' didn't have much variety to it, which was an odd piece anyway
considering it sounded more Native American Indian in structure! Similarly, the
track 'Pellonpekko' sounded rather Scottish in structure, especially since at
first the fiddle sounds fooled me into thinking Korpiklaani brought out the
bagpipes! Lyric wise, 'God Of Wind' was a bit strange, and even on 'Man Can Go
Through The Grey Stone' some of the vocal phrasings sound a tad odd, especially
given that they're in English, but overall these tunes are kinda fun.
Contact: Napalm Records.
MADE OF IRON "Made Of Iron" (Sonic Age) SCORE: 91/100
Those Greeks really know their heavy metal. No, I mean REALLY. This label also
houses the Cult Classics label, and they did a phenomenal job reissuing both
Manilla Road CD's "Metal" and "Invasion" BOTH in one packaging! Anyway, onto
this great band, who play a heavy metal style that delivers catchy choruses and
rough edged vocal work that can be very melodic. 'Fight For The Cross...'
starts this off nicely, especially where our lead singer hits some high notes
(but never screechingly high) that complement this music very well. I LOVE
especially the higher ended lead guitar work which is all over the place.
'The Storm Just Began' comes in next, and it's plainly obvious that the twin
axe attack is in full force, well played, and you may find at least a minute or
two of every song devoted to some very well written solo work. 'Made Of Iron'
is the new metal anthem, so 'nuff said about that one. 'The Alchemist' is the
first track to show that for all the melody and bright lead work, this band can
get down 'n' dirty and rip some heavy riffs and rougher edged vocal work! This
also happens to be my favorite track, and one of two songs featuring THE most
amazing guitar solo on the whole disc. 'Never Deny Your Fate' was a much slower
paced tune, and not a bad tune but much were better. 'Time To Repent,' however,
was the big downer here, it's almost ballad like but true to "true" metal style
they don't croon about lost love or women, but still the pace is slow and
rather awkward. The choruses don't even pick up, and the lead solos are almost
suspiciously absent. 'Peace In Flames' is a faster tune and quite good, while
the heaviness returns with 'Gates To Purgatory,' though to be perfectly honest
this sounds like a few pieces were reworked from the track 'The Alchemist.'
'King Of All Kings' ends the CD on a 9 minute note, though the acoustic
interlude and militaristic like drums keep things varied. Not a hell of a lot
to complain about, and I definitely await their next full length!
Contact: Sonic Age Records
MAYHEM "Chimera" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 93/100
This is a MUCH better followup to "A Grand Declaration Of War." The vocal work
from Maniac is some of the sickest and harshest I've ever heard from him, he
sounds even more inhuman than ever before! Which is good, because when he's
screaming, there can be no complaints. The inhuman drumming of Hellhammer is
back in full force, and I must say it sounds like some of HIS best work as
well. 'Whore' starts the CD off well, and is the shortest song you will hear on
the CD. Many songs here easily hit the 5 and 6 minute mark, which means that
you get a LOT of solo instrumentation. Fortunately this is a good thing, as
Blasphemer has written some really cold, dark and sick instrumentation. His
guitar work DOES have a tendency to strike an odd chord with me, especially in
the beginning of 'Dark Night Of The Soul' and MANY lines of CD ender 'Chimera.'
Though there are many fast songs, they don't mind throwing in some slow and
creepy riffs at you, especially on 'Impious Devious Leper Lord' and 'My Death.'
The sickness, cruelty and coldness of this album is indescribable. Even the
opening solo bass lines on 'Impious...' sound VERY unnatural and inhuman. A CD
that Mayhem fans should rejoice over, even if I thought some of the slower
instrumentation on ending track 'Chimera' was a bit off. Maniac is now out of
the band as of this writing, but he left in his wake a monstrous album that
every Mayhem fan should be glad to own.
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.
MEPHISTO WALZ "Insidious" (Fossil Dungeon) SCORE: 81/100
Mephisto Walz has a VERY long career in the gothic community. Formed by none
other than Barry Galvin after leaving the long standing goth group Christian
Death in 1985, they have released several albums, and are back armed with a new
record label in The Fossil Dungeon. This record will show many why gothic music
is just as hard to classify as many other types of music. The CD does start off
rather porrly in my eyes though, as opening track 'A Magic Bag' is probably THE
most dreary and somewhat sneering of gothic tunes, but if you're not into the
"happy" and somewhat uplifting atmosphere gothic music has to offer, this may
be up your alley. Only the choruses saved this from being a total mess, mainly
because Christianna's otherwise beautiful and commanding voice is at her
dreariest. All that aside, 'Our Flesh' continues the disc and still has a dark
atmosphere, so the CD picks up immeasurably after this. 'Watching From The
Darkest Places' shows us just how versatile Christianna's voice really is,
though the choruses may seem a bit TOO lighthearted for some, almost poppish.
Still it's a decent tune for a slower, almost ballad like makeup. 'Before These
Crimes' is another slow tune that showcases what Mephisto Walz is doing on this
CD: utilizing melodic instrumentation and vocals while still retaining a dark
touch. This is where Mephisto Walz shines so well. 'One Less Day' is THE doom
metal tune for the gothic era, complete with somewhat suicidal lyrics, a
slightly melancholic and gloomy edge, but still retaining a touch of beauty and
class. 'I Want' will DEFINITELY surprise those who were expecting more melody
as this is easier one of the heaviest and darkest tunes on the disc, and the
vocals are so sinister it's almost like it's coming from someone else's mouth!
One of my favorites though was the 7 minute long 'Nightingale,' which almost
sounds a touch commercial but with some catchy choruses and a true club hit.
I didn't care for the short "opera" like 'Ombra Mai Fu,' especially since the
woman singing this isn't even in the band! The guitar work on the 8th and 9th
track do have a tendency to almost sound out of tune, as if there's a fine line
of noisy madness that the band just barely touches on. Much could be said about
this album, which it may take a special mood for you to be in to truly
appreciate, but give this one a chance as it's definitely NOT your "average"
Contact: The Fossil Dungeon
METAL CHURCH "Weight Of The World" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 44/100
This sounds NOTHING at all like ANY parts of the Metal Church machine we all
knew from the 80's and loved. Ever since David Wayne got kicked out Metal
Church has failed to be able to call me to the altar. This time around there is
a new vocalist in former Rottweiler singer Ronny Munroe. Now to be fair, I have
never heard any of Rottweiler's material, but after hearing Ronny's performance
I am severely tempted to check out some of their stuff. The problem here lies
NOT with the vocals, it lies with such utter bland and by-the-book material
that no amount of vocal improvisation can help here. The two best tracks
'Weight Of The World' and 'Time Will Tell' would probably be utter lifeless in
any other vocalists' hands. Even the choruses suffer greatly from bland and
uninspiring, especially the worthless 'Leave Them Behind.' It seems to me that
most of the material here was written with guitar worship in mind and there was
very little room left for the vocal work to shine. Even a track like 'Hero's
Soul' can't be uplifted by the decent vocal work on the choruses alone.
Speaking yet again of vocals, Ronny has a great range, a high range that we
rarely get to hear save for the title track and a few others. Vanderhoof is
definitely obsessed with the one Metal Church MTV hit 'Watch The Children
Pray,' obvious by the fact that no less than THREE cuts start out acoustically,
which you can hear on 'Wings Of Tomorrow,' 'Sunless Sky,' 'Madman's Soul' and
'Time Will Tell.' The fastest instrumentation occurs on CD ender 'Blood Money'
and if it wasn't for some of the vocal work on the choruses, this would be a
total throwaway. Some of the songs drag on too long, and it's obvious Kurt
wanted to throw in way too many solos. Further fueling my anger is the fact
that this sounds nothing at all like Metal Church; one thinks that this should
have just been called the Kurt Vanderhoof band. There's just not much punch to
the majority of these songs, nothing I've been into after listening to this
entire record more than 5 times.
Contact: SPV USA
NIGHTMARE "Silent Room" (Napalm) SCORE: 71/100
80's power metallers Nightmare have never really been inactive, even though
they'll be remembered more for their first two releases "Power Of The Universe"
and "Waiting For The Twilight" than this one. The ideas are good, though from
first glance it's a bit obvious this is a concept album, and a rather long one
at that. 'Paranormal Magnitude' starts the CD off and gives you a rather
interesting glimpse at their dark and heavy brand of power metal, lead singer
even going so far as to remind me of the mighty Ronnie James Dio. They even
utilize, to great effect, Therion like multivocal operetta styled lines. The
main problem is that many of the songs, while quite adequate, are either just
"not bad" or lack that punch that many other bands have in spades. So a tune
like 'Mind Matrix Schizophrenia' might contain interesting and dark multivocal
choruses, but with the slower instrumentation often found in quite a few
tracks, you kinda wish for something a little bit more dynamic. Or a song like
'Virtual Freedom,' which has great choruses but the overabundance of speed bogs
things down. Don't get me wrong, though, there's really only two or three
unlistenable tracks out of 12, but as I said I'm left wanting a bit more.
'Strange Connection' is probably one of the BEST metal songs about the internet
I've ever heard, complete with a dark and eerie feeling that the vocalist
utilizes well, complete with the great catchy choruses I'm always looking for.
And 'Sniper In The Playground' is another dynamite track, putting to great use
the contrast between the darker and more sinister mainline delivery and the
more upbeat and dynamic yet catchier choruses that are one of the main
highlights of this album. Great lead solos are to be found as well, and it's
obvious that the guitarists took great care to write killer solos, but the rest
of the CD could have used more fleshing out. Great ideas and good attempts at
diversity that needed a little more time to make a standout masterpiece.
Contact: Napalm Records.
PLACE OF SKULLS "With Vision" (Southern Lord) SCORE: 98/100
I know I've heard, reviewed, and interviewed LOTS of doom/death metal bands
this year, but we all knew without a shadow of a doubt that only the godfathers
of this doom metal genre could pull off such a monstrous record. Victor Griffin
is responsible for Place Of Skull coming to life (having played with America's
oldest and longest running doom styled band Pentagram) and on board for this
record is none other than Scott Weinreich, AKA Wino, from The Obsessed/Spirit
Caravan/The Hidden Hand... etc. etc. etc. This record has very few flaws on it
and what we are orgasmically treated to is mostly slow, crunchy, HEAVY and
dark doomy stoner rock. 'Last Hit' starts the record off in great fashion and
things don't let up until CD closer 'Lost.' Wino sings on a few tracks here
(hopefully I got things right this time, as I listened REALLY closely) and
Wino's vocals sound as good as ever, of course, Victor Griffin does a
remarkable job in his own right. Once again Wino aligned himself with a singer
that has the ability to sound similar to himself, but the overall performance
is stunning. Wino sings on 'Long Lost Grave,' 'Willfully Blind,' and one of the
most crushing tracks on the album 'The Watchers.' I didn't much care for parts
of 'The Monster,' I thought the choruses were rather weak and some of the
more emotional guitar riffs distracted me a bit from a rather skillful vocal
performance by Mr. Griffin. Three instrumentals grace this record, and one
'Dissonant Dissident' sounded like a somewhat dark, acoustic Old West piece
(and I DON'T mean like country/western music which I can't stand). 'In Rest'
was probably the most melodic track of the bunch, being one of the three
instrumentals. Lots of dark, ominous and downright heavy riffs make this one of
the most crushing stoner rock/doom metal records of it's time. It got to us
rather late but I say better late than never... A masterpiece. GO GET IT!!
