VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
This is obviously getting old. I had a ton of difficulty lining up interviews
for this issue, so they're not as numerous as they were in the past. On the
positive side, though, we've lined up support from some new labels, like
Wraith Productions, more stuff from Solitude Productions out of Russia,
and an ungodly doom label known as I Hate Records. Plus some individual band
stuff, FINALLY got realigned with Candlelight here in the States, and after an
almost 10 year wait, a new album from Israeli black metal band Bishop Of Hexen!
They're interviewed as well...
Oh yeah, so we're trying to disguise the fact that this issue is a few months
late.... Well, since I ain't getting paid for this gig, I guess no one's
complaining. Besides, I'm sure everyone's busy with the radio show and the
classic albums section! Let's get an address out of the way, and then onto the
Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA
ABLAZE IN HATRED "Deceptive Awareness" (Firebox) SCORE: 95/100
DAMNIT if this label can DO NO WRONG!! Such an amazing ear for high quality
bands these days, and their newest signing is no exception. Granted, I will be
perfectly honest, this is NOT the most original band in the doom/death genre,
but they can craft some amazing melodies and some dark haunting passages as
well! In a nutshell, they rely on the synth melodies and high ended guitar
work that Draconian utilizes so well; in fact many songs you can DEFINITELY
hear the Draconian influences. Shape Of Despair rears it's stylistic
influences as well, especially on some of the vocal patterns (like the way
Mika draws out the letter s at the end of some verses, and some of his
death growls sound familiar). Damn, where to start. Well, opening track
'Lost' sounded a LOT like an intro, especially opening up with the synths and
nice dark acoustic. That coupled with the fact that for it's 5 minutes and 11
seconds, you only get vocals with lyrics about 4 and a half minutes in.
Draconian's signature doomy and high ended guitar work further infects Ablaze
In Hatred's sound, of course you'll also hear a good Shape Of Despair sound
in the guitars on this track as well as the fantastic CD ender 'Closure Of
Life' (one of the best CD ending songs I've heard in awhile now). By track
four, 'Constant Stillness,' Draconian's still firmly entrenched in my mind, and
amazingly there's a lead solo present, though it is also of the ultra slow
variety. The only difference between Draconian and Ablaze In Hatred is that
Ablaze has NO female vocals, and ALL the music is presented in more of a doom
metal format, but damn if it isn't still fascinating and emotional! Now and
then, the band breaks out of it's signature pattern, and you WILL hear some
very dark and heavy guitar work that sounds like no one else: they even throw
vocals into these patterns! 'Ongoing Fall' and 'Closure Of Life' are two of the
best examples proving it's not all a Draconian/Shape Of Despair worship fest.
One other thing I felt HAD to be mentioned, though... UNLIKE many doom/death
bands, the longest song here is 9:25. There's two songs clocking in at 5
minutes a piece and one at 6 minutes, the others being 7 and 8 minutes, so
those complaining about ultra long songs have a bit more relief here than from
many other bands (not that that's EVER been an issue for me). Like I said, I'm
here to pass on the selling points of this band, as the emotional, doomy, and
oftentimes sorrowful and melancholy guitar work definitely drives the point
home! I have ONE major complaint though, and that is with three passages in
three songs: 'When The Blackened Candles Shine,' 'Constant Stillness,' and
'Closure Of Life:' Halfway through EACH song, for roughly half a minute, they
completely STOP the music and put on some dark, atmospheric soundscape that
really does NOTHING to enhance the actual song or structure whatsoever. It's
almost like someone switched the CD player OFF or tuned it to a radio dial that
has no active station. It's annoying as hell, especially when they feel the
need to put scratchy sounds halfway through one of these "interludes." A minor
point, though, because this band just fucking RULES, and you can tell right
away. FAST becoming one of my favorite labels of alltime, Firebox is.
Contact: Firebox Records
AHAB "The Call Of The Wretched Sea" (Napalm) SCORE: 97/100
And just when I though the doom/death genre couldn't get any sicker, along
comes a band from a most unlikely place. Anyone who has ever heard Midnattsol
would say that this particular genre is so far removed from what they're
capable of. And yet, this is one of the BEST funereal doom/death bands of 2006,
right up there with Tyranny's "Tides Of Awakening." The similarities are the
same, in fact: the monstrous and sick inhuman vocals sound like they came
straight from the masterminds of the Firebox sensations themselves! Bell note
synths start this up, and I must say that these keyboard passages are indeed
some of the most twisted, dark and sick I have ever heard, not just rattling
off the odd notes here and there but actually adding to the already crushing
and oppressive atmosphere that the overtly distorted guitars create. There are
also some well utilized clean sung male voxals, almost like monks chanting,
which serves to diversify the vocal patterns already set forth. The percussion
work is quite diverse as well, for what usually is put forth in this genre, in
fact, it's not uncommon for a double bass passage (like on the CD opener 'Below
The Sun,' or track three 'Old Thunder.') I had a problem with the 1 minute 52
second track 'Of The Monstrous Pictures Of Whales,' since it only had some dark
rumbling soundscapes. I can feel where it contributes to the overall feel of
the album, but also felt it didn't contribute enough to the oppressive
atmosphere. Clocking in at an hour and 7 minutes long, there probably wasn't
much room for another tune (even though this surpasses most doom/death releases
by having 7 tracks). The most amazing track here is 'The Hunt,' as the
instrumentation manages to be epic and harsh at the same time, in fact some of
the darkest and most eerie synth passages are here, and at times has a somewhat
epic feel to it, as if it's the final climax to the horrific struggle taking
place (which makes CD ender 'Ahab's Oath' sound like it's out of place, though
the song itself is well done, especially with the most eerie and unholy of
synths.) The entire body of work is somewhat a tribute to the classic and
timeless Moby Dick, but guaranteed this entire CD is more oppressive,
frightening, and definitely more sinister than ANY words Mr. Melville could
have EVER come up with. And I must comment on the way Ahab broke the track 'The
Sermon' up midway, with classy movie samples, and wind and ocean sounds that
totally FIT this track. If you're going to interrupt the continuity created by
your music, make it RELEVANT. A few guitar parts I had a problem with, but they
are minor compared to the entire body of work. Folks, this is as sick and eerie
as it gets, and there isn't much in the doom/death genre that is more twisted,
violent and diabolically evil as this entire CD. The question remains: After
such a brilliant and what had to be exhaustive work of art, is there enough
left for a second CD?
Contact: Napalm Records
AREKNAMES "Love Hate Round Trip" (Black Widow) SCORE: 78/100
Let me start off this review by saying that this was one of THE most
anticipated releases of 2006 for me. Their debut album for Black Widow was an
absolute masterpiece mixing psychedelia, epic heavy 80's type metal, and so
much more. And when they thanked me for inspiration in the SECOND LINE of the
liner notes of this album, I was completely blown away. That being said, upon
first listen I was VERY frustrated at some of the strange nuances of this band
that kept popping into many of the tracks on this record. Regardless, I made
sure that I digested this entire body of work as a whole, to make a decent
judgement. These songs are all over the place in terms of structures, tempos,
influences and vocal variations, but the main body of many songs is quite well
done. 'The Skeletal Landscape Of The World' starts the CD off in fine fashion,
with heavy but slow guitar work that meshes trippy, psychedelic organ/synth
landscapes for a nice mixture. Solo piano notes help things along, however my
attention screeches to a halt at the oddly sung vocals with the heavier
passages. It's a complete track for the most part, but you have that jarring
sequence. Track 2 follows in much the same fashion, though the unnerving parts
are a bit longer in scope. Once again, it's the teeth grinding heavy vocals
on top of heavier instrumentation, threatening to destroy a trippy and
beautiful mood. By third track 'Outcast,' I was determined that while not bad,
I wasn't overtly impressed with this song. The more prog-rock structure rears
it's ugly head, and it doesn't help I'm not totally into the vocals or music.
'La Chambre' proves that once again, many of these tracks have amazing melodic
passages, though once again a brief jarring crash of odd vocals and, yep, you
guessed it, heavier instrumentation. A darker sound is picked up on 'Snails,'
and a nice progression through darker material, but ugh, those trumpet sounds
rounding out the track! The brass sounds ARE utilized in a nice fashion on
'Stray Thoughts From A Crossroad,' though they also tend to pop a few odd
notes at times. There are some amazing gems, though, even with the annoyances,
and my alltime favorite track is 'Someone Lies Here,' complete with beautiful
epic instrumentation, the heavier guitars mesh SO well with the trippy Hammond
organ like structures. CD ender 'The Web Of Years' has amazing acoustical
guitar work as well, and some of the most amazingly mellow vocal work on the
disc; it's obvious that when things are going well Michele's vocals (that's a
guy, not a girl, folks) are the epitome of a musical instrument all their own,
carrying the emotional passages even deeper than the actual music itself! 'Yet
I Must Be Something' is even a fantastic, complete piece of work, and is
probably the first track totally devoid of annoyances. Still, despite it all,
this is a keeper, though you have to keep in mind that every now and then
you'll be thrown off track for a bit. It's not the masterpiece that the self
titled debut album was, but damnit if I still end up sitting through MANY of
the songs here, and that's saying something. The heavier stuff just didn't
work as well this time around. And I won't even mention the short 1:23 "song"
(and I use that word VERY loosely) 'A Grotesque Gift,' which is nothing more
than the wierdest sound samples I've ever heard.
Contact: Black Widow Records.
BISHOP OF HEXEN "The Nightmarish Composition" (CCP) SCORE: 95/100
A wait of almost 10 long years between their first and second record, and it
was damn well worth it, despite a new vocalist and a few new members! This
Israeli based black metal outfit obviously has a better production and the
synth work this time around is seemingly on a more epic, grandiose and
massively dark and evil scale; utilizing some of the darkest symphonics I've
heard in quite some time! This album barely clocks in at 50 minutes and I
GUARANTEE you it will take AT LEAST 5 or 6 complete spins before you can pick
up on EVERYTHING going on in EVERY song! Look at the album cover... That
nightmarish Lich looks like several I've fought in that PC game Elder Scrolls:
Oblivion, and those black metal vocals sound like they come from the same
undead, death-dealing throats! Sick vocal work abounds, and some of the most
diabolic too, but it doesn't stop there! I counted at least two or three
different types of spoken word vocals, some death metal vocals, and amazingly
soaring clean sung male vocals! They are relegated to a few lines within the
first half of the CD (the clean sung vocals), but by the last four tracks, they
comprise a major element of the songs, going so far as to offer a somewhat
traditional "chorus." My only complaint with the CD is the effect some of the
synths have, like on the track 'The Somber Grounds Of Truth,' they have this
wierd, dark carnival effect that sounds a bit cheesy. The spoken word intro as
well has a wierd spoken voice pattern, and they interrupt the flow of the tune
'Eyes Gaze To A Future Foreseen' to include some odd sound effects. The
majority of the tracks are at least 6 minutes in length, but there's SO much
variety going on that you'll probably blink and miss two or three progression
changes! The majority of the tempo is fast paced, however, but some songs start
off with a more midtempo pace (even slower at times), like on 'A Serpentine
Crave' or 'Somber Grounds.' 'Velvet Demise' was a bit surprising as it starts
off with a fast paced set of blast beats and death metal vocals and VERY up
front synths, and reminded me of the local hometown heroes Ground:Xero in their
approach. The guitar work oftentimes sounds like it's buried in the mountain of
synths, but here and there you can pick up on some majestic and emotional
riffing ('Somber Grounds' again, as well as "Serpentine Crave') as well as
synths that aren't always portraying a dripping, suffocating mass of evil (like
on 'Spiritual Soul Sunset'). I can't stress enough just how much of a dark and
twisted black metal piece this is, highly intelligent not only with lyrics and
the lyrical themes, but the whole symphonic pace and damn near everything else.
This will comsume MASSIVE amounts of your time, and leave you thinking QUITE
differently about how synths in black metal can be properly utilized for the
most intense and horrific of effects.
Contact: CCP Records.
CHTHONIC "Seediq Bale" (Down Port) SCORE: 97/100
After seeing this band live at the New Jersey Metalfest waaay back in 2001,
this Taiwan outfit surprised and shocked the hell out of us. Now, with a proper
U.S. release this latest album is full of sick, vicious and brutal black metal
with lots of nice symphonic touches, and chanted female vocals that are one of
a kind in this genre. Progeny Of Rmdax Tasing' opens the CD up and is a good
indication of where the album will go for the next 8 tracks. The speed of the
instrumentation is almost blinding in spots, and it is the definite framework
for nearly all the tracks. Thrashy guitar work is definitely a highlight, and
it's obvious to me that the band took a few pages out of 80's thrash bands
(check out the opening guitar work on 'Indigenous Laceration,' and several
furious headbanging riffs on CD ender 'Quasi Putrefaction.') as well! This CD
really threw me for a loop, man, I gotta tell you. Just when you think the
entire track is going to be a speed fest, they manage to slow things down and
assault you with some amazing synth work, like on CD ender 'Quasi Putrefaction'
which has some very majestic passages and the haunting, beautiful and etherial
female chanted style vocals. Consequently, the female vocals throughout the
disc are rarely ever sung, they're more chanted type, which is unusual and adds
to the atmosphere but still is different. 'The Gods Weep' had a bit of death
metal brutality, even if I detected a few riffs that got a bit repetitive, but
it's nice to know that black metal styled vocals have their death metal
counterpart in some songs as well (like on 'Bloody Gaya Fulfilled' as well.)
And to hear piano notations going on with the headbanging pace of 'Banished
Into Death,' well, you know the band was going for something unique and
special. At times, sad to say, it's going to remind some of Cradle Of Filth,
even if the vocals are ten times better than that band, but the synth
interaction is so rich, it gives life to these songs. Chthonic has created one
hell of an album, one that gives off such majesty and power, sadness and beauty
all in the same breath, but one that will split your head open with it's savage
viciousness. THIS is music as diverse as any you will hear in the black metal
genre, and one of the top black metal albums released in 2006. Oh, and did I
mention the North American release contains THREE music videos and other cool
info? (As if you needed any other reason to get this besides the MUSIC!)
Contact: Down Port Music
CRESCENT SHIELD "The Last Of My Kind" (Cruz Del Sur) SCORE: 88/100
Anyone remember Onward? That power metal styled band (a term that should be
considered VERY loosely, I might add) that released two albums on Century
Media before disappearing forever? Well, not forever of course (more on the
story can be seen in the interview this issue), as vocalist Michael Grant
decided to form an entirely new band. Power Metal fare, which, as I said,
has more in common with, say, Manowar or Manilla Road than Dragonforce,
Rhapsody, or Symphorce. These songs, while some having slightly speedy
tendencies, focus MORE on the heavier riffs, bordering on thrash. Their
most glaring weakness is the longer songs that proceed at a slower pace,
like 'The Great Devoid,' or even, to a lesser extent, the title track
(though, in defense of the title track, there's some nice acoustical passages
and tempo and structure changes, though we're speaking of overall track
structure). I thought also that 'Rise Of The Red Crescent Moon' could have been
a bit stronger, though for the few faults that crop up (like a few songs not
being as dynamic as they could have been) there are definite gems here! You
want a headbanging, pure METAL anthem? Try the first two CD opening tracks
'Above Mere Mortals' and the ultimate 'Slaves To The Metal Horde,' both
complete with HEAVY riffing and great opening lead guitar work, not to mention
the soaring vocals of Michael, who ultimately portrays a singer that hardly
ever dips into the high note range but still can inflect melody, passion AND
the brief but effective "rougher" edge when it's necessary (for more info, once
again, I extol the virtues of "the interview.") CD ender 'The Passing' is one
of the most epic and dynamic tracks on the CD, making the weaker ones here
DEFINITELY stand out. 'Await The Champion' was the oddball track, extremely
catchy though it was, as it sounded a bit more... Damn me, dare I say
"mainstream," or "acceptable?" Maybe more like an arena rock band, with riffs
straight out of 80's metal. The tune rocks tho! 'North For The Winter' and
CD ender 'The Passing' also showcase some folkish touches, something I wish the
band would expand upon more, as it allows them to dip ever so slightly into
Falconer territory, and gives them a rather folkish touch to add to their
multifaceted approach to true metal. A damn good release that, for a first
effort, is quite solid, and proves that POWER metal can be done with strength,
conviction, and honour, even without the presence of keyboards or 100 miles per
hour riffing. (Which I'm sure this band is quite capable of, considering the
passion and craftiness of Daniel's guitar solos).
Contact: Cruz Del Sur Music.
DOOM:VS "Aeternum Vale" (Firedoom) SCORE: 100/100
WOW. The side project of Draconian's famed drummer Johan Ericson finally sees a
release through Firebox's "new" sublabel for the doom/death stuff, and it's
obvious that Johan has a hand in crafting much of the music to be found on
Draconian's three releases. This is one monster of an album that, while very
identifiable with Draconian's sound, is a lot heavier, harsher, and more in the
doom vein than Draconian. 'The Light That Would Fade' starts things off nicely,
in fact from the first notes it's obvious that this is much more of a doom
metal entity than Draconian, even with the synth work, the piano notations, the
spoken word vocals (which are seemingly meant to sound a bit more etherial),
and even the high ended lead guitar work. Truly monstrous death vocals,
however, are MUCH more in line with bands like Tyranny, Shape Of Despair or
Swallow The Sun. By second track 'Empire Of The Fallen,' Johan has taken to
adding female vocals, and this is one of the shorter tunes on the album,
clocking in at around 5:41. The instrumentation on this piece is quite moving,
and the Draconian "sound" is DEFINITELY evident. 'The Faded Earth" continues
on, as yet another doomy masterpiece, with almost militant like percussion,
great atmosphere, and emotional death styled vocals. You even have some clean
vocal work in here as well. Sorrowful guitar work adds a nice touch. With
'Oblivion Upon Us,' the piano notations are almost a false intro to the
monstrous doomy instrumentation and vocal work, almost reminiscent of Tyranny,
but by the time 'The Crawling Insects' come in, you're hooked. 'Insects...' is
the most monstrously crushing piece here, it's dripping with darkness and
disease, and is the most tortured piece here. It takes the blackest and darkest
nightmarish reaches of Draconian and works them full force, though even at it's
blackest there's still melodic instrumentation to be heard. The spoken vocal
work on this disc is seemingly narrative in style, rather than just another
"different voice." The CD ends, all too soon in my opinion, with the 12 minute
epic 'Aeternus,' and utilizing sung vocals that are a bit Mourning Beloveth
like gives this a nice CD ending feel. An amazing emotional atmosphere lends
this track to the ultimate in diversity, despite the haunting and dark start.
This CD is quite simply amazing, and begs the question of whether this should
be a fulltime project rather than a side project from a band that is not only
one of my favorites, but one that has become increasingly more popular. Tours
and MORE albums hopefully will become the M.O. for one of the most surprising
and best releases of '06, and when I first got this CD, knowing who was
involved, I expected a great quality release. I was more than stunned by just
how godlike this masterpiece was.
Contact: Firebox Records.
DRACONIAN "Burning Halo" (Napalm) SCORE: 96/100
As many of you know, Draconian is one of my favorite bands of alltime. This is
a good release that shows Draconian's past and present, as you get three brand
new songs ('She Dies,' 'Through Infectious Waters,' and 'The Dying'), three
reworked demo songs from their very early days ('Serenade Of Sorrow,' 'The
Morningstar,' and 'The Gothic Embrace,' ALL taken from their 1999 self-produced
demo "The Closed Eyes Of Paradise"), and two cover songs. What brings the score
of this record down a few notches is the Pentagram cover 'Forever My Queen.'
