Well, after a three month break (which was sorely needed) we are back! And now of course we have the radio show which we've been DYING to do ever since we ran the last one eons ago! This time it's in streaming MP3, just like they deliver it at WREK FM 91.1 in Atlanta. We'll try and have a new show every week if possible....

Quite a few shows rolled around for us, make sure you read the report on the Heathen Crusade festival, because THAT was amazing, and plans on being a repeat next year!

Address to send us your stuff is:

Vibrations Of Doom Magazine
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963 USA

Let's get to it!!


APHOTIC "Stillness Grows" (Flood The Earth) SCORE: 97/100

Absolutely FUCKING brilliant... How else can I describe this band? What's really surprising about this band, besides having previously existed in the middle of nowhere (Green Bay, Wisconsin) is the fact that though they are SAID to be a doom/death type of band, they SO far exceed that limiting and delusional description it isn't even funny. This particular CD issue was kindly given, yes, GIVEN to me by Lucas who does promotion and publicity for Deathgasm Records, such is the faith that he had in this band to warrant a great deal of attention from my publication. How brilliantly underrated. Sad to say, the fact that these guys are hard to categorize could be the final straw that led them to finally call it quits after over 5 years and at least 5 out of this world recordings. Starting off the CD is 'Vulnerable,' which gives us nice, dark atmospheric synths, and blackened styled vocals, which further betray the death and doom genre they originate from. I must say the worst track on here is 'Benumb,' as the guitar work sounded too generic and almost nu-core'ish for what they normally do. However, that lone track is the only dull spot on an otherwise gem of a record. 'Loathe' sounds almost gothic metal at first, but with those vicious, almost blackened vocals and rich sound, this is one of those that is extremely hard to categorize. These tracks are quite short as well, leaving me to believe that they wanted to further take the doom approach and change it around a bit, though MANY of these songs could have easily been 8 and 9 minutes long and still have been enjoyable. 'Slide' was a crushing piece of doom/death, once again with atmospheric synths and more death metal styled vocals. Hell, we could talk songs all day (there's 14 of them to choose from), like the amazing 'Free Me' (one of my favorites) that shows the band having the balls to use low toned sung vocals amongst a backdrop of melodic synths and amazing acoustic guitar work. There's so much switching of the vast and varied instrumentation, it will definitely make you THINK the song's longer than it is. One very teenie complaint I did have, which isn't really a drawback, was some of the sung vocals were almost completely drowned out by the instrumentation on 'Spores,' and then again on 'Lunar Ride.' PLEASE go read the interview and wail and moan of the passing of yet another great entity, one band that I wish like hell I had been exposed to before now. What's even more amazing, as if I hadn't said enough, is that this CD comprises THREE different demos from 2000, 2001 and 2002 respectively, and it would be hard pressed for you to tell which was recorded when. They even have a few amazing instrumentals to go along with the vocal oriented songs (yes, we'll let you hear one). Our interview is said to be the LAST interview they will ever do for anyone, so it's kind of an exclusive.
COntact: Flood The Earth Records.

AZURE "King Of Stars - Bearer Of Dark" (Deathgasm) SCORE: 93/100

Wow! I have heard things on this CD you don't usually hear, especially in the genre of black metal! First off, how often do you hear a multitude of lead solo work in black metal? Solos are ALL over the place, and are very skilled. When they're fast (like on 'The Storm' and 'The Lake Of Death') they're BLAZING, and when they're not, they're very emotional and skillfully played (like on 'Shadows In Midark.') The vocal work is SICK, SICK, SICK from track one all the way through to the end. They play speedier paced black metal but they can suddenly stop on a dime and slow the pace down. There's synths presented, but you don't notice them very much, except on a few slower passages that REALLY enhance the majestic atmosphere. CD ender 'King Of Stars - Bearer Of Dark' is the best example of this, especially with the piano notations and acoustic vocals, and it's awesomely powerful when the blackened vocals kick in. Speaking of those vocals, what makes them so sick is that they have a higher end to them, and not shrieking like Cradle Of Filth, hell maybe imagine Paul Baloff from Exodus' earliest days doing blackened vocals. You'll even hear a few death metal growls, but they don't make up the majority of throat work. I did have a problem with some odd guitar riffs here and there, especially in the openings of 'The Lake Of Death' and 'The Storm,' though they are more present in the latter. It's amazing to me just how skilled they are at songwriting, and just to throw you off a bit further, they add nice female vocals and pianos right in the middle of 'Selene - The Spirit.' 'Shadows In Midark' is one of my favorite tracks, especially for the kick ass yet majestic atmosphere (as they even add some nice multivocal choruses near the end). Did I mention there are quite a few places where low toned sung vocals are used? Yep, this band set out to do something entirely different within the framework of black metal, and the guitar work often stands out as slightly power metal fare. Don't worry, though, as they can definitely get down and dirty (and thrashy), pick out the opening guitar fare on 'Shadows In Midark' and you'll understand... A band coming from practically out of nowhere and signed to Deathgasm Records, a label and record store that is pretty damn close to my backyard. I'm sure fucking proud of my local Georgia music scene sometimes....
Contact: Deathgasm Records.

BAL-SAGOTH "The Cthonic Chronicles" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 82/100

This is an album I eagerly anticipated, and to my surprise I was not able to get into it right away. After repeated listens I still hear things that are a bit unsettling, like some of the alien tongued chanting of the male speaker. There's only two types of vocals to be found here, that of harsh black metal and low toned spoken male vocals, the latter primarily serving as a sort of storyteller if you will. The biggest problem I see is that many times the black metal vocals are TOO fast, making it all but indecipherable without a lyric sheet, and sometimes they just make some of the tracks sound a bit sloppy, like 'Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak,' which was one of my least favorite tracks. The instrumentation does serve to heighten the atmosphere each particular song conveys through it's lyrics and landscape, and most every song has a multitude of structure AND tempo changes; some quite suddenly, others building up to a climax or shifting down to a more melodic path. One of my favorite songs, 'The Obsidian Crown Unbound,' has a GREAT war theme and the music here is some of the sickest on record, especially the vicious, choppy thrash riffs. There's even a few instrumentals on here, and it was quite interesting to hear such a melodic and light set of synths on 'The Fallen Kingdoms Of The Abyssal Plain.' All in all, there's a TON of variety on this disc, and I almost questioned the hour length of the disc strewn about through 12 tracks, but the storyline starts, progresses and seems to end... So if you are looking for a good musical story, Bal-Sagoth easily provides one, however this disc is NOT without shortcomings. Might I also add the percussion work is absolutely INSANE, I could not see a Bal-Sagoth show performing this ENTIRE disc live! Not quite as enjoyable as their last release "Atlantis Ascendant," but with my love for all things Cthulhu, this disc will occupy a permanent place in my collection, as they are definitely proving more and more with each release that they are masters of their respective instruments, and diversity indeed reigns supreme...
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

BLOOD STORM "Sirian Storm" (Necroharmonic) SCORE: 76/100

I was pleased to see this CD, though it came out of nowhere and I almost missed it! Thanks to Evan from Deathgasm Records for stocking this, it seems like Blood Storm is on an even smaller label than the one they were on for "Ancient Wraith Of Ku." I was a bit disappointed with this CD at first, because one thing that definitely detracts from the vicious, twisted and sick black metal vocals is that damn annoying, slightly descending set of guitar riffs that they play for great lengths at a time. 'Death By The Storm Wizard,' however, starts the CD off okay, and like many songs here the tempo is quite fast. 'Anubis Cell' isn't bad either, but it's the first song where you start to notice some of the really odd riffing. Thankfully it's not in full force yet, though when 'Ninhursag: A Dark Breeder' starts in, the guitars are at their worst, even while you're digging the sick stuff. This is truly a rollercoaster of a ride through the ups and downs on this tune. 'Age Of The Ram' is better, then following that is a slower paced number 'The Black Science' which features vocal work in a more death metal style. Almost as if he's trying to imitate Mr. Fischer from Celtic Frost. This tune is a bit too dreary to keep my interest, the slow pace is a bit lethargic, however, a few sick screams pop up and they eventually change tempo and structure, only to quickly go back to being a track I'll probably avoid. Blood Storm has always had Celtic Frost like tendencies, but they were better handled on "Ancient Wraith Of Ku." From track 7 on down, it's all smooth sailing and impressive musicianship and diabolically sick screams and blackened vocals. In fact, the guitar work on 'Decaying The Code Of Dagon' struck me as being quite different than most of what I am used to hearing from them. And of course his chants in other tongues is always cool, it's used to great effect on CD ender 'Imzaari Exrih: The Negative Zone Of Kylxuss." That track is a bit long at over 7 minutes, but you cannot deny that when done right, Blood Storm creates sick, twisted and violent black metal that has a lot in common lyrically with the elder gods and beings from strange dimensions. One of the more interesting occult oriented black metal bands, though this CD is fraught with distractions. It's a keeper, but barely, as you have a LOT of rough patches to deal with before you get to the gems.
Contact: Necroharmonic.

BOLT THROWER "Those Once Loyal" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 100/100

When I first heard about this I was eagerly anticipating it... I just knew Bolt Thrower wouldn't let me down, and they have created one killer record. For those of you who say Bolt Thrower never change or progress from album to album, let me just say you can leave the room NOW. I can really appreciate this record for what it is, with well written songs, catchy choruses, headbanging riffs, and that uncanny ability to write music that sounds like no one else BUT Bolt Thrower. There's some eerie and haunting slow riffage throughout the disc, most notable on slower paced passages on tunes like 'At First Light' and 'Entrenched.' The speedier guitar work is definitely crushing, just listen to the many passages found on stuff like the non stop 'Salvo' and the more straightforward death piece 'Granite Wall.' The most evil set of lead guitar riffs heard on this album definitely come from the title track, and overall you'll hear some very nice high ended guitar work. On a song like 'The Killchain,' the interest level is kept very high by such high note guitar work, coupled with vicious and thrashy riffs. Lead solos abound here too, as if they're flexing power metal might, and even a Slayer type dizzying solo can be heard on 'Last Stand Of Humanity.' They get so many things right, even though here and there you can hear structure pieces you've heard on such great albums like "Honour, Valor, Pride" and "Mercenary," but overall this is a stunning piece of work, and the death metal vocals, as much as they sound like many others in the genre, work their punishment in as well. War marches and funeral songs set to death metal, this is one of the highlights for me for 2005.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

D.O.A. "Live Free Or Die" (Sudden Death) SCORE: 52/100

Okay, first off I gotta say I've been around punk and hardcore a LONG time, but be rest assured that doesn't make me an expert. D.O.A. has a LONG and cult following, as well they should have. This record however jumps ALL over the place, and half the time they can't decide whether to be a punk band or delve into that wierd ska stuff. The horns (or trumpets?) on some tracks really make me cringe, but hey, even Fear overused those saxophones at times. 'Agony And Ecstasy' starts the CD off okay, and it features some singalong choruses and rather "catchy" riffs, which makes me think D.O.A. is trying to get more accessible with their sound. It makes tunes like 'Drive My Car' and 'Mountains Eventually Fall' sound a bit silly. However, on the flip side of that coin, a track like 'Marijuana Motherfucker' is sheer fun, and might even get some of the stoners on board. Lyrically, I REALLY dig what he's saying, especially the track 'Fucked Up Bush,' 'We Don't Need No God Damn War' and well, hell, just about every other track. Well, except for the overtly silly shit on 'Drive My Car.' A lot of tunes have something there but just don't really make me go "hell yeah" or anything, and there ARE 20 tracks. 'Stand Up Now' had an interesting heaviness to it, told from the perspective of a rambling preacher, but the multivocal choruses sounded a tad off. And the whole Creedence Clearwater Revival cover 'Bad Moon Rising' I didn't think was a good choice. What I thought WAS cool was the Bob Dylan cover 'Masters Of War,' a VERY fitting tune written back in the 60's that perfectly describes the administration of today, and Joe makes that song sound perfectly punk the way he does it. 'Fat Cat' was probably the LEAST annoying of the ska influenced tracks, and even though I'm not huge into it, the horns weren't overused here. Lets see what else, oh yeah, the organ notes in 'You Won't Stand Alone' TOTALLY threw me for a loop. I mean, come on, Hammond organs in punk!?? Don't know whether to praise Joe Shithead for his originality or condemn him, but it was a daring move. 'Road Kill' was a funny stab at rednecks, but once again, nothing I have to hear again. Much of this CD is just okay, but the songs that really annoy me are enough to get me frustrated... Especially when there's some good stuff here that I did enjoy, just not enough to warrant a purchase.
Contact: Sudden Death Records.

DOZER "Through The Eyes Of Heathens" (Small Stone) SCORE: 98/100

After all the bands I loved from Man's Ruin got signed to Small Stone, there was always one nagghing question in the back of my mind: Where the hell did Dozer go? Ever since their "Madre De Dios" album on Man's Ruin many moons ago, I had always wondered if they were still around. What must be the last great Man's Ruin band has released what has to be their heaviest, most crushing album yet. The album title is interesting since the band does hail from Scandinavia, and the opening track 'Drawing Dead' starts off the record with heavy but catchy riffs. The vocal work on this disc is very varied, though the majority of the time the vox are sung. On 'From Fire Fell,' you can hear a lot of yelled type vocals, probably one of the heaviest tracks on the album vocal wise. The drum work is quite intense and very up front and powerful, you'll hear some rather intricate drum work throughout the disc. 'Days Of Future Past' was the one track that threw me for a loop, as it's a rather ballad like track, especially with the somewhat sad like lyrics. The vocals here are effected somehow, not quite sure how, but the vocals sound like they're almost faded out until the choruses. Speaking of choruses, Dozer definitely knows how to write soem catchy ones! 'The Roof, The River, The Revolver' has some really vicious guitar work, and CD ender 'Big Sky Theory,' clocking in at over 8 minutes, is probably the closest this band comes to truly epic doom metal (stoner rock in it's slowness), with some ultra melodic guitar melodies that are really cool. Overall, this band crushes through a 10 song affair, and whether you consider this heavy rock or stoner rock, this band definitely knows how to kick ass and plain out ROCK. Most definitely worth the wait!!!
Contact: Small Stone Records.

DRAGONLORD "Black Wings Of Destiny" (Escapi) SCORE: 96/100

Only a guy like Testament's Eric Peterson could make an American version of blackened thrash and make it work well. If you remember the review of the last album they made, you'll be pleased to know they picked up right where they left off, still ripping at light speed, and utilizing varying tempo and structure changes within each song. Granted, by the time track 7 rolls around, the CD drops off a bit point wise, but picks right back up for two CD ending covers. More on that in a minute. The CD opens up with a GREAT intro, one that leads masterfully into the CD's first "vocal" track 'The Curse Of Woe.' The drumming is intense, and though I'm no percussion expert, I hear different things in those pedals and sticks! The synths on 'The Curse Of Woe' seem a bit dominating at first, but once the vicious vocal work kicks in, they do tend to take a bit of a backseat. And since this is a thrash metal band, there's LOTS of guitar solos to be found, something you DON'T often hear in black metal. That's what would explain 'Sins Of Allegiance' being over 6 minutes long. The solos, however, are masterfully executed, as are the synths, which serve as dark and wicked backdrops to the ripping thrash riffery ALL over the damn disc. I heard some sung vocals too, which are never overused but are used to their GREATEST effect on what has to be one of the best Dragonlord songs of all time, 'Until The End.' Apparently the band AND label agrees too, as this track has spawned a very kick ass video (go see it on their website). The only gripes I have with this CD, besides the 7th and 8th track falling a bit too samey in the songwriting department, is the odd piano notations on 'Blood Voyeur' (that would be the track 7) and the sung multivocal parts didn't go over as well as the others. Track 8 'Fallen' started to sound a little like the rest, until roughly midway through they drop the bottom out of this song with some SICK slow instrumentation. The cover of Mercyful Fate's 'Black Funeral' was a nice touch; even though I don't like King Diamond's vocals much, this track has 80's metal written all over it, as does CD ender 'Emerald,' which is an amazing Thin Lizzy cover and done ENTIRELY in sung vocals, yet with the trademark thrashy guitar work. Definitely a CD that gained a LOT of my attention, though it's a bit of a shame that people are reporting this disc being quite hard to find. One of the best American black metal releases of 2005.
Contact: Escapi Music.

EWIGKEIT "Conspiritus" (Earache) SCORE: 90/100

Ewigkeit is back, and I must say that I am a bit disappointed that there are no extreme vocals on this record, however Mr. Fogarty has still managed to put together some good stuff... 'It's Not Reality' has the heavy metal guitars, catchy choruses, and good vocal work that will remind one a bit of more club oriented industrialized metal. You'll be shocked to find a harmonica in the tune 'Square Sunrise,' but then again, Mr. Fogarty proves that when HE does a metal record, it's going to be different from ANYTHING ELSE out there. And he mostly succeeds. One of my favorite tracks is the somewhat gloomy and melodic 'Far Away From Heaven,' especially with the somewhat sad and atmospheric chorus work. I really dug the atmospheric landscapes the synths present to the listener, which gives this that far away and spacey feeling that was present on "Radio Ixtlan." Still, the use of vocal samples like the Indian chanting and the repetitive spoken word (sounding like a somewhat Hindu or Indian accent) on 'Transcend The Senses' amnnoyed a bit, on 'Transcend...' I would have preferred some sung vocals though the instrumentation is nice. The Indian chanting is kind of a carry over from "Radio Ixtlan," and I didn't care much for it there either. Either way, like I said, I really wanted to hear some extreme vocals: there's one song 'Square Sunrise' where I can silently HEAR the places where these types of vocals would truly rule! 'Theoreality' has a somewhat club vibe to it, the electronics and percussion definitely add a rather trippy atmosphere to the whole thing. I did like some of the interesting vocal sample passages at the end of some tracks, especially the answering machine message. Not quite as good to me as "Radio Ixtlan," but some of the songs on here are definitely as strong, if not stronger, than his previous effort. If you're looking for something different and new, Ewigkeit WON'T disappoint.
Contact: Earache Records.