Contact: Southern Lord Records.
RED GIANT "Devil Child Blues" (Small Stone) SCORE: 32/100
This record annoys me in much the same way the first Sixty Watt Shaman record
did. And let me be perfectly fair and honest: Small Stone Records is the only
salvation we have right now for bands that got left to drown when Man's Ruin
folded. To be sure, there's lots of great artists on Small Stone, but they also
tend to run some wierd stuff, like Five Horse Johnson, Men Of Porn and Halfway
To Gone. THIS band has a vocalist that for some reason drives me up the wall.
His annoying screams and wailings almost sound like he's going for that slow
'n' low, dirty southern vibe, which I don't dig AT ALL. His vocals are the
absolute WORST on songs like 'Devil Child Blues,' 'How Ya Doin On The Time
Machine' (complete with lame, almost rap styled vocals and awful lyrics), and
CD ender 'Funhouse,' which is easily one of the worst tracks here, complete
with repetitive and annoying saxophone riffs ala Nik Turner and the wailing,
screaming vocals. To be sure, the guitar work is sometimes a highlight here,
there is to be found some good lead work at times, but more often than not it's
when the vocals aren't going on in the background. The CD starts off
interestingly enough, in fact opener 'White Mom' has cool fuzzy guitar work and
for some reason the shouted vocals don't distract here, possibly because of the
heaviness of the track. And there's even a nice guitar solo to boot! 'Jet Pack'
was probably even cooler though, and once again the vocal work isn't too
annoying. These two tracks are about all I can ever stand to listen to again
though. There's some tracks, like 'Go It Alone' and 'Drip' that are somewhat
okay but as I said I just can't get into them. The instrumentation isn't always
catching me either, and once the vocals totally annoy me, everything else is
hard to stomach even though I've listened to this CD more than 5 times now.
To be sure, there's MANY better bands on Small Stone.
Contact: Small Stone Records
SASQUATCH "Sasquatch" (Small Stone) SCORE: 98/100
Small Stone is quickly lining itself up to be THE answer to Man's Ruin's demise
in that all the great stoner rock bands are signing with this label. Natas,
Tummler, and Sons Of Otis have all come on board, and here we have a newcomer
to an already impressive roster in Los Angeles based Sasquatch. These guitar
riffs are fuzzy 'n' heavy, just the way I like it in one of my favorite genres
of music! The CD opens up nicely with none other than a Leonard Nimoy vocal
sample, one that I'm assuming comes from a TV special he must have done on the
creature of the same name. Then 'Chemical Lady' hits you square in the face,
complete with catchy choruses and very cool fuzzed out gits. We have the nice
psychedelic swirling guitar tones of 'Roller,' complete with (gasp!) a guitar
solo! There's slow rocking numbers too, like 'Dragonfly' and 'Cracks In The
Pavement.' The monster jam here is 'Believe It,' which is at a midtempo pace
and rife with vicious choppy guitar riffs! There's some rather odd riffs
opening up 'Money Man,' but being a slower tune it soon becomes forgivable.
The song 'Boss Hog' had me laughing a bit and thinking of the TV show "Dukes Of
Hazzard," but I'm still not sure lyrically what it's all about, especially with
it being a faster tune. Incidentally, the vocals are somewhat easy to
understand, though they can get rather loud and intense on many tracks. He does
have a decent singing voice, which helps carry some of the more melodic tracks
through their paces. CD ending track 'Yetti' is probably their slowest and most
doom metal oriented tune to date, and it's funny just how thin the line is
between stoner rock and doom metal for these guys. Definitely a CD worth
Contact: Small Stone Records
STARWOOD "If It Ain't Broke, Break It" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 48/100
Despite having Lizzy (you know where he's from) on vocals and having a promo
photo that looks NOTHING like the Lizzy we all have seen, known and loved, this
comes across as Metal Blade's second attempt at a Goo Goo Dolls cash cow. For
those not in the know, The Goo Goo Dolls was one of Metal Blade's most
successful selling bands of all time for their label, as stated by Brian Slagel
in an interview on Metal-Rules.com. It seems to me there's really only one
reason for Metal Blade to put out a record like this: cash. Okay, well to be
perfectly honest, this isn't all glam and crap, but for some reason it just
doesn't find me wanting to return to it on a regular basis. I'm almost wanting
to side with the lyrics on some songs, especially opener 'Subculture' where
lead singer Lizzy rebels against anything and everything "normal" and
"accepted." The choruses I see are the main fault with the band, and Lizzy's
singing takes on a sometimes whiny tone that I haven't heard in Lizzy Borden
releases (come on, is this REALLY the same Lizzy Borden that graced us with
"Deal With The Devil?" I'm still skeptical). The band is competent enough,
especially when their attempts at heaviness yield some riffs that can be found
on CD ender 'Bad Machine' but overall the material is somewhat commercialized,
glam rock. Stuff I never really had patience for anyway. Maybe it is just me,
and maybe I've had my head stuck in heavy metal for so long that I am simply
unable to appreciate it, but the soundfiles will give you the best picture
overall that I can give. The vintage 1950's style heavy rock guitars were a
nice touch on 'You're So Real,' but hearing the 'Nah-nah-nah's' really didn't
work for me. Too commercialized for my tastes, but by the same token I can't
sit there and say this is the worst thing I've ever heard. Quite a bit better
than the Goo Goo Dolls anyway (which, I must remind one and all, was mostly a
pure punk band back in the 80's. A recent perusing of a Metal Forces magazine
from the 80's confirmed this).
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
STEEL ATTACK "Enslaved" (Arise) SCORE: 86/100
Forget whatever you knew, or think you know, about Steel Attack. Armed with a
new vocalist and a new attitude, this is most obviously THE heaviest record
from them yet. New vocalist Ronny Hemlin has quite a high range, while at the
same time is able to go into the lower extremities, even bordering on death
metal! The track 'Gates Of Heaven' starts the CD off nicely and shows us that
there are definitely some thrashy, choppy riffs to be found within. The chorus
work is quite catchy in many areas, something that makes power metal easier to
bear in my ears. 'Out Of The Flames' continues the fast pace utilizing some
heavy sung vocals and great melodic choruses. The vocal work does tend to get
out of hand in a few songs, in fact it's what made the last few tracks 'Voices'
and 'When You Dream' suffer a bit, especially on 'When You Dream' which was
filled with slower melodies that were quite a bit intolerable to these ears.
'Bless My Sins,' another good track that had me scratching my head as they keep
the pace going good, and then interrupt the proceedings with an almost ballad
like delivery (instrumentation and vocals). There's some almost death metal
multivocal work going on with tracks like 'Son Of A Thousand Souls' and
'Immortal Hate,' which definitely added a few twists to the formula, and also
the middle eastern guitarwork on 'Voices' and 'When You Dream' were nice
touches. Didn't care much for 'Forsaken,' especially with the somewhat strained
vocal delivery, but there's no doubt that when the vocals are working well,
this is some diverse and pretty potent power metal.
Contact: Arise Records
THUNDER RIDER "Tales Of Darkness And Light Chapter II" SCORE: 84/100
This is a really good followup to their first album that came out about 15
years ago, and if you haven't listened to that please do so in the classic
albums section. The songwriting for the most part is pretty strong, though they
do have a tendency to veer off the path in spots, like the odd flute notes on
'Mid Evil' and the sometimes overtly simplistic choruses. The CD starts off
with arguably one of the best tracks on the album in 'Thy Kingdom Come.' Our
main singer has a very unique voice, and the rather darkened delivery helps
make songs like 'Satan's Wrath,' 'Death Angel' and the like have a very dark
overall tone. There's 15 tracks on this CD and you definitely get your money's
worth. (Not to mention some of the freebies that make this a very worthwhile
package). On the downside though, 'Dark Castle' didn't impress me that much,
though some of the lyrics ('demons in the den') were quite fun. They have the
definite heavy metal spirit, evidenced by a song like 'Heavy Metal Wizzard,'
especially on some of the anthemic choruses. There's some short instrumental
pieces as well, most of which set a nice dark pace ('Interlude In D Minor') or
just prove that they can do mellow and melodic pieces once in awhile ('Final
Eclipse.') 'Heavy Metal Wizzard' and CD ender 'Devil's Playground' showcased
some rather Viking like chant lines, especially 'Heavy Metal Wizzard' which
made great use of dual male/female vocal harmonies. All in all it's easy to see
that a lot of work went into the packaging and songwriting, and there's several
tracks that stick out easily. Hell, though, for the 15 year wait, I guess they
had plenty of time to perfect this.
Contact: Thunder Rider
VINTERRIKET "Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit" (Ketzer) SCORE: 92/100
We've reviewed two CD's already from this German dark ambient project, and I
must say I understand why all the tracks are simply named "I," "II," etc. all
the way up to "VI." Yes, 6 tracks and the majority of the tracks sound similar
to previous ones, except they build up their own identities rather slowly. This
is a 66 minute CD, so each track is no less than 10 minutes in length and the
longest track is about 12 and a half minutes. The ambient soundscapes are quite
minimalistic and as you listen to the CD, you can hear some ideas being
repeated, though not in exactly the same fashion. There are harsh wind sounds,
some rather industrial sounding percussion, and very emotional and melancholic
synth sounds. No more than two layers of synths are utilized it seems, and the
whole effect works rather well. There are some dark synths utilized as well,
but it's really hard to describe the sound here. Simplistic though it may be,
I've always said if the instrumentation is good, then the track length doesn't
matter to me. This CD definitely put those skills to the test, and it is still
a relaxing CD. I recommend it, but only if you can tolerate 10 minute tracks.
Contact: Ketzer Records.
VINTERSORG "The Focusing Blur" (Napalm) SCORE: 40/100
If not for the vocal work of Mr. Vintersorg, this CD would be an utter waste of
time. Focusing blur is a good way to describe the mess that many of these songs
degenerate into. Let's take a tune like 'Curtains' for example. Wierd opening
synths and instrumentation, followed by faster instrumentation and sung vocals,
then blackened vocals over the fast paced instrumentation, wierd carnival organ
type music (of the utterly twisted and strange variety) and a wierd ending.
These songs, even the more decent ones, lack any spark or punch to them
whatsoever, and they are ALL over the place. 'Dark Matter Mystery' is probably
the best tune of the bunch, and sadly the only tune really up to the standards
that were set so high on "Cosmic Genesis." The better tracks are only so
because they contain less of the wierd instrumentation and on very few
occasions, less of the wierd screaming that is somewhat new to the Vintersorg
discography. You'll hear this horrid tone being screamed forth on 'The Thesises
Seasons.' As I said these songs are not very well written, what doesn't annoy
me completely really does nothing for me. Tracks like 'Blindsight Complexity,'
'Epilogue Metalogue' and 'A Sphere In A Sphere' had the potential to do SO much
more, but there's no dynamics, no catchiness, and no sparks. (Well, except on
the choruses of 'Star Puzzled,' but come on, are you going to sit through much
wierd instrumentation and arrangements just to get to the choruses?) I picked
on this quite heavily and my opinion is Vintersorg has spiraled downhill for
two albums now, so his side project Fission is our only hope (see the review
for that gem this issue) until Mr. Vintersorg concentrates more on writing
catchy, dynamic material. Even his black metal vocals have no chance to shine
amongst such weak material.