They went about this in a more straightforward manner, and utilizing screaming
vocals and death metal vocals gives this a cringeworthy effect. Music wise,
this is spot on, but I thought they should have done more to make this sound
like one of their own songs, like they did with 'On Sunday They Will Kill The
World,' which is a song from Dutch band Eskeption (they recorded during the
late 60's/early 70's) and I HAVE heard the original tune. It's amazing just how
well this is covered, and you would SWEAR this is an original Draconian tune.
Slow and doomy, with female vocals utilized in place of the original male
vocals gives this an amazing touch. Actually, the original version is pretty
dark in and of itself, save for the middle solo instrumentation passage which
is kinda wierd and somewhat proggy, thanksfully Draconian improves on this a
bit while still keeping close to the original. Anyway, this ain't no Ekseption
review! 'Through Infectious Waters' is one of the sickest and darkest tracks
Draconian has ever recorded, and if this is an indication of things to come, I
think the next full length will be a much heavier and darker beast. Of course,
the signature Draconian sound comes through in full force from CD opener 'She
Dies.' Utilizing the death vocals alongside the female ones is a nice touch,
and it might be me, but it seems like the female vocals get a bit more space on
this record than they have in past efforts. Especially 'Serenade Of Sorrow.'
Sorrowful keyboard passages mark 'The Morningstar,' and the use of multivocal
operatic passages near the end mark a rather dynamic pace near the end of this
track, though the awkward transition from slower pace to faster threatened to
ruin the mood, their transitionary phase was not well thought out. Female
vocals grab a lot of time as well on 'The Gothic Embrace,' possibly showcasing
a more gothic side of the band from earlier days (I have no idea what the
original demos sound like, so no basis for comparison I must admit). 'The
Dying' is about 10 minutes long, but the emotions running through this track
justify it's length. The somewhat melancholic, high ended guitar work opening
this track set the pace for much of the song, though don't forget the crushing
death metal vocals (which tend to go for a blackened pitch midway). This track
also showcases Draconian's tendency to resort to faster and heavier passages to
prove they're not firmly entrenched in the doom metal trenches. A piano "solo"
conveys the message that there's much in the way of Draconian's style and sound
to keep us interested for the length of some of these tracks. Another winner,
and though some may see this as a "cash grabber" until the next new complete
batch of new songs, it's tastefully done, and you can't deny the strength of
Contact: Napalm Records.
ENSLAVED "Ruun" (Candlelight) SCORE: 94/100
Enslaved just seems to get better and better. Though I wasn't crazy about
"Monumension," which was one of their first releases to start experimenting
with psychedelics and other influences, I must say that since then, they have
been getting better all the time. "Below The Lights" was a good experimental
piece, but this latest release is a bit more straightforward, though most of
the faster paced instrumentation is absent from this release. It's still there,
but mainly in parts on a few songs (like the last minute or so of 'Essence,' as
if to throw you for a loop, and quite a few passages on 'Fusion Of Sense And
Earth').'Entroper' starts the disc off nicely, and throws in some of the
psychedelic touches that remind us Enslaved is still progressing. Clean sung
vocals are presented on the disc as well, and sometimes they mix very well with
the black metal vocals (though sometimes they don't, and even seem a bit out of
place on the title track). Every now and then some of the lead guitar work got
a bit odd for my tastes, but overall the instrumentation is very well written,
despite the absence of black metal structured guitar work. The vocal work is
quite sick, and gives many of the songs their driving force. CD ender 'Heir To
The Cosmic Seed' seems almost like an instrumental, except for the few
multivocal sung pieces (which seem more like chants than actual sung lines).
You'll even hear some acoustic passages midway in 'Path To Vanir' and 'Ruun;'
now THAT'S how you interrupt a song midway that's cranking up the heaviness!
(That is, without useless filler space). The instrumentation on 'Essence' is
quite dynamic, in fact it definitelty has a sort of Pink Floyd essence (pardon
the pun) to it, very mellow, and the black metal vocals work well here. There's
plenty of headbanging material, and it's more of a metal album, but there's
lots of diverse stuff to enjoy, and Enslaved's newest outing is a damn good
one, despite the few problems. I dare say it mixes older era influences quite
well while still retaining much of what makes Enslaved still heavy. If vocals
count for the majority of this being considered black metal, then the sick and
vicious vocal work keeps this dynamically evolved release firmly in the
forefront of black metal fan's minds.
Contact: Candlelight Records.
EYES OF LIGEIA "A Fever Which Would Cling To Thee Forever"
(Paragon) SCORE: 97/100
Bringing the gap between horror laced doom/death metal and the black metal
genres is no easy feat, especially when you take into consideration the
penchant doom/death bands have for the 8 minute plus song length. Eyes Of
Ligeia has figured out how to write songs that retain your interest while
building up unusual and emotional atmospheres while changing structures as
often as the wind changes strength and intensity. CD opener 'The Stillness
Fades' is a synth based intro, with spoken but sick blackened styled vocals, a
good indicator for what lies ahead. 'The Shadow Out Of Time' starts off with
HEAVY blackened guitar work that blazes down the darkened path, and of course
the sickened but almost indecipherable blackened vocals which give this music a
most punishing edge. What will really surprise you is the ability of E.O.L. to
slow things down midway and inject some almost melodic yet atmospheric passages
utilizing simply acoustic like guitars and simple drum patterns (simple so as
not to disturb the landscape being set in motion). This is most notable on
'What The Moon Brings Part 2,' which utilizes a faster pace for this CD than we
thought would be possible, almost an oldschool black metal feeling, but
inlaid with a beautiful acoustic solo. The lead guitar work as well shows off
many of its finer moments, oftentimes utilizing some higher ended riffs. The
music, as we've seen, isn't always haunting and dark, in fact the title track
(right around track 6 of 7 tracks) starts things off with some rather majestic
type passages, but once the vocals kick in the atmosphere and setting changes
almost instantly. CD ender 'As The Ravens Descend From The Tower' utilizes a
very interesting vocal concept to make it sound like hundreds of evil birds are
screeching in the distance and this tends to sound almost like an instrumental
piece. The use of instrumentation to craft such landscapes is masterful to say
the least, and it definitely paints pictures of moments of serenity and beauty
within a horror filled framework. This showcases not only the maturity level
and skill of the music writers, but also the dynamic backdrops seem to move and
take on a life of their own, outside of the influence of the composers. Very
impressive is this body of work, and one of the most interesting mixtures of
different styles of metal you will ever hear.
Contact: Paragon Records.
FALCONER "Northwind" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 99/100
All hail the return of Matthias!! This CD definitely shows a reborn Falconer,
BACK on top of their game and genre where they belong, and they have proven
themselves to us with an amazing CD filled with 14 tracks, NO filler material
whatsoever! The CD opens with the title track and is a great start, in fact
from this point on I'll dare to say this is one of Matthias' STRONGEST vocal
performances to date! Two of my favorite songs 'Blinded' and 'Delusion' show
a bit higher of a range than we're used to, nay, thought possible even! There
are a few small problems I have with the CD, though not NEARLY enough to
warrant more than a point off. 'Tower Of The Queen' is a track that reminds you
quite strongly of 'Quest For The Crown' from their self titled debut album, and
the lyrics on the chorus to 'Fairyland Fanfare' I didn't care for, but as I
said, VERY minor points for a CD I consider to be one of the best released in
'06. 'Himmel Sa Trind' was a surprising track for me, as I had yet to hear a
song done in their native language, and I gotta say after hearing this, bring
on more Swedish songs!! 'Long Gone By' is almost ballad like, but with sad
lyrics about the passing of old age, though it's done very majestically (they
definitely aren't doing the "chick ballad" here). Nice use of acoustical
passages and some synths, which are present in a few other songs but aren't
dominant enough to keep you from remembering what drives the heart of this
music: The guitars. And guitar work is very strong, with many songs varying
tempo greatly, whether it be the fast riffing and pounding drum work on the
main lines of 'Blinded' only to drop into slower prechoruses to the somber yet
midtempo (almost death march like) tone of 'Himmel Sa Trind.' HOW they managed
to keep consistency and majesty amongst 14 tracks only proves that Falconer is
back, better than ever, and this medieval minstrel metal masterpiece NEEDS to
see PROPER U.S. support, including a U.S. tour!!
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
GOD DETHRONED "The Toxic Touch" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 89/100
Arjen mentioned that the new record isn't all about blastbeats (see the
interview this issue) and it's safe to say that there's still a good bit of
speed present. That's obvious from many of the tracks. However, what's NOT so
obvious is that many tunes here do a good job of varying things up without
losing their intensity (for the most part). If you're not familiar with God
Dethroned's work, let's just say it's vicious death metal with (I think) black
metal inflections on the vocals, and a bit of melodic guitar work, even going
so far as to use lead solo work that's a bit more emotional and well crafted
than it is trying to crank out 100 notes a second. 'Faithless' starts the CD
off more like an intro (at 36 seconds that is) before your first tune 'Hating
Life' kicks in. And the guitar work is quite thrashy and sick; there's just
something unusual in the guitar sound God Dethroned is using these days! As an
interesting side note, keyboards are used (damn if I can remember whether or
not they're used on past records, however the most notable ones were quite
bizarre sounding on 'Macabre World') and they're used quite sparingly, as it
wasn't until track 8 'Macabre World' that I even noticed them, and then only
when I was doing the review! The only slow tune here is also the longest, in
'Typhoid Mary,' and after this track I was questioning (and still am) if this
is indeed TOO slow for God Dethroned? The choruses are definitely odd, and some
of the lyrics were a bit strange. There's a nice instrumental as well ('Away
From Emptiness') as if they needed to vary the pace a bit (though they had
'Typhoid Mary' to do that). Not much to really complain about, though CD ender
'Fail To Exist' had a moment where the crushing, headbanging riffs were
somewhat interrupted by the overt use of melodic lead solos. Those solos are
all over the place, too, and quite well done for the most part. The CD does
manage to keep your interest for the most part, and the first half of the CD
definitely blazes away and crushes with intensity. I don't think I've heard a
bad God Dethroned record, and since I have four of their titles, I'll say that
this one deserves a place in your collection as well. Nice contrast of melody
and brutality without constantly referring to "the Gothenberg sound."
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
INTAGLIO "Intaglio" (Solitude) SCORE: 84/100
Coming out of Russia, this CD never progresses past the ultra slow pace.
There's only 4 tracks, but your total running time is 47 minutes, folks. Those
without patience may find this a tad difficult to sit through, especially given
the fact that Intaglio uses the most simplistic and mimimalist of structures to
create atmosphere. Track 1, 'The Beginning,' is quite simply a 3 minute
instrumental that doesn't quite indicate where this CD is headed. The following
three tracks clock in at 12:51, over 13 minutes, with CD ender 'Wind Of Autumn'
reaching the 17 minute mark (more on WHY that is in a moment). The cold death
metal styled vocals are untypical for the genre, with lyrics seemingly
consisting of Russian language; thank god for the English songtitles in the
booklet, otherwise we'd have no way of knowing what the names of the songs are
(a mistake Solitude Productions made with one of their other bands Ekklesiast,
one of the reasons it's not reviewed here. Well, that and time constraints).
At times, though, these vocals do sound a bit strained, and a tad annoying,
especially when going for the long winded approach (most evident at the end of
'Dark Cherry Day.') Also too, since their instrumentation approach is quite
minimalistic, you'll find yourself going "hey, didn't they play that set of
riffs in a previous song?" It's unavoidable, but for the most part it's a
musical illusion. And on 'Solitude,' some of the riffs could have been better
written, and I only say that because they occur so frequently in the space of
that one song. Still, though, the dark acoustics and interplay between the
darker, more, "electric" guitars, if you will, are quite nice and do the job of
building the solitude and darkness necessary to fully enjoy this body of work.
It's not perfect, not even quite close to a masterpiece, but it definitely
works on the principle that less is more, and is spaced out to assure you of
that. CD ender 'Wind Of Autumn' seems to really be two songs, with a rather
lengthy wind sound separating the two. The wind noises were dragged on a bit
too long, but if you have patience you will hear the final few minutes or so
containing some of the best instrumentation (IE, most mellow and best written)
on the disc. It's all instrumental from that point, and it does need to be said
that the vocals are not as much of a highlight through these 4 tracks as the
instrumentation. A nice effort that you can just tune out the rest of the world
to. The very second CD release this Russian label has ever done.
Contact: Solitude Productions
ISOLE "Throne Of Void" (I Hate) SCORE: 98/100
If you're ANY kind of fan of doom metal, you HAVE to have this! Enough said,
really. This is traditional doom, though, so if you require death or blackened
styled vocals, you may want to look elsewhere. But then again, the emotional
heaviness is overwhelmingly crushing; I was hooked from the very first play!
Opener 'Autumn Leaves' starts things off interestingly enough: vocals AND
instrumentation go hand in hand right off the bat. The vocals are so
emotional in whatever mood they're in: at first they may sound rather
monotone but you soon see the wide range of vocal tones. Mostly of the doomy
and low variety but they can get emotional and almost soar off the disc!
They're that good! An almost hypnotic effect can be obtained especially in the
choruses of a song like 'Insomnium,' especially the way he lengthens the
chorus (which is simply the song's title elongated, so to speak). My alltime
favorite track is next to last CD tune 'Bleak" (which personally I felt should
have ended the album instead of 'Life?' (which, for some reason, isn't listed
in the CD booklet nor are there lyrics for it). 'Demon Green' is by far the
longest cut on the disc (a little over 10 minutes) but has some of the darkest
and heaviest vibes on the record; not to say that other songs don't have an
intense dark vibe about them. You feel it practically from track one! Where
this band shines is in their ability to change the structure of their sound
almost drastically but still retaining the original feeling the song started
out with in the first place: it makes a track like 'Demon Green' (for example)
varied and diverse, especially when they change to some almost thrashy guitar
work (which speeds up the tempo of the song a bit). The darkest vocal
performance comes via the title track, and these vocals almost sound chanted.
Multi layering makes these vocals come alive, and everything seems so
precariously balanced that if this band was to ever get another singer, I think
the vibe and feeling of this band would be lost. Doomy as fuck, and another
masterpiece from a genre that is slowly but surely gaining many fans and
building up to a massive catalog of fantastic and emotionally moving bands.
Contact: I Hate Records.
LA IRA DE DIOS "Archaeopterix" (Nasoni) SCORE: 92/100
If you thought Natas was the only export from South America then you'd be dead
wrong! However, unlike Natas, the stoner rock genre is just one small facet of
this Peruvian quartet's sound, a band that not only encompasses the stylings of
Hawkwind, melodic stoner rock not unlike Natas, but also the psychedelic 60's
coupled with some wild and passionate Jimi Hendrix like lead riffing!
Be forewarned, though: the atmospheres are quite beautiful and well done but
these songs are LONG! CD ender 'Cordillera' alone is a whopping 24 minutes, but
if you enjoy the atmosphere and the ambience the members create then you'll no
doubt be able to carry on as long as the music plays. The CD starts off with
the title track, one of the heaviest songs on the disc, and it's a crushing
stoner rock piece. There's lots of instrumental jams, and though lyrics are (as
far as I can tell) in Spanish, there isn't much vocal wise going on with each
and every track. Wind sounds start just about every track, and 'El Llamado'
continues things with some melodic but dark acoustic guitar work. The
atmosphere is quite effective though the instrumentation is a bit minimal,
especially the beginning where you have acoustics and drums. Varied structures
abound on the disc, though as I said some may find CD ender 'Cordillera' a bit
too unvaried, especially since the opening acoustic passage lasts almost 5
minutes, and is repeated 14 minutes onward, though spacey synths are added to
diversify the atmosphere. Speaking of synths, they are utilized to GREAT effect
and are one of the reasons Hawkwind like memories are invoked. 'Al Viento' is a
nice track as well, utilizing somewhat whispered vocals (which makes sense,
since the lyrics seem to refer to the wind), and the instrumentation sounds
like it's almost in the distance, as if all the notes were being carried away
on the wind! 'Nave Fenix' has some crazy psychedelic synth sounds at first, and
you're thinking acid trip music! The lead guitar work on this album is quite
simply amazing, and recollects one Jimi Hendrix, especially the rising high
note passages that seem to get more and more intense as the tracks go on. I was
a bit miffed at their insistence on adding chaotic passages near the ending of
'El Llamado,' though you can definitely hear the drummer's speed, making me
think that if La Ira De Dios doesn't work out, he might be able to pick up work
as a black metal drummer (okay, maybe not). At least 'Al Viento' manages to
break up the length by varying the structure, and for the CD ender there's a
slight pause after the 4.5 minute acoustic session. VERY nicely done, though as
I said some may consider a 24 minute track to be a bit much. And the next
longest tune is 17 minutes, but despite all this, if it's a trippy, melodic and
beautiful jam session you're looking for, with heavy and intense moods mixing
everything together, La Ira De Dios cannot be compared to any other acts out
today. Nasoni once again proves that they definitely KNOW talented bands when
they hear them, and surprised I am consistently at their ever diverse roster.
Contact: Nasoni Records.
LITTLE DEAD BERTHA "Way Of Blind" (Stygian Crypt) SCORE: 91/100
It amazes me these days just how many good quality bands are coming out of
Russia. This band surprises me even more with just how many great ideas they
pack into one song! I don't know what their earlier works were like, but to
label them gothic/doom metal (as the Encyclopedia Metallium has done) is just
plain wrong! You see, there's female operatic styled vocals, death AND black
metal styled vocals, some violins, synths, slow and doomy riffs and fast, black
paced type metal, also some blastbeats at times, and clean sung male vocals.
And all this can be heard in just ONE song! I ran out of space on the paper
jotting down all that can go in in one friggin' song! And there are MANY
structural variations that happen in just one song, often so flawless and
precise that it's obvious the band has 4 albums and many years under their
belts. This is a VERY good thing, as you have a 9 minute song, two 7 minute
tracks, and two 6 minute tracks, so you BETTER keep it interesting! The female
vocals I thought could have been utilized better, the operatic style works well
but it's more like chanted type (more specifically, it's "aaaah's" and "oooh's"
type of stuff). 'Last Way To Nowhere' is probably one of very few tracks that
retains much of the same pace throughout (but it can't get past the structure/
tempo change niche the rest of the CD falls into), and THIS track is the true
essence of gothic/doom metal for the band. It will throw you off a bit because
by the time this track rolls around (track 5), you're so used to the myriad of
time and structure changes that this song seems a bit longer than it is. No big
deal, especially when you hear the beautiful and sorrowful melodies which end
the track. Don't be surprised to catch a nice acoustic melody or a piano layer
breaking up the songs almost midway (like on 'Force And Brave' or 'Requiem.').
It is obvious that for all this variety, a few problems crop up. The lead
guitar work is one of the highlights of the disc, but the leads on tracks 1 and
3 tend to repeat themselves a tad. Some of the solo guitar work on 'My Evil
Wish' could have been fleshed out better, especially towards the end. CD ender
'Requiem' is TRULY the surprise highlight of the disc, since it opens up with
what sounds like TRUE doom/death, all the way down to the slower pace and the
vocals. But halfway through you see the link to the present (this particular
track dates all the way back to 1994, which predates even their first demo!),
especially with the amazing folkish melodies through heavy and acoustic guitar
work! This band knows how to make great use of multilayers, and I mean they
throw EVERYTHING from the vocals to the guitar, bass, synths and even violins
(which popped up MANY times). I don't know the exact words to describe the
style or sound of this band, but they are definitely good at writing catchy
material, and keeping it all interesting.