GOD DETHRONED "Lair Of The White Worm" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 91/100

The Dutch crew have taken the bull by the horns and ran with it! This is a really nice followup to their "Into The Lungs Of Hell" release, and the main point that God Dethroned drives home is their successful marriage of vicious, crushing death metal with the almost Gothenberg styled lead guitar work that has much more melody than most bands of that style of music. 'Nihilism' starts off the CD fast and sick, and those vocals are very in your face. Then you hear the highly and unusually melodic lead guitar work and you can appreciate that G.D. works very hard to make their music sound a bit different from the rest. 'Arch Enemy Spain' has a very melodic start, only to rip right into the faster and heavier playing. The lead solo work here reminds me a tad of what Amon Amarth usually does, though they can also slow things down (as does our favorite death metal vikings Amon Amarth). 'Sigma Enigma' I wasn't too crazy about their structuring of choruses, I think they're a bit too catchy, and those two words make the choruses sound a tad strange. Also, there could be too much melody in this track, I dunno. The title track shakes us out of our semi disappointment, however, especially the fast stop/start guitar work and the way Henri actually is able to work vocals within that type of framework and make it sound totally believable! Now with 'Rusty Nails' we have a somewhat acoustical start, inlaid with choppy riffs. Who said these guys weren't doing their homework? 'Rusty Nails' is a bit of a slower tune that actually works well, for I am of the opinion that NORMALLY G.D. loses a bit of power instrumentation wise when they go for a slower pace, but the tunes are still sick. It's only I suppose because of just how vicious they ARE when cranking it out. 'Loyal To The Crown Of God Dethroned,' I suppose, is their thanks to the fans who have stuck around for so long. And there doesn't seem to be any lead solos on this particular track. It's kick ass though and quite anthemic for them. 'The Grey Race' is another slower tune, still keeping interest though. A good disc that will keep you hanging around for quite awhile, even if a few tunes weren't as memorable as the majority of the disc. Good things come out of Holland besides "kind bud."
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

GRAVEN "The Shadows Eternal Call" (Undercover) SCORE: 89/100

After the first rather bland slow instrumental passes us by, the next track 'Horde Of Wolves' blazes right through us. The vocal work is sick, tormented black fucking metal... No keyboards, no female vocals, just guitars, bass, drums and sick screams. Many of the tracks here are fast, with some slower passages thrown in just to change tempo and structure, which is always a good thing and keeps the material from sounding like a blast fest from start to finish. 'Swarm Of The Night' keeps a relatively slow pace throughout the song, however, but damn those screams! The throat work of Zingultus is vicious all the way from start to finish, and is the highlight of the disc. A few tracks had instrumentation that sounded a bit similar; the band's approach to the faster guitar work is often laid among the same groundlines, making some tracks sound similar where the faster riffing is concerned. CD ender 'The Shadows Eternal Call' is one of the best, showcasing guitar work that's both haunting and majestic at the same time, and even the way this was recorded sounds a bit different from the rest of the CD. Cold, grim, atmospheric and downright eerie this CD is quite vicious from start to finish. The slwoer Celtic Frost like guitar work was interesting on 'From A Distant Past' (WHY does it seem lately that any band playing slower black metal riffs makes their guitars sound like the mighty Celtic Frost was playing?) Not a whole hell of a lot to complain about, even if they aren't breaking any new ground, however this CD is damn good. Good misanthropic, dark, cold and malevolent German black metal!
Contact: Undercover Records.

GREEN CARNATION "The Acoustic Verses" (The End) SCORE: 94/100

The score may reflect otherwise, but this is an amazing piece of work, truly destined to be a classic... As the title suggests, it's mostly acoustic works which is a tad misleading, as there's several places where violins and pianos grace the majestic, beautiful and sometimes downright dark instrumentation. 'Sweet Leaf' (no relation to the Black Sabbath song of the same name) starts things off the way 90% of the material here does: with very nice emotional acoustic guitar work. There is a bit of a dark aura here at times, which accentuates the beautiful melodic passages and makes for acoustic music you've undoubtedly never heard in your life. This particular track also features low toned vocals right along side more melodic and higher pitched ones (though never dipping even closely into power metal range). 'The Burden Is Mine... Alone' is probably one of the most beautiful vocal tracks on the album (more on that clarification in a minute), and though quite short is downright moving and powerful. Damnit if I'm not gonna be overusing the words majestic, emotional, powerful and beautiful. 'Maybe?' is a throwback of sorts, as the acoustic work is quite dark and sorrowful, and even the synths take on a haunting tone! Lots of solo instrumentation ends this tune, showing that more than one member gets a chance to create and shape an atmosphere. Some of the best violin type work can be found on 'Alone,' which also is very emotional and powerful (there I go again). '9-29-045' is the longest track here, thankfully it's split into three "parts," even though it's one track. First up is a tune that starts off rather oddly, though soon it picks up. It's not my ultimate favorite but the vocal work keeps things going along nicely. Heavy instrumentation dances right alongside more melodic stuff on the second part to this, and finally part 3 has THE most amazingly beautiful and trippy instrumentation on the album, letting the synths shine quite brightly. 'Child's Play Part 3' is the last instrumental featuring mostly REALLY dark piano notations, and it's obvious that the more haunting aspects of this band are in plain view. Finally, my biggest gripe is with the CD ender 'High Tide Waves,' those vocals just ruin things for me, especially on the choruses, and damnit I've heard those same lyrics being sung SOMEWHERE, can't remember if it was on their last release "The Quiet Offspring" or not, but if they had left this track off the album entirely, this would garner a damn near perfect score. Still, some of the instrumentation here isn't bad, but don't let one bad apple spoil the tree which produces much fruit, and has for quite some time. I'm VERY curious to hear just how different the next record will be, for if it's anything like the last few I've heard ("Quiet Offspring" and "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness") then we will have another great masterpiece on our hands.
Contact: The End Records.

KAYSER "Kaiserhof" (Scarlet) SCORE: 92/100

Fast, Slayer like lead riffs starting the CD off (the track '1919') gives us a taste of what is to come with this relatively new band. Oh yeah, and there's even a blazing lead solo and a 2 minute length to this track. Think you got this band pigeonholed? Think again! 'Lost Cause' slows things down a bit, with some shouted vocals and a lead solo that will remind you more of 80's one album wonders Faith Or Fear than Slayer. Then the biggest surprise of all: 'Good Citizen' with the almost stoner like rock guitars opening the track, and some actual SINGING!! Catchy choruses help keep your interest as well. And they didn't abandon the heavy riffs on this one altogether either! Dirty thrashy riffs start the next piece 'Noble Is Your Blood,' though there's more catchy, sung choruses for you to enjoy. They're kinda mixing elements of catchy stoner rock vibes with heavy thrashing. The slowest tune on the disc is '7 Days To Sink,' and it kinda throws the album off a bit, even if it supposed to be some sort of "break" between the heavier stuff (but they have the stoner rock bits for that). A few odd solos threw me off on 'The Waltz,' and 'Rafflesia' loses a bit of edge with the more melodic choruses, plus a few vocal lines kinda made me wince a bit. And I must give props to one of the sickest tunes here, both in terms of crushing speed and lyrics: 'Perfect.' "Murder, Rape, Kill, Art..." or something like that this guy screams, it reminds me of that T-Shirt Tom Araya wore in Slayer that said something to the effect of "Murder...Rape...Art." Or some such nonsense. Yes, this band definitely knows how to kick ass, even with the experimental stuff. (such as the heavy melodies and sung vocal choruses on 'Like A Drunk Christ.') Oh yeah, and I forgot the Hammond Organ like notes on '7 Days To Sink.' THAT added points for coolness, though I had to strain to hear it. I'm a-liking where this is going! Yep, you may have guessed it, another innovative band from Scandinavia.
Contact: Scarlet Records.

KHOLD "Krek" (Tabu) SCORE: 88/100

I must admit to being pleasantly surprised after not liking "Phantoms." There's been an album since that time I believe, but the slower instrumentation is woven into the sick blackened vocals quite well. The title track starts the CD off quite well, with a somewhat midtempo start (compared to usual speedier black metal fare that is) and surprisingly is a short tune. No song here is over 4 minutes in length, which means you can get in, enjoy what's here and get out without songs (for the most part) dragging their feet. 'Blod Og Blek' continues things along, showcasing slower guitar work, and this made for a great video (check out the Khold website if you wanna see it). The start-stop riffage added another twist to the song. The track 'Oskorei' I wasn't too crazy about, sad really because of the song title (I'm heavily into Nordic culture), yet I thought the instrumentation was a bit too slow. The vocal work is never a disappointment here, however. The same can be said about 'Innestengt Eikekiste' as it just wasn't as convincing as many of the other tracks (it seems to lack something, maybe it's due to the more mainlined guitar work that sounds a bit more rock oriented). One of my favorite tunes is 'Byrde,' a track incidentally I picked to play at the local radio station, and it's the first song on the CD to have the faster blackened instrumentation that is associated with the genre. 'Lysets Flukt' has more fast paced blackened instrumentation, and that's about all you get for the speedy paced guitar work. However, there's a LOT going on within this under 4 minute track, as you are presented with about 3 or 4 different structures, all within the framework of some sick, crushing vocals! The last few tracks I wasn't totally crazy about, CD ender 'Silur Wie' is probably too slow for it's own good, and even upset me a bit by simply fading out, but all in all there's no frills, somewhat slow and melancholic Celtic Frost inspired (on some points, like on 'Byrde') black metal with sick vocals. A good effort and a giant leap up from "Phantoms." On a different record label no less!
Contact: Tabu Recordings

KHORS "The Flame Of Eternity's Decline" (Oriana) SCORE: 82/100

Sadly, this band shot themselves in the foot over the first four tracks. This is one of the first signings to Oriana Records, which is Nokturnal Mortum's home. It's quite sick on the vocal department, but the guitar work, at a fast pace structure, can sound like a wall of constant noise, sometimes I wondered if I was hearing buzzing feedback at times. And the first four tracks, as mentioned above, will see the blatant repeating of the same structures as earlier tracks! For instance, 'Throne Of Antiquity' has a set of slower paced guitar riffs that sound so much like the riffs on CD opener 'Wounds Of The Past,' that if you weren't paying attention you almost wouldn't know what song you were on! They do this again switching riffs on tracks 2 and 4. To be perfectly honest, though, at least the tracks aren't dead ringers for each other. Regardless of that fact, the vocals are sick, and definitely not buried in the mix. The drum work is quite impressive, especially the double bass work on the title track. To break things up, there's a nice piano start and synth instrumental on 'Breath,' so you get a change of pace between the first and last half of the record. The last half of the record has none of the riffage of the first half, and CD closer 'Flame of Eternity' depends a bit more heavily upon the synths to add a more melodic atmosphere. It's definitely good black metal, but I wish they would have paid more attention to what they were writing, and a bit of tweaking on the production couldn't have hurt. They do manage to vary the tempo and structure of nearly every song, so you aren't listening to 100 m.p.h. riffage on EVERY song, neither are you listening to tunes that crawl along at a snail's pace. Speaking of snails, did I mention 'Moan Of The Grief,' which sounded absolutely menacing at what is unarguably the slowest pace on the record. It is a good record, and it will probably hit you immediately, but just keep in mind you'll be hearing parts you've heard before. If that doesn't bother you, this Ukraine band featuring at least two ex-members of Nokturnal Mortum will have your head banging and your mouth singing (since lyrics are thankfully sung and printed in English).
Contact: Oriana Music.

LEAVES' EYES "Vinland Saga" (Napalm) SCORE: 89/100

Liv Kristine... Many probably know her from her years in Theater Of Tragedy, and though we definitely missed the deadline on this (it was released July of last year) I felt it would be criminal not to review it eventually. Liv has pretty much the entire band of Atrocity at her beck and call for this project, which isn't a HUGE surprise when you realize that one of the members is indeed her husband, Alex Krull. Liv's voice is absolutely stunning, and you may not be into gothic styled metal but there's no doubt that her vocal performance is picture fucking perfect from track one all the way to the end, she never misses a note, and the emotional performance cannot be measured in mere words. The band does a good job of rendering her emotions for all to hear, in fact there's much to be said about Nordic Pride in many tunes, most notably the heavier ones like 'New Found Land,' 'Solemn Sea,' 'The Thorn' and a few others... At times the emotional ballad like pieces get too intense, and almost leaves the listener thinking this is going to be some syrupy ballad, but I've always said it's a LOT easier to hear an enchanting woman sing this sort of stuff rather than some hard rockin' 80's metal band. Her voice makes you forget what the softer side of the music conjures up. Such a case is made by, for example, the opening symphonics of 'Misseri.' The chorus work, however, is amazingly catchy and Liv does a fantastic job of capturing the beautiful nature of her homeland (not to mention herself as well), but also the epic and sometimes rough lifestyle that the earliest of Nordic people were used to (most evident on the dark synths and male Viking styled multivocals on 'New Found Land'). Liv said she wanted an orchestrated type of sound, and you'll definitely hear some violins (on CD ender 'Ankomst'), flutes (on the opening of pseudo-ballad like 'Mourning Tree'), and even what seems to be a mandolin (On the folkish 'Amhran,' one of a few songs that feature lyrics in native Norweigan). It's got the emotional highs and lows, however I was a bit thrown off by some of the death metal styled vocals, which only seem to rear their head during choruses of tracks like 'Solemn Sea,' 'The Thorn,' and 'New Found Land' (yeah, I know once again some of the heavier tunes). This record is NOT a pop record, though we understand Liv's penchant for true gothic oriented music, and I dare say that although some of the album is a bit too soft at certain times and periods of the day for me, I fully appreciate what a great amount of time and effort went into recording this. Catchy songs, beautiful vocals and an atmosphere that will take you back to Norway's ancient legacy, this is a good album to see who I consider one of the best female vocalists in all of MUSIC.
Contact: Napalm Records.

MARDUK "Plague Angel" (Regain) SCORE: 88/100

I was very upset to hear about Legion's departure from Marduk, wondering how this band would sound with a new vocalist. Mortuus is one sick twisted creature on vocals! His long winded screams are impressive (like on the tracks 'Throne Of Rats' and 'Steel Inferno,' though I wonder if those ultra long winded screams are for real), and his performance adds a new dimension to the Marduk sound. Which is desperately needed, because this CD is mainly a speed fest, though a damn impressive one at that. From the opener 'Hangman Of Prague' all the way through CD ender 'Blutrache,' there's very little to slow this beast down, and there are a couple of tracks that are just TOO long. By the time this CD ends, you're still in amazement at the sick vocal work but you're also wondering HOW this inhuman drummer keeps this pace for 11 songs and nearly 45 minutes. Many of the speedier songs keep well below the 4 minute mark, which is good because this CD tends to feel like too much speed at times. 'Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets' though, along with 'Perish In Flames' proves that Marduk can still create wicked songs even at a slower pace that still keep the haunting sickness well intact. The instrumental piece 'Deathmarch' is a somewhat symphonic number that is made to resemble a 1930's orchestrated tune, but is dragged out a bit too long. A few guitar parts on 'Life's Emblem' were rather odd, and I thought he kept repeating the chorus of 'Perish In Flames' at the end a bit too long, but most of these songs explode out of the box, damage your ears and then suddenly get out. The warfare sound effects are intact in a few places, making me think Marduk is trying to create "Panzer Division Part Two," and in that regard the vocalist keeps the explosive energy intact. However, there seems to be an overabundance of blazing speed which may keep some from fully enjoying this as the deathcrushing masterpiece it could be. That insane drumming and ultra sick vocal work will definitely keep you coming back for more, though by now the insanely fast guitar work of Marduk is fast on it's way to becoming trademarked, as you can hear similarities in quite a few of the faster than light presentations on the disc.
Contact: Regain Records.

MOURNING BELOVETH "The Sullen Sulcus" (Aftermath) SCORE: 96/100

We're a little behind on this band's releases (see the interview this issue for more details) but this is one that was most definitely worth the wait! One word of warning to those close minded souls right now: this is a LONG album. Only 6 tracks and the shortest being 7 minutes, every other song is AT LEAST 10 minutes long or more. But the soundscapes presented within are so masterful and emotionally powerful, not to mention with an extra dimension of heaviness thrown in to coalesce your corner of the universe. 'The Words That Crawled' starts off this doom extravaganza with a haunting heaviness that seems reserved more to the likes of Swallow The Sun or Tyranny rather than a band totally not on that level (at least lyrically anyway). Don't mistake this for some sappy love fest of slowness, however, because the death metal vocals on here are quite vicious, not to mention a near tendency to dip into the blackened range. One thing I am in awe of however is the amazing sung vocals that permeate only a handful of structures. Reminds me of the last Primordial release, where I was upset at the lack of blackened vocals only to be eagerly anticipating them when they came. The beauty of such melodic guitar riffs is an insipiration to a track that may last 11 or 12 minutes, and you'll stick around until the end for 'Anger's Steaming Arrows,' where the last half of the song is one good riff after another. The solo instrumentation is some of the most moving in the genre, and even though points come off for the overtly generic death metal sound on the title track, the last half of this song has some of the most beautiful guitars on the record. Not to mention the ultra melodic singing and I guarantee your laments and despair will burst through the surface and runneth over. 'The Insolent Caul' was rather straightforward as well, though to much better effect, and those lead solos are simply astounding and quite melodic as well. Lead solos that aren't blazing around at 100 miles an hour aren't heard very often: this record has those in spades. And to hear them at a slow pace, they almost sound like mainline structure in a song. The soaring vocal work is also presented in 'Narcissistic Funeral,' and once again on here you have a LOT of solo instrumentation ending the track. This CD is a fantastic followup to 'Dust,' and despite the first half of a song not quite being up to par, I would HIGHLY recommend you check out a band who could one day be the most important doom metal band in the genre. Of course, I forgot to mention that the song 'It Almost Looked Human' was presented on the limited edition of the "Dust" reissue, but it's still good enough to warrant hearing again (in what seems to me to be a bit shortened).

Contact: Aftermath Music.

NOKTURNAL MORTUM "Weltanschauung" (Oriana) SCORE: 96/100

Nokturnal Mortum has been at the Black Metal game for over well over 10 years, and has slipped by the general populace almost unnoticed... Their unique brand of folkish inspired black metal is most obvious on their newest release, which is truly astounding when you hear all that is going on in a song. Be forewarned though, many songs are at least 8 minutes in length, with one being 10 and another being 12 minutes long, but when you hear the epic, majestic, and truly encompassing emotions presented in the myriad of instruments, you cannot help but delve a little further each time. Clocking in at roughly an hour and 13 minutes, this is a CD that will envelope much of your time. Some may complain of the overabundance of instrumental tracks, but remember there ARE 14 tracks here, and some of the instrumentals help to bridge the gap between songs. The epic battle feel is presented on a few tracks, starting the CD off on the tune 'The Path Of Immortals.' 'I Feel The Breath Of Ragnarok' kicks in with a jew's harp of all things, adding nice flute sounds and violins wherever they are needed. The vocal work is quite sick, and powerfully done. 'Stardust' is surprisingly melodic for an instrumental, as is the most amazing instrumental track that ends off the CD, which is untitled and contains the most amazing bell like synths I've ever heard. Of the vocal tracks, I must admit that 'Hailed Be The Heroes' is my favorite, as it's cool to hear the speedy instrumentation contain both violins AND guitars, not to mention the sick vocals that add another dimension to the song. The longest track 'The Taste Of Victory,' which clocks in at 12 minutes, is the first song to feature any kind of sung vocals, and they are done surprisingly well. Surprising still that this isn't a feature utilized on any other songs. The guitar work on this particular track is somewhat doomy and rather sorrowful, which makes the harsh vocal work (when it comes in) that much more powerful. The Ukraine band definitely knows how to write epic, powerful pieces, and this is one of the best and most diverse pieces of music you will ever hear. A few instrumentals didn't pan out for me, and the transition from clean sung vocals immediately to harsh vocals on 'The Taste Of Victory' are the only few flaws in what is a near perfect gem, one that I have enjoyed spinning and STILL hear new things in for as many times as I played it. Please note: there are two versions of this record, and I am greatful to Varggoth for providing me with the Ukraine version, which unfortunately has song titles in the runic alphabet (I presume) of the Ukraine, however, it is a special version for me and it is on Varggoth's own record label.
Contact: Oriana Music.