Contact: Napalm Records.
AIRGED L'AMH. Interview with George Sofikitis via email.
Airged L'amh has had a buzz surrounding them for years, with their two demo
releases, and many years later their first full length has exploded onto the
metal scene. "Barbaric, epic folk metal" is their call to arms and full of
heavy and emotional, yet at times beautifully melodic passages that forces me
to call "The Silver Arm," their latest full length, one of the best power metal
albums of 2004. It's easily in my top 3...
It was certainly a long time ago since the band released the "A
Vertigo Edda Arised" demo, what took so long between the demo releases and the
full length album "The Silver Arm?"
Well, you are right about that. There were a lot of problems in the band (most
important being several lineup changes) which are considered "classic" for the
Greek scene as we have to serve our duty in the army and for a year and a half
frankly there is no band. After we were done with that we had to find the right
people for the "chemistry" of this album. We worked hard and the result is "The
With the strength of the reviews, I'm surprised you didn't get
signed to a label sooner. How did you come to be on Black Lotus Records, and
what kind of a recording deal did they give you? Is it for multialbums and
include tour support?
Here in Greece things are pretty difficult with metal. Bands don't get
promotion and airplay. There is a strong underground but this is not enough. As
for Black Lotus we sent them some promo stuff during the recordings; as soon as
we had something ready we started to send stuff to every address we knew. They
offered some good terms (2+1 albums) and we decided to sign with them. There is
no tour support on the contract but we are doing our best to play as many gigs
as we can.
One of the most amazing things about this album is how all the
lyrics tie together a theme but each song has it's own unique properties.
I agree with you on that and I have to add that from our point of view all of
those lyrics can apply in today's life and society. Things that concern us all
like Mother Earth and how society has changed and lost some of its values.
The song 'Mourning Grief' is one of my favorite tracks on the
album. It's not quite a ballad to me, as many will attest I absolutely HATED to
see 80's metal bands write heavy songs and then do this syrupy love ballad to
get the chicks!
Ha ha! "to get the chicks," eh? The element that makes this track so emotional
and not "syrupy" as you said is that it has this Celtic feeling. Also this song
was one of the first to be written for the album so we had the time to develop
it and take it to a path that we really like. And people seem to appreciate
Tell us a bit more about the lyrics behind "The Silver Arm,"
because without a lyric sheet all I know about the storyline is that it's a
Celtic legend based on the silver arm of King Nuada. Did you have to do a lot
of research going into this subject, because I know a couple of songs from this
album were released as promo versions as far back as the "One Eyed God" album.
We definitely had to search and read books for the story, and be precise on
that. We read "The Silver Arm" by Jim Fitzpatrick and stuff like that. The
story is about the domination of Ireland. Nuada is the king that serves his
people (not like today's kings) and in the battle with the other tribe
(Fir-Bolg) he loses his arm. As the ethics of the era, they wanted a king to be
strong and healthy. Breas takes over as a king and he is a bad one. The Druids
will make the Silver Arm for King Nuada, and this will help him to claim back
his kingdom. The album ends with the track 'Homeland' that depicts the calmness
that Nuada rebrings.
Greece is an interesting place for metal, I know that Iced Earth
had to play three nights in the same stadium because each night the tour was
sold out! How is the Greek scene these days, are more bands from Greece getting
noticed and signed? Of course, we know about bands like Rotting Christ,
Firewind, and On Thorns I Lay. Power metal as well seems to be one of the
biggest exports in the Greek scene.
On the net I read that "Greeks are true metalheads" and I strongly believe
that. The Greek metal scene is very good and has quality, it just doesn't get
the proper attention and promotion, (like) from labels, band members believing
after the first demo they are the true metal gods, etc. But when good work is
done, it will surely bring results. A perfect example is Innerwish who signed
Are any of you big fans of 80's metal? I have bands like Rust and
Flames of course which are well known even outside of Greece. I'm also curious
too if any of you ever played in any 80's metal bands.
I can say that the band is dedicated to 80's metal. We were growing up in the
80's and we are very influenced by that time. I think we tried to show that in
our album. The bands you mentioned above are like legends here in Greece and
everyone respects them. The current members of the band played in several
bands, none of which made it to a record deal though.
What's next on the horizon for Airged L'amh? Is there a plan for a
major tour, or recording a new album? Hopefully we won't have to wait 6 or 7
years for the next full length! Anything you can tell us about song titles or a
theme or musical direction if a new record is in the works?
No mate, you won't have to wait so long for the next album. For the time being
we are trying to promote our album with live performances. We played as an
opening act for Helstar in their Greek mini tour and we are going to play some
festivals in Europe. There are new ideas for the next album but nothing
specific. The new release should be expected at the start of 2006.
What do you see as the future for heavy metal? It seems like people
are starting to turn away from the nu-metal or rap thing and going for a
somewhat 80's thrash revival. Black metal too has become popular here in the
I see a turn to more classical things, 80's metal or whatever we can call that.
I see that people are pretty much bored with new experiments, and recall the
days that metal was pure and heavy. Nu and rap metal can remain mainstream, we
can stick to what we like.
I am pretty impressed with the number of Greek labels that are
dedicated to classic 80's metal. I know of Sonic Age who just reissued the
Manilla Road albums "Metal" and "Invasion," plus there is Eat Metal Records and
a host of others!
True. But don't imagine anything like big budgets and stuff. Everything comes
from the love that we have for metal.
I've heard that the live performance is quite intense, so I'm
curious what your live show is like? Do you try and recreate everything live as
it is on record, or are there subtle differences?
We try to do our best when we play live, and please first our audience and then
ourselves. It's quite intense you are right about that and the band has the
ability to play the whole record live. But we try to make a different set list
every time so we don't get bored.
How has press been for this new album? What countries are you
getting the most interest in? Personally, I feel "The Silver Arm" is one of the
best metal albums that came out in 2004.
We got a lot of reviews for the album. And of course we got different opinions
from different people. But to tell you the truth we didn't expect something
different. In the end the sales will tell if the album was good or not. An
average rating from all the reviews would be an 8/10. Thank you for the good
words on the album.
I noticed that vocal wise there aren't a lot of high pitched
"yells" or "screams" if you will. Was that intentional, or is your singer just
not capable or willing to hit the highest notes? The vocals are very nicely
done either way, especially on the more ballad like track 'Mourning Grief.'
I strongly believe that the vocal lines are in complete accordance with the
music. Steve is surely capable of going up and up, but this would destroy the
warlike feeling that this album has, and we wanted to give that right from
Black Lotus has a pretty wide variety of bands on their roster, and
there aren't a whole lot of traditional or power metal bands they've signed.
What artists on Black Lotus do you like to listen to? Or are there other metal
bands you're really into?
Lots of variety indeed! The bands I would say that we like are Inactive
Messiah, Sarissa, Nightfall, Negative Creeps and Battleroar. As for other bands
we have to mention Judas Priest, Death, Dio, etc.
Finally, the guitar work was very interesting, as it had touches of
heavy crunchy thrash. Who would you say the guitarists are most inspired by in
the way they write their riffs?
I am the right person to tell you about that as I am one of the guitarists. We
worked a lot for the riffs and how the guitars should sound on the album. As
for inspiration, I will have to mention guitarists like Alex Skolnick, Gary
More, Adrian Smith, Jason Becker and the catalogue goes on forever!
ARGHOSLENT. Interview with Von Demonicus and Pogrom via email.
Arghoslent. Love them or hate them for their lyrical stances, MANY publications
have praised their musical abilities to the skies above... I must warn everyone
now that the opinions of Arghoslent are not necessarily the opinions of anyone
else here at the magazine, but regardless, and I will say this AGAIN:
REGARDLESS of anyone's beliefs, be they religious, social, misanthropic, racist
or what-EVER, it is the music first and foremost that rules the day 'round
here. Understand? Good. I am a misanthropist myself so there are some things I
CAN say without ANY degree of hatred or intents to racism on my part. While I
do not agree with EVERYTHING said in this interview, I will edit or censor NONE
of it. I do have this thing against censorship, ya know.
Now that THAT'S been said, the rest of you who want to know about this band,
It's absolutely amazing to me that everyone rags on you for your
lyrics, but they praise your musical abilities to every 'zine and internet site
POGROM: Many a person have said we'd be rock stars if we had sung about flowers
or corpses. Not all the marketing and advertising in the world could make our
ideas "popular" or "accepted" within the underground or anywhere else. The more
we're known, the more we're despised and ostracised.
VON DEMONICUS: Our American label once told us "If you guys didn't sing about
slavery and ethnic cleansing, you'd be a best selling band based on your
musicianship alone!" As you see, it is partly by choice, but also partly by the
fact that we've been alienated by virtually every level of the scene. This is
why you don't see much written about us anywhere. A lot of attention is given
to mediocre bands, but those guys keep it safe and harmless.
I was reading some of the hate mail you got, and it's pretty damn
funny in a way. Some people should really just go fuck themselves. Just curious
your thoughts on all the hate mail here. It's really cool you have the balls to
print both good and bad stuff on your site.
VON DEMONICUS: Actually, we don't print the good stuff on the site, only the
On to the lyrics... It seems to me at least one line of one song
has so much sobering truth that people don't want to admit it. 'Foundations of
empires are laid on sweaty backs of nigger slaves.' Our country was first built
on slave labor, the Egyptians built their pyramids on slave labor, and even
this whole "pride for Africa" thing is ridiculous because the original African
Americans' own people sold them into slavery in exchange for rum and sugar! It
might be sad to some people, but it's actual (documented) fact. I see where you
have the balls to speak the truth even if people don't want to see it.
POGROM: The line you speak of truths is the one that is considered racist, so
you tell me.
VON DEMONICUS: Occasionally we receive letters from individuals who
congratulate us on our music but make a point to distance themselves from the
ideology behind it. What is absurd is that most will say things like "I don't
agree with your views," and what not. We don't present in our lyrics an opinion
on the matter, rather we expand on the factual and historical data we deem
credible. I don't see our lyrics as opinionated rather as insightful and
defamatory. There is nothing to agree or disagree with; it is just how it is.
We didn't "invent" colonization, the slave trade or genocide. We simply write
You care to comment on any other aspect of the lyrics for
"Incorrigible Bigotry?" I know there's lyrics about war and nuclear terrorism
and celestial defamation.
VON DEMONICUS: The songs on our last album deal with the same adored topics as
on previous efforts. The song 'Flogging The Cargo' deals with the Middle
Passage and indigenous subjugation, 'The Purging Fires Of War' glorifies
nobility and warring through lineage, 'Quelling The Simian Urge' deals
indirectly with the slave trade and its involvement in the development of
empires in the New World, 'Heirs To Perdition' explores character denigration
and the ethnic bastardization our offspring will inherit, 'Archaic
Invincibility' touches upon the accomplishments of colonization, the debility
of monotheism, the immortal honor of soldiery, and eugenics. 'Hereditary Taint'
clarifies our stance with regards to miscegenation and genetic inescapability.
I recently heard that you were in search of a bass player. What
happened to the old one, and have you solidified that position yet?
POGROM: Our old bass player Kommando lost the tip of his finger in an accident
shortly after recording "Incorrigible..." quite disappointing as he's been
around since day 1. The position has been since filled, however, since he
cannot play bass anymore.