Contact: Stygian Crypt Productions.
MELECHESH "Emissaries" (Osmose/The End) SCORE: 96/100
One thing I found so amazing about "Sphynx," their last release, was the
abundance of amazingly dark and heavy, alnost thrashy guitar work. And in doing
the interview with Ashmedi (which you can, naturally, read this issue) I was
told that if I loved the guitar work on the last record, I would really dig it
on this one, and man if he wasn't kidding! CD opener 'Rebirth Of The Nemesis'
blasts right into your face from second one and is a furious and vicious
assault, though it did take quite a few spins before I could get into the high
ended leads. Tempos here are varied so quickly, which only comes from such
extreme skill (and many years of honing their abilities, I might add). The
blackened vocals are just as sick as ever, and with the CD opener we are
introduced to a new element in Melechesh's sound: The multivocal sung choruses!
This adds great effect to the somewhat occultish and otherworldly orientation
of the Melechesh sound (not to mention the distinct Middle Eastern flavor that
is almost a guaranteed framework from song to song). It's amazing how they work
this cultural influence into such brutal, vicious and fast paced black metal!
'Deluge Of Delusional Dreams' starts off fast yet again, and once again it took
some time to get used to the high end leads at such a fast pace. Thunderous
percussion abounds too, and on 'Touching The Spheres Of Sephiroth,' it's
amazing to me just how much control this guy has, especially when blasting away
at top speed; only to have to slow things down later on. 'The Scribes Of Kur'
was the only track I couldn't get into, and that's because it is strictly an
instrumental featuring some rather odd sitar like sounds. I'm not too big a fan
of the sitar unless it's done right, it tends to sound a bit too twangy for my
tastes. So 'Scribes Of Kur' is DEFINITELY too long for me at over 6 and a half
minutes! The 11th track (which I am not sure if it's a bonus track or not on
the U.S. release) is a MUCH better instrumental, and it DOES have the
Mideastern sound, but with heavy guitars making up the framework and some badly
needed percussion. 'Leper Jerusalem' is a kick ass track, hell nearly ALL the
tracks flat out rule, and of course the power of Ashmedi's vocals can be
clearly heard on the slower pacing of 'Emissaries And The Mysterium Magnum,'
which holds your interest despite it's 7 minute length. This is a masterpiece,
folks, and while a few tracks (most notably 'Emissaries...' and 'Ladders To
Sumeria') sound a tad familiar in spots (mainly on some of the riffing), it's
another vicious and sick Middle Eastern influenced black metal affair. Maturity
has not lessened the punishing effects of this newest release, and solidifies
Melechesh in the originator's throne of true Mesopotamian black metal.
Contact: Osmose Productions
Released in the U.S. through The End Records.
NERONOIA "Un Mondo In Me" (Eibon) SCORE: 91/100
It's quite difficult putting a numerical rating on a piece of work like this.
For those of you looking for a body of work that transcends and defies all the
atypical genres, THIS IS FOR YOU. Very heavily synth oriented, almost ambient
like in it's approach, though that would be your first mistake to label this on
those merits alone. Vocals are sung in Italian, and there are quite a few
unique vocal styles. Thus, the doom and industrial genres come into play. There
is a harsh set of vocals (mostly due to the electronic effects, harking back to
industrial), though they tend to be perceived as a rather distorted whisper (so
that includes doom metal that utilizes death metal vocals). Guitars are found
and ever present, though they tend to have unusual effects on them and are
often high ended notations. When they are used in full force, they can showcase
a very emotional and dynamic range (like on 'IX' and check out the lead solos
work on 'VI.'). The percussion work is the most interesting, as there are quite
a bit of effects processed through the drum work, but for the most part it's
quite unusual how distant the percussion work sounds, as if you're hearing the
drumming waaaay off in the distance. Unusual still is how the tracks are
numbered with Roman Numerals, not names. So you can fully concentrate on the
music, and what music it IS! One major complaint is with track 5, um, I mean
'V,' and simply put it repeats vocal patterns and phrasings that are found in
'VI,' though not as well structured. The industrial soundscapes weren't thought
out very well here, and there seems to be too much loose structure here, with
many pieces jumping from mood to mood. For all the relaxing atmosphere of this
CD, there's JUST enough darkness and haunting moods, whether in the vocals or
the instrumentation, to remind you that they're still there. Your darkest
vocal work is on CD ender 'X,' while the best and most dynamic vocal work
rounds out the best song on the CD with the track 'IX.' Though Neronoia jumps
around all over the place, everything is (with the few exceptions I noted) well
structured and I guarantee makes for a different, diverse and somewhat relaxing
atmosphere.... Float away! (features members of Canaan, another Eibon act).
Contact: Eibon Records.
PATHS OF POSSESSION "Promises In Blood" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 81/100
Many longtime readers of this publication should know that I have not been too
pleased with Cannibal Corpse since Chris Barnes left the band. Not to take
anything away from George Fisher, because he is a killer vocalist, but the
'Corpse machine just bogs itself down in too much speed with recent releases,
so what a surprise to me to see George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher taking on vocal
responsibilities in a band that owes much more to Gothenberg based melodic lead
riffing than the American based death metal sound we've known about for years.
The CD is a good mixture of slower, creepier death metal (like what "The
Bleeding," one of my favorite Cannibal Corpse records, was) that really hits
home with some of the faster passages and the more melodic leads. Overall, this
CD does a good job of keeping things interesting by varying not only the tempos
but also the very sound structures each song may start off with. Lead solos
abound too, and some of the best ones are at a dizzying pace ('Bring Me The
Head Of Christ') though also the eerie, slower ones add a different pace
('Through The Fiery Halls.') One of my favorite tracks is 'Where The Empty Gods
Lie,' most noted for such a crushing set of riffs and the sick vocal work of
Fisher, and it may come as no surprise that this is one of many tracks that
works well at a slower pace. The faster parts aren't bad either, especially the
percussion work which is not only forceful and solid, but helps drive the
overall hammering effect home. Not all the songs are blood boiling though; as I
said there's so much going on within one song that sometimes the track seems to
lose the focus as it's going through it's motions. For the most part, it's
seemingly a mix of American based death metal and Swedish Gothenberg riffing.
If anyone needs proof that George Fisher is one of the sickest death metal
vocalists, one only need to listen to the sheer power of his screams, something
that gets buried in many performances with Cannibal, due to the overwhelming
need to rip off vocal lines at 100 miles an hour. Paths Of Possession is
probably the best outlet to showcase the sickness and power of Fisher, and that
makes for good listening. Some of the songs could have been tightened up, but
overall it's hard to get completely bored since the backing band knows how to
keep the pace interesting. See also: Torture Killer, the band fronted by former
frontman Chris Barnes. Definitely proof positive that the "side projects" are
FAR more interesting than the main band from whence they spawned.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
SAMMATH "Dodengang" (Folter) SCORE: 86/100
What we have here is pretty basic black metal, at least from the indication of
the first few tracks. Of course track 1 'To Hell' is an instrumental, though a
pretty dark one at that, so we're left with 7 actual songs. The blackened
vocals are quite sick, though this reviewer thinks that the vocals should have
been brought into the forefront more. Production wise, this isn't the clearest
of plastic meshing, but it does the job adequately enough so that it doesn't
sound like it was recorded in a trash can. It's pretty much guitar, bass,
vocals, drums and that's it, so you old school black metal fanatics have
something to cheer about. However, once you start delving deep into the rest of
the tracks, some surprisingly skilled guitar leads rear their ugly heads. This
CD definitely captures a cold and dark atmosphere, made all the more ingenious
by the extremely fast and high ended lead riffing. And from the second track
('Ravager') on, there is a great deal of variety in the tempos and even the
structures on this album. Still though, for mostly fast paced black metal, I
think most would agree that an 8 minute song length (as witnessed on the title
track) is a bit much for fast paced black metal. Fortunately, some war sounds
thrown in midway serve to break up the track, which at times seems like two
seperate songs. A few of the tracks do have a tendency to drag a bit, like on
'Oblivion,' there's too much speed riffing and not nearly enough variety near
the end of the song, but this song does boast some dark, almost acoustic like
leads. And the almost doom metal pace ending out 'Merciless' (which also ends
the CD) was quite a shock as well. I didn't care much for some of the death
metal styled vocals which served as backup to the main screeching blackened
vocals, though I had kinda hoped it would bring what's already there out into
the forefront more. Solo bass guitar rumblings (with a dirty and sick processed
feel, remember sick is GOOD!) prove that there's more going on to the
percussion section than the overtly intense drumming! Speaking of the drumming,
quite varied are the drum riffs from tune to tune, and it's rather obvious to
me that this drummer is not only skilled, but knows how to write interesting
and diverse percussion material. Sometimes this CD will lose you for a bit, but
the guitar lead riffs are downright interesting, and the eerie and haunting
feeling is offset by some damn creative musicianship. Your attention might
wander at times, but for oldschool styled black metal, this is well played.
Contact: Folter Records.
SKYFORGER "Kauja Pie Saules" (Paragon) SCORE: 89/100
We've reviewed Skyforger's "Semigall's Warchant" before, and while that was
mainly a reissue of their 1997 demo of the same name, THIS is Skyforger's
first album, reissued this year by Paragon Records here in the States. A nice
job was done on the packaging first of all, complete with English translations
for EVERY song listed... Not that it matters, because if I were to learn the
lyrics to the songs, I would ALWAYS sing them in their native tongue. Makes it
more exotic. SO, basically, the language and band hail from Latvia, and lyrics
deal with their ancient cultures and mythologies. It's fist in the face styled
black metal, with many unique and exotic folkish touches, making even their
earliest of works very unique in all of black metal's realms. The vocals are
just as sick as the ones on "Semigall's Warchant," and are most unique: no one
sounds like Peter in the blackened genre! 'Zviegtin Zviedza Kara Zirgi' starts
the CD off in pure folkish fashion, complete with horse sounds, tribal drums,
melodic and quite nice acoustic sounding passages (STILL not sure if those are
guitar like instruments, as they also grace the CD ender 'Svetais Ugunskrusts')
and of course the male multivocal sung passages, yes, in their native language.
The percussion drives this CD well, quite thunderous are the battery of drums
and they help the sonic attack along quite nicely. You'll find plenty of
headbanging riffage here, though many of the songs are fast paced black metal.
The guitar work is oftentimes untypical of the usual blackened genre, however,
as you'll find Skyforger content to thrash away, and even compose a song at a
slower pace for half of it's length (great example of this is the track 'Kauja
Garozas Sila.'). Here and there on some tracks things tend to stray a bit, but
it's obvious this was a band in it's infancy. Most noteworthy of things going a
tad astray are on 'Viestarda Cina Pie Mezotnes,' where the guitar work sounds
quite odd, with rather wierd structuring. The vocals mix with this for a short
time on 'Kursi,' but thankfully the odd passages are brief, not totally ruining
the respective songs. 'Kam Pusat Kara Taures' was another non metal track, more
folkish than anything, utilizing flutes, horn sounds, various odd forest
sounds, tribal drumming, and that famous multivocal folk sung accompaniment.
The spoken vocals here sounded a bit rushed, and I thought this was an okay
part, though I would rather have been back to the vicious blackened
instrumentation! Still, for an early start in their career, these songs are
damn enjoyable, and quite vicious as well, even with the sometimes majestic and
folkish lean on their guitar riffing, it's safe to say that their sound is
quite original and headbangers will find plenty to their liking here.
Contact: Paragon Records.
TEMPLE OF BLOOD "Prepare For The Judgement Of Mankind" SCORE: 46/100
Right off the bat, I have to say that this singer is totally MISMATCHED with
this band. The musicians themselves all possess excellent musical SKILLS,
however their SONGWRITING abilities leave much to be desired. The vocalist has
a sort of warbly quality that really annoys, especially when the band is
cranking up the speed metal like influences. This instrumentation is oftentimes
TOO heavy for the likes of what is esentially a power metal singer. I do tend
to hear LOTS of amazing lead guitar work, but for some reason once the vocals
come in the guitarist tends to "dumb things down" a tad. Not to say the main
instrumental structures found within the framework of the songs are bad, I
think they could have been better written. And you all know, once a vocalist
proves to me he doesn't sound good, it's hard to get into the rest of the
band's repertoire. The fact that this band is preaching christian lyrics
doesn't sit well with me either, though that is definitely NOT a factor in my
decision. I won't even comment on the too bland and basic, done to death
album cover consisting of a hill, dark sky and three crosses. Basic, bare bones
bland looking crosses. You want a further analysis? 'Spiritual Warfare' is WAY
too long, though for the first few minutes it's cool to hear JUST THE BAND
thrashing away. The leads in this sound almost Nordic even! The drummer has no
problems keeping pace, in fact he even blasts away at top speed (most evident
on the track 'Conviction.' There isn't much in the way of catchy choruses
either, so I doubt that even a competent vocalist can do much with the choruses
on 'Seeking The Truth.' As bad as the vocals get to me, the higher range is
even WORSE. Still, standing to look for the good in everything, 'Legion Of The
Crypts' totally surprised me. No, it's not a great track or even a good one,
but on a few choruses I heard high notes that sounded really good! A freak
accident? Makes me think that maybe this guy is singing WRONG. I know the
vocals are such a personal instrument, and I REALLY hate to rag on someone for
it, but this band and this singer are TOTALLY mismatched. However, that being
said, the band isn't exactly writing catchy and dynamic songs, though they do
have the 80's thrash style down... Except they insist on being labelled speed
metal, which I will give them that. Once again, it's hard for me to EVER want
to listen to a band that has a bad singer, but the instrumentation and amazing
lead solos PROVE that, christian or not, with some retooling and redefining,
this band MIGHT be able to take it somewhere.
Contact: Temple Of Blood
BISHOP OF HEXEN. Interview with vocalist Lord Koder via email.
Bishop Of Hexen has returned after a nearly 10 year wait from their first
amazing record "Archives Of An Enchanted Philosophy." Armed with a new vocalist
and a few new members besides, their newest release "The Nightmarish
Composition" shows them back, stronger than ever (not to mention with better
production), and more sinister and darker than their previous effort. This is a
rather lengthy interview, but one that was a pleasure to enjoy, as "The
Nightmarish Compositions" is definitely one of the best black metal releases to
come out in 2006.
Well, the most obvious of questions on the table is the extremely
long wait between albums! I know Hammerheart went out of business, but
apparently there were some other problems dragging the band down.
Except for being in the army for 3 years, and recouperating after 3 years in
the army. (I) had good things to drink, bad things to drink, got girlfriends,
lost girlfriends, got hired and fired. Partying, smoking, shopping, reading,
travelling. We were busy doing this thing called "life." Hey, it's not like we
were dead for seven years! But it took us awhile to get back to business
The vocals of course are different this time around, though you can
hear similarities. What happened with the vocalist from "Archives Of An
Enchanted Philosophy," and what qualifications was (the band) looking for when
searching for a new singer?
The vocalist from "Archives..." has a demanding profession so he didn't have
the time for commitment. He sure had a distinct voice, a very harsh one, which
gave the "old" bishop an eerie sound. The qualifications for a new singer
were... none, since I knew Bishop Of Hexen (members) as friends for years
already. They invited me to sing, they thought they'd try and see what will
happen. The rest is history so they say.
Besides the obvious production qualities, how do you see the
fundamental differences between "Archives" and "Nightmarish Compositions?" What
would you say was better about each one?
The difference between making an album when you are 18 and when you are
reaching 30 is very very big. Your whole perception of your self and life has
changed and so is your musical perspective. And naturally it can be felt in our
music. "Archives..." was a mystery in how it was done, and in how it sounded
at the end. Very grim yet majestical. You cannot make it sound like this today,
even if you try. It's all analog. So the good and bad between the two are like
every comparison between digital media and analog. Analog= you get warmth and
true ambient. Digital=precision and sound ....but less soul. So musically which
is better? I can`t answer that. There are riffs in "Archives..." that if we
were in a more mainstream genre, you would probably read about us in the
"Rolling Stones" magazine, and also in "The Nightmarish Compositions," so...
One thing I thought was cool with the new album was the upfront
production of course, but also the fighting sounds on 'Spiritual Soul Sunset,'
as they sounded similar to the battle soundscapes on 'The Surreal Touch Between
Steel And Flesh.' Was that a way to tie in the two albums together?
They both cater (to) this "larger than life" atmosphere we tend to be very fond
of in Bishop Of Hexen. They both boast epic tales.
Speaking of concepts, we know that "The Nightmarish Compositions"
deals with the battle between good and evil, and also with dealing with inner
turmoil, but what does "Archives Of An Enchanted Philosophy" deal with? It
seems like in some fashion it's about the deeper meaning to existence, rather
than just accepting things at their face value.
"Archives..." is an epic story that focuses on the micro side of life through
the eyes of a character, whilst "Nightmarish..." has this outroperspective.
Like seeing the plot through the eyes of "history" (so called) itself in a very
And while we're on that subject, I was rather astonished to find
that you used the concept of the bible to explain your themes. I know
personally that the bible has been mistranslated and misquoted over the years:
let's not forget that dark period of man's history where the bible was
considered too sacred a book for the common man to possess. In my eyes that led
the book to be deliberately mistranslated and rewritten to serve those in
higher positions of authority. So who really knows WHICH version of the book we
can read today?
YOU, and by "you" I refer to the Anglo-Saxons,and Christian readers' people (of
which I do NOT associate myself - Ed), read the version edited and written by
Jerome, and others, during the medieval period. (Which is actually the "dark
period I referred to above - again Ed.). While WE (and by "we" I refer to
everyone who can read hebrew not necessarily jews) read the actual ancient
scripts wrtten during the times of the bible. Aprox. between 3500bc and 500bc
(let's not get into a history lecture, find out the precise details your self!)
you can imagine that like you mentioned, the facts has changed a bit during
4000 years. Moreover, in the lost scrolls of the dead sea (google it, if you
will) which were written in a later period, we can learn about parts which
state very clearly about the battle between "those of the light, and the sons
of darkness." Wait this is starting to sound like the Da Vinci Code bbbaahh!
You've mentioned Satanism in your thematics several times. How do
you view Satanism and it's importance today? Do you see it as relevant, or has
it outlived it's usefulness.
I see it as a good starting point to question the lies and deceit around you:
What better way to expose the lies of christianity than to look to the enemy of
the church? However, at some point I feel man has to move beyond that, as
Satanism itself seems rather limiting and more destructive rather than
And on a final note about that, since you stated that we all seem
to be battling against ourselves, how do you see things finally settling? Do
you believe in the concept of Armageddon, or are these "good and evil"
conflicts to be resolved in the minds of the collective human race as a whole?
Who knows, maybe we'll nuke the planet into oblivion; it certainly seems like
we're headed that way with all the environmental waste and pollution, not to
mention hundreds of babies being born ever day. Where are we to put all these
people when the lands are all used up?