ODROERIR "Gotterlieder" (Einheit) SCORE: 95/100

Amazing CD that is quite different from anything you're used to I bet. This band features lyrics all in German (I presume from the song titles, though I'm not an expert in foreign languages) and multivocal harmonies that sound like the band utilizes the throats of all 6 of it's members. Male and female vocals are represented here, and the overall look and feel of the music and packaging is seemingly celebratory of the Viking heritage and lore. Once we get past the somewhat noisy wind intro of opener 'Ginungagap,' things kick right in. Most prominently featured throughout the CD are very mellow, melodic and quite nice acoustic guitars. The female vocals presented are quite nice, not quite operatic but I guess definitely more of a folkish feel. The tracks for the most part blend right into one another, and starting with 'Wanenkrieg' we hear some heavy, metal like guitars... The guitars on this particular track are a bit on the thrashy side, quite choppy and a bit unexpected for the style we've heard to this point. There's some sung male vocals as well, a bit low toned, but the lowest toned vocals go to the male speaker, as they have a bit of spoken word parts here and there. Violins and flutes pop up as well, though they're made to sound more tribal and folkish rather than orchestrated. The heavy shore sounds come in with 'Ask Und Embla,' and there's a rather amazign acoustic guitar solo to be found within. Speaking of solos, there are a few times when the heavier guitar work is allowed to shine on it's own, and there's a bit more metal to be heard later on as well. The sung male vocals on the CD ender 'Skirnirs Fahrt' were a bit odd, and this track clocks in at well over 15 minutes, which I thought to be a bit too long. This track also made the mistake of following up acoustic mellow patterns with a heavy guitar, which sounded a bit out of place until the vocals kicked in. The flutes here give this track an almost New Age like quality, which may not be too far removed from the lyrical subject matter. All in all, it definitely invokes the ancient days, and you can almost feel the serenity and majesty of the forests and dirt highways of old. Though not perfect, it is a damn enjoyable CD from start to finish, especially if you can get through the 15 minute track (which I thought needed a bit more variety to keep things interesting).
Contact: Einheit Produktionen.

SAMAVAYO "Death.March.Melodies" (Nasoni) SCORE: 93/100

Interesting story behind this label. I heard recently that Darxtar's new album (also reviewed this issue) was on this label. The label was very generous enough to drop about 15 titles on me, and most of it was psychedelic/space rock and then THIS, what has to be the heaviest thing on their label! Stoner rock of the highest caliber, with an emphasis on songs that ROCK... A melodic singing voice possessed by Behrang Alavi will have you reminded of Kyuss (slightly) but to my ears I hear vocal similarities to Datura and Sparzanza, both of which I dig to a big degree. 'Heavy.Song' starts the CD off with slower instrumentation which wouldn't have been out of place on any Datura album, and though the song has melodic sung vocals with minimal instrumentation, they crank it up with heavy guitars and catchy choruses. The key word for Samavayo is "build," as they love to work things up a bit slowly on some songs and then explode into heaviness right around the choruses. 'Lovesick' breaks that mold a bit, though, with fast instrumentation from the get go and the choruses slightly slower. 'Red.End' was cool too, with a fun yet rockin' set of guitar work and most definitely party time lyrics. 'Let'M'C' REALLY surprised me, for after a minute or so of drums, a low, rumbling slow doomy guitar riff bursts through, as well as a long winded and VICIOUS death metal styled growl!! The track soon kicks into regular rocking mode, though, getting a bit faster and with heavier sung vocals. This track had a slight tendency to annoy me with the few guitar parts that weren't heavy, but the overall feel of this 9 minute piece even included some instrumental jam passages. I had to laugh at the acoustic piece with sung vocals in 'That Light,' as even though it's a near ballad with VERY melodic sung vocals, he throws the word "fuck" in there as to mess with people's perception of what a ballad is supposed to be (and everyone KNOWS I use that word "ballad" VERY lightly). 'Nutso' DEFINITELY reminded me of Sparzanza, with once again, riffs that rock, and the piano notes starting off 'Monster' were a nice touch. What ending track 'Uneva' fails to tell you, for it's 16 minute length, is that it's actually TWO tracks (seperated by a few minutes of silence) which also includes the VERY rockin' 'Rollin' I believe from the lyrics) so you really get 9 kick ass songs for the price of 8. All of these songs rock. Plain and simple. Nothing here you haven't heard before (well, except for the didgeridoo) but they are heavy, they kick ass, and good drivin' tunes like these you wanna hear more than a few times... Like I did...
Contact: Nasoni Records.

SWALLOW THE SUN "Ghosts Of Loss" (Firebox) SCORE: 99/100

What an amazing followup to the previous release "The Morning Never Came." And like the fellow Scandinavian band Draconian, this record is a lot doomier and more melancholic than their last release. However, their songs also add a very unique quality to them, and that is that they are also eerie and haunting as well. (which sorta fits the album title and possible theme). 'The Giant' starts the CD off, surprisingly, with clean sung vocals! The sad acoustic guitar work setting this track up shows you mainly what you're in for; however the death metal vocals here explode onto the scene frequently (in this song anyway), proving to you that they haven't lost the heavy edge. In fact, the vocal work is a LOT sicker than the last record: you'll even hear almost black metal throat work in several spots (most notable on 'Forgive Her...').One of the most interesting tracks, from a lyrical standpoint, is 'Ghost Of Laura Palmer,' especially to anyone who saw the T.V. miniseries "Twin Peaks," OR the one-off movie "Firewalk With Me." 'Descending Winters' had the heavy guitar work that sounded like it was lifted from a certain track directly off of "The Morning Never Came," though still a good one. My MAJOR gripe with this CD is a very tiny one, in terms of points anyway. The tune 'Fragile' had some REALLY bad guitar work around the 3 minute 20 second mark: this band is WAY too diverse and mature for such awful guitar playing. And I'm not quite sure that the blackened like vocals starting off 'Gloom, Beauty And Despair' were appropriate, especially considering that they were backing some rather melancholic and serene acoustic vocals. Incidentally, that last track I mentioned 'Gloom, Beauty And Despair' PERFECTLY describes the sound of the instrumentation in just three words (not counting the AND of course) and it's amazing how the doomier passages sound so beautiful, haunting and menacing at the same time. The songs are very varied in length as well from track to track, and while you have an 11 minute track, you also have 1 5 and 6 minute tracks, as well as 4 8 minute tracks. A rather unique approach to the doom/death genre, and a fucking masterpiece which places Swallow The Sun FIRMLY in the top 5 of the best doom/death bands in the universe (let's go ahead and add Mourning Beloveth and My Dying Bride in that category, regardless of who the innovators are).
Contact: Firebox Records.

THE UNQUIET VOID "Poisoned Dreams" (Middle Pillar) SCORE: 90/100

The first thing I asked myself when I listened to this CD was, can this somewhat ambient styled music create the right background for the images of the Lovecraft stories I had been reading for years now? Let me first start off by saying that if you think electronic/ambient music is all peaceful vibes and trippy sound effects, get that image out of your head now. This is more in line with stuff like Raison D'Etre in their more harsh and mechanical days, and not much else I can link them to. (Maybe some of the earlier Silent/Furnace records releases). The noises you'll hear in the disc are downright disturbing and quite sinister and alien, even the percussion sounds and the few thunder and lightning effects (most noted on 'Return To Innsmouth' and 'The Esoteric Order.') don't sound like anything else you've ever heard before. The CD starts out with rumbling ocean sounds, and a feeling that you're diving deep into murky, sinister waters, before a violent and loud explosion thrusts you deep into the world of Cthulhu. Be forewarned though, many of these tracks are quite long, some with very little variance within the framework from start to end of each track. There are some 11 and 13 minute tracks, but also a few 5 minute ones as well, so this doesn't follow any normal pattern timewise. The track 'Necronomicon' was closer to a techno oriented piece, especially with the synth work taking on a much higher tone than you'd think to be presented here. Also, 'We Shall Dive Down Through Black Abysses' had synth work near the end that seemed a bit too melodic for the subject matter. I was a little annoyed at the excessive vocal chants on 'The Esoteric Order,' especially since this track goes on for 11 minutes, but it does seem like a fitting piece to showcase the spoken words to raise Cthulhu from the deep (read the interview for more info on what this track is all about). Of course, we all expected the rain and ocean sounds on 'Return To Innsmouth,' especially if you've read the story. What is most amazing is just how inhuman and utterly alien certain sounds are in this amazing tribute, it's almost as if we're hearing the guttural rumblings of a multitude of creatures not of this world; and the utterly dark, sinister, maddening and completely alien world of Lovecraft can come alive if you're in the right frame of mind. It's not a "pretty" compilation of works, and in the right mood it's a soundtrack for the darkest of souls and imaginations out there. I believe Lovecraft himself would be proud at this tribute by a man who envelopes himself into the world of the utterly alien.
Contact: Middle Pillar Records.

TYRANNY "Tides Of Awakening" (Firedoom) SCORE: 99/100

Firebox has apparently handed over all the doom metal stuff to it's new imprint Firedoom, and this is one monster of a funereal doom/death band! Right off the bat the music is slow, torturous, heavy, and oppresses you with the most massive aura of despair, hopelessness and utterly alien landscapes. The vocal work is some of the harshest, monstrous and utterly alien and inhuman that the death metal genre will EVER hear. If you use your imagination, the vocals sound like quite possibly the most massive, vile, alien creature howling that you will ever hear. This record will scare the living hell out of you and remind you of evil beings that can crush this world with barely an effort, eradicating all life within. A most evil soundtrack to a Lovecraft story if there ever was one. Be forewarned though: 4 or the 5 tracks are AT LEAST 11 minutes in length, and one even goes so far as to push the 17 minute envelope. The structures rarely vary from song to song, and if they do then it's done slowly. If you enjoy long songs that keep their structure and integrity relatively intact, you won't have a problem with this. 'Coalescent Of The Inhumane Awareness' starts the CD off and is a perfect track to use as a backdrop to perform a ritual calling Cthulhu up from the depths. The guitar work serves as the main link for a more depressing and melancholy atmosphere, and the drums and percussion are both thunderous and oppressive. The addition of electronically effected acoustic guitars at the end of track 4, 'In The Arcane Clasp Of Unwritten Hours' was interesting, and even those notes sounded utterly alien. CD ender 'Entreaties To The Primaeval Chaos' is quite different from the other tracks, as it's mainly a very harsh and dark ambient piece, with lots of deep underwater noises, and hardly any vocals, save for a constant chanting of what sounds like the word "Ia." (Anyone familiar with Lovecraft's text knows exactly what this means.) The percussion here is violent, dark and quite sick. This is a monstrous and massive project, and I find myself listening to it again and again just amazed at such an utterly alien and monstrous landscape. A more alien and evil work has seldom ever been created.
COntact: Firedoom Music.

USURPER "Cryptobeast" (Earache) SCORE: 86/100

I have to admit I have been VERY skeptical ever since hearing about the change in lead vocalists, and it seems to be a trend in metal especially these days: Kick out your lead singer who's been with you for a long time. Marduk did it to Legion (something chronicled this issue), Mayhem did it to Maniac, and now Usurper felt the need to replace the only vocalist they've ever had throughout their career with one Dan 'Tyrantor' Lawson. His vocal abilities are much more varied than the first 9 tracks of this album would have you believe. He pulls off a similar style and sound to General Slaughter, however it's obvious that while giving fans a somewhat similar vocal sound, he adds a style that's a bit his own. 'Bones Of My Enemies' starts the CD off well, and of course the trademark "Heeeeyyy's" and "oouuuyaaahs" didn't walk out the door when The General left. Usurper definitely still knows how to write crushing metal anthems, and the 'Frost like slowness is seemingly all but gone. Many of the tracks here are of a very fast pace. There's some odd guitar work on a few songs, though, especially 'Supernatural Killing Spree' and 'Reptilian,' both songs seem to suffer from overtly uninspiring choruses, and in the case of the former, the speed of this song is a bit too fast to really flesh out the vocal work. On the latter track, the choruses are amongst the weakest on record, and the mainline instrumentation/vocal mix didnt' sit well with me. However, the guitar work is still thrashy and sick for the most part, even a bit of downtuned riffing fits right in on 'Wrath Of God.' The lead solos are DEFINITELY of an 80's metal variety; hell on 'Wrath Of God' some solos were eerily Egyptian sounding! It is the remake of 'Warriors Of Iron And Rust,' the last track on the CD, that TRULY showcases the new vocalists' potential, something that was a bit lost on the majority of the disc. Lawson pulls off some vicious screams and yells, dipping into a slightly higher range a bit above the black metal norm, and I get the feeling he was asked to hold back a bit on this record. Not a bad effort for a band who had to prove that they could still hold their own without the General, but it is going to take some time before the band gels as a unit. I predict the next record will hold even more surprises... Two things that bothered me a bit, and then I'll leave you to peruse the sound files to see if they've still "got it..." The overtly excessive use of the phrase 'Kill for metal' in the song of the same name, and the insistence on using speedy, backwards recordings of vocal parts which sounded utterly ridiculous (the opening of 'Cryptobeast').
Contact: Earache Records.

WELTRAUMSTAUNEN "Weltraumwelt" (Nasoni) SCORE: 83/100

As you may have noticed, this is the first issue featuring German based Nasoni Records, who we contacted because of their release of the latest Darxtar record. They dedicate themselves to psychedelic/space rock and some heavier stuff as well (see the Samavayo record for more on that). This band wears the Hawkwind influence directly and doesn't seem to care, which is okay because there aren't a whole lot of space rock bands these days. Witness the very cool instrumental passages opening up 'Weltraumwelt' for example, the opening sounds exactly like the opening of Hawkwind's classic 'Children Of The Sun,' however the structure soon changes though keeping a slight watch on their opening sound. The most surprising thing about this band is just how dark and eerie some of the spacier sounds seem to be, most notable on 'Introfernale' (which, incidentally sounds like the instrumentation on yet another Hawkwind piece, which is a poem entitled 'The Wizard Blew His Horn' from the "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" CD). Most of the songs aren't too long in length, however the most interesting track on the CD is the 14 minute 'Farfisadelic,' which starts off with rather wierd instrumentation for the first few minutes, but once the track really kicks in, this sounds like a rather ambient piece of work, with nice organ (we're assuming it's of the Hammond variety) notations and the trippy electronics. Speaking of electronics, they don't factor into many of the tracks with sung vocals, especially opener 'Black Dove Part 1' and 'Doors.' The lyrical content is a bit strange on quite a few tracks, but once you get used to that it's easier to get into this band. They do have a penchant for some strange opening instrumentation, which is still sometimes a bit hard to deal with, but the majority of your songs here rarely ever go over the 4 minute mark so it's not a huge issue. The opener 'Black Dove' relies mostly on guitar work and surprisingly enough, for the style they portray, they crank out some heavy distorted riffs... 'Wizard Vs. Time' was cool, reminding me of, well, I think you know by now. Nice use of effects on the acoustic guitars keep things interesting, especially for a somewhat ballad like piece. Lots of trippy, enjoyable stuff and they definitely, like Hawkwind, know how to keep an album sounding interesting from song to song.
Contact: Nasoni Records.


APHOTIC. Interview with Keith via email.

Okay, THIS REALLY fucking pisses me off... I recently got in touch with this band through the new P/R guy at Deathgasm Records, and if I had waited any longer, I would not have been able to contact this guy, much less do this interview. The band is indeed no more as of this writing, another band that has busted their ass for many years (and in different bands too), recorded 5 different demos, only to find support from record labels nonexistent and unsympathetic... If I had a record label, in short, I would sign these guys in a heartbeat. Original, refreshing, and capable of writing material that is more original than MANY bands signed to bigger labels, this is a band that SHOULD have been signed, SOMEWHERE (and somewhere BIG). It's stories like this that makes me wonder sometimes why I am still involved with music, but hell I love the new tunes too much... This is probably THE last interview Aphotic will ever do, so read well, go listen to the soundfiles and come to appreciate what most labels couldn't figure out. GREAT TALENT.

  • First off, I guess a little introduction would be in order, telling all where you're from and your history.

    Aphotic formed in April of 2000 out of the remains of Green Bay's DUSK and CRAWL. This is the same DUSK that released the Self-Titled EP in 1994 and the "Majestic Thou in Ruin" EP in 1995. CRAWL was signed to Pavement/Olympic Records in the mid 90's and released two CD's. They used to be called BLEED and released a demo called "Womb" back in the early 90's. Aphotic consists of Keith (Dusk/Crawl)- guitar/keyboards, Steve (founding member of Dusk)- guitar/drums, and Chad (Dusk)- vocals bass. Chad and I were only on the last Dusk recording as I was only on the last Crawl recording. I formed Aphotic since I never had any creative input in either of those bands.

  • It is quite sad that you guys have decided to call it a day after struggling for many years and a few releases. I know another local band in my area who has great talent and a few self-releases out themselves, only to be still searching for that elusive record deal.

    To be honest with you the only 'sad' part is that a band would put out four demos before realizing that it is hopeless. Two can be normal. Three is getting slightly ridiculous, and four, well that's just sad. Technically we have five self-financed EP's, which also is the same thing as having five demos. Like I always say to people too, that doesn't include all the years spent as DUSK, who also did a total of three self-financed EP's and never got signed. If a person totals that all up, it's over 12 years and 8 self-financed recordings. That's a lot of wasted time, effort and money with no results.

  • What would it take specifically for you guys to "come out of retirement" if you will? (Including or besides that record deal).

    It would take a good record deal plus a gift of at least $10,000 cash in my pocket, since I've spent far more than that on this band personally, and due to that fact that I've sold everything and couldn't start it up again without a very large sum of money. So basically, it's never going to happen.

  • What labels have you sent promos or CD's to over the years and what have the responses been? And why do you think the labels haven't been as receptive to signing you?

    I've sent out over 700 promos since the year 2000, when Aphotic formed. We did have some good honest interest at first. There was even a time after we released the "Under Veil of Dark" EP in 2001 that we had seven labels all interested in us at once. I'm not naming any names, but most of them were decent sized labels too. Anyway, I figured that at least one of them would pick us up, but they all ended up passing on us. What are you supposed to do after that? I had all kinds of great contacts in labels and in some big magazines and a bunch of smaller ones. So we made another demo in 2002 called "Stillness Grows." We didn't release it. We just recorded it as a demo to send of to the same labels as well as tons and tons of other ones. Basically, if I could find an A&R address, they got a demo or press pack. I spent countless hours and thousands of dollars just on postage. Sending press packs out all over the world. The "Stillness Grows" demo didn't do well with any of the labels, and they all turned us down again. At this point, I wanted to end the band and was getting very close to doing so until a brand new label called Flood the Earth contacted me. They said that they wanted to release the "Stillness Grows" EP along with our two previous EP's on one CD. We didn't have anything to lose by it, so we agreed and it was released in 2004. It did end up breathing new life into a dead project and we decided to keep at it for a while. At that time since sales were a complete joke with our two previous EP's, we reached a distribution deal with Flood the Earth to take most of the remaining copies of our first two CD's. Flood the Earth ended up getting rid of all the CD's, but it didn't bring us much more attention. We then recorded our fourth demo, "To Find New Darkness" in October 2004. We had no way of pressing it ourselves and Flood the Earth was committed to too many other projects to do anything with it, but thankfully Cursed productions agreed to release it although it had to be either a full-length or a split for them to do so. We had the last DUSK recording from 1997 that was never released just collecting dust. All three members of Aphotic were on that recording too, so it seemed like a good idea to throw them together, and that's how it was released in March of 2005. We had sent out tons of press packs for that release too, but this time the response was the worst one yet. After many of the labels had already heard three demos from us, I couldn't even get a response from most of them, and the generic 'good, but not interested' response was the only one we did get back. Also, I couldn't get much of any press for that release, and my contacts were all pretty much fading away very quickly. It was quite clear that no one wanted anything to do with us anymore.
    It was at this time that I decided that it was finally time to end this band for good... but not before recording and releasing our last songs. We did this ourselves in a limited one-time pressing of only 300 copies in a digipak format called "Failure", which are only available for sale on Ebay.