The most amazing thing about "Incorrigible Bigotry" is the sheer
massive number of RIFFS! There's more amazing riffs on just two or three songs
than I've heard on an entire Megadeth or Slayer album! How long does it take
you to come up with riffs for a record normally, and especially THIS record!
POGROM: It's difficult to tell since we're always writing some stuff here and
there. The true task is putting them together. Writing riffs on its own is not
such a headache, but making them fit with each other is painstaking. Some of
the stuff in "Incorrigible Bigotry" was very old and had been waiting for the
right song for inclusion. For example, the first 2 riffs of the instrumental
'Incorrigible Bigotry' were from a 4 track tape we recorded in 1992. 'Heirs To
Perdition' has also been written along with 'Defile The Angelic' years ago, and
finally saw the light of day on our last record. The song 'Archaic
Invincibility' was written days before we entered the studio; a spur of the
moment assembly and must have only been rehearsed 2-3 times before it was
recorded. A couple of riffs we plan to use on our next album are at least 8
years old, but since our music has always been the same they fit without a
I dig the vocal work as well, it's rather unique and not the
guttural growling that sounds so dull and boring. There's really nothing dull
or boring about Arghoslent's music, even down to the very melodic guitar work!
Does the Gothenberg style influence your music even in the slightest? (I know
it really sounds NOTHING like the whole overdone Swedish style of death metal).
POGROM: I read here and there how we're comparable to this Gothenberg style,
although I'm uncertain as to which bands that is supposed to include. If we're
talking about Swedish death metal bands like Nihilist/(old) Entombed,
Treblinka/Tiamat, Dismember, Grave, Unleashed, etc. then I cannot deny they
influenced out perception of what death metal should sound like, however I
don't believe that when listening to us you're reminded of them necessarily.
There are of course other more important bands we respect although I don't
think it is reflected in our compositions. Touches of Bathory's "Blood Fire
Death," "Hammerheart" & "Twilight Of The Gods," Mercyful Fate's "Melissa,"
Slayer's "Reign In Blood," Vio-lence's "Eternal Nightmare," Razor's "Violent
Restitution," and Carnivore's "Retaliation" are present in our music at all
times. We do, however, strive to be original and a step above all of our
influences. We are not readily mistaken for any other band, and that's our
Just curious to get your thoughts on America's re-electing of
President Bush for 4 more years. Personally, I thought Bush did a lot to hurt
our credibility with the rest of the world, a very important fact especially
for American bands wanting to tour overseas.
POGROM: Anyone that lends a hand to the well being of Israelites is committing
treason. Many people outside of Europe practice what I call "geographical
prejudice" against Americans. He who thinks we all live happily and undivided
under one flag is a fool.
I'd like to know about the cover for "Incorrigible Bigotry,"
especially since it seems to depict some sort of Roman battle scene. How did
you come to choose the artwork, and what is it's relevance to the lyrics and
music for you?
POGROM: The LP is a painting of a slave port in Western Africa. Merchants
trading goods for human cargo is depicted beautifully on the canvas. It is my
understanding that some abolitionist purchased the painting and donated it to a
museum in England because he found it offensive. The CD version is a painting
of a decaying Roman civilization. (This is the version I have - Ed.) It is very
meaningful in the way it represents man's cyclical, self-destructive nature.
I did an interview with While Heaven Wept, who mentioned that they
were fans of yours. How do you feel about their music, especially given the
fact that as a doom metal band they don't sound like their peers either
(something that can also be said about your band).
POGROM: I ran Sinistrari Records back in the day and I released (with help from
Tom) their first While Heaven Wept CD. Their band is original, in my opinion,
especially being from Virginia, where very little has ever caused a stir in the
scene. My label supported bands that were worthy, regardless of the style.
Anyone with a slight understanding of music can recognize the talent of While
How is your deal with Moribund Records structured? I know you
signed with Drakkar, but maybe since you're in the States as well, you deal
with Moribund a lot? What's your recording deal with Drakkar/Moribund?
We have a 2 record deal with Drakkar Productions. The connection with Moribund
is that of a licensing one. Moribund pays some sort of royalty for producing
and distributing our CD in North America. Neither label sells products out of
their zone as stated in their agreement. I'm unaware if our next album will
have the same restrictions or licensing. We would prefer to be represented by 2
labels as Drakkar doesn't have such an influence in America.
I know you've gotten a lot of hate mail, but has Arghoslent been
able to play out live, and DO you plan on doing live shows anywhere?
POGROM: We could play live every weekend if we desired to, but for what? 10
drunks to show up and then what? If a show is worthwhile, we will consider
playing it. As it stands now, our last gig was in 1999. Support for our band
live has never been impressive. If our labels can secure us a spot in an event
worthy enough, Arghoslent may play live again in 2005. At this point in time,
our music has been disseminated enough to where some folk in the audience would
actually recognize our songs making the performance worthwhile.
Tell us a bit about the next record, as I know it's been said to be
in the works for some time now. Any song titles, themes or album titles you can
throw our way? I'm definitely awaiting it's release.
POGROM: We have many songs written and could actually record 2 albums worth of
material today. Our lives don't revolve around music, hence, the time allocated
to rehearsing and refining our music is limited. All of us are constrained by
our occupations and other responsibilities. Some songs that will appear on the
new album are 'Terra Nullis,' 'A Somber Warcry' (from our 1994 demo), 'The
Nubian Archer,' and 'The Ghosts Of Flossenburg,' both of which have appeared on
7 inch EP's recently.
We did an interview with Beaten Back To Pure awhile ago, and I was
commenting on how the NAACP is really doing nothing more than pushing a
monetary agenda. They were boycotting the confederate flag at the expense of
jobs and revenue for their own people, when what they should have been doing
was recognizing that the Confederacy stood mainly for freedom from governmental
oppression and governmental control over it's citizens than a more minor issue
of slavery. I'm curious as to your thoughts on this, because from an
intellectual, thought out explanation they seem to be more interested in lining
their corrupt pockets than really helping their own people.
POGROM: I'm under the impression that it's going to take a lot more than an
organization to help what a million years of evolution failed to do. Perhaps in
another million years, nature will grant them with ingenuity, creativity, and
the mental capacity to contribute to civilization with anything more than brute
Anything you can tell us about any of the individual members of
POGROM: We share the same interest in history, religion, science and music. We
have been at this for a long time and have seen the scene blossom, and die many
deaths. Arghoslent has remained active year in and year out, disappointing even
the most optimistic rabble rousers in the scene who have had dreams that our
fort would collapse.
CATARACT. Interview with Simon via email.
I noticed that you have put out quite a lot of stuff in the past,
any chance this material will be reissued on CD at some point?
Good question. We have been asking ourselves this too. It would be difficult to
do so for the full lengths because of rights and stuff, For the rest we have
out, it's possible to do so. There is just two other points why we'll probably
not do it. We changed singers back in '01, so we don't want to bring stuff out
again with the old singer. But we never say no. We were also thinking about
putting the vocals of our new singer on the old stuff.
How did you originally get signed to Metal Blade? Though Metal
Blade started out in the 80's with some hardcore acts, they haven't been known
to work hardcore music much these days.
We've been around for many years now, I've been in other bands before Cataract
dating back to 1989. We can say we're a hard working band, we play lots of
shows and we're developing our own style so I guess it was a question of time
until a bigger label realized that. Metal Blade have showed interest in our new
material, and since we did a pre-production of the new album in a small studio
in Switzerland we used these recordings to give them an insight into our new
material and that basically did the rest for us. Working with a dream label is
just fantastic I have to say. And it doesn't matter what they have done or do
in a commercial way. They care about us a lot, do everything they can to get us
known. You know it's a hard job to introduce a band - whatever scene they come
from - that is barely known to metal kids but they did an awesome job. They
rock! Sincere, honest and hard working people.
Your music is said to be a mixture of heavy, thrashy Swedish metal
like At The Gates and the like and hardcore; where do your influences lie and
how important are the metal and hardcore genres in your mixture of music?
It's always difficult to find a good description of our music, especially
because people easily expect a new Slayer, At The Gates or another Haunted
album. If you listen to our old albums you will clearly hear that "With Triumph
Comes Loss" is a bastard of these two; we've been developing our own mixture
since we started out, and looking back on the old releases proves that. Of
course you can hear where we took bits and what our personal faves are, but
they've been there since the beginning. I think we arrange the speed and
ferocity of Slayer and the heaviness and aggression of Hatebreed in our sound
somehow. Our influences are clearly back in the 80's.
How would you describe the sound of your newest record to that of
your previous records? I think it may be the metal edge to your sound that
interested Metal Blade in signing you, I could be wrong though. Since you have
had a lot of releases out, I'm also curious as to what direction and style each
"Golem" was an angry piece of very hardcore influenced music, songs that came
straight from the heart right in your face. "Great Days" was more experimental,
more metal influenced. We had guest musicians, we played around with keyboards,
voices, sounds, etc. "With Triumph Comes Loss" is taking the best from both of
these releases and extracting what we can call our own sound now; our music.
It's one piece of hard hitting metal/hardcore music without any 'if' or
'maybe,' and all along with this goes the layout, the lyrics, everything. It
all came natural. The direction we are heading to next is the Cataract
direction, nothing else.
One thing that really impresses me, besides the sick vicious
vocals, is the thrashy and crunchy guitar work! Tell us a little about how you
incorporate the guitars, especially on the writing end of things.
Thank you first of all! Since I play guitar it's very flattering. It's mostly
me or Greg that comes up with a song, a riff or something like it, when we work
on it together. Me, Greg and Ricky always work together on all the songs. It's
not a one man show. We love to have it called a band work. Greg and I have the
same taste in music but a total different style in playing, so it's very
interesting putting both styles in one song.
The cool thing about your new record is the fact that each song
varies from fast to slow tempos, which makes each song have a LOT of structure
for the 3 or 4 minute pieces.
Exactly what we think too! We love that. There's not a lot of bands who can do
that anymore. Mostly they keep the song at the same level. We are so 80's!!
I noticed you are from Switzerland of all places! What sort of
hardcore scene exists in Switzerland, heck how about a metal scene? I know Dane
Kurth runs a club I think it's the Z7 in Switzerland, so I suppose you've
played there a time or two?
Hell yeah! Z7 rocks! We played there already with Biohazard recently. But we're
going to play there in March again on the No Mercy tour with Six Feet Under,
Nile, Dying Fetus and some other bands. About the scene over here, for our kind
of music it's really good. It's small, but it's good. There are many bands like
Despise, Solid Ground, Dark Day Dungeon, Cwill, Nostromo, Knut, Speck, PxPain
and many more that don't come to my mind right now. And those are all bands
that more or less belong to the hardcore scene. There's even more metal bands
around but I can't give much information about them. There's Disparaged who are
getting great response through the European underground, Requiem, The Cranium,
Censored, Gurd and many more. We have some other clubs that regularly book
shows and when hosting bigger tours they try to get an opening slot for local
bands. And finally there's quite a lot of people showing up for the concerts.
On your website you talked about the first pressing of "With
Triumph Comes Loss" having a bonus DVD, I am damn sorry I missed that! Tell us
about what it contained, and is there any chance that'll be released again, or
maybe the DVD portions will be redone?
Yeah, it was part of a limited European edition. It has a live show, a studio
report, a gallery and a history section on there. It was basically for those
who didn't know us and for those that love us already. Some day it may be
released on a DVD but for now it's sold out. We are not planning anything like
that so far.