Nature has it's way of dealing with population explosion. And baby booms. The
black plague in 14th century Europe for instance is a great example. The last
tsunami in southeast Asia. So I am not worried about where we should put all
the newborn. I don't believe in Armageddon, that the world will go up in flames
like a science fiction movie. I think we live through daily armageddon now
anyway. By the way, armageddon is also a very childish christian mistake. It's
an error. It's the christian version of the hebrew word Megiddo, a place in
today's state of Israel. A place where a great battle took place, but certainly
not the end of the world. Generally, the church and royal courts in the middle
ages acted as travelling agencies, shouting out verbal commercials of far away
holy lands and mythological manifestations. All this to inflame the minds of
the simpletons, and to drive them into crusades and all sorts of "start-ups" as
such. It's all about the money.
Is it difficult to be in a band like this coming from Israel? Have
you met with any problems or difficulties? I recently spoke to Melechesh and I
know some of their members do not reside there anymore. Is there even a real
metal scene to speak of? I'm not sure if metal bands play in your area much.
Israel is just another country in that aspect. The formal religion of this
country is not present in our daily life. It's not like we had a lot of
comments from the religious public of this country. I guess they don't know
about us at all. I don't know about Melechesh and their views, but I can tell
you that Israel is one of the most liberal countries in the world. It's such a
mess down here! I have travelled in Europe a lot and I can tell you that where
I live, in Tel Aviv, there are more parties and bars and pubs open all night
long full of people than most of the European capitals! Not to mention smaller
places. So metal in Israel, it's not even considered "radical" here. When at
least 10% of the population has seen real blood, real people getting killed,
and real atrocities... Metal, this is child's play.
How do you feel about Israel? Ashmedi from Melechesh spoke of
Jerusalem as an incredible place that is rather occultic and that really
doesn't belong to anyone, be they christian or whatever. It almost sounds like
he's describing a place that is the source of spiritual and energetic
"recharging," as he states you can feel the energy of the place just by
touching the soil and the stones.
Jerusalem is indeed a very impressive place. It's one hour away from here by
car. But still it's a totally different world. Christians of all streams
(Greek, Orthodox, Coptic, Catholic, etc), Jews, and Muslims are mixed there in
small crowded alleys. There are amazing moments of history scattered around the
city, and most from the B.C. era. Moreover, the "recharging" effect you
mentioned is quite famous amongst the pilgrims who still come here. It's called
the "Jerusalem Syndrome" and every year dozens of people are ending up in
mental hospitals claiming they saw Jesus, they ARE Jesus, Jesus spoke to them
or some other wierd shit. There are a lot of really spirital places in Israel,
very ancient catacombs from 2500 B.C., historical battlegrounds, etc. Every
major influential civilization has passed through this troubled land. From
Napolean to Richard the Lion Hearted, from Jesus to Muhammad. So modern Israel
is atop all this memorabilia.
I'm curious as to where you feel your place is in the black metal
scene today. Norweigan black metal has changed almost drastically since it's
inception in the early 90's, and many bands that were harsh and heavy have
since incorporated many elements into their music that some true "elite"
members do not find acceptable (IE, keyboards, female vocals, etc.) Of course,
I am NOT of this mindset, feeling that music has to expand and evolve. There's
a very fine line that can keep things running smoothly (as in you can change
and adapt your sound while staying true to your core sounds, your "center" if
you will) and cause you to abandon your ideals.
I feel that black metal has come to a stage where it needs to come back to
its sources and roots. Making good music, not thinking while writing the riffs:
"wow, this sounds TRUE," "or doesn't." Okay, we've explored all the fields of
this "true or trendy" chit chat. Are you satisfied? Are you through with that?
Let's go back to making the best and most emotional music the world has seen.
There is no other music like black metal; music that encompasses so many good
and sophisticated elements. From the lyrics to the song structures! They say
jazz is complicated... well it is, but at the same time it doesn't need to
sound comprehendable. And metal does. I don't think the main change in this
music is the leadership, be it Norweigan or Swedish. I think the digital
production studio and the internet has crippled metal. Making it sound plastic,
and being spread to every 9 year old with a "kazaa" software, diminishing the
joy and dark aura of the underground atmosphere. And when the underground is
dead (and it is), then the "zest" is diminished. Make music with true fury and
spite, and the rest is bullshit. And if for a certain riff a female voice
sounds right, then USE IT. It's all a matter of taste. But don't use female
vocals just to say that you have them.
Something I've been meaning to ask (for over 7 years or so now!) is
concerning the artwork of the albums. The cover for "Archives Of An Enchanted
Philosophy," is that a picture of an actual place in your homeland? And
finally, the nightmarish cover for "Nightmarish Compositions," that looks an
awful lot like a Lich creature (I've been playing LOTS of Elder Scrolls:
Oblivion for the PC and I've run across MANY of those!)
The cover art for our debut album "Archives..." was taken from a very old
painting book which Dimrost had in his family book library; it was drawn by a
German painter in the 19th century. The cover artwork for "Nightmarish..."
album was done by Eliran Kantor who is a very gifted artist. He managed to
realize our vision concerning the layout for "Nightmarish Composition." We gave
him general guidelines about the layout concept and he executed them perfectly.
Finally, as we wrap this up, are there any plans for live shows?
Have you ever played live out of your native country?
We prefer at this stage not to have live shows. We would like to have a real
"nightmarish theater" on stage. And since we are signed to a label, we don't
believe the funds for this operation need to come from our own scrawny pockets!
We do make CD sales around the world, so we generate income for our label, if
you catch my drift! And as for Israel, unfortunately we are very much tied up
in our daily jobs. 2 of us work in high tech, one of us is a general manager of
something secret, he he. And my humble self, I own an advertising agency. Full
time. SO, if someone would pay us to tour, then we can manage.
BLOODSTORM. Interview with Mezzadurus.
Bloodstorm has been doing their thing for roughly 10 years or so now. One of
the most interesting and vicious acts in black metal, the otherworldly themes
are what makes Bloodstorm truly unique. Not to mention that as an American
black metal act, it proves that Norway isn't the only country where vicious
black metal is born and raised. Once again, there are many discussions of
occult places and deities, as in the last Bloodstorm interview we did, so if
things are misspelled, I apologize, but much of what is discussed here is only
Sorry for the lateness of the phone call, but I got stuck finishing
up watching Stargate SG1. You ever watch that show?
Nah, I'm still stuck on Star Trek: The Next Generation. My girl loves that show
though. Actually, I love the movie; as a matter of fact, I sampled.... Remember
in the movie when they first went through the wormhole? You know, you hear all
the stars zipping by them and everything? That effect is actually in "Atlantean
Wardragon" (one of their first albums - Ed.) Of course, it's playing in
What's cool about Stargate is the explanation of the Egyptian,
Sumerian, and Nordic gods. Nice to see all those gods in there!
It's a wonderful thing. I believe in all that kind of stuff anyway.
It's kinda funny with your newest album "Sirian Storm," you were on
Metal War Productions for awhile, and then you jumped over to this label
Necroharmonic that I had never heard of before.
With "Ancient Wraith Of Ku," I paid for that album completely by myself. We
paid for the mastering; the band did it. Metal War Productions was my ex wife
and Spencer, they got fired from Nuclear Blast and wanted to start their own
record label but didn't have any money. So I used the money I had and paid for
the entire production of the "Ancient Wraith Of Ku" album. So I told them that
when they start the label, Bloodstorm would be the first band on their label. I
tried to help get the label off the ground. It's a really long story, the album
got one pressing, but they weren't able to keep it together. But my ex was
cheating on me the entire time we were together, with Spencer.
So what did she do at Nuclear Blast? Was she a publicist?
This is the truth, she sat at the desk, and had Spencer do all her work for
her. That's pretty much what it was. I was there a few times, she'd answer some
phone calls, but she told me herself Spencer would have to help her do
everything. And I was like, well, if you're getting away with that, then fine.
But you know, those situations only last so long.
Well, after "Ancient Wraith Of Ku" got done, Spencer was trying to get releases
done, and Karen was taking the money and spending it. See, the business end, it
became personal, because she didn't want to do anything; she didn't want to
work. Obviously, I didn't know anything was going on, because I trusted my wife
and one of my best friends. We did shows though, we did a tour with Enthroned
around the States, a few festivals. The guy that put the tour together didn't
do it that well, you're in Georgia right?
The furthest south we went was to North Carolina, South Carolina. We didn't
even get to go to Florida, I don't know why. We then went west to Texas and
them up to Kansas, etc. and made our way to Colorado, Vegas and California.
Anyway, with the record, none of the money got put back in to do another
record, because the money was being dipped into (money that was supposed to go
back into the label to make other releases). And I had nothing to do with the
record label, I wanted NOTHING to do with it. It's my wife and Spencer. I don't
want to do any distribution, I don't want to be a promoter, write a fucking
magazine, do a radio show....
So who is behind Necroharmonic?
Necroharmonic is Roy Fox. He's a great old friend of mine and he's been
involved in the scene about as long as I have, we're the same age. Back in the
day when I was involved with Goreaphobia, Roy was one of the first people from
that scene still around today, and he came to ALL the shows and he comes to all
the Bloodstorm shows today. Whenever we play in New York and New Jersey, he's
there. He's really, genuinely involved. He's seen things come and go, and I'd
rather work with people like that. They really are involved! It's not about the
money, it's just honesty and love of the metal scene, the music. In this
fucking country, nowadays you have to be geographically correct to play a
certain style of music, which is fucking retarded. If these stupid, cowardice
internet geeks knew ANYTHING about the metal scene.... Half of them know no
Venom came from England, man! I mean, this music was NEVER meant to
be mainstream anyway. You can't go next door and hang out with people who are
into death and black metal.
Yeah, exactly. You know, a lot of bands from the 80's never really got to see
the light of day. It never really was meant to be mainstream. Even in the 80's
when metal had it's biggest potential. All you have to do is look at the
history. How many bands were out there that were really good, and made demos,
but NEVER got to see the light of day! And a LOT of those bands came from the
States, a lot of them came from Canada even! A lot of bands up there couldn't
get a fair shake, Voivod was the real successor out of that country.
Well, hell, look at Razor, they have like what 10 or 12 albums out
Yeah, and they were put on the back burner. Only the people that were really
involved with fanzines, and going after national magazines like Aardshock,
Metal Mania, Kerrang, Cream Metal. But there used to be those sections in the
magazines for underground metal, like a Carnivore or English Dogs album
review. The scene was an isolated thing, and there's so many things that people
can say caused things to drop, and the scene had problems because of this...
Well, a lot of people blame grunge really (laughing).
Yeah! I believe that... Going back a little further, I blame two fucking bands.
For the people that were into thrash, Anthrax. With that Run DMC shit and 'I'm
The Man.' For the mainstream people, people who were into Kiss, Van Halen and
Guns 'N' Roses and stuff, it was Aerosmith. Those two fucking bands in two
different genres in this country completely ruined metal. And all that glam
pussy rock shit, look at what it is! It's selling sex. The porn industry is one
of the biggest industries in the world! And sex sells, so what does America do?
They capitalize on it. And then metal got really stupid and queer, people
didn't take it serious anymore and got introduced to rap. All of a sudden, rap
is being made out to be this new inner city anger thing. I hate to say it, like
the black man's hardcore.
It's funny you say that, because I did an interview with Abdullah,
and Jeff Shirilla said something interesting. You know, metal was strong in the
80's and died out in the 90's. Then metal comes back strong in the 2000 era.
Guys like us who are old enough to have kids, you think our kids are going to
want to listen to what their parents listen to? That's why they turned to rap.
And then of course as they get older, their kids don't want to listen to that
rap shit, so they turn back to metal. It's the whole rebellion phase, which
Jeff explained very well.
My parents kinda left me alone about my music. My dad was kind of an easy rider
and my sisters were somewhat like wild hippies. Not like the Greatful Dead
hippies tho. My family was very into music, and when I was 6 I was heavily into
Kiss. I mean Marvel came out with the comic, and you see them on T.V. and
suddenly they were like heroes to me!
Yeah, it made them seem so much larger than life!
I didn't understand what it meant, but I liked their look and dug their music.
I was like "wow, they're like superheroes!" Your heroes are REAL! And it all
ties in! And then here comes AC/DC, and it was '78 by then. I started liking
them! And then I'm 9 years old in 1980, and my brother who is older is into
Rush and stuff like that, AC/DC and all, and I was already into it. The area I
lived in was full of people like US, and it helped develop who I became. 1982
you have "Number Of The Beast," Motorhead's "Overkill," and then there was
Venom's "Black Metal." Whoah! When I saw "Black Metal," it was a little bit
intimidating to me, I was like "this shit's like the Exorcist!" (laughs). I
mean, I was 11 years old! Venom's stuff was real to me, because it wasn't like
Iron Maiden or Priest or anything. Then comes Slayer, and Hellhammer, and bam.
Everytime I see a Bloodstorm album, the first thing that blows me
away is the artwork. The "Ancient Wraith Of Ku" artwork was kickass, and this
"Sirian Storm" thing, it's like a times 1000 nightmare out of the Cthulhu
mythos or something! It's so fucking sick, and I just love it.
Thanks. The "Sirian Storm" album, the whole magical work and operation there
deals with Sirius, the double star system. Anubis is the gateway, the leader to
that star. And of course, there's Cthulhu, that's supposed to be his home
dwelling. Everything ties in together, it's silver magic. It's supposed to be
the silver star. It all has it's place. And the songs all deal with the
negative aspects, the negative effects of Sirius and how it affects Earth
during it's potencies during the year. It's most potent in the winter solstice,
before it's not visible in the Northern Hemisphere. There's such a wealth of
ideas with the occult. The Sirius star is such a potent element for me; it ties
into my birthday, my magical number and the intelligence of my zodiac. I love
putting conceptual ideas and theories together about how these things work; how
this affects the planet, the people, the magnetic energy coming into this
planet, the effect of our solar system because of it... The Sirian Storm is all
the negative phases that Sirius gates through back to us, shines back to us.
How do you balance all that, as it sounds somewhat catastrophic!
The whole thing about it is, is acceptance. I was told this a very long time
ago by my advisor. He said that you have to understand there's no black or
white, it's grey, silver or gold magic. You need both, but most of all you have
to have purity. Accepting the negative DOESN'T mean it's bad, it means more
like you're accepting the change. The things you consider a normal standard in
your life may switch, and will have an effect on you. Earth has polar shifts,
and we're going through a polar shift. I've been trying to read up on it more
recently, like within the past 8 to 10 months, and that's one of the reasons I
wrote "Sirian Storm," maybe Sirius is having it's effects during the time of a
polar shift. It's changing the world, the solar system, it's changing thought
patterns, matter and energy.
Did you have someone else conceptualize the artwork or did you do
We usually have the same artist. We had this guy Saksalin, I met him at a
festival in December 1999, he was with the guys in Ibex Throne, and he does
artwork for Ibex Throne too. We used him for "Ancient Wraith Of Ku," and his
original artwork is on the back of Sirian Storm, it's a lightning elemental of
the negative phases of the silver current of magic.
Yeah, and it looks like there's two jackal heads on sticks there as
It's in the form of Anubis, one of the main Guardians of that path, along with
the three daughters of the Bowstar. Which I specifically write about in the
song 'Anubis Cell.'
Yeah, I remember when we touched upon these themes in our last
interview. It seems like there's some themes that carry over from the "Ancient
Wraith Of Ku" album.
Yeah, there is. The thing is, I really started it deeper by the time I did
"Pestilence From The Dragonstar." I was doing it in the demos of course, due to
various Grimoires, especially the Necronomicon. These Grimoires had a lot to do
with Talismanic magic, and the intelligent formulas behind them. And all the
forumlas have elementals, and they have a physical manifestation, a mirror
image of itself reflected onto you when you're channeling that psychic energy
into it. You're seeing yourself as that energy. It's more of a crude, rough,
primordial working (the earlier Bloodstorm stuff), but by the time I did
"Pestilence...," it was more of the double currents, the Typhonian Trilogies,
the Temple of The Red And Black Snake. It got deeper into that, and also into
Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations. Just taking things a bit deeper, more
vast, and branching out into many other areas. The occult is a subject that can
NEVER dry up, and it doesn't follow a specific path, which is fantastic. That's
the beautiful thing about it, it's a free spirit, a very pure and free working
knowledge of the mind, body and the spirit. It's a perfect trinity.
And that's what I've come to realize as well, I mean I've studied a
lot of religions on the planet, and they're so rigid and dogmatic! I mean, to
simplify and somewhat gleefully blaspheme it, it's like: sit, stand, kneel, and
pray. You basically just follow the words of the preacher, and there's really
no time for personal reflection or growth.
It's like brainwashing.
Yeah... Well, you get where I'm coming from, right, I mean there
needs to be personalized study along your path. With religion, it's like
everybody is following ONE path, one straight line, and there's no deviation,
no adjustments. Because no two people are exactly alike, and as important as
religion is made out to be, it should be able to fit the individual, not the
other way around!
Religion is control, something that inspires guilt, control and fear. From an
infant stage up until your manhood, it inspires guilt upon you, and it's
psychically pushed into your subconsciousness. And one thing guilt does to a
person's body and mind, and your psychic energy, it makes you more prone to be
sick and have illnesses. The idea of guilt brings on the idea of punishment and
it brings to forth the whole idea of sin. It's a really sick, disgusting
control mechanism that's been going on since the dawn of time. Guilt is like
the poison of the human mind, spirit and body.
It's almost like programming your subconsciousness to failure!
Exactly. It's destined to fall. One of the most beautiful things that Celtic
Frost writes about, and always has. I love that, they do it artfully; they're
able to paint a real picture in those words, those feelings. You can actually
put a tangible body on that. Voivod's like that too, though they're more post
apocalyptic, technological disasters... Same idea though, even though it's a
different area of it. Voivod and Celtic Frost seem to work in the same area,
just in two different perspectives. That's how I see it. One of the things
that I stumbled across, a passage going through one of Kenneth Grant's books,
is that each man and woman's mind is a star, and your mind is a magical
universe. And you are yourself a star and you travel within your own universe
freely. That is a very pure and honest way of thinking and living. Because
realistically you can only be hurt if you allow yourself to be hurt, you can
only be controlled if you allow yourself to be controlled. You can only be sick
if you want yourself to be sick. Your mind is YOURS. That's the one thing that
no one else can take it away unless you allow it. If you're conditioned at
youth and you keep that guilt the rest of your life, then you WON'T become the
things you WANT to become. You'll feel like you're supposed to be this. You're
supposed to fit in, supposed to contribute, "you gotta be contributing to
society," and benefitting others. Benefitting others is good, you know, IF
those individuals earn it. From YOU.
And of course there's a very popular saying, which of course gets
twisted around, which is "To do thy will is the whole of the law," which I
interpret as saying, you know, you're here on this planet, you're supposed to
figure out what you're supposed to be doing, and then you just basically do it.
It's just following your lifepath, which I understand VERY clearly.
That's all I've ever looked at it as. Be honest with yourself, be true to
I want to get your reaction on something. I think we talked about
this in the past, but I did an interview with Melechesh, and Ashmedi was
talking about how the occult is really just undiscovered science. For instance,
herbal medicine is good, even though doctors won't prescribe it....