  • I know you have your first three EP's released as a CD on Flood The Earth records (the release we're reviewing this issue). Why were you not able to sign with them? Also, your CD was given to me by the new promotional guy at Deathgasm Records, Lucas, I think he is starting up a label called Decembers Ghost. No luck with either? Lucas speaks very highly of the band.

    We were never offered a contract from Flood the Earth, Cursed Productions, or anyone else. I have heard that actual sales were quite bad with both of those releases and trades were how they were gotten rid of. My sales were a complete joke in every aspect. Flood the Earth tried very hard to get us signed. When you combine their efforts with my own, and the effect is still the same, you have to realize that it's not going to happen.

  • One thing that surprised me was when Lucas mentioned you were primarily a doom metal band, but I hear so many different things going on in the music, like black metal vocals, some atmospherics, nice keyboard intros and parts, so I'm amazed when I figure out that this diversity has been going on pretty much since your inception! How would you describe your sound to people who have never heard your music before?

    It's music that we created on our own, without the notion of trying to sound like anyone else. So many bands just copy another one. I just let the music be what it would naturally become. When I wrote a song, it just slipped out of my fingers, onto my guitar or keyboard. I didn't try to structure it any sort of way after another band or someone else's song. The funny thing is no one knew what to call it. Some people called it death metal, some called it doom metal, some called it black metal; others called it a combination of these things or made up their own terms. I have called it 'ambient death'. It's music created with emotion and based on the senses.

  • When you put the songs together for each EP, how did you go about deciding how each song would sound? Do the three of you often agree on how the songs are to be structured or is there a lot of reworking of ideas?

    Songs need to just become what they become. Steve and I wrote all of the songs together, (except for the two instrumentals, which I did completely on my own), but there were plenty of songs that were more his or more mine, and some that were a perfect balance of ideas. Not to say that there wasn't any fighting over ideas and structures, there was plenty of that between Steve and I. But in the long run, you know when a song is complete, and even though conflicting ideas were very common, it ended up being for the better of the song. Once a song was finished, it just felt right. Chad would come in after the songs were finished and learn the bass lines, then mold and change them as he saw fit. Since he lived out of town and wasn't at most of the writing sessions, he never got any input on song structure or anything like that.

  • Many of the songs on this CD/EP compilation are very short, which sometimes betrays what a lot of doom metal bands are doing. It was one of the things that was striking was how you can create atmosphere and mood in such a very short period of time.

    I didn't care what other bands were doing. All the good doom metal bands were no longer in existence by the time we started Aphotic, or they had changed into some other form of music. I was certainly not into any recent doom metal acts. I like short, to the point songs without all the useless and boring stuff in there. There is no need for fillers. If a riff can't hold your interest when played by itself, then it shouldn't be included in the song.

  • Being from Green Bay, were there any other bands in your area that were struggling to create music and survive? What is the music scene, or even a metal scene, like there? I know Green Bay is a few hours' drive away from Minneapolis and St. Paul, did you ever attend shows there?

    There is no music scene in Green Bay, and definitely no metal scene. There isn’t even any place for a band to play in the area. Only one bar has local bands play and the stage and bar is the smallest thing you have ever seen. Mostly hair bands and whatever that 'hardcore' stuff kids are listening to now (these) days go through there. But no, there is nothing here. The last time there was a scene here was in the early 1990's. And that was a great one, but that was more than a decade ago. Bands like BLEED (CRAWL) and DUSK would play often and that was quite a sight to see. There was also an incredible indie rock/punk scene that was beyond words. That was what I was really into. The venue from back then was torn down many years ago and replaced by a video rental store. The other bigger venue Green Bay had was turned into a meat market dance club around the same time, and so the scene died quickly.

  • Tell us about what Aphotic was like live, did you get a chance to play out much? Where and who with?

    We only had a chance to play four shows. All of them were in bars and none of them were worth remembering. Like I said, there has been no scene here for over a decade. Basically, it wasn't even worth transporting the gear out of the practice room.

  • I can understand your frustration at the lack of label support, but have you lost the love of metal music? There was a time when I was fronting Hallows Eve, after I got kicked out of the band I didn't think I could find my interest in extreme music anymore, especially since I have had troubles and frustrations of my own.

    I hate most metal music. I never really listened to more than six metal bands and I completely quit listening to it years ago. Most of it is so cheesy and lame...people trying too hard. The typical imagery is very comedic. Not to say that other music scenes are any better, many are far worse... but I was never able to embrace the whole metal culture. The whole evil and satanic thing is pretty sad too. It's like saying you hate baseball with a passion, so you play on the opposing team to piss off the home team, but you're still playing the same sport that you hate. Real evil comes from corrupt politicians, greedy corporations, and organized religions... as well as just plain stupid and/or ignorant people, which are more than plentiful.

  • Any chance any of the members of Aphotic will ever do anything with music ever again?

    I'm done with making music and I've sold all of my equipment. I'm turning 30 soon and it's beyond time to move on to other things in my life. I still think I should have ended the band many years ago since it really never amounted to anything. I think of it now as a waste of a prime time in my life. I will probably come to regret it more the older I get, but then again, my whole life is based on hate and regret.

  • What bands would you say most helped you shape and create the style and sound of Aphotic? What styles of metal and bands are you really into?

    When I did listen to metal it was old Katatonia, old Opeth, the first Anathema, October Tide, and some Entombed. The bands that helped shape my part of Aphotic's music came from many other sources. I drew influence from outside sources and never limited myself only to metal.

  • Do you see parallels in the landscapes between Norwegian winters and those of your homeland? I know driving through Wisconsin to get to Minneapolis for the Heathen Crusade this year, it was remarkable just how Scandinavian the snow covered landscape looked. Of course, it was the first time I had EVER seen miles upon miles of nothing but open, endless fields! I mean you could see a huge tract of land with maybe four or five trees...

    I've never been to Norway and people put way too much stock in metal being from a particular area. That's the whole problem with the scene overall. Everyone bases it on location, not on talent or songs or style. Do you think that if APHOTIC or DUSK was from Europe that we would have been signed after the first release? I certainly do, but what label wants to say, APHOTIC, from Green Bay, Wisconsin USA? None do. It's a shame, but that's the way it is. (What about Manilla Road from Kansas? Bands like While Heaven Wept and Arghoslent from Virginia? I would think that would be a selling point, a band from a place that doesn't turn out very many bands period. - Ed).

  • What inspires the lyrics for your works? Anything you've read or experienced that makes your lyrics take on the shape they do?

    Chad did those completely on his own and didn't talk about what they mean or how he came up with them. The last few releases, he wrote most of them on the drive up to Green Bay on the way to the studio to record them. We never got any vocals or lyrics until the songs were recorded. We would sometimes wait over a year for one of our songs to get a title or to read the lyrics. All songs to us are numbers, not names.

  • Tell us about the recording of your demos, you said that most of your releases were self-financed... Had you ever thought about using some of the audio programs available for a PC to record your songs? I recently heard my uncle's home recordings and was absolutely amazed at the crystal clear sound quality! It's absolutely astonishing to think you can record an entire demo at home using a PC and a few pieces of equipment! (Adobe Audition I believe was the program, and it rivaled many recordings I've heard in a so called professional studio!)

    ALL of Aphotic's five recordings and ALL of Dusk's three recordings were all self-financed. No one ever gave us a single penny to record anything we've ever done. We went into the studio because in Aphotic, we never did anything half-ass. Everything was to the highest quality that we could make it within our budget. Of course it could have been better with more time in the studio, and a real drummer, but we made it by the best we could with what we had.

  • If people want to reach you, will you still be available to those who might be hearing about you for the first time?

    No, not really. I don't want anything to do with it anymore. I'll still be selling our last CD "Failure" on Ebay, since that is the only place a person can buy it, and I'm keeping our Myspace account open with four full songs for people to listen to, but that's it.

  • Well, if there's anything else you want to talk about at length that we forgot to mention, feel free to use this space! I love the "Stillness Grows" record, any chance I can talk you out of disbanding the group?

    It's already happened. Aphotic is completely dead and buried. It might be hard for people who have just heard of us to understand but we've been around for a very long time and it would have been beyond pointless to continue. Besides that, I don't want to do it anymore and I'm glad to be rid of it.

    BOLT THROWER. Interview with Karl (vocalist) via email.

    Bolt Thrower has ALWAYS put out top quality product, time and again, year after year. Obviously, their haunting, slower approach to the death metal genre is quite unique, and I feared that this interview would never arrive. It got here the DAY before this issue was to go to press, and with their newest full length "Those Once Loyal," I have been after a B.T. interview for many years. Proud to bring this to you, are we... We being those who are, and have ALWAYS "been loyal."

  • Though many would consider you firmly entrenched in the death metal camp, where exactly do you feel you fit into the arena of metal these days? I know a lot of people think death metal is somewhat of a tired and unoriginal, worked to death genre...

    That's a good question, we have never fitted cleanly into any pigeon hole and have never really ever seen ourselves as a death metal band to be honest. Back when we started we didn’t really fit in with the grind-core genre either. We've always stood apart from any scenes and concentrated on creating the Bolt Thrower sound.

  • When you look at all the albums that you have made throughout your career, what do you think are some of Bolt Thrower's weakest moments? So far, I have heard about 4 or 5 Bolt Thrower albums (dating all the way back to "In Battle There Is No Law") and they ALL have scored very high marks in my book.

    It is hard to say of any weak points because at the time of the event what is released is the optimum of potential at that time. They become like documents of passing time; each album is special when it is released. If you are trying to ask me which album I think is the worst, then I am going to have to say "Honour, Valour, Pride," because it's the only album without my vocals on... (ha, ha, ha!!)

  • Would you say that "Those Once Loyal" is your best album to date? And if not, how does it stack up with others like "Honour, Valour, Pride" and "Mercenary?"

    Yes I would say it is our best album to date, But I'm kind of biased, it's our new baby, our fresh creation and marks how the band sounds now. I think it follows well in the strong tradition of Bolt Thrower albums, and stands up as strong as albums such as "For Victory" and "The Fourth Crusade." The production quality and standard of the songs sets the new album up as our best to date in my opinion.

  • I haven't heard fully "The Fourth Crusade," but it seems to me like this album focuses on the warfare and tactics of, well, the Crusades. What was the overall theme for this album, and how does it stack up lyric wise against all the others?

    Well the 4th crusade set out as a holy war but in the end devolved to becoming a load of mercenaries interested in financial gain rather than any higher moral cause. The theme is constant and remains with us in the present day. There are songs like 'Icon' and 'Celestial Sanctuary,' which are not about war at all. The lyrics generally focus on mankind's inhumanity towards one another which features throughout (the) Bolt Thrower history.

  • Speaking of warfare that seems to be a recurring theme from album to album, and I'm curious if other albums deal with warfare in it's many stages (like "Mercenary" seems to deal with rogue warriors acting alone, for example). How is the album's title chosen for each record?

    All the albums are linked by the theme of warfare, to me this makes them stronger, the recurrent theme is part of our everyday lives, (and) it is dealt with in a general manner rather than being linked to each album specifically. Warfare is not always directly linked to the battlefield, the songs can often relate to feelings involved in everyday day life also.

  • Have you ever examined any of the wars or conflicts of Earth's history, and if so did you see where certain tactical strategies could have been improved upon? How do you see the overall conflict in Iraq with the U.S. troops, for example; would you command the situation any differently? (Not really saying whether you're for or against the war, just if you had to take charge of the troops, for instance).

    Possibly the best strategy is to avoid war at all costs; we have all learnt through history the personal human effects. As for the situation in the Middle East; like I said earlier it has been going on in many forms throughout the ages. It is basically a clash of fundamentalist beliefs, Islam and Christianity. I am an atheist, no god is worth dying for.

  • I'm curious, not to ask a cheesy question like "How did you come up with the name Bolt Thrower," but maybe to ask how the term Bolt Thrower is allied with the war, battle and conflict lyrics you write about? (The closest thing I can think of is maybe a crossbow could be referred to as a Bolt Thrower).

    A Bolt thrower is a medieval war machine, like a huge crossbow. When used against massed ranked infantry the results are devastating. The nature of the injuries inflicted often result in panic and rout! We came up with the name for the band back in 1986, it was taken from a magazine called White Dwarf that was published by Games workshop, whom we worked with on our second album "Realm Of Chaos" back in 1989.

  • "Those Once Loyal" was the most anticipated album of 2005 for me, and it seems like the album got delayed a few times and generally just took forever to get released.

    It definitely took some time for us to get it together for this one. The album was near a state of completion back in 2003 but then Dave Ingram left the band for numerous personal reasons (he is ok now!) so at this point the album was deconstructed and reconstructed several times to the final product that is now.

  • How has Metal Blade been for you as a label? I know that they've been with you for at least 2 or 3 albums now, how many more albums do you have left in your contract with them? Have they given you details about tour support, and how are they with press and publicity? (You might know if the U.S. office handles you differently from the European office).

    Well Metal Blade has been better than any other label that we have ever been signed to, we have 1 more album on our contract left with them at the moment. Tour support is an emotive issue, but they seem to handle press and publicity sufficiently; we get a lot of interviews! It is difficult for record labels to operate with the effect of free mp3 downloads reducing record sales dramatically.

  • What would you say is the song on "Those Once Loyal" that has the best set of guitar riffs? I think the solo lead riffs on the title track are some of the sickest on the record! (Not a lead solo, but the guitar riffs that are playing when there's no vocal interaction). They really all are good, but those in particular really catch my ear.

    My personal favourite is 'When Cannons Fade,' I still get the chills up my spine when we play it live! The guitars sound real fat on the new album and the bass sound is far more audible. Baz worked long and hard on the structure of the songs and played his best leads ever. We are all well pleased with the final outcome.

  • Are there plans for Bolt Thrower to come over to the States? I know there have been quite a few years since your last appearance, and I think Bolt Thrower fans are clamouring for your return... I even think you might be able to get a good headlining gig going...

    Well we would like to get over to the U.S. and tour but our past experiences have been somewhat disastrous. We split up on the last US tour back in 1994, so this time the tour has got be a good one for us to even contemplate. There is talk of a tour with us and Malevolent Creation, which would be great; we had a blast on tour together in January 2006.

  • You were once featured on the John Peel radio sessions, how did that come about and how did it go? Did you ever get any feedback on that show? I know when John Peel died, it was quite a loss, and I know not a whole lot of bands ever got to do his show...

    It was a real privilege to be asked to do a Radio 1 session for the John Peel show. This was back in 1987 we had sent in a demo tape and not heard anything back then one day we got a telephone call. The whole experience was phenomenal for us at the time and really got the ball rolling for us. From the radio session we got offered a recording contract. The rest is history!

  • You got picked up by Earache for some time, why did that deal eventually fall through? At the time, how did you get picked up by the label, and what would it have taken for you to stay with Earache?

    I'd rather not talk about those bunch of cunts; they got greedy, they ripped us off, they owe me money, now they are nothing. A bullet in the head would not have made us stay With Arseache.

  • Some people have remarked that many bands don't progress much throughout their career, how would you answer them? I do hear some elements of past records, but the songs are so well put together that they stand on their own merits. How would you compare your career to that of, say, Napalm Death? I know too that you had a different vocalist for an album or two (was it not Benediction's singer you grabbed for a while, giving the Napalm Death clone tag a somewhat surrealistic feeling?)

    We have trod a separate and distant path from Napalm Death. They started from the same scene as us; I remember them back in 1987 with Mick Harris, Lee Dorrian and Nick Bullen, whom I still see around today! They too had a bad experience with the above named label. As for progression, there may not have been any monumental changes but possible slight shifts. Like Napalm Death we have always done our own thing without following trends.

  • Most of the core members have been in the band since day one. How do they find the strength to keep it going from day to day; are there battle weary members in need of rest?

    It is probably because we really enjoy playing the music that we do, there is a certain chemistry within the band which works well. Especially when we play live, which for us is what it is all about! We have just had a few weeks off and are fully prepared for the next assault.

  • If there's anything else you want to talk about that we missed, please feel free to use this space here. Thanks again, this is an interview I have wanted for quite a LONG time... I look forward to the next record!

    Hey there all... Cheers for the interview... Good questions. Nice 1!!!! Big respect to all our most loyal supporters/followers/fans. Grind On... Always!

    DOZER. Interview with Frederik via email.

    Hell fuckin' yeah!! What has to be THE last greatest Man's Ruin band to FINALLY get picked up for a Stateside release, and I for one am happier than you could imagine, especially when their newest full length "Through The Eyes Of Heathens" is not only hell heavy, but their best release yet (though I've only heard "Madre De Dios.") One hell of a ride deserves an explanation, so go listen to the soundfiles, read the review, and read the INTERVIEW.... GO!!!

  • It has been quite awhile since we heard anything from Dozer, my last encounter with the group was the "Madre De Dios" CD released on Man's Ruin some time ago. Besides the "Call It Comspiracy" CD (which we totally missed out on) what had Dozer been up to by the release of the new record?

    Both before and after "Call it conspiracy" we did a lot of touring, especially after. And the times we weren't on tour was spent writing songs. We always found a way to keep ourselves busy. Sometimes I felt more at home on the road than in my appartment.

  • Small Stone was gracious enough to step in and sign/license all the bands that were on Man's Ruin, and I always wondered what ever happened to Dozer? What took so long for you guys to get signed to Small Stone? Did you at one time think that maybe you might not have a licensing deal for the U.S.?

    Dont know if it had anything to do with grace. Let's not forget that it's all business. Small Stone's not stupid, they saw an opportunity and they took it. You all live in the land of opportunity right? And I guess that's what Small Stone saw, an opportunity! Yeah, there were sometimes doubts that we'd ever get a licensing deal for the U.S. Due to the style of music we play people in the music industry had a lot of apprehentions signing us. The "stoner rock" market is really saturated.

  • What bands from Man's Ruin did you really dig at the time? And I'm curious what sort of deal you had with Man's Ruin, do they still owe ya a lot of money like they did some bands? And what sort of deal did Small Stone offer that made you consider them and not someone else?

    The Dwarves, Hellacopters, Flaming Sideburns, Tad and the Melvins, well the list goes on and on. So many cool bands! So many cool bands that Man's Ruin owes a lot of money. They still owe us money, and I guess we'll never see any of it. At the time it was a pretty hard blow, we've gone over that bump now, but I guess we got off easy. There were others, I've heard, that were ripped off even more.

  • The nice thing about "Through The Eyes Of Heathens" is there's quite a bit of different stuff going on, especially with the vocals, I heard some screaming almost black metal inspired parts, a Viking styled hardcore chorus and then some of the higher toned singing which was a trip. I'm also curious what sort of vocal effects you used, as there are a bunch of different places when the vocals sound like they're being electronically enhanced.

    We recorded the vocals with various techniques. Through some old fender combos, a megaphone and various microphones. Just to spice things up a bit. Make things a little bit more interesting. Adding just the right amount of effects is sometimes really hard. We didn't want it to sound overproduced either. We had a plan with every song and we stuck with it. I wouldn't say that it was electronically enhanced, I'd rather call it a "performance enhancement".

  • How did you come to settle on the album title, besides your obvious country of origin? I was half expecting some black metal influences coming into the record!

    Well, that's cool. Everything's not always what it seems, is it. Dozer doesn't always go where, you'd expect them to go. That's a good thing. I like bands who do the unexpected.