I'm really intrigued by some of the lyrics, like the song 'Killing
Tool' is a good example of how U.S. media constantly portrays the events of the
day in such horrific detail, it's a wonder people ever want to step outside! I
know here in the states, they kept talking about these terroristic threats, as
if we were all supposed to fear for our daily lives and hand over all freedom
and control to our government!
It's a fact that the ones who rule have to make their people fear something to
make them believe in their words.
Any other lyrics you might want to talk about in detail would be
cool. I was pretty blown away by the song descriptions you added after each set
of lyrics. Okay, so out of curiosity, how do you see the end of the world
taking place? Do you really think man will nuke himself off the planet, or is
there to be some divine warfare taking place?
Hmmm... I don't want to point out or explain a certain lyric. All of them mean
a lot to us, that's why we always put explanations to them. Lyrics are our
language. If you would have the "Great Days Of Vengeance" CD you would know how
we see the world come to an end. In our dreams mother earth takes back what's
hers and covers the planet with a new ice age. Realistically we will
economically kill ourselves. Nuke us out, kill what we need to eat and start to
hate what we love most. Love will turn into hate.
I am curious to your thoughts on the Iraqi war. I know many
countries now view the U.S. as a tyrant, when originally we were thought of as
the ones who helped people out and gave them opportunities for freedom. I do
admit I did not support this war against Iraq, but to be openminded and non
judgemental, I do believe that Saddam Hussein was a murderer and a madman who
needed to be stopped. However, I also believe that there are other countries in
the world that were much more of a threat to us than Iraq.
The U.S. had no right to do that. It was all based on economic interests.
Saddam was the only reason given to the people to give the government the
reason to walk into Iraq. Back in 1992 it was different because Saddam occupied
Kuwait and the world had to stop him. The U.S. were leading then and it was
right to do so. This time it was different. It was a war that wasn't a war and
you can see now that the real war started out when the government told everyone
it was over. There are more soldiers killed after the official war than during
Saddam is a tyrant, I totally agree on that and he had to be stopped at some
point. The United Nations were always pointing that out too, so it was just
that the rest of the world had a different opinion on how to get rid of him. On
the other hand nobody could have really given proof that he had no chemical
weapons. Can you imagine how everybody on the planet would have been loving
Bush when this would have been the case? There would have been no discussion
about the whole war because it would have been justified through that. What I
want to say is that you are always smarter after you take certain actions. I
just think he should have been more honest about why he wanted to walk into
Iraq. It was the war of lies.
How do you view certain factions of the hardcore scene? I know the
straight edge movement is somewhat popular amongst hardcore fans, but not among
all of them.
I have been growing up in the hardcore scene for like 18 years now, since I am
34 now. I can tell you I have seen a lot of factions. I am straight edge
myself. It's all the same in whatever scene you go, you always have different
forms of it. So this is nothing different from life itself. I just take it as
it is as long as nobody steps into my garden.
I read that you were planning on doing tours with Slayer and what
not. Have these tours come to pass yet? I'd be curious to see how well you'd go
down with Slayer's crowds, as I know Slayer fans can be some of the most
radical and hateful to other bands not named Slayer.
Ha ha. No we haven't played with them yet but we will this summer. We so don't
care. We play what we do and we see if kids like it or not. We have been
playing to metal crowds since we existed, and I can tell you it is not easy. We
are used to it and we are getting respect, slowly but we do!
Any chance you'll be in the States? I haven't seen much in the way
of bad press yet...
We are very pleased about reactions in the U.S. press so far! We didn't expect
that! Well, we are working on a tour! We want to come again so bad after we
have been in the U.S. in 201 already. We will see what happens this year.
Finally, I know the album title "With Triumph Comes Loss' seems to
point at the U.S. involvement in Iraq and our belief that only democracy is
what everyone wants, but also I see this being applied in many other areas of
life, especially people in big business that have to step on and hurt people on
their rise to the top, and also sometimes people lose a bit of their old self
to recreate themselves on their quest to achieve their goals.
This is why we chose the title. Everybody sees his own thoughts behind this
expression. It just can stand for every situation in life. Whatever you do,
whatever triumph you have you lost something to achieve it.
FISSION. Interview with Vintersorg himself.
I'm curious as to how you handle all this, because you're already
busy with Vintersorg and Borknagar. What made you decide to tackle this
project? I understand that this is your guitarists' original idea.
Yeah, it was, and now of course it's my project as well. He had written some
songs that didn't really fit in the band he was in and he asked me if I would
do some vocals for them. It was not really a serious thing, and we did a pre
production demo. It was two songs with my vocals, and at first I was skeptical;
I didn't know if it was really my kind of thing. As we were working with the
songs though, at the end when we recorded two tracks I became really fond of
them. Of course we had to put some keyboards in there...
And of course I know Napalm Records was the obvious choice since
you were already working with them through Vintersorg.
They are really nice to work with, and I know what kind of promotion they can
do already. Plus, we have total artistic freedom.
So I'm curious about song writing, because I'm looking at some of
the song titles and going "these could be on a Vintersorg album."
The song titles are kind of tricky. It feels kind of scientific, but the lyrics
I feel are very personal and emotional in a way. I always work with metaphors.
So a song like 'Magnetism' is not about physics, it's an emotional state. It's
not really about me, it's about this guy who feels lost in society. He feels
like everything he does, the reaction from society is really bad. He feels like
a magnet for all the hatred and bad things (that happen to him).
So is there a theme going on with the album "Crater?" I know when
you did "Cosmic Genesis" with Vintersorg, the theme seemed to be discussing the
wonders of creation and the architect behind it all...
I wouldn't say there's a theme through the whole album, but some of the theme
is like madness and how madness affects you. It's like when you're not accepted
in society, it's because you think differently, you think in new patterns.
You're seen many times by people as a lunatic. That kind of madness. We feel
that we are very proud to have this kind of madness. That right there reflects
a lot of the lyrics. Society tries to push you in kind of a mainstream
(direction), and you should act a certain way and think a certain way.
It's funny that you mention that because as I've gotten older I've
found that I'm struggling with that decision on a more constant basis.
Obviously there was a time in the early 80's when metal, even extreme metal,
was a lot more accepted than it is now. I think everyone maybe mellows out a
little bit as they get older, but you still have that streak in you. Do you
ever feel that maybe sometimes you need to be a bit, well, "normal?" I mean you
have to have a job to survive, you have to pay bills and stuff like that.
Of course. You can't just be kind of a rebel in all your decisions that you
have to make. Of course, you have to cope with things that you don't like. I
have a son too so now I have to do some things that I didn't think about
before I became a parent. So while I'm living a somewhat "normal" life, I'm
also getting fed up with society, how the ideals are, and how you should look
and dress. But I'm not into politics, I'm into doing more aesthetic forms of
expression rather than pointing fingers.
I don't know if you remember the interview we did with you way
back, this was when your "Cosmic Genesis" album first came out. I mentioned to
you that I wished Vintersorg had used more black metal vocals on the record.
This record "Crater" to me really fits the mold of what I wanted to hear MORE
out of Vintersorg. You know, the aggressive guitarwork and the blackened
vocals. And a couple of people have mentioned to me that Fission was a better
followup to "Cosmic Genesis" than the last two Vintersorg records. (I can sense
that some of the laughter from Vintersorg at this point is maybe a let down
Well, there are some major differences between Fission and Vintersorg. Of
course, if you put some other vocalist in Fission I think it would sound very
different from Vintersorg. The guitar work is more straight ahead and much
thrashier than in Vintersorg. Some people have seen Fission as sort of a semi
clone of Vintersorg as well.
So do you ever see Fission as any kind of touring entity?
No. It was really just a nice adventure for us, we didn't even rehearse the
drums before we went into the studio! We just went into the studio and recorded
it. We didn't even know if we were able to do this project or not. We're really
pleased with the album and we recorded nearly the whole album ourselves.
One thing that always pisses me off, and I know you have heard much
of this with Fission, but people seem to say "Well, this band sounds like 'x'
band," like they aren't satisfied unless they're hearing the newest style or
sound. Why can't people just enjoy an album that has good songs and kicks ass?
Yeah, I mean you can't always reinvent the wheel every time. We know that we
are not totally original, but we just try to make a cool album.
Now I hear that there's a new Fission album in the works, so is
there anything you can tell us about it?
Wait, everything's on the computer, it's where I have all the lyrics (laughs).
The album is called "Album 2" right now (more laughter). We have a song called
'Earthquaker,' 'Collision And Collapse,' another cool title is 'Dear Frenzy.'
We have like 4 or 5 tracks but we haven't worked a whole lot on the new record.
Any idea if it will be similar in sound or style to "Crater?"
I can assure you that in a way it sounds similar. I think we are refining our
sound a little bit.
Finally, to end things up, this is a question I am putting forth to
a lot of other bands. I don't know how much you're following the political
scene over in the States, but I'm curious if you have any thoughts positive or
negative about President Bush's re-election.
It's really hard for me to say sitting here on the other side of the ocean. I
don't really know that much about American politics. It's hard for me to make a
statement about it. I can't really relate to it as it doesn't really affect me.
Well, in some way I guess it does affect me because when Bush does something it
seems to affect the whole world. I can't really put my finger on it and say
what's wrong or what's good. I'm just not up to date about it. There's always
two sides to a story you know? I don't know all the facts either.
HIRAX. Interview with Katon De Pena.
Hirax released what is arguably one of THE best 80's metal comeback albums last
year. I have been after this interview for a long time, and it's fitting that
we can run this now, and let you hear what this monstrous record sounds like!
If you like your 80's thrash sick and heavy, then "The New Age Of Terror"
should have you definitely unable to move from the floor unto which you have
You definitely need to come to Atlanta, I don't know if you've ever
played here or not.
We're getting ready to set up the first half of the U.S. tour. We're doing the
East Coast tour. I've heard good things about Atlanta, it's just a matter of
going there and getting people turned on to what we do.
I wanna talk about that new record a little bit, because I'm saying
that THIS is the way an 80's metal band needs to write a record in this day and
age. Exodus is about the only 80's metal band I know of that wrote a decent
record. Killer fucking record.
I appreciate that. What's really cool is that the response we've gotten has
been respectful because it's the people that we respect that know about this
kind of music that have heard the good stuff so they know what's weak and
what's not. It's been phenomenal. We didn't even have to try really, this is
the kind of stuff we're doing and we all grew up on metal. This is not a joke
to us. Hell, even just getting in the car we gotta make sure we have our tunes
Man, I'm the same damn way, sometimes i spend 10 minutes looking
for the right stuff to play on a short car trip!
We more or less find people driving, if they're playing like rap, we crank up
the metal! We just wanted to give people, especially the ones that like our
music, something to believe in. We really worked hard, but the funny thing is
that we only spent 4 days recording the record! When we started listening to
the playback we were like "wow, we got it right!" We wanted people to really
get their money's worth because it was 11 tracks, and right under 40 minutes.
The next record will probably be a little bit longer, maybe 45 minutes. Our
thing is we don't wanna do too much because we don't wanna put people to sleep.
That's funny, because you guys, especially with the first two
records you ever did "Raging Violence" and "Hate, Fear And Power," I don't
think you guys know how to write a long record! What was that like 14 tracks in
under 30 minutes?