You're exactly right, because the body has all the necessary minerals and
vitamins, all the chemicals we need to deal with things in our bodies. These
natural healing abilities. I believe it's the development of the mind. I always
look at it as undoing your thinking, what you were taught as you were young,
and rethink your life completely ALL over again. Now this is for me, everybody
is different. Whatever works for a person, THAT'S all that matters. As long as
it is pure for themselves, and uncorrupt. You cannot allow yourself to be
corrupt, because if you are corrupt you are always going to be destined to fail
or you'll be living an illusion. You'll be behind where you should be at the
end, and it's already been proved there's other dimensions that exist. There's
infinite bigness and infinite smallness, and there's worlds within worlds. It's
ignorant to think that what we have is IT! Our minds are only 10 to 12 percent
I recently bought "Visions Of The Soothsayers," the 4 videos on one
DVD. I REALLY enjoyed that video set, those were amazing videos! Especially the
"Invaders Of Darkness" video.
Ah, you know what that was inspired by? The Phantasm movies. The first Phantasm
movie, well, visually anyway. You know that part where the hooded guys are
walking around the woods? When the screen comes up and you see that haze, that
is like your mind's eye seeing the cross dimension. Like a doppelganger
dimension. They're like Arachnian Acolytes. That was the last song on the album
("Pestilence From The Dragonstar") before the bridge to the "Ancient Wraith Of
Ku" album. On the "Ancient Wraith" album, you see these spider headed acolytes
spinning a web onto this magical mannekin (on the front cover). There's the
triple fire tongue in a crowned horn coming out of it's head. It's supposed to
be the human embodiment of Anubis. The acolytes are the network, the web
between both dimensions. They're giving life to this magical mannekin to
operate between both, to polarize both planes, and the acolytes are responsible
for bringing their virus, their current, through both worlds. Through the
language of fire, through the magical mannekin.
'Clavicula Solomonis' was a cool tune, where was that video filmed
at? It looked like it was filmed under a bridge or something.
Yep, it was a bridge on the Delaware River going to New Jersey, on the
Philadelphia side. We were trying to find a place where it was not all grass,
and dirt and having a bit of privacy. And that was the best place we could
find! And it was windy there, we liked it that it was windy. It was hard, that
was shot for us almost for free. The people that worked on it for us, we bought
them dinner, drinks, basically whatever they wanted, we bought it for them. We
gave them cash, gas money, merchandise, toll money...
The quality on those videos were really good, although I assume
that these were never shown on MTV or any music channels or anything.
They're very amateurly done, and the truth be told, they were only HALF done to
what they were supposed to really be. It was one team of people that went to a
videography school in North Jersey, they were friends of ours that came to the
Bloodstorm shows a lot. All three people got together and shot one of the
videos, and each one of them edited it. So we put it out, but there was
supposed to be a LOT more going on.
I really dug these videos, though, they're NOT your typical videos.
I REALLY liked the use of symbols and those cool pieces of ancient text that
scrolled along the screen on I think the video 'Nibiru Assassins.'
Actually, the ancient text is the REAL writings of the Necronomicon. I actually
have a copied version from the original text, the original text written in
Arabic. It's a COPY of it.
How did you manage to track THAT down? (Of course we're referring
to the fact that most, or nearly ALL, modern day copies are heavily edited with
many references and texts removed).
My occult advisor had a shop in upstate Pennsylvania, and he served in World
War II. After the war was over, he went back to Egypt, as he was stationed in
North Africa. He went back to Egypt, and got fascinated with the occult there.
He read the Egyptian book of the dead, Crowley's books, and Osman Spare's work.
He wound up going to Saudi Arabia, and after he got discharged he did some
travelling. He had contact with people over there, and someone in one of those
countries had the recopied grimoire of the original language. And that friend
of his copied it for him, it's actually a third generation of the original
copy. I can't read it though, because it's all in ancient Arabic.
Are you planning on doing any more videos or anything like that?
Oh yeah. We've been discussing it over the past couple of months. We're
thinking of doing one for 'Anubis Cell.' It's going to be like the tomb of Set
or tomb of Anubis. We want to try and find something that replicates that well.
Like from the city of the Crocodile, start from there and do a star pattern,
you know like a Stargate thing you know how they zip you around from star to
star until you reach your destination? We're gonna do a flight plan thing where
we go to Sirius, but along the way we'll have a couple of key celestial points.
And those have been documented in ancient Sumerian texts, the epic of creation
where Tiamat and Marduk have collided in battle in our solar system, and it
spilled out through the Kypher belt. Supposedly, and something that's been
discovered in the past couple of years is, we are a binary star system and we
have a dark star. There's a twin to our sun, it's a dark sun. There's 6 inner
planets, and the outermost planet is like pluto.
Which they changed and said it was a fucking moon!
That's what I mean about this fucking country and all that bullshit. It is. And
they do that, and because why? Because more people, like US, they ARE out ther
and they DO want the truth.
Finally, anything you can tell me about a new record or new songs?
We're writing new songs, we've got six new ones and we just wrote a new song
yesterday. I'll give you some song titles we have, one is called 'The Howling
Void,' which will probably be the opener on the album. We have 'The Distortions
Of Enlil,' another song called 'Ituhat,' it's one of the curses I like to call
the Reptilian Language of Fire, which is the currents of the Red And Black
Snake, the stellar lycanthrope of the primordial nullspace, the spaces of the
universe. Then 'Disease Falls From The Stars,' 'The Venom Elemental' is another
Any theme that's going to be running through this next album?
Yeah. Actually, the idea is, it's gonna be dealing with... There's a 12 path of
the Nightside of Eden, on the qliphotic side of the tree, the Kaballah tree.
And when I say Kaballah tree, I don't mean the Hebrew culture, I'm talking
about this as a magical operation. This has nothing to do with culture or
heritage or nationality, or religion at all. It's about the binary star
system. The main formula is supposed to be a shadowed mockery of our physical
plane. It's the mockery of mankind, which... the magical work I'm doing is the
influence of Baratchial. It's attribute is the planet Mercury, and it's shadow
mass is a sigil whose magical number is 260. The meaning of that number 260 is
supposed to be concealed, hidden, a priest. Not of light but of the dark,
meaning the blackness. It's the root being of the Egyptian Kan, meaning the
black. It's also attributed to the magician, or the magnus; you know, the black
or hidden priest. It should NOT be identified with the black magician, but the
black brothers: the black brothers are the black brotherhood of the crimson
desert of Set, Set being the evil god of Ancient Egypt.
Well, Set wasn't originally seen as an evil god; he was described
as that later on by god knows what in Egypt.
Right, exactly. Metaphorically speaking, it's duality. The twin duality of the
Kinda like our Yin and Yang?
Kinda somewhat. It could be like that; it has the same principles. It's like
the temple of the red and the black.
CELTIC FROST. Interview with Martin at the Masquerade in Atlanta.
When you opened up the show with 'Procreation Of The Wicked,' I
think that's the slowest I've ever heard that song! I'm very familiar with
Celtic Frost's material from the past, and I definitely remember the doom metal
elements of Celtic Frost; moreso in your live set!
This is the way we hear the material right now. Fast songs like 'The Usurper'
and 'Into Crypts Of Rays' will always be fast songs. I think we tended to play
'Procreation Of The Wicked' too fast in the old days; right now we can develop
more of the feeling it actually has, that slow, dragging, twisted "wreeeeaar!"
It has more of a drive to it. We were talking about that in the band, what
tempos the songs should be played. They are played the way they feel natural to
us. Songs like 'Necromantical Screams' and 'Dawn Of Megiddo,' work SO perfect
right now. We hardly ever played those songs live in the old days, because they
just didn't seem right. We played them but it just seemed like a riff fest to
us. But right now those songs have a majesty they never had!
Some of my biggest memories of Celtic Frost were when they toured
with Voivod, and I guess you guys trying to keep in synch with that; I can
Yeah, 1986, that was the first time both of those bands were unleashed upon the
North American audience. And those were the days of course when everything got
started. It was a time when thrash and speed metal, and extreme metal was
completely new. Of course, it's a different time that you can't compare to
Yeah, speaking of nowadays, I'm sure you're familiar with a band
called Usurper. What do you think of those guys?
Out of Chicago! I like them. I heard a couple of songs; I don't have a record
of theirs or anything, but I really liked it.
Total Celtic Frost worship! (laughs). Within a black metal context.
Yeah, they do a little bit more thrash, more faster stuff. Even faster than we
would have done it back in the old day. Actually, I just found out about a band
made up of all these Florida ex-Death and Terrorizer members called Denial
Fiend. That was the name of our original drummer in Hellhammer. It was his
stage name: we all had stage names back then. Tom Warrior was Satanic
Slaughter, I was Slayed Necros, and Bruce was Denial Fiend. Of course you have
a lot of bands that take their names from Celtic Frost songs or album titles.
Therion, you know, for instance.
How do you feel about that nowadays? I have to admit I was a bit
skeptical about the turnout: sometimes in Atlanta shows don't do so well, but I
was pleased to see a lot of people. It was a good sign of respect.
I appreciate it, I was amazed as well at the turnout. This is a headlining tour
and we're out on our own on the road. Of course we have great support from a
fantastic band like Goatwhore, who have been out on the American circuit for 2
years almost non stop. They're working the market and are really seasoned guys.
And of course we had 1349, which was their first time in the U.S.
Yeah, I read about that, we didn't get them here, I really wanted
to see 1349 here in Atlanta.
They could only afford to do the first half of the tour. What I was told, is
that everybody's going out in packs. You always have package tours with two
headliners, maybe even three sometimes, plus one or two opening or special
guests. That's why you have shows like Sounds Of The Underground, The
Gigantour, Ozzfest, they're all working like that. They get a whole lot of
bands together, a whole bunch of headliners, and then you get the crowd's
attention. So I'm really amazed at how well things have been working. The
responses we got were WAY beyond what I expected, sometimes I was overwhelmed.
There's people coming that have seen us in 1986, some that have had our records
for 20 years or more; there's the new generation coming who have gotten to know
us through some of their black metal or death metal favorites who have cited us
as an inspiration.
There was even some punk kids in the crowd, which surprised me.
Yeah, well, I think the crossover potential for this band is bigger than it was.
I mean, Celtic Frost is a metal band, but somewhat UNLIKE other metal bands as
well. Even in the old days we were (unlike other bands). Although we were gone
for over 15 years, all those people in all those bands who cited us as an
influence and inspiration, they kept the spirit alive. And I'm really greatful
and very thankful for the support, because if it wasn't for them there would
not be that much interest in Celtic Frost I think.
It seems like all these 80's metal bands are back together, like
Exodus, obviously Hallows Eve, even Voivod is still going!
It's hard to say "back together," I mean if you check out Exodus nowadays, who
is there from the original days? Exodus is a great band, they were part of the
original pack. If not for Exodus, Metallica wouldn't have been the way they
are. The way they WERE I mean! Not now of course!
(laughs) Yeah, not the way they are NOW! You mean the way they WERE
back when they were great. I'm sorry, but my respect for Metallica went into
the toilet: I got rid of ALL my Metallica stuff.
I don't have a problem with Metallica. Honest to god. I mean, who am "I" to
say? I'm in a band who did "Cold Lake!" "Vanity/Nemesis" is a good metal album
but it's not a great Celtic Frost album.
Well, there's experimentation, and then there's abandoning who and
WHAT you are: where you came from. "Monotheist" is a PERFECT example of what
I'm talking about: yeah, it's different, but it's still.... The ideals... Maybe
this sounds corny, but the ideals of the underground are still there, the ideal
that you want to be heavy, you want to be dark...
I think it's more underground than anything we've done for a long, long time.
It's more underground than "Into The Pandemonium" or anything that EVER came
thereafter. And one of the reasons it is like that is because we had to get
back in sync. When Tom and I decided to do this, we were giving it a thought
like "WHY should we do this?" We don't want to do it for the money, and this is
Celtic Frost. It should be in the spirit of what Celtic Frost meant back then,
but it should represent US right now. Because otherwise it would be like a lie.
It would be sort of like Kiss going back into costume and playing the old songs
again. Fair enough, it's okay, and a lot of people want to see this, but this
is not what Celtic Frost was all about. Celtic Frost was about genuine emotion.
It was about that spirit of rebellion that we had, of feeling misplaced in our
times, you know? And of course we realized we're in a different place right now
but we're still the same people we were back then. We had to get in touch with
ourselves and rekindle our friendship, get in synch with our legacy.
...And I heard that was quite strained for awhile.
And that's why it took so long. It took like 4 years because we really had not
just to write a couple of songs, but we had to become a band again. And not
only become a band again, but become Celtic Frost again. We had to be able to
live it NOW, because otherwise it would have been rehashing the old days and
covering our songs with different titles. We didn't want to do "To Mega
Therion" part 2, because it would have never been the same. This is more in
touch with the time when we were doing Hellhammer, or when we were starting
with "Morbid Tales."
How do you feel about the black metal scene? I know people talk
about black metal's beginnings starting with Venom or Bathory, but even before
Mayhem started you had such a sick and brutal record with "Apocalyptic Raids,"
and when I say sick, I mean in a very good way! (I got off track a bit when
discussing this record, I had to be reminded of what the topic was!)
The black metal scene is so diverse by now; there's already so many different
subgenres to it, and it's really hard to put it all into one place. Like, I
wouldn't consider Mercyful Fate a black metal band, especially by their music;
however King Diamond is one of the most sincere and honest Satan worshippers
that I have ever come across. He's truly genuine in his feelings and in the way
he approaches his beliefs. So he's black metal in that respect, he's also of
course black metal by the way he dons the makeup, the corpsepaint...
Which of course goes even further back to Kiss in the earliest of
Right. Well, we used it as well, but we didn't use it like Kiss, King Diamond
didn't use it like Kiss did, he did it in a different way as well. I have a lot
of respect for artists that have created works of art that have brought
extreme metal, and black metal in particular, further. The Norweigan black
metal scene has created a lot of genuinely interesting and emotionally and
spiritually true music. Of course, they've done a lot of stupid things as well.
When you really reflect on that stuff, like when the church burnings were done,
or the murders, it was just a couple of piss drunk kids.
Well, this may sound wierd, but I really identify with Norweigan
culture and bands, especially Nordic culture. I hope I'm not stepping on any
toes, but I am a big hater of christianity, and most of that is because I've
seen it destroy people's lives and tear families apart. And not that I'd ever
go out and torch churches, but after seeing what the Christians did to the
Nordic culture and their way of life, but I think those actions were justified.
It's one thing to be a barbarian, a warrior, and that's your way of life; at
least you know what you're up against. With christianity, they say "peace and
love," but then they're slaughtering women and children and building their
buildings upon sacred Nordic burial grounds; it's hypocritical, you know?
I just want to say Christianity AIN'T all about peace and love. It MIGHT seem
like that in the teachings and the writings but not in the way it is lived, not
in the way it is brought to the people. Otherwise it would not have spread
across the globe: South and Central America especially wouldn't be christian.
And they're almost vehemently christian too!
Yeah, but they've had christianity FORCED upon them. I think Norweigan black
metal was first and foremost a genuine youth rebellion. They wanted to rebel to
the way they felt the Norweigan society was putting a corset around them. They
didn't feel they were free enough or liberated enough to do what they wanted to
do... But they didn't even really KNOW what they wanted to do. This is my
guess. And of course rebelling against the highest state within that society;
the highest state in any society is usually a god that society worships. In
this case, the christian god. It was also my form of rebellion when we did
Hellhammer. And when we started with Celtic Frost. I was brought up as a stern
Yeah, so was I!
My mother was a Catholic religious teacher.
And it was probably forced upon you, too, like it was for me.
Well, no; see, as a kid you don't feel it as forced upon you. You don't really
know what's going on because you don't (yet) have a sense of the self. But it
always felt wierd to me, and it felt frightening and not right. The first time
for me being a kid in church, I think I was 5 years old, and everyone's
"hallelujah!" and good is this, and we're liberating whatever, and I have this
lifesize image of this tortured person hanging in front of me nailed to a cross
by human beings. It's a human being, but it's supposed to be a god. But he's
dying you know, and he's dying for our sins. Not only that, he's dying for MY
sins! I am a five year old kid, I felt like I was really, REALLY bad, because
that person was dying for my sins. And ALL the explanations they had didn't
work out for me, and they never did thereafterward work out for me. And that's
where everything got started, of course. And then of course, becoming a
teenager I wanted to become my own person; to get rid of all the codes, and the
strict rules, the morals, that society had forced upon me. Of course, "society"
that time was represented by my family, my parents. So I was opposing them, I
was opposing their god, and the strongest way to do this was by denying their
god. I was brought up a catholic, and I will have to carry that around with me
for the rest of my life. I will always have part of the catholic boy in me. My
parents haven't done me wrong; we had our differences, but I respect them, and
we rekindled. So I sorta respect their beliefs as well, but they're not MY
beliefs, it ain't MY God, and for that matter I don't believe in Satan. Satan
is a symbol for me, a powerful symbol that I use to oppose all those christian
believers thatfeverently try to force their beliefs upon everyone else. (Gets
animated at this point) You know, "I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOU!! I AM TRYING TO
SAVE YOU and if you won't be saved, then I'll destroy you." And these people
are in power. There is somebody in power RIGHT NOW who says (conveyed in a
rather snotty voice) prayer before he goes to dinner! While people are being
killed in his name by corporations that he supports so he and his friends can
make more money.
You're talking about George Bush, right?
Well, you mention the name... But I have NO disrespect for people's
personal beliefs, if they live their religion on their own, and leave me out of
it. They have respect for me for my beliefs. My quarrels are not with the
personal beliefs of the people, but with organized religion. Take the catholic
religion for that matter. It's the biggest christian creed in the Western
Hemisphere. We are in the 21st Century country right now, and half of the
followers of that creed don't have anything to say in church. They cannot
become a priest, they cannot become a cardinal, they cannot become a bishop.
They will have NOTHING to say in that organization. And the direct
representative of their god will ALWAYS be a male, and NOT a female. EVERY
female has nothing to say in that religion. In the 21st Century, if the United
States would try to enforce that amongst the women, they would have an
uprising, they would have a rebellion! How many females would have people
telling them there would only be males running the government, only males
running for the senate, the congress, etc. But for the Catholic religion, it's
Yeah, but what I really hate about religion is they enforce rule
through fear, it's fear that's the backbone of how religions keep their people.
Even dictators and people like Machiavelli knew how to control a population
(Read "The Prince" by Machiavelli some time).
But that's in their religion basically. It's not really like that in the
personal creed, which can be a liberating experience. I know people who find
that to be a liberating experience, and they have a great respect for me and
other people who don't necessarily share their beliefs.
Yeah, but those types of people seem to be very few and far
between; the rest of them are so fanatical about it!
You know why? Because most have decided, without knowing so, to become
followers. Because it has been forced upon them to be followers. This is the
way society works, you have leaders and you have followers. Most have decided
to be sheep and they're going for the slaughter. And they're going happily with
a hallelujah on their lips, and this is one of the problems I had when I was a
So let's talk a bit about the thematics of the new record, because
I don't have it yet. I know you've moved a bit away from the same lyrical
themes as Hellhammer.
It would take too long of a time to talk about that. But we have a lot of those
things that we've been talking about. We have the song 'Synagoga Satanae' which
is part of the tryptic; three songs making up this one piece. 'Synagoga
Satanae' is about a realization that I had, when I realized that hell, just
like the devil, was a christian creation. Because there was a need for that
enemy, there was need for a place for everything they deemed to be evil or bad
to be put. And they created hell and Satan. All those people that don't believe
in Christ, people that might be christians but don't have the same beliefs as
they themselves; they're heretics. So I realized that I am already in this
place, because I have left the flock and decided not to be a part of this
religion anymore. So to them, I am already in hell. So I was like, okay, why
not create that place and create a Dante'esque place. This is not the first
time I tried to work this out. So what is hell, what is it like?