  • I'd like to talk about some of the songs for a minute, especially 'The Roof, The River, The Revolver,' since that song lyrically sounds like someone is being hunted. Of course, it could represent man's struggle against the wild forces of nature, since a lot of early settlers had a roof, a river to fish in, and a revolver to hunt game with... (Okay, maybe not, but maybe you see where I'm going with this).

    Cool, that's what we want to do. Let everyone have their own personal impressions of what the songs are about. I like writing lyrics in metaphors, but that lyric is quite literal. Someone is being hunted.

  • 'Days Of Future Past' is probably the most interesting song here, as it has very little of the heaviness throughout the rest of the record, and a sad theme that maybe our lives here on this planet are rather useless... How did you decide on such a somber sound for this song, and what would the lyrics be trying to say?

    Yeah, we thought it would be nice to have something break the heaviness for a little while. Make everyone pause for a moment, and take a breath. You can't sprint throughout a whole marathon, can you. Lyrically it's my ironic approach to life. I think that we always blow things out of proportion, especially when it comes to personal problems. It's sad, but true.

  • How do you view the term "stoner rock?" It sounds like you're playing heavy rock with stoner influences only the song 'Big Sky Theory' really sounds somewhat true to a stoner rock sound. Do you feel as some do that the journalists who write about music overuse the tag to describe bands and lump them all into the same category? Or do you feel the term has a practical application in a description of a band's sound?

    Well, it's called "stoner rock" now, but before that it was called grunge. So when grunge died, they had to think of a new name for it. So the music tags are always gonna be around, I'm sad to say. Any one who makes music is gonna get their music categorized. It's always gonna happen. But that shouldn't stop us from making more mellow or more brutal music as well. We'd never let ourselves get paited in a corner, just because of a tag. But I have to disagree with you when it comes to the sound on "Big Sky Theory", I think that the sound we have on that songs is the furthest we've ever gone from the "stoner rock" sound. I hear so many other influences in that song that aren't the typical stoner rock.

  • What's next on the horizon for Dozer? Any chance we'll see a stateside tour? I'm sure Small Stone has discussed the possibility of bringing you guys over here.

    Right now, we're looking for a new drummer. And when we find one, there will be some touring. Of course a stateside tour is part of the plan as well. Just keep your eyes open. Dozer might be headin' your way some time soon.

  • I was on ebay the other day and noticed that your last two albums are going for rather insane amounts of money! Like around $60 or $70 bucks a pop! It must be frustrating to know that half your back catalog is unavailable and out of print, are there any plans to reissue your older material?

    Yeah, we have plans to reprint them. We've talked about it a lot and we're looking into it. But yeah, you can always ask for $60, but then again, has he sold any records? That's what I want to know!

  • Are you a fan of any other styles of music like maybe death or black metal, which Scandinavia is most famous for? I'm curious if you know any of the guys in the black metal scenes up your way.

    Never been a huge fan of black or death metal. Although I like the energy. I like Entombed, done a few gigs with them and they make really good music. But I wouldn't call Entombed black or death metal anymore. In the early days, yes, but not now. Since we come from a small town in Sweden we're pretty isolated from the rest of the Swedish music scene.

  • Tell us about any past tours you've done, was it with other stoner rock type bands or have you ever played out live with metal bands? Any funny tour stories you have to tell us would be cool as well...

    Most of the tours have been with similar bands, but we've done tours with Mastodon, Clutch and Spiritual Beggars over here in europe. But no tour stories. Can't break the code! What happens on tour, stays on the tour.

  • Scandinavia has somewhat of a stoner rock scene, I know bands like Honcho, The Satellite Circle, Gate 9 and what not all come from there, but is the scene still small and struggling, or are more people getting into this type of music? Maybe some see it as a refreshing change of pace from the heavier death and black metal scenes which seemed to dominate most of Scandinavia throughout the 90's. I know personally I also enjoy some techno, gothic, punk and hardcore music.

    I don't know how it is for those bands, I can only talk about how it is for us. And I have to say that it's quite a small scene over here for any band that play heavier or harder music. Most people listen to commercial music, as easily digested as a 'big mac'. For us Germany is the bright light. Central Europe has a much broader taste. So that's we're we go, and I can only advise everyone else from Scandinavia to do the same.

  • Any chance you're working on another album? I know it's rather soon after the release of "Through The Eyes Of Heathens," but any song titles or album themes you want to kick around to us would be most appreciated.

    We're working on some songs, but that's as far as we've come. We have to see this record through first. Sometimes you work harder after the release of a record than you do before.

  • Finally, I wanted to discuss the CD ending track 'Big Sky Theory.' (If you didn't mention it already lyrically). It seems to discuss the futility and wastefulness of war, and some of the lyrics, most notably 'the truth has been a little bent,' and 'we could invite you all in this war,' tends to hint at the latest U.S. involvement in Iraq (something I'm not sure was necessary in the first place). So I'm wondering what this is based on lyrically (if it's not just a general statement against war) and how you feel about the whole U.S. involvement in Iraq.

    You understood the lyrics absolutely correct, I cant deny that. I have to "thank" Mr Bush for the inspiration to the lyrics on that song. But it's also about war in general. I agree with everything you said. At first I thought that writing political lyrics wouldn't suit Dozer, but it suited the apocalyptical feel of song so I stuck with the lyrics. I wrote some of the lyrics when I stayed up during the U.S. election, when Bush got re-elected. I guess that says something about how I feel about it all...

  • Anything else you want to talk about at length, use this space here. I definitely look forward to the next record, would love to see Dozer live!!!

    Well, we'd definitely like to play for you. That's when the songs come to life. We're all so happy and proud of this record. And we hope that a lot of people will like it as much as we like it. There's a real easy way for Americans to get Dozer over there to play for them. Just buy the record...

    GREEN CARNATION. Interview with Tchort at Ground Zero in Spartanburg, SC

    Tchort is a man we've conversed with before, for one of his other bands Blood Red Throne. At the show in Spartanburg, they played an amazing two hour set that was quite simply like magic. A Green Carnation show can never be boring, sad though it was that they were having such horrific problems throughought the U.S. All that aside, it was for me a once in a lifetime event that I was NOT going to miss, and when they do come back it is HIGHLY worth your time to check them out.

  • So how has this current U.S. tour been?

    Good... It's been somewhat good. More like a roller coaster though. The first four weeks of the tour we enjoyed it a lot, we had a lot of good shows in bigger cities. But for the last week and a half there's been too many cancellations for us, too many double booked shows. We played with Six Feet Under, which was not our crowd.

  • How did that go, playing with Six Feet Under?

    I think they double booked the show and they didn't cancel either of the tours, so we had like 14 bands on one stage. But it's still metal. We had people travel a long way to see us, so that was good.

  • That's one thing I wondered about, because people down here are more into brutal death and black metal. Are people going to show up is my question, I mean people show up for the headliner because it's who they want to see.

    It depends on how the venue promotes the show. In the beginning of the tour, you'd see posters saying "black metal legends from Norway," and then there'd be a lot of hardcore black metal fans wear corpsepaint to the shows. Then their jaws would drop when they saw us play, they'd be like "this ain't no black metal!" It depends on how the venue promoted the show.

  • I know the climate in Norway has been primarily black metal for the last 10, 15 years now. Is Norway really receptive to these sudden changes? Of course, Green Carnation has always been about melodies and a different style.

    To be honest, Norway is not our first priority. And as you say, extreme music has a bigger pull in Norway than music we play. But Norweigan audiences, and also Norweigan bands, are very much into evolving, trying different styles and so forth. We worked on Europe, and then worked on touring the U.S.

  • One thing I have always tried to educate people about, especially the black metal elite when they say keyboards shouldn't be in black metal, is that the synths, different elements have been in black metal all along. I mean Euronymous has always been into electronic music, bands like Dead Can Dance and Kraftwerk. Whether they were brought into the forefront in an album or band's music you know, I mean (Euronymous' label Deathlike Silence) they were going to sign Sigh from Japan for christ's sake!

    Well, Euronymous was always into a lot of gay stuff (laughs). Black metal is to many in Norway about atmosphere, it's about different moods. It's not just music that stays in the background, it's supposed to make you feel something. You just have to accept that keyboards can create atmosphere. It depends on how you use it I guess.

  • "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness" was a great achievement, you gotta admit it was a pretty bold move to do a one track 60 minute album. It was very well done, it's just the middle section I personally have a problem with. Then you go to doing some of the more alternative type stuff to the acoustic stuff, and I loved the acoustic stuff especially.

    A lot of Americans, unlike most Europeans, think that "Light Of Day..." was our first album, but we actually had an album out entitled "Journey To The End Of The Night." All albums are different from each other. The only two albums I think that you could comapre to each other is "Blessing In Disguise" and "Quiet Offspring."

  • I want to talk about lyrics, I was under the impression that you wrote most of the lyrics.

    I wrote all the lyrics for the first and second albums.I wrote half the lyrics for the third album, and later I wrote lyrics for my own songs. The bass player write his lyrics for his songs, the vocalist writes lyrics for his songs, etc. And that is something that has changed within the band. People got more adjusted and comfortable in Green Carnation, as we've had a lot of lineup changes. It takes an album at least for the people to feel comfortable with what Green Carnation is all about. And as soon as they do that then they're free to write their own music and lyrics.

  • So is this a stable lineup now, how do you feel about things from the first album to the last?

    Actually, I'm the only member of Green Carnation that played on the first album that's still with the band. So the lineup was changed up until "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness." Then it was pretty much the same lineup that recorded "Blessing In Disguise," then we had a new keyboard and guitar player for "The Quiet Offspring," and now we have a new drummer for this current lineup.

  • After this U.S. tour finishes up, what are your plans? Is Carpathian Forest doing anything?

    Yeah. When I get home, I get to meet my wife, hang out with my son, wash clothes and then go back on tour.

  • Now I remember the lyrics to one of the albums deals with dedication to a son, was that your son?

    Yeah, he's 7. He's also on the front cover of "Blessing In Disguise."

  • And people think that having a child changes your life so drastically, I mean I have a 5 year old son myself. It kinda gives you hope, and something to look forward to... You're not just trudging through life by yourself, you actually have something to look forward to, someone you can share your hopes and dreams with.

    Yeah, and he's my main source of inspiration. So yeah, I go on tour with Carpathian Forest on April 21st, so I get one and a half weeks at home before I go on tour again.

  • Yeah, it must be tough, life on the road! (laughs).

    Well, at least we have a nightliner in Europe, you can sleep, there's a bed on the bus. But you know you have to drive at night, go to the hotel, check out... Touring with the band is harder.

  • Well, at least here in the States you have lots of places that are open 24 hours a day. I've heard Anneke from The Gathering say that it was so much easier touring in the States because you can pull into a convenience store any time day or night, get a meal and take a shower, whereas in Europe in the whole expanse of roads between the cities there's not a whole lot that's really open at night.

    It depends on where in Europe you're touring, in Germany there's lots of 24 hour gas stations, you can take a shower. In Europe at least you have showers at venues, I don't think I've seen ONE here.

  • I know they have showers at The Masquerade in Atlanta, that's where I'm from. It's a shame you guys didn't play Atlanta.

    I think there was a show that was scheduled for Atlanta, but there were a LOT of shows that were scheduled that didn't happen. We played a lot of shitty places on this tour, and people warned us that this was going to happen, they said you'll play good venues and shitty venues. We've just about covered everything.

  • How do you feel about all that stuff that went down in the 90's with all the church burnings and murders that happened? Were you close to any of the guys in Mayhem?

    If anyone then it was Eronymous. I spent a lot of time at Helvete.

  • That's a place I would have loved to have been able to see. (Helvete was the record store owned by Eronymous before his death).

    Well, it's not cool anymore. It's now a Kebab shop.

  • Wow, I remember in the book Varg was always talking about how Eronymous would drink coke and eat Kebab from the Paki shop next door, so I guess they bought the extra space.

    Yeah... It's been awhile since I've been by there, but it's now a Kebab shop. That's where I also met the Emperor guys, when I was at Helvete. I knew quite a few people that were part of that scene, and of course everyone's all grown up now.

  • This is going to sound wierd coming from an American, but... Well, not that I would go out and do this, but I totally understood why it was necessary at the time (the church burnings). I'm a huge hater of christianity, and it didn't bother me as much as it bothered me that an entire race of people were practically wiped out under the guise of so called "peace and love," which had nothing to do with that at all. I have a special place in my heart for Norway, and not just because of the music, but because of the culture and lore. All you have to do is take a look at the landscape, and you can see that there's something much greater than the whole of humanity going on in that one place.

    Well, I think you need to be part of the scene, and be a part of the community to understand why it is such an important thing for us. Looking back at it and seeing how people change, now people are more there for the music (rather than the extreme acts). All that happened drew a lot of attention from abroad, and then there was a lot of money to be made, even though many of the bands couldn't even play their instruments. A lot of bands even changed their style from death metal or thrash metal to make this money. Once that was lost, I think things are not what they used to be.

  • Finally, I know that some of your lyrics lately dealt with your son, but I'm curious about what your influences were when writing?

    The first album was a concept album, and it dealt with the death of my daughter. The lyrics dealt with emotions, thoughts, dreams and fantasies all concerning what happened and described what I was feeling through those years. Doing that album and writing those lyrics really opened myself up. After that I got a lot of inspiration, because prior to that album I had a 5 year writing block where I couldn't write any music at all. That's why I played with Satyricon, Einherjer, I played with a lot of other bands... It was easy because I just played their material, I didn't have to write any material or worry about running a band.

    LEAVES' EYES. Interview with Liv Kristine via email.

    "Vinland Saga" is indeed a great record. Many may remember Liv from Theater Of Tragedy, and this record definitely has the serene, sensuous moments that define Liv's singing style, but there are many metal elements on "Vinland Saga," including music writing and death metal styled vocals coming from many of the members of Atrocity. Without further ado, we'll let Liv explian how it all comes together.

  • First of all, after the huge success of the "Vinland Saga" I hear that Leaves' Eyes has another record soon to be released. Anything you can tell us about that, like song or album title, themes or style/sound?

    Thank you so much for the compliment on "Vinland Saga!" I am incredibly happy to reach so many people through my music - which is me, in fact. That means so much to me! Indeed, we will release a new EP called "Legend Land" by April/May. It contains 5 brand-new tracks, and we just can't wait to get some feedback on our latest work!

  • You're starting to make quite a name for yourself in the metal community, though I know you also do solo stuff as well... Which is more important for you, the band Leaves' Eyes or your solo albums?

    This is definitely impossible for me to decide since each project mirrors a different aspect of my personality. Accordingly, they are equally important to me. It takes the two of them to get the whole picture of me. Sometimes I feel like having three children: my two-year-old son Leon Alexander, LEAVES' EYES and my solo project.

  • When I listen to "Vinland Saga," it's a bit different from most standard metal fare, and also very different from any other genre of music this could be tied to (whether folk, pop, or what have you). How did you come to decide what style of music this would be, and how did you go about gathering the instrumentation together? Is it a concentrated band effort or a majority of input from you?

    As it is, everybody in the band is involved in making our music. Interestingly enough, there is never any specific plan during this process, we just follow our musical and artistic instinct. As a result, the records naturally convey a touch of humanity which I think we can be truly proud of.

  • The addition of death metal vocals at first caught me off guard, as I thought it took a bit away from your vocal abilities and was just an attempt to make a more atmospheric and folkish record "have some merit" in the metal world. However, after subsequent listens I hear that extra dimension, and not just with the harsh vocals, but in the instrumentation as well...

    I think that Alex's vocals serve to extend the dimensions in our music. They add both contrast and depth to the songs. In my eyes, this perfectly unveils the masculine side of LEAVES' EYES as opposed to the feminine side which is represented by my performance.

  • The Vinland Saga is an interesting one from the standpoint of the first Viking exploration of America. I don't have lyrics handy, but I understand, especially from some of the more ballad like pieces, that this story is being told by more than just the ones who traveled to the new world.

    The story is being told by Tyrkir, one of the men discovering the new world as one of Leif Eiriksson's crew members, and his young beloved wife waiting for him at the west-coast of Norway. Tyrkir is mentioned in a few sagas as Eiriksson's great protector and friend. The concept for the album developed as follows: After having composed about 8-9 songs I started concentrating on the concept and the lyrics. I just let myself get inspired by the music itself and what I felt when listening to the music was "ocean", "brave Vikings in long ships", "adventure" and "the west coast of Norway" (where I grew up), to put it short. Then the Vinland Sagas entered my mind. The Vinland Sagas are stories from the Viking Age, describing the Viking's journeys to and experiences in America, which is the historical frame of the album. The music itself inspired me to go back in history and focus on a certain point in the Viking's history. The pictures you see in the booklet show the place in Norway where I grew up. The Vinland Saga begins exactly there, at the west coast of Norway about 1000 years ago, when a group of ships sailed towards Greenland to visit Eiriksson's father (Eirik the Red). Due to bad weather they passed Greenland and ended up discovering America instead. What a journey! "Vinland Saga" is a piece of my homeland, Norway, to me. Moreover, it's a way of coping with my homesickness.

  • At the last Heathen Crusade festival here in the U.S., there was talk about Leaves Eyes being a performing band at possibly the next festival. Were you ever approached by the festival organizers, and are there any plans to bring a show stateside? Tell us a bit about what the live show is like...

    In fact, I'm hearing this for the first time! It's a shame I don't know anything about it. We played a tour in the States last year and as we received lots of positive feedback we are sure to be back this year. Check for the latest information!

  • I'm heavily into Nordic mythology and culture, and I'm curious what some of your favorite tales of the old gods are?

    Even before going to school I had read and heard a lot about the Vikings as I used to read and watch cartoons about them and would afterwards ask my parents about more information. Even today the complete Viking Age interests me, especially their daily lives, their journeys and of course, as a linguist, the North, West and East Germanic languages.

  • Though christianity had tried to wipe out true Nordic culture and religion, how do you factor the Norse way of life into your everday existence? Also, not necessarily being a part of the black metal ideologies, how do you view Christianity? Do you see it having any importance or significance in your life? And how did you view all the church burnings and mayhem (no pun intended) that went on in Norway during the early 90's? Are you a fan of black metal music at all?

    I found black metal interesting, however, I was more than disappointed on the discovery that some of my best friends had set fire to the old wood-built local church. It actually burnt down to the ground. They called themselves "satanists" and that was the end of our friendship. Concerning Nordic culture, we do learn a lot about this at school in Norway. I think this is great! Nordic culture and the Vikings are a very important part of our history, just like Christianity.

  • Napalm has seemingly put a lot of effort and promotion into this band, as well as your solo efforts... Even here in the States... Where do you see the bulk of your fan base and success coming from?

    At first, about twelve years ago, it was mainly from Germany, then the rest of Europe joined in. Since 2004 there's a fan base coming from the States, Canada, South America, Australia and new Zealand giving us fantastic support. This is really an amazing experience for me, I am deeply moved by all this attention!

  • I know that most of your backing band consists of members of Atrocity. Are they still an active band? And if so, are there ever times when the schedules and activities of either band conflict and/or get priority over the other band?

    Atrocity is still a very active band, for sure. They are recording their "Werk 80 II" at the moment and will play a number of shows this summer. So far, we have never encountered any conflict concerning the different recording activities. I think this is mainly due to the fact that we are all professional musicians and are perfectly able to keep these projects running seperately.