Ha ha! The biggest problem with Hirax, well, even now but it's not as bad, but
we never really had enough time. Even with the new record, we recorded it and
then right away we had to leave for Europe. Some of these fucking bands go in
the studio and they sit in there for like two to three months! I wish we had
that option but we don't, and I'm kinda glad we don't because we might start
writing crappy records! I think people overanalyze stuff when they're in the
Now, forgive my ignorance of your lineup because as I said (besides
the new record) all I have are the first two records. That new guitarist
absolutely smokes playing leads! How has your lineup evolved since day one?
Things were great back in the early days and now it's even greater, but we just
started out as four pissed off, drunk angry metal fans. We would go to concerts
and go to record stores, then we started a band. We're just young kids that
were crazy, you know, driving drunk like idiots, stupid shit like that. Somehow
we didn't die thank god, but we just wanted to play fast. Especially because
we're in L.A. where there was so many poser bands. We actually still use that
word "poser" even though it might be a little passe these days. We were playing
at a time when there were bands like Warrant, Motley Crue, and Poison, but we
wanted to play music that kicked ass. I mean, that's all right if you wanted to
pick up chicks. We liked bands that were hard and heavy, whether it was bands
like Venom, Anvil, or Accept. Hell, even bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden
and Saxon. We had a pretty good following in L.A. but when we went to San
Fransisco that's when we realized that "man, these people REALLY know what
we're about." So we started playing in San Fransisco and the shows were
amazing, because when people came to see us it would be like Hirax, Exodus,
Megadeth and Testament, and that was all on the same billing.
Yeah, you don't get shows like that very often anymore.
It's a bummer. There should be more shows like that because it would bring that
many more metalheads together. But anyway, back to the question about the early
days, we had some problems because we just did too much partying. That screwed
up things and the band just kinda fell apart. I have people writing me letters
telling me how much my music means to them, kids writing me going "Hey man,
your music really changed my life." That really affected me. How can you not
care when people write you such bad ass letters. So I started looking around
for musicians, and the first person I found was Glenn Rogers, and he was just a
really cool dude, he's in the band with me now. He's one of the two guitar
players, the other one is Dave Watson, I'm very happy with them, and I call
them the assassins. Our bass player has been around, and he played with that
guy from Reverend, David Wayne. He also played in a band called Uncle Slam. So
he's a veteran of the L.A. metal scene. Our drummer is from Argentina;
originally he came from Argentina to play for Testament and then he ended up
joining us. We have a storming lineup for this record, our new one "The New Age
Of Terror." It took us awhile, the biggest problem was for one finding
musicians that can play. And also that can understand what we're trying to do.
We're not trying to be a nu-metal band, if anybody is looking for that in our
music they're out of their minds!
I still listen to the old Hirax stuff quite a bit, and I wanted to
ask you about that rather evil voice that starts off the track 'Demons Evil
Forces.' I'm guessing that's you right?
Actually, what's crazy about that intro, the guy who did that was a dude named
Gonzo, and he actually passed away, which is a shame. Now the second voice,
that was Ron McGovern who was actually the original bass player for Metallica.
So it's kinda cool when I hear that record now because it brings back great
memories, and we still play those songs live. We do 'Demons Evil Forces' on
every show. We still play songs from "Raging Violence" and "Hate, Fear And
I'm a huge fan of Laurent's magazine (Snakepit) and whenever I tell
anyone about that magazine I always mention that ONE interview they did with
you where you were like "Dude, what were you one of our fucking roadies?" That
is the most AMAZING magazine, I keep wondering how they know all this stuff!
They knew too much shit! I think what it is is that it still hasn't set in with
me that people know the history of the band. Or they know some stuff that I'd
think they really wouldn't know!
They've been called like metal nerds...
They're like the dictionary of metal! One of the cool things about Hirax anyway
is that we are really a people's band, because we're fans of heavy metal. We
don't take the respect that we get for granted, and we always appreciate
everything that we've got. You're making me get fucking sentimental here!
(laughs). These guys were bringing up questions I couldn't believe! And the
more interviews we do out on the road, there's a lot more heavy metal "nerds"
that really know the history of the band. They know stuff about the first demo
tape which we sold like 1,000 of which was unheard of for a cassette. They have
like live tapes of us playing with Venom at the Santa Monica Civic, you know?
It's a shame that Snakepit is no longer around. Maybe it's the
workload, because I know sometimes even with my magazine I'm like "Man, this is
so much work," and with those guys, the amount of research and work and time
they put into their magazine, it's just overwhelming.
Anyone into music that's underground, they all have the same problems, I mean
look at how many bands have broken up. When you're doing this real metal stuff,
it's not like you're Limp Bizkit or one of those shitty bands. Those bands make
millions of dollars for making the crappiest music on the planet. And then
there's some of our friends like Kreator from Germany.
It is sad, because I hear such innovative stuff from metal bands,
like Swallow The Sun that does the slow, doomy death metal thing, and then
there's a band like Withered who does the amazing melodic lead guitar work and
combining that with vicious death and black metal vocals. People say "ah, there
is nothing else that can be done with music," but there's a lot that can still
I would have to agree, even though Hirax plays a thousand miles an hour at
certain times, some of my favorite bands are Trouble and my favorite doom metal
Hell yeah, now we're talking,...
But I think those bands should have made it way bigger than some of these other
bands that are huge today. It's a labor of love, but if you're not making
enough money it's hard to continue on. People don't realize, bands like Hirax,
we don't live with our parents. Trust me, if we didn't love doing this we
wouldn't be doing it.
Now if I remember correctly, didn't Pushead become really
interested in your band? If I'm not mistaken didn't he design your first two
He used to be a really big supporter of the band, but he has moved on and is
doing a lot of other stuff, not that he no longer likes the band or anything.
He designed the first album cover ("Raging Violence') and it was such an
interesting and bizarre cover at the time, nobody had ever put out an album
cover like that. The second record was actually done by a guy named Mad Marc
Rude, and he was another great underground artist who sadly passed away.
It's an odd thing to me to think about all the metal releases that
Metal Blade put out in the early 80's, many of which have yet to be reissued!
I know your first two albums were on Metal Blade, is there a chance those will
be reissued properly?
It's funny, there is a statute of limitations... I hate to get all technical
because I don't really care for the business end of it because I'd rather be
out there touring, playing rock concerts and making albums
Well, the people DO want to know...
Yeah, totally, and I'm totally willing to talk about it...
People like me...
Ha ha! Yeah, and I really appreciate it. We have the rights to the first two
records and they WILL be reissued. Right now we're just dealing with a lot of
people, discussing how we're going to do it. We want it to be a very kick ass
package. We want it to be very similar to the way the CD version had come out
(years ago). It's so funny, when the FIRST Hirax CD came out, which was the
first two Hirax records, this was when they first started making CD's! We
didn't even know what the hell CD's were! This shows you how old school things
were, we got 4 copies of it, that's ALL we ever got! The CD that I have is the
original Hirax CD and I only have one of them! We got them and we were like,
"what the hell are we supposed to this? We can't play these on our record
players!" It's amazing, we never would have thought this, but I don't even know
where to get one of these! Someone will tell me to go look on ebay, and it'll
be selling for like $150!! We're going to reissue it first for the fans that
can't afford it! (much laughter here). I'll tell you this, it's going to
It's amazing how many metal records Metal Blade hasn't reissued. I think the
problem Metal Blade has, and I hate to say this but it IS a business, and they
are more concerned about new stuff and bands that sell a shitload of records. I
think if you sell 5 or 10 thousand records that's still a big deal to me.
I really don't know how to approach this, but many of the bands
from the 80's that I totally respected seemed different, not just because of
their lyrics or member lineup or topics, hell, the three bands I'm referring to
are Hirax, Zoetrope, and Black Death.
Yeah, you're going off now!!
I have Zoetrope's first two records, and people were just in
amazement (myself included) that a black guy was doing power metal vocals! It
just blew my mind!
Totally cool. The thing is, what I really like about all that music, and still
love about all that is that it IS groundbreaking. Thrash metal, power metal,
whatever you want to call it, when you look back on a band like Zoetrope...
Everybody pronounces it differently... But another great band that people don't
remember was Znowhite. They had a female singer who was white, and the rest of
the band was white. They were from the same area as Zoetrope, which was
Chicago. And these bands were SO groundbreaking! It's so sad that a lot of the
record labels don't realize, this stuff SHOULD be reissued. When we go on tour,
especially in the United States AND in Europe, people are always asking me,
"Hey, do you know where I can get this record?" It's crazy how many people are
in the market for this metal. And you brought up Black Death... Dude, you're a
fucking metal nerd yourself man!! (I have to laugh at this one - Ed.) Something
has to be done about this. There's books now though! I never thought that Hirax
would be in so many heavy metal books. Now there's books out there that are
giving the history of not just us but all these other great bands. Like
Zoetrope, Barry Stern was the drummer and we were really good friends with him
He was in Trouble too, I think.
Yeah he played drums in Trouble as well. Thrash metal has a GREAT history.
SASQUATCH. Interview with that guy...
Sasquatch is a relatively new name on the "stoner rock" scene, but with their
signing to Small Stone Records, you should have a good idea of the quality of
this band. They're in good company, along with bands like Natas, Sons Of Otis,
Tummler and the like, they're helping to fill the void left in many people's
record collections (and their hearts) by Man's Ruin's passing.
I love the self titled debut CD. Now if I'm not mistaken, that IS
Leonard Nimoy's voice on the opening track and some of the sound samples. I'm
curious as to where you got those from.
I think Clayton might have rented a tape and took it off the tape, I think it
was the "In Search Of" series; we were watching it when we were younger, you
know they had this big thing about Bigfoot. Our record company guy likes to put
stuff inbetween songs for a lot of his bands. It's kinda cool.
The only thing that was confusing about it was there are 13 actual
tracks on the CD whereas the track listing only has the 10 song names, so it
was hard to figure out at first which songs corresponded with which track
Yeah, they counted those sound samples as tracks. But they also goofed on the
song order too, like two songs are reversed as far as the names go. It was too
late to do anything about it anyway, so we just left it. Things were running
behind schedule on that CD, even recording was rushed you could say. Clayton
was basically funding the CD and we had a little help from a friend. The meter
was running so to speak, so it was like 'You wanna do something else,' and it's
like 'Nope! Next!'
Studio time ain't free, ya know?
We got a deal you know, it was a pretty high quality 24 track studio in
Burbank. We looked back and said we'd like to experiment with more things, we
wanted to mike things old school, the way old 70's stuff used to be done. For
the time that we had we had fun, we did what we could. We had our friend Jim
come in and do killer backwards, trippy, Hendrixy kind of leads. Jim just kinda
followed Keith back and forth on that song. He helped us out in the studio, he
let us fire up his killer Mohave Peacemaker amp, Which is really cool because
it's a Marshall plexi base built with modern components. We liked it so much
we looked into it and those guys made us a smoking deal on one so now we have
one as well.
So is that how you come up with that fuzzy but heavy guitar sound?
Well, you get a pretty cool tone; Keith has one of those Soviet Big Muff
pedals. We have a couple of other effects we're using, but Keith uses a Les
Paul through that Mohave and his big muff.
A lot of the bands that were on Man's Ruin back in the day they
sweared by that Orange and Green amplification, and some of the newer bands are
talking about the Sunn amps for that kinda dirty, stoner sound... You know what
I'm talking about.