CRESCENT SHIELD. Interview with Michael Grant, vocalist.
Anyone lamenting the demise of Onward, fear not. Cruz Del Sur music has picked
up this band, one I had been watching with interesting ever since a few tunes
popped up on their myspace page. If you liked Onward, I think you'll find that
Crescent Shield is the natural progression from a band that unfortunately got
lost in the Century Media shuffle... Michael Grant is ever the metal warrior,
and I feel I gained a new friend with this interview, one that definitely
shares a love for traditional and pure heavy metal.
(Interview starts off with a question for me!) Where are you calling from?
Atlanta... Well, metro Atlanta actually, we're about 35 miles north
Ah, okay. Home of Prog Power! Gonna try to get out to that one day.
I'm surprised you haven't been on a bill with that yet!
Actually, I have. The first two years of the festival, it was in Chicago, and I
did a year when I was in Onward; we did a set. But nothing in Atlanta, which I
hear is much bigger...
And much more sold out! (laughing). Now I wanted to ask what
happened to Onward? I remember getting the first album, and then when the
second record came out I got a CD and a piece of paper; it was very poorly
Well, we thought we would be able to do a third record. Century Media said make
some demos, and we did. Then they said book some studio time, and we did. I
flew up to Montana to rehearse the record so we'd be ready to go into the
studio. Then when I came back I got word that three weeks before we were to
record it, we got dropped along with about 5 other bands. Century Media was
doing a housecleaning. And they were getting rid of non profitable bands, or
thinly profitable bands. That's what we were. Technically, we were making money
for Century Media, but it was on such a thin margin that they said "we don't
need this headache, let's try to find another band to fit the roster to make us
more money." It REALLY sucked, we were so bummed, and we were so pumped up for
that third record, which was going to be called "The Neverending Sun." We kinda
salvaged it, Toby Knapp, the guitarist, packaged the demo and sold it online.
When I said, "Hey, let's try to resurrect this and shop this," Toby Knapp said
naah, and quit. I was kinda left high and dry, but fortunately, Crescent Shield
was still developing at that time. And instead of thinking of Crescent Shield
as sort of an "other" project, I said let's make lemonade out of lemons, and
turned to this and really focused on it.
So what eventually will happen to that album? Is it going to be
re-released, or maybe some of those songs are going to be reworked into
If you go to Toby's myspace page there's some info about it, I really don't
have much to do with it anymore. He took those demo tracks and is going to try
and spruce that up a bit, put some solos on there, and make it the best
sounding demo as possible; repackaging it for release. I did vocal tracks on
there. It's still a demo in my book, but something is better than nothing.
That was such a good album, I was really into Onward.
I loved being in Onward, I miss it to this day, I really do.
Apparently Crescent Shield is different guys from Onward, so I'm
curious how the members came together.
Crescent Shield has been around since 2000 really. The idea was manifested when
I was in Onward and Dan was in Destiny's End. We have always been good friends,
but except for the five minutes when we were in New Eden together, we never
really had a chance to work together. Even though our musical tastes and ideas
were all the same and we really clicked. So Dan called me up one day while I
was at work and said "Hey Mike, you wanna do our own stuff and have fun, maybe
put something out on a small label?" And I said yeah! So we started out with
three songs, kinda in the vein of Manowar, true power metal and all that kinda
stuff. Finally, we said, let's start really writing some songs. And the project
just evolved over time. For awhile we didn't have a name, and we started
talking with the guy at Sentinel Steel Records, Dennis Gulby...
Yeah, I'm familiar with him.
He sorta nursed the project all along, even though he didn't commit to it. He
gave us some good advice, and at the end of a leisurely pace we had ten songs
demoed. We really looked at the material and we thought it was strong enough to
present to the world, so we took it seriously after Destiny's End and Onward
died. We turned Crescent Shield into a serious project instead of a side band.
So did the deal with Crescent Shield come about by sending demos
out? Because they have some damn good bands, though they're located halfway
across the world!
Yeah, I know. In metal, it doesn't matter WHERE you are on the planet. That's
the best part of it. Cruz Del Sur discovered us while we were in demo phases.
They did not really have enough money for a recording budget, but they kept
close tabs on us while we decided to do the record ourselves. To finance the
record ourselves. When the finished product came out, we resent that product
out to labels and Cruz Del Sur was the first email back, basically with a
contract in hand, saying "I want this. I want this before anyone else gets
this." He was very, VERY aggressive, and we said, okay if you really believe in
us, let's do it! And we do not regret ONE MINUTE of that decision.
What can you reveal about your contract? Is there any tour support,
how many albums are you in for, any other perks?
It's a one at a time album deal, which is rare. We're going album by album.
I don't know why that is, usually a record deal is multiple albums. For some
reason, we got album by album, which we actually like! It keeps us loose and
And of course, you can negotiate each individual album, and it's
like renegotiating your contract.
And if it doesn't work out, no harm done. And that's why we're really happy
about it. In terms of tour support, I really don't think Crescent Shield is
going to be a major touring band, like Nevermore. The truth about today's metal
is, it's such a huge expense for such little return. Especially for bands who
are just starting. If ANY tour were to happen, it would be like a two to three
week stint with a bigger band, we'd be an opening act.
Like Manowar? (laughs).
Ha, yeah, right. More like Jag Panzer or something like that.
Well, look at Manowar, they brought Rhapsody over here, and that
did really well.
Enrico, the guy who runs Cruz Del Sur, said he'd put as much money as he can to
help us either get over to Europe or fly us out to Chicago to do a Cruz Del Sur
music fest, which is in talks right now. Things like that. The bottom line is
he's trying to be as supportive as he can allow. And we'll take it. And then
we'll try and put in as much as we can. We're trying to do as many live shows
as we can, at least here in California, and maybe Nevada and Arizona. And maybe
a couple of national gigs, who knows? We may get over to Europe and do a couple
of shows over there...
And you know the power metal scene is rabidly fanatical overseas...
God, I know, I've seen the Manowar, the Iced Earth videos, and it just looks
UNREAL. I've seen all the videos. It's something you just can't even imagine.
It kinda makes me ashamed to be an American metalhead sometimes! (laughs).
You know, I've said the EXACT SAME THING sometimes!
When you see a European band like Helloween or Gamma Ray, they play like
stadiums and stuff, then they come over and play some shit pool bars and stuff.
But they still put on a great show, and that's very inspirational.
So let's talk about the new record a bit, because we haven't yet...
Well, we're chit-chatting like metal heads.
You know, I hate the whole cardboard sleeve thing, but that's what
I got. You know, no lyrics, so passionless and pointless packaging.
I know, I know. You know why they really do that? This is my theory, I don't
know if it's the actual answer. I think the reason they do that, is because if
you listen to it enough, and you like it enough, you'll actually go out and BUY
the jewel case. As a fan.
Yeah, you might be right. And you know, I'll actually do that from
time to time.... If I find them cheap enough on ebay! (laughs) The first half
of the record really grabs you. I mean, a song like 'Slaves To The Metal
Horde," that's a fucking metal anthem if I've ever heard one.
It is. It started out as a song just about the masses of metalheads coming
together as one big unit and what not. The problem is, lyrically that song is
so similar to the first track 'Among Mere Mortals.' So Dan did some tweaking
and we sort of turned it into a War Of The Worlds homage song. Even though it
still has the same themes, it has a darker, more horror story feel. And I think
that complements well with the first track.
So, 'North For The Winter,' is that your ode to the Vikings? Or
Norway (laughs a bit).
No, that's an extremely personal song (now I feel guilty - Ed.) That refers to
people who make bad choices, and they KNOW they're making bad choices, but they
still choose them anyway. That's the whole point of the song, you hear about
birds going south for the winter. Except for this one dumb ass bird who turns
around and goes north. We don't know why; it's the worst decision one can make,
but it knowingly goes into the snow into it's own death. So many people do that
with like gambling, drug addiction, alcoholism. They carry these things out
with such vengeance and self destruction.
I'm heavily into Norse mythology and what not, that's why I asked
that. I wear the Hammer Of Thor around my neck, and I'm pretty proud of that.
It's mainly because... I'll be honest with you, there's this guy I've been
studying, a David DeAngelo, who is kind of a relationship guru. But one thing
he's said is that man has lost his way, with this whole men's movement and the
whole "getting in touch with your feelings" and stuff. We're such a scientific
and technologically advanced age that we've lost the rituals and rites from
our ancient ancestors, where the boy had to literally die to become a true man.
We've lost touch with our ancestors, basically.
Yeah, exactly. Today it's sort of wrapped up in partylike religious
celebrations, like bar mitzvah's, or catholic confirmations. But in terms of
the trial by fire, yeah, that is lost. And 'North For The Winter' could be
about a guy who signs up to be in the marines just to get fucking killed. It
could be anybody going into war, there's so many different things you can
interpret it with. If I could be candid, it's one of my favorite lyrical songs.
When I finished that song, I knew I was doing it right.
I think people join the military for different reasons, other than
"hey, I get a gun, I get to kill people legally." Some people might feel they
lack discipline, they need some guidance, or hey, maybe they just need money
Exactly. And sometimes it is the right decision, but if you're doing it for
desperate reasons, it is the wrong decision in my opinion.
That's a pretty striking piece of artwork.
That was Dan's doing, I didn't really have much to do with that. He is a BIG
fan of comic books and graphic arts. He said, instead of doing another oil
painting with more dragons, more ghosts and lightning and stuff; let's find a
guy who's going to make a picture of the title track of the album. Which is
rarely done anymore.
It's kinda like the decay of civilization.
Exactly. And Dan found a guy and he drew a picture just by reading the lyrics.
And he got it SO spot on, we were blown away! This guy is a REAL comic book
artist! And that color, that striking orange, just the color! It literally
leaps off the page! I think us, Iced Earth and maybe one other band are the
only people who are using comic book artists to do their album covers.
Well, I did a Cannibal Corpse interview, and I know they did use
the guy who did the Deadworld comics...
Oh yeah, you're right!
It's funny, because those zombies look so similar, especially with
the tall, skinny, lanky looking zombies, with the ribs sticking out, you just
KNOW there's some kinda connection.
Right, like if you see an H.R. Giger picture, you just KNOW it's him.
Have you started working on any material for a new album?
We have a couple of things on the hard drive, which is how it's done these
days (laughs). I have a couple of songs to write lyrics to, and I taught Dan a
new song from my head. He's putting that together, even though it's in infant
stages. Nothing I can say specifically about, but we're always looking ahead.
There's gonna be material to come.
I know power metal is somewhat cliquey, but one thing that I
thought that was strange was when Death and Hammerfall toured together quite a
few years back.
I saw that tour, here at the Whiskey here in Los Angeles.
Don't you think that's a rather unusual pairing?
It was, but it WORKED. If you get a death metal bill, the room will be half
full. If you get a power metal bill, the room will be half full. When I went to
go see a death metal band and a power metal band play the same night, you
couldn't fit another person in there with a shoehorn. And that was the
brilliance of that tour. Remember when Anthrax toured with Public Enemy of all
people? (I'm laughing hysterically here - Ed.) It's the same kind of idea. What
if you put the most seperate people in the same room together, and I went to
that show. Public Enemy did their full rap set, and the rap fans were there
while the metalheads were looking on, and then when Anthrax did their set the
headbangers were headbanging but the rap fans were looking on. But there was no
disrespect, it was just this brilliant little marketing glitch that happened.
The Hammerfall/Death show just sort of repeated that. These days it seems like
there's so much metal out there that metalheads it seems are much more open to
many different styles. I like some death metal and I even like one or two black
I LOVE black metal, it's one of my big vices. (laughs)
Yeah. Well, being a singer, I tend to draw more towards bands that have
classically trained voices, like Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, Priest, Nevermore,
Queensryche. But I love guitar driven metal, technical driven metal, prog metal
as well. You really open yourself up and I think a lot of people are doing that
So I'm assuming you're pretty familiar with 80's metal for the
most part. I'm curious who you admired as singers during that time period,
because I gotta tell ya, some of the guys I really admired were guys like Sy
Keeler from Onslaught. You know, he almost had a death metal range, but then he
could belt out these amazingly sick high notes...
It's what I call rough melodic. Udo Dirkschneider is like the most classic
example of that.
And then there was of course Messiah Marcolin with the operatic
styled vocals, and of course the alltime most amazing vocalist to me was Jon
Cyriis from Agent Steel. That guy had a range, and when I listen to that
"Unstoppable Force" record, I'm like "that guy HAD to be doing some studio
trickery," there's NO WAY ANY human can hold notes for that long. I couldn't
that's for sure.
That guy was insane. And not only could he hit the range, but every word that
he sang was just dripping with blood. It was so fun to listen to and sing along
to. That was sort of an inspiration for how I sing, I mean people sort of
criticize me for being a little over dramatic, but I'm like "Come on! Why do we
go to the movies," you know? We want to find something that's larger than life,
and I believe in that. Some of my influences, the obvious ones are like Warrel
Dane from Nevermore. Well, not Nevermore specifically, I loved him in Nevermore
but one of my favorite albums of alltime was "Into The Mirror Black," from
Sanctuary. Just a masterpiece! Not only in singing but in songwriting and
lyrics as well. It was a serious inspiration for me! Dio of course, because
even though you don't know what the fuck he's saying sometimes (I'm laughing my
ass off here - Ed.), it's still a lot of fun to sing along with it. I love
Bobby Blitz from Overkill, he is SO dynamic onstage! He's this demon who spits
out these high notes on stage, he's got so much charisma, and is a true showman
and a one of a kind vocalist who inspires me. Ray Alder from Fates Warning, who
has the most finely tuned instrument, his tone. They make tuning forks off of
his voice, you know what I mean?
Finally, have you ever thought about experimenting with some
extreme vocal styles, like maybe death or black metal?
No, and I will tell you why. I can't do black metal or death metal. Unless I'm
crazy at a show and I'm singing along with a band that I like. That's about as
close as I get. I last about 4 minutes and I'm dead horse. It's not how I
trained; I trained at a school in New York City on how to properly use my
voice, and then I used heavy metal techniques to sort of shape it into my own
signature. And that's what I stick with. That doesn't mean to say that I
dislike death metal vocals or anything. Also, oddly enough, I'm not very good
at screaming, or singing those extremely high pitches like James Rivera
(Helstar - Ed.) or Halford even. I really like to stick in my tenor and my
baritone. I stay where I'm comfortable, and hopefully people will like it.
EYES OF LIGEIA. Interview with Dante.
Yes, our newest hometown heroes... I got this CD from Paragon late last year
and immediately delved into it, simply because I heard it was a mixture of doom
and black metal, which intrigued me instantly, as did the song titles which
have obvious and definitive references to H.P. Lovecraft. Imagine my surprise
when reviewing the record and going to their homepage to find out they are from
my backyard, the Atlanta area! (Roswell to be precise). Obviously, an interview
HAD to follow, as this is one of the most interesting and diverse projects you
will ever hear. (Obviously also, I was a little concerned that my own project,
Broken Trinity, would end up sounding like a clone of an already established
band.) Needless to say, Dante is a very intelligent conversationalist, and once
again I get the opportunity to share my love of ancient mythos, culture and
prose; and of course the endless talk of Lovecraft which threatened to engulf
the interview entirely... Definitely a feature interview despite whoever else
is in these pages.
Of course, we're reviewing "A Fever Which Would Cling To Thee
Forever," despite the fact that it's over 7 months old now! How did you come to
work with Paragon Records, because I know you've released a bunch of stuff
before this yourselves.
Our previous releases were on Unsung Heroes Records, and I ended up hooking up
with Paragon through Eric Von of Blackmoon Rising, and various other bands, who
also had releases out on Unsung Heroes. He placed a copy of our last CD on UHR,
"What The Moon Brings," to Paragon, and he liked what he heard and contacted
us; well, he contacted ME because I was still just a one man band at that
time. Then he came down to witness our first live show after I had added
additional members to turn it into a band that could play live. He then decided
definitely to release it. 10 months or so later the CD came out.
I heard you were getting ready to re-release "What The Moon Brings"
There's no timeframe on it. Our current deal with Paragon includes releasing
that, as that's the release that got us signed. It will happen though. We're
also talking about a vinyl release for either "What The Moon Brings" or "A
Fever Which Would Cling To Thee..." Or maybe even both.
Now, I did have a chance to listen to "What The Moon..." and also
"The Untuning Of The Sky," though I haven't delved too deeply yet into both.
What's interesting to me is to hear how the vocals have started to evolve from
"Untuning..." to "What The Moon Brings" to this newest record. It's like the
vocals are now more black metal oriented than they were in the past.
That was partially by design and partially just evolving and refining my vocal
style over time. I never sit down and say "this should be more black metal," or
"this should be more death metal" when it's time to do an album. The vocals
tend to be more put together in the studio and so they kind of come together
with whatever aesthetic is going on at the time. They're not pre-planned out
nearly as much as the music is.
"The Untuning Of The Sky" was a very interesting choice for an
album title, I thought. And of course I saw the cover with the rather medieval,
scientific looking device.
It's based on a model by the astronomer Johan Keppler in the 1600's. He was the
gentleman who discovered the fact that the planetary orbits are ellipses, and
some other interesting facts about Earth's solar system. But he also had a very
mystical side to the work that he was doing in astronomy. And that cover was
one representation that he created. It sort of explained how the 5 platonic
solids could fit into the orbits of the planets. Of course, that's not true in
a literal sense but in terms of the metaphysics he was trying to create, that
he was trying to explore with the creation and layout of the cosmos. The title
came from, as you remember the lyrics to "The Untuning Of The Sky" there was a
poem by Dryden, an English poet in the 1600's who talked about the unraveling
of the universe at the end of time as a result of the end of the music which
sustains it. That was sort of summarized into the title "The Untuning Of The
Sky." A book I had read was about how English poetry from the time of the
1600's and 1700's was reflecting to a great extent some major philosophical
changes going on, as well as major political upheaval at various points during
that time. The title "Untuning..." was a metatextual reference to that, quite
appropriate for a CD of apocalyptic, bleak music.
Do you keep up with the doom/death genre at all?
Yes and no, I keep up to a great extent with some of the bands I've been into
for a long time, like Skepticism, My Dying Bride. A lot of the newer, more
extreme doom bands like Lungthor, Burning Witch, Loss... I've not been as much
into THAT style, partially because it's missing... Hmm... I suppose some of the
musical intricacy that was a major part of bands like My Dying Bride.
I really dig a lot of the bands being signed to Firebox Records,
have you heard Tyranny yet? That to me is one of the most amazingly monstrous,
dark, cold, inhuman releases. That album to me basically portrays the essence
of Lovecraft's universe so brilliantly. And those vocals, especially, are
absolutely fucking hideous!
It's definitely a bleak release, yes. It's funny you mention that, the label
that I run with the person that runs Unsung Heroes Records is called Alpha
Draconis Records. And one of our releases is by a band called Misantropical
Pain Forest from Finland, who has served many times as the live bassist for
Tyranny. There's other connections there that have helped expose me to some of
Now that show you played at Swayze's (a club located in Marietta, GA
which is considered part of the metro Atlanta area) last year, was that one of
your only shows? Because I know you did a show in Alabama too.