  • Who do you consider to be some of the best female singers in the music business? (you don't have to limit this answer to heavy metal.)

    I admire Madonna, Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), Björk, Sarah Brightman, just to mention a few.

  • What do you see are some of the advantages in being a female singer competing in a realm dominated by men? What are some of the disadvantages, and what would you like to change about any aspect of the music business?

    A definite advantage is that although I'm normally the only female on the tour bus or in the studio I'm treated very, very well by my band mates and co-musicians. When it comes to disadvantages I have to say that in the past, being twenty-something, some people didn't respect my opinions, thoughts or me saying anything at all except being a friendly and sweet blue-eyed Norwegian girl. I've been fooled a couple of times, but I am not any longer. I've learned to be careful and to say no if I feel something is not right. In a way, this disadvantage finally turned into another advantage: It made me stronger than I have ever been before.

  • I am curious how you're adapting to motherhood, as I have a 5 year-old son myself, and I know this must have presented some special challenges in and of itself... So how is the little one?

    Thanks for asking! Leon is doing very well. To be a mother is the most fantasic thing that has ever happened to me! In my life, there is now a perfect balance between music and family. It is the two of them that make me a truly happy person.

  • Just out of curiosity, I remember reading on the website that you combined the Celtic influence on the writing of the record. How do the Celtic influences tie in with what Leaves Eyes is writing and recording with the "Vinland Saga?"

    As I already mentioned, I've always been interested in history, and through learning about the Viking's history I also learned a lot about the Celtic culture. Alexander and I spent two weeks in Ireland on occasion of our honeymoon and it was simply fantastic! I loved it!

  • If there's anything else you want to mention, feel free to do so. Thanks again, and I look forward to the next record!

    Thank you very much and all the best for you and your family! See you in the summer!

    MOURNING BELOVETH. Interview with Adrian via email...

    Mourning Beloveth hath crushed me mightily with their "Dust" re-release quite awhile ago. Though this reviewer is late, we finally got "The Sullen Sulcus," and while not quite as high a score as the "Dust" record, it still is a masterpiece in a genre that rarely produces total duds for records. Hailing from Ireland, this is a review I've been after for awhile, so enjoy one of doom metal's most talented sensations.

  • First off, I am curious why you jumped from Sentinel Records, a label you obviously ran and worked so closely with, to Aftermath in Norway for the "Sullen Sulcus" record...

    The Sentinel release was just to rerelease the DUST cd. We weren't 'signed' to the label, it was just to repress and get better distribution plus more promotion, etc. It was great to be able to do it on our own again more or less but this time with professional control. Sentinel was set up in 2000 by myself and Brian Taube (Ex-Misanthropy Recs). Darren has been a part of Sentinel since last year. We opened up our shop in Dublin city in Dec 2005 too which is going pretty well. We had the Sullen Sulcus album recorded and paid for and sent around to a few labels before Aftermath offered to release it for us.

  • I know I am like an album behind, so maybe you could describe how your latest full length compares to "The Sullen Sulcus."

    The latest release is a more stripped back Mourning Beloveth with a raw and dirty sound. There are different vocal techniques used. The sound kinda has a raw death metal edge to it but with heavy doom riffing as before. A lot of people were surprised by the finished product. What I mean is the walls of sound that were on Dust and TSS are not hitting you at the back of your head this time around, its more like its hitting you square in the face and it will singe your eyebrows ha ha. We wanted to make a change from using Academy studios this time and to see what would happen. We also though the sound for the new album needed a different production and to see what other qualities and feelings lay beneath the rough rehearsals and partly written songs we had together. After a few enquiries and having listened to some releases from Studio E in Germany we made the booking and planned the session. It was 3 weeks this time, more than we've ever recorded for. We had a whole week to mix, which was a first. It was 2 days for TSS and 1 for Dust.

  • Would love to hear your thoughts on the Doomination Of America tour. I am truly sorry I missed this one, but as I said, would love to hear any funny tour stories or mishaps... How were the fans, was there a big turnout at many of the shows? Also, I am curious to hear if there are any plans to come back to the States.

    No plans yet to make a return. But one day we hope to. The USA tour was very special for us and we're still shocked we got to finish it and survive all its trials and tribulations. Some turnouts were poor but others were amazing. I suppose we averaged 50-60 people every night which wasn’t bad for a D.I.Y. tour. We met a lot of cool people there and made some good contacts and friends. Some of the funnier moments was getting pulled in by the cops on the highway for basically stopping for The Prophecy to catch up with us in their car with the lady cop liking Darren's accent hah. Frank threatening to jump outta the van at 90mph, playing a gig in a junkyard, hotel security in Austin threatening to throw all 3 bands out, some Vietnam veteran wanting some of us to go to his room for a few beers????, getting a group photo under the Hollywood sign (real rockstars ha ha), eating like pigs at every truck stop, getting the Prophecy in trouble with the cops for us setting off firecrackers at a gas station in Utah, looking all over Portland city for Brian after the gig there and finding him asleep in the hotel afterwards, finding out the morning after that there was a porn star chatting in our hotel room the night before. All in all it was a great trip, a terrible pity our drummer Tim couldn't make it but great that our friend Anto could stand in for him and make the trip possible.

  • I am curious about some of the lyrical content of "The Sullen Sulcus," in particular the words to 'It Almost Looked Human' reminded me of some of the Cthulu mythos by Lovecraft, especially since the murky depths of the ocean are involved... 'Anger's Steaming Arrows' is somewhat obvious however, maybe there is a hidden meaning we are not able to get...

    I know the lyrics questions should be answered by Darren but whatever. He has read some Lovecraft stuff amongst other deep thinking and mind provoking stuff and if that's where you think it comes from, well and good. He always prefers people to take their own meaning and interpretation from his lyrics to make it more personal for themselves. Sometimes he doesn't know or see where he is coming from until its finished either so its cool to take your own insight to his words. 'Angers Steaming Arrows' is exactly what it says on the tin!!

  • I was most pleased by the "Dust" record, obviously that's the one that I first heard, but I am curious why you felt the need to reissue it? Was the album out of print long?

    We pressed 1000 copies of the original release and there was a lot of interest afterwards and more people wanting it so it was logical enough to get it repressed. I suppose it was out of print for about 8 months before we talked about the Sentinel repress.

  • The artwork for "Sullen Sulcus" was rather interesting, and I'm wondering if there is a concept behind the artwork or songs that needs to be explained? I also was rather confounded by the meaning of the album's title, especially since it seems to mean slow brain... Or gloomy... Which was interesting, hopefully you can shed more light on this...

    The title basically describes the gloomy and totally miserable place that exists in your 'sulcus' which is the lowest part of ones brain (where everything joins up) when you life is full of torment and where the results of the effects of life's excesses can lead you. MB always makes sure there is a clear connection with the lyrics to the album title and the song titles etc. Darren deserves most of the praise for this as he writes the lyrics and comes up with the basic titles.

  • Just out of curiosity, where do you see doom metal evolving? I know the most recent advancement is the addition of black metal vocals, which My Dying Bride utilized on their newest release, and also Draconian, who uses the death and black metal vocals along with female vocals and an interesting lyrical concept.

    Ah everything evolves eventually and if you don't want to and you'd like to stay where you are, you have to be something special or have loads of label money behind you to say "This is the way death or doom or whatever style of heavy metal should be played". I think the doom metal style is small enough to have room for plenty of different sub-genres and sub-sub-genres to keep things interesting for many years to come. It's most probable likely that the interest will come full circle every 10 years or so but not the style. There are always going to be "retro" movements for all genres I reckon.

  • Do you find it hard to come up with new, diverse and challenging material from album to album? Progression I know can seem like a double edged sword, where if you change your sound too much you tend to alienate some of your listeners, but if you don't "progress" enough, then people say you end up rehashing the same old album time and time again...

    When writing new material its what comes out of our guitars that holds the torch for us. We don't plan of sounding like anything or anyone in particular. It's what we feel comfortable with and maybe it's the maturity that's ongoing with us as individuals that makes it more interesting. We know each other's own individual style and abilities enough to know that we can add a good part or change to anyone else's new idea-If the glove fits that is. No straying too far outside the limits of bleakness and torment.

  • What's the story behind your ever changing rehearsal space? I remember reading on your website that every time you do a tour you lose rehearsal space!

    It's just one of those things. We lost our last one 2 months ago and we started using another one last week which should be good for another while at least. It's sharing with a local band down in the country where most of us are from.

  • Coming from Ireland, I'm curious to your thoughts on the music scene in Ireland, as there aren't many bands coming from there, although I am excited to be seeing Primordial here in the States, marking their first trip trip ever. I do know about Abaddon Incarnate, who also signed to Sentinel.

    No its true, In the past there haven't been many bands from here at all. I guess a lot of people/labels think Ireland is too far removed from the rest of the "metal world" to have had anything of any worth as far as metal has to offer but you can see them proved wrong when you have the biggest bands like Primordial, Abaddon Incarnate, Cruachan and ourselves embarking on extensive tours and selling well world wide. Primordial have been touring extensively for the last 8 years or so, Abaddon have made many trips abroad including a tour of Australia. (Abaddon moved from Sentinel to Xtreem in Spain for their 3rd album and are now looking for another label, we may see them returning to Sentinel though), Cruachan are making more moves abroad and have been to Russia twice now. There have been a good few other smaller bands who made trips to other countries, a lot of gigs in the Uk, Old Season were in Greece last year, Coldwar were in the USA the year before us, Revile played with Green Carnation in Norway,and Geasa have been to Belgium.

  • Have you ever heard of the Irish 80's metal bands Blackwych and Trojan? I have both of their albums on my website, just curious if you had ever seen them play live or knew any of their members...

    We have the drummer from Trojan into our shop a few times. He asked us if we were interested in re-releasing their album. I don't know much about them to be honest but its there on the backburner if the interest was there. Blackwych I've heard of them but I don't know their material, maybe someone can send me some info.

  • Once again, back to "Sullen Sulcus," what would you say are your most and least favorite songs on the record? Personally, I find that the beginning of the title track isn't as good as the rest of the song, especially with the amazing guitar work and sung vocals near the end...

    I suppose my most favourite songs are 'Narcissistic Funeral,' I really like playing that song live, Brian's intro tumbles nicely into the main chugging riff that gets me going. The title track is one we haven't played live ever as far as I can remember, most probably because of its length. That's a cool song though, nice and dirgy. 'The Words That Crawled' is a mainstay in our live set and we’ve opened a lot of shows with it. I like that track because of the quick change down from the first riff to a slower and more melancholic 2nd riff, it's a nice unsuspecting break from the normal thundering along for 5 minutes before a major change.

  • I have to say one of the most beautiful and moving Mourning Beloveth songs I've ever heard is 'Autumnal Fires' from the "Dust" record. The sung vocals on that track are absolutely amazing, and quite long winded I might add! Any chance there are other songs like this from past or present albums (like the one I am still missing, perhaps?)

    'Autumnal Fires' is one our most requested songs live and special in some people's hearts. I guess it can touch some differently. 'Nothing (The March of Death)' from the new album I think you will like when you hear it. It has a lot of the same meandering and soul catching elements that will entrap your conscience and take you down.

  • So what other bands or types of music do you enjoy? Any chance you are into techno, gothic, punk, hardcore or industrial? I've been digging a lot of black metal lately, especially of the sick and vicious variety!

    I'm actually listening to Neil Young's 'After The Goldrush' right now as I'm writing this section, before that it was In The Woods and 'Heart of The Ages.' I've got WASP's 'Inside the Electric Circus' lined up for afterwards. I listen to a wide variety of stuff unless its commercial discopop crap. Although I have heard some commercial stuff sung by the wrong people if you know what I mean. There is a radio show in Dublin that gets popular Irish acts and solo artists to cover current chart stuff and popular music, it's great to hear their take on other people's stuff. I can't remember the name of the song but the video showed the original artist drowning in her bath - Anyone remember the song?? Since I've relocated to Spain I've been introduced to some new stuff (for me) which I think is cool. Stuff like The Mission, Tom Waits, Fleetwood Mac, Fields Of The Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy, Midnight Oil, Rammstein; the latter is one I wouldn't buy but they have some good catchy riffs, I think anyway. Any other day you can give me At The Gates, Johnny Cash, Iron Maiden, Dimmu Borgir, Leonard Cohen,Death, Nick Cave, The Cure, Funeral, Anathema, Judas Priest, Moonspell, Arcturus, Pink Floyd, Dissection, Bethlehem, Borknagar, Candlemass, Jack Frost, The Cult, Cat Stevens, Megadeth, Van Morrisson, Bryan Ferry, Primordial, Thin Lizzy, Beyond Dawn, Ved Buens Ende, then other odd stuff like BB King, some jazz: basically good honest music. I don't like Punk music or its movement really, it doesn't do anything for me but everyone to their own. I like some Gothic stuff. As I said I'm only discovering some of the earlier main players in this scene so I can hear its influences now in recent material. As for Industrial, I know a little of Ministry ie "Psalm 69," who I suppose are one of the more famous industrial groups. I'm basically open to anything and I'll decide then if I like it or not so throw it all my way if you want. I have the job of airing all the demos and promos that get sent to my label Sentinel too so I am hearing lots of different stuff all the time.

  • The demo 'Autumnal Fires' of course contains my favorite MB song of alltime,and I'm curious how the demo version differs from the "Dust" version (besides the obvious shortened lyrics of course).

    The song on the demo was called 'Autumn's Fires (In Somnolent Harmony)' and we made a minor name change for it to go on the "Dust" album. The recorded lyrics on both tracks are a bit shorter than what's printed on the inlay - artistic license Darren tells me heh heh. We re-recorded the track to make it like we wanted it in the beginning really, that's all. It was a favourite song of a lot of people and we decided to do the track justice and make it better on the ear.

  • Now that I'm officially an album behind, I hear that you are currently working on a new record! Any song titles, themes or overall moods or atmospheres you are pursuing for this new effort?

    I have yet to hear the new stuff when I go home this week but according to Darren it's good and a bit different but how different I couldn't tell you. No theme yet - this usually comes around the time Darren completes some lyrics and at least half the riffs/songs have been written.

  • I read that you had recently moved to Spain... Any chance this will be tough interacting with the band? And just out of curiosity, why the move?

    Well my girlfriend for the last 7 years is Spanish and we've been planning the move to here for many years. This week will be the first time I've been home since the move last October so we will see how things go for the band, etc. from now on. We have the tour with Primordial and Moonsorrow coming up in April and that seems to be all on the live front until much later on this year. As regarding writing stuff, I will send home any riffs that I think would be good enough for M.B. but the main song writing comes from Frank and then Brian anyway so it's not really a problem. I do hope to have a band here in Spain in the future too. I will head back to Ireland before gigs and tours for rehearsal etc so we'll see.

  • Anything we missed talking about that you want to mention, feel free to do so here... Thanks again for making some great music, and hopefully someday I can catch that last record you released and review it here...

    Yes, you will hear it soon I reckon. Check your mailbox in a few days for the digipack. And thanks for the support you have given us in the past few years. I think this is the 2nd interview I have done for you no? (nope, just the first - Ed.) along with the various reviews.

    SCOTT REEDER. Interview via email...

    Scott Reeder has been involved in music for a LONG time... His first time ever released solo album shows that he has lots of ideas STILL left in him. For those not knowing his long standing history, he was a member of both Kyuss and The Obsessed, two bands that are legendary for helping to create and shape a genre that for years had no name, though nowadays we refer to it as stoner rock. It was an honor to pick the brains of one of the legends of this scene, who along with Scott Wino helped craft a style and sound that countless numbers of bands owe their history to.

  • Which do you think is more important for a band: to be disbanded but talked about for years with a cult like following, or to achieve massive, worldwide success maybe signing with a major label and doing many tours throughout the world? (You can apply this to bands either past or present).

    The whole Kyuss experience went beyond my wildest dreams, so I don't have anything to be disappointed about, really. We didn't get rich or famous, but we got to see the world and rock out and drink endless rivers of beer. All good.

  • The title of your solo album "TunnelVision Brilliance" may seem to some a rather arrogant statement, but in the context of all of your achievements it could be a rather fitting title. How do you see the wording of the solo album's title?

    It's not saying that I'm brilliant at all – it's more about what can be accomplished by anyone while under the influence of certain substances or situations. Like when someone miraculously lifts a car off someone after an accident. (Damnit, we missed the boat with this one! WE know whatcha mean - Ed). Altering your perception by whatever means. Or seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel" during a near death experience. It means a lot of things.

  • I was not sure what to expect when I heard the solo effort, and it still hits me just how different this body of work is from everything else. Did you feel at this stage in your career that you just HAD to do something different, as maybe if you either A. got tired of the same sounds year after year or B. felt you had something else you wanted to accomplish?

    Some of this stuff was actually recorded 19 years ago – it's been an ongoing project the whole time I've been in bands. There was no effort in trying to be different – this is just how things came out by myself. I finally had enough songs sitting around to release something, so it seemed like it was time to let this batch go.

  • The track 'The Day Of Neverending' was a bit surprising as it seems a bit industrial laced, are you a fan of the harder edged electronic music like industrial, gothic or techno?

    Not really… but I love Killing Joke. And the first time I fried was to Christian Death. That was pretty mind-blowing!

  • You've seen a lot of things in your many years as a musician, do you ever take a look at bands you were in like Kyuss and The Obsessed and see how the music business operates these days and say "If we had only done this, we would be a lot more successful today?" I am not even sure if you look at success measured on that particular type of yardstick.... (hopefully you see where I'm going here).

    Kyuss used to turn down a lot of opportunities, and a lot of people that were trying to push us got pissed off now and then, but at the end of the day, the main thing that matters is keeping your self-respect. And I think we all walked away extremely proud.

  • How do you feel about Scott Wino these days? I know in an Obsessed interview I did he mentioned how Columbia Records tried to ruin him by putting 30 grand worth of band taxes on his individual tax I.D. number.... It is good to see that Scott is still making music and doing his thing.

    We're getting along better than ever – we've been in contact a lot lately, because "Lunar Womb" is getting re-issued in April. There have been a lot of decisions to make as a band again. It's rekindled our friendship, definitely. Stoked it's finally getting released in the States after all these years.

  • What would you say you are the most proud of in your days with both The Obsessed and Kyuss?

    The music and the friendships that have survived all these years later.

  • One thing that always struck me as odd about The Obsessed was here was an original band stuck smack dab in the middle of the punk explosion. Did you ever feel like (back then) people would never really appreciate the vision and unique sound of The Obsessed until many years later?

    I didn't care. I felt like it was pretty special, but I didn't waste any time thinking about it. I just wanted to get out and play as much as possible.

  • I'm curious your reflections and recollections about being signed to a major label, especially in the later years right before The Obsessed disbanded. I bet you see labels in an entirely different light nowadays, especially since established bands prove that they can build up a fanbase without a major label commitment....

    I've seen so many bands get chewed up and spit out by the whole major label system. They get used as tax write-offs by corporations – you see managers, lawyers, and everyone around them taking lots of money, and then the bands get dropped… I've warned a lot of bands, but they usually have to find out for themselves the hard way. It's amazing how the internet has turned things upside-down, though. Bands are getting pretty clever about promoting themselves without all that shit.

  • How did you go about deciding what sort of styles and sounds each song would have? Was there a battle plan to do, say, a few acoustic numbers, and then a heavier, almost stoner rock song?

    No plan. It's just how stuff turned out. A couple of songs were presented to bands I was in, but it's all stuff that never quite fit in with the normal "band" format.