Yeah, well, a lot of guys like those. The old Oranges can be really touchy,
you gotta take 'em in and have them gone over, redone and rewired because they
can be unreliable sometimes. And the mad amps are just an offshoot of the
Now I heard that when the Green amps were made they made them to
the Orange specs but they kinda improved upon the original design.
That's not what the guy from Orange says (laughs). We saw them at a show and
everything's really improved. They have a really cool amp that our friend Jim
let us borrow that we almost bought instead of the Mohave, it was an Orange
Retro 50. It's a really nice sounding amp, but all the stuff now, it's totally
improved. The guys with Mad Amps used to work with Orange but then they went
off on their own. What we wanted was something kinda warm sounding, like the
old Van Halen stuff, the old AC/DC sound, anything with that old, old plexi
Marshall sound. The plexis were a lot of money and a lot of those weren't real
reliable. Our friend Jim is like THE boutique tone freak! (laughs) He did his
homework. He found this guy Victor who has this shop way up in the desert and
he basically took an old Plexi and redid the whole thing. It has no volume, no
preamp, it's just straight on tube power. You have to use an attenuator to get
the crunch out of it without all the volume, this thing is UNGODLY loud, we
were scaring old ladies like three states away with this thing! (Laughs)
That's funny as hell hearing you talk about guitars because you're
the damn drummer!
(laughs)Well, my friend's a guitar player so I learned a lot of stuff, and I'm
somewhat of a gearhead too. I know a lot about pedals and tones and stuff.
You guys are in really good company right now, because I know one
of the top priority labels I worked with was Man's Ruin. When they folded it
left a lot of bands wondering where they were going to go, bands like Natas,
Tummler, Sons Of Otis, etc. Small Stone has really stepped in and picked a lot
of these bands up.
Scott doesn't fuck around, he's real selective about the bands he has on there.
A lot of the other labels seem to take in the low fi college alternative stoner
stuff, the "cool to be uncool" thing. We're definitely not that, we're doing
more of a hi-fi thing, we have a bigger production. There's two camps, it's
like if your production is too high end then it's not cool; you have to sound a
little crappy, garagey sounding. I mean I like a lot of that stuff but I'd
rather sound more like an older 70's rock band with a good production. Scott
knows that all the same bands on that label have the same mindset. ALL the
bands, whether they do the straightup rock thing or the southern rock thing,
are very professional.
Now I heard Clayton talking about how you were working with some
new material, so anything you could tell us about the next record would be
We have a song called 'Seven Years To Saturn' which is kind of a fast shuffle.
It's kind of a jam song, it has a long end part on it. Scott kinda wants us to
do a few longer jam like tunes. That one we do live and kind of stretch it out.
It has that Kiss '100,000 Years' kinda groove. What I like to do is just make
different grooves, so you don't have all the same kinds stuff going on. We'll
have straight up rock beats, shuffles, and we have this one song that isn't
even named yet that has this middle eastern vibe to it. And we'll maybe put
something acoustic and trippy on it. Keith has this really killer acoustic
voice too, when he sings like that. I always like to hear bands break it up a
The last actual song on your record 'Yeti' kinda reminds me of
this, as it seemed to be your foray into more doom metal oriented material.
We just started piecing this stuff together, Keith just brings the lyrics up.
He mainly just writes what he feels at the time; life experiences and what
not. He doesn't emphasize on lyrical content, but it's all about the theme, the
riffs and what not. He just mixes it up as he goes along, and he doesn't really
tell us much about the lyrics. We have a song called 'Rattlesnake Flake,' which
is kind of a hard form of cocaine, basically it's like cocaine made out of
rattlesnake venom. Just something we made up, you know, wouldn't that be a cool
form of cocaine. It's rather a Jimi Hendrix 'Band Of Gypsies' type of song.
I wanted to ask you about the song 'Boss Hog.' When I first saw
that song, I started thinking, 'Man, they wrote a song about the Dukes Of
Ha ha. That you'd have to ask Keith about, I'm not sure where he came up with
that. That's our fast, uptempo song. We don't have many of those, and it's not
really our thing, we just had it and we started playing it. It's a situation
where we thought it would be cool to play a fast song. We don't do that song
live anymore, as we're not that type of band.
As we wrap this up, I'm curious about your deal with Small Stone
Records; as they're a rather new label I'm curious as to what sort of record
deal they got for you. Did they offer tour support or anything?
We got a 2 CD deal, and just like a lot of indie labels (Scott) doesn't really
have a lot of money. He'll support you when he can, and we have really good
distribution now. As far as pushing the band publicity wise, he has a lot of
bands that he works with and he also has a day gig too. He's got family as
well. I've seen where he's got two kids under his arm, and he's talking to us
at the same time he's talking to one of the guys from the Glasspack. So he's
like an octopus! He wasn't really signing any bands when we got on, but our
friends in Dixie Witch and other people told him about us, so he decided things
would be done the right way. Hopefully next time he's going to hook us up with
some dough, we're going to go to Detroit as they have a really great recording
studio they just built. It's a friend of Scott's. Five Horse Johnson is
recording there and that's going to be the testing ground to see what this new
studio is like. They got the drummer from Clutch playing with them, and I think
he will be touring with them.
So what bands do you like that are on Small Stone?
One of my favorite bands is probably Dixie Witch, just because they're more of
a song oriented band like we are. And they have a very powerful singer in
Trinidad. There's not a lot of bands out there that have a drummer that slams
like a caveman and then turn around and sound like Leslie West from Mountain,
real soulful. I'm a really big fan of melodic, soulful singing mixed in with
the heavy fuzzed out stuff. I don't particularly care much for the aggressive,
growling stuff, the cookie monster stuff. It has it's place and if it's a
little melodic then it's good but sometimes it's just blatant, all out yelling.
Well, I am a lot more into black metal than death metal these days,
I think the vocals are a lot more extreme and they seem to work better in most
of the bands.
I have friends who listen to lots of that stuff, bands that have vocalists who
sing through wierd vocal effects to try and sound demonized or something. I
went to a show, I think it's Carcass or something, and all these kids were up
there up front singing along with the lyrics, and I'm like 'How do you know
what he's saying?' I'm old school so I'm like 'Well, the guitar tones are cool'
and you have to give TOTAL credit to these drummers in these bands. They're
athletes, they're friggin athletes! Even though a lot of them, to play that
fast you have to use triggered kick drums, because there's no way you can get
that kind of power unless you're built like Lance Armstrong. We played with
Slayer back in '83 or 84 and that was my first experience with a guy who could
play double bass like that.
You were in another band back then?
I was in a band in Detroit, Michigan where I'm from called Animal. We got to
play with a lot of Shrapnel and Metal Blade bands. There was bands like Sodom,
Exciter, Impaler, Trouble even. Singing drummer, too, Dan Beehler, there you
Zoetrope had a singer that was also the drummer.
That's right, I remember that. There was a really cool from Chicago called
Znowhite. It was this big, huge heavy black dude who was just an amazing guitar
player. And the singer, Debbie Lee, I used to watch her.
Yeah, you're talking to someone who absolutely REVELS in 80's
Oh man, we played with all these guys. We played with Metal Church, and it was
great to see all these bands who were on small labels getting out there.
TEXTURES. Interview with Bart Hennephof via email.
I was rather surprised, and upset, to hear that you had gotten rid
of the vocalist who sang on the "Polars" record! It's a rather unusual move to
get rid of a singer so soon after an album's release. Care to tell us what
happened, as I rather liked his crazed and sick vocal style!
Yes, it was quite a strange move, but we did what we felt we should do, and we
felt that our music asks for more diverse vocals since the music itself is
quite diverse. The musical tastes and plans of our former singer and us were
already slightly different, so we decided to do this so that a new singer could
be worked into our live set quickly, and also into our 2nd CD. We are planning
something different with the new vocalist; he has a madman throat on one side,
and a clean vocal set as well, and lots more...
How is Listenable for you as a record company? How many albums are
you scheduled to do for them, and how are they handling promotion, touring and
Our next album will be on Listenable, and we are really satisfied with the work
they do. Our CD is spread throughout Europe, the U.S. and Australia right now,
so we can not complain about that, or about touring and promotion either,
because they have now arranged a very cool gig together with Scarve (France) in
Paris in December. We are really looking forward to that. We just came back
from a tour throughout the U.K., France, Germany and the Czech Republic; they
helped us on that tour and we even had dinner at Listenable's office on the
tour when we got to France. The French meal (especially the mayonaise!) is a
very great benefit of signing with a French label!
I don't think I've seen any bad reviews, everyone I know raves
about the mixture of styles and sounds, have you had ANY bad press at all? I'm
curious what they would be saying!
Yes, but very few... I remember one bad one from Greece, getting 1 out of 10
points, (them) saying it was a distasteful piece of shit what you could not
even call music, and things like that. We can only laugh about such reviews, we
laugh even harder when we read the other (positive) reviews describing our
music exactly the way we wanted it to come across. We know our music is
understood very well by many people, so a review like that doesn't demotivate
us or something.
The name Textures is VERY appropriate for what you are doing these
days, so I don't really think it'd be necessary to go into the how's and why's
of picking this name unless there's something else that might not be obvious to
Yes, the name resembles both the difference in personalities in the band as
(well as) the different musical styles we try to combine in our music. We
believe that with a lot of different personalities (and views) you can create
something that is very diverse, as long as you focus on making it sound as
I hear in your songs some At The Gates and Meshuggah influences,
and on some songs the influences are more obvious than others. How far off the
mark am I, and do you feel the need to explain additional influences for your
Yes, in a way you are right, but we try to look more at 'genres' instead of
'bands' themselves. This means; At The Gates is a real pioneer of 'Intense and
fast thrash metal,' and Meshuggah are the pioneers of 'Polyrhythmic metal.'
What we do is pick some of the polyrhythmics to expand our own sound; it is
just a way of progressively pushing metal to it's own borders. This way we
listen carefully to all sorts of genres. You can hear influences of classical
music for example; the compositions go from loud to soft, from fast to slow, at
any random moment.
This must be incredibly difficult to come up with in the practice
space. I mean sometimes you're going incredibly fast, then breaking off into a
jazzy part or what not. How in the world do you all decide what style or tempo
and where it goes? Is it one person, or just everyone throwing ideas into this
huge mixing pot and blending everything together?
I believe it is the 2nd description you made; we throw all ideas together. Now
this sounds a bit easy; well, after that we puzzle with every second of a beat
for example, to make the beat sound right. When this sounds good, we look at
what could be done with this rhythm together with, for example, vocals, to make
it interesting throughout several measures. Our goal is to make every second of
the music satisfactory to everyone in the band.
I thought it was a pretty interesting move to throw a saxophone
into the mix! Any chance more off the wall instruments like that will be heard
on future releases? I really dig flutes and cellos.
Yes, we like to experiment with different sounds very much, so chances are big.
But no plans yet: there could be flutes and cellos, could be violins, trumpets,
we don't know yet! Maybe something oriental, we just don't want our music to
have any barriers. This way we don't limit our own creativity.
I just read about you doing a whole slew of European dates
recently. How did that go? Were the bands appreciative of your own style; how
were the crowds and how do the venues over in Europe treat bands touring in
Yes, we went through the U.K., France, Germany and the Czech Republic in like
25 days. It was our first tour ever and we loved it a lot! We toured together
with Alchemist from Australia; we have really grown as good friends with them.