We've played once at The Masquerade, once in Alabama, and twice at Swayze's.
How did you like playing at Swayze's? I've heard some people say
the sound there isn't the greatest.
It varies, depending on who's running the sound. If someone's there running the
sound who KNOWS how to make metal sound good, it can be better. It's never
going to sound great, because that space was not designed to be a club I think.
As far as the on stage sound, I really didn't have a problem with it. One thing
that's interesting is, they don't always mike the guitars and the bass.
Sometimes they only mike vocals and drums, and that makes a difference in how
I guess they figure the amps should be powerful enough to drive the
sound (on the guitars and bass).
I think it's they don't always feel like hooking up all the stuff. I have been
told the sound when we played was decent enough to be acceptable. We played one
show at Swayze's with Keen Of The Crow, Shroud Of Bereavement, and Loss, on
their tour back last spring.
Yeah, I heard about that tour, but I didn't know anything about any
of the bands at the time or else I would have went. I saw some of the promo
pictures, I assume you guys utilize props and stage costumes, stuff like that.
Of course. We always... I don't want to say we "dress the part," because it
sounds like we're playing make believe, and that's not the case. We're making
sure we communicate every aspect of the atmosphere we wish to communicate. At
this point, Eyes Of Ligeia is a black metal band that still has a quite a lot
of doom in it, but at least as much black metal as anything else. We tend to
play with lots of candles onstage, and various artifacts of metaphysical
importance to us on stage, and we tend to make sure it's as mysterious and
bleak and heavy as possible.
Maybe with sort of an occult feel to it?
Absolutely, that's a very big part of the feeling.
It's funny when people mention "occult." I did an interview with
Melechesh and (Ashmedi) he said one of the most profound things I've heard in a
long time. I told him I have an ex girlfriend that could astral project, do
astral travel, and she's also a licensed hypnotherapist. I also read a story
about a device called the Chronovisor which some medieval monk invented to pick
up energy readings from the past (it was in a Usurper song as well). Basically,
he said that what the occult is is just undiscovered science. I mean, if you
can actually perform these things, and it's practical... It really is
Well, that's the typical modernist view of it, but I tend to take a more
postmodern view of it. I take not such a practical view of it, claiming magic
is undiscovered science, because there is something distinctly non scientific
that is outside of science about it. Now once a given practice or technique has
been codified to the point that, by your own experience, you are able to
replicate the results to an extent...at that point you're taking a scientific
approach to it, but that doesn't mean that what you're doing is science per se.
Well, what I was getting at, to give you an example... When I talk
to my mom about astral travel and things like that, she's calling it witchcraft
and demonism and stuff... But of course, I said, you know, you practice herbal
medicine, and in the 14th century, you would have been burned at the stake as a
witch. My ex girlfriend helped me out with herbs and what not, and they DO
work, even though doctors kinda still won't prescribe herbal medicines. But you
can buy them on store shelves! I think I mean science in the mindset that "okay
we can see the effects, we can prove it..." you get where I'm coming from? As a
sidenote to technology I suppose. (long pause). Maybe I'm not explaining that
well (laughing here).
No, I understand what you're saying, it's just that I reserve the term
"science" towards things that are specifically explainable through natural
laws and so forth. And a great deal of magic and occult practice, while it
certainly does have some part of that to me at least, it seems to be outside
of that to an extent. It's not that it replaces science or disproves science,
it's just that there are parts of it that can be explained through scientific
means and parts that cannot. Yet. But it does work. But I certainly see what
you're saying in terms of the approaches of it. It's probably more of a
semantic distinction than anything else compared to what you're saying.
Now I want to talk a bit about lyrics, though I didn't have a
chance to read thoroughly through all the lyrics. What was cool was the fact
that you not only drew from Lovecraft's work, but also people like Shakespeare,
even Faust and Edgar Allen Poe! It's surprising that there's so many areas of
history and literature that you reference. I mean, everybody and their mother
pretty much covered Lovecraft almost to death.
And even among the people that do Lovecraft I like to think that we take a
moderatelty unique approach to it at least. If you notice, a lot of the
Lovecraftian things that pop up in the lyrics are not about the great old ones
and some of the better known parts in the mythos. They're typically about the
lesser explored aspects of it among Lovecraft fans, such as the Church of
Starry Wisdom which is a big part of the story "Haunter In The Dark," for
example. And exploring some of the horrors and pitfalls of the prerational
mind, which are still a big part of what we are. Because as our physical
bodies have evolved, we've taken primitive lifeforms that we have common
ancestry with and build on it, build on it, and build on it to the point
that, while we're certainly something that stands apart from the rest of the
animal kingdom in many ways, we still have aspects of various forms of
evolutionary history within us. And a lot of that tends to pop up in the way
we experience primitive emotions, like fear and what not. I think that to a
great extent, what Lovecraft was attempting to personify with with the great
old ones... of course he did it with very poetic and vivid imagery, but what
he was trying to personify were these basic, primitive irrational aspects of
ourselves. We preferred to be more mysterious and more esoteric about it.
Just out of curiosity, what are your favorite Lovecraft stories?
Well, I mentioned "Haunter In The Dark" earlier, that's one of my top ones. I
think "Dreams In The Witch House" is quite good. Another one, well, a pair of
stories, written partially by him were "The Silver Key" and "Through The Gates
Of The Silver Key."
That's one I haven't read yet.
"The Silver Key" is a fairly common one in his anthologies. It's another story
that features Randolph Carter as a character in one portion of his life and
existence. And then in "Through The Gates Of The Silver Key" you kinda find out
what happened at the end of "The Silver Key." There are many others I like for
various reasons; I can't recall reading any of his works that I didn't like.
I'm the same way. You know, one of the complaints I got from some
intelligent people who have read Lovecraft was that his writing was too dry,
kinda matter of factly. And on studying books on astral travel, one of the
things I learned was that you are supposed to be able to create your own
universe, if you are advanced enough. It's so wierd how Lovecraft describes
things, and you've got a basic idea of what he's seeing, but if it was standing
in front of you, based on his descriptions, you'd still have no idea what you
were looking at. I get the feeling that he maybe had the ability to perform
astral travel, because there's so many things that pop up over and over, his
descriptions become so commonplace to me, as if he'd seen these things many
times over, as if it was a part of him.
Well, Lovecraft had sort of an interesting relationship to his work. We know he
was an avid letter writer, and there were many admirers of his work. People like
Clark Ashton Smith, Alston Durwin, the guy I can't think of who wrote Conan The
Barbarian. We have quite a lot of letters from Lovecraft detailing what he
thought about things. He described himself as strictly a materialist. In some
of his letters, it sounds like he almost has a disdain for his work, as if it's
just something he did to pay the bills. But I have to wonder a couple of
things: One, if he had been exposed to different people in the early 20th
century who were in the occult world, maybe actually had taken the time to
explore it, and also I wonder if he was, just for his own protection and
privacy, went to great pains to conceal what he may have been doing for real.
It would seem from what he had written in his own words, that he looked at
himself as a reasonable storyteller, and just kinda thought of them as highly
metaphorical stories, perhaps for some things he was uncomfortable with in his
own life. We know he had a difficult time relating to women, we know he was a
very rabid racist in fact; he had a very dim view of non whites and non
Westerners in general.
What really drives this home for me is the time period in which
this stuff was written. Especially "Dreams In The Witch House," with the dead
babies and skulls; I know horror movies do all this stuff to death, but the
influences for him in the 1920's just weren't there. So he was very unique in
his writings in his day and age.
He definitely takes a big page out of the gothic literature movement of the
late 19th century. Some of his early work is his attempts to imitate people
like Poe, Lord Dunstany who was a fantasy writer from around the turn of the
last century. But he quickly developed his own style as well. I think from
taking the fantastical elements from Dunstany and the stranger, mysterious and
gothic horror elements out of Poe, coupled with his own knowledge and witness
of the horrors of World War I which changed a lot of people's outlook on the
world. The world was no longer this safe, peaceful place at that point, it
suddenly became a very dangerous place to be, and people expressed a lot of
that horror through a great variety of ways. So taking the influences that he
had I think he was in a good spot in the history of literature, being able to
synthesize those influences and what was going on in the world at the time;
coming up with this really potent mix of literary horror.
Have you seen any of the movie adaptations of some stories? They
actually did a really good adaptation of "Dreams In The Witch House" in the
series on Showtime called "Masters Of Horror."
I haven't seen that one, but I heard it was done by the same guy who did
"Reanimator" and "Dagon." He was connected with that series at some point.
I want to see "Dagon," but my favorite adaptation was the 1930's
Call Of Chthulu. That I actually own, actually in Portland, Oregon, every year
there's a Lovecraft festival around October. People that I'm connected to both
attended that festival and participated in that movie. It's incredibly well
done; it's done in the style, it took what's been regarded for the longest time
as an unfilmable story and filmed it anyway. A lot of what's going on musically
and visually gives evidence to the fact that they understood the story VERY
well, it wasn't just taking the characters and doing something else with it, or
just a half assed translation to the screen. They stuck fairly close to the
source material and were able to do something very unique with it I thought. I
was very disappointed with "Dagon;" if it had been called something else and
not actually been represented as an adaptation of a Lovecraft tale I would have
enjoyed it better. It really had very little in common with the two Dagon
stories "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "Dagon." It took such liberties with
the stories, that as an adaptation of those two stories it was kind of
irrelevant and disappointing. Have you seen "The Dunwich Horror," which was
filmed in the 70's?
I haven't seen that yet.
It stars Dean Stockton and it was very well done.
Do you have a new record in the works, any new material you might
want to tell us about?
We've been working on new material recently. What we're working on right now is
a revamped version of the song 'And Yet You Stare' from the very first Eyes Of
Ligeia CD, entitled "A Dirge For The Most Lovely Dead," which came out in 1999.
This is also the album that "Watcher In The Water" came from, they're both much
older songs. We're kind of updating the style a little bit. EVerything prior to
"What The Moon Brings," we're treating as demos kinda rather than full lengths.
They're regarded as full lengths, but because they're so relatively hard to
They're EXTREMELY hard to find! (laughing)
They're all out of print at the moment. I have a lot of material that I've been
working on; it's kinda like bits a pieces though. We kinda work one song at a
time, putting new ones together. The drummer and myself work on them together
to get the arrangements down and he starts getting the drum parts in order and
so forth. Then when we have that ready we'll start integrating the bass and
finally the vocals. We've talked about different plans about either Paragon or
some other label doing a 7 inch or EP, or maybe a mini CD of these songs.
How about "The Untuning Of The Sky?" You haven't thought about
reissuing that, or "Plutonian Shores?"
The material from those may be reissued, but I can say they'll never be
reissued in their current incarnations. Certainly, some people don't but I
happen to like the sound of "Untuning Of The Sky," the way it is.
Yeah, I thought the production value was good enough, but you know
Ground:Xero from Lawrenceville? Proof positive that you don't need a damn
30,000 dollar budget to get a good recording sound. What's so damn funny about
that is when Sean's demo... Well, I say demo but it's really a full length.
When that album was reviewed in Metal Maniacs, there was a review of another
band right above it, and the reviewer was ripping on the band for using a drum
machine, and it's like "Hey, Ground:Xero recorded that album WITH a drum
machine," and the smart ass reviewer didn't even seem to notice!
Well, it has to sound good at least, and that's one of the issues of "Untuning
Of The Sky" is that the entire thing, from the guitars down to the drums,
sounds too artificial. It's not a good guitar sound, and the drums are too
obviously fake. There's material there that is incredibly strong, though, and
there are pieces there that will be used for other things. "What The Moon
Brings" represented a major change in the sound, aesthetic and the recording
quality. So that is going to be rereleased eventually, but the exact details of
how that will come out are unknown as yet. Our agreement with Paragon includes
rereleasing that so it will definitely happen.
When are you guys going to play out live again? I mean, there
aren't too many doom/death bands you can go out and watch these days live!
We don't have any definite plans for show right now, but we've been talking to
Paragon Records about coming up there to do a show or two, perhaps with some of
the other bands on their label. We're just waiting for the right opportunity to
go up there. We don't have any plans to play out locally, but I've been talking
the other day to a band that we know from the Philadelphia area called
Graveworm, they're kind of an oldschool death/black metal band. We're going to
be doing a tour through the South with them, and they've asked us to play with
them. That would probably be in the summer. We also may be doing a couple of
shows around just to stay fresh a bit.
GOD DETHRONED. Interview with Arjen.
Conference calling all the way from Holland, this is my first opportunity to
speak to a band I've been keeping up with for about four four albums now. The
sound quality was very low, making this interview VERY difficult to transcribe,
such is the nature of conversations happening over 3,000 miles away.
Nevertheless, I made the effort because "The Toxic Touch," God Dethroned's new
effort, is worth hearing.
"The Toxic Touch" is a pretty vicious record! But then again, what
else would we expect from God Dethroned?
We're still very proud of the record as well. To us it's a big step forward,
the way the band is sounding nowadays. We did lots of touring before this
album, about 200 shows. I think the end result is just four guys having fun.
I guess when it stops becoming fun, what's the point right?
It was a big challenge for us because "The Lair Of The White Worm" was received
very well. Those two albums are totally different from each other. We
discovered that a lot of fans were headbanging to the thrash metal stuff
instead of just the blast beats. We had some help with the midtempo, thrash
stuff earlier on, but we just thought why not draw the lines even further with
the next record? The reason why we reduced the blast beat parts was because
they kinda got boring to write for an entire record. The music breathes more
Even with the last three albums, it's so obvious that God Dethroned
has evolved way beyond a simple death metal band, or even a metal band that
utilizes blast beats.
That's exactly what we wanted. After "Lair Of The White Worm" we felt that
there could have been more guitar harmonics, because we have a guitar player in
the band, Isaac, who has a lot of knowledge about that. This album is a big
step forward for us, especially with the guitar work; it's way more technical
and way more musical.
Everytime a lineup change occurs in a band, it's a shame in some
ways because new members can alter the sound, style, even the entire vision of
the band. Like even Hirax, in the older days they always had a somewhat punk
vibe in their music, but their newer works are SO heavy and a lot more thrash
oriented: It's because of course of their two newer guitarists. It's so hard to
keep your core sound and ideologies going on when you have new members that you
have to learn to work with. I imagine it's one of the biggest obstacles that
ANY band will have to face.
I know when I joined the band for sure I changed the sound of the band, because
the old drummer had his typical style which fit the band perfectly. But my
background, I had a musical education, so I had precise ways of timekeeping.
The drumming is quite different than, say, on "Bloody Blasphemy." Our new
members, we chose them very carefully.
A lot of people think "Oh, he's a great guitarist," or "he's a
great drummer," and that's it, but one of the things I had to learn, especially
with my time in Hallows Eve, is that chemistry is extremely important. If he's
not on board with your ideas and he doesn't really mesh with the other band
members. As many bands as there are, they're all competing together for that
big piece of the pie; you have to be able to work together as a unit. It kinda
sounds like a relationship deal, but it really is. It's hard dealing with 4 or
5 other completely different personalities on a constant basis.
It's almost like a marriage. Lots of people take it for granted that you're in
a band, like "Oh, you're in a band and you play shows, go on tour and party,
that must be fun!" It's takes more work than most people can imagine, to keep
the band together. That's why we've had a lot of lineup changes, especially in
the early days. But Henri, he dealt with it, he never got fed up with it and
Lyrically, this album is quite different from most of the earlier
stuff, I know some of the songs off the new album were touching on interesting
topics. Like '2014,' it seems to me like Henri's taking a glance 7 years into
the future. I'm sure people expect the usual anti-christian topics that God
Dethroned has touched on in the past.
'2014' wasn't totally made up by us, it's more of a prediction from the Bible
and Nostradamus. They're saying the world will be taken over or destroyed by
2014. We thought it made an interesting enough topic for a song. We like
writing lyrics about stories, scriptures or things that happened in the past.
It's a bit more interesting these days than writing about anti religion.
You mentioned scriptures, how do you feel about the bible today? I
feel like, well, it's a book that's been handed down from generation to
generation for over 2000 years. And there was a period in our history where the
bible was considered too sacred a book to be possessed by the common man (where
it was even a criminal act for common men to own a bible). Only the clergy or
higher nobility or clergy were to have this book. And I'm sure that these
people found things that they didn't like (because of the Inquisition and the
Salem Witch Trials) that didn't support what they were trying to do. Who knows
what version of the bible we're reading today! I think there was a lot of
purposeful mistranslation and manipulation of the original text.
People ask me all the time what I think of the bible, or religion. I think, to
be honest, that everybody should believe what they want...
Right... But you can't take the easy way out now! (laughing).
The bad thing about the bible is that people, like you say, abuse the book.
There are some people who wanted to suppress thought in the early days. Many
people are self centered, they think that their beliefs are best, the right
thing. The bible itself is pretty remarkable to me, I don't really think
there's anything wrong with it. The fact that we've always written about anti
religious things has to do with the people, those that take advantage of
others, take advantage of their positions of power.
Being a drummer, I'm sure you have a list of people who you think
are phenomenal. I used to put Dave Lombardo at the top of that list until I saw
Strapping Young Lad live, and Gene Hoglan is so inhuman that you'd swear a drum
machine was being used onstage! I'm just curious who you think are some of the
best drummers on the planet.
I can tell you that I think Dave Lombardo was, and still is, number one. His
use of dynamics and double bass is so powerful and so dynamic when he plays.
It's not even what he plays but HOW he plays it.
Finally, You've been with Metal Blade for quite some time now, and
they do a decent job with tour support. We haven't seen you guys on stage in
quite some time though, so I assume you're going to be back over here before
too long. What's your status with Metal Blade right now, you've got three or
four albums with them and I'm curious how many more albums you'll be doing for
We have one more album to do, and then we will see. We're very satisfied with
how things have come out. They did a good job for us, and it's because of Metal
Blade that we toured a couple of times in the States. I don't know if you know
this, but before we got signed to Metal Blade, we almost got signed to
Displeased Records, a small Dutch label. The band back then was just put
together and we thought that we'd put together an album and maybe do some tours
or something. But when Metal Blade stepped in and wanted to sign us, that
changed everything for us.
MELECHESH. Interview with Ashmedi.
So, fresh off the plane and they've got you doing interviews, eh?
Yeah, they're abusing me... (laughs). No, it's really hectic so we're trying to
make the best of it. There's a lot of response and we're trying to do as many
interviews as possible. So they said, you have to start today already.
Now, I'm not sure why but I haven't received the new album yet (as
of the time the interview was conducted). I have "Sphynx," which I love, and am
looking forward to hearing the new record.
I think you're gonna like it, I hope so.
Well, before the interview I listened to that album again, and what
really strikes me is the amazing guitar work, such heavy and thrashy riffing! I
really like that album!
If you like the guitar work there, then I think you're gonna love the new album
"Emissaries." I developed more and there's cooler ideas. As a songwriter I
improved, especially in a year's time. I've been refining it. So far in Europe,
they're thinking this is our best work. And I'm flattered. None of our albums
sound exactly the same.
It seems like your collaboration with Proscriptor has come to an
end (Proscriptor was the drummer that helped record "Sphynx" for Melechesh, and
Proscriptor's main band is Absu). I suppose you've found a regular drummer now?
With Proscriptor, we did "Djinn" and "Sphynx" and he did an excellent job.