  • Lyrically, where are some of these songs going, and what frame of mind are you in these days when you sit down to write lyrics? Do you find that you can invoke an angry mood to write aggressive music, or do you feel that nowadays that's better left to the bands who are up and coming or from different genres?

    Something's gotta be bugging me pretty bad for me to get off my ass and write about it. People that I strongly disagree with, Armageddon, loneliness on the road, genocide, the evil running our country… there's plenty to get pissed off about. There's a lot of love, too – sometimes that gets me going more than anything to write stuff down.

  • Something that always piqued my curiosity is how just outside the metal genre your music really was, yet at the same time bands like Kyuss and The Obsessed are spoken about with a major amount of respect, even amongst diehard death and black metal fanatics. How do you feel about heavy metal music in general, since nowadays people consider The Obsessed a very important part of doom metal's evolution?

    Oh, I don't know… I've probably got a pretty weird opinion on what's heavy. To me, Hank Williams is as heavy or as doom as it gets. It's got nothing to do with a wall of distorted guitars – it's about the emotional content. So, I guess I have to laugh when some people don't get that my record's pretty fucking heavy - and it doesn't need to hide behind the usual stuff. To me, it's more direct that way, without a smoke-screen of loud guitars. I think that a lot of Wino's songs were beautiful on their own on a purely emotional level, but having a crushing sound was definitely a bonus on that stuff.

  • LOVE the song 'Fuck You All,' it's great to hear a rather ballad like acoustic piece with those lyrics... Lashing out at anyone in particular?

    Anyone you've ever loved or trusted that turns around and stabs you in the back. I'm sure we've all had them.

  • If Kyuss or The Obsessed were ever to do a reunion show (and I remember The Obsessed did a few shows recently as a few years ago) would you be willing to take a part in that? How do you feel about touring and the whole road life today? I would love to hear some of the funniest tour stories you have to tell (as I'm sure you have tons).

    Well, it seems like I'm getting along with just about all those guys better than ever, so you never know. But my new band Butcher is on a roll right now – we're getting ready to do an album soon and do some touring. I'm ready to give it a go again, but it's rough leaving the loved ones for a long time. It gets pretty boring out there most of the time, so you've gotta invent things to amuse yourself for those 22 hours a day you're not on stage or whatever. It's pretty easy to fall into getting fucked up all the time – and that's when some of the best stuff happens!

  • The multivocal work on this solo album was quite amazing. Some of these songs really strike an emotional chord, the mellow atmospheres are not quite what you've done in other bands...

    Cheers! Can you imagine Kyuss with 10 vocal tracks clouding things up? It wouldn't have worked! There was no one to stop me from indulging on my stuff, though! I think I'm more fluid creating weird chords with my voice multi-tracked than I am with a guitar, so it ends up making sense for me to fill stuff out with my voice. Pulling stuff off live is gonna be tough, though!

  • Many times I've heard the term "generator parties" mentioned in reference to Kyuss playing live in their home state... Can you detail a bit more about these generator parties, and what makes them so different (or unique even)? It must be cool to have a jam in the desert, is it way out in the middle of nowhere or what? (I imagine it can't be like 100 miles out in the middle of a scorching desert, but then again I'm sure the parties are at night anyway).

    In 1985, when I was in Across The River (with Mario Lalli and Alfredo Hernandez), there were no clubs in town that wanted us, so our friend Dave Travis brought out a generator and started the whole thing in our little scene. The Palm Springs area is pretty desolate, so we didn't have to drive very far to find a good spot to hang out. The cops started catching on, though – it got tricky to get the word out without the wrong people showing up. Yeah, playing outside at night next to a bonfire with a bunch of friends frying and rocking out… it was pretty special.

  • Finally, how do you view the term 'Stoner rock?' Do you feel, as some do, that it's a lazy journalist tag used to lump bands with a similar sound together or do you feel that there needs to be accurate descriptions of music for the uninitiated? I feel personally that stoner rock is a rather unique genre of music and needs to be treated as such.

    I’ve never had a problem with calling it "stoner rock" – the term didn't really exist when Kyuss was around, so our records always got filed under "metal," which didn't seem quite right, but what the hell are you gonna do? I think being hard to categorize is more of a blessing than a curse, though. Jesus, where does my solo record fit in? It doesn't at all, and that's fine by me.

    THE UNQUIET VOID. Interview with Jason Wallach.

    Some people might notice a pretty major Lovecraft influence this issue. We've heard it in Bal Sagoth's newest record "The Cthonic Chronicles," we've seen the harsh death/doom sounds of Tyranny, and now this somewhat ambient/instrumental group has devoted an entire album, "Poisoned Dreams," to the concept. Out of all the interviews we've ever done, THIS man is probably one of the most passionate and dedicated to the world of the elder Gods. So much so that he even suffered for his art, which almost made this record cease to be. A very lengthy and interesting interview, going as far as the Atlantis stories and even the popular sci-fi show Stargate SG1 and Atlantis, it is a LONG read but one I hope my readers find enjoyable and fascinating...

  • First of all, I must say that there aren't very many ambient or instrumental bands that are taking Lovecraft's work and, "interpreting it," so to speak.

    Yeah, I get that a lot! (laughs).

  • Of course, there are a lot of bands that are doing songs, are you familiar with any of the metal bands. I assume you're heavily into his works since you did an entire CD of just you reading one of his stories. (This would be the box set where he reads the "Dagon" story.)

    I haven't done any reading outside of his mythology. There's a lot of people who have continued writing in that vein. I don't know if you knew that this is going to be a trilogy. I wanted to keep the mindset and the themes and energy as close to the original source as possible. I DO know of a lot of bands, like as far as metal bands there's Shub Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, I think Cradle Of Filth did 'Cthulhu Dawn.' I'm familiar with a bunch of bands, but at the same time there's a book coming out this summer, called 'The Sound Of Cthulhu,' the music inspired by H.P Lovecraft. It covers all different types of genres. They have asked The Unquiet Void to be in it as well. The guy sent me a rough draft of what's going to be in it so far, it's pretty intense.

  • One thing I was curious about, and I don't know if this is from the point of a story or not, but one song mentions a book called "The Cthonic Chronicles," which was lost in the great fire of London in 1666. I don't know if you've ever heard of such a thing.

    I'm not aware of it. If I did I'd steal it... Or maybe I wouldn't, depending on who's out there and who's listening (laughs).

  • I know if you read the so called "up to date" version of the Necronomicon, there's a lot of stuff missing. I've glanced through it but I've never gone into detail on it.

    As far as where I'm coming from, to me, I have a great deal of respect for the occult, but as far as practicing rituals and things... I tend to not screw with things I don't know much about. I don't find that to be a wise prospect. If the real deal does in fact exist, I think it's better off where no one can find it. If it doesn't, and it really is just a piece of fiction, what can I tell you, I don't claim to know either way. As far as magic goes, I believe magic is the act of willing something into existence. And I think most people will agree. That's pretty much just what I do with the music, I take it from thought and feeling and I force it into this world.

  • It's just so odd to me, I mean what if there were actually elder gods in existence? I'm wondering what they would be like if they came to an existence in this day and age, would they want to wipe us all out or what?

    My take on that is (which feeds into the idea of how the albums came about). The second album has just been finished. And that was taken from an essay, a letter that Lovecraft actually wrote to one of his colleagues. Other authors that he respected so to speak. he said something along the lines that when writing fiction, he doesn't believe in catch penny romanticism. He believes that these sort of supernatural, horrific tales need to be handled with unsparing realism. There is a shadow haunted outside, he said. That statement impacted me very hard, because if they do exist, that's where they are. And the second album is all about waking them up and bringing them back. It's doing it through sound. I think human beings are unsubstantial to them, I think they're just going to come and take back what they lost. Regardless of what we try to do to stop it, because we can't; we're too tiny for it. One of the things that attracts me to Lovecraft's work is that there's a lot of science, a lot of logic to it, and thought. That makes it easier for me to get in the mindset which I've been in since 2002. It makes it easier to actually hold some sort of real belief in it.

  • What always got to me about Lovecraft's work, some people always comment about how dry his writing is, how he doesn't inject a lot of emotion into his work. And one thing that struck me is, I have done a lot of studying about astral travel and astral projection. It makes me wonder if Lovecraft was able to astral project and reach other planes that humans can't normally reach on an everyday basis, and by doing so maybe saw these beings and places so much that they just became matter of fact to him, like he'd seen so much of this that it ceased to become a fantastic amazement to him.

    That's interesting that you mentioned that, and I've thought a lot about that. I think that can be taken one of two ways. His short life was plagued by a lot of disappointments, and he really seemed to take those disappointments and filter them into his works. Like for instance, he hated seafood, fish were disgusting to him. He was also somewhat, I don't know if you would say racist, but he definitely made a lot of remarks that in this day and age would be considered racist. He did not agree about the blending of cultures and ethnicities, and so therefore, you have a giant, black humanoid squid, which represents all those disdains that he had. You can take it that way, or maybe shadows of that loom in that story "The Color Out Of Space," whereas maybe he did see that stuff. And that's so true to his work, that he never gives you a definitive ANYTHING. We'll never know of course. He just states what he states and you are free to travel in it. The only creature he's ever written about that has a definitive shape, image, ANYTHING, is Cthulhu. But he's also one of the more basic creatures. He doesn't even describe Dagon that well. It's like these things that he himself can't give an explanation for, how are WE supposed to handle it.

  • I was reading a couple of his stories lately, like the Dunwich Horror, and it makes me wonder even further; because if it's fiction he's writing, you should be able to visualize it in your mind, and he's having trouble describing artifacts he's seeing and things...

    I totally understand that, I mean I understand it, because if he's seen it and it's that emotionally powerful to where he cannot describe it, then he's offering us a direct line to what he's experienced, and a lot of people hook into that... IF that's the case. If not, then he just didn't want to give the information, because less is more... Which was one of his preferences. It's tremendous stuff, I read it and re-read it and it just never gets boring.

  • I tell you somebody else who I really enjoy is Brian Lumley's stuff. He wrote the Necroscope series of course, and he's pretty much hit the nail on the head. I read the Lovecraft stuff and then I read the Lumley stuff, and what surprises me is just how in tune he is. He started to write along the same dry lines but he kinda picked up where Lovecraft left off, and I think Lumley's stories are REALLY good.

    My fiancee has read a couple of his Titus Crow stories, which is the Necroscope I think. She thought they were pretty good, but I just haven't read that yet, again because I don't want to detract from the source.

  • I wanted to talk a little bit about the album "Poisoned Dreams." I haven't looked a whole lot into Lovecraft's artwork, but I'm wondering about the album cover artwork. Some of the images were very interesting. I'm wondering about the creature on the album cover, is that Cthulhu?

    It's a mask I had made. In 2002 on ebay something caught my interest. The film Dagon was coming out and I had seen the Reanimator From Beyond movies, and I had started to get back into Lovecraft again. This girl from Australia named Kelly Grant did this really cool, ceramic Dagon mask. And I won the auction on ebay. I won it and I emailed her asking if she could make something like this for Cthulhu. She sent me a couple of pictures, like of an idol she had done and a few other Cthulhu things she had made. She made it look more alien like, with the big eyes and I really dug it. I took that image and put it on the album cover. And especially because the first track on the album is 'A Troubled, Dream Infested Slumber.' That was taken from the story of Dagon. That was a story published in 1917, and "Shadow Over Innsmouth" was published in 1936 I believe. That was one of the last stories he wrote. For concepts of the album, it's a telling of those three stories ("Innsmouth," "Dagon" and "The Call Of Cthulhu.") It's sort of taking all of it and streamlining it into an hour and 14 minutes, and taking out the parts that weren't exactly about where I was going with the album. Everything about that album HAD to pertain to those three stories. Like the track 'Necronomicon,' came from "Call Of Cthulhu." 'Return To Innsmouth' was inspired by the newspaper article that was mentioned in "Call Of Cthulhu," And 'The Esoteric Order' which is an exploration of what the ritual beneath the esoteric order of Dagon Hall would be like. And then from there on it went a step further and actually resurrected Cthulhu. The mask represents the dreams (on the cover) that are the catalyst for this entire event to be set in motion, the manipulation of the psychic language that Cthulhu speaks to the lesser minded beings into doing his bidding.

  • Not to put any tags on the music, but I guess most people would say that this is more ambient type music I suppose, maybe dark ambient? When you create these songs, are they simply landscapes and atmospheres to the stories; I guess the listener will have to paint his or her own pictures.

    Absolutely. It was an enormous challenge to do this particular album. I've always done instrumental stuff, that was not where my problem was. The problem was taking this work, in which there was an enormous audience for, and also within my own personal love for his work, staying true to it. Take the film "From Beyond" for instance. The first maybe 15 minutes of that movie had anything to do with that story, and the rest of it is just completely, totally excessive! That's what I wanted to avoid. I really love his work, and there's a lot to be said about it: it completely stands on its own two feet. Anyway, if you take the track 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth,' that track is almost divided into two parts. The first part, the sounds and building tension in that track, is all about the oppressiveness of that environment, of that town and the secret that lies within the heart of it. The part where the music comes in at the end, is almost like a processional march in two ways: one in the way that they're hunting for the character than knows their secret, parading through the streets looking for him. And secondly, it's kind of like a processional tribute to Lovecraft himself, who was suffering through intestinal cancer when he wrote it. The angst really comes out in the story. I had to do a lot of research into his life to make that album work as well.

  • What really is astounding is the years in which he wrote that, I mean you didn't really have stuff like this written back then (in the 1920's and 1930's era).

    Oh, not at all, I mean from what I understand. Well, except for writers like Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Lord Dunsany (sp?) Oh, who did "Great God Pan?" (thinks for a minute) Arthur Machen. People like that, but it was very few and far between. It's amazing how the whole network of them came together at one place.

  • I don't know if you ever watch Stargate SG1 or Stargate Atlantis...

    Stargate Atlantis.

  • Bal-Sagoth tied in the whole Atlantis concept with their newest record "The Cthonic Chronicles," and of course you have the parallels with R'Lyeh as a sunken underwater city to the city of Atlantis, which is what Stargate Atlantis deals with as a show. So I'm wondering if you ever saw a connection between the two worlds, or universes if you will?

    To be quite honest, as far as the connection between the two, I always looked at Atlantis as the kid friendly version. Okay, it may be more historical or whatever, but it just doesn't seem as menacing. According to Lovecraft you have the elder gods, who enslaved what's known as the outer gods, the old ones. The old ones revolted against the elder gods and were all defeated and banished to different dimensions in different places. The old ones were also overthrown by the shoggrath, which seems strange to me, because I heard that the elder gods banished them; yet in the story "At The Mountains Of Madness" they created the Shoggraths to do their biddings, and the Shoggraths became intelligent and revolted. I would much rather concentrate on something a little darker and more menacing, something a bit more real than the "Disney" version that is Atlantis.

  • So tell me about this next album, which I heard is a part of this story. Do you have any song titles, themes or anything?

    The new album "The Shadow Haunted Outside" actually extends from "Poisoned Dreams," because you have two ritual tracks... And by the way, I left "Poisoned Dreams" wide open. if people wish to worship the elder gods with it, do it. If people just want to sit and relive their own personal nightmarish feelings and experiences from reading the stories, then do it. And I've had people write me and told me they bought the album, they loved it and it made them go out and buy collections of Lovecraft's work.

  • That's very flattering.

    Yeah, that's extremely awesome. And it's great because this is ALL about him. Okay, so you have the 'Necronomicon' track, to make this really quick, which is sort of like when the person, the main character, encounters Dagon, he goes insane, his mind snaps and he can't handle it. Which is what would happen to any of us if we encountered something like that.

  • Yeah, that's what I happen to notice in a lot of stories he writes, I mean for most of the characters have these nightmares and stuff. I mean you don't read about anyone that is really cool with all this (Jason laughs at this), like "Oh yeah, this is awesome," and I guess most people think these events are the start of the apocalypse, the end of the world. I'm thinking this wouldn't be too far fetched, if this is the way the end of the world will start with creatures rising from the deep. If that's the way we're going to go then it will be one hell of a show!

    Lovecraft's work is deeply rooted in psychology, to get away from the continuation for a second. I saw an interview with James Cameron on the Aliens special edition DVD, and this is the best way I could put this. He said he would always have in a frame a quick shot of the creatures. You NEVER look at any one of them for any extended period of time. And when you go back and watch it he's absolutely right, even when you see the queen, you never get a good look at her. The reason he did that is because in our minds, in human psychology, we're so used to things being a certain way, to moving a certain way. When ANY of that is tweaked even just a little, we freak. That's another thing I love about Lovecraft, that he will explain something to you and you will visualize it in your mind like you're looking right at it, and you won't know what the hell you're looking at. That's very realistic as it's so ingrained into humans, it throws us off. And that's why I decided that in the second one, okay, the first album is all about raising Cthulhu, Dagon, Deep Ones, Innsmouth, that whole storyline is built and it's concluded. And now there's these other creatures that I was so fascinated with. What are they? What do they do, the circumstances surrounding them? So I did a HUGE amount of research looking at people's visual interpretations, reading blogs about how people feel about them and what not, and built my own ideas about it. In creating the second album, I decided to take the melodic properties completely out of the album...

  • Like melody would be completely alien to these creatures?

    Well, not only that but it would be familiar to ours. And I wanted to take the familiarity completely away from anyone who's going to listen to it.

  • Wow, that's going to make for a completely different experience.

    Yeah, exactly. It had to be that way because there's no way we could conceive of these things. There's no possible way. We have a hundred percent of our brain, we only use ten. These things far exceed that. We don't have the mental, emotional capacity to understand them. Or to even begin. That's why your brain snaps, you go insane. Anyone who worships these creatures is just completely, totally, utterly fucking insane! And that's why it's so easy to turn the devout worshippers, when they do return, into slaves. There's no reasoning at that point, there's no reason for anyone who worships them to disagree with their purpose at that point. It's heavy shit, when you really start thinking about it. With the continuation that's REALLY where I wanted to go with it. So much so... and this is completely honest, this really happened and this isn't to try and promote the album or anything, but I had to take a 4 month break from recording the album. My nightmares were so unbearably intense that I really had to stop and I almost didn't finish the release. When I approached it 4 months later, most of the album was already done, and I finally was able to finish it.

  • I don't mean to drudge up bad memories, but is there any chance that you could tell us a bit about what those nightmares were?

    Sure. I've made my peace with it. I was working retail and that itself is a nightmare! (laughs). I quit my job and was going to start technical college for graphic and web design. My friend Brian who is a musician, he was in bands like The Fourth Sign Of The Apocalypse, Thee Majesty with Genesis P. Orrige. He's a very intense guy himself, VERY much into the occult and magical expression. He's a dear friend and incredible to be around, he just exudes this positive energy and we work very well together. He did the chanting on the track 'The Esoteric Order.' I told him we needed to get together and do something for the second album. So from 7 in the evening to 7:30 in the morning, straight through, we did an 18 and a half minute piece about Yog-Sothoth called 'The Lurker At The Threshold.' It was after we did that piece that the nightmares hit their peak. I went home and had this unbearable nightmare that I was hanging out with him and his friend Derrek, who's in a band called Dream Into Dust. We were up in his building, and just to flash back for a second; when I was a teenager I had this stepdad who was an asshole and he forced me to go up to the top of the Empire State Building and I didn't want to go. It's 100 stories tall, and you have to take THREE elevators to get to the top. I lived in New York at the time. I was NOT cool with that. And when you look down from the top, you can't see much and the building sways in the wind.