They liked our music a lot and supported us very well. In the U.K. this package
played with Cult Of Luna as headliner, and our music was appreciated by quite a
few people; especially in London, where some had our CD already. And we had
really good response from people that came up to us after the show.
We've discovered that especially in the U.K., the closing times of the venues
are VERY early; at most of the venues we were on the streets again at 11
o'clock in the evening!
How about sharing a funny tour story or two with us?
In France we had our smallest gig ever; it was a gig arranged by Listenable
just for fun, to fill up an empty day in our schedule. It was a small cafe; the
stage was in the very back of the cafe, like 3 by 3 meters, and we first had to
remove some furniture and surf boards to make some space for the drums. There
was a small P.A. with 2 tracks, we first had to fix the speakers though which
took some time! SO, we stacked all the speakers, built a big wall of terror,
and then saw there was only 1 broken power point coming out of the wall that
was supposed to provide power for our complete backline. So we fixed it with
tape and with turning a drum stand into a microphone stand for Jochem
(guitarist) we were ready to play. The French youth were already quite drunk,
so with the first few tunes that blew out of our speakers, madness was
everywhere! This small, dusty corner had turned into a maelstrom of crazed
youngsters looking for ways to kick each others' ass while there was SO little
space! Surely an evening to remember!
TRAITORS GATE. Interview with Steve Colley.
There are many bands who came and went during the 80's, releasing maybe one 7
inch record or EP and then never being heard from again. This is one of the
rarest and most expensive records on the planet, and it is well worth the money
spent (if you need reassurance, go listen to the entire thing in the classic
albums section). SO, imagine my surprise when this band, who only ever released
the one 3 song EP "Devil Takes The High Road," contacts me out of the blue!
Without further ado, probably the ONLY interview ever done of this band that
you can still track down, the amazing English group Traitors Gate...
It's unusual that there was a demo released before the "Devil Takes
The High Road" EP. What is different about this demo release from the EP?
This recording is the demo. We self financed it in Cave Studios in Bristol and
forwarded it to as many labels as possible. Bullet contacted us and asked if
they could release it as it was. It was meant purely for distribution in
Scandinavia so we agreed. At this point we were called "Quest" and it was
Bullet who asked us to change the name and adopt a more "heavy" look. Hence we
became Traitors Gate and a skeleton on horseback appeared on the cover.
Will the demo, or even the EP, be reissued by anyone at some point?
My copy is a direct cleanup of the original vinyl.
I would be very surprised if it was reissued. We lost all creative control when
we handed over the master (tape) and have never seen it since.
So how was working with Bullet? What was your deal structured like
and did they offer any tour support?
The label were like ghosts to us! We never actually met anyone as all
proceedings were carried out over the phone. We earned nothing from the
recording and were paid in a few free discs! We were all very young with no
management and were playing purely for the love of music!
Obviously I want to get to the lineup of members, because the only
site with any info lists members that you didn't tell me about, like the vocals
being credited to Chris Ellis instead of Huw, and guitars credited to Andy
D'Urso, who I'm assuming changed his name to the more "language friendly" last
name of Turner.
Just after recording the single we had a change in lineup to tour it. Huw Jones
sang on the single but was replaced by Chris Ellis. Andy Durso and Andy Turner
are different people. Andy Turner played on the single but Andy Durso toured
it. As regarding name changes we went through a stage of taking "Americanized"
rock names (we all loved Motley Crue at the time!) I was Zak Tyler, Paul House
became Paul Delacroix and Andy Turner became Randy Berol. Huw Jones was proud
of his name and kept it. This stage didn't last long and we all reverted back
to our real names.
What are the band members now doing? Is there any contact between
you and the original members, and are there plans to get back together and
maybe release other material?
I am still in contact with Andy and Paul. Andy formed a group called Monro
(Chris Ellis was the original singer of Monro) and released an album. He is now
living in L.A. and calls himself Andy Sheen Turner. He is a "famous" food
stylist and married a rock D.J. from a station in L.A. Paul lives in Wales and
is playing in an E.L.P. (Emerson, Lake and Palmer for those uninformed - Ed)
tribute band. I have heard nothing from Huw since the recording. It seems like
everyone appeared in everybody else's group at some time. It is unlikely there
will be a Traitors Gate reform due to geography more than anything else. After
Traitors Gate I joined Kooga and recorded a single ('Don't Break My Heart')
which we then toured extensively. We completed a U.K. tour supporting Saxon but
then it all ended when Nev the vocalist was tempted away by Iron Maiden's
manager to form Skin with Myke Gray from Jagged Edge. Following this I did
session work then moved to Spain to enjoy myself a bit more!
The title "Devil Takes The High Road," besides being the opening
track, seems like it might have a cryptic meaning, especially lyric wise.
Anything you can tell us about the lyrics of the song, and who did most of the
The lyric writing for this track was covered by Huw Jones who had a keen
interest in all things mystic and is quite different in content from the other
two tracks which were written by Andy Turner and I. We were all following our
hearts with what we loved at the time. Andy and I were drawn to all things
American which was completely frowned upon by the music press at this time but
Huw was more interested in Hawkwind and Jethro Tull. This is one of the reasons
Huw was replaced by Chris Ellis who we found in a band doing Journey and
'Love After Midnight' was a very interesting song. Upon first
glance, I was afraid it would be another syrupy 80's metal ballad, but instead
is a pretty rocking song! One thing I've always hated about 80's metal bands
are the heavier ones that feel the need to do these cheesy ballads to impress
I think this track points out that although we were so interested in American
Rock we were still very British and this ended up displaying our interest in
classic UK rock like UFO, Diamond Head and Judas Priest.
Finally, the song 'Shoot To Kill' was probably the heaviest of
tunes on the album. Once again, your thoughts on this song.
This is my most favorite track as I loved the heavier the better and had hoped
that had Traitors Gate continued we would have tried to blend classic UK
rock/metal with American classic rock and maybe come up with something a little
different. As I said earlier the British press hated us because we were too
American which I really think had more to do with our image than our music as
we used to perform looking like a cross between Motley Crue and Ratt and always
provided a great show no matter how small the venue. Paul's drum kit was
displayed on a drum riser and was completely caged, and we always used confetti
canons and pyro.
Did you do any shows in the early 80's? What do you remember most
about this time period for metal music?
We were playing the same venues as so many NWOBHM bands at the time and left
messages for each other on the dressing room walls. Our shows were always big
and in our local club in Cardiff (Bogey's) it became a competition to see who
could provide the biggest show - we could pack 8 Marshall stacks onto a stage
only about 8 foot long and they were all painted white of course! We were
playing with Tyger Tailz, No Quarter, Kooga and Persian Risk who all eventually
donated someone to a more successful band - Motorhead, Tygers Of Pan Tang, etc.
(I have just this week received an email from Pepsi of Tyger Tailz to tell me
they have reformed!)
Any plans to put up a website? Maybe sell off some of those
remaining Traitor's Gate EP's for a large sum?
I was contacted by a Greek guy a few months ago who told me that Traitors Gate
was his favorite band and he was in the process of putting a website together.
He was very knowledgeable about the band and it was great to speak to someone
who loved what we had done so long ago. As I mentioned earlier Bullet didn't
pay us anything but provided us with a few discs which I still have. I think I
will hold onto them for a little longer.
You mentioned the band used to be called Quest. Was anything ever
released under this name, be it rehearsal tapes, demos or the like?
There are 2 more Quest demos both recorded at Cave studios in Bristol, but
sadly I don't have copies of either.
Finally, you mentioned that you moved to Spain. What was the reason
for your leaving Wales and what are you up to these days? Any musical related
projects we might want to know about?
My move to Spain was based purely on quality of life as the weather here is
great and my money goes a long way here. I have a great life living in a villa
with heated swimming pool, hot tub and loads of space. It's just like
California for me which is perfect! I have a small studio in my villa and just
continue to write. I am working with a Slovakian guitarist and a Spanish
drummer trying to link the flamenco tinged pop that exists all over Spain with
something a bit heavier. A bit like Dream Theater but more basic!
You mentioned you were from South Wales, what was the metal scene
like there in the 80's? Were people and clubs fanatical about all this music
coming from every point of England known to man? Tell me too about some of
your favorite concerts from that time period. Did you ever get to see Diamond
Head play live?
South Wales was a melting pot of ideas and only 2 hours drive away from London
so we didn't miss out on much. I saw Diamond Head in Newbridge and it was a
great gig even though only about 10 people were there. It meant that we were
able to meet them and buy their White Album which I have pride of place with
all 4 autographs. Some of my major memories were seeing Van Halen support Black
Sabbath in London and following the band Girl around until Phil left to join
Def Leppard. We also played the Kerrang Xmas party which was great as we were
joined on stage by David Coverdale, Nico from Maiden and most of Thunder.
What was ultimately the reason for the breakup of the band? The
sound and style of the EP was very accessible and is still enjoyable to this
The band came to an end when I was offered the job with Kooga who had a
contract and a big tour lined up. The rest of the band all went seperate ways.
I wanted to do something a bit different for this issue, and future issues as
well. Thanks be to all who stayed with me on this 14 year journey... I decided
that too many people were complaining about the green text, so after a few
minutes playing with the color chart, I finally decided on a "pale weak cyan."
It's not a bright eye straining white, nor is it a dark color, but this should
make things more interesting. And less wear and tear on the eyes. PLEASE leave
me some email or feedback and let me know if I made the right move for text
color change. If so I may go back and change ALL the back issues to this color
I get the feeling I am going to get a lot of hate mail for the Arghoslent
interview. PLEASE keep in mind that these are not necessarily my views once
again, but I do like to let the artists have their say. I very rarely ever edit
people's words for any reason other than clarity or misspellings. Many overseas
interviews I do help correct their english or grammar, but I try to keep the
word for word translations intact as best as I can. I do not like the idea of
censorship, but the artists' words are what they are, and you may agree with
them or not. I'm open minded enough to try and understand their viewpoints, but
I do not have to agree with them. Please keep that in mind when reading these
interviews, because I like to have interviews that don't rehash the same old
boring topics but also add some intellectual stimulation and conversation. The
last Abdullah interview is a great example of how diverse and insightful an
interview really can be.
As of this writing, we are going to try and make the Brave Words And Bloody
Knuckles Six Pack weekend, as there's going to be a killer lineup: Trouble, God
Dethroned, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Exciter, Raven, Deadly Blessing, and
more! Also, don't forget about ProgPower here in my own backyard of Atlanta,
Georgia! Tickets for that WILL go fast, as it features Orphaned Land, Pink
Cream 69, Stratovarius, Angra, Symphorce and of course the mighty Therion!
Tickets for that one go on sale April 1st and I advise you to get them in a
hurry as they do sell out quickly...
Hope to see you all again for issue #41. Sorry this one was two months late
again but hopefully we can get things straightened out for the next one... It
so far is shaping up to have some nice features for you, and so far I can tell
you we're working on a Green Carnation and Running Wild interview!! Finally, I
would like to dedicate this issue to the two most important people in my life:
My son William who turned 4 on March 13th (if that isn't a sign from the metal
gods that he was meant to be here, I dunno what is!) and April Smith, who of
course is the love of my life, and someone who always believed in me, supported
me and encouraged me from my days with Hallows Eve all the way up to my current
project Broken Trinity. Which, by the way, is progressing along somewhat slowly
but we have a working guitarist and hopefully within the next 6 months we can
present some damn songs to you!!!
Now, CLICK HERE to return to the main menu!