We're still excellent friends, and as a gesture of comradeship, he did backing
vocals on this new album. He's actually reissuing one of our 7 inches on his
own label. For the live situation we used a guy who's living in the Netherlands
about an hour away from where I live. The drumming in Melechesh doesn't change
because I write it. When I play the guitar I write drum parts too. I record the
guitars and then I program the drums on a drum machine just to hear it and
confirm that that's what I want. I give it to the drummer and the drummer
listens to it and will add drum rolls to connect the beats. That's why I wasn't
worried, I mean each drummer has his own approach. It will always sound like
Melechesh no matter who is drumming.
There has actually been a lot of misconceptions about Melechesh
(I pronounced it MeleCHESH rather than the correct pronunciation which is
MeleKESH. Basically, not the 'ch' sound but the 'k' sound.) Sorry about that!
(laughs). THAT'S one of the misconceptions right there, in fact!
That I don't blame people, it's pretty fucked up the way it's spelled. I told
Adrian we should do a press release, that's it's sounded with a k or something.
But there are more misconceptions.
Like the fact that everyone's from Israel. But when people say "oh,
here's a black metal band from Israel," that's really special....
But it is special. (interrupts). We are from Jerusalem, and we're all Israeli
citizens. And with all the respect to everyone, if we said yeah we're Israeli's
we'd be lying. It's even more fascinating that we have Assyrian roots in us,
like from Mesopotamian culture. Moloch is half Palestinian-half Assyrian, and I
myself am born in Jerusalem, bred in Jerusalem, but I'm not Jewish, I'm not an
Israeli. Jerusalem is very cosmopolitan, there's a lot of minorities and lots
of other types of people. So many cultures live there. We're really like the
first band from there who's not Israeli. We're the first black metal band from
the holy city of Jerusalem.
I know there's another black metal band from Israel called Bishop
Of Hexen, who I've been in touch with.
Yeah, we never said we're the first black metal band from the holy land, we're
the first black metal band from the holy CITY. Jerusalem is a bit more
conservative than the rest of the country. Our first rehearsal was like 5
minutes from the holy Sepulture church where Jesus was crucified. That's a
historic fact, I'm not talking about if you're a believer or not. But it was
kinda inspirational! (MUCH laughter here). And we've even jammed in Bethlehem,
because Moloch lived in Bethlehem for awhile.
But then again, your first album was called "As Jerusalem Burns"
Actually, it was called "As Jerusalem Burns - Al Intisaar," and Al Intisaar is
Arabic for The Victory. Don't get me wrong, I mean I love the city of
Jerusalem. I want to go back there. I have traveled all over the world and
Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been to or lived in.
But we meant it ideologically because of how the ideology there is fucked up.
I'm a very staunch hater of christianity. Because when we're in
this business, we ALL are of the mindset that we are NOT the mass sheep being
led to slaughter, we don't follow trends or bow down to mainstream ideology or
views. And that's what makes our music and our culture so special because we
have the balls to stand up and say manipulation through fear and servitude is
WRONG and it's something we do NOT want to be a part of.
And my point of view right now, we've proven that point by existing and making
the debut album. And then we went on to create our own style of music. And we
started digging into origins of man and enlightenment. However, it's not
Christianity, it's just the monotheistic religions. I'm not going to be
opposing the religions 24/7 now, but I think personally it has caused more
damage than good. If anything, it's not in tune with the lifestyle of today.
It's outdated. People have been dying for centuries just because of religion. I
don't really despise religions, I despise things in the hands of some humans.
It's bound to go wrong. The majority are hypnotized, they are sheep. We use a
small capacity of our brains, but there's a reason for that: we're
sleepwalkers. I'm trying to wake up, and I want people to wake up.
I've studied a lot of stuff from this guy David DeAngelo, and one
of the things he talks about is in your study of ancient civilizations and
cultures, our society has become so modern and over technologicalized, that one
thing lost today are those rituals that our ancient peoples had to "transform
the boy into a man." Whereas nowadays you have people talking about how men
need to get in touch with their feelings, feminism and all this shit. And
somewhere along the line, humanity has lost some of the most basic things that
our ancestors probably took for granted, like sorcery, magic, occult and arcane
knowledge, and the all important transformation from a young boy into a mature
I agree with that. Don't forget, in the past there were ways to navigate into
your mind. Those ways are kinda forgotten. The brain is capable of a lot, and
we're not using it. Spirituality has gone down the drain. I'm a practical man,
I live my life very practically. I still order my pizza over the telephone, but
I still have the spiritual aspect and I think many people don't. I think you
should question everything, and you should try to find yourself as well.
If someone was to ask you, what would be the most important aspect
of 21st century people to remember about some of the earliest cultures and
civilizations of the world, like the Sumerians and the Egyptians. Not just
learning about them and having a fascination with them.
There are some theories regarding the origins of mankind, their relations to
the gods of Mesopotamia. Who are the gods, and are they gods in fact? Or are
they more advanced people that started humanity? Why are we followers? What I
am trying to get to is, you can find out about the origins of mankind, and you
can also find out in a way why people are, "hypnotized?" I think it's important
to do that, to transcend yourself and to rise from the masses, because everyone
is hypnotized and don't know what's going on, like sleepwalkers. By digging
into our distand past, we can find some answers, but I don't want to be direct
about it because it's very complicated... That's why I'm having a hard time
trying to find the right words.
And it's very personal too for each individual. No two people are
going to dissect their life and transcend in the same way.
It's about activating the rest of your hypnotized brain and spirit. There's
many ways to do it, too, there's music and literature, even hallucinogenics.
Then you can active the rest of your brain which is lying dormant.
Now, I wanna talk about this new record, especially since I don't
have it! I really wanna talk about some of the song titles, especially one that
jumps out at me like 'Leper Jerusalem,' which sounds interesting just from a
Actually, it's nice you mention it, because this album is the most significant
one to me lyrically, and the most accomplished, and the most personal. I am
very proud of the lyrical approach as well. Regarding the song 'Leper
Jerusalem,' it is my view about the city. You see, Jerusalem is a city which
religions fight over for it; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. But it doesn't
really belong to ANY of them. It's untouchable. Jerusalem is an occult place.
I sense it, I go there to recharge. If you're attuned to that point of view,
once you enter the city you can feel it in your stomach, your guts. It's
something in the stones and the soil; I touch it and I feel it. There's been a
lot of cultures there, a lot of civilizations. And even the religious people
tend to focus their minds to it, from all over the world. And when the mind is
focused on something, like it or not, there IS that telepathic power of focus
there. It means energy. So I can tune into that energy and feel it and use it
for whatever "I" want. It's like electricity, I don't care where it comes from.
I say I recharge when I'm there. But 'Leper Jerusalem' is about describing the
occult side of Jerusalem, which I'm VERY aware of.
And when people think of "occult" stuff, they automatically think
the black arts, satanism and stuff. But I know from experience... I have an ex
girlfriend who studies remote viewing and astral projections. And I've heard
the christians refer to that as demonry. But if this is something that you can
perform in your head, that's just a natural part of science! I had a
conversation with my mother awhile back, who condemned astral travel as
demonism. She practices herbal medicine, and I told her if you had been alive
in the 16th century, you would have been burned at the stake as a witch! But
technology STILL hasn't caught up to the level of natural, spiritual energy.
I think sometimes that magic is just undiscovered science. I mean, flying in
an airplane 200 years ago, that's black magic.
PERFECT fucking way to describe that, I never thought of it that
I have a few theories about that; one is "what is magic," well, it's
manipulating energy because energy is movable to one's own will and I know we
can have telepathic powers with the rest of the capacity of the brain, which
we use only 10 percent of. And scientifically it's highly probable that there
are more dimensions, and the more dimensions there are, the more possibilities
there are. Combine all those things together, that IS the occult. For now, let
us call it the occult, and in the future it might be scientific fact.
Anything you want to tell us about any of the other songs on the
The album itself is very layered and has many dimensions; each song has a
different approach. As you know, with Melechesh, every song has it's own sound;
not all of them are sounding the same. Lyrically, it's very rich, most of the
songs are about the origins of mankind and the mysticism of Mesopotamia;
there's a song about the Kabbalah. There's a song called 'Deluge Of Delusional
Dreams' which stemmed from a dream I had where I woke up and I just wanted to
compose a song based on that dream. We even used Sumerian and Accadian words;
there's a linguist who's a big fan of Melechesh, and he transcribed some stuff
for us. It's very rich in that approach. Even the 11th track, which is not
listed on the track listing, is a somewhat improvised jam session. We wanted
that for the organic feeling, for that genuine mystical feeling. But it's
different from the rest of the album, that's why we didn't put a name to it.
Even going back to the Sphynx record, I think it's the song
'Triangular Tattvic Fire,' where you hear a lot of instrumental passages before
the heavier passages kick in; it's amazingly well written for being just an
instrumental passage before the rest of the song kicks in! Very emotional.
We have this complete acoustic piece written with middle eastern instruments.
It's there to add dimensions to the album, more like a meditative piece. But we
have a cover, well, it's not a cover, it's more of an adaptation from The Tea
Party, it's a band from Canada who is one of my favorites. I felt I had to, uh,
rewrite the song so to speak. And they gave me the permission to do whatever I
want with it. It's one of the most accomplished moments for me, if you hear it
you'll understand. It became a Melechesh song. I've heard people describe the
new album as both aggressive, technical and sophisticated and mystical. So it
has many dimensions; it could be something you want to headbang to or something
you want to trip to. There's so many layers!
I remember reading on your website it was supposed to be out by the
Fall of 2006, and instead it is released in January! So what was with the
delay? I remember something about your remixing it.
It was actually mixed twice, and it exists in two different versions. Even the
first mix has different singing on it. The first mix, we hired a fancy producer
and he really fucked the album up. We hired him as a guy who mixes and not
produces. It was so expensive to record, and it was the most expensive album
recorded paid by Osmose. And it wasn't just my opinion, Opinions could vary,
but it was a fact, it was like malpractice. The sound engineers listened to it
and said "What is this shit? What went wrong? How come the rough mix from
Woodhouse Studio sounds better than the actual final mix?" And we're trying to
find out ourselves! The record label said "Hey, we paid a lot of money, but
we're not going to release this! We're going to pay more money, and we're going
to have to remix this!"
Well, that's nice for the record label to pay for a second mixing!
They believe in the album, they believe in the band, and they know that the mix
could deteriorate our quality. Woodhouse Studio is a good studio, they've got
Grip Inc. albums recorded there, a lot of the Moonspell and Unleashed albums
were done there. We mastered the record like two or three times, we just needed
to get the right sound. But it was all worth it because all the critics in
Europe think it's outstanding.
Now I heard about a gig you did in Canada with Sacrifice, how did
that go down?
It was outstanding! For some reason Toronto is becoming a second home to us!
(laughs). We've played already there before, and the people were very warm and
welcoming. We played with Sacrifice and it was cool because I'm a huge thrash
metal fan. My musical tastes are very vast, and I like lots of music that's
done with feeling. But at heart I'm a metalhead. The crowds were very warm to
us, the whole atmosphere was great, and it was like a homecoming. I had a blast
and I actually spent an extra week there because I like Toronto, I feel
It's almost like you're signed to two different labels, because
you're on Osmose, but The End has done such a huge job of promoting you guys!
The End Records releases select albums from Osmose, which they believe in as
well. And I'm very relieved to know that people at The End are believers and
supporters! It's all going the right way.
Finally, any plans to tour the States?
We've actually been sitting around the table talking about that, right now. We
will announce something soon enough, and you will hear it. Now we're being
scheduled to do a lot of festivals in Europe, but we ARE planning to come play
in the States, and it's REALLY gonna happen. And I'm REALLY fucking excited to
do that, because honestly I like the States. I like the people and the culture,
and I actually lived here for awhile. In '88 or '89 I went to junior high
school for a little while.
Not really a new section here at the magazine, but I have recently collected a
bunch of concert and clip footage from some of my favorite bands. I'll attempt
to give a brief summary of a few....
BLOOD STORM "Visions Of The Soothsayers"
Not sure exactly how this has been released, but there are 4 tracks here, and
it's a pretty good representation of the band whose stage presence and attire
lend themselves well to MTV styled videos. The song selection I thought was
pretty good, although honestly I was not very familiar with the songs, of which
three were taken from the "Pestilence From The Dragonstar" album. The other
song 'Clavicula Solomonis' apparently comes from one of their earlier demos.
The video quality of the MTV styled videos is quite good, in fact the coolest
video was 'Invader Of Darkness,' where you see some strange hooded figures
wandering around the band in the forest. Additionally, there are many astral
symbols and signs that the band throws around in all three of their videos,
and some of the scenery is very cool, like the forest scenes and the band
seemingly playing underneath an old bridge. MUCH mention needs to be made of
the actual clothes Blood Storm wears, as they are very unique and quite
colorful, fitting the occult and astral concepts VERY well. Blood Storm, for
those uninitiated, play a very fast and almost old school style of black
metal that is very vicious and oftentimes very fast. The corpse paint worn
by the band members seems to fit more of their astral concepts than anything
else, and utilizing negative photography and other cool camera tricks makes
these videos interesting to watch. The live performance at CBGB's was done
well, and the footage is a bit dark though many shots are up close and
clear. The sound quality suffers a bit on the live shot, which leads me to
believe it was done with homemade video equipment. Regardless, it gives a
damn good indication of the band, and does a good job of conveying just how
unique and kick ass this American black metal band really is. HIGHLY
recommended, especially if you want to see how good the American black metal
MY DYING BRIDE "Sinamorata"
Quite simply, in a word, amazing. I figured it may be a very long time before
the U.K. Doom masters ever hit U.S. shores, so this was the perfect way for me
to have them in my own living room. I had looked at a few DVD compilations of
the band, but for me this was the only one to get, simply because it features
MUCH footage from my favorite album of alltime, "Songs Of Darkness, Words Of
Light." At the time of this DVD's recording, the album was still relatively new
but regardless of that, the songs presented in the live portion of the set
(recorded in 2003 in Antwerp) from that particular album are the heaviest and
most crushing of the set. 'The Prize Of Beauty,' 'Catherine Blake' and 'The
Wreckage Of My Flesh' were performed superbly, however I was a tad miffed at
the fact that 'The Wreckage...' was performed without the blackened vocals that
open up the track. 'The Cry Of Mankind' was quite simply stunning, especially
those beautiful high ended lead notes that open the track up. The band performs
near flawlessly, and it was interesting to see the band in somewhat fancy
attire while Aaron dons the complete straightjacket from head to toe. Aaron's
visual performance was quite moving indeed, as many times he would look like he
was in complete and utter pain, ending up writhing on the floor and many times
totally transforming into character. If you ever want to see a frontman that
embodies the true essence of the emotions and feelings of his work, Aaron is
the man to watch. Concert ender 'The Fever Sea' was awesome to behold,
especially when given the vicious nature of the death metal styled vocals. As
if the concert itself wasn't enough, there are FOUR MTV styled music videos,
and once again, "Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light" fans will find that three
out of the four videos are from that very album. 'The Blue Lotus' was
interestingly done, complete with some scrolling words every now and then
showcasing the lyrics, and of course 'The Prize Of Beauty' sounds and looks
amazing. What's really a treat is seeing 'My Wine In Silence,' which was a
music video made by fans of the band, although I must admit that the girl in
this video looks an awful lot like the keyboard player in the band. As if that
wasn't enough, there are three live video cuts (for 'The Dreadful Hours,' 'The
Raven And The Rose,' and 'She Is The Dark,') so this DVD compilation
respectfully covers many albums from the band; although I must admit a small
amount of displeasure at only covering one song from my other fave MDB album
"Like Gods Of The Sun," and that was 'A Kiss To Remember.' Surely there were
better songs to do from that album! Also noteworthy too is the fact that the
earliest material is inexplicably absent, especially songs from "Trinity" and
"Turn Loose The Swans" (save for 'Sear Me' in the live set) so I suppose it was
difficult to garner a complete tour of every MDB album. However, that being
said, I was ecstatically pleased at the amazing video quality, multiple camera
angles without jumping around every 2 seconds from camera to camera, and the
overall quality and presentation. HIGHLY recommended if you're a My Dying Bride
fan, especially for you if "Songs Of Darkness..." is one of your favorite
No, not as in no more magazine issues... More like, a good bye until the next
issue (which hopefully won't be delayed two more months!) Harder and harder it
is to keep doing all this by myself, especially now that I'm getting older and
the support from labels sometimes seems to dwindle. The radio show is the best
outlet for our labels to prove that we're still actively supporting your bands.
And of course, when we do interviews we also get promo spots for our online
show, which I think is fantastic. I like to think we've put together a truly
awe-inspiring, professional sounding radio show that rivals ANYTHING else out
there, be it an actual radio station or an online gig. It's got funny
commercials and funny promo spots, and so much more.
Sad we are that we had to miss the Heathen Crusade festival this year. Vreid,
Manegarm, Skyforger, Obtest, Bal Sagoth, Vesperian Sorrow... And those are the
bands I WANTED to see! I mean, come on, when will Obtest or Skyforger EVER be
back to the States? On the positive side, concerts are starting to pick up, I
even heard that Moonsorrow is being brought back to the States for a tour!
Money was the deciding factor in this year's decision... Well, that and the
lack of at least ONE travelling companion. It's at least a 17-18 hour drive
from Atlanta to Minnesota! One thing we're going to try and do this year is
make the ProgPower festival here in Atlanta (since it doesn't require a trek in
the snow or an 18 hour drive). It depends on the bill, of course, as recent
years haven't seen as strong a lineup as in years' past.
2006 closed out, FINALLY, as I was glad to see it go. What started out to look
like a good year (with our attending Heathen Crusade for the first time ever)
went quickly sour. Lots of good bands came through, including finally getting
to see Blind Guardian live on their first ever headlining tour through the
States, and there were a LOT of people to greet them! The crowd even seemed to
take a lesson from the classic albums section, as the two most vehemently
requested songs of the night were 'Majesty' and 'Valhalla,' both from their
first two albums released in '88 and '89. Good show indeed!
As I wrap this issue up, there's a few things I want to direct your attention
to, in case you missed it. There's only a few interviews this time around, but
unwittingly we did get several different people's opinions on a few key topics.
Especially in the Eyes Of Ligeia, Melechesh and Blood Storm interviews, pay
particular attention to the topics of Jerusalem as an occult center, the occult
as a definition of undiscovered science, and the usual anti christian topics.
But for all my disdain at religion, I would like to think that the bands
interviewed, and I, present our opinions and facts to you in a somewhat
intelligent and honest, open fashion. We've all done a lot of studying and the
human race has SO much potential for learning, that it is a shame people in
this day and age cling tightly to centuries old fear and lies, especially in a
day and age when the knowledge of the universe is seconds away from your very
fingertips. We have the potential to achieve SO much, yet we live in the shadow
of fear, the SAME shadow that limits our potential as a species and as a group
of beings with the potential for godlike abilities. Wanna quote a biblical
wording? Mankind was created in the very image of God. Think about it. I am
definitely going to try and conduct interviews that will reference each other,
and I think it's a good way to get several different perspectives on one topic,
which makes you and I, and the rest of the world, that much more informed.
Hopefully you will find the interviews interesting and challenging, AND diverse
at the same time. Thank you for your patience, and your time in reading this
issue, as it is definitely a favorite issue of mine despite the limitations.
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