  • Wow...

    I have this thing about heights now. I had this dream out of nowhere that I was in the building with them, and the wind started blowing like a storm was coming, which I think is very symbolic about what the album is about. And the building started swaying, but to the point where things in the apartment started moving. And I said guys, I'm really sorry, I've got to go, I can't do this. So I crawled on the floor out the door to the elevator. I got in the elevator and it was smacking against the walls as it was going down. But the whole time I'm dreaming this, I'm feeling EVERYTHING. The elevator went down, I got out and I ran down the street to meet my fiancee and I'm kissing the sidewalk and all of a sudden the most incredible noise I've ever heard... It's one of those sounds that pierces right through you. And the building snapped in half... the top half swung over and smashed into the bottom half. We're just watching in horror and I'm like "Oh my god, my friends!" And we ran over to the building, there was blood everywhere and body parts, almost like 9/11 at ground zero. But it was so vivid! I woke up, I was like shocked awake... I was sweating, my heart was beating like a hundred miles a minute. I was extremely disoriented and I totally lost it. I've NEVER had a nightmare like that. The first thing I did when I realized what had happened was I took the headphones off. I had been listening to the album! (the new album - ed). So after that, I called up the guys at the label and said "guys, I'm done with it, I'm sending it to you." I didn't even want anything to do with it anymore. We kinda talked about it back and forth after I got their feedback. Some of the songs were too long, some droned on a little long, but the movement wasn't the way it should have been. The album's 80 minutes long. So what I did was go back and changed things, amended a few tracks and put a new track on there called 'Reclaiming The Old World But Sparing The New World.' And it's very laid back, kinda creepy, and it's got this intense scraping metal sound, much like the one I heard in my dream.

  • Yeah, I was about to ask you if you were able to re-create that.

    Yeah, I was. I put it together and put it to bed, I am nowhere near as freaked out about it as I once was. I personally can't even relate to it and it definitely has a very alien quality to anyone who listens to it. And it had to be that way. There's actually a track from that on the Unquiet Void myspace.

  • Have you ever thought about doing this type of music live? I'm sure you would have to get a couple of musicians to help you out with.

    In the 16, almost 17 years I've been doing this I have performed live only once, for the first time at the Middle Pillar christmas party in 2004. And the response was tremendous. The only material I did was from my second album though, "Between The Twilights" which is also about dreams. But that's a much different release. I just had a guy who used to work with Stan Winston studios who made a leather mask, I guess you would say it's the Danzig creature from some of his videos, the horned creature. I lost the bid on ebay for this, but I sent him this picture from a guy named Paul Kerrek (sp?) and asked him if he could make me a mask like that. He said, it would be leather and the tentacles would be poseable. Well, I got the mask recently and it looks very genuine, like it was put together very carefully by someone who takes worshipping these creatures very seriously. My friend Rick Allan Poppy in Florida also does sculpting and props, and I had this staff made which has tentacles coiled all the way down it. Now all I need is a cloak. I'm actually planning to get together with a friend of mine or two and just do a night of just "Poisoned Dreams" and the third one when it comes out, doing a stage show with these statues and props. The first place I want to do that is in Providence, Rhode Island, maybe on the anniversary of his (Lovecraft's) death or his birthday. Something really symbolic and something that the people who are there are there for ONE reason, and we're all going to get into it. I would VERY much like to perform this stuff live. It will happen, but right now I'm finishing up technical college so it's gonna have to happen after that.

  • We have to wrap this up, but one other question I have for you, is there was a movie that was made, I think it's called "Call Of Cthulhu" but it was made in the spirit of a 1930's silent talkie film. Have you seen it?

    Yeah, I own it.

  • I'm thinking about getting it, and everyone I've seen that has reviewed that movie said it was very awe inspiring.

    What can I say, those guys did a very good job with it. The movie is almost better than the story itself! (laughs). Really, it's dead on. They authenticated their own props, they REALLY put a lot into it. The funny thing is that they made it black and white, partially because it would give them the advantage of making some of their props look more realistic. But at the same time really what it did is it gave it the shadows, and that "less is more" quality which was needed. And it also brought it back to the old Caligari, Nosferatu type German impressionistic type films.

  • Like the old classic horror films.

    Exactly, yeah. And then of course they did the Harry Housen stop motion Cthulhu.

  • The only thing I can think of movie wise that reminds me of some Lovecraft stuff is the movie Hellboy... Especially that scene when the octopus arms come down out of the clouds. That had to be one of the spookiest scenes I have ever seen in a movie.

    Absolutely. As a matter of fact, that guy Guillermo Del Toro, he has turned in a screenplay for "At The Mountains Of Madness." They're waiting for I guess the green light on that. I would very much like to see him do that, because after seeing what he did with Hellboy, there is no better candidate. The guy who did the comic book is a HUGE Lovecraft fan. I don't know if you've seen "In The Mouth Of madness" by John Carpenter. There's a scene in that where the old ones return and they show so little of it: the scene is so intense and just perfect...

    TYRANNY. Interview via email....

    The names are unknown, all we gather about their past is the duo were previously seen in a band called Wormphlegm, which is just as sick, if not sicker, than the crushing doom/death monstrosity we have here... This has to be THE sickest, bleakest and most intense doom/death band ever, and so monstrous are the vocals that the oppressive atmosphere has to be heard to be believed. This interview reveals a bit more than the review, so enjoy. As you know, yet another masterpiece from Firedoom Records....

  • I was doing some research, and as sick and heavy as the latest Tyranny record is, I can't help but wonder about the band Wormphlegm, who I know one of the members of Tyranny was involved with. Is there any chance the one track demo will ever be released? And does the band still exist or plan to release anything? How can one go about obtaining the demo?

    (It's a) topical issue actually as Wormphlegm will unleash new material soon that has laid in wait for two years already; the demo still seems to have great demand too and perhaps there shall be a proper release in the future as well. Wormphlegm is never that active, but not buried.

  • On to Tyranny of course, the sound is monstrous and probably one of the heaviest doom/death releases to date! How do you see the progression from the mini CD "Bleak Vistae" to this new release? I'm under the impression that the massive sound and landscape wasn't fully realized until "Tides Of Awakening."

    Well, it is good to bear in mind that "Bleak Vistae" was intented originally as a demo that later got released as a mini CD. It was also the first experience for us as musicians where we had no outside help on studio recordings, equipment and such, and we basicly were totally on our own. We think that the soundscapes on "B.V." are exactly what they were ment to be for those songs. Of course our experience and knowledge grew with that release on how to achieve and further expand the soundscapes on the next release, "Tides of Awakening". The sounds basically evolve with the songs to serve the certain moods that we want to emphasize with those tracks.

  • Speaking of the title of the album, I have heard mention that the album's title refers to the day when the mighty Cthulhu and gods of the deep might one day rise again. How deep into Lovecraft's work does the album and individual songs tie in?

    Indeed, the influences of Lovecratian mythos truly permeate the fabric of the songs and lyrics, and as a tribute to the great author, all the titles have multiple interpretations and meanings that are left for the listeners to come up with. We never intended to use any of the stories as such, but to channel the wholeness of the grim Lovecraftian universe in our visions and ponderings and to draw inspiration from therewithin.

  • I'm assuming you've read many Lovecraft stories, as I have. I'm curious if you think there could be any possibility that these beings existed? I am of the impression that Lovecraft must have been able to do astral travel at some point because of the rather dry and matter of fact manner in which he wrote about these things, as if he got so used to visualizing things not of this world that they were as ordinary to him as brushing your teeth or walking out your front door every morning!

    Lovecraft's unusual style and unnatural visions speak of (a) great and enhanced mind that could reach farther than anyone before him, and the possibility of something reaching back through him, something so inhumane he was forced to use metaphors and suggestions to describe what he saw. Only the later works of other authors brought the banal way of describing their "visions" crudely and staining the original mythos. We tried to aim for the puristic and original form and bring out what we grasped in the already released albums.

  • What would be your favorite Lovecraft tale? Mine would probably have to be 'The Haunter In The Dark' and quite possibly 'Dreamquest of Unknown Kaddath.'

    Well, "Music of Erich Zann", "At the Mountains of Madness" and of course "Call of Cthulhu" just to name a few, as a part of the mythos-oriented stories. Even the non-mythos horror stories are enjoyable, throughout his whole bibliography there are lots of inspiring tales.

  • The website I looked at didn't seem to contain much info, save for a few MP3 samples of songs from the two records. Is there any chance that the site will be updated with more info?

    It might be updated with less info.

  • Onto the record, I am curious if the death metal styled vocals (which are quite unique and remind me of a massive and monstrous being emanating forth his power through speech) are natural or effects enhanced in some way. They are quite intense!

    The vocals have reverb and different echoes in order to make them sound cavernous, otherwise no effects have been used, except a few situational enchantments to serve as an emphasis where it was needed. Vocals are also in their way one of the rythmic instruments that add to the crushing soundscapes.

  • The opening track 'Coalescent Of The Inhumane Awareness' is probably my most favorite track on the record, especially with the synths and high ended guitar work, it definitely reminds me of music used in a ritual dedicated to awakening Cthulu from his mad sleep... What images or sequences of events go through your mind on these tracks? (You don't have to recite for all 5, just that one track and whatever else you feel is relevant).

    The greatest source of this song was the HPL story "Call of Cthulhu" and the verbal imagery therewithin. Musically the song reflects the idea by slowly transcending into chaotic dirge, which finally recedes ominously in the unguessable depths of antiquity and leaves us drained and with a sense of dread. As for the whole album, the songs are cataclysmic visions of an age drawing to end, and with a new and darker era of obscure meanings and unfathomable abysses of time yawning wide to spew forth another inhumane reality, in a way, the Stranger Aeons. Reflected as dream-visions, they are multi-faceted with occult implications and ever-present feeling of unavoidable doom.

  • Many people see the end of the world (or the end of the human race) as marked by Armageddon, wrath of God, etc. but maybe you have a different picture crafted of mankind's end. One scenario painted (especially by your music) is the rising of ancient gods far older than mankind who have had enough of humankind's excessive greed and sickness. Being a misanthropist myself, I wonder just how much of humanity this planet can stand... Obviously with some of your past works (especially Wormphlegm) this is not an uncommon thread.

    We don´t bother pondering the world's end deep in comfy chairs sipping red wine and brooding. When the end comes, it will be something that renews and purifies, a new cataclysmic renaissance that will destroy and inspire, really something to look forward to.

  • I remember reading a rather obscure interview where you said it may be difficult to play out live... Have you found any musicians to help you along this path? I would think Tyranny's music wouldn't be terribly difficult to pull off live, since nowadays synthesizers could emulate just about any sound or instrument out there... What would you think a Tyranny show should look like?

    Tyranny shows in Ashes to Ashes, Doom to Dust 05 went actually very well. With the help of fellow musicians we managed to create a raw and crushing way to channel the essence of Tyranny live, the perfomance was bit more straightforward and metal than on the albums. We are ready for more gigs when the opportunity arises. When playing live we don´t rely on any special gimmicks, a misty stage veiled in obscure light is enough to create the suitable atmosphere for us and the audience.

  • When composing music for Tyranny, how important are the synthesizers, guitars and drums, and what usually gets written first when composing a track? Are there special moods you have to be in to write, or do the two of you have some sort of brainstorming session? Further, how difficult is it for the two of you to agree on exactly WHAT goes into a typical Tyranny song?

    All instruments have their places and everything depends on the song in question. Songwriting always begins as a mental process more than just trying to come up with riffs, and we have lengthy discussions of the nature of the songs. The songs begin as images and distant melodies or patterns echoing through the mind, which we try to channel through our instruments, one could say you see the form of the song before you start to write it down or transcribe to some instrument. We have worked together with music for 8 or 9 years now, and in that time I guess we have learned from each other what we want from the musical experience, so there’s no need for compromise.

  • I know it's been awhile since this album came out, but are you currently working on a new album? If so, any song titles or themes that you want to let us in on?

    We have lots of things well underway, although at this point we´d rather not reveal anything. Not before we have something concrete. Ideas are aplenty and themes worked on, but everything will be made known when the time is right.

  • I really enjoy a lot of the bands on Firebox and I guess now we have Firedoom, what are some of your favorite bands on the label? What other doom bands have inspired you in the past? Personally, I think the newest My Dying Bride record shows them to be progressing and innovating above their peers when they started utilizing the black metal styled vocals in their music.

    Most inspiring slow and extreme metal works for us have been such as Esoteric, Thergothon, Hierophant demos, First two Unholy albums and Skepticism. Also, many black and death metal bands have influenced us a lot, plus some ambient and soundtrack works.

  • What is your record deal with Firebox like? Have they put forth support for tours and press? Apparently, they are getting the CD's out to the magazines and press...

    They release, distribute and promote the albums, as far as we know they have done an excellent job. The deal was for two albums, so the future is still undecided, but we don´t stress about that, we´ll see when the third album is finished.

  • Finally, I wanted to talk a bit about the cover artwork for "Tides..." as it is rather scary looking, like maybe the eye of the mighty Cthulhu. How did you go about selecting the cover artwork, was it drawn by anyone in the band, or borrowed from somewhere? (Would love to know your interpretation of the cover).

    The cover artwork was done within the band, the only way to realize it the way we wanted it to be, a visual continuation of the music. As in lyrics, draw your own conclusions.


    The Minneapolis Heathen Crusade Festival was quite simply amazing. We drove the required 1200 miles to get to this event, and just the landscape itself was awe inspiring. It's the closest we'll probably ever come to a real Scandinavian landscape, complete with snow and cold. Upon arrival at the venue, we were both pleased and surprised to see such a big turnout. ALL the bands on the bill were enjoyable, starting with Typhus, the first band I was able to pay attention to. Typhus performed a sick, ultra blasphemous set of tight and vicious U.S. black metal, complete with corpsepaint and the most unholy of lyrics. Following their set we caught a relatively new act Todesbonden, who have beautiful female vocals and a really good violin player. Playing material from their demo which was already released as well as tracks from an upcoming album, Todesbonded were one of the surprises of the night. The venue, I might add, is hilariously located in what seems to be a mini strip mall, but once you go past the pool tables and small arcade machines, you enter what is a massive concert hall with a full bar and mini tavern right next door! November's Doom was one of the first bands I had been salivating for all night, and the mighty Wizard, with his massive frame and hair practically touching the floor, roared through many of the newest cuts off the blockbuster album "The Pale Haunt Departure." I was even surprised to hear 'Dark World Burden,' and even the tear inducing 'Autumn Reflection;' however, they crushed with the title track from said album, and all in all I couldn't have been happier. Might I also add that at this point they had autographing sessions with ALL the members of Moonsorrow, Primordial, and Thyrfing, so I was able to get once in a lifetime opportunities to collect autographs from bands who may never make it back to the States. After November's Doom played, I was mistaken in thinking that Primordial was next; however to my dismay it was The Chasm, a band I was only slightly familiar with but the little I did know I wasn't too happy with. However, they hooked me immediately with the opening instrumental, which was tight and thrashy, then proceeded to rip me apart with some vicious thrashy oriented death metal. As if that wasn't enough, one of the members of the band was wearing an old school Possessed shirt, and my neck was quite sore after their set. I met the bassist briefly after the show; turns out he had been to the Vibrations Of Doom classic albums section MANY times, and was in another band (apparently this was a session member).

    Finally, one of the main reasons I had driven such a distance... Primordial. This band put on one hell of a show, and I was surprised to see that vocalist Nemtheaga had cut off all his hair! Nevertheless, they ripped through some of my most favorite tracks off "The Gathering Wilderness" AND a few from "Storm Before Calm," though I was upset that they didn't play 'Cast To The Fire.' Regardless, it was cool to hear much of the material coming from their newest release, and 'The Coffin Ships,' 'The Gathering Wilderness,' and 'The Golden Spiral' were at times a bit difficult to follow, as Nemtheaga performed the songs a bit differently at times from the way you hear them on the album. They also played 'To Enter Pagan' from WAY back, which I think has been a staple of their live set since day one (the nice gift I got from Nemtheaga of one of their shows on DVD confirms this). Thyrfing was up next and I only had their "Vansinnvesor" record, however they were very entertaining and even had the guy that does all their clean vocals performing with them for the first time ever! I only recognized one song from their set, but they had a powerful sound and the vocalist even spit real blood out onto the crowd every so often. Finally, the last band of the night CLEARLY deserved to be headliners, and when they burst out with my alltime FAVORITE Moonsorrow song 'Sankarihauta,' I almost went nuts! They played stuff from my favorite "Voimasta Ja Kuuniasta" but also played a few cuts off of "Suden Uni," like the trippy 'Pakanajuhla' and the sound was fantastic, especially when I got tired halfway through their set and, for the first time that night, left the pit/camera area (where I had a photo pass and had lodged myself all night) and went and sat back at one of the tables. It was only then that I realized just how crisp and clear the sound was, and I simply closed my eyes and pretended that Moonsorrow was playing in my living room. There was a bit of merchandise for sale, but not as much as I would have thought there would be (given the size of the venue and available space, this wasn't a total loss however). The crowd was very much into the show, and I for one will DEFINITELY return should a Heathen Crusade ever be booked again... And before I forget, the after party on Saturday night was just awesome, as we went hotel room hopping for many many hours; I suppose the pinnacle of the night was sharing a bottle of Bourbon with Nemtheaga, lamenting our Irish heritage, and listening to 8 or 9 drunk crazy fanatics doing shots and singing Viking chorus style to Bathory's "Blood On The Ice" album. It don't get more Nordic than that folks!!!


    I know, I know, it took a LONG time for this issue to be released... I almost lost interest in it, I mean after 14 or so years it all becomes a blur sometimes... I never lost interest in the music, but I'm sure that many of you who do web design are aware just how much work goes into each and every issue. Couple that with the fact that I TRY to have a life and it's tough. That's why I can't do issues in less than a three month frame (and have trouble at that!) The 3 month break was VERY nice, I pretty much just played games, played more games, listened to the new stuff that trickled in, and had the time to pick up a girlfriend or two... Did I mention games?

    So this issue is really only a week or so late, as I originally planned to have it out by the end of March. Not a bad timeframe. This issue sees about NINE interviews, which I do believe (without bothering to spot check right now) is the most we've ever done. This issue came together well, unfortunately some labels are going to be upset we didn't include their newest stuff for review. Remember we were still catching up with releases that came out at the beginning to middle of last year, and of course there was Aphotic's 2004 release that we JUST got last month or so! But next issue we'll try and get what we missed, besides CD reviews are ALWAYS relevant. (I won't go into that HERE, but you all can figure out why on your own. Ebay anyone?)

    Speaking of Ebay, I HIGHLY recommend, though I've already mentioned this, that you go out and FIND a copy of ANYTHING Aphotic ever put out, and that includes the 4 or 5 demos PLUS the official reissue of their first three demos that we reviewed this issue. It saddens me when great talent goes virtually unnoticed, and I'm watching my favorite local Atlanta band Ground:Xero go through the same fucking thing. Still with the late breaking news that Daath got signed to (gasp!) Roadrunner of all things, there's hope for each and every one of us. Even if our debut albums are still months or even years away (which I won't even expand upon right now). Hopefully you all will still continue to stick around to catch the latest stuff happening in the world's oldest and longest running internet based music magazine. Thanks again for your help and support!!

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